November 21, 2001
NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK
COACH TARKANIAN: I don't even know what to say. The first half we played so bad, the first half in my worse dreams, I didn't think we played that bad. We came out, we played like we were scared to even be here. We didn't do anything the first half defensively. We were horrible, offensively. We rushed our shots. We just didn't do anything. Second half I thought our guys came out and played real hard. We had so many opportunities to put the game away. We had to go for 15 at the freethrow line. Anytime you play a college game you go 6 for 15 at the line, you're in trouble. That last bucket they got was their only offensive rebound bucket in the second half. 1.7 seconds the last play we ran at the end of the game. It would have worked perfectly if Melvin would have caught the ball, because we had the guy open underneath. We didn't catch it. It's just one of those games, you know. I was so disappointed the first half. Yet I was so proud the way we battled the second half. It was like two different teams, the second half. We're still not -- we still didn't do a good job as defensively as I would like. We lose people a lot. Oh, boy, I don't know what to say. The first half was a total nightmare for me.
Q. What do you feel towards Felix knowing how far he's come and how much he's had to work on his confidence and to see that happen to him at the end?
COACH TARKANIAN: And he had a pretty good ballgame, too, up till then. That's the way life is, you know. You've just got to bounce back and I thought Wake, first half Wake did a great job. They cut us up. Did, totally cut us up. Second half we pounded them on the boards. It's unbelievable.
Q. Why didn't you put Felix in that last defensive stop?
COACH TARKANIAN: I thought Hiram would play the defensive a little better. It was just a hunch, I don't know. Wow, the guy misses a shot and they get the tip in. Wow. You guys have any questions I'd be happy to answer them.
Q. I guess that's what you're saying, that's the toughest thing, bad first half, have the kids fight back like that that last second tip was --
COACH TARKANIAN: We had -- the kid had a good shot before he got fouled. We got a three-point play on that, or else if he would have made that reverse layup, we were up three. Then, you know, it changes a lot of things. But that's the way the games go, I guess, you can't -- oh, my God, 6 for 15 at the free-throw line.
Q. Did you do anything differently the second half to spark the run?
COACH TARKANIAN: We got the ball to the right people and first half we were just jacking it up so fast, and our guys played -- I was amazed. We played like we were scared the first half. We had three guys really playing their first college game where they ever started. Outside of Melvin and Chris Jeffries, the other guys have never started a college basketball game before. We played like it the first half, but I was real pleased the second half the way our guys came on.
Q. This lost the way it took place. It was like San Francisco won overtime last year, took long time to get over. Is this going to take a long time, too?
COACH TARKANIAN: I don't know. I think we're going to be a very good basketball team, but I think it's going to be sometime in January. We have to get Chris Andy back and get him about five games, then I think we'll be a real good team. We have a long ways to go yet. But this -- this thing really hurts the way we came back, took the lead, had a chance to win it. They miss the easy shot and then they get the tip in.
Q. Did you think the tip in could have been offensive goal tending?
COACH TARKANIAN: I don't know. Doesn't make any difference what I thought, I guess. I don't know. I didn't see it that way.
Q. Listening to what you had to say about the first half and your team's development down the road, it sounds like what Tom Izzo said about two and a half hours ago. His team's first half was not what he was looking for, young team. You see any parallels?
COACH TARKANIAN: I hope we don't play like that again. We have -- three of our five guys have never started a college game before. And, you know, I was real pleased that the kid Matt Mitchell came in. He helped us. He did some pretty good things for us in there. He's a freshman kid, just turned 18 years old.
Q. Are you comfortable now with him handling the ball at the end of the game like he did?
COACH TARKANIAN: He handled the ball well. I wished he fouled him. I thought he got foul about three times on that last possession. I wish they would have fouled him. This is the type of game, you know, you go back and you will replay if this would have happened, or that would have happened. The last time we came to the Garden, you know, we had Minnesota down. We had a three-point lead and they took a desperation. They took a three-point shot and missed the shot and their kid Lewis got the rebound and dribbled it out to the corner with no time on the clock. He put up a three and it went in. They beat us in overtime. So I'm thinking same thing here at the Garden.
Q. When you talk about your inexperience, is (inaudible) an experience a college player as you're going to find. That's got to be tough.
COACH TARKANIAN: He's a very fine player. He's a very fine player. Oh, my God.
Q. Michigan State three straight final fours.
COACH TARKANIAN: They're a very good basketball team. They're a very good team. I was just so impressed with how much Syracuse go out of their zone defense. It doesn't look like it's that tough a zone, but they get so much out of it.
Q. What was the difference between the two halves? Obviously Dave jumped out --
COACH TARKANIAN: I thought from an offensive standpoint we got a lot better shots the second half. We were a lot more patient, we executed our offense a lot better, did a much better job the second half. First half we were just jacking up tough shots, I mean, quick shots. They weren't necessarily tough shots, but they were quick shots and Melvin and Chris Jeffries hardly touched the ball early in the game. Melvin got us five offensive rebounds. They doubled him every time he got the ball. Oh my God.
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