Quotes: Mike Brennan and players talk season-ending loss to Lehigh

Mike Brennan and players Marko Vasic and Jesse Reed spoke to the media at Stabler Center after Lehigh ended American's season 78-62 in the semifinals of the Patriot League Tournament.

Opening Statement
BRENNAN

"Lehigh's a terrific team. They're really good, they showed it today. We didn't have too many answers for them. Just for us to be here I think is an accomplishment, it's a testament to these two guys. They kept it together the whole year — at one point we're 2-15, could've easily thrown in the towel at that point, and instead we did the opposite. We got better, we got ourselves to a semifinal game and it's because of these two guys."

How tough is the matchup vs. Lehigh?
JESSE

"I mean it's really tough because they have a lot of outside firepower as well as inside firepower and if they aren't beating you one way, they're beating you the other way. They got us both ways tonight, hats off to them, they're a great team. We expected this kind of game where they would play the way they did. We just, we needed to respond better and we didn't do that today."

On felling behind 18-2
MARKO

"I think we had the energy — we might have been just a little too excited to be there and everyone, the way we run our offense is slow and methodical and we're supposed to get the best shot we can. Everyone including me I think got a little too excited, tried to score on not the best shot possible and they really took advantage of that and started running and they made every shot."

How much was the plan to attack the rim, get Lehigh (possibly Kempton) in foul trouble, and it just didn't work?
BRENNAN

"Just want to be as aggressive as possible, as much stuff going to the rim as you can. We don't have necessarily (a) post presence, so we do it by drives and posting other guys and stuff. But they defended well, too. They're a good team, they defend well, it's not just offense, they're a very good defensive team as well."

Both players on being taking out for the last time with a little over 2 minutes remaining
JESSE

"I don't think it's really kicked in yet. I think it'll kick in later. But if I can reflect on it now, it's been a fun four years. Lot of ups and downs but basketball aside, (I) made a ton of brothers and brothers for life and the memories that we had together, it's something I'll never forget. But I don't think it's really kicked in yet and I don't think it really will until we realize we're not practicing tomorrow getting ready for another game."

MARKO
"I agree with Jesse. I don't think it's really kicked in yet for both of us. But I think about all the good things that've have happened over three years with coach Brennan. All three years were successful with coach and there were a lot of great moments there, so as Jesse said I don't think it's really kicked in yet. It's gonna be weird not having practice tomorrow and getting ready for our next game."

Thoughts on Lehigh or Holy Cross?
JESSE

"Lehigh probably. I mean, we knew from the beginning of the year they were gonna be one of the top teams if not the top team in the league."

On the season as a whole and it being successful with strides team made, freshmen successes?
BRENNAN

"I'm excited about the future. I like all our young guys. Delante's the guy that played the most minutes, I wish I could have got those other guys in the game more, played them, but these two you can only play with so many freshmen on the court and have a chance of actually winning. But I'm excited. I like our guys, I like our young guys, I like our guys coming in.

Quotes: Mike Brennan and seniors talk win over Loyola

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. 

MARKO
"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."

JESSE
"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
JESSE

"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."

MARKO
"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?
MARKO

"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."

JESSE
"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
JESSE

"Who's better on that day."

MARKO
"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
JESSE

"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."

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MIKE BRENNAN
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."

Quotes: Mike Brennan and players talk win over Navy

Mike Brennan and players Jesse Reed and Jalen Rhea spoke to the media after American's 72-65 win over Navy, the Eagles' third consecutive victory to boost their record to 10-18, 8-9 in the Patriot League.

MIKE BRENNAN

On the 17-0 run in the second half
"I think we were just being more aggressive going to the basket in the second half and then Jesse made a couple shots that are just — step-back 3 with a guy all over him, it's like he makes that and they drew up something against our zone where they got an open look and they just didn't go in. Sometimes you just gotta be lucky where you make some shots and they miss some shots. That could be the difference. But our guys were just a little more aggressive in the second half."

