Press conference transcript: Lafayette's Fran O'Hanlon faces his alma mater
Courtesy of ASAP Sports.
MODERATOR: Questions for the Lafayette student-athletes, Seth Hinrichs, Nick Lindner and Dan Trist.
Q. Dan, you just want to talk about this opportunity coming up Thursday night?
DAN TRIST: Yeah, I mean, it's obviously a big opportunity for us. Villanova is the second best team in the country. We're playing well at the moment, but we obviously have got to do some things to compete with them and do a good job and represent ourselves well.
Q. Seth, last year, you guys opened up the season, gave Villanova a really good game. I know that was a while ago at this point. How much confidence does that give you guys knowing it's pretty much the same group for you guys, same group for them? How much does that give you guys confidence right now?
SETH HINRICHS: It gives us some familiarity. It was Nick's first game. He had a few nerves going. So I think we've grown a lot since then. Nick obviously has blossomed into the one of the best point guards in the Patriot League, if not the best. Dan has been playing really well this year in the post. I don't think Dan played much in that game. Just having those two pieces especially come along as far as they have gives us a little bit of a boost. And obviously, having played them, we have some familiarity with what they do as a team offensively and defensively.
Q. Nick, Ryan was saying that you guys have worked out together in high school. What's your relationship like with him and how familiar are you with him?
NICK LINDNER: Yeah, we played together in middle school in the same AAU team. Then throughout high school, we had a couple workouts together. Just between our relationship, I have a lot of respect for him, especially for his game. He's a nice guy. But definitely, a great player. So I respect him a lot.
Q. Dan, just talk about playing against Ochefu and their other bigs.
DAN TRIST: Ochefu and Pinkston, probably one of the best front guards in the country. Ochefu is a great shot blocker, finishes well around the rim, big strong guy. Pinkston is a pretty versatile forward. So I think they present kind of two different looks at you. But I think a big part of that is if we can kind of contain the guard penetration, that will minimize their looks and obviously do a good job on the glass. That will stop their second chance efforts.
Q. For either Seth or Dan, Jay Wright said he didn't think a Patriot League team should be a 16 seed. Do you feel a little disrespected by the seeding you were given? Do you feel not pressure - but considering no 16 has ever beaten a 1, do you feel like you guys could be the ones to pull it off?
SETH HINRICHS: We went 9-9 in conference, so that doesn't bode well for seeding. Our RPI was probably a little bit lower than a lot of the other teams that were in the tournament that got an automatic bid from the conference tournament. I think the 16 seed was justified. Whether or not that plays a factor into it, we don't really care. We're just happy to be here and happy to be playing Villanova and excited to have the opportunity to be the first 16 seed to knock off a 1 seed.
Q. Some of Nova's key players were a little unproductive in their conference tournament. Do you think that carries into tomorrow or do you think it's a clean slate?
SETH HINRICHS: It's a clean slate. Obviously, you want to have more momentum and confidence. Whether their confidence is down, we don't know. Their sixth man, Hart, came off the bench and filled the void for them. They're a well balanced team. It doesn't matter who's playing well. Any one of them can step up and play well with them. They're like eight deep or something. They're obviously a really well balanced team offensively. Any one of them could go off. We've got to limit any one particular person from going off.
Q. Nick, from that first time you guys played Villanova last year, do you feel like yourself as a player is totally different now?
NICK LINDNER: Yeah, I think as time goes on, you get that playing experience. I've been in numerous situations that helped me grow and get better. Obviously, every day, watching film, practicing with these guys and I think that helps me a lot just being older and as time goes on.
MODERATOR: Any other questions for the student-athletes? Gentlemen, thank you. We have Lafayette head coach Fran O'Hanlon. We'll start with an opening statement from coach and then go to Q&A. Coach?
FRAN O'HANLON: I think a couple of you guys have asked me questions. I don't know if I have to fill you in anymore. We're excited to be here. It's a great opportunity. It's been a little bit of time since I've been here, but I know our guys are excited and they'll be ready to go out and compete.
Q. Hi, Fran. Jay was talking about how difficult a matchup it is against your three-point shooters spreading the floor against his defense. What do you find in their three-point attack that concerns you most with your defensive philosophy against them?
FRAN O'HANLON: Was Jay really scared there, Joe? This is a terrific basketball team. I've had the misfortune now that we're going to play them, of having seen them a lot this year. I watched them, I followed them very closely, having been a Villanova guy. Their statistics are unreal. They share the basketball. I think they have 150 more assists than they do turnovers, which is an incredible amount, the +/- there.
So it's not like - and you also can't concentrate just on one person. You're looking at the kid, Hart, coming in who may be their best player and they have so many good players. You've got Arch and you have Hilliard who has had some great games. They can just spread you out in so many ways, and we're going to have to play our absolute best game that we've played all year.
Q. Fran, could you talk about the job that Nate did spelling Seth or - I'm sorry, spelling Dan in the Bucknell game?
FRAN O'HANLON: I thought he did a tremendous job. Nate brings such size to us. He's 6'10", 260. I thought he did an awesome job defensively against Foulland which we really needed when Dan got in a little foul trouble there. He's going to have his - the last time we played Villanova, I thought he did a decent job. Hopefully he has one more of those games left in him.
