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March 13, 2003

Ben Howland

Brandin Knight

Donatas Zavackas


COACH HOWLAND: That was a great win for us and again we beat a very good team today. They were winning 6 of their last 7 coming into this game. They really changed. They went to a straight 2-3 zone. I think the last eight games they haven't come in that zone. It has really helped them talking about Providence now. Again when you look at it, I thought they beat us on the boards by 11, that's not a good sign for us. We got to get back to rebounding better. Our defense was very good tonight, shot 35 percent from the field. Second half we did a better job of settling down, attacking that zone and Brandin made a number of nice passes and Donatas had a huge second half with us with 16 points. I kind of got on him at 49-43 when he wanted a ball. That's the first time in Donatas' four-year career he's asked me to come out for a little breather that I can remember. He played great today. He played like a senior. Jaron Brown had another outstanding game. Brandin seems to love this building because he really steps up in The Garden. Very good team effort. Toree's minutes off the bench and Mark McCarroll's minutes off the bench were instrumental. We need Chevy obviously hopefully as soon as possible. Troutman is very good against zones in particular, but just a good player. He's one of our best inside players along with Donatas and Ontario, and I just don't know his status, it's day-to-day; couldn't go today. We'll just have to wait and see tomorrow.

Q. At what point did you make the decision with Chevy?

COACH HOWLAND: I don't make the decision. He gets with our trainer, Tony. He went out and tried to warm up and after about 3, 4 minutes he came in and said Tony, "I can't go." He's been working really hard with his rehab. Let me tell you something: He has been with Tony for the past 96 hours almost every waking moment. Which is, you know, our players know when you get injured you are living with the trainer. He's going to be fine. I would not be surprised if he was able to play tomorrow. We're going to need him.

Q. (Inaudible)

COACH HOWLAND: They won their division. They have the player of the year in the conference and they would have the rookie of the year were if it not for Carmelo Anthony and Smith. I think Ryan Sidney is a lot like Jaron Brown, he's really an unsung hero. He's in the 10 both assists in the conference, I think steals, he's a great rebounder. They are very well coached. Run a lot of sets, a lot of different things offensively. Bell is on an absolute tear. I don't know what he did today because I wasn't even thinking about who we were playing. Just trying to get past this one. Now I will look at the stats. They are a very good team. You got two teams who are going into the NCAA tournament, that's who is playing.

Q. Talk about your defense last 6, 7 minutes.

COACH HOWLAND: I thought that our experience and our, you know, veteran leaders really took control of the game there down the stretch. You could see -- I mean, they are a very good team. But we had been there before. Our guys had the confidence to win those close games down the stretch. And you could see all the plays that were made by whether it was Jaron, Brandin, Donatas, Julius or Ontario, these are guys that are veterans that played in big games.

Q. Why was there defense so much of a --

COACH HOWLAND: Look at the stats here. We shot 44 percent from the field. We shot 45% from 3. So when you look at inside of 3, it wasn't that bad. Made our foul shots. Where we really, I think, had a problem was on the boards. That's the thing that I look at most; 38, 27. They had 16 offensive rebounds. We like playing against zones. His eyes light up to see a zone. And I think obviously when they have Troutman in there and you go back and look at our films against other teams that zone a lot, it's a difference maker. He's one of our top six players. He was all BIG EAST selection. You know, who could play without a guy who is like this and still win against a good team like Providence. It shows about our depth. It says a lot about our depth as a team and the character of our guys.

Q. When you lost Ontario with over half the first half to go -- (inaudible) --

COACH HOWLAND: I thought Toree and Mark both came in and gave us good minutes. I was a little sad for Mark because he had the one lob pass, nice pass by Brandin that went in and out. He had the one play at the end of the first half, but he came in, gave us good minutes. He has good hands in zones, good passer. I thought Toree came in made a couple of big blocks. He threw that one shot by goals and I think he blocked somebody else's shot, maybe Kabba or somebody else. He's a presence in there. I am proud of those guys because we don't win the game without them.

Q. Talk about the their guards shooting from the outside. Was that a little bit of a surprise to you from last time, especially in the first half making a lot of 3s?

