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March 27, 2004

Tony Allen

Joey Graham

John Lucas

Sean Sutton


Q. John, just talk about the two different halves and you really looked frustrated in the first half, especially -- were you guys having problems figuring out where you were supposed to throw the ball in the press?

JOHN LUCAS: I think we were just too excited to be playing. I know I was. I had a horrible first half, absolutely horrible. You know, I just told them, I was so tough with myself in the locker room ahead of time and coach also gave me a pep talk and my teammates was still behind me. They were just staying, "your shots are going to fall," just saying, we're right behind, keep playing hard, we need you." And I could not let my teammates down so I stepped up and I just played.

COACH SUTTON: Let me just say, I thought we were too conservative, too passive in our press breaker. You have to give them credit but we just didn't attack.

Q. John, tell us about the last shot, how it kind of broke down with Joey there and what happened, who was guarding who and give us your recollections on that. And, when you get done with that, you've hit a lot of clutch shots, last-second buzzer beaters, go-ahead shots this has to be the biggest ever?

JOHN LUCAS: Your first question, we ran a pick-and-roll and they switched and I kind of dragged my man off because I saw Joey had a smaller person on him. So I tried to tell him to go post up and I was going to hit him in the post. I think he got confused and he popped out. And so I threw him the ball because Joey could attack, and I think they would have fouled him and put him on the line. But he fumbled the ball and when he fumbled, my man kind of went to see if he could get his still and Joey took it back up and took like one or two dribbles, and I slid to the open spot and made sure I got my elbow underneath the ball and my legs and knees just shot it. Yeah, that has to be the biggest shot I ever shot in my life.

Q. For any of the players, what was your reaction when you saw Jameer go up with that last shot?

JOEY GRAHAM: That last second I was just hoping and praying it would not go in. Thank the Lord that it didn't and came down and John hit a big-time shot for us and put us over the top.

TONY ALLEN: I knew he was going to miss.

JOHN LUCAS: I felt like he did a good job and my whole feeling was like, don't ever let him shoot a three, don't let him shoot a three, because he hit one before. Don't let him shoot a three, if anything, let's go to overtime. When he hit and tried to fade, Daniel was right there to contest his shot and I think they got a piece of it. It was an air ball, I made a shot and held on and threw it in the air; so and fouled me, too, so the game could be over.

Q. Tony, why did you think he was going to miss?

TONY ALLEN: Because, I mean, he was just defending well all night. Our guys was just trying to get after him even though he had a good night, overall, he had 17 aa with no turnovers.

COACH SUTTON: He was kind of tired and I knew fatigue was setting in.

Q. After you guys had your initial celebration after the game, a few guys went over to Jameer Nelson when he was down on the court; what did you say to him and why did you go over there so quickly?

JOHN LUCAS: You know, he's a terrific player. He had a big-time career in both basketball and he's going to have a big-time career in the league, too. He's a gutsy player. He plays what lot of heart. You know, you just tip your hat off to somebody like this and show respect. He's a Player of the Year in basketball, and, you know, for him to have a season the way he had, you've got to respect that. You can't -- you can't even -- you have to acknowledge it if you're a fan of basketball.

JOEY GRAHAM: I think it was a great job for some of the players to go over. I didn't go over there because I was overwhelmed with joy and everything else, I just couldn't move. But, you know, I just tip my hat off to Jameer. He's a great basketball player.

TONY ALLEN: Follow it up what Joey Graham said, yeah, he's a terrific player. I was just overwhelmed going to the Final Four.

Q. John, after the game, you went up into the stands to find your dad, can you tell us about that moment and what you guys said to each other?

JOHN LUCAS: Really didn't say too much of anything. We were just hugging each other and just rejoicing and just being happy. You know, he'll just tell me what to way to fight back from the half I had in the beginning, in the first half he was saying quickly that most players would have backed down. Most players would have just gave up. It was like you hung in there and that showed me that you're ready for any kind of challenges that anybody will bring to you.

Q. Saint Joseph's seemed to have the country's imagination being undefeated so on and so forth, what is it about Oklahoma State that's so special that people will want to get on your bandwagon now?

JOEY GRAHAM: I think that, you know, our team is just so hungry and we been facing a lot of challenges all year. We're really waiting to go play those guys. If you all want to jump on our bandwagon, we'll let you all on, but we'll have to think about it. (Laughter).

Q. John and Tony, you both have high school teammates going to the final hour, and how long will it be till you guys talk to your respective teammates and are you looking forward to seeing them in San Antonio?

JOHN LUCAS: I'm going to call Mecca tonight, as soon as I get my phone back, because when I was at Bailey I used to call him -- your season is over so quick, just joking around. I'm going to let him know. But I wish him the best of luck. On his side and I think he'll do the same because we're friends more than anything.

TONY ALLEN: I think we're going to be ready for this game coming up. I wanted him to come here but he didn't, so when we meet on the court, it's going to be a lot of words exchanged.

Q. John, the end of the first half you threw up an air ball with about 30 seconds to go and they called a time-out, you walk to the bench, you were away from the huddle, one of the coaches had to come over to you, what's going through your head at that point?

JOHN LUCAS: Well, what was I thinking when I shot that ball?

Q. When you're on the sideline.

JOHN LUCAS: I know, that's what I was thinking, what I was thinking when I shot that ball, I just knew that coach was about to come get me. (Laughing) more than anything. But, you know, Coach came over and just said, don't worry about it, don't worry about it, you've got defense to play now, you've got defense to play, and I was just like, all right, coach. I was just frustrated because I was like, man, I would never shoot air balls and I shot three in the first half. In the locker room, just said, keep the same rotation, your format and your follow-through.

