March 22, 2009


LARRY WAHL: We'll open up with an opening statement from Coach Boeheim, then we'll have questions just for the student athletes. Coach? COACH JIM BOEHEIM: You know, I thought we played you have to play well offensively against Arizona State and get ahead of them. You don't want to play from behind against them. I thought the key early is getting it inside. I thought our guys did a great job of getting it in there. And then after we got some inside looks, Andy came in and hit a couple threes. I thought defensively we did a good job. We wanted to get to Glasser and Harden. We knew that the we knew Kuksiks would shoot it and we didn't do a good job with him, but Abbott had a big game for them. He shot the heck out of the ball. But we didn't give them much inside, and we just wanted them to shoot a lot of threes and not get too much inside. But I thought we played extremely well. That defense is difficult to go against, a match up is very difficult to go against. Our defense is hard sometimes, too. But we've been playing better defense and our offense has been good all year. I give these guys a lot of credit. When they cut it to two, Jonny made a great penetration and kicked it to Andy and then he made a couple to get Eric the ball. They knocked down big shots. That was the difference.

Q. Eric, can you give us a sense of what's going through your mind when they got it to four? Was it panic? Was it still confidence? What was it? And also take us through the second three you hit, the one from the corner that you posed a little bit after on? ERIC DEVENDORF: Well, I mean, this is the NCAA Tournament so we know every team is going to make a run at us. Arizona is a great team obviously with a superstar in James Harden and James Pendergraph is a good player, as well. They made a run, but the guys we have on our team, even though Jonny is a sophomore, he's a veteran player, the best point guard in America, and Andy Rautins knocked down a big shot and I was able to get open from Jonny penetrating and kicking. After that second three, I don't know if I posed, I probably just stood there. It was a good pass from Andy, and I was able to knock it down.

Q. Andy, could you take us through the play that came right after that time out when they cut the lead to four and you ended up getting the ball in the corner? ANDY RAUTINS: Yeah, we knew we could get the inside screen there, and Rick kind of pinned him in there and Jonny had a little penetration and kicked it to me real quick after an inbound. I got it off pretty quick, and I wasn't too sure about taking the shot, but I let it go and it was good. It was just a great look all around and a well designed play.

Q. Jonny, could you talk a little bit about what you guys did against James. And were you surprised that you didn't try to force the action a little bit because it seemed like he was relatively passive for the entire game? JONNY FLYNN: Coming into the game you see him on TV, you know you hear about his name, First Team All American, NBA type talent on the college level. That kind of fires up. Every time you play against a guy with that much potential and that much ability on the basketball court, you're wired up to stop him. Coach really told us and did a good job of preparing us for making it a frustrating game for him. We thought coming to this game that he would get his points, but you wanted it to be hard points, you wanted there to be a hand in his face, you wanted to hit him, send him to the free throw line and make it a tough game. I was a little surprised that he didn't start forcing the action more, but he's a great player and he knows this team. I think we just did a good job of making it a hard game for him and letting nothing come easy for him.

Q. Andy, after not getting the knockdown like you wanted to on Friday how important was it for you to get that first three to go for your confidence? ANDY RAUTINS: Regardless as a shooter you have to keep shooting no matter what. That's your role on the team. Had I not made that first three, I would have kept shooting had I got the looks. But the first one did fall, got me feeling pretty good, and Eric and I, we didn't shoot the ball well last game and we came out and were stroking it well today. That's what good shooters do, they bounce back and they stay confident.

Q. Jonny, could you talk about attacking their 3 2 match up? It seemed like early on you guys were really able to get it inside which a lot of teams aren't able to do. JONNY FLYNN: I think we were really patient. When you play a match up zone like that, the key is they want to speed you up, they want to make you take quick shots and get on the glass and try to beat you down the court. But I think we really did a good job of working the ball around and hitting the corners. Like you said, whenever AO, when Jeff Pendergraph fronted him with things in the post, whenever we get an opportunity to throw it down Arinze, they weren't doubling off because you've got these two guys next to me hitting shots all the time. Just to get it in early and establish a post presence in the game, it really helped us out during the course of the game.

Q. You guys all three actually in the first half, the guards, combined for 12 assists and no turnovers. Any reason for that? ERIC DEVENDORF: We know what type of defense this is, what Arizona State has. Sometimes they can make you force the issue but you've got to be patient because you're not going to get an open shot the first go around. So I think that's what we did. All three of us were just patient and we took what was open. When we do that, good things happen, and we were able to get it down to Rick and Arinze a couple times, and on the reversals we were able to get a couple open threes.

Q. Jonny, for those of us that don't see you play every game all season, what was that wrap on your left arm? JONNY FLYNN: Well, I had this the whole season. I had bruised my arm earlier in the season, and we kept winning when I was wearing it, so I just kept it on the rest of the season, just kept playing. I guess it's a little good luck charm for us, I guess.

