home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


March 20, 2008

Tom Crean

Dominic James

Wesley Matthews

Jerel McNeal


THE MODERATOR: We'll open up with a two-minute statement from the head coach, then we'll open the floor to questions for the student-athletes. Coach, go ahead.
COACH CREAN: First and foremost, another Marquette/Kentucky game with two teams that respect each other, two coaching staffs that respect each other, and a group of players on both sides of the fence that have ability, toughness, passion, and endurance.
And it was one of those games. Again, I'm proud of these guys to my left. I'm proud of the team that's in the locker room because they came in, and they just put everything on playing the right way. And we knew we had to defend at a high-level especially with the shot clock.
We knew Joe Crawford and Ramel Bradley were outstanding players, and they did nothing to change that opinion today only make it grow, but our guys were up to the challenge. We never wilted. We never got that big put-away we were looking for because Kentucky kept coming back, but we stepped up and made the plays that we had to make, and that's what you have to do at this time of year.
The rebounding game was going to be huge. We were able to win that. We didn't turn the ball over very much. You cannot do that this time of year. Your best players got to step up and make plays, which they did. And people have to come off the bench and really contribute, like Dwight Burke did, like Cubillan did, like Dan Fitzgerald and Maurice Acker did. Proud of our team, and we're excited to see who we play next.
THE MODERATOR: Okay. We'll open up the floor to questions.

Q. Wesley, after what you guys have gone through last couple years in the tournament, was there any chance you were going to miss any of those free throws there?
WESLEY MATTHEWS: No. I mean it was just a matter of going up there and making them. I mean, they're shots that we take all the time, shots that we practice, shots that you been taking since you started playing this game. You know, it's easy to make them when your whole team and coaching staff has confidence in you.
Coach is drawing up the play to give me the ball in that position, and I just did my job and made them.

Q. A question for Dominic: Your coach mentioned mutual respect. Can you tell us why you went over to the Kentucky bench at the end of the game and spoke to their guard when he fouled out?
DOMINIC JAMES: Well, you know, that's what competition's all about, two competitors. I know that's one thing that our coach instills in us. He's a competitor himself. And, you know, as hard as we work out there on the floor, you know, the game was pretty much over and he played a heck of a ball game. 35 points. I mean, you saw the performance out there, and he put his heart out there on the floor.
So out of respect for him and his teammates, you know, I just told him to keep his head up and keep playing the game that he loves.

Q. This question is for Jerel. Given the way that you guys got this done and how you've gotten it done the previous couple years, do you think that this team has more grit than in the previous couple years?
JEREL McNEAL: I definitely believe we do. I think we just -- we've grown so much just since my first year here. The past three years we've been in the same situation, but we came out today and we put 40 minutes together. You know, we had spurts through those 40 minutes that weren't always, you know, the best Marquette team that we could put out there, but the most important thing, we just stayed with it. Nobody dropped their heads.
We just persevered through all the tough times and making shots. I'm just proud of all my teammates, all those guys in the locker room, because I feel like this is a team that wouldn't have won this game two years ago.

Q. What is different about it? What do you think teams from the past would have done in the face of the Kentucky rush that you guys didn't do this time?
JEREL McNEAL: We would have fell apart. Guys would have stopped talking. You know, I mean, guys would have started hanging their heads a little bit, getting a little bit tight, which we didn't do at all. All these guys made big plays. We just kept pushing through, man, just unbelievable feeling just to come out and just know that you got guys on the court with you that's going to make big plays and not give up and keep pushing through everything.
COACH CREAN: Let me add one thing I think is important that I think has been totally forgotten in this week. When we came out to California three seasons ago, these three were freshmen and played and started -- with exception of when Wes got injured, played and started in every game as freshmen.
We had Steve Novak as a senior. We had some other Young men, but we started a senior, sophomore and three freshmen. Last year we played in this tournament and we weren't nearly at full strength. You're just getting an idea of how good Jerel McNeal is if you haven't seen us play all year.
What you see from Dominic and Wesley is what we see every day, consistency of effort, consistency of purpose. So, you know, this team's been in the NCAA tournament for three years, but we've never -- we were young. I mean, they're growing up, they're mature. They understand how to win. They understand how to do things and they understand how to correct themselves, and I think that's very, very important. And I think that has a lot to do with why we were able to be successful today.

Q. This is for Wesley. You said recently that even though the team hadn't -- you know, has had a lot of success in the regular season since you've been there that it was fair to measure you on the post-season results.
Can you elaborate on that and also how this feels now to kind of get over that hump?
WESLEY MATTHEWS: It feels great. I mean, to -- finally after being here for three years to finally come out and get a win. I mean, when you put so much effort and work into the off-season and the pre-season and post-season and, you know, during the season leading up to this point, it's just a great feeling to finally come together as a team, as a mature team and pull out a victory, especially against a team like Kentucky.
What was the rest of that question?

