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March 11, 2000

Erick Barkley

Mike Jarvis

Lavor Postell

Bootsy Thornton


COACH JARVIS: Quite a night, quite a day, quite a week, quite a month, quite a year. As always, you know, we want to, first of all, congratulate the opponent and competition, obviously defending National Champions, defending multi-Big East champions. You know, winning this champion for New York and for St. John's is very, very special, and I think the fact that, you know, we beat Connecticut in the championship game probably makes it even more special because of how great their program is and we just hope that maybe we'll be able to have this feeling again before -- before another X amount of years. What was the last -- I forget the last time St. John's won. A long time. Hopefully we won't have to wait that long between now and the time we cut down the nets again, but it was certainly well worth it.

Q. Mike, over the course of the last few weeks with everything going on, did you ever envision you'd be sitting up here right now at this moment?

COACH JARVIS: You know, to be honest with you, I would -- when I would talk to the good Lord at night, I mean I basically just asked him, "Please give me a chance to wake up tomorrow morning." We took one day at a time. And basically, in a way, that probably at times has helped us concentrate on the task, whatever that might be, at hand. I don't think this team, because of what's been going on, has been afforded the luxury of looking any further than one day. In fact, some of those days, you know, even those days you're looking around to see, you know, where they're coming from next. But today -- tonight we're going to enjoy it. March Madness has officially begun. And, you know, it's really possible that with us winning this tournament and having the unbelievable February and now March that we've had, when you really think about it, winning 11 out of 12 and losing one game in Miami, who knows, you might be looking at as high as a No. 2 seed tomorrow. That certainly will be worth waking up to, and I hope and pray we'll be awake to see it.

Q. Coach, can you talk towards why this team can roll with the punches.

COACH JARVIS: I think that once again, you know, there's a lot of words that have been used to describe this team. As the year went on, I've been writing a book, okay, preparing for a book, and now it's no longer a book. We're probably going to do a movie. But I think there's a lot of words and a lot of things that basically has made this team be able to do what it has done. And I think it goes back to the fact that this team is a family. You know, we had a little family dispute last night, and one of our family members, you know, probably redefined what a leave of -- leave is. Now, when you look in Webster's Dictionary, it means -- leave means you go home to get a good night sleep and then come back so you can help your team win a Big East Championship. Today we met to go through our shoot-around at St. John's and on the -- I was trying to figure out what I would say and what I would do for and with my team at this time that we needed to come together. And I -- my wife reminded me that a friend of mine, by the name of Erick Barkley, had given me a bracelet with the initials WWJD on it. And today I decided that, you know what, that was given to me for a very special reason. I put the four letters on the board and I reminded the kids that this is what I've been wearing and why, and I asked them to tell me what Jesus would do. We went around the room, and the Catholic youngsters, the Baptist youngsters and the Jewish youngsters gave me what Jesus would do in our situation. When I got to Anthony Glover, the young man who made the free-throws last night, he said that Jesus would forgive us for whatever we had done. Chudney Gray then said, "All is forgiven. Let us come together as a family as we always do, and let us move on." And the rest of what happened in the locker room in terms of what the guys had to say to each other I think is obviously their own private thing and if they wish to share it with you at some point in time that's their business. But this is a family. A lot of times you talk about family. This is truly a family and what makes this team special is that when we fight and when we have arguments, it's because we really care, because we have passion for what we do. We love what we do. We love one another and we want to push ourselves and each other. Sometimes we push maybe a little bit too hard. But that's when the rest of the family says, "Okay, enough is enough, let's get it back together." And that's what this team, that's what this family did. Tonight before the game -- and I'm going to shut up in a minute -- tonight before the game I said to the kids, "You know, we can win this championship and that would be marvelous." But the most important thing is relationships and memories. And the memories and relationships that we have forged and developed this year will last forever and those will never, ever, ever go away. Trophies will break. Trophies will disappear. Watches will be given away. But these memories and relationships will never, ever, ever, ever go away. And I could not be more proud of these guys. Not that we won, but because we came together, and I think because they have represented this city like no other team has ever represented New York. And they are great kids. I will say that againn. They are great, great kids. Okay.

