March 20, 2009


COACH JIM BOEHEIM,
JONNY FLYNN &
PAUL HARRIS

LARRY WAHL:  For Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim and also Jonny Flynn and Paul Harris.  We'll have Coach Boeheim make some opening remarks, then questions for the players.

COACH JIM BOEHEIM:  I thought the first half we had a good balance of inside and out.  They're a very good defensive team.  They really pressure the ball.  We wanted to get it in low early.  I thought these guys did a great job of that.  Defensively I think we did a good job the whole game.  Paul did a really good job on the boards, and Jonny dictated the tempo and got the ball to the right people the whole game.

The only big disappointment was when they went zone we looked like we didn't know what we were doing.  That was a little disappointing.  We play some zone ourselves so we should have been a little bit better.

I thought we were really good offensively and defensively the whole game.

Q.  Jonny, can you talk about how their first time here, obviously they probably had a lot of emotions, a lot of nerves, how important that was for you guys to exploit that early on jumping off to that 20 4 start?

JONNY FLYNN:  That was one thing me and Paul had suggested to the team coming out.  They're a good team and they won their conference tournament but they're happy to be here.  We're happy to be here, as well but we have a mission here.  We didn't want to get caught up in being in the NCAA tournament, just being in Miami in the nice weather and just in this atmosphere.  We wanted to come out here and make a statement and make a run in this tournament.

Q.  Can you talk about going inside as much as you could to Rick Jackson and Arinze Onuaku today and did they end up taking advantage of those matchups

JONNY FLYNN:  It's not often we see Rick Jackson and Arinze not in the post, and allowing a team an easy entry pass like it was today.  So whenever you see that, you have to just keep giving them the ball.  Coach made some good play calls to get them the ball, even if it was a pick and roll, slip, or even if it was a regular post up or a high low.  He made some good calls to get them the ball early.  When our big guys is rolling and down there banging and dunking, I don't think nobody in the country can stop us.

Q.  I know you had a couple sick teammates.  How are you guys in general feeling?  Any worries about everybody staying healthy?

JONNY FLYNN:  We have a good medical staff.  They've been with us all the time, making sure we're hydrated, making sure we have the necessary treatment to be able to play.  This day off tomorrow is really going to help us.  We really have to stay focused and committed on what was the reason we came down here.  But I think this day off is really going to help get us get better.  Get Kristof Ongenaet, a guy who helped us out toward the end of the season and in the Big East Tourney.  To get him on the floor with us because he's a very valuable part of our team.

Q.  Paul, I know you've been waiting for this moment for a long time.  Can you talk about how you felt before the game?

PAUL HARRIS:  I was so pumped, up, me and Jonny Flynn.  We was talking about it all night.  Ever since I came to Syracuse, I wanted to get into the NCAA Tournament.  I've been to the NIT two years in a row and finally got here, and our mission is to win it all.

Q.  Paul, the first seven times in the post I think was four missed shots, one foul, a couple of strips.  You really set the tone when they tried going inside early.  How critical was that do you think?

PAUL HARRIS:  Well, I think we got it down low.  Coach was saying in the huddle, "We're a bigger, stronger team, let's pound it down low," and Rick Jackson came right off the gate and got a spin move dunk, and when our big man is out there with energy and talking, I know it's going to be a good night for us.

LARRY WAHL:  We'll open it up for questions for Coach Boeheim.

Q.  How confident are you that Kristof will be ready to go for Sunday?

COACH JIM BOEHEIM:  Well, he hurt his foot yesterday in practice, and then he got sick this morning.  He was throwing up and didn't look like he was going to make it.  He thought he could play if he had to, but the combination of his foot and his general health, I wanted to try to keep him out if I could.  You know, fortunately we were able to, and hopefully he'll be able to bounce back and play.  I think I feel worse than he does, though.

Q.  You are sniffling and coughing and all that.  Did this hit you, too?

COACH JIM BOEHEIM:  I've been sick for a couple of days, kind of congested and a sore throat.  But I don't feel that bad...yet.  Hopefully everybody will be healthy.

Q.  Could you talk about Arinze and Rick Jackson and how they played today down low?

COACH JIM BOEHEIM:  I thought early they were really good.  They caught the ball, finished plays around the basket.  As the game wore on I thought we lost our focus in there.  Obviously we didn't shoot the ball very well.  When Eric and Andy shoot 3 for 17, we usually lose by about 15.  I think we were fortunate today to survive a bad shooting performance by those two guys, something that we normally can't do.

But I think our defense was good, and early we were good.  Early we were really good on offense.

Q.  About just getting that first win out of the way, how important is it that when you guys practice tomorrow, you've got some stuff to talk about with these guys, is that a good thing?

COACH JIM BOEHEIM:  We had too many turnovers, but they're a good defensive team.  We got in the lane a couple times and it's crowded in there.  They do a great job of getting back.  We weren't making anything so we were reluctant to throw it back out to the shooters, which we normally do right away, and we forced some turnovers in those situations.

But they're a good defensive team.  They pressure, they get into you.  I can't tell you how well we played the first 15, 16 minutes of this game on offense.  We really moved the ball and got the ball to people as well as we have all year.  I think they're a good team, but we got off to such a good start, and they got off to a bad shooting start.  They couldn't make anything, and we were doing a good job of finding them.  But you just want to get a win in this tournament and get to the next game.  That's what it's about.

Q.  What do you know about your two potential opponents, what are their strengths?

COACH JIM BOEHEIM:  We'll know enough about them when we get ready.

