SETON HALL UNIVERSITY
Q. Talk about the first five minutes or so when you were getting outscored 9 0.
COACH WILLARD: I thought we got some good shots. We didn't go down, and then we just these two guys have been, since the plane ride back from DePaul, they just said everybody relax. We just relaxed and made a couple shots and got back to what we do best, and that's defending.
Q. Talk about for Jordan where you see that leadership coming up and keeping this team alive.
COACH WILLARD: You know, nothing has changed all year long. We've been a very good basketball team all year long for two reasons: Jordan Theodore and Herb Pope. They've led us both on and off the court, and I've said it a million times: We can only go as far as these two guys go. When they play that dominating, I don't think there's too many people that can beat us.
Q. Can you comment on the players of your two freshmen that came off the bench, Mobley and Cosby? Seemed like they gave you a huge lift.
COACH WILLARD: Yeah, you know, Brandon has been steadily getting better the stronger he gets. He's been really progressing nicely. I mean, for missing the whole first half of the season, he's really been doing a lot of good things, using his length well. And then Aaron Cosby, he had 103 degree temperature at DePaul and he tried to fight it out, and I thought he gave us a big lift hitting those two shots.
Q. Freddie Wilson seems to be giving you a lot.
COACH WILLARD: Yeah, any time I can get Jordan a couple breaks, whoever it is that's giving them is doing a great job. Again, Theo played 33 minutes, so he usually plays 37. Any time I can get him some breaks whoever is going in there and can keep us in the rhythm does a good job.
Q. Herb, what was the mindset for you guys, when they were up 9 0 what were you thinking?
HERB POPE: Trying to get consecutive stops. That's what we were talking about. We weren't worried about our offense. It was going to come and we have great shooters and a great player in Jordan Theodore.
JORDAN THEODORE: The same. It was 9 0, all I kept thinking in my head is that it's going to be all right. We're going to be fine. We're going to knock down some shots when we get them, and we've just got to get stops.
Q. Jordan, seemed like you guys were able to execute in transition. Were you able to get in the right spots?
JORDAN THEODORE: I just think everybody was on the same page tonight. We were able to get rebounds. Normally if we don't rebound we can't run and get it out on the break and I was able just to find guys.
Q. Herb, you were telling your teammates don't put your hands on your shorts, something like that?
HERB POPE: Yeah, it's just something that I observed because the guys on the wings, they can stop the dribble penetration, I won't have to get in foul trouble or anything like that and we just tried to contain the ball, just harass the guys on the perimeter all night because you know they have Cosby a great shooter and likes to drive and we were just trying to get our hands on any type of ball and get any kind of reflections.
Q. You were off your shorts?
HERB POPE: I used to do it, grab your shorts and try and act like you're getting lower but just keep your hands up and get a good chance to get a deflection.
Q. Can you just talk about going up against Coach Pitino tomorrow, obviously kind of a mentor, does that have added significance for you? And do you feel you've done enough now with 20 wins to get into the tournament?
COACH WILLARD: You know, going up against Coach Pitino is always a little difficult. I spent ten years of my life with him, so it's tough to explain to people ten long, glorious years (laughter), but tomorrow's game is huge for us. And as far as the NCAA Tournament, I've been saying it to these guys all year long: Our total body of work is pretty darned good, and I think I have two of the better seniors in the country I think that led that. The last two games before this game, we played a tough rival game, Senior Night, need a win, and then the other night at DePaul they played real well and we just struggled. The overall body of work I think is pretty good.
Q. Herb, when Brandon is out there with you, how does he help you?
HERB POPE: He's a great rebounder. He has very long arms, and he has a knack just to go get the ball. He's a lot stronger than what people think. He goes in there, he bangs, he throws his body around and he's a big presence for us in there.
Q. Jordan, you haven't even talked about the NCAA tournament as a goal since the season started. Did you feel that was a message coming in here about what was at stake for your team and not losing a first round game and kind of keeping this thing going?
JORDAN THEODORE: Well, to be honest, I have talked about the NCAA all season, but coming into this game, it wasn't on my mind, and I know a lot of people have been talking about us, but it wasn't on my mind at all. The only thing I was worried about was leading my team and coming in here and getting a win.
