Head coach Trent Johnson
"Well, obviously if they're going to play this way, I think I need to stay
away from the games all the time. That's all I have to say. I think
I want to turn it over to Coach Oliver, who has been coaching this team all year
Can you just walk us through what happened on the play where you got
ejected, just sort of play-by-play a bit?
"Basically, I was out of line. Bottom line was I was trying to fight
for my kids, and there was no profanity or anything like that used. But I
had been warned prior to that, and I put our team in a bad situation, and it's
What were you warned?
"He had warned the bench when he told me to sit down and told me to calm down
a little bit; although, I thought I was pretty calm. There's a fine line
for me with my intensity on the sidelines in terms of fighting for my guys,
especially in the magnitude of the game and knowing how aggressive we need to
"But the bottom line is I put the kids in a bad situation, and I'm very
thankful and very fortunate to have guys like Doug, who actually was an
assistant coach when I was a player, and Nick Robinson."
What were you doing after the ejection? Were you watching it on TV?
Were you in the hallways? Wow did you spend the time?
"I was basically in the locker room watching it on TV."
Were you calm?
"There was nothing I could do. Actually, it's interesting, and that's
what I think gets me in trouble a little bit. My facial reactions and
demeanor gives you the impression, or most people, that I am angry and out of
control, where it's just the sideline intensity. I was very calm in the
"Like Mitch said, when the kids came in, my responsibility is to make sure
that they're not out of control or lose their composure like I did."
Trent, before this game, if most people were asked who is the gritty team,
they would have said Marquette. Do you think if there were doubts about
the grit of your team before this game, that some of that has shown through
"Again, we see these guys every day. We know our level of toughness.
We know our level of competitiveness. And I don't get caught up in
comparing our team to anybody else's teams because I don't see those teams every
day. I just know our guys have been very good all year long and very
competitive and very responsive to coaching."
Obviously a close game throughout. If this team had lost, would it
have been your fault?
"No question. Technical; six points. No question."
Did you have any past history? It seemed like you had something
early on, maybe even the first foul with that. Had there been anything
What did you tell Coach Oliver when you left, having played for him and
coached alongside him? What did you expect to take place when you put it
in his hands?
"Again, I think the kids emphasized it to their best. They're used to
hearing a bunch of voices. This is a coaching staff; it's not like these
guys answer to me. Doug has a wealth of basketball knowledge, so I didn't
need to tell Coach anything. We did the normal things we do at halftime.
"We talked about our adjustments. I was watching the game and his role
throughout game, which is like at practice - he has defense at times; he has
offense at times. Donny has defense at times and has offense at times."
Trent, it's not every day that a coach gets thrown out of an NCAA
Tournament game, and it didn't look like you said very much. There wasn't
a long conversation with either official. So there were really no magic
"No magic words. Hey, look, the officials have a tough job to do.
And, you know, the bottom line was the responsibility was on me, and I was out
of line. Just leave it at that, if you would, please."
Watching it on TV, was this Brook's finest game minutes as a college
"I thought he was impressive the second half. Mitch had 16 assists, one
turnover against this type of pressure, so I would have to say he had a lot to
do with that, too."
Doug said he was waiting for you to tell him something; before he knew it
you had left. Was that done deliberately? Did you leave without
"Again, I don't know if it was done deliberately, but I never think Doug
Oliver needs me. You know, the bottom line is he's been a head coach for,
like, 13-plus years. He was the assistant here and probably didn't get
enough credit for building the tradition and the foundation of this program when
he was by Mike's side, so it's not like he needs it. He's been better for
me than I have been for him."
Trent, just a little follow up. When you actually got ejected, you
looked a little surprised. Was the whole situation - did it unfold
quickly? Were you surprised?
"I was shocked. I was shocked, believe me. Again, it's
unacceptable. So you can say it's the high road, you can call it what you
want; it's still unacceptable."
Will you ever get ejected from a tournament game ever again?
"Well, I don't think I'll ever get up in a tournament game again. [Laughing]"
Assistant coach Doug Oliver
"It was the type of game that we've experienced this year, time and time
again. We've been in close ball games. For the most part, we were
able to keep the game in the half court, and it was just it was a hell of a
"I thought that Marquette answered when we got up a little bit. We
showed some composure down the stretch and got it to overtime, and you know,
that's why you play these games. The interesting thing is it's ironic that
during practice I coach the team, the other assistants take the team, and Coach
Johnson officiates. So that's the ironic part of it. [Laughing]
"So the kids are used to hearing my voice; that wasn't even a problem.
