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March 12, 2008

Scottie Reynolds

Corey Stokes

Jay Wright


THE MODERATOR: Coach Jay Wright, Scottie Reynolds, Corey Stokes.
COACH JAY WRIGHT: That was a big-time win for this team. Because I think Syracuse is a tournament team, and I think we beat a tournament team, and that's what this group has to do. This group is kind of making their own name. I'm really, really proud of them, really happy for them.
We just got great leadership from Scottie. I told him walking over here, I had no idea he had 22 points, but I knew he had 6 assists and no turnovers. When he came out, I said that was a big-time point guard game. I thought he had 6 assists, no turnovers and 12 points, but he had a big-time game.
And of course, Corey just keeps getting better and better and better. And he's just making us a much better team. When you have great players, you're a good team.

Q. Can you talk about the defensive adjustments you made in the second half, especially the first five minutes?
COACH JAY WRIGHT: Well, I thought we did a pretty good job in the first half defensively. I did. We couldn't score and we were turning the ball over. So I wasn't that concerned defensively starting the second half. I thought we rebounded better in the second half. But it was more getting us going offensively and making some shots and not turning the ball over. So that was probably, I think, what made a difference in the beginning of the second half.
I thought the end of the first half, our defense kept us in it because we couldn't score, and we got some turnovers and some steals and we got some fast breaks, even that last three. And that's where our defense really helped us at the end of the first half.

Q. Jay, you started Stokes in the second half, just your thought process going into that?
COACH JAY WRIGHT: Normally Corey Fisher starts for us, and we like to play the two smaller guards. But they were so big, and we just, and Corey played really well defensively in the first half, Corey Stokes. So we wanted to stay big. That's really what it was. We wanted to keep as many big bodies on the floor as we could.

Q. Corey, you had 13 points in this building against St. John's. You shot well, you obviously shot well again today. Have you played here before? And b, your thoughts and feelings of playing in this building?
COREY STOKES: It's great playing at Madison Square Garden. It was always my dream as a young kid to play in the Big East tournament. Coach Wright just told me to go out and play aggressive, and just play even more aggressive on the defensive end, and just help my teammates out.

Q. You had Scottie off guard/point guard back and forth a lot this season, how has he handled that? And I'll ask Scottie the same thing, what's it been like going through that all year?
COACH JAY WRIGHT: I think that's been a real struggle for Scottie, though he never mentioned it. It was something we were trying to do because defenses were focusing in on him so much, we were trying to play him at the point because that's where he belongs. And then we were trying to take him off the ball so that we could run them off screens. I really think it affected him. As I said, he never said a word. Just did whatever we asked him to do.
And I think it's important for our team that the ball is in his hands and he's running the show. He's our leader. I think that showed in our last few games.

Q. Could Scottie just talk about it.
SCOTTIE REYNOLDS: It's just been a learning process all year. Just learning how defenses are going to play me at the two spot, and how defenses are going to play me at the one spot. And I think the last two weeks and the last now three games, I've just been getting better each day at the point guard position. Knowing that I don't have to score 30 every night. I can just go in there, just relax, play my game, get my teammates involved, and, you know, that's going to open up things for me.
So the last few games that's what I've been doing and our team's been winning. That's really what it comes down to.

Q. Your team obviously shot the ball really well from three point range. How were you hoping to attack Syracuse's zone today?
COACH JAY WRIGHT: We knew we had to make threes to play with these guys. That's what was kind of encouraging about the first half was that we were not making shots in the first half. That three at the end of the first half by Dwayne Anderson was huge, because I don't know if that was our first one or second one of the half, but I think it just made us feel like the lid was off the basket. We were playing good defense. We came out in the second half, started banging them. And we have good shooters. When we make threes, we're a tough team, like everybody.