Q. This is for any of the players to answer: You guys seemed very cool when they did make a run. Can you just talk about the attitude of the team on the court today and your feeling about making a statement? JONNY FLYNN: Well, you know, coming into that time out when we were up four points, it's easy to get rattled. We were up, had a big lead, but Coach Boeheim really sat us down and said, "Look at the score, look at the time, and we're winning the game." You tend to lose focus just because a team makes a great run or starts hitting a couple shots, you start to think you're down when in actuality you're winning the game. He told us we're up, and he really kept us poised in the huddle and really put a nice game plan together, made a nice end game adjustment and we started working on it. And from there on out played great. COACH JIM BOEHEIM: And then they made three shots. LARRY WAHL: At this time we'll take questions for Coach Boeheim.

Q. That time out when they had cut it to four, was that designed to go to Andy or did it start with Jonny? COACH JIM BOEHEIM: We were going to go with a pick and roll and either go back and try to go inside or try to get the shooter in the corner. We hadn't been getting that shot in the corner that many times. They were pretty good at finding Andy. But he got just a little room, Harden was just a little late. Obviously the way the momentum of the game was, that was a big play. I think right away something happened on their end, they made a mistake or something, and missed a free throw or something, and we came back and Eric got the look in the corner, which was a hard no, I guess he got the open look first when Jonny penetrated, made a great play and kicked it out, and then the last one was a hard one. You know, Andy's shot was the difference in the game. That was the ballgame I thought.

Q. Just expanding on what Jonny was talking about with regard to Harden, can you talk a little bit about what your plan was for him and how it was executed. COACH JIM BOEHEIM: Well, the last game he was he moved the ball, and when they played him in the first game, in the Temple game, he didn't try to force anything. Glasser was shooting it, Kuksiks was shooting it, they were getting the ball to Pendergraph. Harden did nothing, he was really passive. And tonight when he was on the perimeter, we weren't concerned. If anything, we were going to let him shoot the three over the other three guys. As it turned out, Glasser had a bad day, but the other two guys had great days. Sometimes that happens. But when he went to the post, that's when we tried to drop our defense back in. He did get it in there, but he didn't get it as often in there as I think he would have liked to have it. My main concern coming into the game was him getting the ball in the post area. He's very good, he does go left, but he's good at it. I thought we made a couple defensive plays on him when he did go left, but we didn't want him to get going. When he's on the perimeter and he doesn't have something, he doesn't force it, he just moves it. They're a slow team. Against us I know they're going to take 30 seconds. The first play of the game they had a shot clock violation, over back, whatever it was. They're going to take their time. And when you play a team like that, you've got to be good on offense, you've got to get ahead and you've got to make them play a little faster, although they never do play any faster, so you just kind of have to use the clock. We made a couple really bad offensive plays to let it get to four. It should have never got to four. We made a couple bad offensive playoffs. Ricky missed a dunk, we missed a layup. Kristof got a rebound under the basket and missed it. You can't stop scoring. We had that one stretch where we didn't score. It wasn't our defense; we didn't score. That's how it got to four. We took the time out a couple times just to try to get our offense back going.

Q. Did you think you could dominate in the paint as much as you did, especially early, 31 to 8 in points total? COACH JIM BOEHEIM: The reason they play a match up is they're small. They play a match up to protect that area. You know, it's a great defense because you still can cover shooters, but you get help back inside. We did a great job early of getting it in inside and getting a lay up. Then when we got to AO on the second play, Ricky's guy came over, AO got the shot up there and Ricky tipped it in. We don't play the two big guys together that much because they get tired, so they were effective today early. But our inside game has gotten better as we've gone along. Ricky has gotten better. Arinze was great in the early part of the year. He got hurt, and he was ineffective for about eight games, and we happened to lose six of them. But we probably would have lost them anyway because we were playing Connecticut and Pittsburgh. When you play those games, you're ready for tough games. We're as ready as we can be for tough games. But he's just starting to get back to being effective again, and Ricky and him together are better now. And that's why we're better off on offense than I think we were.

Q. I know you don't like talking about it, but you're closing in on No. 800. How much would it mean to get that in the tournament? COACH JIM BOEHEIM: The next game. That's all we're trying to get. It doesn't mean a lot. We're going to play the team that's the No. 1 seed in this tournament if it weren't for Griffin getting injured. If he hadn't gotten hurt, they'd be the No. 1 seed. That's enough to worry about.

