LAHAINA, Hawaii – Danny Manning, Devin Thomas and Bryant Crawford met with the media following Wake Forest’s 82-78 win over Indiana at the 2015 Maui Jim Maui Invitational at the Lahaina Civic Center.
Watch the full press conference below:
Quotes are available after the jump.
Q. Bryant, can you just talk about the final play where you scored the go-ahead?
BRYANT CRAWFORD: When we got into timeout, Coach drew up a play for Tinos (Konstantinos) to come and set a fake bust screen and for Devin to clean it up. He just told me get to the hole, and that’s what I did.
Q. Devin, you guys obviously got a lot of points in the paint and you were able to get drives to the lane repeatedly and you were able to score on Thomas Bryant. Why did you guys feel that would work, and why do you think it did work so well throughout the game?
DEVIN THOMAS: Just the offense we have. If we’re patient and we trust the offense, we can get any shot that we want in our offense. I think in the beginning of the second half we weren’t patient on offense, and I think we got a little too fast, and that’s how they got their fast breakpoints and pulled away a little bit. But we settled down. Kept being aggressive, driving to the hole. If we weren’t finishing our lay-ups, Tinos, a lot of our bigs were cleaning it up, and I think that’s how we got ourselves back in the game and pulled it out in the end.
Q. Talk about Tinos’ contributions in the first half, and how it kind of gave the team overall confidence?
COACH MANNING: Well, Tinos for us, last year was one of my better three-point shooters, and he’s the true definition of a stretch four, a post guy that can step out on the floor and make jump shots.
Tonight, he carried us in that first half. He didn’t score in the second half, but the work that he put in in the first half and having his presence out there on the court, the defense has to account for him, which opens up more driving lanes.
Indiana does a really good job of keeping the ball out of the paint, and we had some really good ball movement plays later on in the second half where we were able to get into the paint and score. But for us, we want to play inside out, and that’s something we work on each and every day. This afternoon it worked for us.
Q. I think you guys had strong rebounding games in pretty much every game so far this year. How much do you feel like that’s part of your team identity, and how much does it play into the win tonight?
DEVIN THOMAS: We stress that a lot in our philosophy and coach’s philosophy, trying to win the rebound war. Trying to win the fast break, second chance, a lot of those little details. Tinos does a great job rebounding. J.C. does a great job rebounding. I think our guards do a great job rebounding, and it’s a team effort, and I think that’s why we’re so successful at rebounding.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, Devin.
Q. Devin, talk about the last play that Indiana had with 3.2 seconds. They kind of went for broke and went for that touchdown pass. Did that play surprise you in the end trailing only by two points?
DEVIN THOMAS: Not really. I think you said they had three seconds to get the ball up. We kind of played back, expecting it. Luckily, No. 30 for Indiana kind of threw it in my area. I didn’t do a good job of catching the ball. It got knocked out of my hands. But thank Jesus that John Collins was there to save me and make me look good in the end.
Q. Bryant, could you give me your thoughts on the way Devin played and particularly his ability to drive against Thomas Bryant and how he used front court tonight?
BRYANT CRAWFORD: Like Devin said, we were trying to work inside out, and early on things weren’t falling for all of us, but Devin always brings energy, and when I started to realize how he was kind of dominating the paint, I told him nobody can stop you in there. And I kept going into him, and he was going in there strong, finishing like he normally does.
Q. You guys had 50 points in the first half, and you were shooting light’s out, 58 and 59%. Then in the second half it started slowly. I think you had like 19 or 20 points through the first 15 minutes. What was the difference? Were they doing anything different? What was the difference in the first part of the second half?
DEVIN THOMAS: Like I said earlier, we were rushing the offense. One pass, one shot, we were turning the ball over, just little things like that. We settled down the last eight, nine minutes of the game, trusted the offense.
Coach did a great job of putting us in situations to be successful and score, and we just came together and got the stops that we needed at the end, and it just feels good.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, Devin. Questions for Coach Manning.
Q. Coach, you guys are making your Maui debut today. What overall impression do you feel like you made in your first trip out here?
