March 16, 2013
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COACH John Thompson III
Q. John, can you go through the last possession, 14 seconds left, called time. And maybe, Otto, you can go through what you saw and what transpired on the play. COACH THOMPSON: We saw own ball on one side of court and tried to run Otto off a screen along the baseline to give him the ball on the other side of the court. They played it well.
Q. John, the last game, you guys really shut them down from the outside, and then that first half you hit that stretch where you made a few. What was the difference at that point?
COACH THOMPSON: I think that they did a better job of getting each other open, setting screens and getting each other open. Through three games now, Southerland has given his Gerry McNamara imitation very well. But I think they did a better job of helping each other get open.
Q. Coach, when Boeheim came out here, he said that they had made a conscious effort to play up higher in their zone to neutralize Porter and Sparks. Did you tell your players to work for Hopkins a little bit more down low. Did you make that adjustment?
COACH THOMPSON: Yeah, it was obvious. I said that after every time we played them. You say the Syracuse two three zone, but he adjusts, tweaks, even from the first game to the second game, they played us differently. So we anticipated they were going to play us a little bit differently, but that's why everything was open along the baseline. Nate got a few baskets down there. Markel was constantly open down there because they were last game between Markel and D'Vauntes made shots, and we knew they were going to focus on Otto.
Q. Considering what this has been to college basketball, fitting it went into overtime. When that last three was in the air, did you think it was going in?
COACH THOMPSON: Fitting that it went into overtime, I think it's yeah, it is. It's a shame that they're heading down it's a shame they're heading down to Tobacco Road for a few dollars more. This is a rivalry that meant a lot to our program and to their program and to this conference.
I could give you my spiel about intercollegiate athletics is going through an evolution, and this is just part of it, and you heard me say that. But it's a shame that we are no longer going to have the same type of relationship. I thought it was going in. I don't know what they thought.
Markel Starks: I'm going to say definitely again.
Q. Coach, I'm curious, Otto and Markel, just not being in the championship game, obviously, you carry certain disappointment, but having that extra day of rest, having one fewer game take its toll ahead of next Thursday or Friday, just how does that change preparation for you, and is that something that is a potential advantage coming into the NCAA Tournament?
COACH THOMPSON: That's the wrong time to ask that question because I had not planned on not playing tomorrow. So in theory, does the next day make you better off? Yes. But we came here with every intention of playing tomorrow night.
Q. Markel, could you just describe the atmosphere in the second half as you guys are making a comeback and whether you feel that on the floor, get some energy for it, or are you so blocked out?
Markel Starks: To be honest with you, obviously, it was loud in there, but I don't want to dwell on the atmosphere. Obviously, we felt like we made some plays down the stretch, some positive plays. We did some good things. But that doesn't mean anything with the outcome.
Obviously, we will learn from this experience. Obviously, it hurts right now. But at the same time, we just didn't we didn't execute when we really needed to. I'm not going to knock Syracuse for their victory. It was a good game. It was an excellent game. Both teams were playing hard. All the players that played, played hard. The fans were into it.
I don't want to take away from Syracuse's victory, but at the same time, it hurts. It hurts.
Q. Otto, when you go to Georgetown, what do you hear about the Syracuse rivalry when you first get there? Do you sense the importance of it as soon as you arrive or know about it ahead of time? What's the feeling throughout the program when you get there? Otto Porter: I mean, it's Syracuse. Anybody from Georgetown will tell you that they don't like them. It's the best rivalry in college basketball. They're going to let you know right away.
Q. Otto, Coach Boeheim called you the best player that he's seen in the Big East at the small forward position. What does a compliment from someone who has seen so much basketball mean to you?
Otto Porter: It means a lot coming from him. It's tough playing against him and his team. He just makes tweaks and things on his own. It's a great compliment.
JOHN PAQUETTE: Georgetown, thank you.
COACH BOEHEIM: I thought like last night we got our offense going the first half, thought our movement was really good. We got James open. We really did some good things offensively. Our defense has been good. It's been good all year. Nothing been wrong with our defense.
The second half offensively, we struggled. We just couldn't get the ball in the basket. C.J. got some good opportunities, we just couldn't finish. But our defense hung in there.
We tried at the end of regulation. We're pressuring them. I thought we did a good job on Porter, whether it's bumped him a little bit or whatever, maybe. Okay. In the overtime, we did the same thing. We came up and trapped just like we did last night against Pittsburgh, and C.J. made a great rotation into the area, and it made a great play.
Baye was just unbelievable tonight. I told him he's going to shoot the technicals from now on the rest of the year. And Trevor Cooney, he struggled this year, but we know he can shoot. We have faith in him. Players found him. They got him open shots, and he knocked them down. He got four defensive rebounds. I thought he played tremendously well in the first half. He was a big part of that.
But this was just a great win. We didn't shoot that well. We didn't score that many. But they scored just enough. It was a really good win. Georgetown beat us easily in the last game, and it happened once before. We lost twice during the regular season, came here, and played them in the first round once, and we beat them then too.
It's hard to win three, but they're a really good team. I just thought tonight we played a little better defense. We cheered up on Porter a little bit more. We left Hopkins alone, and he did get some work done there, but not as much as Porter and Starks would get.
Again, a really good win. These guys were really gritty, and they hung in there.
Q. Brandon, a couple plays where you were able to get to the basket. I'm just curious what in particular you saw. Was there an opening or something you noticed in the previous two games against Georgetown that gave you that opening, that opportunity?
