NCAA Tournament Postgame Press Conference Quotes :: New Mexico State

CHRIS JANS: Heck of a college basketball game. That is what March Madness is all about. Really proud of our guys. I think a lot of teams would have packed and went home when it got bleak for a while. We kept trying to whittle it back and we gave ourselves a chance. We gave ourselves a chance, in the end to come from behind and get a win in the tournament. Unfortunately, we didn't.

Q. I want to know, did you know you were down by two and based on that, you know, talk about your decision to kick it out for the win, I guess?
AJ HARRIS: I seen the points, we were down two, so I felt like Terrell Brown was open, he got a great shot off, got fouled. I was trusting my teammate, my partner.

Q. Did you think you had an open shot? For us, it looked like you were open. I don't know.
AJ HARRIS: Yes, I did, I had the open shot. I felt like Terrell Brown was going to hit the three.

Q. You got a lot of guys on this team that are going to be back next year. How much encouragement do you take in a loss from this game going into next year?
JOHNNY McCANTS: This loss is hard for us. We have a lot of young guys, first time in the tournament. They saw what we could do this year. We're going to take this loss right now for a couple of days and get right back to it next week. We can't dwell on this for a long time. The season comes fast next year. We have to be ready for that.

Q. AJ and Johnny, can you talk about, you shot the ninth-most threes in the country this year. Can you talk about the philosophy of taking a three over a two a lot of times?
AJ HARRIS: Could you say that again?

Q. You shot the ninth-most threes in the country this year. That is not an accident. I wanted to get your thoughts about taking the three over the two at any time in the game.
JOHNNY McCANTS: We got shooters that stay after practice and they work on their shot all the time. When one gets going, like if we get on a streak with them. But we try to get the ball inside the most that we can.

They're a good team. They're on the high side the whole time so it is hard to get it in. We had open shots at the end, in the whole game, and we couldn't get them to fall.

Q. Johnny, you did a good job protecting the rim. Going into this game, was that the plan, protect the rim, make them kick out and hit those long shots? Because you did a great job today.
JOHNNY McCANTS: The plan was to don't get beat at the point of attack, but if we do, step in and take a charge. A lot of the teams, they're all athletic, they want to block shots and they are not used to people taking charges. So we tried to take charges most we can and show the rim most we can and have them kick it out and scramble off that.

We tried our hardest to get as many charges as we can but we didn't get the calls.

Q. Chris, in that situation, given your druthers, does he take the lay-up or kick the ball for the three?
CHRIS JANS: I have trusted my guys to make great decisions, and we have. We have won a lot of games, just like this game unfolded, we won a lot of games where the ball was in AJ Harris's hand or Terrell Brown's hand and the clock was running down and we made the final shot.

Right now, you can sit up here and second-guess his decision to kick it out to Terrell Brown instead of trying to lay the ball in. And, you know, obviously at that point, it is out of your control and you have to trust your players and players make plays. If he does make all three free throws or makes the three, it is an Ali Farokhmanesh moment and that will be remembered forever. That's what happens in the NCAA tournament.

I trust my players, players make plays, and it didn't work out for us this particular time.

Q. Coach, have you watched the replay of it yet or are you almost not wanting to see that? I don't know how open he was because it wasn't right in front of me.
CHRIS JANS: I didn't watch the replay, no.

Q. Will you?

Q. Are you looking forward to that or is it going to be painful?
CHRIS JANS: I'm looking forward to watching it at some point. I won't watch it today, or tomorrow, but at some point I will get over this and put myself back together and sit down and watch it. It will be hard, I'm sure.

At the same time, I'm really proud of our players. I mean, again, a lot of teams would have went away and they didn't. They showed what they're made of. They showed how much character they have. They showed how resilient they are and how hungry they are. And I think everybody understands there is no moral victories in sports. Certainly there isn't in the NCAA tournament. But at the same time, I'm proud of our players, the way they competed and stuck around and found a way to have a chance to win the game.

Q. Coach, a couple of minutes left, you were still down by eight and you had a hard time making a dent into that cushion. What was the attitude like of the guys at that point? Did you think that this could come down to the end?
CHRIS JANS: They were awesome. I mean, they were awesome. They were encouraging one another, picking each other up. Very lively in our huddles, which has been the case the last few weeks of the season. They've really bought into what we were doing and we obviously had a big winning streak going and we had a lot of confidence. We had been in that situation earlier this year and we tried to talk about that and lean on that and, you know, it was just too little too late.

Q. Chris, you've had 50-plus wins in two years at New Mexico State, back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances against Power Five opponents, quality Power Five opponents. You've got basically your whole team coming back. What can New Mexico State and you guys do to get a higher seed if you win the WAC next year? What can the WAC do as a whole to put the champions in that position?
CHRIS JANS: Obviously, the next step for our program is to win this game, and go to the Sweet 16 hopefully. And we know it, you know, we understand the history of this program and how meaningful this program is to the people of Las Cruces, and to the university and all the fans that follow us worldwide. And we understand how important that is. And we want to make it happen, you know.

We've had two cracks at it. We weren't able to accomplish that goal, to kick that door in, but we got a lot of guys coming back. And we'll certainly regroup and pick up our pants, if you will, and get back to work at some point.

But it's disappointing. We had a chance to be a team that won a game in the tournament, for our program that's been quite some time and I know that fan base is dying for it, and we are too.

Hopefully, the WAC will continue to improve. We're turning heads nationally in terms of our numbers ranking-wise. We have really good coaches in our league and they've been allowed to string together recruiting classes and everybody's scheduling a little more aggressively to try to help one another. This past fall we had a lot of near-misses in our league. There are a lot of teams that, you know, that had chances against teams that were ranked higher than them, that really helped their particular resume and our overall resume. And hopefully that will continue and hopefully next fall we'll win some of those games, so whoever represents the WAC next year will have a chance to have a little better seed.

Q. Coach Jans, you have been a part of some of these tournament games like here and in your past. So are you guys equipped to advance in the tournament now? Are you guys built to advance here? Physically, you matched up with them, it's a matter of getting a better seed and knocking down some of those shots at this point?
CHRIS JANS: I think so. We can have a whole different narrative right now. Make another free throw or two, Trev makes that last shot -- and he shot the ball extremely well from three tonight. And I think we were prepared this year more than we were last year. We talked about it, part of the tournament we felt last year we had to make some changes in how we played offensively and spread the court a little bit more. It was beneficial to us. I thought it was beneficial to us this afternoon, you know.

We out-rebounded 39-24. They outsized us all the way up and down the roster. But we expected to out-rebound them, that is what we do, that is our calling card. We've got the right players, the right mindset and we have to keep getting better and hopefully put ourselves in a position to have a chance next year.