Q. Last year this time you were playing at St. Benedict's wishing you could be over here. When did you feel you got comfortable with playing in Coach Wright's system?
COREY STOKES: Like the start of the Big East Tournament, I think. Like in the beginning of the season I was losing like a little bit of my confidence because I wasn't playing that much. But my coaches, especially Coach Wright and the captains were just telling me to keep my head up and keep a positive attitude. That's what I have been doing, and it's working out for me now.

Q. What do you guys need to do tomorrow to get through Georgetown?
COACH JAY WRIGHT: Making shots always helps, you know. I mean, if you make shots against them, you've got a chance. Now that's easier said than done. They're even longer than Syracuse, which is crazy to say, but they really are. They might be the only team that's longer than Syracuse. Maybe a little bit Connecticut. But I don't think so. I think they're the longest team. We've got to move their defense and make shots.
We did a good job of that in the second half. Again, you've got to guard. That kept us in it in the first half when we did make shots.

Q. What does this do for your NCAA Tournament implications? Is this enough or do you want to seal it up with Georgetown?
COACH JAY WRIGHT: Oh, I hope it's enough. But I know I have no say in that, so I'm not going to worry about it. I just want to be honest about it. You hope it's enough. But you get to play another day, so that's really what's most important to you. You just sit back after it's all done, and you look to see if it was enough or not.
We're just really happy to be playing another day. This team is just getting better and better. We're really enjoying the work we're putting into it. So that's what we're most interested in is just playing another day in this tournament, which we all love.

Q. There was a point it seemed to me somewhere around the defense and offense switching back and forth where you did a lot of talking to guys and moving them around. I've been told that's somewhat of an adjustment for you. Can you talk about the vocal part of being a leader at this point of your career?
SCOTTIE REYNOLDS: I definitely felt like Mike Nardi today out there. I said that a few occasions. But today I felt that I was him. I felt like I was shooting like him. I think he was in my presence a little bit.
But no, it's just something that I've been working on since the end of last year, and going through the whole summer and the fall. I might not have done the best job, but I just keep working on it. The only way you're going to win is to keep that intensity up on the defensive end, the defensive side of the ball. You can see that in today's game. You know, we weren't making shots but we were getting stops on the other end. And that's what we pride ourselves on is getting stops, and if we're not making shots still find a way to win.

Q. As you look at tomorrow, Georgetown is a little bit longer, maybe outside shooting more of a premium, are you going to have to have Scottie off the ball a little more tomorrow?
COACH JAY WRIGHT: We might. We might. That's one of the things we struggle with is we need his scoring. But what's helping is Corey Stokes really, Corey handled the ball a lot today against pressure and did a good job. We put a lot of pressure on Scottie because we want him to run the show. But what we've been working on, that's what he's talking about is running the team and still finding ways to get your shots. It's a delicate balance, but it's probably what is going to be a big factor in the game tomorrow.

Q. Given the way, the flukey way the first game ended, do you feel like there is some unfinished business with Georgetown?
SCOTTIE REYNOLDS: You can answer that first.
COREY STOKES: Well, we're just going to go out and play the next game. Me, my teammates and the coaches are really looking forward to this game. And we're just going to go out and play hard with Villanova pride.

Q. Donte' Greene had that quick flurry of nine points midway through the first half and he was quiet the rest of the way. Did you guys change up your defensive strategy at all? Or make it a point to try to stop Donte'?
COACH JAY WRIGHT: No, actually that was a time where we lost it. We lost our intensity. We didn't execute there. And they did a great job of recognizing it. We made similar mistakes of leaving him to help. And every time we did, they found him. They do a great job of that. They reverse the ball well and find your mistakes. And that was a period that we did that.

