March 4, 1998
NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK
PETE GILLEN: I thought the key to the game, our kids I thought they played excellent defense. We played good, put pressure on the basketball. I thought John Linehan did a great job pressuring their perimeter. And Corey Wright, when he came off the bench did a heck of a job. I thought Jamel Thomas did a great job, rebounding as well as. We are not a good offensive scoring team, so we have to play defense and rebounds to have a chance against anybody we play. Didn't like the idea of playing a team twice in five days. That was not good. It was a big thing for us psychologically just to make sure we, you know, understood we are going to play a tougher game against Notre Dame, so fortunately our kids, they responded in a proper way mentally. But it was a great win. Anytime you beat Notre Dame is a great win. I think we did it because of our defense. They did a good job on Jamel Thomas he had 17. He had to earn them. He didn't get them on our halftime offense. When we got on our fast break and some steals and some fast break opportunities, he got them.
Q. This game played pretty well the same the first time you played them?
PETE GILLEN: I don't think we did as good a job this time. They adjusted. They started Wyche and Friel, three smaller guys, so they handled the ball better, honestly. I thought this game was very physical; both teams were banging pretty good. I thought overall our pressure on the perimeter -- I think the best post defense is ball pressure. We can't guard guys, you know, like Hickey and Garrity inside with our smaller guys. We have to have great ball pressure to have a chance to slow it down. For the second half they were carving us up, Garrity and Hickey were killing us in the early part of the second half. But, fortunately Garrity might have gotten a little tired chasing around Justin Farley.
Q. What was the key of slowing down Garrity in the first half?
PETE GILLEN: He got it when he was the king, we were a jack. He was certainly the superior player, so we tried to deny him. I thought we did a decent job pressuring the ball, Ingelsby beating the guards, didn't. We don't want to give them a lot of time and space to play - Ingelsby and Dillon are smart guys. I think it is probably, Kevin, as much attitude and desire defense, I think 75% desire, determination 25% technique. We have quickness, but I think we are more committed to it now, Kevin, than we have been. That is how we have to win, because we are not a good offensive team. We don't shoot the ball usually well. If we defend and rebound, we have a chance and get out in the open court.
Q. You lost to Connecticut twice by 7 and 9. You seem to match up very well. Talk about that matchup and the confidence your team seems to play when they play Connecticut.
PETE GILLEN: Talking to me? My team? (Laughter.) I got a bad neck. I don't know. They are a great team. I don't think we match up well with them. But it is a New England rivalry, not too far away; great tradition. Hopefully, we will play hard and compete with them. Obviously they are a great team; 6th ranked team in the country. Jim has done a marvelous job. Hopefully we will play hard. They kill us on the boards. We have got to rebound. They beat us something like 14 last game, 18 last -- Rashamel is playing volleyball, Freeman -- we have to rebound to have any chance. We are glad we are still alive. Give it our best shot. We will be the big underdog, but we have a chance. But, they are certainly a great team. They have got to be the big favorite.
Q. It seems to be the major difference between the two teams, both of these games just seem like your quickness was really too much for them to handle?
PETE GILLEN: We were a little quicker. I think they did a good job adjusting. I think playing the three guards, Wyche and Friel and Ingelsby, they did a good job against us. You know, I think we pressured the ball and we gave a little bit of help to Garrity. It was tough. We couldn't help too much because they can shoot the threes, Wyche and Friel. So, I think our quickness was a difference -- we didn't get pounded on the boards, Scott. Rebounding, I was worried about that. I don't know what the final is.
JOHN PAQUETTE: 42-31.
PETE GILLEN: They beat us by 11 usually, you lose by 11 on the boards. You don't win, so that certainly is a concern.
Q. What did you do defensively against Connecticut those two times to kind of them off kilter?
PETE GILLEN: I don't really remember. I don't know what my middle name is right now. Maybe it was them. I have no idea. We just -- you know, once again you have got to pressure the ball, contest shooters, great players don't let them get the ball, nothing fancy. They won the game, but, hey, we will give it our best shot; see what happens. They are certainly a great team. Hopefully we don't get knocked around too badly.
Q. Talk about Farley and Thomas second half, there were keys down the stretch?
PETE GILLEN: I just -- Farley he is a pretty good scorer. He had open looks; missed a lot of shots, so -- but he does a pretty good job. And, Jamel, earned his 17. He played him tougher early, but he got some points, I thought on the pressure, on our fast breaks, a couple of steals. We didn't score much with him in our halfcourt. He scored in the fast breaks and on steals.
Q. Can you approach tomorrow's differently than you did today?
PETE GILLEN: We have to get out in the open court because we can't score in the halfcourt against anyone. So we have to do that -- obviously, we don't want to get into a super track meet because they have great depth. We have got to get some open court baskets because we can't score. We have trouble scoring with the defense. We have got to mix it up; try to run, but we don't want to get into a complete track meet because that would be to their advantage.
JOHN PAQUETTE: Any questions for the players, please?
Q. Few highlights for the home crowd?
JAMEL THOMAS: Yeah, it was just -- I just went out had fun, playing against one of the best players in the Big East trying to get my teammates involved in the game to help us win this game to focus on trying to play Connecticut.
Q. After the dunk before the first half you pointed and waived. Was that family?
JAMEL THOMAS: That is my family and friends. I knew they were sitting so I said that dunk is for you.
Q. Playing this team again, talk about playing Notre Dame again so soon after Saturday?
JAMEL THOMAS: It was a scary game because we just came off beating them at home and they really knew what kind of players -- they double-teamed me. Justin Farley helped us out a lot. It was a scary game because you don't want to play against a team. You just beat them by 10, 11 points and come back playing like three days later. So, luckily we got the win.
Q. You guys played Connecticut twice this year, can you talk about that game tomorrow?
JAMEL THOMAS: Well, it is a big bump, we have got to try to get over. It is going to be a tough game. We just have to compete more on the boards. I figure if we compete more on the boards we could try to come out with the win of the game.
Q. What do you think you did well against them in the two games this year?
JAMEL THOMAS: My team?
JAMEL THOMAS: I think we shot the ball good, but we just didn't rebound. They outrebound us by 14, 15 points every time both times we played them.
Q. Justin, this is a team four, five weeks ago really struggling to find another offensive option. You have now become, I guess, that second offensive option besides Jamel. Talk a little bit about that. Was Pete searching in practice for another guy to stretch it up --
JUSTIN FARLEY: I think it was after the Rutgers game we had just gotten beaten, worst loss of the year, fifth in a row. We got beat 20 on the road. Everybody was demoralized. Coach was like somebody has got to step up on offense. I hadn't been playing that much. And I had nothing to lose, so I practiced hard a couple of practices in a row before the next game and I came out against Seton Hall; had a good game. My confidence has been high since I have been able to help us on offense since that game.
Q. What is your take on the Connecticut game?
JUSTIN FARLEY: Like he said, we have to rebound because they have killed us on the boards first two games. We have been able to shoot with them, but if we don't get stops and they get easy put-backs. It is going to be very tough to beat Connecticut.
Q. How did you kind of throw them off kilter offensively? They had trouble scoring like they usually do against you guys.
JUSTIN FARLEY: Well, our two little guards play great defense on their guards and anybody who they play against, so it's got to be tough going against John Linehan and Corey Wright for 40 minutes so that helps us. We just got to key on Freeman and Voskuhl.
JOHN PAQUETTE: Anything else for the players? Thank you.
End of FastScripts....