COACH MANNING: I think whenever you have the opportunity to come to a tournament like this, I think basketball-wise, it’s always a great experience. You’re always going to play quality opponents in record fashion in terms of three games in three days. So you have to prepare for that. For us, we want to come out and we want to work hard.
This is the second year that we’ve been together as a group, and we want to continue to build and try to get better with each practice and each game.
Indiana is a very, very good basketball team, and we all know that. They probably missed some shots they’d normally make. But when they get the ball out in transition, I think their back court is one of the better back courts in the country, to be honest with you. I think Yogi is terrific, Blackmon’s really, really good, and Troy puts so much pressure on you with that dribble penetration and getting into the paint. Then they’ve got shooters around and they share the basketball, so that’s a talented team.
But for us, we won our first game. We get to advance on the championship side of the bracket. That’s what it means. We’ve got to get ready to play another tough team tomorrow and go from there. There’s not a lot of time for celebrating, to be honest with you. We told the guys, great win, way to fight, way to grind it out, way enjoy it, for the short ride to the hotel. Once we hit the hotel property, we’ve got to start thinking about tomorrow.
Q. Coach, turnovers seemed to be the Achilles heel of your squad. It didn’t seem to hurt you as much, though you did have 17 to their 14. Can you talk about just handling the ball and the turnover situation overall? There were a lot that didn’t really hurt your club today?
COACH MANNING: That’s your opinion. I think it hurt us a lot. We turned the ball over enough for them to score 19 points off of our turnovers, and that number has to go down. We’re throwing a lot at our freshman point guard, Bryant Crawford. He made a big shot for us down the stretch, but he has to do a better job of securing the basketball and making easy plays throughout the course of the ballgame.
For us, we can’t go out and try to make home run plays. We just have to make — we use the baseball analogy a lot. We want to get a single, a hit by a pitch, we want to steal a base. We’re not up there trying to swing for the fences. That’s not who we are. We want a series of good, easy plays which makes a great series. We’re far from that, but we were a little better tonight in certain stretches during the game.
Q. You guys obviously got a lot of points in the paint, but a lot of them came on drives. Why do you think that was successful, and was it clearly part of your plan to go at Thomas Bryant and those guys?
COACH MANNING: Well, we’re going to go at whoever we play. That’s our mindset. That’s Indiana’s mindset. That’s all basketball teams’ in the country’s mindset. And tonight things just worked out for us down the stretch.
I think Devin Thomas does a really good job catching the basketball and putting pressure on his defender when he’s attacking the rim, and he was able to do that. Our guards were able to turn the corner and get into the paint.
I thought we did a really good job of keeping balls alive for offensive second-chance points. That’s a category we stress day-in and day-out. Second chance opportunities. We want to score points in the paint. We want to get out and score points in the fast break setting. It’s very hard to score against any team once they have their half court defense set.
Q. Last year you had so many close games against top 10 teams and you were right there. How much did that help you win a game like today?
COACH MANNING: Well, hopefully I think it had some type of impact on our guys, especially the guys that have been in our program for a while. It does you no good to have a moral victory, so to speak. So being able to, for us, break through in the situation we were in last year and come out on top, hopefully will give us more confidence in what we’re doing and help us down the road.
This is a game — this is like an ACC, regular season game. Indiana is one of the best teams in the country. For us to get the win in the fashion that we did with having to grind it out late and guys had to make plays, that’s something we can lean on down the stretch in the ACC play.
Q. Can you just talk about the final play? What you guys talked about in the timeout? What was the idea for Bryant to get to the basket or whatever, whatever the plan was?
COACH MANNING: We had Bryant bringing the ball up the court. Tinos shot the ball exceptionally well in the first half, so we had him come up and set kind of a brush pick, kind of a slip out of a ball screen, if you will. And then we had DT clean it up.
End of a ballgame like that, most of the time, Dino’s man is going to stay attached to him. And DT was able to get a good pick on Bryant’s man, and Bryant was able to turn the corner and get to the rim and finish. It was a great play by Bryant to get in there and find the seam and score. But that was kind of the look that we were going for, and we’re fortunate enough for it to work.