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March 8, 2000

Michael Cotton

Dwanne Pina

Al Skinner


Q. Al, when you got out to the quick lead, it seemed at that point that things were going exactly the way you wanted them to go from a you pressuring them standpoint, (inaudible). Were you fairly happy with whatever was happening at that point?

COACH SKINNER: We were doing what we had to do, but then foul trouble became a problem. We got into the penalty situation and it made it very difficult for us to continue to press. You know, we knew that their size was going to be a factor, and when we could not extend the floor, then that made it a half-court game, and the defense and their -- well, their rebounding was going to be a big factor at that point in time. So, you know, the foul trouble that we got into the first half really kind of set the tone for the end of the first half. But up until that point, you know, we were doing what we had to do, and, you know, just to -- you know, I don't think we got into the penalty in the end of the half. That was a concern. But in the first half, I think that clearly was different.

Q. Coach, when you're up against a team like UConn, what do you miss most about not having Troy Bell?

COACH SKINNER: I'm not sure Troy would have been a tremendous help to us. Obviously he can help the scoring, no question about that. But the rebound in the game was the big difference in the basketball game today. They obviously offensive rebound the ball very well. You miss Troy because you miss scoring from him. I thought we shot a pretty good percentage, we ran some good offense. You know, he could have obviously scored some more points, but it's the rebounds that were the difference in this ball game. We knew that was going to be a problem, you know, when we had a matchup against Connecticut.

Q. Al, you talked about the concern of getting more rebounds. When Uka went out of the game, how did that change the complexion for your team?

COACH SKINNER: Each half, he could no longer remain aggressive. There was a lot of bumping going on. He had tough calls made against him. Right now he's our best rebounder, our leading rebounder. Once he went down, we knew we would struggle, stumble a little bit. We certainly did with him off the floor; we really had no one to consistently be our backboard and that would be a factor.

Q. Mike, after the game you guys had Saturday against Villanova, it seemed like you had extended -- carried over that momentum at least to the first part of the first half. Did you feel as though you could carry it all the way through?

MICHAEL COTTON: Well, that was the plan. I mean we came out, started out really aggressive and really intense on the defense end. Like Coach said, their size just wore us down towards the end of the first half and into the second half.

Q. Dwayne, can you maybe talk a little bit about extending them and then having to fall back into half-court? How did that kind of affect your game in a sense?

DWAYNE PINA: You see, at the beginning of the game, we were successful in pressing and extending the floor, then getting back into our half-court defense. And like Coach said, once we got into foul trouble, we really couldn't do that anymore. We had to focus more on, more or less, on compacting the idea and trying to rebound, we were fighting really hard for rebounds. As you see, they beat us on the boards and I guess that was the big difference in the game.

Q. When you were up 12 -- you know, nine points there, what was running through each of your guys' minds in terms of, "Maybe we can pull it out?"

DWAYNE PINA: We came into the game with a positive attitude. What we wanted to do, and I think we just kind of -- we just went through a little drought where we couldn't get the ball in the hoop. We were getting good shots and the shots were just not falling. They eventually came back and then just continually, just kept getting offensive rebounds and second shots.

Q. Coach, coming out at halftime did you know that UConn was going to come out with another spurt to put the game away?

COACH SKINNER: I mean, I didn't think that they were going to allow us to get back in the ball game. I felt that they were going to continue to come out and be aggressive. And, again, I mean, you know, it worked for them okay. Just the difference is the rebounding and the number of free throws in the basketball game. We shoot six free throws for the whole game; they shoot twenty-three. And, you know, that's almost like -- that's the difference in the ball game right there. I'm not upset about the number of free throws they shot, but I am extremely disappointed about the number of free throws we shot. There's contact on both ends. For us not to get into the penalty at the end of the half, I'm obviously disappointed about that.

Q. Michael, can you reflect on your career at Boston College, how you felt it went both on and off the floor? And what's your sense on the future of the Boston College basketball program?

MICHAEL COTTON: Well, I think I enjoyed my career. I enjoyed my career at Boston College. I'm from Oklahoma, and I just have not -- just had an opportunity to play, and play against elite competition in the nation. So, I mean, that's all I asked for and that's what I got at Boston College. I wish we could have won more games, but other than saying that, with the camaraderie with this team, it was really good. I mean I had, overall, a good experience. And, like, even this year, like a lot of the games we lost were, like, close games down the stretch. You know what I mean? We were a play or two away from winning the ball game. So with the experience that we gained this year, and carry that on in to next year, in the future, you know, I think, you know, we're close. I think we're real close. Maybe like a player away or just a couple of players away from, you know, making post-season play. So, I mean, we're really close. We had a one-point loss against Georgetown, real close games against St. John's and then, you know, a lot of the other games could have gone either way. So, I mean, we're really close.

Q. Michael or Dwayne, does a streak, a long streak, ever weigh on players in the present because you want so badly to end it? Or is it not a factor?

DWAYNE PINA: Well, I think in the middle of the season where we hit our 11-game --

COACH SKINNER: You're talking about the UConn streak?

Q. UConn streak, it's like 1988.

COACH SKINNER: He's probably not familiar with it. I just don't think it's real important. Again, it's not like this staff, meaning myself, have been here throughout the whole thing. These players have not experienced that. The fact of the matter is UConn is physically a much more gifted basketball team than us, so it's understandable that they're going to win the game. If we're a little more evenly matched, when the time comes for that and the streak continues, then that's a credit to them. Until that time, they can keep the streak alive. When we get to the point where we can compete, I don't think the streak is going to be there. So I don't have any problem with the streak that exists. I was at URI. They had never beat Temple. Once we got to the point where we started to beat them, we started to beat them. I mean, we beat them three times in one year. So, you know, that's -- I mean, it's great for media notes, it's great for UConn, it indicates the success they've had against Boston College. But it is in no way an indication of pressure on us because it just doesn't exist right now.

End of FastScripts...

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