And we all stayed on the same page. And we just played good basketball.
And so did they."
You had a big decision in the second half when you took the twins out for
an extended period. What was the thinking of when you were going to bring
"It was going to be dictated by the score. We were fortunate to have a
cushion of five, six points when both of them picked up three fouls and we went
small. We were able to run a couple things that spaced the floor, took
time off the clock, so we got from nine-and-a-half minutes to seven. And
the game was tied, or it was a one-point ball game.
"So we put them back in with three fouls, and that was going to be good
enough. We were happy where we were bringing those two big guys back on the
floor at that time.
Doug, when Trent was ejected, how much calming down did you have to do
with the players? What was their demeanor at that time going into the last
[Trent Johnson:] "Tell them it was just like when you threw me out of
practice when I was a player. [Laughing]
"Earlier when someone asked the question about what we discussed, Trent, when
it was time, he walked off. I looked and maybe thought he would say
something to me, but he just made his exit. I turned back and the kids
were - they weren't chippy; they were sort of emotional.
"I just yapped at them a little bit, got their attention, so that they would
hear one voice to calm down, and Mitch said it best. We were down 11, and
we were able to get to halftime down six, and that's really the only thing that
Doug, I think you put your hands to your head as soon as the ejection
signal was given. It looked like you kind of went like this...
"I didn't see the first technical. When I saw the hand go up to leave,
I was a bit shocked and caught off guard. And, you know, I watched Trent a
little bit, and then I just - I actually started to work into the moment of head
"I mean, I've done this before, so it was like having to take a deep breath,
think back and get the attention of the players. It's about the kids.
I've said it a long time, and Trent knows this: X's and O's are pretty simple.
It's about emotion, about young men and getting them on the same page, and we
were able to do that."
Coach Oliver, did you throw Trent out of practice when he was a player and
you were an assistant? And what was it for?
"The answer is yes. The answer is yes. He remembers the incident
vividly. I guess it scarred him, I don't know. [Laughing]
He was mixing it up with one of the guys. I said that was enough,
because it was screwing up my drill. He wanted the last word, and I
wouldn't let him have it. So he made an exit, and we continued on with
Sophomore forward/center Brook Lopez
Brook, I wanted to ask you to kind of walk us through what was going
through your head that last possession.
"Coach called the play. He wanted to bump - he wanted me to post up on
the block and just bump my man off. Fred did a really good job just
getting me open, and then Mitch just gave me a really good pass, you know, so I
got a good look. I mean, it was a good look, thanks to Mitch. I was
on the floor looking at it, so I don't really know what to say."
Brook, were you actually behind the backboard when you shot that? It kind
of looked from that angle that you were.
"I think I might have been a bit. I think my hand was in front of it,
luckily. The rest of my body was behind it. Like I said, I was
pretty much watching from behind the backboard the whole time, and the ground.
So I guess I got a nice bounce or something."
Have you had a game winner like that, and obviously anything close to that
kind of pressure on that kind of shot?
"I don't think so, really. I remember Gonzaga - a year ago in
regulation I missed a fade away bank shot, so I was really looking just to
attack the basket this time."
Brook, it seemed like there was a lot of emotion in the paint tonight.
Did you feel like they were trying to get you guys off the game by being really
physical and talking to you?
"No. You know, I've got to really cherish these games that are really
physical, and you've got guys talking to you. You've just got to let your
game do the talking, so I just kept attacking."
How did you guys feel about your size advantage early on when you guys got
that 7-0 lead or 9-2 lead on your brother's back early posting up?
"We came in wanting to play inside out, and Robin did a great job of just
getting it inside, playing slow, looking at what the defense gave him. If
they came to double, you kicked it out. If it was just one-on-one, you
attacked the basket."
Brook, you had 28 in the second half and overtime. You've had a
couple games this year where you struggled in the first half with foul trouble
then had a big second half. Were you able too draw on some of these
"Yeah, it really did help. I just had to put the first half behind me.