Q. Erick, how does it feel, the emotions you've gone through in the last 24 hours, now you're sitting as a champion with a cap on and got to cut down the nets.

ERICK BARKLEY: Well, I got a lump in my throat, but I'm not gonna cry. It feels great, and I'm just, you know, just going through what I've been through, and, you know, I'm just going to put it behind me and just try to continue to play basketball for St. John's.

Q. Bootsy, could you talk about Coach, how calm, no matter what goes on outside, when it comes time to play, you guys play top basketball.

BOOTSY THORNTON: When we're on the court, that's the only thing we can focus on, business on the court. What happens off the court, sometimes we have no control over it. When we get on the court, we're on the same level.

Q. Is it almost a relief to get there with everything that goes on?

BOOTSY THORNTON: You could say that, yeah.

Q. For any of the players, what's the feeling that goes through when the buzzer goes off and the craziness starts to ensue in a very well-earned championship, what goes through your mind?

LAVOR POSTELL: With all the controversy we've been through this year, we deserve this. The fans deserve this, New York City deserves it. Without the help of God, we won't be in this situation. I'm glad we won. Hopefully, just carry over winning into the tournament.

Q. Erick, what went through your mind when the buzzer went off? A lot of happiness it looked like from where I was sitting.

ERICK BARKLEY: Finally. St. John's got a championship. I got a championship after being, you know, after being ran over by UConn last year, it feels great. I can't express it right now. Ask me tomorrow. I got a lot of words.

Q. Coach, have you ever coached a more resilient team than this?

COACH JARVIS: No. No. I don't know if I want to again either. (Laughter.) I've heard that word a lot in the last couple of days, past couple weeks. It certainly is one of the better words to describe them. No, I never have, and -- but, you know, God doesn't give us any more than we can handle. I feel kind of good. My mother called me a couple days ago and she said, "Son, I thought you were special when you were a little fat kid they used to call Crisco, and I never realized how special you really were." When a mother says that to a son, it makes him feel really good. I was sent here, came here for a reason. I didn't know what it was, but I'm glad I came and it's been great. Like I said, they will never, ever be able to take away the memories we've shared together and the things we've been through.

Q. Erick, when you got up this morning, did you feel like you were going to be playing tonight? What was going through your head?

ERICK BARKLEY: There was no doubt in my head I was going to be playing. I just wanted to go back to the school in time to shoot-around and just apologize to the team. And, you know, just start off like where we left off, winning, and getting the championship.

Q. Erick, when you said leave of absence last night, did you realize it would blow up into all this or was it just a misunderstanding?

ERICK BARKLEY: I didn't think it would blow up like this. I think I've been in the paper more than Patrick Ewing this year, and that's not good.

COACH JARVIS: I love Patrick, and you deserve to be in the paper more than Patrick right now.

ERICK BARKLEY: It's okay. I'll let bygones be bygones and March on. March on to the big dance.

Q. How does it feel to say that now, you're going to the big dance, you're in, you got another shot.

ERICK BARKLEY: Ahhh, how does it feel? Whoa, it feels great. I think we're going to go into the tournament no matter where we're seeded with a tremendous amount of confidence, and it's -- whoever we play, I'm sure is going to be -- it's going to be a great game.

COACH JARVIS: Could I also -- could I mention something? I don't want you guys to forget now, did we look like we were in pretty good shape at the end of that game or this week? You know, anybody, did you enjoy how quick these guys were and how, you know, fresh they were? How much energy they had at the end of the tournament? I just mentioned that because I know all year we've been talking about the fact that you can't really do what we just did with seven guys, and it's amazing, you know, what conditioning does and how those seven guys have just gotten better conditioned all year, and it's really paying off now. So hopefully we can stay healthy. If we stay healthy, we're going to do a little bit of damage, I think, in the tournament.

Q. Bootsy, how does it feel to make a major contribution to these -- down the stretch in February, then this tournament, help your team win a championship?

