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March 14, 2008

Tom Crean

Wesley Matthews


COACH CREAN: Well, again, I thought both teams played with tremendous heart and character. They got off to a great start; we didn't. But we came back in the second half, showed tremendous character and fight. And had opportunities down the stretch, and it became one of those possession-by-possession games in the end, which we felt it could even at halftime.
We were not shooting the ball very well in the first half. We weren't as physical as we needed to be in the first half. But yet we were still in position to come back. So we never felt like we weren't going to be able to come back. And we just have to keep understanding what it takes to play in the first half the way we did in the second, and at the same time we know that a very good basketball team in Pittsburgh beat us tonight, a team that's improving. I think they're a microcosm of this entire conference. Even though we've all had an opportunity to play each other and beat up on each other, there are a lot of teams still in the Big East that are getting better. I feel like we're one of them, and I certainly think that Pittsburgh is one of them, so that's all I've got.

Q. Can you talk about how difficult it was with McNeal on the bench and being in foul trouble.
COACH CREAN: It's very hard. There were a lot of flow issues tonight. And when you don't have as good a player as there is at the wing spot in this league on the court, and he's off the court for extended periods of time, that's hard.

Q. Coach, for a long time you're shooting bad. And things weren't going your way. What does it say for your team that you were in this game in the second half?
COACH CREAN: We felt like we were going to be in it in the second half. We were a little surprised that they had chose to play as fast as they did in the first half, and we felt that was in our favor. And it ended up being in our favor as the game went on. We never felt like we weren't going to be able to come back in the second half. But we really didn't make enough shots to get us over the hump. We had eight field goals, I believe, in the first half. Only one of our starters had scored in the first half. It was not a great offensive performance. Some of it was us, certainly some of it was them. But we felt like we were going to come back. There was not any disappointment or discouraging remarks or feelings in the locker room. We felt we were going to come back, and we did.
Again, we have great heart, great character, great toughness, but so does Pitt. We just put ourselves in a little too much of a hole in the first half to really make the dent we needed to make.

Q. What did you see that earned that technical foul, and how much do you think it energized your team for the last ten minutes?
COACH CREAN: What was the first part of your question?

Q. The technical foul?
COACH CREAN: What about it?

Q. What were you seeing at that point and how much did it turn around the game?
COACH CREAN: I didn't like the flow of the game on a lot of fronts, but I'm just coaching my team. And I thought our team played with great heart throughout the game, and they certainly continued to do that after that situation.

Q. Were you tempted to take Jerel out after that second foul? Did you give it any serious thought?
COACH CREAN: Yeah, but at that point the momentum was so far away from us, that if you take off a player that can do what he does offensively and defensively, there was no way we want to go into halftime down 20. And he's playing too well, and he's smart, he's smart. He's going to play through the risk a little bit. We have to understand that.
I gave it little thought. Certainly if we could have even nipped it a little closer, we would have gotten him out a little more, but there was not much we could do about that. We need to win the game and we have to have him on the floor.

Q. How much of a toll did playing three games in three days, how much did that effect you?
WESLEY MATTHEWS: I can't really say. I mean, we're a conditioned team, we're well-conditioned. That's what we do. We run, we get into you. And they're just as tired as we are, and we know that. All that goes out the window once the ball gets tossed up. The adrenaline is going, and you're with your team and you're playing to win. You don't even feel that. We just weren't -- I don't think condition was a factor at all. We just didn't do what we needed to do long enough.

Q. For clarification sake, what was said to Jerel when he pointed?
COACH CREAN: That was Tim Higgins. You'd have to ask him, seriously. I'm not going to comment on that. I'm not going there. I'm not going to be -- I'm not playing things out that way. You'd have to ask him. I'm not trying to be smart. Go ahead.

Q. Dominic missed his first 12 or so shots, and then in the last eight minutes started scoring more. What was the difference there?
COACH CREAN: He attacked better. He attacked better. No question about that. That's where he's at his strongest. He needs to keep understanding that. Once he finally figures that out once and for all, he's going to be by far one of the most elite guards in America. When he settles, when he just dribbles rather than drives, he's guardable. When he attacks, it's very hard to guard him. And it creates a lot of things for our team. He did some outstanding things with that in the second half.

Q. For the players, spending most of the year in the top 25, and you guys had a great run throughout the year. I know it's hard to think about the NCAA Tournament right now, but the way the character and the heart you guys showed at the end of this game, do you think that's going to help you the first weekend of the tournament?
WESLEY MATTHEWS: I think so. I mean, we try not to think of moral victories and stuff like that. We worry about the victory, the win and all that kind of stuff. But like after we lost at Notre Dame, we were able to rally around each other or gather together and realize if we play the right way, we can do a lot of things. We can be a very scary team.
Like Coach said, we were down 13, there was no thought of us losing the game coming in after halftime. We were able to fight back. We were able to come back through the missed shots and all that kind of stuff. So I think once we figure out how to play with that edge the whole time, I mean, sky's the limit.

Q. What was your plan to defend Sam Young tonight?
COACH CREAN: Well, he's so good. He just rises up. We have to put our best defenders on their best players, and we felt like we did that. The mistakes, we made some big mistakes early on a couple of their sets. There's no excuse for that. We know their team, they know us. You know, there were a couple of times we weren't as alert as we needed to be in the first half. So that put us on an island a little bit.
But we have a game plan for him. For the most part we followed it. But he earned his baskets. He played outstanding. He's a great player. Obviously, there are a lot of things when a guy gets that many points you'd like to do over again. But we try to do our best in a one-on-one situation, but it's very hard to guard him one-on-one.

Q. Is it fair to say Coach is talking about the character you guys showed especially in the second half coming back, but is it fair to say that toughness is what the Marquette program is really all about?
WESLEY MATTHEWS: Yeah, you could say that. That's what we hang our hat on. Our toughness, our tenacity, defense, rebounding, all that in-your-face, just playing hard. That's what we do. We pride ourselves on how hard we play, and we bring the most out of each other. That's what Coach preaches and that's what we try to do. Unfortunately, we only got to show that in the second half.

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