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March 8, 2001

Jaron Brown

Ricardo Greer

Ben Howland


THE MODERATOR: We'll get started.

COACH BEN HOWLAND: Great win. You know, if we can make our free throws, we might have won by -- I'm afraid to look. I do know that our defense was outstanding tonight. The first two times we played them we did not double Murphy at all, and tonight it was our game plan, to pick him up full court. I thought Julius and Jaron did a great job. It paid off on that one steal Brandin got on Carroll because he gave it up so he could bring it up because he was tired of being harassed. Brandin took advantage of the crossover. That was a big play that put us up, threw the ball back to Ricardo here for the dunk. I thought Isaac Hawkins did a great job doubling. He's really tough, did it in practice a couple times. Some things, you know, things they look back on now, we should have done more doubling of the post this year. I should have played this guy a hell of a lot more minutes than I played him earlier in the year. He has really stepped up for us, Jaron Browne, the latter part of this season. We won five of our last six and he has a lot to do with it. Great win and we're going to stay with the same routine here now and get ready for the winner of this next game.

Q. The first time Pittsburgh won two games in this tournament. How do you feel about that?

COACH BEN HOWLAND: I feel good. Most of these kids, I was thinking about that, you know, Brandin and Julius were, you know, 13 years old six years ago, I think last time they won a game. Other than three years ago. I mean these guys, they have -- it's now. The future is now. These guys are stepping up. We feel good about it. But we've got more work to do and we're just going to keep preparing one game at a time. There's no easy game in this tournament. Every team's a good team. We beat a very good team today in Notre Dame. They're going to get a good seed in the NCAA tournament, and this is a great opportunity for us to keep playing here and let Ricardo stay here in New York a while longer here in his senior year.

Q. What is the difference with this team now, playing the way it is against Notre Dame?

COACH BEN HOWLAND: Well, one thing, we're healthy. You know, we have Ricardo here. He's probably more healthy now than he's been all year. Brandin's foot was ailing him towards the end of that game. Hopefully he can get it up and give us another good game tomorrow. He had a great game tonight with eleven assists. I thought he played an outstanding game. Looking at the stats here, I think we were 25 for 51 last night. Maybe that's a good omen, two nights in a row, the same field goal percentage, was good. If we can make our foul shots, we were 12 for 24 after last night coming out 15 for 16. We'll knock them down. We had good balance tonight. Jaron Browne, 14 points, his defense really stepped up. I was really proud. When we were missing our free throws we had Jaron step up, who on the year was 50 percent, two big foul shots. That really gave us a lift there to get back on top. We were letting them hang around too much. Isaac, I'm looking at his twelve boards. That's a big stat right there, twelve rebounds by our senior inside man.

Q. Can you talk about the defense you had on Troy Murphy. He wasn't able to do anything against your defense from the start.

RICARDO GREER: As soon as we got back to the hotel, Coach told us the same plan, to double Murphy and put pressure on him. From the opening tap, I told the guys, "We're not losing this one, we gonna go out there and give it our all." That's what happened, we went out there, played tough defense.

Q. Whenever you double Murphy, what do you risk? What are you giving up?

COACH BEN HOWLAND: We worked on it early in the year. I kicked myself in the behind for not doing more of it this year with the fact that we're not real big inside. Donatas did a great job, I can't give him enough credit. He is a tough, hard-nosed guy. He was there positioning himself, holding his ground, working his tail off to deny the ball in the post. Then when it did go into the post, we ran at him, did a good job of rotating out of it. Didn't want to deny the ball back out. We got into a tandem and you give up an opportunity for them to get an open shot. Happened a couple times. Carroll hit one to tie it back up, down two at the end of the first half. Overall, we got a lot more out of it than we gave up.

Q. Ricardo, after last night's game you made a statement about how you feel you can hang with anybody right now. Do you feel a little prophetic, and what kind of made you feel that way?

RICARDO GREER: First and foremost, the whole team is basically healthy. Brandin's leg is kind of messed up, his foot. He's just toughing it out. I feel great and the team feels great. We're getting a lot of rest in the hotel, being focused, just coming out here to prove something. We want to get to the tournament also. The only way to get there is by winning this whole thing and that's what we're going to try to do.

Q. Is this the best, especially in back-to-back games, that your team's played in your career?

RICARDO GREER: I don't think so. We had a lot of good games. I think we're more focused and the guys are finally playing more as a team. We just have confidence in each other now, and the sky's the limit right now.

Q. Jaron, you've seen your minutes and points go up in the last few games. Do you think you're doing something differently?

JARON BROWN: I just keep on playing hard in practice and it shows in the game. (Inaudible).

