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March 22, 2009

Jim Boeheim

Eric Devendorf

Jonny Flynn

Andy Rautins


Syracuse 78
Arizona State 67

LARRY WAHL: We'll open up with an opening statement from Coach Boeheim, then we'll have questions just for the student-athletes. Coach?
COACH JIM BOEHEIM: You know, I thought we played -- you have to play well offensively against Arizona State and get ahead of them. You don't want to play from behind against them. I thought the key early is getting it inside. I thought our guys did a great job of getting it in there. And then after we got some inside looks, Andy came in and hit a couple threes.
I thought defensively we did a good job. We wanted to get to Glasser and Harden. We knew that the -- we knew Kuksiks would shoot it and we didn't do a good job with him, but Abbott had a big game for them. He shot the heck out of the ball. But we didn't give them much inside, and we just wanted them to shoot a lot of threes and not get too much inside.
But I thought we played extremely well. That defense is difficult to go against, a match-up is very difficult to go against. Our defense is hard sometimes, too. But we've been playing better defense and our offense has been good all year. I give these guys a lot of credit. When they cut it to two, Jonny made a great penetration and kicked it to Andy and then he made a couple to get Eric the ball. They knocked down big shots. That was the difference.

Q. Eric, can you give us a sense of what's going through your mind when they got it to four? Was it panic? Was it still confidence? What was it? And also take us through the second three you hit, the one from the corner that you posed a little bit after on?
ERIC DEVENDORF: Well, I mean, this is the NCAA Tournament so we know every team is going to make a run at us. Arizona is a great team obviously with a superstar in James Harden and James Pendergraph is a good player, as well. They made a run, but the guys we have on our team, even though Jonny is a sophomore, he's a veteran player, the best point guard in America, and Andy Rautins knocked down a big shot and I was able to get open from Jonny penetrating and kicking.
After that second three, I don't know if I posed, I probably just stood there. It was a good pass from Andy, and I was able to knock it down.

Q. Andy, could you take us through the play that came right after that time-out when they cut the lead to four and you ended up getting the ball in the corner?
ANDY RAUTINS: Yeah, we knew we could get the inside screen there, and Rick kind of pinned him in there and Jonny had a little penetration and kicked it to me real quick after an inbound. I got it off pretty quick, and I wasn't too sure about taking the shot, but I let it go and it was good. It was just a great look all around and a well designed play.

Q. Jonny, could you talk a little bit about what you guys did against James. And were you surprised that you didn't try to force the action a little bit because it seemed like he was relatively passive for the entire game?
JONNY FLYNN: Coming into the game you see him on TV, you know you hear about his name, First Team All American, NBA-type talent on the college level. That kind of fires up. Every time you play against a guy with that much potential and that much ability on the basketball court, you're wired up to stop him.
Coach really told us and did a good job of preparing us for making it a frustrating game for him. We thought coming to this game that he would get his points, but you wanted it to be hard points, you wanted there to be a hand in his face, you wanted to hit him, send him to the free-throw line and make it a tough game. I was a little surprised that he didn't start forcing the action more, but he's a great player and he knows this team. I think we just did a good job of making it a hard game for him and letting nothing come easy for him.

Q. Andy, after not getting the knockdown like you wanted to on Friday how important was it for you to get that first three to go for your confidence?
ANDY RAUTINS: Regardless as a shooter you have to keep shooting no matter what. That's your role on the team. Had I not made that first three, I would have kept shooting had I got the looks. But the first one did fall, got me feeling pretty good, and Eric and I, we didn't shoot the ball well last game and we came out and were stroking it well today. That's what good shooters do, they bounce back and they stay confident.

Q. Jonny, could you talk about attacking their 3-2 match-up? It seemed like early on you guys were really able to get it inside which a lot of teams aren't able to do.
JONNY FLYNN: I think we were really patient. When you play a match-up zone like that, the key is they want to speed you up, they want to make you take quick shots and get on the glass and try to beat you down the court. But I think we really did a good job of working the ball around and hitting the corners. Like you said, whenever AO, when Jeff Pendergraph fronted him with things in the post, whenever we get an opportunity to throw it down Arinze, they weren't doubling off because you've got these two guys next to me hitting shots all the time.
Just to get it in early and establish a post presence in the game, it really helped us out during the course of the game.

Q. You guys all three actually in the first half, the guards, combined for 12 assists and no turnovers. Any reason for that?
ERIC DEVENDORF: We know what type of defense this is, what Arizona State has. Sometimes they can make you force the issue but you've got to be patient because you're not going to get an open shot the first go around. So I think that's what we did. All three of us were just patient and we took what was open. When we do that, good things happen, and we were able to get it down to Rick and Arinze a couple times, and on the reversals we were able to get a couple open threes.

Q. Jonny, for those of us that don't see you play every game all season, what was that wrap on your left arm?
JONNY FLYNN: Well, I had this the whole season. I had bruised my arm earlier in the season, and we kept winning when I was wearing it, so I just kept it on the rest of the season, just kept playing. I guess it's a little good luck charm for us, I guess.