Q. Just about how teams are -- you know, it's fair to measure you on how you do in the post-season.
WESLEY MATTHEWS: I mean that's just how it is. I mean, our other past three years we've had successful seasons. Our first year in the Big East we weren't picked to do nearly as well as we did. We ended up fourth place in the conference. I mean, that's just how it happens. You're measured on how you do, you know, in the NCAAs, and it's good for us to get out on a good start right now.

Q. You three scored 17 of the last 18 points to close out the game. Do you feel that's a fitting way for you guys to close out your first NCAA tournament win?
DOMINIC JAMES: Yeah. I mean, we got a coach that's confident, you know, especially in these three guys up here, Lazar Hayward and other guys. He puts the ball in the hands of guys he knows is going to step up and make big plays at big times.
We got a group of guys that want the ball in their hands. I feel like that's the best thing about this team, is that everybody is confident in each other to step up and make big plays. Everybody did that today.
That's why, you know -- I mean, it's very important that we got this win and everybody so they could make the big plays to be in the game.
THE MODERATOR: Any further questions for the student-athletes?

Q. You talk a little bit in the last few years you guys sort of fell ahead early in the tournament. Talk about this year being able to play from ahead.
WESLEY MATTHEWS: That's maturity. A sign of maturity. Like Jerel said, a couple years ago we don't know if we're winning that game, if we're pulling it out because of the run. I mean with us coming straight out of high school we were always the go-to guys. We might have started falling apart, like he said, or trying to take the game over by ourselves, but we're comfortable with each other. We're confident in each other. Our coach is confident in us. We're confident in him that he is going to call the plays then we're going to execute them.
So I mean, that's just what it is. We came out, we had the lead and we didn't want to lose it, so we kept playing hard. They threw their punch and we threw ours right back.
THE MODERATOR: One last question for student-athletes? Seeing none, we'll thank the student-athletes for coming out and excuse them.
Open up the floor to questions for Coach Crean.

Q. Tom, you heard them say they felt that, you know, a year ago or two years ago things might have fallen apart for them in the face of the Kentucky charge.
When did you realize that these guys were different, had a different make-up or they matured to the point where they weren't going to let a thing like that happen?
COACH CREAN: It's process, you know, when what I realize is they've averaged 23 wins in their 3 years at Marquette. I realized that we started three freshman when they were freshmen, and I tend to focus on where we're at in the moment not where we were a year ago.
Your team is defined in different ways throughout the season. We've had different times these guys have been able to pinpoint where they were at. Pinpoint, you know, that togetherness, that comradery that you need to pull things out, and it's all part of a process. I don't have one definitive time for you though. I mean the season's a long season. There is different places.

Q. Tom, what was the game plan going in against Crawford specifically what did you guys want to do defensively against him?
COACH CREAN: Well, we wanted to stay down on him. We wanted to not go for shot fakes. We wanted to make every catch with Bradley and Crawford a little tougher than the last one and just build our intensity up as the shot clock wound down. Early in the game, in the first half we were playing zone at the shot clock and they made an adjustment at half-time, so we made our adjustment to go back man-to-man.
But he earned his baskets. He is a great player. We'll see him in Milwaukee, you know. I don't know if he'll be a Buck but there's 29 or 30 other teams he could play for. He'll be a pro, and I believe Bradley will be as well. Those guys are just too talented and they're too tough. But the game plan was built not only around those two but also on Jasper, because he can make so many things happen.
He is a point guard playing the four spot.
We wanted to make sure that we attacked them on our end. We wanted to put ourselves in positions to drive the ball, get to the free-throw line. And it was one of those games. It was a grind-it-out game, which we had a strong feeling it would be.

Q. Coach, can you talk a little bit about Jerel McNeal's play as of late, including the Big East tournament and today, and how important his contribution on offense is -- not only defense but offense is going to be going forward in the tournament?
COACH CREAN: Well he's got 69 wins in 3 years, so it didn't just start last week. He's started every game he's ever played at Marquette. I don't see any reason he won't continue to do that. And it was very, very tough for him last year and for us to come into this tournament without our MVP, which is what his teammates voted him last year.
And what he's done over the year, and especially the last two months, is take his work ethic to an even higher level when it comes to shooting and working on his game outside of practice. You know early mornings, in between classes, sometimes at night, always staying after practice. But that time spent is really paying dividends for him, because his shot is crisp. It looks like it's going in. It looks like it's going in every time he shoots it. He's always been an attack mentality young man. He's always been a guy that plays with an edge. That's what makes him successful, and his skills just continue to flourish and get better.
THE MODERATOR: Any further questions? Thank you, Coach.
COACH CREAN: Thank you.

End of FastScripts
About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297