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March 27, 2007

Jeff Bzdelik

Matt McCraw

Dan Nwaelele


COACH JEFF BZDELIK: First of all, I want to say how proud I am of my basketball team. As you saw tonight, there's no quit in these young men.
Unbelievable character, unbelievable perseverance. I just can't say enough about them. I'm struggling with words as to how to describe these young men, how much they have enriched my life and enriched the fans all around Colorado Springs and this nation in what they are able to accomplish. Very, very proud of them.
From a basketball standpoint, we dug ourselves in a little bit of a hole. We didn't rebound the ball as well as we needed to tonight, especially in the beginning. You're not going to win big games if you don't make foul shots, and we were 6 for 14 from the free throw line. Between free throws and not enough defensive rebounds, we dug ourselves a hole. And against a great team like Clemson -- and we congratulate Clemson -- it's tough to overcome. But we battled all the way to the end.

Q. Their second-chance points, especially midway through the second half, I think they hit three straight second chance field goals off of offensive rebounds; was that pretty much the game right there?
COACH JEFF BZDELIK: Well, we knew that we are one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the nation and there was a point of emphasis, but they are very athletic. They were one of the premiere offensive rebounding teams in the ACC.
So knowing what to do and being able to do it are two different things. And of course, that's a big strength of theirs, and they were able to take advantage of their strength, just enough in this ballgame to get some separation.

Q. It seemed like their defense, you know, you talk about how athletic this team was going to be, and just seemed like their defense was pretty good and they took away a lot of the back door passes that you had; can you talk about their defense?
COACH JEFF BZDELIK: Yeah, we were looking for the back door passes. They were able to recover and we probably forced too many, trying to force it to happen when we really needed to just go take another step through the offense, and that cut itself would open up things for us, which it did. I mean, we wound up shooting, what, 52 percent for the game. But our goal was nine turnovers or less; we had seven in the first half. We did a better job in the second half of not trying to force it.

Q. Could you just take us through that last sequence with the steal and the shot you hit with about a second and a half left?
DAN NWAELELE: We were just trying to deny the opposing team from going long, and then, you know, I just deny my guy and Drew's guy and he went long -- both guys tripped over each other. The guy passed the ball and I tried to go get it and I go to it and I tried to jump into him to initiate contact but it wasn't there and the shot went in.

Q. Matt, what can you say about this is your last game and how it ended, the four years now, I think the team won 90 games over those four years?
MATT McCRAW: Ever since we've gotten here our motto has just been to get better every day. To go out like we did; yeah, we did lose but our perseverance and our heart definitely showed on the floor out there.
You know, we've just been through so many experiences together, and I think our team chemistry is great. The guys coming back, we're just trying to share our wisdom with them as much as we can. So hopefully we can be in another postseason tournament again next year.
So really right now, I'm just cherishing the moment with my friends and teammates and brothers. You know, our career has been great together, but unfortunately it came to an end. Fortunately, you know, we still have other guys to step up and keep this legacy going.
COACH JEFF BZDELIK: I'd like to just piggyback. I just overheard something in the locker room right before I came into this room, and I believe it was Matt, if I'm not mistaken, one of our seniors, talking to some of our younger players about what they need to do to prepare themselves for next season, already. And that shows you the kind of leadership that we have on this basketball team, and it's a credit to these young men.

Q. Will you be here next season, do you think?
COACH JEFF BZDELIK: You know what, that's not a question that needs to be addressed right now. It's for this basketball team; this is their moment.

Q. If we just talk about this run, first time in the NIT for Air Force and you had a fabulous run; can you just summarize what it means to the program?
COACH JEFF BZDELIK: It just means -- just first of all, to culminate their career on this floor and this city, is very special. It hurts that it ended.
You know, again, I can't say enough about these young men and who they are as people and you know, to know that they are going to be over the next five years, serving their country is something that for all of us citizens back here in the United States, people like these guys, are serving our country, it should just warm your heart.
Thank you.

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