Q.  Could you talk a little bit about the defense at the beginning of the game?  It was the first seven minutes they didn't have a field goal.

COACH JIM BOEHEIM:  We played very well.  We were making good adjustments in our defense.  Sometimes when teams see our defense for the first time, they struggle against it a little bit, and I just thought we made good adjustments and found    got the right guys.  A couple times when they got it in there around the basket we stripped it, and a couple other times they missed fairly easy shots early.  They had two threes early go in and out, and those things sometimes happen.

LARRY WAHL:  Coach, thank you. FastScripts by ASAP Sports


COACH DANNY KASPAR,
JOSH ALEXANDER,
MATT KINGSLEY &
BENSON AKPAN

COACH DANNY KASPAR:  I just want to congratulate Syracuse on their win.  They're playing some very good basketball in the last month, three weeks to a month.  They played very well and deserve a lot of the credit for what happened out there today.  Jonny Flynn is something special, and he was knocking us up pretty good in there with his penetration, and I thought that caused us fits the first half, his ability to get in the lane or pick and roll, as I said, a very good job.

But I also feel that, and I think you guys are going to agree with me, that we didn't play up to our capabilities.  I think there was a bad case of the shakes with some of us, and even when that settled down, we just couldn't get it going.  I'm very proud of this team.  They've overcome some injuries to some key people throughout the year, and they really played well down the stretch within our league, and I'm not going to let today's loss take away from that.

Q.  Josh, I think you missed your first four or five, and none of you guys really could get anything going those first ten minutes.  What were the emotions going through your body at that point?  Was it disappointment?  Was it anger, frustration, all of the above?  What were those first ten minutes like?

JOSH ALEXANDER:  Kind of frustrating.  I know we can't make every shot, but I mean, I missed some easy lay ups, jump shots.  They was giving us the jump shot and we just had to stand there and hit them in the first couple minutes of the game, and we just couldn't hit.  That's how we got off to such a slow start.

Q.  Was it the shakes like Coach said?

JOSH ALEXANDER:  Maybe a little bit, but not as much as you would think of.  We just had to hit some shots and we didn't.

Q.  Matt, just maybe a comment on just how big those guys are.  They dominated early and really a lot of dunks.  They had their way inside pretty much the whole game.

MATT KINGSLEY:  They're a large group of guys, and it's just a pretty big transition from most of the big men in the Southland Conference to some of the biggest guys in the Big East.

Q.  Benson, you stepped up when Matt was on the bench, 12 points, career high.  Where did that come from?  How were you able to do that?

BENSON AKPAN:  I just went out there and played like we do every day on game days.

Q.  Saved your best for last?

BENSON AKPAN:  We played well.

Q.  Matt, Syracuse left the Big East Tournament talking about winning it all.  There's probably a few people out there that think they're capable.  After seeing them up close now for 40 minutes, what kind of appreciation do you have for them and how far do you think they can go in this thing?

MATT KINGSLEY:  I think they can go pretty far.  They may go pretty far, and I think they're a good team.  I was expecting them to be a good team, and they're exactly what I expected.

LARRY WAHL:  We'll open it up for questions from Coach Kaspar.

Q.  Danny, how do you not let today take away from 24 wins and getting here and all those good things that happened to you for the first time this year?

COACH DANNY KASPAR:  You know, we talked about that before the game.  We've talked a lot about understanding that the biggest opponent we're going to face is within our own locker room.  It's ourselves.  We talked about that during the preseason, during the season, and in talking about the teams we played, both the non conference and conference.  I think whatever you're talking about, the enemy within is the worst enemy.

Let's face it, Josh, I don't think Josh really had the shakes, he just wasn't hitting anything.  He's had games like this.  He went through a slump midway through conference that was the worst I've ever seen.  And Matt seemed intimidated by those big kids.  That's why I thought I've got to go with Benson, and I thought Benson was playing very well.

You know, you talk to the team after the game and you just tell them you're proud of them, that you love them and you care for them, and thank you, and that's what was said.  That is a high character group of young men in that locker room.  The last thing I wanted them to know as we complete this season was I was very proud of them and they have nothing to be ashamed of, that they've done a lot of great things for Stephen F. Austin men's basketball program and Stephen F. Austin State University, and they did it with hard work, a lot of talent, hard work and some great character.

Q.  Could you talk about the problems that the two big kids, Jackson and Onuaku, presented for you guys?

COACH DANNY KASPAR:  Well, they did, and really we talked about how they like to block shots, and you've got to shot fake and go up.  Nick Shaw got two shots early in the game which are really not a shot fake but turning around and seeing a 6'9" 240 pounder or a 6'9" 270 pounder.  We lost our poise as far as what to do once we got the ball inside.

The message that was given to our players is if you shot fake, they'll go up.  It's got to be quick because they're coming in.  They'll strip you if you're not.  If you shot fake, go up into them, get to the foul line.  As you can see we shot 10 free throws, so we didn't do that.  As of those 10 free throws, I believe bigs got eight.  So that's been a little bit of a problem for us all year long.  We have not gotten to the free throw line like we should.

And you know, where I might look in the mirror and say if I had to do it again I might go to that 1 3 1 zone earlier.  We were so successful with our man defense all year, I didn't want to send a message to our kids that I'm going to give up on it early.  But the 1 3 1 did bother them.  I don't think they prepared any for it, and perhaps we should have gone to it a little sooner.

LARRY WAHL:  Thank you very much.
 
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