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March 13, 2009

Jim Boeheim

Kristof Ongenaet

Andy Rautins


Syracuse 74
West Virginia 69

COACH JIM BOEHEIM: Sorry we didn't give you a longer game tonight. We tried. You know, what can I say? I'll tell you, West Virginia, I watched a little tape of them and watched most of their game the overnight and, they were so impressive against Pittsburgh that it was scary coming against them and Bobby has done such a great job coaching that team this year and just changes the defense.
We're pretty good finally against man-to-man and went to the 1-3-1, we saw that against Pittsburgh and we just had our shooters out there and I think that, you know, we settled that. But then the second half they really did a good job matching up. We were struggling to score.
These guys, you know, just move the ball and kept getting good opportunities and took the ball to the basket. Our defense was the difference except for one stretch, you know, we let Ruoff and Butler get away from us a little bit but for the most part we found those guys. Ebanks had a huge game. He's really improved from when we played in Syracuse. He really struggled. He really has really improved and Butler has had a tremendous year.
I think West Virginia has got a tremendous basketball team and, you know, this was a tough game going into the overtime, you know, I wasn't sure Jonny was going to make it but he always does, and, you know, he made some big plays but these two guys were tremendous tonight.
Andy is good on defense. He made one little steal down there when they were going for a layup that just knocked it away and we got a basket and it was a huge play. Kristof (Ongenaet) was just tremendous on the boards and made some passes. When we were struggling to score there we got it to Ricky (Jackson) and Kristof gave him a great bounce pass for a layup. But everybody contributed. Everybody has made big plays for us and -- in the four weeks we've been here (laughter).

Q. Coach, kind of surprised they didn't come out and press you to see what kind of legs you guys had early?
COACH JIM BOEHEIM: I'm not surprised a team that's well coached and is a really, really good team never presses, doesn't press. That would surprise me if they did. If you've seen us play, we're pretty good against pressure. So, that sometimes has given us baskets. But, tomorrow night we will be pressed for 40 minutes because that's what Louisville does, but I would never expect a great coach to try to do something his team doesn't do, no.

Q. Jim, as tired as Jonny was, he never lost his smile. Can you just talk about what his will means to this team?
COACH JIM BOEHEIM: You know, I'll tell you the truth, Jonny does have a huge will but Andy and Kristof, you know, Paul (Harris), Rick (Jackson), Eric (Devendorf), they all do. One guy can't will a win. One guy can't. Eric made some huge plays today and Andy -- these guys all have tremendous will. You can't win these games, you know -- just less than two, three weeks ago we were 7-and-7 and, you know, hadn't played well for 12 games. We played all right but we didn't play great, and we had a couple injuries, Andy and Arinze (Onuaku) and we were struggling to get through that time and we actually had a couple great games in there against West Virginia and Georgetown and Notre Dame that were huge because if we hadn't got those games, we could have been a 1-and-10, 1-and-9 stretch and then when we got there, everybody healthy, with St. John's down here, we played our best game of the year and went back and Cincinnati, played great, and, you know, obviously played really well from that point on.
You know, these guys have all got a tremendous heart and it starts with Jonny because Jonny has got the ball.

Q. Question for Andy. I think probably everybody in the building was wondering if your stamina would be affected by the amount you guys played last night. I know you're in the position of speaking for the whole team here but can you describe the way those 70 minutes may have had an impact on how you felt today?
ANDY RAUTINS: I think we felt pretty good overall. We were able to come out and compete and, you know, just a tribute to our strength and conditioning staff that did such a good job of keeping us in good shape. Ours guys were persevering. All the credit in the world to the staff. Very well prepared. Credit to our guys for having such a heart to compete.

Q. Andy, just to follow-up, what were you guys doing at 2:30 or 3:00 in the morning last night? Were you looking for McDonald's?
COACH JIM BOEHEIM: That's exactly what we were doing. All of us. New York City -- Syracuse, you can get something to eat at 2:30. I couldn't find anyplace last night.

