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March 4, 1999

Jim Calhoun

Kevin Freeman

Richard Hamilton


JIM CALHOUN: First thing, I want to congratulate Tommy. They completely dictated the pace. Did a terrific job of dictating pace. I don't know the exact number, but I'm sure it's going to be somewhere in the 20 times in the ten seconds they were under on the shot clock. So therefore, the game was never going to end unless we were able to get our presence going. With the multitude of guys that Tommy has, it's tough to -- you've got to play face-up defense, and psychologically I thought they did a good job of tantalizing us, keeping the ball, keeping the ball and making us frustrated. That game -- we weren't going to get much more than 65 points anyways. They just had time and possession for so long. We didn't react real well with five minutes to go, and as I just said to the kids, if Rash and his -- had not fouled Saunders and made that three-pointer, you go home. If they do, if -- this season, I've seen enough "ifs" for a lifetime. Therefore, we need to play a little better basketball tomorrow night at 7:00, and particularly given the time of year we're in, we're going to see different things: Big, zones, slowdowns. We're going to see things like that next Thursday and Friday. We need to adjust better. We came up with some big-time players with Kevin and Rip down the stretch, and all of the sudden it looked like with four minutes to go, we were coached almost, and we actually executed some stuff and the kids made some great shots. And we'll actually saving that -- it looks to me, kind of hiding it so we have it at the end. Point being is we need to invest a little more in every game, and sometimes we don't have the choosing of what song is being sung, and how we're going to dance and they were doing that. They were down five points, they brought the ball out and stretched it out halfcourt, and they did that all three times they played us. We should have adjusted better not defensively, necessarily. We'll take that point total, but secondly, we aren't as alert as we should have been and we should have been more patient ourselves on offense. They were doing a great job of being frustrating. That team went through a tough, tough stretch with Tommy, and within the last two weeks have come back, and they are very tough for us to play.

Q. Second straight game they were up on you guys and you guys come back and beat them. Is it a situation where they don't know how to win the games?

JIM CALHOUN: Usually what happens in the field of athletics is big-time players like Richard Hamilton, Kevin Freeman, Khalid El-Amin make big-time plays. And some of them have a belief that you're not going to lose, and after 25 wins, our kids certainly believe that. I don't think it's that simple though. Many times it's why -- why do the Bulls seem to be able to make those plays down the stretch. It's a combination of the two. They are very young. Ricky Moore is going to be a terrific player. They certainly gave us everything we could handle, and we were very fortunate to come out here with a win. I think the -- people tell me, this would be a good loss. As I said, we need to rest this week, and I was being put to sleep, slowly, by the cyanide in the first half; so I was being rested by the kids. But my point being simply is -- I think sometimes big-time players like Rip, like Kevin, like Khalid, stepping up and making big-time plays.

Q. How important is it for you to have a No. 1 seed coming out of this weekend, and at any point in the game are you speculating on a loss or a bad performance?

JIM CALHOUN: At the ten-minute mark, that's exactly what I was thinking: Seattle, Lexington, what hotel did you look at, the Army or the Marriott? At 25-2, personal opinion, the committee is deciding that now. Two people that they say are right there, Stanford and Michigan State, we've played in the bracket of five or six teams that they are talking about No. 1 seeds. And winning 25 out of 27 basketball games and winning the Big East -- against Miami and St. John's, who I think could be Final 4 teams certainly. I truly believe that. They are tough, tough outs. I don't have any question that our seeding is done and was done before we stepped on the court today.

Q. Even if you lose today?

JIM CALHOUN: I think a 25-3 record, as lousy as it may be, would probably qualify. You say, well, Stanford only lost five, and, oh, we played them. Michigan State has only lost three; we played them. So I started us off -- all of these things are long, unfortunately, saying it's my opinion. It's my opinion. Unusual things happen -- if Maryland goes through the ACC and beats Duke, you've got an interesting situation. That to me is a very interesting situation because you've got to make a case of what they have done during the year and any other circumstances that could possibly happen, and I truly feel that 25-2 ending the season to win this or not win this, we were going to try like crazy to try to win it, but I just don't think that's going to be -- what's going to determine whether we do or don't go.

Q. Can you reflect a little bit on Kevin?

JIM CALHOUN: You know, he had wide open shots and I was yelling at him about passing the ball. He actually made two bad plays out of about a hundred. His jump shots were big for us, the running hook shot through the middle, and he works every single day, as you know, on his jump shot. He is one of the best ten or 12 players in the league and clearly has proven that and without question is so important for us every single night. And tonight I think, you know he was the difference in the game because we didn't have a particularly good game. Rip played very, very well. We suffered in offense, and Kevin was the guy that stepped up on the step ladder and made a big difference for us.

Q. There's 7:48 left and coach calls a 20-second time out, and it looked like Coach came in and said talk amongst yourselves, what did you say?

JIM CALHOUN: I couldn't speak at the time.

Q. And what did the players do at that time?

KEVIN FREEMAN: We knew at that time that we had to step up. We stepped it up, and so we had to get a stop on defense and we had to score on offense and we'll be all right.

Q. Kevin, did you come into this game trying to make a point in the freethrow?

KEVIN FREEMAN: No, I didn't come here trying to make a point. I came here to win -- I think winning games will make a point to the rest of the league. I don't look it at an individual -- if we win these next couple of games, I think I'll be all right.

Q. Kevin, did you feel like with the offense struggling you had to step up and make those shots the way the game was being dictated?

KEVIN FREEMAN: I came what came to me. I took advantage of my opportunities. When I was open, I took the shot. I didn't really try to force anything and my teammates set me up in good situations, and I got some easy baskets and that helped get me going.

Q. Can you just talk about the --

KEVIN FREEMAN: I seen the shot from the opposite side, and it rebounded -- it's coming off on the opposite side, and I set myself up and I ran, and first, I was going to grab it and come down with it, and then I felt like I could get the tip in and luckily it tipped in.

Q. How do you feel about the thousand points?

JIM CALHOUN: It's a great accomplishment and I'm just happy with the win that we get to play tomorrow. The thousand points, I'm proud of that, but I'm glad we get to play tomorrow and that adds to the thousand points.

Q. Rip, tell us what it is about. Seton Hall, do they not let you get shots that you normally get?

RICHARD HAMILTON: I think they try to pressure us guards. One thing today, he took it upon himself to step up. Every time we try to penetrate, a guy would drop down and we give it to Kevin and we ended up having a great game.

JIM CALHOUN: Providence did the exact same thing. We played them three times. We won by 8 in Providence, 8 or 9 or 10 at home. And I think we had a game like this early in the tournament. I do think in fairness to the kids, it is good preparation for us because we might see this next Thursday or Friday, and we need to make sure we do a better job than what we did today. But I give Seton Hall a -- I think they do it very well. More stylistically -- we have a tough time and all the kids will tell you of turning their -- but they can control the outside and control the tempo of the basketball game. And once again people are going to make runs at you in different ways and you've got to be prepared to answer those runs.

End of FastScripts....

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