University at Buffalo coach Nate Oats and CJ Massinburg and Nick Perkins addressed reporters in Tulsa, Okla., following Sunday's 78-58 loss to Texas Tech in the NCAA Tournament. Here is what they said:
Nate Oats: Not the way we anticipated ending the season. You know, try to look at the positives. We got 32 wins. That's the most tied with Houston. Obviously they play later. These guys had an unbelievable career. For them to be beat, it's going to have to be by somebody really tough and Texas Tech is really tough. Got to give them a ton of credit.
They took charges, killed us on the glass. I think they were plus – had a plus 10 second chance points, plus 9 in points off turnovers. That's pretty much the game. That's what we've been good at all year, beating people on the glass, turning over, getting out on transition. They did a better job.
You know, I told our guys in the locker room don't let one loss take away what you've done this year. Put Buffalo basketball on the map. Ranked in the top 25 all year. Great team, even better people. I have the highest character group of kids I ever worked with.
Disappointed it ended like this. We wanted to go further. We won't let one loss define – we had an unbelievably successful year beyond what anybody could imagine happened here at Buffalo.
Q. Nate, you really struggled giving up offensive boards there to start the game. How much did that kind of dictate, as you mentioned the, the "out-toughed us," if you will. How much did that kind of, you know, put that in the back of the team's head that this was going to be a tough row to hoe? Nate?
Nate Oats: It was an awful start. We gave up 3 O boards right away in the first couple minutes. It's not how you want to start a game. At times we cleaned it up for a minute, but then we just – that and our turnovers. You know, we had to clean the turnovers up. Be under 10 turnovers they don't get points in transition. We get more shots. And if we could have done a better job on the glass, I think we had given ourselves a chance to win.
You've got to give them credit. Those are big, tough guys. It's disappointing because we've been the tougher team probably 34, 35 nights out of the year, 36 games. To lose the last one on toughness hurts. It's not really who we are, but it happens that way sometimes.
Q. There was a stretch about 11 minutes, I think I counted 18 possessions without a field goal. What did they do to take you out of your offense and the way you were able to score so well this year?
CJ Massinburg: I mean, it wasn't one thing in particular. Just a credit to overall defense, and I feel like we did get some good looks but they just didn't drop for us.
Nate Oats: Yeah. Early in the game we had two layups we missed. We get to the free throw line, we went 4 for 9 in the first half at the line, if I remember right. We ended the game 11 of 22. We left too many points on the board against a really good defensive team like that. We had to convert at the rim. We were 5 for 13 at the rim at the half.
You know, we couldn't do – they had good shot blocking. Their defense is number one in the country. So their athletes are very good. We're one of the better offensive teams in the country. Our offense was not where it needed to be. We made some poor decisions. Our turnovers – I mean, that was a big issue, too. We turned the ball over on back-to-back possessions a few times in there. We had 18 straight possessions without scoring a field goal. That is the worse offensive performance of the year.
I got to do a better job. I kind of looked at I – maybe I should have picked the best defense out and look how we attack them a few months ago, and in the off-season, I'll have to figure out how to do a better job. This is on me. Hard with a one day prep. We had to beat Oregon State. To put all your prep time into that game. You got one day between games and you got to figure out how to beat the number 1 defense in the country. It helps having five seniors, but we're missing shots and giving up boards kind of deflated us. We got out of your game then.
Q. Either CJ or Nick, you took a 25-24 lead late in the first half on Davonta Jordan's 3-pointer. What did Tech do to take back control of this game going into halftime with a wide open lead?
Nick Perkins: I don't think they did anything in particular. They out-toughed us. Give credit to them. The offensive rebounding and defensive rebounding, some of the stuff we hang our hats on, they did it better tonight.
CJ Massinburg: Yes. I would say the same thing but in particular rebounding. They killed us on the boards and they got to the loose balls before we did, and you can't beat a good team like that.
Q. For the seniors, I know that Nate said that "don't let this define what you guys have been able to do since you've been here." How long until this sinks in, this is kind of it, and what are the emotions right now?
CJ Massinburg: The emotions are kind of all over the place, you know. You know, you hate to go out like that, but when one team gets to end their season with a win, you know, so I mean, I just want to thank the City of Buffalo for allowing me to come in and just have an impact on you guys. And you guys have embraced me and loved me, and I loved you guys right back and just with Nick and Coach Oats and all of the assistants been amazing. I just want to thank Buffalo.