On switching to the 2-3 zone
"They were going inside and everyone's about to foul out trying to guard the guy (Will Kelly). We haven't played zone in a while so we tried it for a possession, looked OK, they called the timeout — they got that wide-open shot. They got open shots, they just missed against the zone. So that's why it worked."

Even a month ago is team capable of this kind of comeback?
"Yeah I told them that. That's a heck of a thing to be down 14 and to be at this point of the season and to muster up the energy to fight back. I don't think — a month ago we didn't have the confidence to get something like that or just the experience. So it's a big growth step for all of us."

On late offense
"We were just trying to get stuff going to the basket, post-ups — we were posting up a few different guys, post up Jesse, post up Marko, post up Delante and then we got some drives too. It wasn't just launching threes. With Jesse and Delante, pick and choose, and Charlie got a couple big drives too. And Jalen at the end of the drives sometimes we had to kick it out and we were able to make some shots off that stuff."

On Delante's fourth foul and him needing to realize value to team
"Yeah, absolutely. You'd rather give up the two, have Delante out there, but that's another thing that he has to learn, get used to, he's trying to defend, he's trying to make a play on the ball. That's something that a veteran — a veteran would be able to make that play and make that determination."

On the back and forth, unpredictable nature of the Patriot League
"Yeah, I mean every team's equal. Every team plays really hard, they run their stuff, they're well-coached at this point in the season, everyone knows what the other team's gonna do. So it's just a matter of just toughness. They were driving by us and they were finishing a lot of their drives and we weren't — I think we stopped their drives with the zone a little bit so that helped us a lot but at this point in the season it's just make shots, get rebounds, play harder each possession, stuff that coaches say all the time."

On what's been the biggest key in winning 8 of 11
"Obviously Delante and Jesse are scoring points but I think everybody's contributing on a given night. I mean we don't know — we need something from everybody, Andrija got two big rebounds in the last few minutes there, Jalen comes in and makes some big 3s, and Charlie just gives you what he gives you every night. So you just need everybody to be ready at any given time."

On Jesse's progression this season and finding the balance of looking for his offense vs. creating for others
"I give Jesse a ton of credit. He's been so consistent throughout the year and it was tough early on when I'm telling him, 'Pass the ball, pass the ball,' because he's wired to score and he feels like, 'I can score.' But he's gotten much better as a passer, and that's allowed these other guys to contribute and help him. So I think for him, for his game to sort of expand the way it has this year, it's just a testament to him and what he does on a daily basis in practice. It's hard to change your game but still have the scoring. He's done that."

On Delante shooting 70% at the rim, getting to the free-throw line frequently and showing poise like on the game-winning possession vs. Holy Cross
"He's got a good feel for the game, good knack for when to drive, he's usually pretty much under control when he drives. (If) he gets cut off, he doesn't sort of — he's got a counter. But he's just a good player and I thought he was — teams are playing us a little harder (on perimeter), so it's a little difficult to maybe pick and choose your spots. I think he was trying to drive a few times when he shouldn't have but him and Jesse have found a good balance. We need them to score, we need them to be aggressive, we need them trying stuff — so if they have a few turnovers here and there trying to do stuff, you've got to live with that because those are the guys who've gotta make plays."

More on the Patriot League and AU having a legitimate chance in the Patriot League tournament
"Everybody can beat everybody, we've known that. So we're just trying not to be the one to get beat. I mean, that's about it."

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Is team capable of this kind of comeback even a month ago?
JESSE

"I mean I think we've grown a lot on the court and off the court. Our chemistry's been great. We're starting to learn how to play for each other and fight for each other, dig in a little more. It just comes with experience. I don't know if a month ago we'd be able to pull that off; I don't know if yesterday we'd be able to pull that off. But today we dug deep and we found a way."

JALEN
"I think it's a just a matter of playing together and everything coming together. We practice it every day and just waiting for that time for the pieces to fall together."

On holding Navy without a basket for 6 minutes down the stretch
JALEN

"Just communicating and being there. When somebody gets beat, trying to help our teammates out and once they put a shot up, just rebounding and boxing out and making sure that we got the ball back and we're ready to go down and get a good shot on offense."

