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March 25, 2004

Phil Martelli

Jameer Nelson

Delonte West


HOWIE DAVIS: We have head coach Phil Martelli, Saint Joseph's student-athletes Pat Carroll, Delonte West and Jameer Nelson. Coach, can you give us your overview and opinions of the game, please.

COACH MARTELLI: Well, I think that the -- that was a high-level game. On Monday we had a conference call and somebody said to me, you know, Jameer and Delonte against Chris Paul and Justin Gray. I said it's not going to be them; it's going to be somebody else, because the level of their play is so high. And really, Pat Carroll and Tyrone Barley made big plays for us, Dwayne Jones in foul trouble came in and really helped us off the glass. Tyrone's defense on Chris Paul, you know, we pride ourselves defensively, and we're walking out of here with a win after our a team shot 53 percent against us. We do have some concerns. Our foul shooting has been a concern and will remain a concern and we will talk about it when we get back to the hotel. They will be allowed to enjoy this until we get back to the hotel and then we'll start trying to plan our day and be efficient. Really, a terrific win, great support, great atmosphere, and I will say this about Wake Forest, anybody that doesn't think that that team is going to contend for the National Championship as long as Chris Paul is in school, you've lost your mind. That team will be right in the mix next year and the year after as long as that kid stays in school. It's hard to play against Skip Prosser. He's a close, personal friend. But, you know, you have to do what you have to do in this situation.

Q. Any of you guys, could you describe what went on there in the last one minute?

DELONTE WEST: Well, we just had some mental lapses late in the game, you know. All throughout the tournament so far we've been finishing strong in the last four minutes. We made some careless mistakes, preventable turnovers. It was just mental lapses that against a team like Wake Forest, you can't make. They came back and pulled within two, so you have to give them credit for that. Like Coach said, we are going to celebrate for right now but we have to get right back to business. We have to tighten up. We are going to face a tough Oklahoma State team.

JAMEER NELSON: Like Delonte said, we made some careless mistakes but I think the biggest thing was the foul shots. I put most of that on myself, me being a senior and the leader on the team, I can't go, whatever I shot from the foul line, five for eight; I should go eight for eight.

Q. Delonte or Jameer, how difficult is this team to defend when Pat is shooting and playing as well as he did tonight?

JAMEER NELSON: I think once I got the chance to penetrate, they were leaving him right open. For him, it's like a layup. I think once he gets rolling, it's like he's unguardable, like him just standing out there on the 3-point line and just shooting his shot.

DELONTE WEST: Like Jameer said, actually what Coach said, it's going to be another guy besides the two guards that were getting the limelight, even though he might be coming into the game, it was going to be somebody else today. Pat Carroll has been coming up big for us. We like to call him the assassin; you concentrate so much on us, he hits with you another one. Big shots like that coming down the stretch, they are like daggers and they take the air out of you. That's why he's one of the best shooters in the country.

Q. What was your defensive strategy on Chris Paul and how successful do you think it was?

JAMEER NELSON: Well, I think the strategy was just to really let him see our chests, our numbers, and really, as a team, try to guard him as a team and not try to make it a one-on-one thing. He's like -- like Coach said, as long as he's playing for Wake Forest, they are going to be contending. He's one of the best guards in the country.

DELONTE WEST: Just like Jameer said, we wanted to give back. They are a team that like to push their ball around in transition, so it was important to build a wall and make sure they see the front of our jersey every time they penetrate. Tyrone Barley, that guard is ready to go off, you see Tyrone Barley and he get out there and do what he do.

Q. Delonte and Jameer, what do you think about guarding Chris and Justin, are they the best guard tandem that you've guarded this year?

JAMEER NELSON: I would say so. When we played against a tough Xavier team, they really, like, handed it to us as far as the guards. But we faced them early in the season and that didn't happen. As far as just those two guards, they are great guards and they have a big career ahead of them.

DELONTE WEST: I would say definitely. You know, I think someone in our conference that's guard play is definitely underrated is Romain Sato and Lionel Chalmers, they are as good as any guard combination out there. Yeah, definitely, you have such a strong game plan trying to stop Chris Paul and his penetration, and Justin Gray is knocking down 3 after 3, and he's getting open looks. So they are definitely just both of them contributing so much to the team. So we had to take more focus just off of one person.

Q. Jameer, it seems like your coach and Billy Packer have buried the hatchet and that's all said and done, but with all of the build-up and everything, is it more special to win a game in front of him in person the first time he sees you?

JAMEER NELSON: Well, you know, as a player, I don't get into that. I leave it up to my coach. He does all of the trash-talking. (Laughter). No, we just go out there and play. The win itself is special. It was a lot of people here. Like I seen Spike Lee, Bill Cosby. Like I said, the winning is just special.

Q. Pat, are they really like layups out there?

PAT CARROLL: No, they are not really like layups. (Laughing) We just do a lot of shooting in practice. When you have an open opportunity with these guys penetrating, you are bound to get open because the defense is going to concentrate so much on them. That just gives guys like Tyrone, myself, opportunities out on the open to be -- on the 3 point line to be wide open. You should knock them down if you're wide open.