BRANDIN KNIGHT: I don't think so. I think we expected them to shoot well. Just when we were doubling Gomes in the post that gave them some opportunities outside, you know, McGrath and Kabba were knocking them down especially in the first half. Their big guys that came in off the bench, they shot the ball well too. Sometimes you have to give something that's what we were giving up today doubling Gomes in the post.

Q. They had 19 turnovers. You guys forced them into turnovers in some key points. What were you doing there?

BRANDIN KNIGHT: We were just paying attention when we were going through scouting report. I know a couple of plays that we talked about that I was going to try get out and gamble and get steals. As soon as those players got caught I was able to get steals. They had one set early in the first half, where they were going to go inside to Gomes, and Coach Howland gave me the leeway to go whenever that play is run, so I got a still off that. Then when they were up to in the second half, last five or six minutes, they ran another one of those sets where they were trying to get the ball back to McGrath and go inside to Gomes. And just our coaches doing a good job of scouting report. I was able to get that steal too. Jerome Brown he made some big plays, Julius Ontario got out and pressured the ball, Donatas pressured inside. It was a great team effort.

Q. The toughness of you guys so many times I have seen you guys kick it into a higher level the last five minutes or so of games, is that something that's come over time with the age of your team?

DONATAS ZAVACKAS: I think like coach said earlier in this conference we have a lot of guys who already played in this kind of situations before. For me and Brandin it our fourth year; Jaron, it's his third, we have been over here since our sophomore year. We made it to the Finals; both times we lost it. Experience has a big key for our team. That's what it comes down to 4 minutes, 3 minutes to play. We don't get scared. We still know what to do and we just keep playing and looking for our shots and keep playing good defense and never give up.

Q. Were you looking for the ball more in the second half or did it just work out that way and can you remember ever asking out of the game before?

DONATAS ZAVACKAS: No, never really looked for the ball. I knew I had to wait 'til the game comes to me. I took one shot in the first half, I mean, so if it has to be that way, I will do it. I just got to guard Gomes. As long as he doesn't score a lot, that's all right with me. In the second half I guess we were trying to play more Brandin and Julius so I got wide open and took some shots and I knocked them down. I was tired and probably played about 12, 14 minutes straight. That's not so easy running up and down and I asked him for a quick breather.

Q. How much did you guys, if at all, thought with -- you have been here a couple of times before and haven't been able to finish --

BRANDIN KNIGHT: We just approach it as one game at a time. That's how we have been doing it for the last two years and our guys we're not looking forward to a Championship yet. We want to win the games that are in front of us because if you don't there will be no championship. Last year is over. And we want to take that next step and win it but right now our focus is Boston College and that's how we approach the game.

Q. I see you guys shot 80% from the line today. After what happened against Villanova you pretty relieved you have a good game like that from the line to be able to put the game away late?

BRANDIN KNIGHT: Everybody has games like those sometimes. It just happened to be one that was nationally televised so a lot of people got a chance to see that. But we didn't do anything different in practice. Coach wasn't emphasizing it more. Our guys just came in and they were confident and everybody made them especially down the stretch and throughout the rest of the game.

Q. Looked like you guys were running the regular stuff in the first half. Without Troutman and Ontario, any temptation to try to do more individually?

BRANDIN KNIGHT: I don't think so. Really all of our guys just kind of let the game come to them. Nobody really you know, tries to do more than what they can. But in the second half I knew I had to get some more looks closer to the basket and get some people open so I tried to penetrate especially in the last 8 minutes of the game and Donatas came up with some big 3s. I had to lay up and that's what we got to do against their zone because they get up and they match up well. But they are a very good team. And we had to be very patient on offense, they played a great defense. It's just that we made shots toward the end of the shot clock.

Q. Talk about B.C. a little bit.

BRANDIN KNIGHT: I just know they are very good players. I have seen Smith have some big games early on. I have seen Troy Bell since I have been here, so everyone knows how great he is. It's going to be a tough game. It's going to be fun. It's going to be exciting these are the games that you get geared up for.

End of FastScripts...

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