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April 5, 2003

Rick Barnes

T.J. Ford

Royal Ivey

Brandon Mouton


JOHN GERDES: We'll ask Coach Barnes to make an opening statement, then we ask that your first questions be directed to the student athletes.

COACH BARNES: Well, obviously we're disappointed. But yet, as I reflect back right now, you know, I think we broke down a lot of barriers this year for Texas basketball. Tonight we were beaten by a team that played great basketball. I can't say enough for the job that Jim has done. They made plays when they had to. We went through a stretch where we went 2-8 from the free-throw line when we had a chance to do something with the game. Those plays hurt us. Again, when they had to make a play, they did it. I mean, every point they score, you can almost attribute to Carmelo when he's in the game because he makes you help, he makes you rotate. If you don't get all five guys rotating the way they need to, they're going to come up with something. Tonight every time they needed to make a big play, they made it.

JOHN GERDES: Questions.

Q. Can you talk about the difference for you between the first 10 minutes of the first half and second half? Also, how many people did you have in the crowd tonight?

BRANDON MOUTON: Well, as far as people in the crowd, I had six tickets. That's all I really worked with. I think in the second half, Syracuse really did a good job of finding me in the zone, where I was at. I think I also did a good job of getting my post plays involved since they were out guarding me, respecting me, it was easier for me to get my teammates involved.

Q. Royal, can you describe what it was like trying to contain Anthony.

ROYAL IVEY: Probably the hardest defensive job I had since I've been in college. 6'8", explosive, strong. Shoot over you, you know, drive you. Spin move, everything. It's pretty tough. He's a great player.

Q. Brandon, talk about how special it is to come home, play in the Louisiana Superdome on a national stage.

BRANDON MOUTON: Well, it was a great feeling. But, I mean, that wasn't the ultimate goal to play in New Orleans. Our goal as a team was to win the championship. I mean, the game was good for my friends and family, but that's irrelevant. You know, we came here to win a game.

Q. TJ, would you talk about the game in general, the things you feel like you didn't do, maybe reflect on the season just a little bit, too.

TJ FORD: I mean, I wouldn't want to go out like this, I mean, being one game away from the championship game. But overall, I mean, we had a great season. We proved a lot of people wrong. We did a lot of things that never been done in Texas basketball history. So, I mean, we got to be proud of our team, be proud of ourselves, with the game. We went out, played the best we could. Didn't turn out the way we wanted it to. But you have to give it up, Syracuse is a good team.

JOHN GERDES: Thank you, gentlemen, we'll let you get back to the locker room and we'll take questions for Coach Barnes.

Q. Would you talk about, did you think your defense was particularly sharp tonight overall?

COACH BARNES: Well, again, they made great shots. I mean, I wouldn't trade Royal Ivey for anybody in terms of what he brings with his attitude, his toughness. As he just said, he just played against the best player he's played against in three years of college basketball. That's saying a lot. We've played against some of the better ones. Everyone talked about coming into the game about their zone. The people listened to me, I said, "I'm more concerned about them more offensively than I am from the defensive standpoint." I thought we'd find a way to score points. We tried to run different guys at Carmelo. You look at him. I don't know if they can play any better than they played tonight. They made every big play they had to make. Even with that, if we had made some free throws at a timely time. First half I thought we threw the ball away a little bit that we didn't need to. They made plays. I'm telling you, they made shots. They did some things. I'm sure I'll look back and break it down with the guys, show them where we need to do some things better. Overall, when they needed to make a big play, they made it.

Q. You've played both of these teams this year. Talk about what we can expect from your point of view on Monday night.

COACH BARNES: I think you'll see an up-and-down game. I mean, I think Syracuse is going to play the way Syracuse plays. I think that Kansas is going to do what Kansas does. I think Carmelo Anthony is a tough match-up for anybody, as I think Nick Collison can be a tough match-up for anybody, as well. The fact he can go in and create some things. You saw two teams tonight that advanced that played great offensive basketball. It gets to this time of year where players make plays. But right now I think the two teams that are playing great basketball are playing for the national championship.

Q. A lot of teams -- a few teams here have a lot of seniors they have to worry about. It looks like you have most of your nucleus back next year. You mentioned the free throw shooting. Is that the most disappointing thing about the game?

COACH BARNES: We really shot the ball well from the free-throw line throughout the tournament. We had really done a pretty good job of taking care of the basketball. I think we were averaging 10 turnovers throughout the tournament. What happens when you're playing against a team that I think is feeling the way they are on the offensive end, and we tried some different things to disrupt their rhythm. We actually used the zone a little bit, even went triangle and two a couple of possessions, box and one, trying to disrupt their rhythm. But when you're playing against a team that I think is in that comfort zone, and you need -- you know, those free throws are huge. When you go 2-8 in an important part of the game, that can set you back. Even with that, we had it down to six with under I think a minute, with a chance. If we could have maybe scored or something... I felt if we could have made gotten a little lead, that in itself might put a little pressure on them where they feel they have to go down to score. Again, coming in, I mean, Syracuse has always been a great offensive team.

Q. Is there anything you could have done to try to take the ball at Anthony in the second half to get a fourth foul on him?

COACH BARNES: We tried. But he's not going to do that. I guarantee you Jim told him, "Whatever you do, don't you pick up another foul." We were going to try. We actually had some plays to try to drive the ball at him. It goes back, he's got length, and they really did a great job of protecting him. I mean, they knew we were going to try to go at him. They did some good things there to try to shut down the lane. You have to give them credit. They know how important he is to them, the three fouls we got on him were from offensive rebounds where he was going to the board, blocked down, came over the top. He's an excellent rebounder. He does an excellent job of going to get his own shot. Otherwise, you know, he's very much under control. On the defensive end, he kind of hangs out and uses his length. He doesn't pick up many fouls from the defensive end. Most of his fouls occur on the offensive end.

Q. What did Brandon mean to your program?

COACH BARNES: You know, I'm really, really happy for Brandon because a year ago everyone made a big deal about him maybe not playing as well as he could. This time, obviously going through the NCAA tournament a year ago, I'm just really happy for him because I knew how far he's come, I knew how hard he works. Like our whole team, he's extremely disappointed. He's so mature. I don't think he ever thought about coming back to Louisiana to play in the Dome. His whole focus has been to do whatever he can do to help this team win a national championship. He deserves so much credit for the commitment he's made to himself and the passion that he's gone about trying to get better as a player. I think he'll come back better next year as a young man, he wants it all. Again, I love him for what he's done for our program, our university. Anybody that knows him just says great things about him.

JOHN GERDES: Thank you, Coach Barnes. Congratulations on a tremendous season.

COACH BARNES: Thank you.

End of FastScripts...

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