THE MODERATOR: We’re joined by Loyola student-athletes.
How are you liking Pittsburgh so far?
SHANE WALKER: Love it.
ERIK ETHERLY: Great city. I’m a Steelers fan.
DYLON CORMIER: Been a great trip so far.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for our student-athletes from Loyola.
Q. The nation has found out about your coach, how personable he is, is that the right way to put it? Can you give us your memory when he went off on some rant or tandem that you said, I don’t know what this guy is talking about?
SHANE WALKER: I feel like he can do that any day. Anytime somebody asks him a question, it’s a 15-minute answer. He goes off on a tandem, you have no idea where he’s going. He’s such a great guy, you just learn to accept it and love it.
ERIK ETHERLY: I think the most memorable one for me is halftime of the Fairfield game with Bobby Steele and the Black Panthers. Nobody saw that one coming. He got his message across.
DYLON CORMIER: I think for me is him, the inch-by-inch statement he just came out with. He said, To win, we got to block and tackle, same thing in basketball.
Q. Dylon, he said earlier this week where you have a special relationship, he’ll challenge you, you’ll challenge him right back.
DYLON CORMIER: It’s kind of like he want me to do better, so he’ll yell me and tell me I’m not doing something better, just so I can do it even better.
Q. You’re known for your man-to-man defense. Also explain to us what your flex offense is like.
SHANE WALKER: I feel like our defense is so, so good because everybody has bought in. Years past, not necessarily everybody has bought in. Me being a senior leader, I demanded that from the rest of the team, and we all bought in. It wasn’t a problem.
ERIK ETHERLY: We also help each other out a lot. We have a great team in terms of being able to switch a lot of stuff so we don’t get caught up on a lot of screens and we always help on all of our screens.
DYLON CORMIER: I think we have a great inside presence with Shane and Erik, and also J’hared and Julius coming off the bench. So the two players has been effective for us this year.
Q. Shane, can you talk about the matchup with Ohio State. Has Jimmy brought up any history of No. 15 seeds beating No. 2 seeds?
SHANE WALKER: Yeah, he’s talked about Coppin State in the past. Was it South Carolina? Yeah, it was maybe 15 years ago, he brought that up.
He’s not really concerned about years past, he’s concerned about the team now and doing the best we can. He’s not really focused about other teams.
Q. Were you the Steelers fan?
ERIK ETHERLY: I was at the opening game when the Steelers played the Ravens. I took a lot of heat for it, but I wore it at the stadium.
Q. When you break down Ohio State, what stands out offensively in terms of what you need to stop?
DYLON CORMIER: Their inside presence in Jared Sullinger and Thomas, their four-man, they got a great inside presence and a couple shooters where they kick it out. I think we have to prevent the ball from getting in the post as much as we can.
SHANE WALKER: When I look at them, they’re not very deep. They only play six or seven guys. I feel like we can run them. They try to slow the game down. We try to speed it up. Hopefully that will work in our advantage.
Q. You talked about coach. Were you tournament fans, seeing power teams getting beaten?
DYLON CORMIER: Not at a very young age. I remember George Mason went on a run and beat a lot of good teams.
ERIK ETHERLY: And VCU. That’s a local team, so we look up to them, as well.
THE MODERATOR: Guys, thank you.
We have Coach Patsos from Loyola. Make a few opening comments.
COACH PASTOS: Great to be in Pittsburgh, what a great town. My wife is from here. What a great sports town, what a great building. Other than the fact the Steelers play here, I really like it. We’re Ravens fans in Baltimore. A lot of the Ravens, Jim Harbaugh, people like that are following this game. But everybody loves Pittsburgh. Everybody says the same thing, what a great place it is.
I see my commissioner out there. We’re from the MAAC. Really have a lot of pride in our basketball league. We have two teams in the NCAA, which is great for us this year.
I was out with Dave Dickerson, Matt Roe, and Billy Hahn last night for about an hour, because we’re all family friends from Maryland. It’s a really interesting, happy time for me in my life.
I’m really proud of what the kids have done. This is about Loyola, what a great university it is. You don’t get here without the support of Jim Paquette, my AD, the president Father Linnane, things like that. So it’s a happy time for Loyola. Now we’re excited to play Ohio State, one of the great programs in the country.
Unfortunately Dave Dickerson knows me really well, so they don’t have to scout us because I run everything that we ran at Maryland together. They should know everything we’re running.
