HEAD COACH MIKE RICE: Quickly, briefing, the toughness of this team at the beginning of the season through the end, whether it was down 10, down 8, continue to fight, continue too follow the formula through missed free throws, through a technical foul, through bad coaching, this team persevered and they had such a toughness. Very proud of where we've gotten to and it's hard because this league, the wins don't pile up even though I thought we were improving ever day.
I was proud of the way we were the process and, again, these two seniors, J.B., those guys stepped up.
Q. Mike, was today in your opinion a complete day in season and how much is it of a microcosm of what you need from James moving forward?
COACH RICE: He's such a gifted athlete and when he has that relentlessness about him, defensively and offensively he's going to be a work in progress progressing on the offense but he can use with what he has with God's blessed him with and he had a toughness about him. You don't see it in the huddle, he wouldn't shut up in the huddle and that's the toughness that I like.
Q. Coach, you talked about it a little when you came in, not following with 8 seconds left, up 3 and it's a debate that goes o your thought process?
COACH RICE: Never did it, the Mississippi State versus Kentucky where they did and they lost the game. You can go overtime so it's always been I may change it after tonight to be honest with you and, again when you really think about it, if they have a Jeremy Hazell, it's probably the smartest thing you can do because of his range, of that game I said I won't do it because you have a chance to lose the game.
When it happened the toughness it takes to regain your composure it's unbelievable, you can't measure it to be honest with you and I loved it that they had enough toughness to come back.
Q. He hits the 3, how kind of deflating is it knowing you're going to overtime and knowing you had it won and in overtime you stepped up, got 8 points on free throws, talk about your aggression, going to the hoop and going into overtime.
JONATHAN MITCHELL: Coach told us from day one we have to be comfortable in chaos and that was a chaotic moment. We came in the huddle and said we have to regroup and not let that affect us and lose the game in overtime. In overtime my team did a great job of finding me and I stepped up and made free throws.
Q. Mike, you had a dramatic loss in the first round last year to Cincinnati, how important was it to get this win and continue your season as a senior?
MIKE COBURN: It's very important. When you hit this time of season, you've got to give it your all to continue on and for us we just wanted to come out here and we have been preaching about it, saying, Coach even put up the amount of seconds we have left in the game almost left in our season so if we want to continue it we got to win a game so every possession, every second of the game you got to give it all and it was a very important game.
Q. Seemed like you were displeased with the call on Biruta?
COACH RICE: He had his elbows, tucked, and if I watch 2 he probably had one of the elbows out. I thought he had the elbows tucked. He had two guys on his face. That's a tough call. Big East referees are the best in the world. I'm going to trust that they were right (Chuckles.) In overtime that's an unbelievable call.
Q. Were you worried the call would turn the game?
COACH RICE: Yes.
Q. Coach and Jonathan, the battle between he and Jeremy down the stretch it was like an Old West shoot out and it was like these two great players have been around, each one, who was going to blink first. If you can comment on that Coach and then Jonathan?
COACH RICE: It was incredible, and, again we know where they were going and they knew where we were going and it's the detail, can we get him how much can we give him an advantage and our guys just whether it was screening, whether it was the assists, whether it was the spacing, all the little things and Jeremy, to make that shot and do what he's done over his career, I'm just glad I have J. Mitch on my side.
JONATHAN MITCHELL: Seems like Jeremy and I have been in college basketball forever (Chuckles.)
That was two competitors going at it, and I think our will was a little more we wanted it more and down the stretch as a team, as a whole and that's the reason why we got the win.
Q. For either of you guys, is it possible to put into words what it felt like when you won the game and to be here sitting here talking about a win at the Big East tournament?
MIKE COBURN: For me, I've never won a Big East tournament game so it was very exciting. In the locker room we said it was a good job and we knew we had a good chance of winning, so it's not a crazy celebration because we've got to play tomorrow and you can't really get caught up in this game here when St. John's can turn around and just kick your butt if yo don't focus. We are just going to be ready and come out here tomorrow.
Q. Coach, can you follow up on the game tomorrow?
COACH RICE: Sure, I thought I was playing the hottest Big East team today and now you face an opponent that's even hotter in this building. It was a rock fight at Carnesecca at St. John's. They didn't handle their zone very well. It is a big challenge. Love it. We're on the next round. Great opportunity for our program and our seniors to show how much we've improved, to show it's different. And, again, Seton Hall excuse me, St. John's, it will be a fun match up.
