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March 29, 1997

Clem Haskins

Bobby Jackson

John Thomas


COACH CLEM HASKINS: I just want to give Kentucky the credit. They did a super job of pressuring us, we didn't handle the pressure. You can't turn it over as many times as we turned it over. But I'd like to congratulate my team, though, to win 31 basketball games and be in the Final Four, I'm very, very pleased for them. They were disappointed with the loss, but we got beat by the defending National Champs, and they're a great ball club, and they're going to be tough to beat in the Finals.

Q. Bobby, your first four possessions were turnovers and Kentucky hadn't had a chance to set its press yet. Some bad decisions, some bad passes right from the start?

BOBBY JACKSON: We came out a little too anxious and we didn't take care of the ball. When you play against a great team like Kentucky, you can't have a couple of turnovers in the beginning. They capitalized on them. Like the Coach said, Kentucky is a great team and we came up with the jitters the first couple of minutes. When you play a team like that, we've got to take our time and shoot. We didn't do that in the first couple of minutes in the game.

Q. For Bobby or John, when your Coach got the technical foul, you went on a 9-2 run after that, did it fire you up and get you going?

JOHN THOMAS: I think our emotions were flaring kind of high and we got on a run by ourselves. We wanted to pick up our intensity. We wanted to match their intensity. Anytime the coach gets a technical, I guess that kind of motivates us and gets us kind of into it.

Q. For Bobby, I think the clock was moving under six minutes, it was still basically looked like a four to a six point game. And that was when Padgett and Mills hit more or less back-to-back three pointers. Was that the first thing that really triggered you guys going down the stretch, when it got into double figures?

BOBBY JACKSON: I think so. But we still didn't give up. We had a lot of faith that we could come back and win this game. But Kentucky put the pressure on, and we didn't handle it very well. But we did an outstanding job when we came out. We just made some careless turnovers that they capitalized on. I think those two -- that those guys had made an impact for them.

Q. You talked about how you started having the jitters. You came back and took the lead, and against their defense -- and you struggled down the stretch, you weren't able to get many hoops for about an 8-minute stretch. Did they have a level they can raise it to or did you just not respond?

BOBBY JACKSON: I think we didn't respond well, we didn't score. When -- you don't go 8 minutes without a basket. The other team is going to capitalize on it. Next time we know we've got to take care of the ball and execute and get some baskets. We didn't get the ball in the hole for 8 minutes and they capitalized on it.

Q. John, the inside game was working pretty well, especially in the first half. But you didn't get it inside as often as say in the UCLA game. Was there a reason why?

JOHN THOMAS: I just think that the pressure was getting to us. We turned the ball over too many times. And we tried to push it down and put it on the block. We tried to do the best job we could, so basically put the ball in the bucket. It wasn't anything specific. We were just trying to set our plays, run our plays, and the outcome of the game was the outcome.

Q. Bobby and John, this is your last game as a senior, do you feel that you have represented yourself well tonight for the people that may not have seen you play throughout your career?

BOBBY JACKSON: I think I had a great two years at the University of Minnesota. They treated me well. And all I wanted was a chance, and Coach Haskins gave me a chance. And I went out there and worked hard every day and tried to improve my game to help the team win. Our record speaks for itself. Everybody doubted us in the beginning of the year. And we just worked really hard to get in this situation. And with all our teammates, without our whole teammates and Coach Haskins, I don't think we'd be in this situation.

JOHN THOMAS: I'd like to say definitely I feel that we represented ourselves well. The Coach's staff really worked us hard. It was a combination of both. The coaching staff pushed us and we worked hard. And those people dominated us, but we didn't let that get to us. We had 20 plus wins, got to the Final Four, and unfortunately lost. I guess someone's got to lose and someone has to win. Kentucky won tonight. We're not ashamed, we're going to hold our heads high, and we're very proud of our season.

Q. Bobby, it had been mentioned several times that you all had faced some pressing teams, particularly in the Big 10, Iowa and Illinois. But you didn't have the same troubles against them that you did against Kentucky tonight. What's the difference in how Kentucky pressured you as opposed to those other teams?

