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March 19, 2010

Jim Boeheim

Scoop Jardine

Wesley Johnson

Andy Rautins


Syracuse – 79
Vermont - 56

THE MODERATOR: I'm joined now by head coach Jim Boeheim and Scoop Jardine, Andy Rautins, Wesley Johnson. Same format. We'll ask Coach Boeheim to make an opening statement, and at that point we'll take questions just for our student athletes and go from there.
JIM BOEHEIM: Tonight I thought our defense was much better. I thought that was the one thing we talked about over the last few days, to get back on the defensive end. We just had the bad turnovers at the end of the first half. Got them back in it. But other than that, our defense was really good the whole game and we were very good on offense.
I thought everybody really contributed. We got great first half out of Scoop and Brandon hit a couple in the second half. It would have been a much different game if we hadn't hit a couple of those to get it going.
Vermont is a good team. They played well all year. And I just thought we played very well tonight.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, Coach. We're going to take questions just for our student athletes here.

Q. Wes, I was just wondering if you had any nerves going into your first tournament game here?
WES JOHNSON: Not at all. It was more so excitement just to get back out finally playing. This being my first NCAA tournament, just the thrill of it to finally get back out there and experience it. It was fun.

Q. This is for Andy. The way the game started and you guys always talk about keeping underdogs, putting them in their place, could it have started any better for you guys?
ANDY RAUTINS: I don't think so. We came out aggressive. Our defense was good. We just got a little bit passive. I think it's tough to play with a lead like that. You have to maintain the killer instinct throughout the game. Second half we made better adjustments and a little bit -- got out of our lull a little bit. We adjusted in the second half.

Q. Could you guys just talk specifically Coach said about the defense there, I guess what you guys were able to do defensively tonight that you felt in the previous two games you hadn't been doing?
SCOOP JARDINE: We were able to locate the shooters. We did a great job trapping the corners and getting out and getting some steals. Our big guys did a great job coming back and getting blocks and able to start the fast break. I think we just did a great job overall communicating with each other and locating the shooters.
Couple of times we didn't locate the shooters, they got a good shot. I think for the overall part we located the shooters and tried to get out to them.
WES JOHNSON: I think going to practice, that was our emphasis to focus on the defensive end, like to get out and play defense like we did at the beginning of the year. I think the whole week of practice that we had to prepare for this game it helped us go into this game to step up on defense.

Q. Andy, could you talk about how good it was to see Brandon Triche hit a few shots tonight and also the play you got from DaShonte Riley.
ANDY RAUTINS: It was great. Big minutes from both those guys. Brandon remains confident. When he lets the ball go, he shoots it. He's a very good shooter. There's a point where he missed one shot. We got an offensive rebound, kick it back out to him and he hit another one. It goes to show when he has his confidence going, he's a great player. Getting in the lane and making plays for us too.
DaShonte had big minutes for us rebounding the ball, moving it. He had a couple of assists out there too. It was good to get those guys time and especially DaShonte.

Q. Andy, looking at the big picture and the focus that's been on the BIG EAST over the past couple of days, it doesn't look like the BIG EAST is down here in Buffalo considering how you guys opened and how West Virginia opened. Have you noticed, are you surprised by what happened yesterday?
ANDY RAUTINS: Yeah, I mean there were some letdowns, but I think teams came out ready to play. Still no doubt in my mind the BIG EAST is the best conference in the country. We still have the best teams. Just the first round games are always a little bit tough. Maybe more so in our bracket. We came out ready to play. I don't know. But there's no question the BIG EAST is still the best conference.

Q. Scoop, it seems like later in the year you seem to have excelled in the beginning of the first half. You did in the Villanova game. You came out with a great first half. What is it that makes you get out to those great starts?
SCOOP JARDINE: Just try to be ready when I get in the game. I mean, I've been coming off the bench all year so I kind of did my role. When I get in the game I try to be aggressive. Try to make plays for myself and for my teammates. And today I just got some easy lay-ups. Coach drew up some plays I was cutting to the basket, and watched film. A couple of lay-ups. I just got it going that way.

Q. Scoop, the cross-over dribble, do you remember the play I'm talking about? The crowd went nuts. Wes is shaking his head. Can you tell us about that play? Describe it a little bit.
SCOOP JARDINE: As Coach says, a playground play. I just tried to -- I seen Wes running. Andy was running. They kind of made the play and I slowed down like I was going to go to one of them. I crossed over, he went for it and I finished the play. I give credit to Wes and Andy because they made the play, because they ran hard.
THE MODERATOR: Take two more for these guys.

Q. Wes, can you talk about tonight, the rebounding, not letting them get second chance points and controlling the glass?
WES JOHNSON: I think we were very active using our athleticism to get on the boards and try to limit them to one chance, one and out. Really if we get on the boards and Scoop and Andy fill the lanes we can get out in transition a lot. I feel like me, Rick and Chris and with DaShonte coming in, to try to limit them to one shot.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks for your time. Congrats. See you on Sunday. We'll take other questions for Coach Boeheim at this time.

