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March 9, 2006

Tom Crean

Dominic James

Steve Novak


THE MODERATOR: Dominic James, Steve Novak, Coach Tom Crean.
COACH TOM CREAN: Well, much like every other game that's been here, this week ours was a great basketball game, exciting finish. Proud of the way our guys continued to hold in there, battle back with the deficit. I think that's part of the growth process of a young team really growing up, even though we weren't able to finish it off, that we never got down and we kept trying to come back.
As I said to the team after the game, games like this never come down to the last possession or last two possessions; they always come back to something inside of the game. It wasn't our best day for guarding back cuts. It wasn't our best day for blocking out. It wasn't our best day for guarding penetration.
I thought as far as transition defense and things of that nature, we did a good job. Georgetown deserves a lot of credit for the way that they played offensively and defensively. Everything that we got, they made us earn it. Outside of the layups they got and the back cuts, I think we made them earn a lot.
But a lot of credit goes to them for the way they played and their players, their coaches. They're an excellent team and one that's going to be a real factor starting next week.
As far as us, this was a new experience not only for Marquette to be at the BIG EAST tournament, but a new experience for a lot of young guys that mean a lot to our program to play under this kind of scrutiny and under this kind of atmosphere. Hopefully, we will learn what it's like again to play in something like this. Hopefully, that will benefit us as we go into next week into the tournament as well. These guys have responded all year and gotten better, and I don't have any reason to believe that they won't next week.
Q. There were only maybe three or four possessions on Georgetown where you had got them off of their end of the floor. Can you talk about their ability to keep the ball on their end of the floor.
COACH TOM CREAN: I think their length was somewhat of a factor. But, again, I think it was - I'll have to watch the tape on this for sure - but I don't think we were as physical on the blockouts as we needed to be. We were earlier and we weren't as good late with that.
But they've got great length, you know. Whether it's in the guard position or the forward position, they've got it. It's very, very hard to come back on this team. That's why they're going to be such a factor in the NCAA tournament. Once they get up, it becomes a great challenge to come back.
Fortunately, we were able to. Some things went our way, when we got down seven, got down eight, to come back and get in it. But it's going to be really hard for people to do that. They really know how to play with a lead.
Again, we gave them a few too many opportunities. As hard as we played, as much effort as we gave, we definitely, you know, allowed them to do some things that we hadn't planned on, you know, that we practiced against. That's part of the growth process for us, but it also is more important about the way they executed. They wait till they get what they want, and they're very good at that.
Q. Coach, when Jerel misses that last shot at the end, you went right to half court before you shook hands with anybody. What did you say?
COACH TOM CREAN: You know, he's my guy, he's our guy. I mean, we wouldn't be in New York without guys like Steve and Dominic and Jerel and this whole group. So, you know, he took a shot, he'll take it again and he'll make it, you know. Just his freshman year, Travis Deaner against Tulsa in the NCAA tournament, he misses a three at the end of the game. I told him, "You'll make that shot a lot more than you'll miss it." I believe the same thing with Jerel. A week ago Dominic hits a shot like that to send it into overtime at Louisville.
I'm very proud of our effort, I'm very proud of him and the way that he's played the entire season. Now we go home and get better.
Q. Man-to-man defense, they took advantage of a lot of things that defense allows. How difficult is it as a coach to go zone?
COACH TOM CREAN: We zoned them when we played them a few weeks ago at Marquette, and we had some success with it. We wanted to mix defenses tonight. There were times we were really good with that and there were times we weren't. The thing that hurt us outside of some of the put-backs they got, a couple of the postups, we're really better than to be giving up those layups. We work really hard to take away the back cuts and we didn't do a good job of that today. They did a great job of executing. It wasn't just the man that, you know, the back door was ran on, it was the ball pressure.
We had a lot more success against it at our place. Tonight, we let down a little bit with ball pressure on those back cuts.
But I believe, you know, these guys, whether we're man, zone, whatever we're doing, we've been good at both. So it's just a matter of us really, you know, just being able to never relax. That's the whole key to playing a team like Georgetown. When you relax, they take advantage of it. Not relax like you're trying to catch a break. But when you're out of position even the least little bit, they know how to take advantage of that. That's what they did a couple times to us.
Q. Dominic, did you feel like pressing a little bit after (inaudible)?
DOMINIC JAMES: I mean, Coach just told me to maintain my aggressiveness, just keep going to the basket; shots like that were going to fall for me. But he didn't want me to stop my aggressiveness, continue to go to the basket. But when I got to the basket, look for my shooter. That's what I was trying to do. Shots weren't falling for me early on.
Just like Coach told me, I just tried to maintain my aggressiveness and try to find my open man. I got better at that toward the end of the game.
