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March 9, 2006

Jeff Bzdelik

Antoine Hood

Matt McCraw


THE MODERATOR: Now joined by Air Force Academy head coach Jeff Bzdelik, Matt McCraw and Antoine Hood. Coach, do you want to begin with some general remarks.
COACH JEFF BZDELIK: First of all, we want to give credit to Wyoming. Their coaching staff created a heck of a game plan. Their players executed it. And congratulations to Wyoming.
From our standpoint, after 30 games it was not a timely way to not play our very best. That's for sure. We've played two games now in 14 days. And I probably did not do a good job as a basketball coach keeping my team sharp. With the one game at the end of the year against Colorado State, and waiting for this game, like I said, two games in 14 days.
Obviously, I got to go back and look at myself and say, How could I have kept my team sharper? But I'm very proud of my players. After 30 games we are 24 and 6. I've been coaching I told them for 30 years. This is the most rewarding, most enjoyable experience I've had because of these young men. They are tremendous and you saw that tonight. They compete. And don't quit.
I said many times this nation should be very fortunate that these young men will be their future leaders.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, coach. We'll direct questions to the student-athletes.
Q. For both Matt and Antoine, from your standpoint was free-throw shooting late the biggest difference in the game?
ANTOINE HOOD: First off, I want to thank God, my personal savior Jesus. We didn't shoot very well from the free-throw line today. I mean myself personally, I missed three, and then we got someone one-on-ones we didn't drop, a lot of in-and-outs. Wyoming made all their free-throws down the stretch. Definitely played a big part.
MATT McCRAW: I also think it played a big part in the game today, especially down the stretch like Antoine said. Wyoming hit their free-throws when it counted, and we missed the front end of one-and-ones, so that's -- they was an important aspect of today's game.
Q. How hard is the rest of this weekend going to be for you having to sit around not knowing what your fate is and what do you think is going to happen on Sunday?
ANTOINE HOOD: You know, it's definitely going to be challenge. We're 24 and 6. We feel very confident that we're in. A lot of other teams lost today as well. It's always hard when you take everything out of your own control. We controlled our own destiny. Tonight was another opportunity for us to come out and make another statement and solidify ourselves even more so for the NCAA tournament. But we still feel confident that we're in.
Like I said, we've got to good wins, RPI is good. I mean we can just sit back and pray. So like I said, I feel confident about it.
Q. Antoine, drawing on your experience over the last three years now, do you think there's a lack of recognition on the part of the Air Force players that the tournament is a different season and it's not just another regular season or conference game?
ANTOINE HOOD: Well, we haven't fared well obviously in the last couple of years here in the conference tournament here, every since I've been a freshman. You can't come out flat. Every year we came out flat. We came out flat the first half, and then we picked it up. You know, some bounces here, some bounces there. Things go our way, we would be sitting here having a different conversation.
It's probably just a mental thing. We have to step it up and be more intense. It's do-or-die time. It's a new season, zero-zero. Wyoming came out and they just out-hustled us sometimes. They made some big plays. And, you know, like I said, we missed some key free-throws and some shots. They wanted it more. Like I said, I don't know, we -- another -- another opportunity that we didn't take advantage of.
Q. Antoine and Matt, this was a really, really tough game for you guys offensively. There were long, long stretches where you just did not execute offensively. What was going on there on the offensive end and why couldn't you get into your offense the way you usually do?
ANTOINE HOOD: You know, Wyoming like I said, it's a piggyback off of coach. Hats off to their coaching staff. Every time we play Wyoming, it's always a close game. They used to blow us out back in the day. Now it's a 1, 2-point game. I think however many times we've played them, it's been 10 points combined as far as win or lose. So, I mean, when they play us, they feel good. It's just a big rivalry. Anytime you're in a rivalry game like that, everybody is going to step it up a little more.
We kind of got a little sideways in the first half as far as execution. We missed some passes. We weren't really gelling like we should have in the first half. We got it together in the second half. Some more shots fall and we'd be all right.