On holding Will Kelly (22 points) without a point the last nine minutes
JESSE

"That's tough to do. I don't know how to explain that one."

On going to the 2-3 zone. What did coach say about going to the zone?
JESSE

"I mean, he didn't really say why — he just said, 'Run 2' and we just stuck with it. At first he said, 'Run 2 for one possession,' and once we got a stop he was like, 'All right, stay in it.' Yeah, my guess was (to) try to neutralize them down low, we were getting beat up pretty bad down low and we couldn't really guard their post that well. So kind of packing it in a little bit and making it a little harder for them to catch the ball or get good position I think really helped us a lot."

Jesse, are you thinking about fact that games are winding down your senior season?
"Nah, I'm staying in the moment. I'm just trying to enjoy each day as it comes. I'll think about it being my senior year after I'm done, but right now we got games to play, we got practices to go through. I'm just trying to enjoy 'em as they come each and every day."

How important was getting dribble penetration late in the game?
JESSE

"Yeah, our offense works great whenever we're working inside-out instead of just hanging around the perimeter. A lot of us were making good drives and finding guys wide open for shots. Jalen was able to come in and give us a spark — really knock down some big shots to help us get back in it. Just working inside-out really helps us a lot instead of just staying on the perimeter."

On being a game from finishing .500 in the league after starting 0-6
JALEN

"It just comes back to coach Brennan telling us he's not going to judge us by wins and losses. It's just a matter of if we're getting better every day and I think the games down the stretch attest to that, that we just do what we practice, we're trying to win games and it's working out for us."

On how good Jalen is shooting from the corners. What is it about those spots?
JALEN

"I think it's just in our offense where I happen to end up and drives come and the defense collapses and Jesse and Charlie and Delante and everybody are able to find me somehow in the corner and I just happen to be right there in the corner. I'm gonna keep shooting them, I know they'll keep finding me. I don't know what it is about the corner, but I'm going to try to stay close to the corner."

Jesse on if at all playing his final games as a senior is in back of mind and playing like it
JESSE

"I mean it's hard not to think about but I just focus on hanging with these guys every day. I know the days are numbered so I'm really just trying to make the most of it. I'm not really thinking about, 'This is my last game here, this is my last game there.' It's more of just enjoying each and every day as they come and if unfortunately it does come to an end, I'll worry about that when the times comes. But until then I'm just gonna enjoy having fun with my brothers."

On feeling confident beating anyone in the league with tournament just around the corner
JALEN

"Yeah I think the Patriot League, it's pretty much just whoever's night it is, it's pretty even. If it happens to be our night, I think we can make a run. We'll just have to wait and see."

Quotes: Mike Brennan and players talk win over Lafayette

American head coach Mike Brennan and players Marko Vasic and Charlie Jones spoke to the media after the Eagles' 60-59 win over Lafayette that snapped a three-game losing streak and improved AU to 8-18, 6-9 in the Patriot League. 

MIKE BRENNAN
On the winning possession

"I don't even know if we drew it up for Charlie, to be honest with you. We come out, we try to draw up what we think will work but a lot of times teams play you differently and we don't run plays a ton anyway. So you just rely on your guys just making reads and trusting in their decision-making and that's what happened on that play. But Charlie just does so many other (things). Obviously the 3 was big, but he does a million other things to make you win the game. I thought Jesse was huge at the end there, too. I mean Jesse's getting baskets to the rim and he's rebounding — 15 and nine, that's a heck of a job for Jesse to be able to do that."

On Charlie making winning plays late in games (going back to LaSalle game last year)
"Yeah well he's confident and he knows that I trust him. He knows that I know he's doing all he can to win so whether it's a right decision, wrong decision, good shot, bad shot, I know that he's always thinking, 'I gotta do what we need on this possession.' And now that he's, he's a junior now so he's had a lot of minutes under his belt, he's getting more comfortable making some decisions like that down the stretch."

