home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


March 25, 2004

Tony Allen

Joey Graham

John Lucas

Sean Sutton


HOWIE DAVIS: Coach Sutton, if you would please say a few comments on your thoughts about the game, please.

COACH SUTTON: Well, I thought the first half, they just beat us to death on the glass. I didn't think our defense was that bad. We just gave up too many second shots. I think they had 12 offensive rebounds at halftime. I thought their defense was outstanding. They are a very, very good defensive basketball team. The second half, because we could control the boards a little bit better, we were able to run. And we're a lot better basketball team when we can get the ball and run with it. We got some baskets there. But our defensive board play was so much better. We didn't give up a lot of second shots. Then I thought we ran some special scoring plays there in front of our bench. Sean calls all of those and I thought our guys really executed well. Very, very proud of this ballclub where they are today and now we have a chance, by either beating Saint Joseph's or Wake, to be able to go to the Final Four.

Q. Tony, tell us about, Coach said he was very, very proud of you. I'm sure he wasn't very, very proud of the way you guys rebounded in the first half. Tell us about why they were so good. What happened to you guys? It looked like a lot of guys were standing around and the ball was bouncing on the floor, get into that rebounding and how that affected the game at that point.

TONY ALLEN: I think they were more physical than us in the first half. Coach had told us that if we didn't respond, we're going home. So I guess we just took it as a challenge and just tried to compete.

Q. On the 3 you hit to start the run late in the game, it looked like Brown was daring you to shoot it. Did you have too much time to think about that one?

TONY ALLEN: I just took what the defense gave me. You know, he sagged off a little further than I thought he was going to because I had sagged off of him the play before. I guess we had just traded shots.

Q. Joey and John, can you imagine being in a tougher situation anywhere in the rest of the tournament than you found yourselves at halftime, the kind of style Pitt plays and the kind of mess you found yourself in?

JOEY GRAHAM: We've played in situations like this before. Every game in the Big 12 is kind of similar to this Pittsburgh game. In order for us to win, we have to put two halves together. We can't have one good half and one bad half.

Q. Joey and Tony, all three if you want, a lot is made of Pittsburgh's defense but in reality you guys stepped it up pretty well, too, held them to 51 points.

JOEY GRAHAM: I think the first half of the game was from the rebounding side of things. We came out and were aggressive across the boards, came back in the second half and responded to them. We played a little bit more aggressive and controlled the boards. That was the outcome of the game, rebounding.

Q. Even when you guys had to run halfcourt, it looked like you could not be guarded. Did it look like you were unguardable as far as getting to the basket?

TONY ALLEN: No. I didn't feel like that. I just felt like if Coach was going to call my number, I would come through for him. I was fortunate enough to do that.

Q. At different points in the second half, Coach got on you pretty good, pulled Tony out at one point and pulled John out at another. Was he mostly complaining about the rebounding or was there any other things he was talking about?

JOHN LUCAS: You know, Coach is always, when we're playing, he's always teaching us even while we are playing in a game. You know, he pulled me out because the run I took, he said I should have pulled up for a jumpshot instead of running. You know, you sit on the bench and think about, you know, and you realize that's what you should have done. He just wants you to realize, you know, the mistakes you're making so you won't have to make it again.

TONY ALLEN: That's Coach's style of coaching. He always tell us the bench is a good motivator, and sitting on the bench, you think twice about making the same mistake and we just take it and just move on.

Q. Can you talk about the way that Pitt rotates on defense and whether or not it gets frustrating as a point guard not really being able to set up maybe the offense that you want to and having to -- is it about being patient when you are playing against a team like this?

JOHN LUCAS: I think so. We didn't have problems setting up our offense. They did a real good job on me by keeping my shot selections down, which is always switching on me. I just had to show a different part of my game and that's to get everybody else involved. You know, Tony stepped up, Joey stepped you up, Daniel stepped up at ends and Weatherspoon came off the bench and gave us big-time minutes. That's what's so special about this team. You can't just key in on one person. We have a lot of hitters on our team that we are just going to go out there and play. It's hard because a lot of players can flat-out score on our team.

Q. Coach had talked about the rebounding being a big difference, the defensive rebounding, was it more than that? Did you guys sorts of solve their defense down the stretch? Did you figure some things out there? It seemed like you were crisper coming down the stretch with that late run.

