An Interview With:
COACH CALHOUN: Well, it always is a great game, not necessarily from a high percentage standpoint but from a warriors standpoint with two Big East teams and a couple of guys that have coached somewhere in the neighborhood of 2,300, 2,400 games went at each other and both teams did that and I think when all is said and done, Alex was a warrior, Jeremy Lamb stepped up, Tyler who was a starter for half the season wasn't playing as well came in and stepped up incredibly well and M.V.P. in America, bar none. You cannot question it.
Tell me the other guys who were getting 12 rebounds, 6 steals, assists, one of the greatest performance of any player of mine but I've never seen a guard dominate a game I'm talking about inside and out and there has been a lot of questions is he one of the best players in the Big East. More importantly he is one of the M.V.P. in the United States. I think he's the M.V.P. on any college basketball team in America and I'm going to keep saying that because you've got a chance to witness what we have witnessed over the past 30 somewhat games.
He was there were other guys that stepped up and to beat as good of a team as Syracuse we needed to do it, and the only thing that surprised me is when he went to the interview he looked tired. Not so tired at the start of the game but at the end of the game. Great performance for us. We couldn't be happier. The kids showed all the hard work they put into the last four days and caught a little bit of magic.
Q. Kemba, you've been smiling all week. You came in with a positive attitude. How do you explain the frame of mind that you've been in all week?
KEMBA WALKER: After our loss to Notre Dame, we had a great practice after that. Everybody showed up ready to work and we knew it was a new season and we knew coming into this tournament it was going to be tough to get to this point that we are at now. Everybody stayed together and our coaching staff did a great job of keeping us positive and that was the thing.
Q. Can you talk about playing five games in five days. I imagine in AAU you played a bunch of games in one day but have you ever done anything like this before?
KEMBA WALKER: No, not other than AAU but it's tough and we ready for the challenge. We're mentally tough and we're going to stay together.
Q. Kemba, the sixth overtime game was not one of your greater games. When you knew it was UConn Syracuse again has that game stayed with you?
KEMBA WALKER: Of course. I don't want to go into another sixth overtime. I was mad when it went into the first overtime but I thought about the six overtime game and I wanted to get the win in that first O.T. I didn't want to go into another one and another one but Jeremy Lamb stepped up big time for us and we needed that from him.
Q. Coach, last Saturday Notre Dame game you stalked about how you were disappointed the team not rebounding, the last three games outrebounding the teams, talk about the way the big guys have
COACH CALHOUN: Once again, we needed new life and to some degree until Big East, there wasn't new life and we hadn't seen a team like DePaul in quite a long stretch. One of the things I say is everybody says you came off this disastrous 21 9 year. We're all inferring that we came off an awful year. We beat Kentucky, Michigan State, and Texas, and we've beat some very good teams along the way and I was disappointed we lost 3 out of 4 down the stretch and as Kemba mentioned, we went with after the ball in practice and after the ball and no one is bitching and moaning about the fact that this was tough. We knew we needed it and we fed off the leadership of Kemba and Alex and going at everything, hard as we probably could, it was a nonsensical thing that a coach would do a couple days away from the first game he's going to play I said heck with it we're going at it and we can do this.
The other thing we did is cleared the slate of anything that happened before. Fresh season, let's play basketball. Over the years I've been in a few tournaments, NCAA and the Big East and we started fresh and the kids responded. I couldn't be prouder of this group and I've had some good groups I've sat on the podium with.
Q. Kemba, you guys went into overtime, what's the mind set when you go back to the huddle? How do you lift yourself back up after it looked like you were going to win in regulation and it's taken away?
KEMBA WALKER: We were disappointed we felt like we should have won in regulation, we missed free throws, but luckily we went into overtime and we got ready and pulled it out.
Q. Coach, down 3 with 11 seconds, did you think of fouling?
COACH CALHOUN: Never thought about it. Are you talking about regulation or overtime?