Would you like Charlie to take more shots (2-3 vs. Lafayette)?
"Nah, not really — 2-3, that's pretty good, I'll take 2-3. I think he's making the right decisions shooting when he should shoot."

On Marko's big four points to end regulation
"Again it happened last year where he was at center at the end the last however many games. He's just comfortable at that spot and he knows what he's doing, all the experience. He's got good instincts for the game and he can maneuver himself against the bigger guys guarding him."

How have you felt the upperclassmen have performed ?
"You saw Charlie tonight doing what he did, Marko doing what he did, and Jesse's been consistent the whole year. They've been terrific. Obviosuly the team, in a year like this, everyone can pack it in a long time ago and they've done the exact opposite. And that's why we're battling it out and you're coming away with a win just on one or two plays because what you're doing in practice."

How did you feel the team moved the ball/executed offensively in the first half?
"Well every team plays you differently and they were switching and doing some things that were sort of getting us back on our heels. But 25-24 — these days I'll take 24. But I think they did a good of just being more aggressive and adjusting in the second half and not letting just switching stymie them."

On making a concerted effort to get the ball inside to Jesse in the second half
"We don't have much of a post presence from anybody down there so we don't get a lot of easy baskets, we don't get a ton of transition or anything inside. So that's one way we can and Jesse has a mismatch so he made some — those are some big-time shots, lefty hooks were not easy, they weren't layups, so it's a testament to his work ethic and what he does every day in practice getting ready."

On Delante continuing to attack the rim and be aggressive despite rough shooting night
"Yeah absolutely, he's not gonna stop, he's not gonna get gun shy. He's sort of wired to score and he thinks the next one's going in kind of thing. And he needs that mentality and we need for him to have that mentality."

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CHARLIE AND MARKO

Charlie on making big plays the last couple minutes
"I actually screwed up a couple times beforehand so I was just glad I was able to make some plays there at the end. I kind of put us in a bad spot a few times overhelping, trying to be a little too ambitious on defense, so I've got to get better at that. Everyone made plays at the end, we did a good job as a team coming together getting stops and rebounding and just made some big plays."

Marko on whether the team came out a little tight being the favorite in a game for the first time in several games
"I don't think we actually thought about the record necessarily or anything like that. I just thought, I thought we had some good open shots the first half, they just didn't fall in, and coach told us at the half to keep running our offense and keep getting those open shots and we got them in the second half and we made some of them. I don't think we necessarily thought about the record and that we're favorites and stuff like that. I just think the shots didn't fall in the first half."

How often do you guys still think about the Patriot League title game last year? How much does it motivate you?

Charlie
"They're two different teams this year. I mean last year they'll always have that championship, there's really nothing we can do about it. It will kind of always sting when you think back about it, but lamenting over it's not really gonna do anything now. So we just gotta keep getting better as a team and hopefully work our way back there sometime soon."

Marko
"Again the same thing — I don't think anyone thinks during the game about the fact that this game means more or less than any other game, it's just focusing on details, we do what we're supposed to do. Of course losing that games sucks, but I don't think anyone thinks about it anymore."

How do you guys deal with last season's tight 6-man rotation vs. this year's more constant subbing and unpredictability in terms of minutes?

Marko
"I think it's actually good that more players are playing now, bringing their own strengths and having other players rest more. Our freshman class is very good this year and they're getting the opportunity to play a lot and that's always good for us the more players play for us."

Charlie
"Yeah, definitely, everyone can help us win in their own way. Some guys might not play a lot one night but we know that we're gonna need them the next night to come out on the court and step up and help us win, just gotta be ready."

Charlie, describe the last play, the inbound. Were you the first option?
"The play was really just to try to get a good shot. I was going backdoor from the beginning and luckily I was able to make a pretty hard cut and Delante saw me late and he made a great pass to get me the ball. But in that situation we knew we had one second on the shot clock, need something quick, so the plan was for me to go backdoor or Jesse coming off a screen to get a shot up."

