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April 2, 2016

Jim Boeheim

Trevor Cooney

Michael Gbinije

Houston, Texas

North Carolina - 83, Syracuse - 66

THE MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, we're joined by Syracuse University. We will take questions for the student-athletes.

Q. You had such an amazing run to get here, kind of unexpected. After losing this game, could you sum up your feelings and thoughts on tonight and maybe this whole tournament.
TREVOR COONEY: Obviously it's tough right now. But I'm still proud of these guys. I mean, coming into the tournament, we weren't even supposed to be in there, what you guys said. We just kept battling, fighting. We were down in so many games throughout this tournament.

You have to give credit to North Carolina, they're a hell of a team. They played really well today. For us to beat them, we would have had to have played perfect and we just didn't today.

MICHAEL GBINIJE: I'm a little crushed right now. Like Trev said, I think we left it all on the floor tonight. We had a lot of people step up. DaJuan Coleman played big for us down the stretch. Malachi and Tyler Lydon were great for us all year. I'm just happy we were able to get this far.

Q. Trevor, obviously a tough loss. What does it mean for you personally to be able to go out on a performance like that?
TREVOR COONEY: It doesn't matter to me. I mean, I play the game to win. If I play well, that's fine. If I don't, that's fine. I play to win.

We couldn't. That's what hurts the most.

Q. Trevor, just talk about when y'all got the score down to less than 10, y'all were looking to make a run. Take us through that sequence.
TREVOR COONEY: Yeah, I mean, we fought back. We got it within nine or ten. That's when we needed our press to work, we needed our traps to work. We needed to get some steals. It's tough to turn North Carolina over. It's tough to get steals against them.

We weren't able to make those plays. If we were able to make those plays, we would have got back into it, but we just weren't able to make those.

Q. Trevor, what are the emotions now knowing that you played your final game?
TREVOR COONEY: It's tough. I mean, I was very fortunate to be a part of this Syracuse family for five years. I wouldn't trade it for anything.

This was a hell of a run to go out on. I mean, this was a really tough game to play. North Carolina's a really good team. I mean, it's really tough right now.

THE MODERATOR: We will dismiss the student-athletes at this time and continue with Coach Boeheim's statement.

COACH BOEHEIM: I told the players after the game that I'm more proud of this team than any team I've ever coached. I've always been pretty proud of our teams.

This team battled through an awful lot of things. I think on the court, the three freshmen, DaJuan having not played, the two seniors had to be very strong all year. We had a lot of on-the-court adversity. We just struggled at different times this year.

It would have been very easy to have a horrendous year this year with all things considered. And the way they responded when we started 0-4 in the league, the way they responded on the road, winning at Wake Forest and Duke, coming home and winning those games, our two seniors were just incredible. They battled every game.

The first two games in the tournament we did some really good things. The next two games, according to those statistical things, that we should have lost to Gonzaga and we should have lost to Virginia based on where we were in the games. They wouldn't let that happen. They made some unbelievable plays.

Tonight we had a bad start. We missed some free throws that we can't miss. We made a couple unforced errors in the first half. You can't do that against North Carolina. They're just too big and strong and good.

They've got a great basketball team. I thought we battled back again. When you get down 16 against them, usually it goes to 25. We got it back, cut it to seven. We just couldn't quite never get to where we could get it in range.

We wouldn't have to play a perfect game against them, but we'd have to shoot better than we did tonight.

The ironic thing in the tournament is we've not played well on offense in any game we played. It's ironic that we could be here shooting 41% from the field in five tournament games. I just think they have a lot of heart.

I give my team a tremendous amount of credit for being able to do what they've done. I really am not sure. I'm going to be like a football coach now. I'm going to have to look at the tapes more closely to figure out how we got here, because I'm not really sure, and I have looked at the tapes. I'm still not quite sure.

THE MODERATOR: We'll take questions for Coach Boeheim.

Q. Obviously Trevor has meant so much to you guys over the last five years. Can you sum up what he's meant, how you went out tonight.
COACH BOEHEIM: Trevor played unbelievable tonight. I hoped that he would play a little bit like that some other games like that this year. He played great. He really played great tonight. He's been solid all year.

In the tournament, he's the only guy that shot well - in the tournament. He's been consistent, close to 50% from the three-point line. He's just played really well.

But Mike making the change he had to make, Mike just couldn't make anything tonight. He played well. He played like he always does. He just couldn't get the ball to go in the basket.