Q. For the players, when Eniel Polynice drives at the end of the game and the wing is open, did you expect Hazell to get the ball? Jeremy Hazell to get the ball?
MIKE COBURN: No, if we hit the shot we would have got it if he passed it and hit it but we got lucky on the play.
Q. Fast forward 12 months ago, Jeremy Hazell makes the play, you're going to the tournament, do you think this team would have been tough enough mentally, to win the game?
JONATHAN MITCHELL: That's a tough question. We have a whole new demeanor this year. I'm just glad we won today.
Q. Where does this rank on the craziness meter?
JONATHAN MITCHELL: This is 10. You got to love this game because one, we split during the regular season and two, it was a first round game in the Big East, so we kinda got the bragging rights for the future
COACH RICE: Be humble, guys.
JONATHAN MITCHELL: It was a great win for us and we were happy we came up with the win.
Q. Mike, you said you don't foul when you're up 3. Did that change at all? That's sort of how you won the Villanova game. They didn't foul
COACH RICE: Again, I may change it after today, after what happened but I watched a game in my living room and Mississippi had the game won and they fouled and didn't get the offensive rebound and so you know, you can debate it over and over and over again, and I may especially when they have such a dynamic score I may do it, it's just one of those things, you stick to it, you believe in what you do and now you grind away no matter what happens and this team did that, loved the toughness.
Q. Jeremy when you hit that shot end of regulation did you think that would be a propel to the win?
JEREMY HAZELL: I thought it was going to be a momentum changer. Everybody was playing well, we just didn't get the stops at the end when we needed 'em. That's tough down the stretch when you're playing against a rivalry team you got to get stops and it was just tough, tough day.
Q. Jeremy can you take us through that shot, replay how it unfolded? The game tying shot?
JEREMY HAZELL: Great screen, great pass and I hit the shot and that's it.
Q. Coach, I know crazy games are harder to remember well when you lose 'em but what was it like to be part of this and part of that shoot out toward the end and overtime and calls going each way? It was a great game for us to watch, what was it like for you to be part of it?
JEREMY HAZELL: It was a great game but the outcome for us wasn't what we wanted. We worked too hard for this, and we wanted the "W."
COACH KEVIN WILLARD: It was disappointing.
Q. Jeff, you had a rough day shooting. Did you feel like you were in rhythm? Can you explain it at all?
JEFF ROBINSON: I just went out there and played hard and I wasn't able to hit the shots that I normally hit but I tried to do other things to keep our team in the game and help us win.
Q. Did you feel like you guys had the momentum going into overtime?
JEFF ROBINSON: I felt like it was a momentum changer but just like any other game you've got to get defensive stops to win game and we wasn't able to do that and we lost the game and it was very disappointing.
Q. When Jordan fouls out and Eniel Polynice has to be the point guard did that change what you guys were able to do toward the end? Seemed like on that last play Eniel Polynice drives and got stripped and Jeremy was open on the wing.
COACH WILLARD: We had try to drive on them and gotten into the double bonus in overtime. He made a couple of poor decisions but he made good drives, just didn't make good decisions with it.
Q. Coach, the last two games shot selection has been pretty good, today not so much, can you talk about that?
COACH WILLARD: I didn't think the shot selection was terrible. I thought some guys who get open looks usually knock 'em down. Again, I thought Jeff's looks were good, he just didn't make 'em today.
I thought we had good looks, we just didn't make 'em.
Q. Kevin, in your eyes what was the difference in overtime?
COACH WILLARD: They got some stops, we didn't get some stops.
Q. This has been a trend throughout the year, even going back to Dayton, Richmond, you guys not being able to hold leads and end game scenarios not exactly working out the way you wanted. How frustrating is it to have this game in a spot and have the same thing happen?
COACH WILLARD: That's been our Achilles heel, and we missed free throws when we had a chance to go up 4 and we were up 2 and missed 2 free throws and just gettin' stops sometimes at the end of games really hurt us. I think our seniors gave us a lot, Jeremy and Jeff, Anali and all the guys that play for this University gave us a lot. So it is disappointing but these guys are going to go on to bright futures. Thank you.