Q. What does it say about the depth and the strength of the Big East that you have national champions playing in an 8 and 9 game in the first round?
COACH JAY WRIGHT: That's a great -- I've said it a lot of ways; that's another way. You have two teams that won national championships playing 8-9 games. I remember when I was an assistant you dreaded playing an 8-9 game in that first night when no one else was playing. It was hell. And now we are all excited to be in the 8-9 game. We were so excited to be an 8 seed, we finished strong and we had a chance.
Lot of times you play in the 8-9 game, and that game used to be when I was an assistant, okay, you just got to get into the tournament. That game doesn't mean anything. If you win, that's not helping your NCAA chances because you're playing a 9 team. Here you're playing a 9 team, you're playing a NCAA Tournament team.
You look at the amount of teams in our league that have the number of wins they do. I just think it's going to take time for the country to understand what a great conference it is, because there hasn't been anything like it. Anybody that is in it will tell you that. It is by far the best conference in the country. Most competitive top to bottom. And it's just new so people don't know how to adjust to it.

Q. Corey, how many times have you been asked about, talked about, seen that foul on Jonathan Wallace?
COREY STOKES: A lot of people talk to me about it. After the game a lot of people were asking me if it was a foul. The referee made a call, and he just made the call, and that's what it was. You have to just play through it. Tomorrow you have another chance to play them, and hopefully we come out with the victory.

Q. What were you able to do to keep the ball from getting into Onuaku and if you did, keep it from scoring?
COACH JAY WRIGHT: We were able to play three different people on him. We started with Antonio. Casiem Drummond gave us a few good minutes there for a while. Picked up a couple of fouls which was good and bad. He was physical in there. And then Donte' played him some, and Antonio played him again. So we were actually able to put three people on him.
He's a big body. Early in the first half, that was hurting us. They were going inside to him. He was passing out there, and I thought that was a big part of our defense that helped.

Q. You said Corey's development is one of the reasons why this team's gotten better through the season. He's had 18 points today, has tied a career high. Had 18 against UCONN in that win. Is that something you noticed on him early on when you were recruiting him, this knack for showing up in big games?
COACH JAY WRIGHT: Yeah, from being an assistant at UNLV, and being a Hofstra assistant, he's the best shooter that I've ever been involved with recruiting. I'm not surprised at this. I was a little surprised early that he struggled a little bit early. But I was more impressed with how he handled it. When I say early, I mean in the fall, preseason. But I was so impressed, our whole staff was, how he handled struggling. When a McDonald's All American is not playing a lot and struggling, usually everybody's complaining. He didn't say a word. He just kept asking. And I said this to our team, he just kept asking, what do I need to do better? How do I do this better? And it's showing now. He's a great talent. He's just going to get better and better.

Q. Considering everything that was on the line here, how close it's been between 'Nova and Syracuse this year, if I would have told you with 4 minutes left you were up by a lot, would you have been shocked, stunned amazed?
COACH JAY WRIGHT: Shocked. Never thought it would be a game like this. We prepared for a battle down to the bitter end. We would have been happy to come out of here with a one-point win at the buzzer. We were ready for that. But when you make shots like that in the second half, anybody's going to -- it's going to be tough to beat anybody when you make shots like that. We've had a lot of nights where we didn't.

Q. Can you talk about Dwayne Anderson and what he's done for the team.
COACH JAY WRIGHT: He's the guy now that we don't take off the floor. He's such a leader out there. He had, how many rebounds, 7 defensive rebounds. Guarded Greene. He's just a Villanova basketball player, man. That's the greatest compliment I can give anybody. And so proud of him.

Q. How much did that run at the end of the first half help you guys get your footing?
COACH JAY WRIGHT: I thought it was huge. I thought it was huge, because we couldn't score. We were missing free throws, turning the ball over. You know, we looked nervous. We just looked like we wanted it too bad. Sometimes that happens. I was resigned at the first half I said to myself, all right. We've got young kids, they just wanted it too bad. Donte' looked shaky. But we kept playing good defense. And our defense created turnovers and created some fast breaks. Even that last three, Scottie got a loose ball, kicked it to Dwayne. I thought that was huge for us, that run at the end of the first half.

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