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March 20, 2016

Jim Boeheim

Trevor Cooney

Michael Gbinije

St. Louis, Missouri

Syracuse - 75, Middle Tennessee State - 50

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim and student-athletes Michael Gbinije and Trevor Cooney. Coach, an opening statement.

JIM BOEHEIM: I thought that just like the last game, we had 11 turnovers in the first half of the last game. We weren't settled offensively. The same thing tonight. We had three offensive fouls and seven turnovers. And I thought the second half we just got our offense under control, and we executed.

And Mike knocked down a couple of really hard shots and it got us a little space. And then I thought Tyler Rob -- our inside guys got something happening inside which we haven't gotten too much. And our defense was good the whole game.


Q. Coach, six ACC teams in the Sweet 16. What does it say about the conference?
JIM BOEHEIM: Well, we knew it was a hard conference. We were in it all year. And when we played outside the conference in the tournament we had some success. And we struggled in the conference for the most part because we were playing good teams, really good teams. And it's hard to judge a conference during the year. I mean, it is hard.

And you can't go just by the NCAA Tournament. But I think you have to go a little bit by what conferences do in the tournament. That's the only thing we have to judge on. Because during the regular season, they're just playing within your conference. It's hard to tell. You're just proving that you're good within your conference. But I think that the tournament is a good measuring stick. It's not everything. But it certainly is something you can look at as to just how good -- I think last year going into the tournament last year we weren't -- nobody was talking about our conference. And Duke won and we had the same kind of level -- not unlike this one -- but a high level of success in the tournament both years, so that has to mean something.

Q. Michael, it just seemed like you were playing like you weren't going to let your team lose. It was fun to watch. Can you put into words your mentality, and I'm sure your experience played into it?
MICHAEL GBINIJE: I'm just focusing on time and possession, looking at the scoreboard, just trying to make sure that each possession we have the lead. And I just wanted to come out and compete and try to win.

Q. Now that it's over, how much do you think -- when you're out there do you think if we lose this is it?
MICHAEL GBINIJE: That doesn't cross my mind.

Q. Are you lying to me?
MICHAEL GBINIJE: I'm telling the truth.

Q. Jim, you guys stand 1-5 and now you have two double-digit wins in the NCAA Tournament. Has there been a change and if so what is it with you guys?
JIM BOEHEIM: We're not playing in North Carolina and Louisville and at Florida State. That's the difference. Played good in those games, too.

Q. Trevor and Jim, after everything you guys have been through this season, what's this feel like?
TREVOR COONEY: I mean, it feels good. To get into the NCAA Tournament it feels good, and to win both of these games. I mean, it's unbelievable. We just have to keep it going.

JIM BOEHEIM: You know, I think we just have to make sure we understand that there's a lot to be done, a lot can be done. A lot of good things can happen and we have to focus on that, the next game, and not really look backwards. There will be time to look backwards some day.

Q. Jim, did you think Tyler had an extra advantage than usual in the post, and did you go to him more than usual tonight?
JIM BOEHEIM: No, not in the post. We went to him once and he knocked the guy over. So no. No. He got a couple of quick buckets early and then they adjusted. And everybody's been given that jump shot all year. He made the four free throws, which he hasn't done all year, right in the middle, perfect release. So normally I'd be surprised if he makes a jump shot. But the way he was shooting -- Frank surprised me a little bit. I knew we really aren't going to lose this game if these guys make a jump shot but that's hard to do.

Q. Tyler Lydon?
JIM BOEHEIM: They switched. So there were mismatches and we looked to get him down in there. And he finished a couple and then we got DaJuan down there. And Michigan State had tremendous success in the low post against them with Costello. We're not that kind of team, but we did get a few down there.

But we can't really change how we play. We did get some but it wasn't a focus of what we were doing. I think Trevor and Mike really handled their switch, changing defenses. I think that's a key. When you're playing against a team that traps, that switches on everything and then plays -- goes back into a 1-3-1 that turns back into a 2-3. You have to have guards that recognize that and make the right plays and they did.

And Frank made a great play in the first half when they went to the 1-3-1, throwing the lob pass to Tyler Lydon when we needed it. We needed a bucket there. Again, Middle Tennessee is a very good basketball team. I think they do shoot well, but it's obvious that they're better against the man-to-man because they all can drive and that's a big part of what they do. And, again, our zone is a little bit different and people aren't used to seeing our zone. They see zones. But they don't see the zone the way these guys play it. So that's always a little bit of an advantage for us when there's just a one-day turnaround.

