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March 7, 2002

Perry Clark

Darius Rice

John Salmons


COACH PERRY CLARK: First of all, obviously I'm extremely proud of our ballclub. I thought Georgetown played magnificently. I thought they played extremely hard. I thought they executed a lot of things very, very well. I thought Wilson and Sweetney were horses inside. What we tried to do was mix up defenses early. We got in early foul trouble. John really had to keep us afloat in the first half because I had Darius on the bench, James on the bench. Elton was on the bench. We were very fortunate to have a lead. I thought that that was extremely important, because, you know, we could have fallen behind and made it tougher in the second half. I thought Marcus Barnes' play throughout the course of the game was critical. I thought Alpha, that his ball handling, decision making with the basketball and his shot selection was very, very important for us. In the second half, late in the game, Darius came alive, and I think it just shows his maturity as a player to be able to gather himself in this sort of environment after he wasn't, you know, shooting the ball real well. But to gather himself and to come back and to not be on those jump shots when we were down to put us in a position to come back and win was huge. I just thought you saw two basketball teams going after each other, playing as hard as they could. And we were fortunate enough to come out with the victory.

Q. (Inaudible)?

COACH PERRY CLARK: Well, what I told our guys, and I think they'll tell you, "Let's run our stuff. We got to defend and make some stops. We've got enough shooters on this basketball team that if we get good looks that we got a chance of coming back." You know, he got a couple good looks, then he manufactured one of those himself, which he's capable of doing, on those threes. But we got some good looks, and, you know, the ball went down for us. I thought that was the key. You know, we were trying to run something late for John, and they did -- in the regulation. They did a very good job of defending it. I thought both teams were really tired and I didn't think either team really had legs for the three-pointer. So we were really trying to get the ball inside more.

Q. Can you talk about your bench contribution today? I mean, this is definitely got to be a big key for this game.

COACH PERRY CLARK: Well, I've said all along that we have a good bench. Our starters have been playing so well that I really haven't needed to go to it. Today I needed it. I thought Rafael, Mike and Paulo stepped up and did a really good job. Especially Rafael. I thought he was huge. Georgetown front line, I mean, they're good. I thought they were pretty much on top of their game today. Wilson played a lot better today. In all aspects of the game, than he did against us the first time. Of course Sweetney played like an all-league performer. So, I was very, very pleased the way our bench played.

Q. John, when you fell down, when you were down by 10, maybe take us through what you were thinking at that point. You hadn't scored yet at that point. You had the next basket. It seemed to ignite the run. What were you thinking and did that basket get you going?

JOHN SALMONS: You know, Coach just told us don't get frustrated. You know, we've been in that position before. We learned from it. We ran some offense where I would get on the wing and create more. I just took advantage of that. Most of the game I was playing point guard all game. Soon as I got my opportunity to make a play, I did that.

Q. Where was your head at, where was your confidence?

DARIUS RICE: I was still in the game. I never gave up. Coach teaches us to stay in the game and keep focused. You know it's going to come back around to you. I wasn't worried. I was going to keep playing hard and get myself back in a rhythm. Times like this you just don't get frustrated any more. You miss a few shots, oh, well, you need to do something more. I got my teammates the ball, they found me when I got hot and it paid off.

Q. Coach, the way you guys ended the season, do you feel, in a crazy kind of way, you had to prove something in the tournament?

COACH PERRY CLARK: No. I mean, it's not a matter -- we wanted to win for us. I mean, we wanted to win because this is important. I think any time, you know, like I told our guys before the game. I mean, when you come to a tournament it's like a family reunion. You want to show the family you're pretty good. We got everybody here. We wanted to come out and show people we were pretty good. We really just wanted to play for us. It wasn't anything other than that.

Q. Darius, first of the three threes, it looked like you really wanted the ball. Came around, got the rebound. Did you feel like you really wanted the ball at that point?

DARIUS RICE: Really, you know, I just hustled hard and got the rebound. Nobody came out and guarded me, so I shot it. I just had to play hard, didn't give up on it. Shot went up, I attacked the ball. Just happened to bounce to me. Once I let it go, I just knew it was good. You know, really helped us out at that point.

Q. How much did you want the ball again?

DARIUS RICE: Shooters, if you make one, you want the ball every possession. So really, I wanted the ball after every possession after you make one. We just play together, we played hard and we came out victorious.

Q. What was the strategy going into overtime?

COACH PERRY CLARK: You know, pretty much what it was, just to execute. You know, we had been there before. We wanted to get high-quality shots. I felt we really had to keep the ball out of their inside. Like I said, I thought guys' legs were pretty much done at that point. So if we could keep the ball out of the paint, I thought we would be in pretty good stead.

Q. You guys were able to neutralize Sweetney for about the last nine minutes, last four minutes of regulation. How were you able to hold him scoreless?

COACH PERRY CLARK: We concentrate -- everybody. We were looking to double down, everybody we were helping, everybody except for Braswell and either Hall or Bethel, everybody else was helping down to try to keep the ball from Sweetney. I mean, he's a tremendous offensive player. He really is. When he touches it, you know, you just about had it. It took a team effort to shut him down.

Q. Can you talk about Marcus Barnes.

COACH PERRY CLARK: Marcus is capable of that. I mean, the biggest thing about him, I thought he played well within himself. He's got a lot of confidence, and I thought that he did a lot of things on both ends of the court. I thought he did a good job defensively against Braswell. I thought other than about hey, three-minute stretch where we didn't handle the ball very well, I thought he did a real good job of handling that pressure. They tried to double us and pressure early. It gave Darius and Marcus some looks. That's really one reason why a lot of teams don't pressure us, because we get pretty good looks down the other end if we break it. We normally make people pay.

Q. In the last 30 seconds of regulation, did you not call a timeout because you trust him? You had a timeout left. You just let the game go.

COACH PERRY CLARK: Yeah, I mean, yeah, without question. I mean, and I think -- they know, I mean, I tell the whole world, late game situation, we're running something through him. That's what we're going to do. When I called him, I thought we were a little tired. I wanted to do it. Normally, I'll just let us play because we work on time and score. They pretty much know what we're supposed to be doing.

Q. (Inaudible)?

COACH PERRY CLARK: Well, we wanted to. I mean, I wanted to play for the last shot and he thought he had something. And, you know, he was trying to draw a foul. And it didn't happen. But certainly, my intention were to, you know, get the last shot. And he just thought he had a drive there. And, you know, they closed it down and we didn't get it. Then we came up with the pressure at the end to get the turnover, and just worked out for us.

Q. (Inaudible) Darius, did you guys feel that you had to shoot more from the outside because of the way they played such strong interior defense?

DARIUS RICE: Most of the year they were so big, we couldn't just get the shots that we wanted inside the paint. Once we got the outside going, it opened the inside to make the little short jumper. Really made them extend their defense. They extended their zone and that's when we got the inside looks.

Q. (Inaudible)

COACH PERRY CLARK: I thought it was huge. And, again, you know, I think our team understands what time of the year it is. I guess especially a team like Georgetown, if you don't come close to holding your own on the boards, you really got no shot of winning the game. I thought that that was really critical for us to. I think John, you know, had a lot to do with that. I mean, he wound up with 11 rebounds. He had ten assists, and I mean, he has sacrificed so much for this basketball team, and, you know, sacrificed the scoring to do a lot of other things. Certainly, his rebounding certainly was critical.

THE MODERATOR: Miami, thank you.

End of FastScripts...

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