Q. Jim, I don't mean to slight the other guys when I ask about Jonny. How hard is it to play at his level 67 and 45 minutes. He's played in all but three minutes in these two games.
COACH JIM BOEHEIM: I don't know why the coach took him out those three minutes. He was not thinking, not good coaching probably. He wants to be out there, he doesn't like to come out. All the great players I've had hate to come out. I had first eight games we played one year, we were winning by an average of 35 points a game and Billy Owens was only playing 30 minutes and said, Coach, I didn't come here to play 30 minutes. Learned a long time good players, they want to be in the game.

Q. Kristof, when you went to overtime, were you thinking, geez, here we go again? What were you thinking when you went to that overtime period?
KRISTOF ONGENAET: I think definitely after last night I think we're pretty good in overtime, so I think we're a tough team to beat and I think we were stronger than yesterday. Yesterday, we had six, now we only had one. I think it was really important for us to stick together as a team and play together as a team and I think did a pretty good job of that and that was pretty much it.

Q. Jim, can you talk about the rebounding and more offensive rebounds than defensive rebounds.
COACH JIM BOEHEIM: They're one of the best rebounding teams in the league, I think. I don't know. Statistically I thought that, anyway. You know, we've done a little better on the boards than I think we're credited with. We're not a great rebounding team but I thought our guys tonight -- we've got a little size advantage when we have the two big guys in there. We just don't have the two big guys in there very often at the same time, but I just thought we went after the ball better than we have, Kristof and Andy and Arinze, especially when he went back in, he really, I thought went after the ball well and that's maybe not our strength, but I thought tonight West Virginia is not a big team and they just do a tremendous job going to the boards, they really do.

Q. Jim, you know, you've been here a couple of times in this championship game, different teams?

Q. I know.
COACH JIM BOEHEIM: I'm not counting, though.

Q. It's a difficult team to play tomorrow night. Can you get that relaxed kind of atmosphere to your players, I'm saying the game is important but you have the --
COACH JIM BOEHEIM: Every game we've played lately -- when you play college basketball every game play is important. You start out the year and if you blow a game that you're not supposed to, it can put you in a bad situation later on because you're going to lose unless, you know, one of the top four, five, six teams in the country, you're going to lose some games along the way and if you lose a game, the 8th game of the year that I shouldn't at the end of the year it can come back and bite you. Every game is important. When we were 6-6, 7-7 (in The Big East) that next game was huge for us. More pressure on us than certainly in this game, and, you know, these guys have played well. They know Louisville won the league. They know Louisville has played -- Rick just monkeyed around a little bit earlier in the year getting his team organized. Since then they're like 28-and-2 or something.
So, you discount any of those early losses they had. They were just figuring out. He was just trying to give everybody an idea that they weren't that good or something but they're playing as well as anybody.
I think Villanova is a tremendous team. We couldn't beat them twice and I just think Louisville is a tremendous team. They've got all the answers. They've got a lot of depth, they've got inside, outside combination, couple great players. So, we have our work cut us for us tomorrow night but we'll come ready to play.

Q. Jim, Eric's shot at the half, was that redemption?
COACH JIM BOEHEIM: He must have owed us one, somehow. We gambled on the defensive play and got a wide open look but, I guess Eric -- maybe -- I hope he's got another one or two of them. The shot he made last night was incredible. I couldn't believe watching the tape, that shot, but that -- we've seen two half court shots this year. One good, one not so good.

Q. After playing for almost four hours last night and looking forward to today, tell me about anything you saw that was maybe any different in your players, any ill effects from your last night. Did anyone look fresh?
COACH JIM BOEHEIM: I thought we looked good for a long time tonight, really. I didn't see that. I know Jonny was feeling it the most but I didn't see it in these -- you can ask these two guys. The other guys, you know, didn't play quite as many minutes, maybe but I didn't see it, you know.
I think that at the end -- I think probably both teams were a little tired. It's their third game, you know, in three days so I think both teams could have been a little tired.
JOHN PAQUETTE: Syracuse, thank you.

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