Q. Fran, from the last time you guys played Villanova, obviously Nick's first game, is there one area you've seen him grow in the most, or is it just an overall confidence level he's bringing this year?
FRAN O'HANLON: I think that Nick is a much better player than he was when he played them last time. It was his first game in his back yard against a team that he - I know he followed for a long time. I thought he did a pretty good job that day of handling the pressure, of playing at Villanova. Nick has grown as a point guard. He shoots the ball better than he did at that time. He's playing at an all-time high as far as his confidence coming into this tournament. He's MVP of the Patriot League tournament, and just his last probably seven or eight games have been as good as I've seen him play all year.
Q. Fran, both your teams, to an extent, are jump shooting teams, both the teams in this game. Given day they go in; given day they don't go in. Not that you guys don't have a chance to play great basketball and win this game, but is that really sort of the puncher's chance you have to look for that, hey, it goes for us, doesn't go for them.
FRAN O'HANLON: First of all, getting shots, Bob. They are, as you know, a terrific defensive team as well. It's not like they're one-dimensional. I think their defense is terrific. They also have a shot blocker, a rim protector. So when they're going to come out and they're going to obviously going to try to chase us off the three-point line into Ochefu. I mean, that adds a different dimension than we are going to try to chase them off the three at times and we don't have the rim protector.
As you said, we need to make shots. We need to get shots against a team like this. If we can - I think the start of the game of making some shots, getting some shots and making them are going to be important for our confidence and for letting everybody know that we can play and compete in this game.
Q. We all know this is serious and it's a business. But have you had time to kind of soak it in and enjoy the moment, especially for a program like yourself that doesn't get here as often as some others?
FRAN O'HANLON: This has been a good time for us. There's a lot of attention that comes to us. Our kids are having a good time with it. We've been in the tournament since last Wednesday. So we've had a chance to soak it up. Also, me being a Philly guy and a Villanova guy and not being so far from Philadelphia as a team, I think there's been a lot of positives out of this. Probably the only negative is that we're going to have to play them tomorrow.
Q. Fran, you mentioned you don't have the rim protector like they do, but you still have some veteran bigs. What do they need to do to be effective against Ochefu and JayVaughn?
FRAN O'HANLON: They have to somehow neutralize Ochefu. I think when I look at Villanova, one of the big changes from last year is Ochefu has really developed into a presence down there offensively. So we're going to have to do a good job of trying to contain him somewhat, not let him get an easy shot in, if we can play them one on one in there. Because if you go down there, I think Ochefu is a very good passer out of the post. Then he's going to kick it out to some very good shooters. So our big guys have to do a decent job of containing Ochefu on the post.
Q. Fran, Jay was saying he doesn't think a Patriot League team should ever be a 16 seed. Is that something you guys have thought about at all or you take it in stride?
FRAN O'HANLON: I don't think too much about that. I'm glad that Jay said that. But as I said, it is what it is. And coming out of our league, our league this year has been as competitive as any time I remember it. When you look at our out-of-league, we did a good job out of league. You look at Lehigh beat DePaul or beat Arizona State and Army beat Southern Cal. We have some pretty good wins on our resume. I don't look at it like that. It is what it is. We're going to play a very difficult team, whether you're the 16th or the 15th or 14th seed.
Q. Coach, if you could maybe give your two or three biggest strengths as a team and then maybe couple of the areas where you guys have struggled this year that have magnified themselves, areas that maybe didn't come to full fruition for your ball club on the flip side.
FRAN O'HANLON: Sure, Ryan. You're not going to be talking to Jay any time in the next day, are you? Okay. Well, I would say number one, our strengths would have to be that we shoot the ball very well. We run a pretty good offense, I think, as far as moving the basketball and sharing the basketball, and we can spread you out with our three-point shooting.
Always one of the keys for us is how are we going to rebound the basketball, and that's going to be a key tomorrow against this team. You know they shoot threes and we get them to miss, there's going to be some long rebounds. So we're going to have to rebound the ball. That's something that has plagued us at times this year.
MODERATOR: Other questions for Coach O'Hanlon.
Q. If you could just describe your style of offense and then talk defensively a little bit in terms of zone, man, just a little bit about your philosophy on defense as well to get a better feel for your ball club.
FRAN O'HANLON: Sure. Offensively, I don't want to say it's Princeton-esque, but it is. It's back-doors and ball reversal and inside-out, you know. We move the ball, we move ourselves. We can be a tough matchup as far as that's concerned. Defensively, we mix it up. We'll play some man-to-man. We'll play some zone. We will extend it at times. Not that we're going to be trapping you all over the court, but we may just try to change the tempo of the game is kind of our philosophy.
Q. Fran, there's been some close calls over the past few years with 16 seeds beating 1s, in 1989, there was a few more there. Do you feel like over the next few years, there will be a 16 seed that beats a No. 1 team?
FRAN O'HANLON: '89. Was I around in '89? I think it's definitely going to happen one of these years. But hopefully - hopefully it can happen this year. We'll see. But I think there's no doubt you've had 15 seeds beat a 2. I don't see any reason why at some point it may not happen.