BRANDON TRICHE: I normally like going left. I think they was just playing me and closing the left side off also. I figured I'd bounce back right. That's where I got my two layups from just bouncing back right.
Q. Coach, C.J. was basically shut down by Otto Porter the whole game and then had those two huge plays, including the steal at the end. What did that mean for the game.
COACH BOEHEIM: Otto Porter I hate to say this in some ways, but I was talking today before the game, I think he's the best all around player I've seen in this league. I don't think I've seen a better all around player. The guy plays defense.
C.J. is a great player, and we were going at him. We were going to go at him. And he really couldn't get much accomplished against him. I think he's a great defensive player. I think he's a great passer. I think he obviously can shoot the ball, and he just really, I don't see a weakness in his game from a perimeter point of view of a guy that I've seen in this league over the years.
There's been so many great players, but centers, power forwards, point guards, two guards, but I don't think I've seen a better small forward in this league. He's just a complete player.
If we were still in this league, I'd be saying that to get him out. But we're not.
Q. Why would Syracuse walk away from all this?
COACH BOEHEIM: It's got nothing to do with basketball, you know that. You're way smarter than that. This is just to do with football. You know that. It's just where everything is going. Just wait a few more years. Everything will be gone.
Q. Do you look around in the final minutes when the game's over and realize just how special it is?
COACH BOEHEIM: I was busy in the final minutes. I noticed one cheerleader but no. That will be trouble.
I thought about it before the game, obviously, and you think about it a little bit. It means a lot to us to get to the finals of this tournament. It means a lot. But the biggest thing is we came to New York with this year's team, and obviously we had not performed well, and we had a chance in a couple of games and let them get away. So we needed to come here and play well. That's what our main concern was. It wasn't defense because our defense has been good. It was offensively. I think we've gotten better offensively.
Q. Jim, given everything that this game is about, the atmosphere out there and how close it was, you had contributions from Trevor in the first half and Baye throughout, to get guys like that to really factor in, what does that say about the effort tonight?
COACH BOEHEIM: Trevor was a surprise, obviously. We've seen good things from him in practice, but there's no question that this was nobody saw this coming. It wasn't like I thought, you know, Trevor Cooney is going to get ten points in the first half, so I'll just put him out there. He got help and got a second foul. I usually play guys with two fouls in the second half, especially seniors.
But Trevor, he hit that short jump shot, and he plays good defense. He really he hit four defensive rebounds. He really was the best player on the court in the first half for either team. I mean, he clearly was.
But Baye is a good player. Our other center was sleeping tonight. We couldn't wake him up to get out there to play. So it was important that Baye stepped up.
Q. James, I think you tied Gerry McNamara's tournament record for threes at 16. Get a chance tomorrow.
COACH BOEHEIM: Don't tell him that.
Q. Just your thoughts on trying to win a title and breaking a record along the way the same night.
JAMES SOUTHERLAND: First of all, I just apologize to G Mac. Sorry, man. I didn't mean to do that. At the same time, going to focus on what we need to do and execute plays and play better defense.
Q. For James also, you guys struggled at the end of the regular season against some very good teams, but kind of on a downer coming in here. Can you describe what emotion this team came in, maybe channeling it from Jim, your coach, and some of the other guys like McNamara. What kind of emotion did you feel coming into this?
JAMES SOUTHERLAND: Everyone was eager to go out there and prove to everybody what we could do. Coaches did a great job of staying on us. Also, we did a great job of not hanging our heads this season. We did an even better job of coming together as a team and just talking and making sure that we trust each other.
That's the main thing, trust each other and working on defense and talking. Since then, we feel we all feel like we're in sync, and we're ready to go.
Q. Did you sense the importance of this event through Jim?
JAMES SOUTHERLAND: Oh, yes, we all sense it. This is big time, the Big East Tournament, and we're here and ready to play.
Q. Coach, you just had four guys in double figures with no one with more of 13 points. Does that sort of team game say something about the way you play in the Big East?
COACH BOEHEIM: We have normally four guys that are capable of scoring between 15 and 20, but in this kind of a game, it's going to be a struggle. It's going to be a defensive battle the whole game. I think I'm just proud of our effort and the fact that we made some mistakes and overcame them, missed some free throws and overcame, foul a guy, put him on the line at the end of regulation, made a couple made a bad turnover after we got the lead. We were able to overcome all that.
I think that it all stems back to when we came home, the assistant coach is gone, players, and I thought we had a couple of really good players. The players were out early. They were really talking and talking to themselves about it. They didn't like the way we finished.
I thought it was more from the players and the assistant coaches getting them going that enabled us to come down here and to play well.
This is a monumental tournament for us to get our confidence back and what we can do and what's ahead of us. We fully got that back. So that's why this tournament is so valuable for us this year. We really needed to have this kind of a tournament.
Q. For both players, when you knew you were going to get Georgetown the third time, did you guys talk about there's no way we're going to let them beat us?
BRANDON TRICHE: Exactly. I remember two years ago we ended up beating them twice, and they beat us in the Big East Tournament. We just wanted to return the favor.
Just us losing last time by 20, that meant a lot for us to even get to play against them again. Just reading comments from them, talking trash about us, it made it even more important to win a game like this.
JAMES SOUTHERLAND: I kind of I think we all kind of saw this coming. But at the same time, no matter who we played, we're just going to go out there and play as a team, and I'm just glad we're able to face them again and have a chance to win a championship.
JOHN PAQUETTE: Syracuse, thank you.