Q. You noted the other day that when both Eric and Andy struggle from the field that tends to be problematic for you guys. As you look ahead and try to build for the next game, how nice was it to see both of them shoot considerably better? COACH JIM BOEHEIM: We're a good shooting team. Jonny is a good shooter, too. He hasn't shot it that way well, I think he made one over there, but he's a good shooter, too. Nobody plays our zone. Nobody does. Because we shoot the ball well. The other day they had such a big lead I guess they figured they didn't need to make any. But I knew they would make shots today if they got them. They're both good shooters, they're good under pressure. They're going to make shots. But again, we don't see zones except a little bit maybe early in the year, but nobody played I can't remember the last time anybody has played our zone.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about when you play in a tournament and teams from out west or maybe the Big 12 like in '03 see your zone, what's different about it that can cause them to freeze up? COACH JIM BOEHEIM: You'd have to ask them. I don't know, ask them. LARRY WAHL: Okay, thank you very much.

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LARRY WAHL: We'll have Coach Sendek make some opening remarks and then open it up for questions from the student athletes. Coach? COACH HERB SENDEK: I certainly was impressed with Syracuse today. We knew going in that they were an outstanding team, and most certainly when you get a chance to compete against them up close and personal, that feeling is confirmed. I just was impressed with them in every facet of the game. As for us, I couldn't be more grateful for the opportunity that I had to coach these guys this year. It was a great journey. Today I think we tip our hats to an outstanding Syracuse team.

Q. Derek, what is most sort of frustrating playing against their zone? What impresses you about it? DEREK GLASSER: They did a great job of covering a lot of ground. It doesn't seem like they're there, and then all of a sudden they've got two guys there. You know, they do a phenomenal job of guarding the paint and covering a lot of ground.

Q. Jeff, just how difficult was it for you to have to sit there, your last game and you can't be there in the second half and help your team make a run? It had to be among the hardest things you've had to go through I would guess? JEFF PENDERGRAPH: Definitely because I feel like I'm just a great competitor, just to sort of see the game slipping away towards the end and there's nothing I can do about it, that hurt.

Q. Derek, you guys tend to shoot threes quite often, and everyone seems to shoot them a lot against Syracuse for obvious reasons. Do you think you almost relied on it a little too much in the first half, or were they taking away that many lanes inside? DEREK GLASSER: I think our offense created open looks and guys took the shots. You know, we didn't make as many as we wanted to, but you know, I don't think except for at the end, we didn't take really any bad threes, maybe one or two here or there, but except for the end I think all the shots we put up were good shots.

Q. This is for any of the players: It seemed like you kept a disciplined game under difficult circumstances. You closed it down to a four point lead. What were you thinking at that point? Did your engine start revving up or was it the difficulty of constantly playing catch up took its toll? DEREK GLASSER: You know, every team is going to make a run, and we made our run. And they called time out when we cut it to four, and they did a great job of converting it out of the time out and came out and hit a big three. I don't really know.

Q. James, you seemed to be more aggressive going to the basket in the second half than you were in the first half. Why was that the case? JAMES HARDEN: My teammates talked to me in the locker room. They said they needed me. I shouldn't have waited until the second half. I should have been aggressive in the first half as I was in the second half. But I was trying to be more aggressive, create more open shots in the middle of the zone. You know, that was basically it.

Q. James, two things kind of along those lines, the first one being after 1 for 8 Friday, did you carry any of that sort of back into today as far as maybe a little bit tentative on the offensive end? JAMES HARDEN: Definitely not. You know, yesterday when we had our practice, shooting a lot of shots and making a lot of shots, so definitely that confidence, the shots just weren't falling today. I had a lot of good looks, and like I said, I didn't make shots. We just didn't make shots that we needed to to cut the lead closer or even win the game.

Q. I know the season ended just a few minutes ago and I apologize, but there's been a lot of speculation about what you'll do next season. Have you given any thought to this point what you're going to do? JAMES HARDEN: Definitely not. We're still in the season. We had a game today. So was that the furthest thing from my mind. I still won't think about it. It's something I'll think about later with my coaches and my family.

Q. Derek, did you think you guys needed to play a near perfect game today going into this? DEREK GLASSER: I don't know if we needed to play a near perfect game, but we knew we had to play a really, really, really good game to beat them. We knew coming in that they're a very good team, and we knew that we were going to have to make shots, and we just didn't make enough today to win the game.

Q. Jeff, is that the best team you've played this year just in terms of offensively how many ways they can beat a team? I mean, they can shoot threes, get the ball inside, penetrate, they don't seem to have a lot of weaknesses you can attack. JEFF PENDERGRAPH: I would think so. That's what you should expect in the Tournament. You're going to play the best teams from everywhere. You know, they have a big inside presence. They exploited us with that earlier, and then we kind of started taking that away and then their guys started knocking down big threes. They're a high power offensive team. You can't have bums if they average 80 points a game. That tells you right there how good they can be offensively.

Q. You mentioned being a little bit passive in the first half. How much did their zone have to do with that? And is there anything different about their zone? You obviously played Arizona and other zone teams this year. JAMES HARDEN: They're definitely big all around, and they just I mean, they didn't do anything really. We've seen a lot of zones, so like I said, guys are going to make shots. And like at halftime my teammates talked to me and said, "I need you to be more aggressive." Not be more aggressive in scoring but to get them open shots, as well, or better looks. So that was my second half focus.