Charlie on having the propensity to take and make big shots late in games even if he hasn't shot much until the final moments
"All of the shots regardless of when I take them are the same — I missed a free throw in the first half that if I would've made, we wouldn't have had to go to overtime. So I don't really view any one play or any one shot in any particular moment as being more important than the others. All of them have equal weight in the end contributing to the scoreboard, so I'm just always ready trying to find a way to make a play when need be."

Marko on his approach and mindset at the end of regulation scoring the last four points and whether he thought of the Bucknell game last year (when he missed two late free throws with AU down 1) when he went to the line and sank the two with 21 seconds left
"I didn't really think about it at that moment, but now I think about it (that you mentioned it). But yeah it was just, we were just running our offense and Lafayette was playing us hard. So the first move I made, no one was open and I thought I could take my guy one on one and I made a move, spun and scored the first time. When I got fouled, I really wasn't trying to think about the moment of the game, I was just focusing on making the free throws so I wasn't putting that extra pressure on me, I guess, I was just focusing on making those two shots. Luckily, they got in unlike Bucknell."

Quotes: Mike Brennan and players talk win over Bucknell

Head coach Mike Brennan and senior Marko Vasic and junior Paris Maragkos spoke to the media after American's 69-55 win over Bucknell, the Eagles' fifth consecutive victory.

MIKE BRENNAN

On Paris' big game (11 points, 3 reb, 2 ast, 2 steals)
“Paris has continued to work hard and improve. Tonight he got the opportunity to show what he does every day. It’s good for him to give us something.”

How much of Paris’ progression is being able to stay out of foul trouble, especially in game like tonight?
“Yeah, that’s a big part of it especially (when) he’s gotta guard Foulland, who’s a big physical heavy athletic guy. They’re trying to throw it to him over and over, and he’s good. So it’s a lot of work — so it requires a lot of work to stay out of foul trouble.”

What’d you do differently at all to try to contain Foulland and also stop Hass for a second game (3-11, 10 points)?
“Obviously we tried to take away 3-pointers from Hass taking them and make Foulland work for the ball. He’s obviously gonna get it and score so he still had 11 and 13 tonight. Our guys are just collectively doing it — it’s all five guys just working together to take those two things away.”

How tough was it playing on such short rest?
“This week was tough because we had the Holy Cross game (and) it was like one day of prep and one day of prep, so it was harder for Holy Cross because that was the first time we played them. It was the second time with Bucknell so we kind of knew, a little bit, we’re familiar with them. But to be honest, our preparation — we’re concentrated on ourselves, making sure that each guy’s getting better and the team’s getting better.”

How do you view this win? See it more from self-improvement standpoint or as being able to compete with best of the league, having beat the top team?
“It’s just one game. We caught them on a night (when) they’re 0-15 from 3 — that doesn’t happen very often [Note: first time in 375 games]. So they, obviously we need them to play poorly. I think we had something to do with it with our defense, but we also need them to miss shots and not have a great game. They’re obviously the top team in the league. It’s just one game and we’ve just got to continue to improve and worry about Lehigh on Saturday.”

Going against Bucknell’s pressuring guards, how impressed are you with James and Delante’s poise and just four combined turnovers?
“They’ve played a lot of minutes and they’ve had a lot of experience. We knew they were gonna be good and we liked them; we just had to go through some growing pains, they’re freshmen. Them having all that experience is allowing them to be able to compete now, to be able to compete and be able to help us win games.”

What’s the biggest area of improvement for James?
“It’s not just one — just playing, just college basketball’s hard and it’s a lot for a freshman. He’s playing 30 something minutes, the guy’s playing a lot of minutes as a freshman handling the ball, guarding guys, it’s a lot of work. The whole group has worked every day. They’ve never wavered regardless of what our record was — give them credit for sticking together, everybody, the whole team”

On American’s improved rebounding and outrebounding Bucknell
“Obviously as you go through the year each game a deficiency shows up. Obviously against Army that’s what they do well, and that showed up in a big way. So it’s something that we knew we had to attack. So again our guys, we practiced, we work on it, they do it, they work hard at it, they get better at it, and so we did against Navy, another team that rebounds very well, and this team it’s the same way. They’re older, strong guys so it’s a lot of work for our guys to keep them off the boards.”

