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Mike Lopresti | | April 1, 2016

Final Four: Best quotes from Friday

  Syracuse's Jim Boeheim is headed to his second Final Four in four years.

HOUSTON – What they were saying Friday at the Final Four... 

Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield, on the problems NRG Stadium’s open spaces might gave shooters:

“It’s just you and rim, you can’t focus on what’s around you. As a shooter I just block what everything is around me.”

Villanova coach Jay Wright, on the Wildcats’ loss to Oklahoma in December:

“I think this game is going to be about how much better have they gotten, how much better have we gotten, how close are we now?”

Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger on the same game:

“Watching film, video of that game, I was hoping to see us be just better. That wasn't the case. They just didn't make shots, and we did.”

Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim on his philosophy on managing players:

Road to the Final Four: Syracuse Orange

“The old saying that you treat every player the same is not true. I don’t think it was ever true. I don’t know who came up with it. Probably a football coach, who they deal with a hundred, and we deal with seven or eight.”

North Carolina’s Roy Williams, on his role in helping Dean Smith and the Tar Heels win the 1982 national championship:

“Coach Smith, his whole philosophy was to keep everybody away. I remember 1981, we played in Philadelphia. We stayed on the other side of Villanova. We got beat by Indiana in the national championship game. In ’82, we were fortunate enough to get back and were playing in New Orleans. We’re trying to discuss where to stay, and I said, `Coach, let’s stay in downtown New Orleans, let them realize we’re in the mix of the Final Four. It didn’t work last year.’ He said, `Yeah you’re right, let’s try that and see how it works.’ We won it. That’s one of two or three things I ever gave Coach Smith. He carried me for 10 years. I think I gave him two or three suggestions.”

Oklahoma’s C.J. Cole on his chemical bioscience major:

“It’s a lot of chemistry, biochemistry and biology. It’s all the stuff people don’t want to take.”

Oklahoma’s Jordan Woodard on Kruger:

“He’s got that old-school style. He expects the players to get the job done. But I think that is why (he’s overlooked), because he doesn’t have that flamboyant style. He doesn’t yell, he doesn’t shout. He’s a nice guy. When he uses some harsh stuff, that’s when you know he’s serious.”

Williams, on trying to beat a team during the season and in the tournament:

“In '09, we played Michigan State in the ACC-Big Ten in Detroit. We were great that day. We caught Tommy's (Izzo) club on not a good day and we beat them easily. Now we got to play them again for the national championship. That's when people said it was going to help the economy of Michigan and Detroit (if the Spartans won, with the game in Detroit). I said, `Let's let the economy suffer for another day.’ I told our guys, `We can beat 'em worse.’ (The Tar Heels didn’t, but still won comfortably).

Wright, on coaching in Philadelphia, with its six schools:

“It's not like being in a state where you have two state schools. We're all on top of each other. There's a lot of mixed breeding. It's an intense college basketball town, and it's hard for everybody to get behind one of the schools. But it's a pro town, too. So because of the recent last couple years, they've been saying it all year, everybody's been putting pressure on us saying, 'Hey, you guys are Philly's hope, do you feel the pressure?’ We really never felt the pressure. We can definitely feel it now. There's buildings in Philadelphia that have the lights going across the top, Nova Final Four. It's pretty cool. We would love to do it. We would love to do it for Philly.”

Boeheim, on the coaching clinics he often gives on his famed 2-3 zone:

“It’s pretty much standard. Like, 'This is Jim Boeheim, this is all he knows, so we’re going to have him talk about the 2-3 zone.’ I tried one clinic to start with something else. There were 400 coaches there. They started getting restless. I knew right away, 'Ok, we’ll talk about it.”’

Wright, on when he sensed the 2009 Final Four game against North Carolina would not end well:

“It was in the middle of the game. You're standing up there on a stage in front of everybody. You could just see the focus in Carolina... You could see the focus in those guys. You could see our guys were just playing a game. I knew. It was about 10 minutes into the game. I knew. I was like, ‘I didn't get these guys ready.’”

Syracuse’s Michael Gbinije, on Jim Boeheim calling him the most improved player he has ever had:

“I must have been really bad when I first started out.”

North Carolina’s Theo Pinson, on the Tar Heels winning a title.

“It’s why I came here. I could have gone somewhere else and gotten all the shots and all the glory, but at the same time, I wanted to win a championship.”

Kruger, on his nickname as youth, Slick:

“I'd like to say it started because I was pretty smooth, yet it was probably more about the haircut. Growing up, I was one of six children, five boys. We didn't want to spend that money on a barber. Dad bought himself a pair of clippers. The only thing he could kind of do was give us a burr cut. I think that's probably what it started with, the haircut, that burr look back in the day. Wish I could give you a more exciting answer, but that was about it.”

Williams, on Marcus Paige’s shooting slump at mid-season:

“I’m not sure he ever lost his confidence. I think he got pretty mad. I’d say, `Are you all right?’ He would say, 'Yeah.' I’d say, 'Do you want me to leave you alone?' He’d say, 'Yeah.' That was pretty intelligent coaching on my part. I didn’t say anything. He just took care of it.”

Williams, asked to come up with something new on the well-chronicled Paige:

Road to the Final Four: North Carolina Tar Heels

“He doesn’t like to ride in full elevators. Eight teammates get on the elevator, he will wait for the next one to go up. My boy’s a little claustrophobic.”

Boeheim, on still coaching at 71:

“I feel the same now as I did 20 years ago or 30 years ago. I might have a couple more aches and pains, but I feel mentally the same. I feel better in terms of doing the job because you’re putting even more into it, because you know you’re not going to be doing it that much longer.

“Al McGuire once told me, `One day I was driving to work, I came down the ramp and I turn right. The day I turn left, I’m not going to work anymore.’ He turned left one day. That was it. So I’m going to turn left someday, too.”

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