Q. Jim, Kermit was extremely complimentary of Tyler Lydon's defense as well. What did you see from him and how important was he protecting the rims?
JIM BOEHEIM: He blocked six shots. That was a lot. I thought he was good in there. A couple times in the first half we didn't get help to him and they got a couple of layups inside. But I thought he did a good job. But I thought DaJuan, we were better defensively when DaJuan came back in and we had Tyler out there with him. I thought DaJuan got them a little off balance, and then Tyler Lydon is there to rebound in those situations. So I thought that combination was very good for a stretch there.

Q. After the handshake you came around and talked to Kermit, I was wondering did you want to seek him out and talk to him?
JIM BOEHEIM: Yeah, I just think he's a tremendous coach. I thought the game against Michigan State, Tom Izzo is one of the best coaches that's ever coached college basketball. And he has a very good team, obviously, and I just thought that Middle Tennessee played a perfect game. You have to for a 15 seed to beat a 2 seed and a 2 seed that plays really well.

I think he's an exceptional coach, I think they do a lot of different things and they change things up and I just think he does a great job with his team and I just wanted to tell him that.

Q. Coach, before last week there was all the discussion about the nine games you missed and how would it play in the seeding. I've seen your past two games I thought you guys looked very good. I have to ask bluntly were you underseeded at No. 10?
JIM BOEHEIM: No, I was happy to get in. I would have taken a play-in game. Because we did finish -- we lost games at the end, but they were good teams that we lost to. And I think the committee recognized that we won good games. We didn't just play good games, we won good games. We just we were happy to be in.

We knew we would have a tough game with Dayton. They beat us two years ago. They won their league. But when we've played well this year, particularly when we shot the ball well this year, we've been very good. The games were, a handful of games where we really shot it well -- Connecticut, Texas A&M, at Wake Forest, at Duke, Florida State, Notre Dame at home. We beat those teams, all those teams by double digits, except for Duke, which if you win at Duke that's good enough.

But I think that's a fair seed. It's hard to seed. I watched Stephen F. Austin today, I thought they were one of the best teams I've seen all year, watching them on TV today. Notre Dame played a great game to barely win. They were even a little fortunate to win even at the end. But I watched them a couple of times. We had played Stephen F. Austin a couple of years ago. They're really good. And this team that we played tonight is really good. You can say that about a lot of teams in college basketball.

It's very hard to pick this tournament and then it's extremely hard to seed this tournament, I think. But the bottom line is you get in. You have that opportunity and you're going to have to beat somebody good. It's just as simple as that. And I'm sure everybody thinks that we're happy that Michigan State got beat, but this team beat them. So it's not like it's going to be an easy game.

I'm just happy the way we're playing. We have played like this quite a bit this year. It doesn't always show up when you're in the ACC because like the last games we played three of them were on the road and we can't beat Pittsburgh. So I mean it doesn't mean we weren't good. We just couldn't win those games. And if you play in a league like ours and you can win nine games and you've got some non-conference wins, you're going to get in the tournament.

Q. You guys really started to pull away when 10 picked up his fourth foul and had to come off the floor. 10 for them, their point guard.
JIM BOEHEIM: The difference was when Mike got going. That was the difference. That was the only difference in the game. Mike, he made two tough turnarounds, nice touches. And then he made that corner three and that really was it right there.

Q. Trevor and Michael, what were your overall thoughts of playing in the NCAA Tournament here in St. Louis?
MICHAEL GBINIJE: After finding out that we got in, that was a big relief for me. And just being a part of the tournament, senior year, I think that's an honor. Once you win that first game, you get it under your belt, and you're going to the next game. Just every win is a great accomplishment. I'm happy for me and my teammates.

TREVOR COONEY: It's an honor to be in the tournament and then to come to here. St. Louis seems like a pretty cool city. Good arena. It was fun to play in.

Q. Jim, to your point about the ACC and seeding. You see what the ACC has done this year and last year. Is it even tougher now than maybe the Big East at its peak?
JIM BOEHEIM: You know I'm never going to say that. It's a very good conference. There's no question about it. And as I've said many, many times, we came from a great conference before and we're in a great conference now. And I think it's going to get better in the future from what I've seen.

Q. Mike, I wanted to know did your eyes light up when Raymond left the game; did you step on the gas a little bit?
MICHAEL GBINIJE: I just tried to take advantage of the personnel they had out there. There were some open lanes that I was able to get in. I had a small guy on me, I was able to elevate and shoot over him. But Raymond's a good player. He played good defense the whole game. With him going out of the game, it opened up a little opportunities for me.


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