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March 7, 2007

Draelon Burns

Sammy Mejia

Jerry Wainwright


JERRY WAINWRIGHT: I certainly would like to congratulate Coach Wright and his kids. He runs a classy program and they have done an awful lot in the last couple of years to promote and enhance the image of the BIG EAST as well as being one of the best teams in the country. So I wish him nothing but the best. I certainly think they will represent our league in the NCAAs and I thought they really responded today when they needed to, and obviously did an exceptional job of shooting the basketball.

Q. You were worried about the start, slow start in both halves but you kind of survived that. Was it just not getting enough there, not getting that stop?
JERRY WAINWRIGHT: I mean, you saw the game, so they made four shots; we missed four, both times.
I think we had makeable shots in those four shots we missed. I know we definitely had two point-blank shots. We had a lane shot. So we come up empty and it's tough to spot teams points, no question.
But I thought we responded. It takes energy to come back, and we were in a position I thought to begin the second half -- they made two great plays, but again we missed two shots, and instead of being down eight. If you're down four, you're hanging in there.
So we just didn't -- can't fault the kids for shooting the ball. They hit good shots. They just didn't make them.

Q. Were you satisfied with the shot selection, like when you guys were making that comeback?
JERRY WAINWRIGHT: I think obviously we have a weakness, and the weakness is shooting. We're last in the league in 3-point shooting, and we're second or third -- I they we fought back, our kids did an excellent job, both of these kids had some slumps earlier in the year at the free throw line. But you know, somebody has got to shoot.
I think what happens is we've been an equal opportunity offense; I think that's the best way to learn how to play. We certainly had wide open shots at the end of the second half, and the difference is, when we made a mistake and Villanova had one, they made one. And it would be from somebody -- I thought Redding made two shots late in the game and they were point-blank, but somebody else contributed.
Now we had three guys -- we had three guys in double figures. If we wound up shooting fairly well -- three for 16; we're 24 for 60. I think sometimes we settle for shots instead of really working for them, and that's something we really have to work on in the off-season.

Q. Right this minute, can you assess whether you think you will, A, get a call from the NCAA; B, get a call from NIT; or that you're done playing for the year?
JERRY WAINWRIGHT: You know, I thought this was a game that would -- the reality of it is our kids know it, and Villanova knew and Jay knew, certainly the winner of this game was in a very good position to represent our league in the NCAAs.
First of all, you get a chance to play one of the best teams in our league which is guaranteed going, and that can only help you.
No, I don't think we're done playing. I certainly think based on all of the figures, and we won nine games and we're in one of the toughest leagues in the country. I would hope our season is not over. I know our guys would like to keep playing.

Q. Sammy, late in the game you were able to get to the hole with no problem. Was that something you wanted to do in the first half?
SAMMY MEJIA: I think a lot of that had to do with the situation in the game, especially in the first half.
You know, we really had our mind-set to doing certain things on both offense and defense, and you know, we try to stick to the game plan as much as possible and try to -- pretty much we tried not to do too much. We believed in the coaching staff and everything they ran, we tried to execute to the best of our abilities, and in the first half, you know, other guys were getting it going, especially Draelon, so we just tried to feed off of them.
I'm never going to be the type of guy to try to force the issue. If it's there, I'm going to go for it and if it's not, I won't. So I think the first half was kind of a situation we compare to the second half, the second half towards the end of the game, they were spacing out some guys and trying to prevent some guys from catching and shooting threes and took advantage of that and made some baskets.

Q. They really only had two or three guys scoring all the points; was it just frustrating that it was so hard to stop those guys, especially Reynolds?
DRAELON BURNS: I think the reason why it was so hard, they got off to a good start. I think -- made the first three. Once a person makes the first three early in the game, they get their emotions really into it which makes them feel good and I think that's probably the most part of it.

Q. Sammy, the parade to the free throw line, the guys that keep making them, what do you think when you keep seeing the same guy?
SAMMY MEJIA: You always want the guy to miss the free throws, but coming into the game you know what kind of free throw shooting team they are. You know if you put a team like Villanova on the line, nine times out of ten they are going to make them. Our biggest issue is to not let them get to the line. They shot way too many free throws compared to us. We were half a step late on a lot of loose balls and on trying to take charges and rebounding, and they took advantage of that, as every good team will do.

Q. Urgency has been something that you've tried to generate; did you feel it was there today, or the slow start, was it just --
SAMMY MEJIA: It definitely was there throughout most of the game. I don't think it was there through the full 40 minutes of the game. The way they started the first and the second half, you know, was the difference in the game. You know, we gave up eight points in the first two minutes of the first half and eight in the first two minutes of the second half and we ended up losing by eight. You take away one of those runs and we go into overtime.
At this point in the season we just have to make sure that we come out with a sense of urgency from the beginning of the game, whether that means we have to loosen up more or run harder, I don't know what it is. But somehow we have to figure out a way to come up aggressive and match the other team's intensity, because I think that was the difference in the game. You know, when you make runs, you try make runs to increase leads, not to catch up and tie the game up. You know, that's what we suffered from today. We made a lot of runs when they were up double digits or they were up and we got to close. But to outscore a team like Villanova who puts up a lot of shots, it's always a difficult thing to do.
JERRY WAINWRIGHT: I will say this, they were definitely ready to play. So our guys, again, they make four baskets, we go four possessions; that's not going to do with urgency, nothing to do with anything. You've got to make open shots and we didn't make them. It's not a magic game. They were more efficient than we were, they took advantage. Our kids did a great job, they were ready to play.
Also about 12 or 14 of those free throws came in the last two minutes when we were fouling trying to get threes.
So, again, God bless their kids, they did a great job shooting them and we did a great job hanging. Just hope they miss one, we make a three. They are a good team and they took advantage of situations.

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