Jan. 9, 2010
California Head Coach Mike Montgomery:
USC was really very good offensively. They don't do a lot. They were shooting right over the top of our defense. I don't know what it was but they got in a rhythm.
Without question, the key to me was Nikola (Knezevic). He came in and took the challenge guarding (Dwight) Lewis. I don't think Lewis scored again. All of a sudden, they start taking bad shots. They made a couple of shots, but there wasn't much going on. Once we got some defensive intensity, we got some things going. It was good to see us compete. I think USC is one of the better defensive teams, man-to-man. They're athletic, pretty physical and they are long. By and large, we started to minimize that, and we started to get out on the break. If we're good in the break, then we don't have to work.
Senior guard Jerome Randle:
I give credit to Nikola (Knezevic). He did a great job on (Dwight) Lewis. Coach gave him an assignment and he responded to it well, and it helped that Theo (Robertson) and Patrick (Christopher) did a great job on the boards, and Max did a great job on the big guy as well.
On Nikola Knezevic:
He does it in practice. Nikola is really tough to get around. We expect him to come in and do a great job. We didn't expect anything less from him.
On changing the tempo at the end of the game:
It was tough for a minute. They were hitting some tough shots. We had to dig down deep. Theo took some charges down the stretch. It turned the game around. As a team, we played great defense down the stretch.
It wasn't my best, but then the opponents don't care about that. I was really upset about the loss to UCLA, but we live to play again.
Senior forward Theo Robertson:
I think that was big for us, especially coming off a loss Wednesday. The game really turned around when we got the tempo going our way. It's really tough not to play their game when they're making shots. They're able to get back in their half-court defense. We were able to turn it around in the second half when Nikola came in and kind of got them out of rhythm a little bit. Then we were able to do some of the things we are more accustomed to.
USC Head Coach Kevin O'Neill
On the days off we had some practices, but the way this week was set up was too long. We were up here too long. If I had to do it again, I would go home after the first game and come back up, but I guess we had to work around the National Championship Game. I guess that was more important than Pac-10 basketball.
On the trip
I think our guys played great. If you look at the two games, we had three shots to win the game at Stanford in the last five seconds and we were up 50-43 here. So, we're playing, that's not the thing at all. We just didn't finish tonight. Mike Gerrity had a layup he missed, Dwight (Lewis) was at the rim and missed a layup and Alex had several point blanks that didn't go. The bottom line is that we didn't get the win. We lost two in a row. We've got to get back to practice next week and get better. Defensively, the last two games, we weren't quite where we've been. That's probably to be expected on the road a little bit. I'm proud of our guys' efforts through two games. We got two losses, but we just have to refocus and get back at it.
On Jerome Randle and the Cal team
He's a good player; He's a very good player. They've got a bunch of seniors that, when they're playing well and shooting the ball well, they're tough to guard. There was a stretch where we couldn't score in the second half and we just didn't hold them well enough defensively to give us a chance to win the game.
We're not a scoring juggernaut so it's imperative that we're flawless defensively.
On the sanctions
We don't talk about it at all. Unless somebody asks us a question, we don't talk about it as a team. The guys might talk amongst themselves about it a little bit, but I never talk to these guys about it. It's disappointing for them and all of us, but that's the way it is. We've just got to move forward.
USC Point Guard Mike Gerrity
On the game
It's just one of those things. We were up seven, but on the road there isn't a lot of room for error. You've really got to take advantage of each possession and down the stretch we made some mistakes mentally and really just lost contol of it at the end. Cal was playing the same game. They had the home crowd behind them. It makes it a little bit easier when you get on that run, and it gets a little bit loud in here. They just knocked down some shots.