Courtesy of ASAP Sports.
MODERATOR: We have Villanova student-athletes Ryan Arcidiacono and Darrun Hilliard and head coach Jay Wright. We'll begin with a statement from Coach Wright. Coach?
COACH WRIGHT: First, I want to give credit to NC State. They played a great game and I think they were able to impose their will and do the things that they did well all season and take us out of what we do well. And I think they did that with great, great perimeter defense and great protection of the rim.
Also want to say being in Pittsburgh, for an old Big East town, I want to thank everybody in Pittsburgh. Everybody is so nice to us here. It's a great weekend in Pittsburgh. It's a great town and really appreciate all the people, Duquesne and all the Pitt people that were so nice to us here. It was great to spend a weekend here. Tough way to leave, but a great weekend in Pittsburgh.
MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes only, please.
Q. Darrun, early in the game, you guys missed a few layups. I know you guys are always next play, but did you kind of wonder what was going on in the first half and the second half, you missed a couple more?
DARRUN HILLIARD: No, we weren't really worried about our misses. We got great looks, got to the basket and we just had to go in at halftime and work on our decision making. I don't think missing those layups or those easy baskets really fazed us, it was just our decision making in taking them.
Q. Ryan, when the outside shots weren't falling for you guys tonight, were you thinking let's try and score other ways, or was it let's just keep looking for shots and they'll start falling eventually?
RYAN ARCIDIACONO: We just tried to take open looks and tried to mix things up, because they were trying to take away our 3-point shots, so we kind of changed it up. We got better looks in the second half. Darrun and Phil were the only ones able to knock some down. We were just trying to -- we should have got a little bit more in the mid range, but we were trying to get in the lane and trying to second cut look for each other on the perimeter.
Q. Arch and Darrun, the game reminded me lot of the Xavier game on the road and the beginning of the St. Johns at Wells Fargo. Did you guys think things would turn around, they were shooting the ball really well and you weren't, in the second half you would come out firing and take over?
DARRUN HILLIARD: Well, we've been in games like this many times this year, like you said, Xavier, St. John's, Syracuse. We've been in battles like this before. And today wasn't our day. There's some higher purpose in this, and we'll take the good with the bad. But we've been through many battles like this before and we're going to take this one on the chin and we're going to come back tomorrow as better people.
MODERATOR: Other questions for the student-athletes?
Q. Darrun, you don't get to come back tomorrow and next year. Was that on your mind as things were going down towards the end and you were trying to will the team back into it?
DARRUN HILLIARD: I'm still going to be here tomorrow. I'm not going anywhere. Even when I leave Villanova, I'm still going to be here. Nothing is going to change with that. My mindset on me leaving or what's going to happen in the future, that has nothing to do with the game. So I wasn't thinking about that at all. And like I said, I'm going to be here tomorrow and the next day and the next day too.
Q. For Ryan, there was a sizable gap between you guys and the rest of the big five this year. It was a pretty sizable gap between you guys and the rest of the Big East. How do you -- does that change? How do you look at the totality of your year when you win 33 games and only lose three times and are going home now?
RYAN ARCIDIACONO: We judge ourselves on Villanova basketball. I think we did that throughout the whole year. Three times, three games this year, we just weren't able to do it. The other team was better that day. So I think that's - you just have to credit NC State for the way that they played.
But that doesn't define our whole season. We've won back-to-back Big East championships and the Big East tournament championship for the first time in 20 years. So yes, this hurts. It hurts everyone that we're not making it to the next weekend. But I think we battled down to the very last second, did what-- we did what we do and we work every single day on end-of-game situations like that. I just think we executed to the best of our ability.
MODERATOR: Anyone else for the student-athletes? Gentlemen, thank you. Questions for Coach Wright.
Q. Coach, you said yesterday you were a little nervous about what their big men could do after you saw what they did to LSU. Did that pretty much come through tonight?
