VU-Tennessee post game quotes

Feb. 22, 2017

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Vanderbilt 67, Tennessee 56
Postgame quotes

Vanderbilt head coach Bryce Drew

(Opening statement)
“Tennessee is a really good team and they are playing really good basketball. We knew it was going to be a very challenging and physical game. I think our guys were extra motivated because of losing the first one at our place. We wanted to come back and show we were a much better team, playing at a much higher level than we were earlier in the year. I thought Luke Kornet was incredible tonight. He almost had a triple double and his last five minutes of defense were as good of a five-minute defense.”

(On different guys making plays)
“We had five guys in the double figures tonight and you can see that we are trying to give guys freedom to make plays. Joe Toye struggled in the first half and then came back with a great three and a driving lay-up that he made. With Luke (Kornet), his ability to make the three makes teams game plan for him on how to guard him on pick and rolls and other situations, [which] opens up other play options for different players on the team.”

(On the 18-4 start)
“I think you can go back to the first game because they scored pretty easy on us and we obviously wanted to play much better. We were motivated and wanted to come in and prove that we are a much better team than we were at our place. We made some shots early and they had good shots too, but they just missed them. I think that helped.”

(On how far the team has come defensively)
“A big key is our number of turnovers. We only had five tonight and if you go back earlier in the year we were turning the ball over little bit more and teams would score pretty quickly on us. Tonight we only gave up two points off turnovers. When we can get back and play five-on-five defense and get Luke (Kornet) down the court to protect the rim it instantly makes our defense much better.”

(On guard Riley LaChance’s improvement)
“He has really bought into his role. He is such a great shooter and it kind of hurts me to see him only get two 3-point attempts because he is such a good 3-point shooter, but then four rebounds, seven assists and two steals and a great play by him at the end. He is becoming a well-rounded player for us and they pressured him the whole second half and he did a great job getting us into offense. He had a great pace and kept our team under control.”

(On double-teaming Tennessee)
“We didn’t think that would be a deciding factor in the game. We know their bigs are really skilled and athletic and long and pass out of it. So when Luke (Kornet) can go down there and be 7-1 and long, he does a really great job of moving his feet. Sometimes nothing really happens except the ball got out and reversed around the other side. Luke is such a presence we try to use him every way we can.”

(On how the team is playing and if they are playing well enough for the NCAA Tournament)
“This is definitely the best we played. I think we can continue to play better. I think what we have done lately gives us some great opportunities down the stretch to hopefully put ourselves into the tournament.”

(On the remainder of their schedule)
“We have been looking at just one game at a time and our main focus is getting better as a team and executing better and trying to execute better and get where we play with consistency. That has been really encouraging through this three game stretch. We have really been consistent on defense and moving the ball.”

Vanderbilt forward Luke Kornet

(On the difference in their defense in the last few games)
“I think we have been playing some pretty solid man-to-man defense. I think helping each other in our intensity and if someone gets beat to recover. I thought we had some pretty good first-shot defense for the most part, and making sure that they are always shooting the ball over our hand. That is the goal for any defense. Just to lower the percentage on any shots that they are trying to take. I think I did a good job on making most of the looks a little tougher than usual.”

(On being able to weather Tennessee’s late push)
“We did a great job. They definitely made that push. We had some guys step up and hit some big shots. I feel like we have been in that position so many times that we don’t really lose our heads or anything like that and keep pretty steady throughout the game, whether we just made a 10-point run or they just made a 10-point run. They kind of let them loose on the offensive boards a little bit. We did a little bit better job after that little run they had of finishing possessions. We had some guys make big shots and make free throws. Those are just the things that you have to do on the road.”

(On the opening play)
“It definitely is great when you can start the game off on a 2-0 lead. I think we just came out of the gate hot like that. Sometimes in games when you just struggle to score early, it takes a lot of work to take the lid off of the basket and be able to get that first basket. I really just kind of pushed us to go forward. Whenever we can get a stop and get in a transition, it opens up offense for us. I think it definitely did today.”

(On the motivation coming into tonight’s game)
“When we are at our place, I definitely got upset and frustrated and wanted to get back at them today. After how they played at our place, they really shot the ball well that game. It felt like every single time it left their hands it was going in the basket. I think for us being able to go out and make a stance like we did defensively today is something that we take pride in knowing that we have become a better team since we have played them the first time.”

(On why they have become a better man-to-man team)
“I think we have been on a cohesive defensively and being together all on the same page. I know it has gotten better at the rotations of us double-teaming the post. I think we have all taken pride and gotten better as a man defense. I think we definitely got better since maybe a month ago.”