COACH CALHOUN: In regulation we told everybody to pick them up. Kemba was wide open and made a tough 3 point shot. He was wide open, I guess, but we made a mistake, and I don't believe in that theory and I wasn't going to start tonight. I believe enough if we switched everything, he could get a contested 3 point shot, 35% uncontested, around 20% contested, so we didn't do a great job of getting the 3 pointer, and one more foul shot would have finished off the game, but those things happen at guides said. The first game we played we got a little freedom, then tight against Georgetown and then tighter against Pitt and tonight really tight. We've gone a great job of something happening, next play, jumping in the overtime of jumping back into it and working hard again. I think we did a incredible job of that.
Q. Coach talk about Tyler's performance after struggling in the Big East season and not playing as much, he played 27 minutes tonight?
COACH CALHOUN: I told Tyler Olander so many times of his talent and the way he could shoot the basketball and somewhere in the midst he got caught up in freshmanitis and everything he did was wrong which I pointed out and in the process of building it's time to take things away, and he's stuck with it; extra weight training and conditioning and I think we all feel the same way. We couldn't be happier. He bounced back because we have basketball tomorrow and next week and having Tyler jump in like that was great for him and great for us.
Q. Alex, there were a number of guys on the court tonight, 6 9 and taller. How does a guy 6 foot in heels be the leading rebounder in the game?
ALEX ORIAHKI: He got long rebounds, he wasn't battling like I was (Chuckles.)
COACH CALHOUN: I like that.
Q. Kemba, there in the overtime period, you know, it seemed like you might be close to being out of gas. How important was it that Jeremy Lamb was there and it looked like you looked for him a couple of times down the stretch?
KEMBA WALKER: I knew Syracuse was going to play me hard coming off the ball screens and I knew he was going to be open. It was up to him if he was going to tag or not. He made three great moves, you know. He was big time for us tonight in the overtime and we needed that from him.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
An Interview With:
COACH BOEHEIM: I thought the whole game was both teams played physical, tough, tough college basketball just like you expect. I thought we had some opportunities early and we didn't make shots and, you know, you've got to make some shots. Then we started to in the second half but we gave up too much.
We let Kemba get too much penetration. We tried to double him every chance we could but he's very difficult he's as good a player as there is in college basketball right now. He just made tremendous plays. I thought we hung in there. We made a tremendous come back at the end of the game, made some defensive plays, hit a couple of shots and overtime we had some really good opportunities and we just didn't convert 'em and you have to do that and we'll learn from it, get ready for next week.
Q. Coach, you talk about the come back, all the things you guys did in the last minute and what that will do for you next week?
COACH BOEHEIM: If we get in that same position again I don't think it will help us too much because I don't think we will be able to do that again, I think that was a once in a season thing.
Q. Coach, Brandon Triche scored 22 points for you last night, in the second half he wasn't in the game that much, is there a reason?
COACH BOEHEIM: Yeah, there was a reason. Yep. You asked a question, I answered it. He was 1 for 70 for 3 in the first half and Dion came in and played great. Maybe I don't know what I'm doing, maybe that's the answer.
Q. Coach, 45% from the line, shortage of free throws down the stretch?
COACH BOEHEIM: We only got 11 foul shots, we missed a couple, but when you only get to the line 11 times something happened there.
Q. Scoop, at the time how good did it feel to hit those threes?
SCOOP JARDINE: I was worried about getting into overtime. I gave my team the chance to win the game and we didn't come through in overtime, that's all I'm worrying about right now.
Q. Dion's play tonight encouraging for the tournament?
COACH BOEHEIM: Dion has played well, through the tournament and I thought he was really good today.
Q. Scoop, tough loss tonight but one of the leaders of this team in the days to come what will you say to the guys to move forward toward the NCAAs?
SCOOP JARDINE: We can learn a lot from this game. I think the big tournament starts next week and that's our whole goal is to try to win six games and we going to do everything in our power to bounce back. We have been down this road before and we know what it takes and we have a coach who can get us there and we are going to try to win every game in the NCAA Tournament.
Q. Jim, there was a play that looked like it might have been an offense active
COACH BOEHEIM: You think.
Q. What do you think?
COACH BOEHEIM: Nothing. No comment.
THE MODERATOR: Syracuse, thank you.