BOOTSY THORNTON: It wasn't just me. I mean we all made major contributions, down to the guys before the game passing us the ball for shoot-around, the guys that pass everybody the ball. It wasn't only me. Fortunate for me, mine came in February. You can't forget about the fact that Erick was red hot, averaging 25, close to 30 points a game this season. (Inaudible.) Me and Lavor, cleaning up on the boards. It was a total team effort. For me, fortunately mine came in February.

Q. I apologize if this was asked already, as seniors, finally winning the Big East tournament in your last year, Bootsy and Lavor, tell us how you felt emotionally the last few seconds and on the court to celebrate?

BOOTSY THORNTON: I felt great personally. Last year Coach made us sit out there and watch UConn celebrate on the court even though we didn't want to. He made us sit down and watch it, watch them celebrate. Coach made us watch it on tape before we came down here, watching them celebrate on the tape. I just wanted to just play hard and not let them do what they did last year.

LAVOR POSTELL: Me personally, it's a great feeling. I think we deserve this. This is just one of our goals to accomplish. We accomplished this one. We have a couple more to go.

Q. Erick, Khalid had a lot of foul trouble early. What effect did that have on the game?

ERICK BARKLEY: It had a lot. We know that that was the backbone of the offense, and, you know, everything revolved around him, and you take him, you know, you take him out and, you know, you have a great game. You know, you have a chance of, you know, putting that team away.

Q. For Bootsy and Erick, can you tell us what got you guys ticked off yesterday and do you feel like all is forgotten now?

BOOTSY THORNTON: I really can't say. I mean, what got us ticked off. Both of us wanted to win extremely bad, you know and --

COACH JARVIS: It was a defensive play, right?

BOOTSY THORNTON: It was a defensive sequence that I got beat on, and I shouldn't have got beat, though, and I let the fact that I was in -- wasn't doing good on offense effect me on defense on one play. I got beat, and Erick told me about it. So that was basically it. From my end, everything is forgiven. Yesterday was yesterday, and today is today. We came back and won today. And we got -- I got to cut some nets down my senior year.

Q. Erick?

ERICK BARKLEY: I don't know. Like he said, you know, you heard it from him. I can't...

Q. Erick, you scored the first two buckets then you had assists on the next two baskets. Was it important for you to --

ERICK BARKLEY: Yes, it was. It was. I've been hearing, you know, I've been hearing and reading what Khalid had to say how he wanted the matchup to occur. I just wanted to give him his money's worth. You know. If he's gonna talk, talk it. I ain't even gonna -- forget it. (Laughter.)

COACH JARVIS: We won't play him anymore, I hope.

Q. Do you guys -- did you sense that UConn was tired? This is their fourth game in four days.

ERICK BARKLEY: I think any team would be tired playing four games in four nights or whatever. But, you know, we know the way they play, they had to be tired. You know, they run up and down, you know, we could just -- if, you know, if we could just match their intensity and outrun them and just score easy baskets, I knew we would win this game.

Q. Mike, your thoughts about beating UConn three times in a row this season? This is very hard to do.

COACH JARVIS: It's very, very hard to do. My thoughts are is that obviously, you know, I don't think I would -- if you had asked me before the year began, could we, I would say, you know, I think we can be competitive in all three games. I wouldn't bet on anybody beating them three games in the same year. But this is a very special group. When we got the one in Connecticut, then I think that sent the message to our guys that not only could we beat them again, even if it meant trying to beat them for the third time, that we could basically go and play anybody. And that game really, I think, helped us tremendously this year in terms of our just confidence and our belief in ourselves.

Q. Lavor, yesterday you said this is the closest team you've ever been on. What more did you learn about this team by the way you guys came back today from what happened last night?

LAVOR POSTELL: I don't know, I just think we're family. We've been through so much that what doesn't kill you, it makes you stronger. That's what happened this year. We win together, we lose together, we fight together. It's just all our effort, you know, coaching staff, everybody. I mean, like you said, we got each other's back, we got the Lord on our side. I'm glad we won. This is for our fans, our family and especially Coach Jarvis.

COACH JARVIS: Thanks, brother. And he's running for governor. (Laughter.) Thank you.

End of FastScripts...

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