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March 13, 2003

Troy Bell

Al Skinner

Craig Smith


Q. You have had some interesting wins this year, but this one was really kind of pulling; first giving it kind of giving it away then pulling it back. Talk about the ups and downs on the sidelines in a game like that.

COACH SKINNER: It's really been -- it was just a very interesting game. I thought we were in control and then we made some mistakes and we made some mistakes and but I think the guys really kept their composure and we made mistakes on both ends of the floor. Defensively and offensively we made mistakes and we were still able to come away with a win. Hopefully we can learn from those things and obviously make it a lot easier for us. But it looked like we had the game under control and then again you have got to give credit to St. John's, they never gave up, they continue to come after you, continue to attack, and but again, we went through the free throw lines and made them. I think that was really big. That was key for us.

Q. Having a couple of turnovers and committing the foul late in regulation, pulling that one back?

COACH SKINNER: It doesn't matter. We won.

TROY BELL: It would have been tough for me to go home and sleep at night. Luckily the other guys were able to pull it through for me.

Q. Can you sort of give us your take on the last possession of regulation when the play develops and it is going to be a one-on-one kind of thing; what you are thinking, what do you want to get done in that?

TROY BELL: I figured -- everyone knew Hatten was going to go one-on-one against me. I watched him play enough, he was going to do some kind of spin move, try to get a shot off. I tested the shot pretty well and tried not to foul him.

Q. Talk about the feeling you had after committing the turnovers and the foul, you gathered the deal together. The message to them was -- talk about Craig's performance. You have kind of carried the team today.

TROY BELL: After the turnovers, like I said, I got them together, told them everything was going to be okay. I played enough tough games to know that a game is not over until it is over. No big deal. I had faith in my guys. I knew we could get it done. This guy right here he definitely stepped up tonight. He's been one of the best freshmen in the nation all year, he is capable in nights like this.

Q. You played in the Garden a lot in over four years. How much do you think it helps St. John's to be the home team in the BIG EAST tournament?

TROY BELL: It definitely helps them. Only thing I can really compare it to last year when we played Texas at Texas, NCAA tournament, who cared about B.C. in there; not too many people. I played in the Garden a couple of times so I knew what it was going to be like. I love the atmosphere and I knew my players were going to be ready to play.

Q. Talk about Craig and his presence down low and how much more physical if at all that makes you going up against St. John's --

COACH SKINNER: I think regardless of who you are playing against you got to have an inside presence. The fact that Uka wasn't available to us this year is tremendous, that Craig was able to step up and take advantage of the opportunity. The last couple of years we really went to him a lot on the inside. Craig has now got the capability of obviously scoring a lot, and again he's taking full advantage of the opportunity. It's nice that we can -- he has got a lot of skills for a big guy. He handles the ball. He can step away. So tonight we felt like he had an advantage. We just milked it for all we could. The biggest thing is not only could he score; he made his free throws and I think that's key to wining in games like this.

Q. You told us in the Boston media how much you enjoyed playing in this building a couple of weeks ago. That you were really, really looking forward to the BIG EAST tournament. On the world's biggest stage you have a monster game when your team really, really needs it. Comment on that?

CRAIG SMITH: I mean, it is a good feeling. I see guys we kind are having a tough time, gave a couple points up, we're kind of down. I took it upon myself, I felt that I didn't want to go back to Boston to the cold. I wanted to stay here and do whatever it takes. That's what I told the guys.

Q. Just one thing when Marcus went up did you think it was going in or did you think you had to defend?

TROY BELL: Hatten is a great player and he makes big plays down the stretch. When I saw it leave his hands, it was straight on but I could tell it was a little too hard I was hoping he wasn't going to bank it and ruin my night. I thought I had it defended pretty well.

Q. Craig, do you think that because you are a big strong guy that opponents don't recognize the finesse you have around the hoop? There were a lot of smooth baskets today.

AL SKINNER: Did you see one of those baskets he should have laid straight in instead of finessing? Want to ask him about that? I appreciate that, thanks. (Laughter) little less finesse, little more power. I am only kidding.

CRAIG SMITH: I think, yeah, especially I have a big body, most players don't expect that when they see that on film, they go wow, I am still going to guard this power game. I have been working on it since I was a little kid. It is a habit. I try to get rid of it sometimes, but sometimes it just happens.

Q. Craig for those of us who don't know, did you play football in high school and did you ever have to make a choice between the two sports?

CRAIG SMITH: No, I didn't. But I got a couple of offers to put a helmet and pads on, a couple of scholarship offers. But my team wasn't really as well and I didn't want to risk getting injured or anything, so I kind of stuck with basketball.

Q. Can you comment on where you believe your team is particularly in light of the fact that a number of the folks at ESPN were questioning whether Boston college is in the N.C.A.A. tournament or not?

COACH SKINNER: I am just glad that they are not on the selection committee because I mean if you sit down and take a look at what we have been able to accomplish this year and take into effect that we lost a starting power forward, we regrouped, put together a tremendous run, and people always talk about playing well in February. We did that. And ended up first in this league which is a tremendous accomplishment. I am sure anybody is going to be proud of that. I just think we deserve to go. So right now -- and I still feel this way we're just playing for a seed. The more we win the higher our seed is going to be. That's what we're playing for now. Of course, so that's what our goal is.

End of FastScripts...

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