He had great shots, great opportunities. It was just one of those days when he could not get the ball to go in the basket. We needed that. If he'd have made shots like he normally does, we'd have been right there.

Whether we could beat Carolina or not, I'm not sure. I'm not sure if we could.

But those two guys, you know, unbelievable years.

Q. What is it like for you personally to have this season end this close to the national championship after everything you've been through with the suspension this year? Will you consider retiring?
COACH BOEHEIM: Why do you guys always ask me that, really? Did you ask Roy that?

Q. Because you had a rough season.
COACH BOEHEIM: Make sure you ask Roy when he comes in, too.

I haven't had a rough season. I had a great season. I don't think it was rough at all. We had our ups and downs on the court, but that happens a lot. I mean, that's not unusual.

As far as what I feel about this year, I'm more satisfied than I've ever been in any year that I've ever coached, with the possible of exception the year we won it all. But other than that year, I'm more proud and more happy, whatever the word is I'm looking for, satisfied, with what this team has done than any year that I've ever coached.

I guess my answer to your question is, I'm happier now at the end of this year than anytime I've ever coached. I'm really not that tired. I had 30 days off. So, shoot, I could probably go another 30.

Q. You mentioned getting the score down under 10, then you dropped the press on them. Take us through that sequence from the sidelines.
COACH BOEHEIM: Well, I don't think we can press this team. We were going to, because that was the only way to get back in it. But it's kind of like, you know, if I'm on top of the Empire State Building, I don't have to jump to know it's going to hurt. I don't need to press North Carolina to know it's going to hurt. They're veteran guys. They're good against pressure. They like pressure. They score against pressure.

But we had two. They missed one. We had one chance there, we got one. But they're not going to miss too many of those.

But, you know, you got to try. There's no sense in just losing by 12. You've got to try to get it back. We first pressed when we got it to seven. We didn't get it set up. They got an easy layup. We're trying to get a couple steals to get it down. It wasn't a realistic expectation. Like if I did the statistical analysis of it, I would say our chances to press North Carolina were in the lower 10% range.

Q. There was a lot of talk this week about the difficulty shooting in this stadium with this setup. How did that affect tonight's game?
COACH BOEHEIM: Well, I watched a little bit of Villanova. Didn't seem to bother them too much.

Good shooters can shoot anywhere. It doesn't matter. Good shooters can shoot.

I thought we obviously were going to try to guard the three-point line against North Carolina, and we did. I mean, we got them a little unbalanced. They started to miss. Sometimes that kind of keeps going.

You know, we probably could have gotten back in it if they had not made any threes, but sooner or later they're going to make one or two. They made three. That was all they needed.

Good shooters are going to shoot wherever it is, I think. You do shoot better in smaller buildings. There's no question backgrounds help. In the Atlantis tournament, a small building, we shot 50% from the three. The rest of the year we shot about 30.

Buildings do matter a little bit. But good shooters are going to make shots.

Q. When Mike fouls out to end his career, what are you feeling as a coach to player?
COACH BOEHEIM: As I said many times, Mike's made the most improvement of any player I've ever coached, and I've had a lot of guys that made big strides. To be able to play the point from where he came from, you know, he's done an unbelievable job for us.

The sad thing about tonight's game, he got probably some of the best shots he's gotten all year. I mean, he got into great position. He made a couple mistakes in the first half, a couple turnovers, but that was it. He got great position.

But, I mean, he willed us to win the Gonzaga game. I mean, he just went and got it and put it back in. He's done that so many times this year.

The North Carolina State game, we wouldn't have got in the tournament like people thought for sure if he hadn't gone crazy and just won the game by himself.

The other thing, I think Mike Greenberg is right, maybe we should play two-out-of-three. Maybe we'd get Carolina tomorrow. I'm not sure I'd like that anyway.

Q. I saw the reference of Pearl Washington that you had. Is there some significance or meaning to for this game?
COACH BOEHEIM: Pearl has been battling for a long time now and he's really not doing well. Syracuse and our players have rallied behind him. They've chosen to wear those shirts. We have never even talked about it. They have just chosen to do that.

Pearl is probably the most beloved figure in Syracuse basketball history. He's just an unbelievable guy. To see him battling through this like he is right now is a very difficult thing. I think our players have honored him. I think it's something that he appreciates.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach Boeheim, for joining us and we congratulate the Orange on a great post-season.


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