Saturday, March 11, 2006

Davidsonian Interview

The Davidsonian: How did it feel to win this tournament in front of so many family and friends?

Ian Johnson: Well, all of our dads have had tremendous impacts and influences on our lives. My dad has been with me for my entire basketball career, and to win it in front of our fathers and families like that was really a great feeling. It was great for us to have them there when we won.

Matt McKillop: It was just such a special moment for me to be able to walk to the sideline after the game and give my dad a big hug. It was something we had both dreamed about since I decided I was going to come to school here. And it was unbelievable to be able to do it in front of my family as well. My mom’s entire side of the family, which was just about 28 people, all made the trip from all over the country to see us play. It was just amazing to have all my cousins, grandparents, aunts and uncles all there to be able to share that experience with me.

Brendan Winters: My dad has been the number one believer in me since day 1 in high school when no one recruited me. And so to win a game like that, and be able to play like that in the title game was very special for me and for him.

TD: What was the low-point of this season for you as a person and for this team? How did you overcome it?

MM: I would have to say the Western Carolina game. Up until that point, we hadn’t lost a game on this court in a while. I really felt like when we were playing in Belk Arena, we were playing with a chip on our shoulders. But Western came in and out-toughed us, out-hustled us and just out-played us the entire day.

BW: I think that’s when we started to realize that this is not how we wanted our final season to go. This wasn’t what we had envisioned over the summer and over our last four years, so we knew we had to regain focus and step up our play.

IJ: That was also when I started growing my beard. I really feel like we have picked up our intensity ever since. If it worked for Roethlisberger, surely it could work for us.

TD: What seems to be an overarching theme for this 2005-06 Davidson basketball team?

BW: This is the time of our lives.

IJ: It’s all about making the most of it for us. Any Davidson senior can tell you that you really just have to make the most of your last year here. It is a great place to be and college basketball is incredible. You just have to have no regrets.

MM: Not taking anything away from the underclassmen, this senior class has really rallied around each other and motivated and encouraged our teammates. We have tried to do everything we can to get this team to where it has gotten. So I think that for us, it has been about doing this the last time and doing it right.

TD: Was there any difference in the team’s preparation for the Southern Conference tournament this year after losing in the semifinals last season?

IJ: Well, last year, after going 16-0, I think we definitely went in to the tournament trying not to lose, instead of trying to win. I think this year we certainly made a conscious effort to reverse that attitude.

BW: We also looked at how Chattanooga won the whole thing last year after having several conference losses. I think that gave us confidence to know that we are just as capable of pulling that off as they were. Even if we were the third seed, we just set our minds to it and didn’t look back from there.

MM: I know we were undefeated last year, but I think our confidence at being the best team in the conference was higher this year. We knew that when we played together and played the way we practiced, we were unstoppable. And that’s the team that showed up in the tournament.

TD: What has this week been like, being able to walk around campus not worrying about the NIT but knowing about the NCAA tournament?

BW: Well I know that last year, I didn’t even want to come to classes and have to deal with everyone asking me “what happened?” No one could really understand how hurt we were. This year was so much nicer with everyone congratulating you and seeing all the support that we have around the school.

MM: I think that you really get a feel about what Davidson basketball means to this campus. When you have a professor who moves class time around so that people can watch our game next week, it really makes you feel like all your hard work has finally paid off and that everyone has just rallied around you.

TD: Playing in the NIT last year, really seemed to motivate you guys to prove that you didn’t belong there, and you won some games. Will it be hard to not accept that you’ve completed your goal and that the NCAA tournament is just icing on the cake?

MM: I think that the emotion of this week has just been so unbelievable that we will carry this on and be able to do something really special.

IJ: I think we have more to prove this year than going to the NIT. When you go to the NIT, you are already second place in something. Our season is definitely not over yet. We have some more games to play.

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