Q. Just reflect on the season and what you guys accomplished. I know you're disappointed, but you have to be proud of what you did this season. JEFF PENDERGRAPH: Looking back at this year, especially being the only senior, I'm really proud of our guys. Even how well we were supposed to do this year, we still had a lot of doubters and everything, and I still think even though we're disappointed in the loss today, we still had a productive year, and with Coach Sendek and the guys that are still here, this will be a great thing for them to build on for next year. I couldn't have asked for anything better from our guys, helping me out with my senior year. They left it on the line for me, and I couldn't have asked for a better senior year. LARRY WAHL: Thank you, guys. We'll open it up now for questions for Coach Sendek.

Q. I know you guys have been out here for a few days and getting used to the time change and all that, but is there something maybe to read into the fact that this was a 9:00 a.m. start locally for you guys, and the first half was obviously the colder of the two for you shooting wise? Could anything sort of be gleaned from that do you think? COACH HERB SENDEK: I don't think so. We've been out here, like you said, for several days. We're fairly acclimated to the time change.

Q. Did you feel prepared for the game? I mean, did you see what you were expecting, or was it more of a case of you just couldn't counter what you were expecting if that makes sense? COACH HERB SENDEK: I think we were as prepared as we could be, short of actually seeing them up close and personal and actually playing against them. You know, tape, and from a distance can only provide you with so much information, and there's nothing like actually seeing a team in person. We knew we had a great challenge today, and like I said in my opening statement, Syracuse's performance only confirmed what we already only confirmed the respect we already had for them.

Q. Over the years the Syracuse zone has given teams fits in the Tournament. Is there anything different or special about it that you can't prepare for, that you don't see on film that can freeze a team like it froze James today? COACH HERB SENDEK: Well, they've had a great deal of success with it through the years, and like Derek says, what is really pronounced when you're up close and personal is just the size and the way they cover ground. There's not a lot of openings to be found because they have great length, they have terrific athletes, and they cover ground so well. So what may seem momentarily open is quickly closed.

Q. When Ty hit the three to obviously get you within 61 57, two things: What was the mood in that time out? And then what happened on those next three Syracuse trips? Was it just Flynn simply just breaking people down, or was it just a late rotation? Could you put your finger on if it was one thing that happened on those next three Syracuse trips? COACH HERB SENDEK: Yeah, I don't know that I can simplify three possessions to one thing. But I will tell you this: That the mood of our team, as it has been all year, remained positive and very consistent, not just when we had cut the lead to four but throughout the game. We really tried to focus on the next play, tried to focus on the task at hand, and keep our poise and composure the best we could. And we didn't need to cut it to four to allow ourselves to have that mindset or feelings.

Q. You mentioned you didn't have many openings. Were you expecting to have to shoot that many threes or were you hoping to attack more against that zone inside? COACH HERB SENDEK: We wanted to attack the zone inside, in the soft spot, off the dribble, all those ways. But they do a great job of protecting the goal. They do a great job of protecting the paint. And if the defense is going to converge, then what's left is what we actually end up taking, which is the three point shot. Given our personnel and the way we matched up against Syracuse, you know, it was probably the best card we had to play today.

Q. I wonder if you could talk about James' game. Did you feel like maybe he needed to be more aggressive in the first half? Or just comment on his game in general. COACH HERB SENDEK: Well, I think we ask him to do so much that sometimes it's probably thoughtful and wise to take a step back and just recognize how much he really does. You know, it's easy in hindsight to say he could have been more aggressive, he could have done this. But part of the gift of his game is he really takes what's there. You know, I thought in the second half he gave us so many baskets that it may not be reflected on the stat sheet, either in the assist column or in the point column. Perhaps on a possession here or there he could have been more aggressive, but you know, he does a lot for us, and sometimes it doesn't show up on the stats sheet.

Q. With no disrespect to any of the other brackets or teams, of course, but when you first saw the field of 65 did you think that, A, the bracket that you were in was by far the deepest, and now that you know you knew coming in today who the other three teams were, is that maybe as elite a regional, whether it was going to be you or Syracuse? Was that going to be as deep a regional semifinal as we've seen in a while? COACH HERB SENDEK: I find it difficult to make those assessments, and I don't spend a lot of time trying to compare and analyze. I know for us all week we were really focused on Temple. And then once we were fortunate to win that game, we zeroed in on Syracuse and treated this as a four team tournament for Arizona State. So I really didn't spend a lot of time looking at that. I knew this was a heck of a bracket and I'm sure if we would have been placed and won somewhere else, I would have said the same thing. LARRY WAHL: Thank you, Coach.

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