Q. Similar to what I asked the players. The way you guys started, the energy, were you concerned about a slow start, and again letting a team play with you?
JIM BOEHEIM: We haven't had slow starts this year very often. We've been pretty good. Our defense was better at the beginning. That was the big key. We gave them one early. After that we covered them. I just thought our defense was better, and then when our defense is better it picks up our offense and our offense kind of gets going.
We had 24 assists. These guys passed the ball. They looked for each other. They are unselfish. Ricky made a couple of great passes tonight. I thought the key for us, Andy got eight defensive rebounds. That was a big plus.
And the passing, the assists were tremendous. Vermont made no mistakes, which usually we need to force some turnovers, and we could not do that. But we forced their shooters out a little bit, and made them take tough shots. We did a good job on the boards.

Q. Jim, I would like to ask you the same questions about Brandon Triche's night and DaShonte Riley's contributions.
JIM BOEHEIM: I thought DaShonte was good. He's had good practices this week. It's tough -- he's really struggled in practice so much this year that we just weren't able to get him into games because he just was not ready. It wasn't necessarily that Arinze and Ricky were playing that good. He just was not ready. He's been better in practice, again like a freshman, when he knows he's not playing, I think they tend to lose the edge and aren't ready. I think knowing he was going to play some tonight, he was better in practice.
He's a very good passer. He had two -- a couple of assists tonight. He's a good passer. He was close on a couple of other passes. I was impressed. I was happy with what he did, and Brandon is a very good player. He's proven that already this year. Now he's kind of got back into a funk. I told him at halftime to stop taking the running shot and get set, get his feet set and take some perimeter threes or pull-ups. He went out and, you know, he listened. Amazing. He's a good player. We need him to play good.

Q. You kind of played around with the lineup a little bit tonight. Were you happy with what you saw, specifically with DaShonte in there?
JIM BOEHEIM: Well, he's got to play. We can't play six. If I could, if I thought I could, I would. But he's going to play. He's going to play.

Q. Coach, what did you make about -- of the fun that your guys were having when they were talking about the playground play and just -- it looked like you guys were loose and relaxed and enjoying themselves after a couple of tough games.
JIM BOEHEIM: I think you have to be relaxed in the NCAA tournament. If you get too tight and you want it too much, you don't play well. We want to be loose, we want to go out and play the way we played all year long. These guys have played well all year long. We played very well against Georgetown on offense and we played pretty good against Louisville. Those are two pretty tough games. We played well in them. When you are coming off bad losses where you don't play well, I think there's a lot to be concerned about. But we played well.
Georgetown just played great. They shot 70% against us. We've played well all year long. We've been very consistent from the first game all the way through. Pittsburgh played great against us when they beat us. Louisville at Freedom Hall played great. Georgetown. The only bad game we had was Louisville at home. We just didn't play very well. Other than that, we have played very well, very consistently all year long. I expect to play well here.

Q. Jim, how do you feel Kris and maybe his brother too handled the whole situation of the two brothers having to play each other tonight?
JIM BOEHEIM: I didn't talk to Kris about that. I just don't -- I just ignore stuff like that. He's got to go out and play and play his game. I think that's always -- you never know what's going to happen in those situations. But I thought Kris really struggled the first half. And then I thought the second half he was much better on defense. I thought that he did a much better job overall the second half.
THE MODERATOR: Any other questions?

Q. Coach, what are your thoughts about the BIG EAST teams that had difficulty winning yesterday?
JIM BOEHEIM: Everybody has difficulty in this tournament. Notre Dame lost a one-point game. Marquette lost a one-point game, two-point game. That's going to happen. That's the way things go, you know? It's a difficult tournament.
I mean everybody does it, but it's hard to measure a team or a league by what happens in the NCAA. The matchups you get and where the games are, there's just so many things that come into play that you really -- it's hard to judge a league based on that. I think it's very difficult.
We've got a very strong league. The Big 12 is very strong. The top three or four teams from any other top leagues can play. There's no question about that. It just happens who plays well on a given weekend. Notre Dame has done an unbelievable job just to get to where they are. They didn't shoot the ball well. When they don't shoot the ball well, they're not going to win. That's what they do. Sometimes in the tournament, particularly the first game out of the box, sometimes you don't shoot the ball well because it's the NCAA tournament. Guys get a little tighter. First time they've played in it. And that can affect how you play. But Marquette had every chance to win, and Washington won the PAC-10 tournament last week. Obviously they're a pretty good team.
It must be bedtime for you. It's way past mine.
THE MODERATOR: Coach, thanks. Good luck on Sunday.

End of FastScripts

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