I’m happy to take questions.
Q. Obviously you know what it’s like to cut down the nets. Can you contrast emotionally the difference between being in the first chair here with a program like Loyola and having it done at Maryland?
COACH PASTOS: That’s a good question because both programs were the same when I got there. Obviously the depths of 1 and 27 is different from what happened at Maryland. However our climb at Maryland were when Duke and Carolina were winning NCAA tournaments. Georgia Tech had gone to the Final Four. So, in other words, I feel the same.
I feel great when we cut down the nets at Maryland even though I was the assistant, and I feel great cutting down the nets at Loyola as head coach. The climb was not always easy. You can always climb the first few runnings. You can be a beat writer, but you can’t be Lenn Robbins and have your own column in the widest circulated paper in the country. It takes a while to get there. It’s the last part that’s hard. You know that. It’s the last part of the journey that’s difficult.
Whether it’s at Loyola or the University of Maryland, I feel good we were lucky enough to make that last climb. I’m not sure I ever thought that would happen, at either place by the way.
THE MODERATOR: The 24-win season, what did that mean to the program? It was the first since you went to Division I 30 years ago.
COACH PASTOS: It was great because the last time we went to NCAA, Skip Prosser, who is a fantastic coach and great person, was here. They were like the 6 seed and won it. We’re in a great basketball league. To win 24 games in the MAAC, we have NBA players, we have coaches that have left to go on and be successful at a higher level. Kind of puts a signature on your program. When you win 20, it says something. When you win the MAAC, which like I said, I’m not joking about the New York thing, we love being in the New York league because you get a lot of attention media-wise. It’s a great basketball city with a lot of tradition.
Len Elmore and I were joking today, he played at Powell Memorial and I know that because New York is where the best players come from and everybody is a tough critic. If you’re successful there, you’re really happy.
Q. Talk about the concerns you have about Ohio State.
COACH PASTOS: I have major concerns about Ohio State. I just ran into Sullinger in the hallway. The guy is a monster. Thomas, the left-handed 6’8″ guy. Remember, Gary Williams does the Big Ten Network. Not that he would give me any inside information. I know what a great team Ohio State it. It’s an honor to play them. We probably have little chance of winning the game. Four minutes at a time, we’ll see what we can do.
We’ll still run and press against them. Ohio State wants to play their way. If you play their way, you’re not going to beat them. I think they can win the national championship this year, especially with Fab Melo being out. I’m talking as a fan. This has nothing to do with coaching. I see Ohio State have a chance to get to the Final Four because of their size. I like the kid Ravenel that comes off the bench.
But Craft is scary because he reminds me of Steve Blake. The Steve Blake, nobody ever thought he was that good until you played against him. He made shots, steals the ball, he’s quicker, smarter, you find out that he was the quarterback on his high school team, which scares me because you find out he’s a leader. Thomas is much better than I thought. He’s going to cause problems for us. Sullinger, you can put down 20-10, I just hope it’s not 35-18.
Q. Is there a hope with what you do defensively, Ohio State plays their starters a lot of minutes, that maybe you can try to wear them down?
COACH PASTOS: I mean, I can. But they’re four sophomores. Buford knows what he’s doing. We will try and press them. We simulated at little 20-minute scrimmage on Monday night. We took two-and-a-half-minute timeouts and my guys couldn’t believe how long they were. What you find out is they can rest. They can rest those two and a half minutes.
They’re used to playing minutes. It’s like one thing if you lose a couple guys and all of a sudden you have to play six and you’re not used to it. They’ve done it. He’s a great coach.
We will try and press ‘em, not as much to wear ‘em down, but probably to speed the game up. We need the game to go fast. You saw Iona, but they didn’t score at the end. Our league is a scoring league. We’re going to have to keep scoring. I want the pace of the game more than wearing them down. Is that fair to say? That’s what we’re looking to do.
Q. What you mentioned with Dave Dickerson, is there some element of surprise because a staff member knows you?
COACH PASTOS: Well, Dave, we just got together for like an hour. It was really nice to see everybody. But Dave really quickly says, I saw you’ve reverted back to the original Gary Williams, pressing on the make. He loved his time at St. John Arena. His daughter still lives in Columbus. He saw the pressing. He saw the 2 play, which is our version of the flex.