Q. All three of you guys, this is your 31st game of the season, how tired are you coming into a game like this?

DELONTE WEST: Not tired at all. You know, we're 19 -, 20-, 21-year-old guys -- you're 22?

JAMEER NELSON: 22. You know,22. (Laughter).

DELONTE WEST: But, this is what we do. This is what we live for, playing basketball. If you ever had a job where you could just have fun, look forward to coming to it every day, that's definitely what we do. Just the season that we've had, it's been so magical, you know, practices are fun. We just are enjoying ourselves, enjoying our youth.

JAMEER NELSON: I think the main thing is the preseason stuff, the stuff we go through in preseason. We go through probably the toughest training around the country, I would say. I don't watch anybody else, but I think our training is pretty tough. In the season, you find yourself not getting tired because during the season we still lift and still do things so that we keep our endurance up.

Q. Jameer, if there's any time you could be down at halftime and have it work to your advantage after Wake Forest shot 54 percent and you're only down one, did that almost work to your advantage, because they were shooting so great they should have had a double-digit lead shooting that well?

JAMEER NELSON: Both teams came out and played hard from the beginning. They took an early lead and us being tough as we are, we just fought back. The feeling in the locker room was great because everybody was smiling, talking positive, you know we knew we were going to make a run and really us having the experience, we were going to try to hold the lead once we got the lead.

Q. They are a great rebounding team and yet you guys hurt them on the offensive boards, you got ten rebounds; can you comment on that aspect?

COACH MARTELLI: I think what happens is we had them spread out. They had gone small. We didn't really have much of an answer for Eric Williams. One of the things with John Bryant going back in with four fouls and about 15 minutes left and holding Williams a little bit at bay for a while. When we spread you out, Chet made a play and that's what we asked these guys to do. We don't run a lot of plays, I don't have a lot of patterns, but I do believe you need to teach your guys how to play basketball. Jones had a big rebound in that flurry and he kicked the ball back out. I was pleased with holding our own on the back board because the experts have said we can't rebound and we can't and we can't, and all we do is we keep winning.

Q. You made a run in the middle, about 15 left in the game, the second half, kind of about six or seven, talk about what six or seven is like when you have the kind of guards that you have on your team.

COACH MARTELLI: Well, you get to a point where you study the game and you say, well, how many possessions are left? And we can dictate any possession that we want. I was really impressed, though, with their real pressure defense. They were on the ball much, much harder than I saw on tape. I thought that once we got into them a little bit, that we would be able to kind of maneuver the ball where we wanted it to go. I thought that their hard pressure, and that's what they are talking about, there was some plays there; Jameer turns his back on the defense one time, they pick them, you know we had a couple of small plays that Pat Carroll one time rushes the ball inbounds instead of taking a little bit of poise. Certainly what we wanted to try to do in the second half was get a lead and get a working margin because we thought that our experience could win out over their youth and for young guys, their team really hung tough and that's a tribute to Skip and his coaching staff.

Q. How concerned were you when Dwayne went out of the game and how much did it affect when you talked to the ref and said it was 7-2, did you think that turned things around?

COACH MARTELLI: I just thought it was my obligation to let the referee know, because I'm sure he wasn't counting but I wanted him to know that somebody was counting and the disparity was a little bit of a concern. But I don't think that has any impact. The guys at this level are the best in the business. When Dwayne went out it was a concern. I didn't realize right away that he had four. I knew John Bryant had four and we had to make a decision. It would not have been fair to a Dave Mallon to throw him into that situation because he's not physically ready for this. We went back to John Bryant but if he would have fouled out, we would have had Dave and held DJ as long as we could. Williams was a load for us. We thought coming in he was the biggest concern after Paul, and he proved to be a tough matchup for us.

Q. Given all that's transpired in the last couple of weeks, is it hard not to gloat just a little bit?

COACH MARTELLI: No. I mean, to me, it's about those kids and how tough they have been and how much they look forward to playing basketball. I consider that, what Delonte just said about practice, I consider that the greatest compliment that they could give a coach; that they are anxious to practice tomorrow and play again on Saturday. It's really not about sticking our chest out. You know, enough is enough. We're 30-1 and we are in the Elite 8 so we are what we are and you can say what you want. This is one of the best teams in America. It is the best story in all of college basketball and it should be celebrated in my opinion.

Q. With all of the trash-talking, though, does it give you any way to keep your players motivated? I know that you're looking for something at this time of year; does it help?

COACH MARTELLI: Absolutely not. I'm confused by trash-talking. I don't know what all that means. Somebody made a statement about my team; I back my team. I will back my team any time anybody makes a statement, okay. So I don't consider that trash-talking in any way, shape or form. It's my obligation to stand up for my team, and that's exactly what I did. As far as using that as motivation, it's a waste of time. These guys are self-motivated. The only motivation is to play the next game and try to prepare to win the next game. So I never even uttered any of these naysayers names to them. I've never said, did you see what they said about us on such and such, did you see what they wrote about us; that's a waste of energy. The only energy I can put into them is positive in terms of preparing them for the very next game and that's the way it's been all year.

MODERATOR: Coach Martelli, thank you very much.

End of FastScripts...

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