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November 23, 2001

Melvin Ely

Jerry Tarkanian


COACH TARKANIAN: I'd like to start off by saying what a difference 24 hours makes, huh? The loss Wednesday night was so painful, it just didn't make Thanksgiving just seem -- was a sad Thanksgiving Day. I was really proud. Our guys came back and wanted it. I told them all day today, I know Tom Izzo and Michigan State, they remind me a lot of my older UNLB teams when they lose a ballgame, they come out with a vengeance. And I knew that Tom was going to have a real aggressive practice and that he was going to have his teams on a mission. And our guys responded well. I thought we played hard. I thought at first our defense first half, our defense was sensational. We got stagnant offensively. We don't have a lot of weapons offensively. We've got the two horses. They did a job making it tough for us to operate. We hung in defensively. We battled on the board, got blocked shots. This was a great win for us. Michigan State is -- they're going to be fine. I got great respect for their program and I know Izzo is going to have those guys, they'll probably be working out somewhere tonight.

Q. Can you put this in perspective. In your four years where this (inaudible) meeting Michigan State, those are the kind of wins you guys.

COACH TARKANIAN: Every time we would play one in the past years, we would slip and wouldn't be as physical or play as hard as we did this year. From day one we knew the teams we would have to face. We knew we wanted to get to New York and we did everything possible to get here. We're just going to use this as a measuring stick. Anytime you can beat a big ten team coming in, we have to focus on not losing to teams like Rice and other teams we're not supposed to lose to.

Q. Did you ever think you could come into work and beat a time like this?

MELVIN ELY: We're fortunate it didn't happen during the middle of the year or during the game. We always knew -- we knew for a long time that he was going to become ineligible. That kind of helped us out. We weren't used -- We're fortunate it happened early in the season.

Q. How much was your defensive strategy shaped by what --

COACH TARKANIAN: None of us -- when we lost Chris Sandy, I felt earlier in the year, I told my assistant coaches, I figured on about a three and nine early in the season. They said, we'll do better than that. I had no idea Matt Mitchell was as good as he was. Matt Mitchell has given us a point guard and has given us a presence there. We didn't know how good Matt was. Our first two exhibition games I hardly played the guy, hardly even played him. He played very, very, very well and made a big difference in our club. We were playing without a point guard. Travis DeManby is a great kid, does everything we want him to do. He never played that position. You don't get the easy buckets, you need to be successful. I've always said it's virtually impossible to make a point guard out of a shooting guard. Anytime you got a guy who can shoot and dribble well, you say, God, he can play the point. But he can't play the point unless he's been doing it for years and that's a feel that you have to have. And I tell you Matt Mitchell has been a God-send to us. We didn't think we had one, believe me. My other choice, I was going to play Chris Jeffries at the point, you know, both of those was close to suicide. It was the only choice we had, really. Matt has come through and really helped out. What it's done, it's affected Travis DeManby's offensive game. He's been trying to -- playing the point, his shooting dropped. We'll get Chris DeManby back. He's a New York kid. I hope the New York media will give him a plug. He's a great kid. I know it hurts so much not to be here. It's a dream of every New York City kid to come back and play in the Garden. He should be playing in the Garden. I'm happy with this win. I tell you what, it makes this trip nice. I haven't had too fond memories of the Garden. I've had so many tough losses here. This makes this trip nice.

Q. So that zone is more a reaction to our own situation -- (inaudible)

COACH TARKANIAN: I wanted zone because I felt we had to do something to get through the first part of our season to try to get. Maybe we could sneak in and get a few more victories we ordinarily wouldn't. When we get Travis DeManby back, we'll be a man-to-man team. That's what I want to be. That's what I've been since 1973. That's what I want to be. Teams win with a zone are cowards; I'm a coward. I'd rather win with a zone than lose with a man.

Q. What about the NCAAA trying to curb the preseason tournament?

COACH TARKANIAN: I don't have -- I better not say nothing about them. I've never won an election with those guys, an appeal or anything else. I never will.

Q. Melvin, you didn't score in the first half, that turnaround jump seem to get you going the second half, talk about that part of your game.

MELVIN ELY: That's one thing the coach has been working out. Knew I was going to get dunked a lot, didn't know I was going to get dunked as much or as soon. My coaches tell me, take it as a compliment, had to do something to score. Turn around the doubleteam helped me a lot. I'm glad I had coaches who thought of it beforehand. First half I didn't score, I was happy to get other people shots. I would dribble, kick it out to my teammates, they would make shots. If I could get ten assists and no points, I'm happy with that.

COACH TARKANIAN: Melvin's first game only team that didn't doubleteam he was 13 or 17, from the field. Every coach, you get the box score of the previous games. I'm sure as soon as he they saw them, the next three times doubleteamed Melvin, we will continue to see that. What Melvin said was so great. My assistant tells me we better get the ball to Melvin, otherwise he's going to get down. I said, we can't get him the ball they way they're playing. We had a nine, 10. 11 point lead, whatever it was. I go in the locker room, the happiest guy in the locker room was Melvin. Happiest guy, congratulating everybody, "Keep it going now." I didn't know he had two shots the first half till I saw the stat sheet. That's the mark of a great player and a great person who's happy when you win not by how many points he has. Thanks guys.

End of FastScripts....

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