Q. Why did you decide to put Bobik on Nelson instead a lot of us?

COACH SUTTON: We thought the guys might bother him, that was really the main reason. We also were afraid John covering him would really wear him down, wear John down and it could affect his shooting. Like John said, I've never seen him in practice shoot as poorly as did he that first half. He never shoots an air ball. But he's a tough kid, and, like he said, he came back the second half and hit some big shots for us. The one he hit to win the game, certainly the biggest shot that has scored for us in a long time, and I'm talking about OSU. That was the main reason, really we felt like the size and we had to find somebody for John to cover. We didn't think that Carroll was that deep as Nelson was. You know, Nelson is so active. He's out there, he'll wear you out. We had Bobik on him most of the time, but Spoon was on him most of the time and we felt like Carroll was more on the catch-and-shoot player and wouldn't be moving as much and wouldn't wear John down.

Q. This building has been pretty good to you even though there was a nine-year span between Sweet 16s. Could you reflect on that and seeing the big man sitting behind you on the bench and the former players that you had at that time? Could you reflect on that for a little bit, if you would?

COACH SUTTON: You know, in '95, we came here with the big man (ph) and Randy Rutherford and they were both up there tonight. I think it was special for all of us, but I know it brought back a lot of pleasant memories. The two teams we beat in '95 were really outstanding ballclubs. I made this comment, I thought three teams that got us to the Final Four was as good as UCLA, the team that won the national title. We beat Alabama, they had McDice (ph) and we beat Mass and they had Camby. So these guys, I think it brought back a lot of pleasant memories. But we have been here two other teams when it was not so pleasant. Back in '91, we got beat in overtime by Temple when Corey Williams had his foot on the top of the key about like that; that would have won the game instead of tied it and we got beat in overtime. Then we got beat by Virginia here one year, I think not with Oklahoma State, and we got beat when I was coaching the Razorback (ph). But this is a great place to play. But going back to our ballclub, I've had a lot of outstanding teams, but none that I can be as thankful that I've had the opportunity to coach this ballclub. They will always be a special team to me because they have done things that I didn't think were possible, and they have gotten better every year. Somebody asked about, would they get on the bandwagon. You get on the bandwagon with this ballclub because of such character that they have. Anybody in Oklahoma that covers us would agree; we don't have the best talent of anybody in college basketball, but nobody has better people than we have, and I think that's one reason why this team continues to win.

Q. It's interesting that yesterday Tony Allen said, "it's about making buckets," and that's what it came down to. First half, you guys were not shooting well at all, what happened to get them to come out the second half and stroke it as well as it did?

COACH SUTTON: I thought John made a good point. I thought the team was really well prepared to play the game. And defensively I thought the first half we were -- we played defense good enough, if you would have done anything. The offensive end, we rebounded well, but we turned the ball over, and so many of those turnovers were just carelessness. We were so passive in our press breaker. And at halftime I told the team, I said: You guy seniors to learn to relax. This is not you. This is not the way we coach the game. But I told them one thing that would help them is that when you get the ball off the defensive boards; you've got to run with it. We are so much better when we can run with the ball, and I thought that really kind of loosened us up to begin the second half. When we did rebound the ball well, we got it out and we came down, got good shots. As the game progressed, when we couldn't -- we didn't get shots in transition. I thought we did an excellent job in running a halfcourt offense. Sean called a lot of special plays that allowed us to get good shots. In the first half, yeah, we shot 40, but we took a lot of bad shots. We were too satisfied to shoot jumpshots and never even got into the bonus situation. Second half, we got it in the double bonus. So we were much more aggressive. We attacked the basket and we got it in low. When you are content to shoot the ball on the perimeter and you don't ever get the line, you make it tough on yourself.

Q. I think I know your answer to this question already, I think I've asked it a time or two this season, but you're 68 years old, you're in, what, third Final Four, second at Oklahoma State, what are your emotions right now, holding your grandson out there what were your emotions?

COACH SUTTON: Well, it all goes back to when I came back it Oklahoma State, it had been a long drought. I'll never forget Mr. Ibow (ph), when they made the announcement I was coming back he said, "Well, one of my boys is coming back." Those years that he was with us at practice, what he had given to me and what Oklahoma State had given to me, was so special. So, you know to take this team to two Final Fours, I guess it's a small way of saying thanks for what was given to me as a student athlete when I played there. And I know how important it is. Nobody has better fans than we do and I know how important it is to win. People ask, well, you must have a lot of pressure at Kentucky. I think coaches at the high school level, I felt a little pressure at CSI, Creighton, Arkansas, Kentucky. But I felt more pressure at Oklahoma State in the 14 years because it's my alma mater and I just feel like I know the people and how important it is to win there.

Q. You said yesterday that, you know, winning the National Championship isn't the thing that really eats at you or defines you. But this is your third time; a lot of coaches go a whole career and never get there once. Does this mean anything more to you, is it any special or any more sense of urgency?

COACH SUTTON: Well, I probably won't have that many opportunities to get there again because I'm not going to coach that long. We should have another good ballclub next year. But even when you have a good ballclub, it's like Kentucky, Kentucky had a great ballclub, but one game, you play a series, it would be different. But it's one game and you don't play well, you get beat. That's why getting there for the third time is very special. And especially going back to October when we started practicing, of somebody told me we were going to be the Final Four and win 31 games, I would say: You're crazy. I mean, you're nuts, you've been drinking or something because there's no way this team can do that. But they have done it and that's why I say, this will always be a very, very special team to me.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach Sutton, and good luck in San Antonio.

End of FastScripts...

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