Q. This is for any of the players to answer: You guys seemed very cool when they did make a run. Can you just talk about the attitude of the team on the court today and your feeling about making a statement?
JONNY FLYNN: Well, you know, coming into that time-out when we were up four points, it's easy to get rattled. We were up, had a big lead, but Coach Boeheim really sat us down and said, "Look at the score, look at the time, and we're winning the game." You tend to lose focus just because a team makes a great run or starts hitting a couple shots, you start to think you're down when in actuality you're winning the game. He told us we're up, and he really kept us poised in the huddle and really put a nice game plan together, made a nice end-game adjustment and we started working on it. And from there on out played great.
COACH JIM BOEHEIM: And then they made three shots.
LARRY WAHL: At this time we'll take questions for Coach Boeheim.

Q. That time-out when they had cut it to four, was that designed to go to Andy or did it start with Jonny?
COACH JIM BOEHEIM: We were going to go with a pick-and-roll and either go back and try to go inside or try to get the shooter in the corner. We hadn't been getting that shot in the corner that many times. They were pretty good at finding Andy. But he got just a little room, Harden was just a little late. Obviously the way the momentum of the game was, that was a big play.
I think right away something happened on their end, they made a mistake or something, and missed a free throw or something, and we came back and Eric got the look in the corner, which was a hard -- no, I guess he got the open look first when Jonny penetrated, made a great play and kicked it out, and then the last one was a hard one.
You know, Andy's shot was the difference in the game. That was the ballgame I thought.

Q. Just expanding on what Jonny was talking about with regard to Harden, can you talk a little bit about what your plan was for him and how it was executed.
COACH JIM BOEHEIM: Well, the last game he was -- he moved the ball, and when they played him in the first game, in the Temple game, he didn't try to force anything. Glasser was shooting it, Kuksiks was shooting it, they were getting the ball to Pendergraph. Harden did nothing, he was really passive. And tonight when he was on the perimeter, we weren't concerned. If anything, we were going to let him shoot the three over the other three guys. As it turned out, Glasser had a bad day, but the other two guys had great days. Sometimes that happens.
But when he went to the post, that's when we tried to drop our defense back in. He did get it in there, but he didn't get it as often in there as I think he would have liked to have it. My main concern coming into the game was him getting the ball in the post area. He's very good, he does go left, but he's good at it. I thought we made a couple defensive plays on him when he did go left, but we didn't want him to get going. When he's on the perimeter and he doesn't have something, he doesn't force it, he just moves it.
They're a slow team. Against us I know they're going to take 30 seconds. The first play of the game they had a shot-clock violation, over-back, whatever it was. They're going to take their time. And when you play a team like that, you've got to be good on offense, you've got to get ahead and you've got to make them play a little faster, although they never do play any faster, so you just kind of have to use the clock.
We made a couple really bad offensive plays to let it get to four. It should have never got to four. We made a couple bad offensive playoffs. Ricky missed a dunk, we missed a layup. Kristof got a rebound under the basket and missed it. You can't stop scoring. We had that one stretch where we didn't score. It wasn't our defense; we didn't score. That's how it got to four.
We took the time-out a couple times just to try to get our offense back going.

Q. Did you think you could dominate in the paint as much as you did, especially early, 31 to 8 in points total?
COACH JIM BOEHEIM: The reason they play a match-up is they're small. They play a match-up to protect that area. You know, it's a great defense because you still can cover shooters, but you get help back inside. We did a great job early of getting it in inside and getting a lay-up. Then when we got to AO on the second play, Ricky's guy came over, AO got the shot up there and Ricky tipped it in.
We don't play the two big guys together that much because they get tired, so they were effective today early. But our inside game has gotten better as we've gone along. Ricky has gotten better. Arinze was great in the early part of the year. He got hurt, and he was ineffective for about eight games, and we happened to lose six of them. But we probably would have lost them anyway because we were playing Connecticut and Pittsburgh. When you play those games, you're ready for tough games. We're as ready as we can be for tough games. But he's just starting to get back to being effective again, and Ricky and him together are better now. And that's why we're better off on offense than I think we were.

Q. I know you don't like talking about it, but you're closing in on No. 800. How much would it mean to get that in the tournament?
COACH JIM BOEHEIM: The next game. That's all we're trying to get. It doesn't mean a lot. We're going to play the team that's the No. 1 seed in this tournament if it weren't for Griffin getting injured. If he hadn't gotten hurt, they'd be the No. 1 seed. That's enough to worry about.

Q. You noted the other day that when both Eric and Andy struggle from the field that tends to be problematic for you guys. As you look ahead and try to build for the next game, how nice was it to see both of them shoot considerably better?
COACH JIM BOEHEIM: We're a good shooting team. Jonny is a good shooter, too. He hasn't shot it that way well, I think he made one over there, but he's a good shooter, too. Nobody plays our zone. Nobody does. Because we shoot the ball well. The other day they had such a big lead I guess they figured they didn't need to make any. But I knew they would make shots today if they got them. They're both good shooters, they're good under pressure. They're going to make shots. But again, we don't see zones except a little bit maybe early in the year, but nobody played -- I can't remember the last time anybody has played our zone.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about when you play in a tournament and teams from out west or maybe the Big 12 like in '03 see your zone, what's different about it that can cause them to freeze up?
COACH JIM BOEHEIM: You'd have to ask them. I don't know, ask them.
LARRY WAHL: Okay, thank you very much.

End of FastScripts

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