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March 12, 2009

Jim Calhoun

A.J. Price

Stanley Robinson


Syracuse 127

COACH JIM CALHOUN: Well, obviously it was a journey by two teams and it seems to me -- obviously everybody is prejudiced from their vantage point. We had a lot of opportunities to close the door, make a foul shot, make a stop. We weren't able to do that and I could think before six different times -- I think we controlled or had either a lead or chance to take the lead at the end of four, five of overtimes and we found ways not to do that and Syracuse found a way to win the game. Congratulations to them and that's it.
JOHN PAQUETTE: Questions, please?

Q. Just how exhausting was this whole process?
COACH JIM CALHOUN: I'm not exhausted. The players are probably exhausted. I'm not -- I could practice right now. Foul shooting, probably.
JOHN PAQUETTE: Do we have any questions for the players?

Q. A.J., just tell us, did your legs cramp up at anytime? How physically did you get through it?
A.J. PRICE: No, didn't cramp up at any time. I felt good for the most part as best as you probably can feel after six overtimes or whatever it was. I felt physically fine, we just couldn't get over the hump. We didn't make free throws down the stretch and it cost us.

Q. Coach, you guys have faced some pretty tough opponents so far this season. Looking into this game tonight, going into six overtimes, what do you think it was that officially did you guys --
COACH JIM CALHOUN: 27 turnovers. I don't remember a team of mine having 27 turnovers.
Once again we haven't played in six overtimes. We were going to get in the 20s that is. We weren't ready to play. We played one game in 12 days; that's not the reason we lost. We played two games tonight practically. It wasn't rust. We turned the ball over and two guys who wanted to shoot are here with me and nobody else seemed to want to make plays. Give all the credit to Syracuse. They fought back, made great plays. They brought kids off the bench who hadn't played very much and closed the deal for them. We had ample opportunities to close the door and we never could. Syracuse is a top 20 team and should be. We didn't play like a team that had won 27 games and should be able to close the door. We did that a lot this year. See we certainly didn't do it today and had ample opportunities.

Q. Coach, I know you lost the game but how would you rate that game as far as in your coaching history, one of the greatest games you've ever been a part of?
COACH JIM CALHOUN: It's a loss. There was -- there was something certainly about the game. That stuff doesn't really get into the play of things. Both teams competed. A.J. had big plays, all kinds of plays that went on during the game and I'm sure in the summertime I'll look back and say what a historic battle it was. Right now it's a loss. There's no other way.
We wanted to get to Friday. We didn't get to Friday and it's very disappointing, and I said before that the double bye -- and this is not an excuse -- but Villanova for all rights and purposes was on the edge. Pittsburgh lost and we lost and just making that for point of reference. When you have a bye week the week before, it's a difficult time.
That isn't why we lost. You all saw the opportunities we had. Make one foul shot and we could have ended it or made a couple plays.
You know, am I going to think about this game? Yeah, I'm going to think it was a loss and we wanted to play tomorrow night and playing in Madison Square Garden on a Friday night is pretty special. That was one of our keys, be here on Friday night with the new format, only playing one game. I don't like it. I've said it all along. Open up against the top 20 teams, not exactly the way you want to get into a tournament. Only having one game in 12 days.
We lost the game because we turned the ball over 27 times and couldn't make a foul shot. You know, in a journey like this, I think all A.J., Stanley, all our kids, you know, when you put that much effort into something and you end up shorthanded you're not going the feel great. We really gave it our all. We're a good basketball team. I thought we could have done a lot more with the situation we had especially because we're a great closeout team this year.
It took this group three years to be the kind of closeout team it wanted to be and it was and tonight we had closeout opportunity after closeout opportunity and we weren't able to take advantage of it. In the summer I'll probably think of that. That's sick but that's what I'll do.

Q. Coach, I noticed Jerome (Dyson) was kind of chomping at the bit --

Q. What was he saying to you?
COACH JIM CALHOUN: He was trying to coach the team. I probably should have slid into the seat. He might have been better than I was. He wanted to win for the team. I think he wanted to continue for us, to stay here tomorrow night and get the opportunity to play West Virginia in the semifinals. I've always said the finals are great, we've been able to be there a few times. The semis are great and I wanted this group particularly to play on Friday night, just four teams, very special and I saw those opportunities right there and something would happen. We would make a mistake. All the various things we did. We turned the ball over 27 times and get to six overtimes, you have to -- wonder to yourself, you know what else could you have done or miss as many foul shots as we did.

Q. Jim, going forward was obviously a difficult loss and the loss to Pitt. How do you go forward in the tournament to prepare these guys mentally?
COACH JIM CALHOUN: We're not going to play (Nos.) 2-and-20. I'm not trying to be sarcastic. We just play -- I said -- it's been a while ago, Pittsburgh a week ago, and said they were as good a team as anybody in the country at their building and then we lost to a very good Syracuse team.
So our Big East season is over. Quite frankly, I can't wait to get the hell out of it right now. I would like to be here tomorrow but very simply not playing the same teams and playing a little different style. We all know each other. Jimmy (Boeheim) and I say the same things. If I win, next week is more important. He said tonight, don't worry about it, next week is more important. Neither one of us means it but we say it (laughter).

Q. For Stanley, did you think it would be this easy to get -- crash the boards and get to the rim? You were getting to the rim at will tonight.
STANLEY ROBINSON: No. I mean that's one of my key things to do, like as far as like playing basketball is getting to the rim, as long as I get to the rim and get rebounds, that can start my game.
So I mean like Coach always tell me to get to the rim, just rebound first and my game opens up so that's what I did and it just opened up for me.
COACH JIM CALHOUN: Can I make one statement?
I keep hearing the fact the Big East is not as powerful as everybody thinks we are because we don't have Notre Dame and possibly Providence going into the tournament. Someone has to get to the -- I know they have time in here to just inform them. They did the math and they're playing top five and four and ten teams. Someone's got to lose. And so, therefore, if you don't pick Notre Dame, and Providence and Georgetown are good teams, they have to lose in order for us to win. I read a statement last night how come they don't have ten teams going? Because mathematically it's impossible if you play all the right teams to have a good record. Providence, they were using as an example. They haven't played enough of the good teams. If they did, that's what I'm trying to tell you why the league is so good. People kept losing the math of it. We're 15 and 3. Everybody is supposed to be 15 and 3. Do the math and play two Big East teams, you're going to get 500 for the league. One team will win and one will lose.
After being through this, and this is my final Big East say, the idea that this is not a great, great and maybe the greatest conference for one year ever is ludicrous. Someone just do some simple math to truly understand -- when Georgetown got caught in the washer in the rinse cycle and the same thing that happened to Notre Dame, you played five straight top 20 teams. Try that on for size. So they don't seem to understand the fact the math can't work out, they're not going to have ten teams with 15 and 3 records.
You know, I really was put off by the fact that this is not a strong conference. Trust me, the team we played tonight was a terrific team. The problem is it's hard for a team that doesn't have everything to show it just because of the greatness of the league. Thanks.

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