Q. If the selection committee were watching tonight, what kind of impression do you think you left?
JORDAN THEODORE: I hope a good one. I hope they seen that the Pirates is not the team that was at DePaul and that we're a good basketball team and that we deserve to get in.
Q. Kevin, when you were going through some of the struggles last season, how much of a sounding board was coach Pitino for you?
COACH WILLARD: Yeah, you know, I'm a little different in this league from the fact that I worked with Mick Cronin and I'm very good friends with Mick. We vacation together every summer, and obviously Coach Pitino is a father figure, so I actually leaned on both those guys very heavily. I probably talked to Coach Pitino once a week and I probably talked to Mick twice a week. The great things about Coach Pitino is it doesn't matter what time you call, he'll pick up your phone. He has been tremendous he was great this year when we were struggling and lost a couple games in a row, and Herbie was battling some ribs and Theo was getting a little worn down. He just kind of said he called me twice during that stretch, which is unheard of in this league. I'm very lucky to have him not only as a mentor but as a father figure.
Q. Jordan, last time you guys played Louisville you defended well, held them to 60 points. What do you have to do differently against them to get the offense going?
JORDAN THEODORE: I think we've got to get everybody involved. The last go around we played them, I took too many shots and I didn't get guys involved enough. I think that's going to be the key for us tomorrow, and just playing great defense like we did tonight, just being able to stop Peyton Siva because he is going to try to get in the lane. He has been doing that all season, and Russ Smith. We've just got to play team defense and see what happens.
An Interview With:
COACH COOLEY: First, congratulations to Seton Hall. I thought they played a great game. You know, I thought we picked the worst time to have the worst game of our season. Everything that could possibly go wrong went wrong. They were better than us at every single position, one through five, no matter what we did. They played with a sense of purpose.
I think they're a team that deserves to be in the NCAA Tournament to begin with, and we played a tournament team today. We picked our worst time to have our worst game. I don't think we were physical. We weren't attentive to detail. You know, hopefully this is a learning experience for our program as we build our program to continue to move forward.
It's unfortunate, today I thought we looked tired, and I don't know why. I thought we had a couple of great days of practice. I don't know if it's the year, playing a really small lineup and small group for multiple minutes. It seemed like it all caught up to us at the worst possible time at a great place to play. I'm proud of our guys. We had some good games and we definitely had some bad games, and today was the worst. But I don't want our players to have their head down. I think we achieved a lot given the circumstances, and we'll look forward to continuing to build our program.
Q. What did the defense do to really upset your offense?
COACH COOLEY: I thought it was more what we were doing offensively because we had open shots. This is back to back games where I thought we had really good looks, we just couldn't put the ball in the basket.
Q. So you don't think the zone bothered you?
COACH COOLEY: We have seen zone all year, run the same things. Again, I thought we had open looks. When you look at our guys that normally shoot the ball, LaDontae is a 40 percent three point shooter, Cotton is a 40 percent three point shooter, our interior guys. Again, we missed a lot of shots. Credit them. What did we shoot, 2 percent? I don't even know what it is. We just missed a lot of shots. They had a lot to do with it.
Q. How quickly will it take you guys to get past this
COACH COOLEY: I'm never going to get past it, my man. I didn't come here to lose. I'm never getting past it. We'll move on. We won't forget about it, but I've got to do a better job building our program.
Q. All season long there's been trouble with ball screens.
COACH COOLEY: Again, we've tried to mask a lot of shortcomings with our crew. I'm really concerned with ball screens. I think all coaches are concerned with ball screen defense, especially in this league when you have the best guards in the country night in and night out, they really exposed that with some of our guys. Hopefully we can get better at it. But they did a really good job with their offense. They played well.
Q. On a brighter note, you're only graduating Bilal Dixon, talk about that aspect moving forward.
COACH COOLEY: The fact that the guys played in the game like this, hopefully they can learn something from it. I'm excited about our future, but our present, we've got to make some adjustments. We need to continue to add depth to our front court and to our backcourt. I like the guys that we have committed to us, but recruiting is an everyday process for me. I go to sleep, I think of recruiting, I wake up, I think of recruiting. First thing I do when I get to my desk, we recruit. We have recruiting meetings night in and night out. Recruiting is the way to build a program.