Nick Perkins: It's kind of all over. Kind of thinking about some of the things you could have did better. I mean, it hurts. But obviously me and CJ, we're not done playing basketball. And I thank the City of Buffalo for all you've done for me. How many chances Coach Oats gave me. It's just amazing. Been a long ride. I'm going to miss Buffalo.
Q. I got kind of a similar question for the players, this group of seniors the 30 win seasons, NCAA Tournament runs. What do you want the legacy to be of this group, and if coach could comment an that as well.
Nick Perkins: Obviously just the kind of guys – outside of me and CJ and Davonta, guys that come in and never hear them complain. They come in, work hard, and do blue collar things. I think they want the legacy to be just who we are. Just good guys from the City of Buffalo. Basketball can only take you so far, but I mean, who you are is who you are as a person off the court.
CJ Massinburg: I would agree with Nick. Just our character and just who we are as people, that's what – the most important thing my legacy is. I feel like the five seniors, you know, no matter how bad your day is going, if you talk to one of us, you're going to have a smile on your face and your day is going to get picked up and turned around.
The city loved us for a reason, you know. We always smiling and interacting with the fans, and that's just – I just want people to remember that from our legacy. And as far as on the basketball court, just how hard we play, how together we play. I've never been on a team that shared the ball as much as we do and the distribution of wealth was crazy on this team.
Q. Nick, their size seemed to pose a challenge for your team rebounding and defending the paint. You had some success scoring inside and rebounding, can you talk about going up against their front line and what were some of the challenges there?
Nick Perkins: They were big and strong. Tariq Owens has a wing span of probably 7 - 2. Like you say, I just use my size and body and get into the lane, take away their shot blocking. Really. Lot of the shots we missed. Like CJ said, a lot of the shots they usually make, tonight it just didn't fall.
Q. Coming into the tournament, you said it would be disappointing if you guys didn't make it to the Sweet 16. But you said with the caveat, look, if we come out and play well and somebody beats us, that's fine, we'll live with that. Do you feel like that happened?
Nate Oats: No, I don't. I don't think we played our best game. I mean, if you look it's not like we – we shot 33 percent from 3. That's good enough to win games. We got out-toughed. We're disappointed. I don't want one loss to define the season, though. Even when people ask me at the beginning of the year what my expectations were, I didn't want to go Final Four, Sweet 16. I just want to be playing our best basketball.
We were on a 13-game winning streak coming into this. I thought we were playing pretty good basketball coming into this game. Sure, it's sports. It's what happens in basketball. You have a bad game. That's why the NBA playoffs are a series, not a one-game deal, so the best team can win.
College basketball, it's one-game deal. I'm not saying we're better than them, but sometimes the best team doesn't win sometimes. I thought if we played them in a series, we could play them a lot tougher than we did tonight. I don't want our guys to feel like it's a huge disappointing year. It wasn't at all. 32 wins is ridiculous. I may coach the rest of my life and not get 32 wins in a year. These are some of the best kids I've ever coached. It hurts right now. It's a little disappointing the way we lost tonight.
Q. Nate, losing the core group of five seniors but for the younger players coming back, what do you want them to take from that group, take from this NCAA Tournament experience and apply next year and to the future of your program?
Nate Oats: They learned a lot from the seniors. They've learned punching the clock everyday. These guys don't take days off. Intense level in practice on a daily basis is unreal. The character of these guys when stuff doesn't go right. These guys have shown the way, how to react, how to handle adversity. I think they've learned a lot.
The seniors have meant the world to me as a coach. These two guys right here, I've coached I don't know how many Division 1 games. Every single one I've coached, I've had these two. I haven't coached one without these two. It will be different for me. I love these two guys. They mean everything to me over last four years. They've done a great job setting the table for the young guys, showing them how to work, how to play, how to be unselfish.
This guy is better than 80 percent of the bigs in high major programs. I think he showed it tonight how he played against the number one defense in the country. He comes off the bench with an unbelievable attitude every game. This is the – he almost became the all-time leading scorer in school history. If we won tonight, he maybe would have got it the next game. He's the most humble kid you're ever going to meet. So these two meant the world to me. They've brought the young guys in the correct way and the future is bright in Buffalo. We've got a great recruiting class coming in. We've got some really good young talent that these guys have done a great job mentoring.