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March 22, 2008

Tom Crean

Dominic James

Jerel McNeal


COACH CREAN: Congratulations to Stanford; they played an outstanding game. It was a great game down to the wire, and I'm proud of our guys' effort, proud of their toughness. We did some really, really good things, but the one thing we didn't do when we had the opportunity in the second half was deliver the knockout punch.
And it was close a couple of times, but we just couldn't do it, and they continued to play through it. We knew they would. They're too experienced; they're too good. They're too tough to go away, even with what happened in the first half with Trent.
We knew they'd continue to play, and our intensity was fantastic, but it had a few lulls when we had the chance to deliver, like I said, that knockout punch that we never really got to. But it was a possession-by-possession game, possession-by-possession overtime. They made an extremely difficult shot, and that's the way it is.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for student-athletes?

Q. Can you explain what it's like losing the game like that? I mean, it kind of came down to, you know, the big guy versus the overmatched guy. But it seemed like, you know, you had position, and it just was a shot that just happened?
DOMINIC JAMES: Just like Coach said, it was an extremely tough shot. He had a number of tough shots down the stretch. Our guys were battling down low, and it just happened to fall. But, you know, those guys fought, being beat up, and people were doubting them throughout the entire season, not only this game but throughout the entire season, even though they got the final say with the last basket.
This team is all about facing hard times and people doubting us and our back against the wall, and those guys step up every single time. That's what this team is built of, character. We showed a lot of character throughout the tournament, throughout the entire season. I wouldn't ask to go into battle with any other guys than the guys I was out there on the floor with today.

Q. Jerel, you had an outstanding second half, especially 30 points for the game. Can you describe how you felt during the second part of the game and early in overtime?
JEREL McNEAL: The main thing, I was just trying to do whatever I could to help my team win. We just knew we were battling back and forth there for a while, and we just didn't get enough stops down the stretch to come out with a win. We've been known in the overtime, in the second half, for the crunch time and shooting jump shots, and they were shooting layups and percentages. They were going to win shooting layups over jump shots.
THE MODERATOR: Any further questions for the student-athletes? Thank you, gentlemen. Questions for Coach Crean?

Q. You guys got through the hoop of getting past the first round with this group of guys. Can you see how this is going to build toward future years and their senior year?
COACH CREAN: I hope it does. I hope it does. We did a lot of excellent things this season, and we came out here and, you know, we battled as hard as we could, and not always as smart as we could. But we battled as hard as we could.
And, yeah, I think we can build on it. You know, it's so hard to put perspective on next year when you just ended a half-hour ago, but I love their character.

Q. Coach, how do you feel about the play your big man Ousmane Barro on the Lopez brothers?
COACH CREAN: When Ousmane went down with the fouls, there's no question it changed for us a little bit, and our ball pressure wasn't as good as it needed to be to keep the ball out of the post, and that's the best form of post defense is your ball pressure. And frankly. We didn't take -- we didn't follow the game plan a couple times on a couple of moves he made inside of the game, but the shot he made at the end was a tough shot. Our big guys have gotten better, but we obviously need to keep -- you always want to improve your team in every position, and there's no doubt that, you know, as we go down the line, we've got to keep improving our inside play.

Q. Coach, considering that their coach was ejected for protesting fouls, surprised at the disparity in free throws and fouls, particularly after that point?
COACH CREAN: No, I'm not surprised. I mean, I have no idea what he did to get the technicals. You know, I saw him on the floor, but I was coaching my team, and I'll just say this: We knew they weren't going to go away. We knew Stanford was going to continue to battle and, if anything, take their intensity up another notch.
And we certainly -- we matched it a lot, but we didn't match it a couple times, especially early in the second half. You know that's the disappointment to me, that we did not come out and absolutely impose our will in the second half. And whether it was a subtle jump shot, whether we just weren't as good inside, you know, that's what we have to continue to learn to do. That's the next step for this team.
That's what the Big East and things prepare you for is to look for those areas where you can really take the next step, and we didn't do that. We didn't do that at the end of the first half, and we didn't do it at the beginning of the second half.

Q. Given the mismatch that you had in overtime and the situation, could you really have asked for a better defensive effort from -- I think it was Burke on the -- I mean, they seemed to have him pinned --
COACH CREAN: Again, our ball pressure wasn't nearly as good as it needed to be, and we wanted to come down off the pass. They're as good any team as in the country with those two on the blocks. I liked our zone today, but we were a step slow on the zone as the game wound down, and we had to keep that pressure on with our man-to-man, and it wasn't as good on the ball with Johnson getting it in, and we did not do a good enough job. When they made -- the toughest play made all day was the last one at the end of the game.

Q. That's what I was talking about; I mean in that situation.
COACH CREAN: He took a tough shot. I mean, he takes tough shots. The twins have a real ability to make those plays. And, you know, we knew going in -- I mean we're not -- we can't simulate two seven-footers in practice, but we could have done a better job on the scouting report as far as following the report a couple times, you know, in that post, taking away a certain shoulder. But, again, they made some tough plays. They're outstanding players, and, you know, Brook made big plays, and he caught it so deep that we couldn't get our double-team down there.
THE MODERATOR: Any further questions? All right. Thank you, Coach.

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