We were basically down 6-0. We knew we had to get back in the game without
Coach, so I was just attacking the basket and playing defense."
Junior point guard Mitch Johnson
Mitch, just what was going through your head and your teammates' head when
you see your coach get ejected like that that quick, then get down 11 pretty
quickly after the that?
"We just talked about staying together. It's kind of been the theme of
our team for whatever reason this year. We just really wanted to stay
together. We talked about a lot of mental toughness. Coach Oliver
got us together very quickly and said, "Let's just try to end the half out."
I think there was about three minutes left. He said, "End the half out
right," and I think that was huge. Kenny Brown hit a big shot. We
came in at halftime and kind of got that emotional high and kind of regrouped a
little bit, and took a deep breath and just got back to playing basketball."
Mitch, you looked a little more aggressive early for your shot. You
were three of three from three. Were you trying to be a little more
"I saw at the start of the game, it looked like they were really sitting in
our big guys' laps. I thought if we could hit a couple perimeter jump
shots, which Kenny did, and Anthony as well, that can always relieve pressure of
our big guys.
"We talk about it all the time, going inside out. I think the NCAA
Tournament these past two games have been the best that Brook and Robin have
passed out of the post. I think that's a big thing for them because then
it's almost kind of pick your poison. If we're hitting our shots - I think
he scored twice in a row in overtime, then passed out to me, and I hit a three.
And I think that's huge because now they really can't double him too much, and
he can score usually one-on-one. We'll take our chances."
You told us a little bit about the mindset that you had after your coach
was ejected, but it's a pretty rare thing that happened here. What was
your initial response to seeing him be ejected?
"I don't think we really knew what happened at the beginning. I thought
it was just one technical, then I kind of saw someone's arm give him the umpire
'You're out of here.' And at that point I just knew we really had to
regroup. We had a couple emotional times there, like I said, before
halftime, and Coach Oliver did a great job of really pulling us together and
just regrouping and having everybody kind of use that adrenaline into the second
half and the rest of the game.
"So I think we also had a little extra adrenaline because Stanford hasn't
been past the second round to the next weekend for a while, and I actually
haven't talked about it, but I knew that was something that I really wanted to
do. So there was definitely a little bit of extra adrenaline and emotion
in this game"
[Brook Lopez:] "I was thinking the same thing, really. Once I
realized what happened, we really wanted to regroup. Coach did a great job
of calming us down and just preparing us for the game, and our team was just
really good about it.
"We've been playing together for so long we knew what we had to do. We
just had to go out and play our game, play inside out and try to 'D' up as much
Mitch, obviously you played a lot of great games in high school and
college. Where would you put this in terms of the stakes, in terms of the
"I think I'd have to put it number one, just because of the magnitude of the
game. I won a couple state championships, but that's not anything compared
to the NCAA Tournament play for the Sweet 16 and the way that we had to battle
for 45 minutes and just really show our toughness and character. I put it
as probably the most intense game, considering the magnitude."
Mitch, as a point guard what are you seeing when you're trying to feed the
ball inside to Brook and to Robin? What do you see as a point guard, as
far as your keys to try to be able to get them the ball at the correct time?
"I think a big thing is the weak side. A lot of times, guys want to sag
off certain people, or the other big guy will be kind of on Brook's back almost
as a double-team, so Robin and Taj and our other post a lot of times do a great
job of flashing, so that guy has to get away.
"At that point it's just Brook to give me the angle to pass it to and kind of
try to put it right on the money, so he gets it and usually can turn and get one
or finish, and that was kind of what he did when we needed it."
Was Coach Johnson waiting for you at halftime? What did he tell you
if he was? And what was the mood and discussion like at halftime?
"When we first came in, I think I was the last person in, but he was kind of
off to the left. When I looked in the locker room real quick, he met with
the coaches before he addressed the team. We just talked amongst ourselves
and said we've got to regroup.
"He came in and went over the pointers and said we've shown mental toughness
and character the whole year, and he just wanted us to show it. Like Coach
Oliver said, we've had different coaches and different voices. We stay
together no matter what. That was kind of like I said, the theme to stay
together no matter what happened. I think Marquette had us on the ropes a
couple times, and we really showed a lot of character tonight."
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