Gary Williams has had assistants like Rick Barnes, Fran Fraschilla, all these guys. I shouldn’t say this, but they’re probably more successful because they didn’t run all his stuff so much. But no (laughter).
Dave goes, You’re the only dummy that runs everything Gary did. Didn’t you learn? I’m like, Okay. Because Fran Fraschilla and Fran Dunphy and all those guys. I run like Gary’s stuff and I’ve kind of reverted back to it because I thought we could press a lot with eight guys this year.
We have an older team and they get used to the terminology, like 55′s, full-court press, and they all know it. Dave said, I just watched a half and I don’t have to scout anymore. He’s doing exactly what we thought he would do.
We probably play a little more zone, but we play Gary’s zone action, a 3-2, not a 2-3. It will be interesting. Got him 600 some wins and his name on the court, so I stuck with it.
Q. When you got together last night, what was that like? Did you devise a plan to get Gary off of Congressional this weekend?
COACH PASTOS: He’s doing Big Ten games. He’s part of the media now. Preparing to tear some coach apart. No, I’m just kidding.
Gary is going to Chicago to do the Big Ten. No, it was impromptu. Billy Hahn actually led us. Gary was the dad. Billy was the big brother. Dave was the middle. Actually Dave was probably more like Robert Duvall in The Godfather. He was really like sane. I was more like Michael. Billy was definitely like Sonny. I’m not Sonny. There’s no Fredo. Although Gary probably would have picked the same result for Fredo.
Billy kind of texted and said, Let’s get together and talk. Matt Roe was doing the radio for Syracuse. Matt Roe is one of the first guys that came to Gary when there was like nobody to play because they were on probation. It was fun. We talked about all the stuff, how much we accomplished. We laughed with everybody having a video guy, a weight guy. I said, My academic lady is with me, Colleen Campbell. I was the academic guy. Dave did the video. Billy went to weight lifting in the morning. It changed.
It was a good little time. It was nice to be with your family because in basketball that’s our family and we have a nice family.
Q. The guys that were up before said you mentioned the Coppin State win that happened across the street.
COACH PASTOS: I was over there checking it out. They’re taking it down.
Q. It’s a little sad.
COACH PASTOS: Not when you have this, it isn’t.
Q. What motivation have you used as a 15 seed going up against 2?
COACH PASTOS: That it can happen. 16-1 is not going to happen. 15-2 is going to happen once every three or four years. I actually think, my commissioner is here, he’s done a tremendous job with our league. We could have been a 14. They picked Iona as a 14. I don’t see us as a longshot 15. I can do the math. St. Bonnie wins, they pushed us down. That’s okay. Is Ohio a real 2? Unfortunately they could have been a 1 had they won Sunday.
It doesn’t matter. It’s 40 minutes. It’s 10 four-minute segments. We have to try to win six of those segments. We keep track of the segments, which we sole from Thad Matta when he was at Xavier. They have four-minute wars, 10 of them. We have to win six of them to win the game. That’s okay.
I think we have a chance, though, I do, because if we can get the game going fast, we have a chance. If they put us in the meat grinder and go slow, Sullinger goes to work, you can call me at 410, I’ll be in Baltimore Friday by noon.
Q. How much does the loss of Fab change the whole east region?
COACH PASTOS: The guy is a tremendous defensive player. I think in the tournaments, like at Maryland we had Chris Wilcox. He scored the least. When he blocked Drew Gooden’s shots, Marcus traveled with us, a defensive guy like that can really change the game.
At Maryland I didn’t think we were ever going to win the title until we had a defensive guy like Chris Wilcox. I think they can make some plays. We don’t beat Fairfield if we don’t block some shots. You have to win a defensive game along the way.
Boeheim is a great coach. He’s setting everybody up because he has nine players. He still has eight good ones. That’s a tough one to lose because he’s a 7-footer, great player. It’s none of my concern. It’s an odd time for that to happen. I think that’s not good for a team. Like you can lose a guy three weeks ago and stuff. Like we have a guy, Anthony Winbush, who just had to have stitches Monday. I’ll tell you, he may play, he may not. He had 10 stitches. That’s a weird thing to have happen right now. But he’s not our best player.
Fab Melo is a big loss. Can Boeheim still win? Absolutely. He is one of the great coaches ever and a great golfer, a much better golfer than all the other coaches.
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