March 10, 2005
JIM MILLER: We are joined by Air Force head coach Chris Mooney, No. 5, Matt McCraw, No. 15 Antoine Hood. Coach, begin with some opening remarks and when you are finishd, we'll open it up for questions.
COACH MOONEY: I give credit to San Diego State. I thought they were very aggressive. I think the game was turned really in the beginning of the second half. You know, they were very aggressive. We turned the ball over which is up characteristic of us. I think we averaged under ten turnovers in the whole year. To turn the ball over like that consecutive possessions was very difficulty for us to overcome. I don't think we defended well enough. Teams rarely get 73 points against us, but when they do, they often win. They were staples of our program, defending and not turning the ball over. We weren't very good at them tonight, and that is what hurt us.
JIM MILLER: Questions for Matt or Antoine?
Q. Either Matt or Antoine, was there anything San Diego State did differently at the start of the second half that led to their run?
ANTOINE HOOD: First off, thank God, and Jesus Christ. Obviously, they showed that they wanted it more than we did down the stretch. We had two turnovers at the worst time of the game. They went on a six eight run. We never recovered from that until the end of the game. By that time it was too late. We were scrambling around.
MATT MCCRAW: They did kind of pick up the defense and kind of forced us into things we didn't want to do. I thought we would stay more calm. We kind of got into their direction and started being more aggressive with things. We aren't at our strongest when we do that as a team.
Q. Antoine, given how much you put in this game and ending the streak of losses at the tournament, how tough is this to take, given the way it went down?
ANTOINE HOOD: Definitely disheartening. It hurt a lot. The fact of coming off last year now the critics and reporters and media can say Air Force had one good year. Then we come back to the tournament and then we lose again in the first round. Hopefully we will have a postseason with NIT and whatnot. That is all we can hope for right now.
Q. Coach Mooney, first of all, compliment your job on your freshman season. This wasn't a bad one for you. Excellent job this year. This is a question for the team. Given your recent success against this particular team, the Aztecs, do you think you were overconfident coming in tonight given your twenty-point win last week or the week before?
MATT MCCRAW: You know, not at all. We prepare for every game. It doesn't matter who we are playing if we beat them by twenty last time or we won by one. It is a clean slate when we play a team. Tonight we didn't do that.
ANTOINE HOOD: We defended Heath and Slaughter a little bit better. They are both 24 and 28 points. That definitely hurt a lot. Our defense will need to be better down the stretch.
Q. In the second half, Antoine or Matt, when it started slipping away, did last year cross your mind, the fact that you didn't have success? Did that play a part if you guys are not being able to get back in the game?
ANTOINE HOOD: No. I had no doubt we were going to come back and pull this one out. We cut it to three with a minute left. We had a technical foul that hurt too. San Diego State is a great team. They brought their A-game today. Everybody starts 0-0. Whoever comes to play moves on. They came to play and we didn't match that intensity.
Q. If you both address this, how damaging do you think this is to the NIT hope that you guys had?
MATT MCCRAW: Right now it is not in our hands. You know, the thing that we can control is how hard we played, things like that. Really playing hard every game. We're just controlling it by our actions on the floor. We'll see if we make the NIT or not.
ANTOINE HOOD: I mean, just based on the facts, the fact that we don't have twenty wins doesn't look very good. Our confidence is solid. We finished third. That is holding some weight. We can hope for the best.
JIM MILLER: Thanks, Matt and Antoine. We'll let you two go.
Q. Coach, seems like at times they had successes defending you guys man to man. I know they didn't do it that often. It obviously made them think twice and take a slightly more guarded three?
COACH MOONEY: I understand part of their plan was to disrupt us, get us out of our rhythm offensively. They were successful at it. I blame some of the turnovers on our guys. I think their aggression and game plan was solid. It did cause us some -- I think we were disrupted.
Q. Based on the last game that you guys had with them, a six-point lead turns into twenty points in just over six minutes. Can you address the fact that they have four overtime losses?
COACH MOONEY: I don't know. I just know what I have seen in our three games. I would say that they were extremely tough down the stretch. If they had history of folding, I don't necessarily know about it. I thought they were tough down the stretch and did everything. They made throws, the two that they missed, we got a technical foul which certainly hurt us. So but they were tough. Heath was ten for ten, had the ball a lot in his hands and he was very good.
Q. How devastating was that technical and what did you see on the play? Why was the technical called from your standpoint?
COACH MOONEY: I have no idea why the technical foul was called. I will talk to Jake, but I know the referre came in from behind to call it. I have no idea why it was called at that critical point in the game.
JIM MILLER: Anything else for Coach? Thanks, Coach.
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