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March 4, 1999

Howard Brown

John Celestand

Steve Lappas


STEVE LAPPAS: It just seemed like whenever we tried to get it going, we just couldn't get it going today, especially after the first ten minutes of the game. They just played great defense, to their credit, and we just never could get our flow going or get it going. We got hurt on the glass, obviously. And just -- that thing that usually that little oomph or something that you need to have at some point in the game, that little run. They just held us off every time it seemed like we might be getting one together. So, that's basically how I saw it.

Q. Coach, when Thomas plays that aggressively for them on the boards, how much better does it make them as a team?

STEVE LAPPAS: Well, there's no doubt that when he plays like that, it makes them that much better. There's absolutely no question about that. He certainly played great tonight, and that was the big difference in the game.

Q. What did you see them do differently today, if anything?

STEVE LAPPAS: Today, I don't think it was anything we did defensively. I don't think our defense was that bad. They scored 70. We kind of hoped the game would be in the mid to upper 60s. I don't think it was so much what we did defensively. I thought we had problems offensively. That's where our struggle was on the offensive end, not on the defensive end, I didn't think.

Q. First half, 5-9 from the 3-point range and 3-15 on two-pointers.

STEVE LAPPAS: We struggled inside the lane, no question. And that's why their zone kept extending out further and further and they were kind of testing us. We had a lot of mid-range jumpers wide open in the lane, really, and we didn't knock them down today. Like I told the guys, we just didn't play good. When you don't play good, if you have open shots and you don't make them, you're going to lose. That's not just us, that's anybody. We had a lot of open looks inside the lane from 10 feet, 12 feet. We just didn't knock them down. I believe that changed the complexion of the game, because every time we missed a shot in the lane, they just extended out further. We just couldn't do anything inside the lane.

Q. Blackwell has had some big games in the last couple of years. What makes him so effective against you guys?

STEVE LAPPAS: That's an unanswerable question, you know what I mean? Maybe he doesn't like blue uniforms or something. I wish I could answer that, you know what I mean. We've got big guys guarding him; we've got small guys guarding him. I didn't recruit him. Maybe that's what it is; he's holding it against me.

Q. Can you talk about what they specifically did that was so good?

JOHN CELESTAND: They have a lot of long guys and they really get out with that zone, and they get that hand up and they extend out and they make it hard to penetrate the zone, and they were making it hard for us to throw it inside. They just won't let you get penetration, shots outside the arc. I guess they are just tough.

Q. Can you talk about Thomas's presence inside?

HOWARD BROWN: He definitely makes a difference because even when you do break through the top of the zone and try to make a split and try to finish, he's right there to step up and alter your shot. He just played well today and he definitely was a presence in there. And as well as everybody else, everybody just stepped up and, you know, they played hard and crashed the offensive glass and they played well today.

End of FastScripts....

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