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March 9, 2001

Isaac Hawkins

Ben Howland

Brandin Knight


COACH BEN HOWLAND: That was a hell of a game. I'm really proud of our team, the way they hung in there. I don't know if this thing's up that loud. It's a great win for us. We had great focus again. To only score 17 points in the last 25 minutes and still win the game points to the fact that we played great defense, really hung in there. We did everything we needed to do defensively. Because we had open looks. We missed some open shots, shots we normally make. And, you know, your defense is always going to save you. It's always going to keep you close. That was the key again for us tonight, was a great defense. Again, I thought that Isaac had a huge game for us back-to-back nights now with 12 rebounds. So he really stepped up for us. Donatas hit a couple big threes. That last play was designed to go, Brandin had the option to hit Ricardo, hit Isaac, was a nice pass, he muscled it up, knocked down one to two shots. That was big for us. I'm just proud of our team, proud of these kids and looking forward to getting ready to play a very good Boston College team.

Q. Isaac, can you talk about being on the line with three seconds overtime?

ISAAC HAWKINS: I wasn't thinking about anything but playing tomorrow. I've been in the situation before in high school, and once they called that timeout, I got a lot of encouragement from the coach and my teammates. That really calmed me down a lot and really got my mind focused on the shot.

Q. You missed the first one.

ISAAC HAWKINS: It was good form. It was a good form, though. (Laughter.)

Q. Ben, what was your thoughts when Isaac was on the line, during the timeout what were you saying?

COACH BEN HOWLAND: We knew he was going to make it. We talked about the fact we would sub so we can get someone on the ball, get set and plant our defense. We had no timeouts left. That was what we did. Unfortunately they wouldn't let Julius go back into the game, so that did still stop the action. We were able to match up with Isaac. Last night he was doubling Murphy, tonight he had his hands on the ball there late in the game and it made it a difficult pass to make over him because he is long and he was really active on the glass. I want point out, too, Brandin's nine assists. He's had 20 now in the last two games. That's another huge stat for us. I thought Ricardo, the thing about him I was so proud about, so many times early in the year he would always be looking to take that first shot right away in the game. Tonight he let the game come to him. And even though he had twelve points and, you know, he's having a great tournament here, he let the game come to him. He did the things he needed to do to help us win. That's what it's all about. We have a chance now here to be where we want to be and we're excited about the opportunity presented to us tomorrow.

Q. Isaac, when you got here, you know, a few days ago, you had four games to get where you want to be. Now what does it feel like to have accomplished what you have in the last three day?

ISAAC HAWKINS: It feels good. We worked so hard this whole year to get where we are right now. We never gave up on ourselves. We worked hard each day in practice, coaches were doing a good job sticking with us. We came into this tournament really focused on what we had to do, focused on where we wanted to go which was the NCAA tournament. Now we have a chance.

Q. You have to try to do something tomorrow that no team has ever done and against a team that is clearly on top of its game. You've come three games in three days. How do you get these guys ready?

COACH BEN HOWLAND: These guys have big hearts. Our team has a lot of character that was exemplified tonight. They played a lot of minutes. Believe me, they're presented with a great opportunity here. I'm not worried at all about our preparedness for this game tomorrow and being ready. We will be ready. We're playing a great team, a team that is tenth in the country, ninth in the country, whatever they are. They've had an outstanding year. So it should be a fun to witness and we're going to come out and give it our best shot. We have nothing to lose here, so we're going to be really positive and just focus and follow the same routine we've been following the last three days. These kids have been unbelievable in their attention to detail, the attention to detail on the scouting reports. As I look here, they shot 42 percent, we did a great job, again, of defending tonight. And yes, Preston was out that second half, things I told you in the last two days have been going our way. Making that flight, everything's been working our way here now. I hope that he's going to be fine for the NCAA tournament. I think Syracuse is a lock to be as high as a 2 seed, if they're any worse than a 3, then we have to get on Mike Tranghese about that, he is the Chairman of the Board there for the selection committee. So they're really going to represent our league well. And, you know, we're in the opportunity to get that six or seventh team from our league in the tournament this year and that's what we're aiming to do.

Q. Talking about the NCAA tournament, do you think you have to win that game?

COACH BEN HOWLAND: I don't know. We're just taking it one game at a time here. It's exciting for our team. We came here with the focus and, you know, I can let Brandin and Isaac speak to that. They have a lot of confidence in each other. They believe in each other. We believe as a group and as a unit here. And so we're confident that we're going to give it a great effort tomorrow, and that's all you can ask, is to play your best and play your hardest and let the chips fall where they may.

Q. Brandin, playing a game like that, your third game in three days, how much do you feel like you have left in the tank for tomorrow night?

BRANDIN KNIGHT: I have a lot. I don't know about the rest of the guys, but I know I have a lot. This is what we've been looking forward to since we came here on Monday. And it's just great that we have the opportunity to play in the championship, and it will be even better if we win it.

Q. Brandin, with Jaron Browne getting more minutes, how does that make the game more easier for you?

BRANDIN KNIGHT: It's great for me especially because when a shot goes up and Isaac or Ricky are getting the rebounds, I can get out on the wing. It's been helping us in transition getting some easy buckets. We got a couple early, the lob to Chad, you know. It helps a lot for him to be in the game with me because it's like two point guards and we're just running up and down.

Q. Coach, would the flow of the game been different had Preston not been hurt?

COACH BEN HOWLAND: He's a great player, First Team All-League player. Sometimes that lifts a team when you lose your best player. I thought they rallied around that early in the second half. I thought we got a little tentative offensively. I was, you know, upset that Donatas didn't look to shoot a little bit quicker when he had open looks. (Inaudible) We want Julius to do that. I felt like we were a little tentative but we hung in there and got the win. I think this takes pressure off our guys now. Now we're in the championship, let's have fun, let's play. We're going to do the same preparation we've been doing in terms of the scouting report, breaking down, you know, the films. This is a tough game for us because we haven't played them this year. You know, we didn't play Villanova, we didn't play Boston College. We haven't played St. John's. So actually, it would be kind of fun. Neither team has played against each other. Let's throw it up and get after it.

Q. Coach, as far as the building of your program, this run at the tournament, is it a tangible thing you build on as far as the exposure for TV?

COACH BEN HOWLAND: Absolutely. We're playing in the toughest conference in America. Anybody who questions that, you know, I don't know what they're watching. This league, top to bottom, is the best conference in the country. You know, we feel good. We're getting the most beautiful building in the East, it's being built right now, it will be finished in December of this year, the John and Gertrude Peterson Event Center. I wish Isaac had an opportunity to play in it. Hopefully we'll be able to reach some other milestones. He's really finishing strong here in his career as a Panther.

End of FastScripts....

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