March 3, 1999
NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK
STEVE LAPPAS: I was very proud of the way our guys hung in. That was the ultimate: "Hang in there and play hard and do the things you believe in," and in the end, hopefully, everything will work out. And we just defensively really turned it up a notch in the last ten minutes. I thought that, obviously, these two seniors have been terrific. I thought that Jermaine Medley was a big key in the game. His defense on their pointguard, Armstead, in the last five minutes, was a big key to the game. Jermaine put terrific pressure, and I think that helped us tremendously. And then Malik in the last five minutes did a great job defensively on Marcus. So I was very happy with the win. The first game of the tournament very often is like pulling teeth and, it was, but that's to West Virginia's credit. West Virginia was very good today. There was no doubt. They played hard. We were just fortunate to win the game.
Q. Steve, could you talk about when Howard went down and what the extent of his injury was and did you feel like you could put him back in?
STEVE LAPPAS: Because it had happened before, I knew exactly what it was when it happened. I don't know the last time that it happened -- it happened last year once. I knew what it was and I knew he was coming back. As a matter of fact, I asked on the bench, "Where is he." I knew he'd be back. I knew they would take him in the locker room and look at him for a minute and bring him back.
Q. What was it?
STEVE LAPPAS: He popped his shoulder out of the socket. It happened to him at least once last year, maybe twice since he's been here, and he was able to come back very quickly both times.
Q. What's the extent of Brooks' injury?
STEVE LAPPAS: The trainer just told me he thinks he'll be fine, but you never know about those ankles until tomorrow morning. TJ, thankfully, was probably 80 percent. I didn't think he would play today, to be honest with you, after our shoot around this morning. These kids, when the adrenaline starts flowing, you never know what's hurting and what's not. With Brooks, we'll have to see until tomorrow morning. Not now -- if we were playing on Saturday, we wouldn't worry but we're playing tomorrow, too.
STEVE LAPPAS: I don't know what more there is to say about John Celestand. He was a third-team, all-league selection. I think he could have been higher than that with the year he had. Same thing without Howard Brown. Where would we be without these two guys. I thought he was excellent the second half, and it doesn't surprise me. I'm happy for them. It's terrific. Whatever happens, happens. They are going out in a positive way.
Q. Steve, can you talk about being 18th place in the regular season and coming off an emotional win?
STEVE LAPPAS: Both those games were very difficult. We were very fortunate to win the game at the pavilion. John made a shot with 30 seconds to go with the score tied, and then we are down there in West Virginia. So this game was no surprise to any of us: Players, coaches -- we were very concerned about this game because the other two games were so tough.
Q. You talked about Howard coming back, but how about the way he came back? Nothing was going right then and then all of a sudden --
STEVE LAPPAS: Makes the three. Makes the pull-up in the lane. Seniors, there's no -- nothing can take the place of experience. And these guys -- they have played a lot of games for us. They know exactly what we want to do and they go out there and try their best to do it.
Q. John, second half, I know you had a lot of points in the first half. Were you consistantly saying, "I'm taking it to the basket"?
JOHN CELESTAND: A little bit. Really, I was trying to get to the rim so I could distribute to my teammates a little bit more. They were kind of switching on the perimeter and they were making it harder for us to run our motion. I was getting to the basket and they weren't helping really; so I was finishing. I think when we play up-and-down, we tend to score more, whether it's just getting layups -- just to get into the offense quickly we tend to score more. I tried to push it up and I found some open holes and it started dropping.
Q. Can you just talk about the play where the shoulder popped and how it felt and how it felt when you came back?
HOWARD BROWN: When it popped out, I was just fighting for a loose ball and I had my arm fully extended and that's usually when it happens. We were just scrambling for the ball and I was pulling on my arm and I was just pulling the other way and it just popped out in the back. Like Coach said, it happened before. It never really stayed out that long like it did this time; so, I was just waiting for it to pop back in so I could get back in the game. And the trainer told me to go back into the -- into the room and take a look at me, and I was just ready to go back and play.
Q. Can you talk -- this is for the coach or the players -- can you talk about playing Syracuse tomorrow, what kind of challenges lie ahead?
STEVE LAPPAS: We're going to have to rebound much better than today. We were terrible on the glass. I knew it wasn't good, but I didn't know it was this bad. We're going to have to rebound or we're going to be in deep trouble. Initially, that's any main thought is: We'd better rebound.
Q. Can you talk about when Kearse left the game and how the tone seemed to change when he left?
STEVE LAPPAS: He's played a lot of minutes for them as a starting pointguard. The other kid that can play is Armstead. It's just that he was kind of thrust into a different situation for him. We thought -- well, let's try and put some pressure. One of our goals from the beginning was to try and put some pressure on their pointguard. Didn't look that way for 28 minutes. That was one of our goals, and we really started to turn it up a notch at the end of the game.
Q. 5 for 18 to start the game: How does that -- in a coach's mind, how do you figure that? Do you write it off?
STEVE LAPPAS: You write it off if you think that you're taking all good shots. I didn't like some of the shots that we took early in the game. I think that's one of the reasons we were 5 for 18. Other games, you can go 5 for 18 taking good shots -- kids are missing layups -- open shots that are out of offense, that could happen. But I didn't like the quality of some of our shots early. So it wasn't a 5 for 18 that I was really happy with, but we adjusted in the second half and got better shots and moved the ball better, cut better, moved better. The first half, they had us standing around, to their credit, they had us a little bit confused in the first half.
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