Q. Wyoming seems like Coach McClain talks about their scout with you. Is Wyoming any more intense on defense or better than any other team that comes out to defend you guys?
ANTOINE HOOD: They're a well-coached team. This season everybody is going to play Air Force even harder. Everywhere we go in the conference they're selling out crowds and this and that. So, I guess it's just they step it up. They want to defend Air Force.
So, I mean, like Wyoming did a great job tonight. Not taking it away from them, everybody in the conference obviously, like I said, they step it up a notch against us. And like I said, we execute a little better. Coach McClain, he done a great job at Wyoming, and Justin Williams is a great shot-blocker. Leven killed us tonight. That was probably the biggest X factor. We take away his two open three's in the first half, that's 6 points.
So it's -- you know, they are a good team, well-coached, and they just beat us tonight.
THE MODERATOR: We'll let you two go. Coach stick around for a minute.
Q. Coach, were you concerned at all it seemed like you had those two spurts in the second half where the boys got back in the ball game? Were you concerned with perhaps maybe a lack of intensity to open the game in that first half when you did fall behind originally?
COACH JEFF BZDELIK: Like I said in my opening comments, we were flat. Why? I don't know. Perhaps like I said, two games in 14 days. I didn't keep them sharp. I don't know. I don't know, you know. To piggyback what the previous question was, Justin Williams causes a lot of problems. And, you know, in particular for us. And Wyoming has lost a lot of games. They've been very competitive in all their games. And Williams, we get to the rim and, you know, it bothers us. It really does. We're not really sure if we should, you know, take it strong. We're not sure if we should -- what we should do. And he bothers us, to put it simply.
And then, you know, I thought we were very uncharacteristic in that first half. We had three assists, seven turnovers. And it just -- we weren't disciplined on offense to just keep it going, keep it going, keep it going, like we have been throughout the previous 29 games.
Q. Same question as I had for Antoine. How hard does this loss make the rest of the weekend for you and do you think you should be in?
COACH JEFF BZDELIK: I told the team this: We will be playing basketball again. I believe that. Where and -- I don't know but we're going to be playing another game. That's for sure. And we're going to practice Sunday because we will be playing.
This was not a good time to not play our very best. I'll put it that way. But we're 24 and 6. We're very proud of our season and we will be playing again. That's how I feel.
Q. When you got within three, about four and a half minutes to go, you missed three straight three's. It looked like you were not happy with some of the shots you were taking because you were able to drive or were they just open looks you missed?
COACH JEFF BZDELIK: You know, yes and no with some of those. A couple of them, I thought we could have manufactured better. A couple of them were just good looks. Just didn't make them. 5 to 20 on three's, I think it was a combination of a couple of things, the way we manufactured them. I never thought we were in a good rhythm offensively all night to be honest with you. It wasn't right. It wasn't what we had been doing. For whatever reason I'm not sure.
Q. With the way they were shooting free-throws, why not go to the three in the last minute? Why the 2, 2, 2, 2?
COACH JEFF BZDELIK: First of all, they had guys making free-throws plain and simple. I like going to the rim plain and simple. What are they going to do? They're not going to foul you. You're going to go in there one-on-one. If there's a double team, we kick it out and shoot a three.
I like us being aggressive, going to the rim, scoring. I mean, all they had to do was miss one or two. They did. That's all they had to do, but they weren't. And you look at their statistics historically, they're not a good free-throw shooting team. But give them credit tonight, they made their free-throws. And we who had been a good free-throw shooting team didn't make ours.
I like the aggressiveness of going to the rim and keeping it tight, keeping the pressure on them. If you come down and start jacking three's, it's a lower-percentage shot. I wanted to be aggressive going to the rim.
A couple of times they did foul us, which stopped the clock, and we were able to set up our press. But we put ourselves in that position at the end to scramble, and that's not really us.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks very much, coach.

End of FastScripts...

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