On Jesse playing through the late injury (40 minutes for fourth time in five games)
“Yeah, of course he doesn’t want to leave the game ever, I don’t want him to leave the game ever. But he’s used to playing 40 minutes, he’s done it the last two years, he’s done it all year this year. It’s not been easy, it’s not been an easy 40 minutes, so he’s sort of gotten used to it.”

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MARKO & PARIS

When you were sitting at 0-6, did you ever think you’d be here 5-6 having beat the best team in the league?
Paris: “Honestly we knew that we were gonna improve. The freshmen came along and we really need them. I think the chemistry’s way better on the team, and we were expecting that this time was gonna come.”

Marko: “We weren’t really concerned about our current record. Our coach wants us — obviously it’s always better to win the game than lose — but our coaches just want us to get better every day, to be at our best, just like last year, to be at our best when it’s most important towards the Patriot League championship and tournament and I think we’re heading in the right direction. We really weren’t expecting, OK, after our sixth loss, it’s not like that’s when things started clicking. We just kind of stick to it, we were doing the things we’re supposed to do and we’re getting more mature as a team each day, and I think that things are starting to fall in place. But there’s still a lot of other games to play. We’ve got to stay focused. We’ve got to get ready for Lehigh.”

How did the foul trouble affect you?
Marko: “It personally didn’t affect me. I was kind of mad at myself for a couple plays that I was late where I was supposed to be and I just wanted to make sure that the next play I’m gonna be there in time and just try to make the right play instead of commiting a foul. So I don’t think it affected me.”

Paris, how much did you have to adjust in the second half especially with the way the refs were calling it?
Paris; “As Marko said, you should not look at what happened in the past, you should always look at the next play. I honestly had to play better defense. I had to drop the post differently, the refs were calling some fouls — actually were calling too many fouls to be honest — but I had to adjust my defense.”

How did you prepare yourself for that moment not having played in crunch time recently?
Paris: “As coach says, everybody has to be ready when he gets the opportunity. I will always be ready when my coach needs me, (which is) the same for everybody on the team. You just have to be ready, that’s all.”

How hard has this stretch of three games in five days been?
Paris: “It’s been hard, it’s been really hard. You just — it’s what we love so that’s what we do, that’s why we are here, and academics of course. But yeah you just have to stick with it, to be honest.”

How much tougher was the short rest playing against a team that plays at Bucknell’s pace?
Marko: “I think coach did a great job preparing us for the game as well as resting some of our guys, did a great job of doing both, and obviously we’ve already played them once, we know what kind of pace they’re running … we knew what to improve on from the last game and I thought we did a great job running back on defense, which was the most important thing this game, and finding our matchups, making sure that we were in front of our man, so I thought we did a great job there.”

Delante and James only two turnovers apiece. How far have they come in terms of playing poised?
Marko: “It’s just crazy how much they’ve improved since the beginning of the year. They’re more comfortable right now in this offense, they know how to read different things differently, whoever’s got them (up high), whoever’s sagging off of them, so I think they’ve improved tremendously since the beginning of the year and I think it’s showing in the number of turnovers they’re making every game.”

On Paris shooting 3s and is he comfortable doing so? (4-6 on season)
Paris: “We’re trying to hide this for later, but yes, I feel like whenever we need a 3, I could be the guy who could take it. We obviously have better shooters. I’m the center so, you know, it’s good to have it in your game, but I’m not going to force it.”

Does coach encourage you to shoot it?
Paris: “Oh yes, yes, yes, absolutely, absolutely.”

Marko, what was going through your head on that last-minute dunk? Making a statement?
Marko: “No, I just saw that the shot clock was less than the game clock so I just wanted to make a play. I saw that I was wide open there, no one was in front of me. I didn’t have to kick it out, so I had the momentum. So I just kind of made what I thought was the right play at the moment. That wasn’t no statement or anything.”