COACH BEN HOWLAND: I want to answer that. It's a tough role to be sitting there, being the backup at the one all year. But he never changed his attitude. He kept working hard, busting his tail in practice every day, he was supportive of his teammates. Now for me, I'm not very smart, it took me a while, most of the season, to figure out how to play Brandin and Jaron together. And, you know, hindsight's 20/20, but it sure is a good fit for us right now to have him coming in, three guards, Julius Page, Jaron and Brandin, rotating the one and two spot. One key stat I want to point out that we talked about before the game was that we really controlled the boards tonight, beat them 39 to 25 on the boards. When you go back to our last game in Pittsburgh, we got beat by 13, 37-24 on the boards and it was 31-15 in that game with seven minutes to go. The board play was huge. Ricardo and Isaac in particular, with eight for Ricardo and 12 for Isaac. Big, big rebounds.

Q. Coach and Jaron, what do you guys think about tomorrow night, playing against Providence who beat you once, Syracuse who beat you twice?

COACH BEN HOWLAND: They're both very good teams. They're both already in the NCAA tournament. So, you know, we're just going to show up, doesn't matter who it is because they're both very good teams. They both present a lot of problems. You know, I wish we already knew who it was so we could start to plan right now. We'll have to wait till 11 o'clock tonight and make it an early morning in the film room. They're great teams. Coach Welsh has done a really good job. I'm happy for him. He could have easily been a Co-Coach of the Year this year between him and Al Skinner this year, (inaudible) they both have done a wonderful year. Every year, I mean mark it down, it's 20 wins, it's automatic. But I think one thing that is showing is the west side of the Big East is pretty strong now. We are guaranteed three of the final four spots in this tournament this year.

Q. You talked about focus. Do you think the team chemistry is better here as the season's gone on? You guys are making extra passes. Your confidence is up.

RICARDO GREER: Definitely. The most important thing is that at night or this morning when the games are going on, we all in the rooms watching the games, getting focused to play. Other guys are hanging out, laughing, joking around. Everybody's mind's on our team, we want to win. We don't want to win two games and go home, we want to continue winning. Tomorrow's going to be a big game for us but we gonna try to get prepared for it tonight.

Q. Same thing with that focus, how instrumental have you been as a senior on this team, to rally these guys? What have you done?

COACH BEN HOWLAND: What do you think, Jaron, you should answer that. What do you think about Rick's leadership?

JARON BROWN: Great leadership. Sometimes when I'm down in practice, he comes up to me to tell me to keep my head up and did it to several other players, too.

COACH BEN HOWLAND: What did you do tonight, were you kissing him with three minutes to go? I looked on the court there, there's still a hell of a lot of time left in the game, Ricardo's kissing, which was a sign of celebrating in my mind. I was yelling to Ricardo, "Hey, finish the game." I don't know if you noticed, Ricardo leaned over and kissed his buddy, this year because he has really stepped it up for his teammates and had a great attitude the whole time.

Q. Ben, one more thing on this Troy Murphy's eight points. We were told he went 78 games double figures. You held him to eight points.

COACH BEN HOWLAND: Hopefully, he'll -- I shouldn't even say it, hopefully he'll go in the draft. We're tired of seeing Troy Murphy, okay. I'll look forward to when he's gone from Notre Dame, and he's a great player. Just really a tribute to our team defense. It was really a great team defense. And, you know, Donatas did a great job, but the rotation out of the double on the post was big-time for us tonight. What's striking is that we have not worked on it that much recently. This is what we talked about, be able to make that adjustment. Just talking about it was huge.

Q. Ben, yesterday you talked about everything seemed to be going your way coming here, Miami had to bus here, I mean it's almost like a destiny thing. Do you just feel that things are all falling --?

COACH BEN HOWLAND: We're just taking it one game at a time. We're really pleased right now, we're not going to get too overjoyed. We've got to get ready for another game here. We want to try to win tomorrow. We need to do everything to start preparing for that right now. We're in a routine that we've been following here the last few days. We're going to stay with it. Yeah, I feel like making the plane, I don't know if everybody was here last night, but we, on Monday, decided to try to catch the 1:25 plane having talked to nobody on our team at five minutes after eleven. We had guys, you know, in other people's rooms, we're trying to run out everybody. We were able to tie it all together and make the plane. That was the last plane out of Pittsburgh into LaGuardia. They shut down LaGuardia after that. John Jay College has been great. Helene, the friend of my assistant -- the Indiana Pacers couldn't make their flight, we got a practice here every day. Everything has just been hitting on all cylinders for us.

End of FastScripts....

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