COACH WRIGHT: I think we started to see in the LSU game, they started to get a lot more balance. Their young big guys started coming along. I think that's a great credit to Mark and his staff. I think they stuck with those guys, stuck with those guys. They're young. And at this point in the year, they're gaining confidence and playing great.
We did a pretty good job on their guards, only giving them 3s, but their forwards inside and, you know, they had four guys in double figures and two of those guys were their forwards. That didn't happen a lot for them this year. So in some ways, we did what we wanted to do defensively, but those forwards stepped up and were a big difference. And on the offensive glass.
Q. Jay, a lot will be made about your shooting percentage today. Your kids did hit some big shots down the stretch and you did make some runs. Seemed like NC State, though, answered just about every time. Was there something that - just talk about your inability to get some stops in some of those situations.
COACH WRIGHT: I think it was a combination of us not making good decisions early in the game. We were getting shots but not good shots. And we were taking a lot of contested shots. That's a credit to their defense. And I thought there was a couple times there at the end of the game where we could have got a rebound. We had a stop, we didn't get a rebound. We had a stop, got a rebound, jump ball. We didn't protect the ball. So all those little things are going to cost you when you're playing a good team and it's kind of what Ryan was referring to. They're not things we normally do, but we did them today. When you do them, you have to give the credit to the opponent also. They force you into those situations.
Q. Jay, did you think the guys looked a little tight at the beginning? It seemed like when they missed those easy shots early - not easy shots, but close-in shots early on that you thought they might be thinking about that?
COACH WRIGHT: Joe, I didn't see it as tight. I looked at it more as overly aggressive early. I thought we took some shots where we could have made extra passes. That's something that's been -- I think that's something that's been an advantage for us this year. I think we took the shots that normal teams would take tonight. And they did a great job contesting them, whereas we normally make extra passes. Again, I think you got to give them some credit too. When it looked like we had open shots, they came out of nowhere to contest or to be there at the rim. It's a combination.
Q. Jay, I have to ask you the prospective question, sort of what Ryan alluded to. 33-3, you win the league, you win the league tournament. It's a great season, but it's hard to have that feeling right now. It's an age-old question. I'm sure you've got the answer. Where's the perspective going to come from and how long is it going to take?
COACH WRIGHT: It's the unique struggle in sports. I'm so proud of this team, proud of all their accomplishments. The season is broken down into segments. The preseason, the regular season, and the postseason tournaments. Last year, postseason tournaments, we didn't do a good job at all. This year, Big East tournament, did a good job. Here, I always look at tournaments as matchups.
I know we have to answer to the fact that we did not get to the second weekend again. We have to own that. But it's not going to define us within our program. It's going to define us outside of our program and we accept that. But I think what Darrun was alluding to was we're going to go back to work tomorrow on all the little things we do outside of basketball to keep building our program, keep making everybody better.
The guys that graduate are part of making those younger guys better, and that's what Darrun was referring to, that even though he's not playing anymore, he'll still be around in the spring, still working with the young guys and that's what we'll concentrate on. I don't want to - we're not afraid to fail. We failed here in this NCAA tournament. And we just got to accept it and we've got to own it and live with it. But it won't define us.
Q. Coach, at any point during the game, whether it was in the first half or maybe even late in the second half, did UConn and St. Mary's back in 2010 pop into your mind?
COACH WRIGHT: Good question. No, not at all. I just felt like we were a different team. I was so focused on this game and what we had to do. I never thought of that. I didn't at all. Now that you bring it up, good point. It's very similar. Not during the game.
Q. Jay, didn't seem to matter what five you had on the floor necessarily in terms of keeping them off the glass. What are you pointing to what you didn't do to keep them out?
COACH WRIGHT: I think it was a combination of their guards breaking us down and forcing our forwards to come to help and they're very - they're very disciplined, NC State, at that aspect of the game that when their guards drive, their forwards are not looking to catch passes. They're looking to go offensive rebound.