BOBBY JACKSON: Kentucky has a great all around team. And everybody is athletic. They did a good job of containing us and pressuring us, and we just had careless turnovers. I wish we could have the game back, but we can't. They did a great job and next time we get in this situation or next time the University of Minnesota gets in the situation, hopefully they can take care of the ball and handle the pressure. We came out and we were scared. I think we were scared. We had some careless turnovers, but we gave it all we could give. And that was the main point. And we went out there and played our hearts out. And the Coach was satisfied with the way we performed. And I was satisfied with the way we performed. But we just went out there and did our best. We're not ashamed of what happened tonight because we over came a lot of odds this year.

(Players excused.)

Q. Coach Haskins, if you could address the same question, talk about the defense, was it what you expected, it was better than you might have expected from Kentucky?

CLEM HASKINS: You have to give them credit. They did a great job of pressing us, we didn't do a great job of taking care of the basketball. We had too many careless turnovers in the first half. The credit goes to them. In our league we faced against the same type of pressure, you go back to the players. The players are the reason. Kentucky has tremendous quickness, Anthony is probably one of the most valuable players. He's a valuable guy that makes them go. And you have guys like Mercer and Prickett, all those guys are tremendous athletes. But we just didn't do a good job handling the pressure. And they bring the pressure for 40 minutes. A lot of teams pressure in certain situations, but Kentucky puts the heat on you for 40 minutes.

Q. Coach Haskins, you said earlier that no matter what happened in the post season you felt this season was a great season. Now looking back, if people looked at the tape of this game do you think that this would be, despite the fact the margin of victory with Kentucky, it defined your season in terms of your kids not giving up, not quitting, still continuing to fight, continuing against all odds?

CLEM HASKINS: I think that's what our ball club is all about. That's why we're 31 and 4. That's why we're in the Final Four. They refuse to lose. I know Clem Haskins would love to coach a group of guys like this every year. But unfortunately we're going to lose Bob and Johnny and Trevor, outstanding young men, and outstanding young players. First time in history winning 30 games in Minnesota, first time in history going to the Final Four. And the best record of all times in Minnesota. So many records we set this year. I know I'm very, very happy to be here, because there's so many great coaches went a lifetime and never had an opportunity to play or coach in a Final Four. So I'm very -- feel very blessed for a group of young men and coaching staff, making this possible for Clem Haskins.

Q. Clem, when you got the technical, was any of that calculated or was it just raw emotion coming out?

CLEM HASKINS: No, I think -- I'm a fierce competitor, and I don't plan technical fouls. I feel the officiating was going, and I reacted to that. I think it was an emotional reaction. But overall the officials did a good job. It's not the officials, it's Minnesota. We're not going to blame the officials for losing the ballgame, the credit goes to the University of Kentucky.

Q. Clem, when you got the lead there in the second half it seemed like you had it, maybe they would crack. And they came back with a run on you. At that point did you think you had it going your way?

CLEM HASKINS: Anytime you get a lead like that, we fought an uphill battle, but we didn't do a good job of really taking care of the basketball. We shot the ball too quick. The pressure got to us and forced into quick shot. That's what happens when you go against pressure. The thing is here, you look at the guard play, but we were playing on a guard and a half with Eric, but again that's no excuse, the credit goes to Kentucky.

Q. Clem, Bobby said that he thought the team came out and they were scared a little bit. Did you think so?

CLEM HASKINS: I don't used the term scared. We had foolish turnovers. The credit goes to Kentucky. We made foolish turnovers, but I don't think we were really scared. We just made some foolish turnovers.

Q. Coach, even though you said that about the technical, that you're not going to blame the officials, but on the play itself it was like a 4 or 5 point turnaround, can you talk about that?

CLEM HASKINS: I have to look at the tape and see the big turnaround, I really don't know actually what happened. The game going on, we coaches go nuts sometimes and we're blind to facts. I don't really blame anybody, particularly the officials for that. I just reacted to the call. I don't remember how many they scored, we did not score at that time. But again you said a four point? Anytime in a game like this, a lot of points, you have to offset that. We went too long without scoring, ourselves. But again the credit goes to them. We didn't have a good shooting night, when guys like Quincy Lewis don't score for us. But again the credit goes to Kentucky for the great pressure.

End of FastScripts....

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