Marko Vasic, Jesse Reed and coach Mike Brennan spoke with the media including Dave Crespo from the podcast after American's Senior Day 67-66 win over Loyola.
"Obviously today's game was special for so many reasons. Coming into the game we tried to focus on the basketball. We were gonna think about the thing after the game and after the season ends. Right now we have an important game (Thursday). Obviously it's a different game, you have to focus and make sure you don't show your emotions as much like any game. But at the end of the day I think Jesse and I and all the guys handle the pressure well."
"I don't think it really kicked in until we started walking out in the pregame with our parents but it's starting to kick in now that this is probably our last time in Bender and we've had some good years here, had a lot of fun here, so we're definitely gonna cherish those memories. "
On the journey from the Minnesota game freshman year to now
"I think I can speak for Marko and myself by saying that we were both a little nervous and scared as freshman, a little more timid and quiet just because it was all a new game for us but I think over the years we've both kind of grown experience-wise, confidence-wise to where now we want to be those guys that help lead the rest of the team. We want to be the guys that people come to whenever they need anything. We really take pride in being the leaders of the team and helping out the younger guys, help them come along and hopefully get to where we're at one day."
"Four years ago we were just trying to play hard, listen to what coach told us to do, and year by year we got more and more responsibility, obviously a new coach and coaching staff. Coach Brennan has really led the way for us in helped us grow as players and as people. Really we've taken more responsbility each year and yeah it's been a long journey and a good run, too."
On all the great games and moments they've had. What will remember most and how will senior day and the last-second win stack up?
"This game is definitely one of the greatest ones that's going to be in our memory, (and) it happens to be the last one. Maybe two years ago Holy Cross game in the semis of the Patriot League we ... came back from what was it, down 10 to go to the finals. That was a really special game, too."
"That same year too the BU game at home where we shot lights out and beat them by 30. That was probably one of the funnest games we've had besides our championship game but I think that game was something you experience once in a lifetime in basketball where everybody's clicking on all cylinders. But this game will definitely be up there."
On 4th trip to the tournament and what matters most
"Who's better on that day."
"Having to do all the small things. The margin for error now is thin, very small. That's it, this is it. This could be our last game so we can't afford to make some mistakes. We have to play hard, go after rebounds, play for each other, pass the ball. The margin for error is very small this time. Luckily we've been here three years, Jesse, obviously Charlie's gonna be there very important, Jalen, it's up to us to really lead the team and even if things go bad at moments, make sure we're calming down and playing our game."
On approaching the tournament differently as seniors now
"I think it's different because we wanted to give all we could for Pee Wee and John their last year and they really set the tone for us in the tournament, how hard we had to play and what all we had to do. So hopefully we can mimic some of their tactics, their hardness, their toughness, and really set the tone for the younger guys like they did for us to hopefully make another run in the tournament."
On winning in late situation again and stopping Loyola from getting final bucket
"Well they didn't have much time at the end there but again we tried to call a play for Delante and it was just up to him to sort of make a play but then the reason we won the game is because Andrija goes after an offensive rebound and gets fouled so it's about everyone doing their part in games like this. You don't really draw stuff up, you've just gotta go after rebounds and do all the dirty work."
On the biggest differences the last 12 games after the 0-6 start
"I mean we're just scoring a little more easily. I don't want to say easily — we're more comfortable. We know when our shots are coming, guys understand what we're trying to do collectively on the offensive end I think better. It's just getting to that point where you've got a certain comfort level."
Did you expect to make such a drastic tournaround?
"No I didn't. Even losing, we lost by a ton of points early on. We just kept getting better — we'd lose by 25, then 15, and eight and six. So it just took time, there was growth, we just didn't see it in the win-loss column, we're continuing to grow, we're continuing to get better at this point in the season. So that's what I'm happy about and that's a testament to Marko and Jesse, the two seniors, how they — I say it all the time but it's true — they come to work every day and the guys are getting better each and every day. I thought James was better tonight, giving us better minutes, and that's what we're looking for."
On Marko and Jesse's career progression
"Well they understand, they've played in important games and won, they know how important everything is, so they know how important practice is, they know how important each possession is out here and you see that but they also know how important every day in practice is and how important it is to make sure you're accomplishing something each day so that's the biggest part of their leadership is what I get to see every single day. They do a lot. It's not scoring points in games. It's showing up every single day ready to work."
On team's defensive approach
"No, I don't want them to be less aggressive, maybe just a little earlier, just recognizing stuff a little earlier so they don't have to bite on that stuff — (getting beat is) just a function of being late (rotating)."
On approach to guarding Andre Walker
"A guy like that is just a really good player, good one-on-one player. And most of his baskets were one-on-one, individual-type plays. He's just a really good player. He's played a lot of basketball in his life. He's seen every type of defender — small guy, fast guy, big guy — and he's scored against a lot of them so we could do a better job but he's a really good player and it's easier said than done."