COACH TOM CREAN: I would have taken him out of the game if he would have stopped playing his way, shooting the ball. Same thing with Steve. We're not in these positions if those guys aren't making plays for us. You know, what I can relate now in my experiences of being a coach, four years ago we go to Cincinnati, we play Louisville, we qualify for a bye, we play Louisville the next day and a guy named Dwyane Wade had a real struggle in the first half, and sometimes in the second half. It took a layup -- well, it took a dunk off a play to kind of break that ice for him. From then on, the rest is kind of history. He just kind of relaxed and played.
Everybody goes through it. Everybody goes through it. It's part of having a young team, it's part of having guys that have the ball in their hands a lot. It's part of the respect factor that the other teams have for these guys. They know they can play and they're going to do a great job to defend it.
I thought Dominic in the second half did a great job of delivering the ball, moving the ball, continuing to penetrate, and at the same time he was a focal point of our offense, but he continued to move it to other people. That's all you can ask. Are you getting better inside of the game?
And outside of some back cuts today and some blockouts, I thought we did. But give Georgetown credit, they defended at a high level as well. You look at the numbers: It's 41% for Georgetown, 40% for us from the field, 39% from the three for us, 20% for the three for then. It was a defensive game; they just got a few more easy baskets than we did. I think that's really what it came down to, more layups. That's what happens. That's where teams win this time of year, the teams get the most easy baskets. We have to go home and keep figuring out how to get more of them ourselves.
Q. (Inaudible)?
COACH TOM CREAN: Well, they throw so many bounce passes. Again, you know, defense all starts with the ball pressure. Defending the back cuts all starts with the ball pressure. Your weak side help has got to be good. If you're not pressuring the ball, it makes it that much harder. We didn't do a great job of snapping our head, getting our hand low, things we did the first time, things that have been important for us in our defense. They read that and did a good job of it.
Q. Steve, obviously, final seconds you had no choice but to commit the foul. As well as you were shooting down the stretch, how frustrating was it not to be on the floor at that moment?
STEVE NOVAK: Yeah, well, in that situation I knew we had to foul. We didn't have enough time. I wasn't nervous. I really had the confidence those guys were going to get it done and make a great play. Just like Coach said, last week Dominic was the guy who hit the shot. I have definitely confidence in those guys to execute and run the play.
I didn't get a bad look. I think Dominic drew some attention and gave it to Jerel like he always does. Like Coach said, I think if Jerel gets that shot again, he'll knock it down.
Q. (Inaudible).
COACH TOM CREAN: I would say the first half it wasn't great. We probably, you know -- when we made the next pass, it was pretty good, but we wanted to drive the ball. And, again, at half time it was 22-all, I believe, right? So there's going to be times that your shot's not falling, there really is. I don't think -- we had a couple shots we probably would take back, but for the most part, we just missed some shots.
At the same time, we were going back on the other end and we were defending as well. That's really hard to do. You build your confidence and you build your momentum from your offense a lot of times, okay, because that comes from the execution. But you've still got to be able to go back down the floor and guard. First half, we did that. Second half, it was kind of a mix-and-match. We never were able to get our running game going really the way we wanted to over the long haul. That's a credit to their transition defense.
Q. (Inaudible).
STEVE NOVAK: I think he played a great game. I know he was one of our more aggressive guys out there. I think that we got to the line by doing that. Made some big free throws middle of the game, at the end of the game, with pressure. That's a huge credit to him.
I think he kept us in it for a while with his aggressiveness. You know, Coach was preaching that before the game, was that one of our guards is going to be able to fly and get rebounds. I think Wesley believed that he could do that, and went in there and did a good job doing it.
Q. (Inaudible).
DOMINIC JAMES: No. I mean, (inaudible) and as a point guard, other guys are open. I mean, I was just trying to have tunnel vision. It wasn't that I was going to take the last shot, if I had that kind of mindset or anything like that. I was just going to find an open man, which I feel like I'm good at doing. At the time, that was Jerel. I feel like he got a good look at the basket. Unfortunately, it didn't go in.
But just like Coach and Steve said, we got a lot of confidence in every single player that's out there on the floor. If I had to give the ball to Jerel again, then I had the confidence to give it to him again because I got to trust that he hits the shots.
COACH TOM CREAN: Everybody on the floor at the end was a threat to make the shot if they got the ball. I thought Dominic -- they did a good job of turning him one time, which, you know, when you're playing with seconds like we are, there's always a factor. They did a good job of covering him. Rather than force the shot, he delivered the ball, and it just didn't go.
But I thought he made -- he read the defense as well as could possibly be, you know, in the end of the game situation like that.
Q. (Inaudible).
STEVE NOVAK: I don't think -- I doubt they switched anything there. Kind of changed things up a little bit during the game. But for the most part they had just been I think just kind of switching everything. I think those were more just kind of we were just playing. I mean, those shots weren't any set plays. We were just kind of playing out of our offense. Some guys made some good plays. I think one of them, Chris just saw my guy and just screened him. Swung the ball over to him.
I think we were just playing out of our offense on those.

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