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March 20, 2009

Steve Donahue

Alex Tyler

Ryan Wittman


Missouri – 78
Cornell - 59

THE MODERATOR: We'll ask Coach Donahue to make an opening statement and then take questions for the student-athletes.
COACH DONAHUE: Thank you. I thought that the game was probably lost for us in the first half, where I thought we played extremely well defensively, took care of the ball, and then shots that we normally make, we didn't. And all of the things that you look for and what things we worked on, I thought in the first half we did, except make shots. I think it's down four at that point, it made it difficult. Then the second part is they make a great run to start the second half. And I thought our defense let up at that point.
But I said to myself, and I never mentioned to the guys, I thought if we could hold our turnovers under 10, which I thought would be difficult, and limit them to under 10 offensive rebounds, we did both those things. And I thought it was basically a 10- to 12-point game for the most part. And honestly, we got fouled at the end -- but I give Missouri credit. They're obviously a terrific basketball team. I think the kid Lyons and Carroll are just terrific basketball players, just terrific defenders, take care of the ball, great experience. And I think that's what makes them special at this point.
THE MODERATOR: Take questions for the student-athletes.

Q. Alex, talk about the trouble that Leo Lyons gave you guys inside. Seemed like he was a problem throughout the game.
ALEX TYLER: I think that he's a very talented player and he works really hard. So he was working on not only getting position, but once we played pretty well, he would throw up a shot and get his own rebound. He just kept going after it. So I think that's what gave us a little bit of a problem.

Q. For Ryan and Alex, can you just talk about the toll that the pressure defense takes over the course of the game.
RYAN WITTMAN: Obviously they play a lot of guys. But I thought we handled it pretty well. Like Coach said, we only had nine turnovers. I think when we broke and we were aggressive we got some easy baskets, but I think at times it led to some quick shots. And it wasn't so much the turnovers that hurt us, but them getting out in transition. They got some easy baskets in the second half when they were making that big run. I thought maybe their press sped us up a little bit, but I thought we handled it pretty well for the most part.
ALEX TYLER: I think we did a pretty good job with it. We had a lot of passing through all the pressure that they put on and I think that overall we did a pretty good job. But like he said, it sped us up a little bit and took a little quicker shots in the second half and it just went from there.

Q. Ryan, coach was saying that you guys played really well in the first half and maybe didn't get as much out of it as you should have. Did you feel like going in the locker room that you didn't get what you could have out of that half?
RYAN WITTMAN: Definitely. All year long we shot the ball well and so it was kind of disappointing to play a half like that and not knock the shots down. But it was there, we were going out in the second half saying if we play that same type of half and shoot the ball better, we're going to be in great shape.
Obviously that didn't happen, they started making some plays in transition and that's what cost us.

Q. For both the players, does the loss like this put a damper on the season at all when you've been back two times now and then the game gets away from you in the second half here?
RYAN WITTMAN: Doesn't necessarily put a damper on the season, it's extremely difficult to win back to back championships in any conference. It's disappointing in the fact that we know we could have played better, we could have hit more shots and things might have turned out differently.
Any time your season ends like this it's always difficult. Especially having four seniors, it was their last game. It's always difficult when your season ends like this, but we don't want to take anything away from what we accomplished earlier in the year.
ALEX TYLER: Exactly. We went through a lot this year. As a group I think we matured so much throughout the course of the year. And a game like this, where we felt like we could have won if we played better, it's definitely disappointing, but none of our guys gave up, we all worked hard all season and that's what we have done all year. So I think for winning back to back Ivy League championships is still a great accomplishment.
THE MODERATOR: All right, thank you gentlemen. We'll take questions now for Coach Donahue.

Q. Mike Anderson said that even though you guys turned the ball over not that much, he thought the difference in the game was the defense and the way that it kind of sped you up and made you do some things in the second half. Is that kind of how you saw it a little bit the second half?
COACH DONAHUE: You know, I'll respectfully disagree. I think that, I thought the pressure helped us get open shots. That's, to me, that's the underrated thing with Mike's team is their offense. They don't turn the ball over. They share the ball. No one does anything out of the ordinary where you say, wow, what would a guy do there? Why did he do that? There is none of that.
And I go back to the two bigs, they just have a great assist to turnover with the big players. And they still can guard and they still can be physical, yet they're a multi-task on the offensive end. It just makes it very difficult to guard. And I thought that stretch where they took it to us was their offense.
I know -- I just thought that -- and it's difficult to press us because we can make shots and I just thought that allowed us to get open looks, where I think we might have been, it might have been more difficult if they stayed with us and guarded us straight up.
I'm -- as I said, I was disappointed in shots that I thought we could make and obviously a couple guys in particular just had bad days shooting. And it's hard to get tired in an NCAA game. These timeouts are three minutes long and you get an extra 30 and that's three minutes long, and I didn't sense fatigue at all and we played a lot of guys and they played their guys about the same. I thought they're underrated offensive basketball team. It doesn't jump out at you, but they're an underrated offensive basketball team.

Q. Some things obviously didn't go your way today, but yesterday you talked a lot about wanting to play better than last year. How do you feel like the game went in terms of that?
COACH DONAHUE: Yeah, I thought that we played much better. And as I said, for the most of the game I think it was a 10 to 12 point game with about three to go and we got to take chances and we got to start fouling. And they're not a great foul shooting team, but they made all their foul shots today.
I think that was where, if we wanted to keep the game close and look like it was, I think we could have kept it around 10. But that's not why you do this, you try to win games. And I thought we played much better, there's a much better sense of poise and confidence about us. Way different -- and I have great aspirations for this team. All five of these starters are back, top seven guys for the most part are back. For the -- obviously we're going to try to win our league again, we're going to challenge ourselves in the preseason, we're going to try to get to this stage again and we're going to try to win. And I'm confident that we'll continue to grow as a program and a team and we'll show better next year and try to advance.

Q. You talked in the opening a little bit about Leo Lyons and the challenges, how difficult is it really, it seemed like there's not a lot you can do to defend that?
COACH DONAHUE: You know, I just think he's as good as it gets in college basketball. A senior like that, plays at a great pace, very skilled, yet tough. When he misses his shot he has the ability to chase it down. He does it against all competition. That's what makes him really good. I just think those two kids are just so much better than everybody else in college basketball because they're older and tougher and veteran-oriented and they buy into what Coach Anderson is doing. That jumps out at me. All the other guys are good basketball players. I think those two are just really special.

Q. We're doing something with stats. The Marquette coach has been talking a lot this week about statistics and breaking everything down. Is there one that you really pay attention to, something you track very closely?
COACH DONAHUE: Well, I think that depends on each team, to be honest with you. What's important to you. For us we need to take care of the ball if we're going to win. We can't make up with athleticism and length and size many mistakes. So we got to take care of the ball, and obviously move the ball and get shots for each other.
So the assist to turnovers are a huge one for us. It may not be big for other teams that can offensive rebound, can cause havoc on the defensive end. I go back to this Missouri team again, their advantage is that they do both. They cause havoc and they take care of the ball. And they assist. I mean that's the thing that amazes me. But for us, that's something that's big for us.
If I had a different type of team I would look at it differently, but that's a huge stat for us and if you look at our team as a progression over the years, that continually gets better as we do it. Same thing on the defensive end. We want to limit teams in their ability to get assists and try to limit those things and then obviously you try to, obviously, don't let them get as many turnovers as you can get as well.
THE MODERATOR: All right, thank you, coach.

End of FastScripts

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