Nuggets from San Antonio

Quotes the Southwest Regional Press Conference:

Photo Courtesy Chris Coursey

Q: Your guys looked very loose out there, very relaxed. Is that something you’ve encouraged or is that just the way they naturally are?

COACH SMART: Both. It’s something we’ve encouraged quite a bit. In fact, we gave them a three letter acronym, ACL, aggressive, confident and loose. And when we play that way, we’re very tough to beat. And in this NCAA tournament we’ve done a great job playing that way. We try to in our practices get a lot done and be productive, but make sure the guys are having fun and are loose.

Q. This is another apology, because you’ve been probably asked this question a few times in Chicago. What was your team’s reaction to all the heat your team took after the selection was made?

COACH SMART: First of all, I don’t think our program took any heat, I think it was the selection committee that took the heat. And I appreciate the fact that they stood up and they said VCU was actually more deserving of getting in. They weren’t even one of the top two at-large teams. Indirectly we took some shots, from some media members, because of the criticism of the selection committee. And again, we used it as motivation with our team. I really didn’t take it personally, because I know those guys were just doing their job. I sat back and smiled when they were making those comments, because I knew that was something that we could utilize with Joey Rodriguez and the rest of our team as a motivator, and that’s exactly what we did.

Q. Was the shooting contest at the end of practice with Steve Kerr today your idea? Did you have to explain to your players who Steve Kerr was as a player (laughter)?

COACH SMART: The answer to your last question is absolutely not did we have to explain it, and this is why it was so neat that Steve Kerr is here and participated in our shoot around. He is one of the three pros that we use on our scouting report to help our guys understand what type of close out they should use when the ball is passed to their man. We use Rajon Rondo as a player that you should close out short to, because he’s much more likely to drive. He’s much more effective putting the ball on the floor than he is shooting. We use Dwayne Wade as somebody that’s in between. He can shoot and he can really put the ball on the floor. And then we use Steve Kerr as a player that we’ve got to do a great job on closing out on, and we’ve got to make him put the ball on the floor. All of a sudden Steve Kerr was in the gym and Kyle and I, we always think of something to do at the end of shoot around’s to again keep it light and get our guys excited, make them feel good about what we’re doing. So we put our heads together and pulled Steve out there. I thought for sure Steve would win because he’s the best shooter I’ve ever seen. But Joey stepped in there and knocked them in.

Q. You guys seem very loose, very relaxed. How much of that is Coach Smart? How much of that is just the way you guys are as a team?

BRADFORD BURGESS: It’s a bit of both. You know, we’re a great group of guys to be around. And on the court we are just playing the game that we love. And it definitely helps when coach tells us to be out there loose and relaxed. And I think it shows on the court, and it’s definitely shown these last three games.

JOEY RODRIGUEZ: Same thing he said. Coach Smart kind of let’s you play loose and do all that stuff, so he helps out a lot. I think it’s the character of the guys on the team is how we are, just a bunch of loose guys, just out here having a good time.

Q. I saw you out there schooling Kerr. Can you tell me a little bit about how that felt?

JOEY RODRIGUEZ: That was cool. I’m sure if he had a couple more warm up shots he would have killed me. It was cool shooting against someone like that. And you could kind of see at the end he wanted to win. He’s a great shooter, probably the best clutch shooter of all times, one of them at least. I’m sure if I was out there against Utah, I would have air balled it. I’ve got nothing to say about that.

Q. Going to Selection Sunday, what chances did you guys think you had of getting in?

JOEY RODRIGUEZ: I thought we had a chance. I was like the bracketologist of the team the whole week, so I was watching all the games. And everybody who needed to win, won, for the most part. I knew we had a chance. Shout out to Jerry Palm, he had us in the whole time.

A two-time graduate of VCU (School of the Arts '07, Center for Sport Leadership '10), Mat is a co-founder of VCU Ram Nation and a longtime fan as the ...