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April 1, 2000

Ed Cota

Bill Guthridge

Brendan Haywood


COACH GUTHRIDGE: We're disappointed to lose this game, obviously, and we want to congratulate the University of Florida and Billy Donovan and his team. I'm really proud of our team, and the way they competed. They competed hard, and gave us a good ride these last few weeks. Ed Cota has had a fantastic career at Carolina, and he's irreplaceable. There's not another Ed Cota. But Brendan Haywood certainly had a good game. I think the -- I think they just wore us out, and that our guys really competed hard. I was in hopes that their playing ten players would not be a factor, but I think that it was. That, and our foul trouble. This was really the first time that we've been in foul trouble this year. But I -- I'm really proud of our team, and we congratulate Florida.

Q. Question for Ed. You guys were up 68-62, you got your fouls. Do you feel that kind of swung the game?

ED COTA: I definitely changed the momentum of the game. My team wasn't comfortable playing with me having four fouls. My approach to the game was definitely different. I wasn't being aggressive anymore. I was giving guys open shots, I didn't want to pick up my fifth foul. Florida did a good job of just keeping the pressure on us and they just played -- overall they played a great game.

Q. Brendan, as good as you were in the first half, did they just sort of bring you out of where you wanted to be in the second half by forcing the tempo and sort of taking the post out of the game?

BRENDAN HAYWOOD: We definitely, for a stretch, did play our best basketball. We got up-and-down with them playing Florida basketball. That kind of took me away, I'm definitely the one trying to go up-and-down for five minutes in the middle of a game. They did a good job of double-teaming the post every time I got the ball. My teammates did a good job of getting me the ball, I had to kick it out because the double team was there. I had confidence in my teammates to make that shot.

Q. Ed, you've probably gotten pretty used to being pretty tired at the end of the games, playing a lot of minutes.

ED COTA: I wasn't nowhere near tired like I was against Tulsa or any of the games we played in the tournament. It's not like I was doing too much in the second half against the press, I wasn't getting the ball really, I wasn't being aggressive at all. I just didn't get it done under the circumstances I had with four fouls. I wasn't tired at all. I know my teammates, fatigue was probably a factor with them. But I felt good out there.

Q. What's it like to play against Florida and look over at the table and see wave after wave of substitutions, fresh guys always coming at you?

ED COTA: Well, I think it's great, really, if we don't let the press intimidate us and if we don't turn the ball over because I think it's kind of hard for guys to really get a good feel for the game if they come in and out. We got off to a bad start. It made it much easier for the second five to come in, to come in with a lot of confidence because they had a big lead. We relaxed, played calmer basketball, got back in the game. Started second half, took momentum away, when I picked up my four fouls, it just changed everything.

Q. This is for Brendan Haywood. Florida's known for playing a pressing style, and really picking up the pace of the game. But the way they played you in the post, was that as physical a defense as you've faced this year?

BRENDAN HAYWOOD: Not really. Because all year long, I guess the scouting reports said that I'm soft, that I can't take the hits of teams that really try to get aggressive with me no matter who I was playing against. This was the most physical game I've played against all year. There's teams that have been a lot more physical, but they did a great job in the post.

Q. Bill, what do you think caused the foul problems for you guys? Were they too quick? Were you tired, reaching fouls, what do you think?

COACH GUTHRIDGE: Not sure, Dave. I think we were tired, and, you know, we've played with six players most of this year. And it hadn't affected us. There at the end at the Tulsa game we were a little tired. But I think that they just threw the waves at us, and I think that was certainly a factor.

Q. Coach, after Ed picked up his fourth foul with, I think, a little more than 13 minutes left, could you -- did you sort of sense that things were turning against you at that point? You had to play so long with him --

COACH GUTHRIDGE: I thought we'd be okay. If I didn't think we'd be okay, I would have made a change. But they did a good job of taking it back. Probably cost us a basket or two, but I thought that Ed would be able to get the offense going. But, you know, when we missed some free throws there, and we missed some good looks, and that probably could be a fatigue. But I think we really have to give Florida credit, and their style of play was very effective. And their substituting was effective, and they made the key plays.

Q. Coach, in the first half it seemed like you handled the press pretty well. Most of the turnovers you had came from the front court. Was that disappointing?

COACH GUTHRIDGE: I was disappointed in the way we played. Florida does a great job of getting you to play the way they want you to play. Although we were breaking the press, we weren't -- we weren't really getting the type of shots we wanted. It's so tempting to go in there and watch them take. I've seen them do it to other teams, it's so tempting to take the quick shots but that's what they want you to take. That 16-0 run certainly, certainly hurt us and probably we had to expend so much energy to catch up that that could be a fatigue factor. Because I think this is really the first time this year that I think we've had a fatigue problem. And then we really -- we got going in the second half, and probably expended a lot of energy there. And then probably the foul problems and the fatigue. But, again, that's what Florida wanted, and they certainly did a good job of dictating that.

Q. Coach, their stat sheet is extraordinarily balanced as we can all see. Are there one or two players in particular that you think must be controlled if someone is going to beat them?

COACH GUTHRIDGE: Well, I think Mike Miller is a great player, and Brett certainly made some key plays for them tonight. He's had a great tournament. I thought we did a good job on their inside. I think Harvey is probably the best rebounder we played against all year and I thought we did a pretty good job on him. And Haslem has made some big shots. But it is hard. They come off, Teddy Dupay can get it going. He didn't necessarily get it going today, but I think they have a lot of different ways to beat you.

Q. I know you played Michigan State without Cleaves, but can you just offer some kind of a scouting report on how you think Monday night might go?

COACH GUTHRIDGE: Yeah, I think it's two very good teams, and Michigan State is an excellent team. They run the offense and they're so sound defensively. And, yes, they defeated us early in the year and they didn't have Mateen and now they're even better. But I think they're a very good team, and very well-coached, and I think Florida's a very good team and very well-coached. So I think it should be a great Championship game.

End of FastScripts...

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