TONY ALLEN: I think it was more execution and getting stops, which we did well down the stretch. Like Coach always says, we have to put two halves together and we can't just keep relying on one half to get us through the stretch.

Q. Joey, you had three baskets in that stretch to start when you guys broke up in the game, the first one was sort of an off-balance shot. When you hit that shot, did you have a good feeling that the next two were going to go in?

JOEY GRAHAM: Well, definitely. Every shot I was shooting felt like it was going to go in. Like Tony said, Coach called my number for certain plays and I just tried to take advantage of the situation that was given to me. I just drove around them a couple of times.

Q. Tony, I heard that before the start of the season that you wanted to get Coach Sutton his first National Championship. Talk about moving one step closer to that goal.

TONY ALLEN: I told him that, but it's more like the love that I've got for Coach. If I could just come out and just work hard every day and just listen to him, I think I've got a good chance of doing that. But I've got good teammates around, good coaching staff and as long as we stay together, I mean, we can get it done.

Q. Are you surprised as good as Pitt is that so much of this game was played in the halfcourt and so much of this game was probably played at a tempo and a pace that they prefer?

JOHN LUCAS: Not at all, because as we were scouting them, you know, they like to slow the ball up, slow the game, the pace. You know, they are so aggressive about going to the offensive rebounds that, you know, for us to be on defensive rebound, we have to make sure that we get the first rebound off the rim and so we can't play in a game so they can start playing in our game. But the first half they was taking an offensive rebound like at every angle, so it was hard for us to get the ball in play and play our style. We just had to grind it up and that we did, and we came out with the victory.

Q. It seemed like in the second half you were able to spread out the floor a little bit more. Did that seem to take away the defensive intensity, that you didn't have to attack so much from inside the circle?

JOHN LUCAS: I think so. I think that, you know our offense, we have a lot of motion, a lot of movement. Playing a 40-minute game, it tends to wear a lot of people down. We keep staying with it keep turning the ball over and maybe they will play defense longer than we play defense. Like Coach always said, you rest on offense. Use all of your energy on defense, and that's a big key in what we do.

Q. Tony and Joey, you guys talked about how physical you expected this game to be, so can you tell us how physical it was?

JOEY GRAHAM: Well, we knew from scouting that it was going to be a very difficult and physical game. But in scouting them, though, we figured it was just going to be like one of those games like Texas or Kansas. We was always preparing for them. We just had to contain offensive rebounds, which we did not do the first half. The second half, we responded to that.

TONY ALLEN: The game was pretty physical. We knew that coming into the game. It's all about how you prepare yourself coming in, so I think we responded pretty good.

Q. John and Joey, the first half, you guys are down, you're down by two points, but you had shot 30 percent, the offense was running one assist and you look up and you're down two points. Was that a lift that you were able to play good enough defense or play well enough in other areas?

JOHN LUCAS: We have been through situations like this before, the K State game and also OU, the OU game. We just stayed together. We didn't play bad the first half, but as long as we keep staying together and keep listening to Coach, we are always going to pull it out. Just have to play with a lot of passion, a lot of energy and have a lot of confidence in what we're doing.

JOEY GRAHAM: Like John said, we have been in that situation before, so we kind of knew what to expect and how to prepare for it coming out of the second half. I think always we come out of the second half with a lot more intensity and enthusiasm and it takes a part in the game.

Q. Expand on your opening statement about their offensive rebounds were killing your ability to run and that's really the strength of your team, you guys can't run if you don't have defensive rebounds.

COACH SUTTON: Well, first of all, they are an excellent defensive basketball team. They are also a very tough basketball team, much like a couple, three teams in our league. I thought our defense, and you asked this question, I thought our defense was good enough and when you looked at how poorly we had shot the ball, we told them at halftime, I think Sean and Coach Dickey especially told us, look, we have not played very well offensively. Our defense has been pretty good but our board play is horrendous. I think in order for Pittsburgh to win, and we told our team this, they have to get second shots. I don't think they are a great-shooting basketball team. So in order for them to win, they have got to get second opportunities. So at halftime, we told them, guys, we've just got to do a better job in that area and if you do control defensive boards, that will allow you to run with the basketball, which is one of the best things that we can do. Playing someone like -- we don't have anybody in our league that plays defense like Pitt does and I think they did an outstanding job on Lucas, they did a marvelous on him, taking him out of the game. Nobody in our league shortens the length of the game like they do. Look at their scores, that's the way I played. That's the way we used to play. There was no clock then so you could really screw the game down. But the one thing when you play that way, if you get behind very many points, it's hard to play catch up. I'm not sure that, you know, their players -- and they will have to talk about this, but it seemed like to me that fatigue set in there at one point in the second half. You look at the total minutes that they have been playing, you know, you can get tired. We've had to watch it with some of our starters, that's why we have almost cut out practicing, other than just shooting and walking through things. They are a good basketball team. I can tell you what, I can see why they won 31 games.

Q. Is this the kind of game you go into sort of worried because of the style of play, something that you had really not seen and it counters your style, the kind of game, you're glad to get by any NCAA game but because of the style?

COACH SUTTON: Concerned because when you play someone like this, it really takes a very little period to get a shot off, you have to do the same thing. You have to be patient at the offensive end. If you don't score in transition, then you have to play a halfcourt game, and then you have to be real careful that you don't just shoot it real quick and take a bad shot, and all of a sudden you are back playing defense again.

Q. John didn't have an assist in the first half, he ended up with six, was the ability to finally run the floor a little bit and get him with the ball in his hands, was that the reason you guys were partly able to pull away?

COACH SUTTON: Well, I think that was probably one of the -- the two big things that happened the second half: One, we didn't give up a lot of second opportunities to them; but two, because we were able to control the defensive boards to a certain degree, we were able to run. If you get us in a broken floor situation, you get that ball in Lucas' hands, we've got some great hands. We have some guys that can get up and down the floor and that allowed him to make some nice passes.

Q. Early in the second half, you really looked furious, you looked upset, you got on Lucas and Allen. Can you talk about what you're going through this? They are obviously used to you and they love you, but what was going on there?

COACH SUTTON: Well, I was frustrated a little bit with Tony because I thought he was forcing the game a little bit and taking, you know, a couple of shots that one time we ran a special scoring play and he broke off of it. And the play, had he made the pass, that person is going to get the shot. I also was a little frustrated with him in that when the ball goes into the pivot area, we use a term, "We sail". In other words, the man who is covering the person with the ball, he's going to drive him back to the middle. The closest man will come across and sail, will double-team the basketball. Well, from the help-side of the floor, when that man goes over to sail, somebody has got to rotate back and take his man. And Tony didn't do that on a couple of occasions and it ended up that they got baskets out of it. So, you know, those guys, I get on them but they know how I feel about them.

Q. How did you feel they responded to that?

COACH SUTTON: I thought he responded well. I thought Tony and John -- another thing, I thought the same thing that happened to him one time. But the other thing that John shot that one shot, we ran a play for him, he got a great shot there, eight, ten feet off and he rushed his shot. He can hit that shot usually 75 percent of the time. I told him, I said, "You're pressing a little bit." And I think John, when he doesn't score a little bit, he's like most players they get a little frustrated -- there's so many ways you can help your team win and yes, if you get a shot like that, you've got to get on balance and shoot it. Like he said, he should have shot the ball instead of shooting a runner, he should have stopped and shot a jumpshot.

Q. Can I ask you about Krauser? All of the years that we've been covering you, very rarely will a point guard just go through your defense like he was in the first half, can you talk about it, and also, did you make some changes on that in the second half?

COACH SUTTON: That wasn't the person covering him, like I think Daniel had him. When you run a two-man play, a dribble-rub situation, in other words, a screener and a guy dribbles over, there's several ways you can do it. You can switch, which we don't do. You can trap, which we didn't do. But you can hedge, which means that's a temporary help situation. But you cannot let the guy turn the corner. You're going to hold him up until the man covering him can get back and get between him and the basket. Well, Joy and Ivan, just let him turn the corner and what magnified the problem, nobody from the help side of the floor came over to stop the penetration. So he's a nice player. He shot the ball a lot of times, get 15 points and shot 17 times. He did a much better job in the second half but the first time, he broke our defense down. But it was more a result of not the person covering him; it was the responsibility of the guy that was setting the screen.

HOWIE DAVIS: Coach, thank you very much.

End of FastScripts...

About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297