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March 24, 2010

Jim Boeheim

Scoop Jardine

Wesley Johnson

Andy Rautins


THE MODERATOR: We welcome Syracuse representatives. Questions for Syracuse student-athletes first.

Q. Andy, this is a team you're playing tomorrow that does not allow teams to score very many points or shoot a very high percentage. From what you've seen, what is it about that defense that has been so successful?
ANDY RAUTINS: They're a smart team, aggressive, play tough defense. I think if we move the ball, play patient within our offense, set screens, get movements, we'll get ourself goods shots.
Have to stay persistent and calm within our offense.

Q. Andy, because your dad played there, you might have an understanding of this. When the three-point shot came into college basketball, Jim changed the zone quite a bit to be more aggressive. Do you remember what it used to be and what it is now?
ANDY RAUTINS: I mean, from watching past tapes, it looked like they packed the zone a little bit more to try to collapse on the bigs. But now everybody in college basketball can shoot it. You have to extend your zone a little bit more, have to be a little bit more aggressive with your bumps and zone, help them recover for each other. That's what we're going to have to do tomorrow, considering they have so many guys that can shoot the ball so well.

Q. Wes, can you talk about rebounding tomorrow.
WES JOHNSON: Rebounding is always important, but tomorrow I think it will be, like, one of the key points we try to do to try to win the boards. I think our athleticism and our length, we can hurt them on the rebound. I think that's what we're going to go in and focus more on, the defense and the rebounding.

Q. Scoop and Wesley, just gut thought, when you hear Butler basketball, what do you think?
SCOOP JARDINE: Butler is a great team. They're one of the top 15, 20 teams in the country all year. They've been consistent all year. They got a great program, great coach. Just got a lot of respect for Butler.
WES JOHNSON: Me, honestly I just think when I hear Butler, I think a lot of shooters. I just think we got to come out with a high hand. When I hear the name Butler, I think they got a lot of great shooters on their team.

Q. Wes, do you still feel the pressure of being the No. 1 seed in this region or have you played that off?
WES JOHNSON: I think we felt pressure from the first game we played. I just think we got to go out there and play our basketball. I think the pressure we put on ourselves is to go out and play 'Cuse basketball day in and day out. The pressure of the No. 1 seed is there, but we don't try looking too far into that, it's really just going out and playing our basketball.

Q. Andy, wanted to ask you about your offense. You had a big scoring game the last game. How do you look at that as far as what you expect yourself to do? Is it important that you score a lot?
ANDY RAUTINS: Don't have to score a lot necessarily. We have so many weapons offensively I think that takes care of itself. We pretty much have seven starters out there, like coach has said all year. That's what makes us a great team is how deep we are offensively. I think our main key is going to be to work on defense. That's been our staple. That's what it's been all season. Our defense has created a lot of our offense. We're not too worried about individual numbers or stats.

Q. Scoop, speaking about their offense, they take a lot of three-pointers. You guys played a lot of teams that have taken a lot of threes. At this point in the season, is there any kind of trickery that can happen?
SCOOP JARDINE: No, not really. We do what we do all year when it comes to our zone. We just try to get out to a shooter. Knowing our personnel is the most important thing. If we active and we moving, I don't care what team we play, that's the whole focus on our zone.
THE MODERATOR: We'll dismiss the student-athletes and direct questions to Coach Boeheim.

Q. What is it about Butler's defense that you like about it or you think is somewhat daunting about it?
COACH BOEHEIM: They're a very good defensive team. That's what they pride themselves in. They're a tremendous defensive team. They're able to pressure the ball and help, you know, get back in the lane. They're physical. They got two guys that made first team all-league defense in their league. Their other guys are just as good. They just have a very, very good defensive team.
You know, I look at teams, I don't look at conferences when you get into the NCAA tournament. The only thing that matters in the NCAA tournament is the teams you're playing against. They're as good a team as I've seen all year. I've watched them all year. Obviously we've seen some tape on them this week. I've probably seen Butler play five or six times this year at least. They're just a tremendously well-coached defensive and offensive team.
Doesn't matter what conference they're in. I probably had them in the top 15 all year in my poll, the top 10 a lot of the year. You know, they're just a good basketball team.

Q. You talked about changing the zone when the three-point shot became prevalent. Can you expound upon that a little, why you felt it was important to do that. Was Butler almost the exact type of team that in the thought process you needed to be able to know to defend?
COACH BOEHEIM: Well, I think today's world, everybody's got good players, guys that can shoot. I'm doing a clinic in Myrtle Beach in a month. I'll send you an application, you can come down there and figure out what we're doing. It's about an hour. Your attention span isn't that long, so I'll explain it for you today in about 30 seconds (smiling).
You know, our zone, when the three-point line came in, you had to expand your defense a little bit, whether it was man-to-man or zone. No difference. And, you know, you have to be aware of the three-point line. You have to be able to guard that. You know, that's the major difference in our defense, and defense in general, since the three-point line came in.
The thing that people don't understand is if a team, whatever team, is shooting 42% from the three-point line, and you're getting ready to play 'em, people are always saying stuff like, Well, they shoot 42% from the three-point line. What people have not -- I guess -- I guess the thought process sometimes isn't there unless you're a coach. Yeah, they're shooting 42% from the three, and they played 10 teams in a row that played man-to-man against them. It's pretty obvious they figured out how to make shots against a man-to-man defense because they're shooting 42% against them. So it's obvious that man-to-man defense hasn't worked.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about Andy's game, what kind of season he's had, the strengths that he brings to the team.
COACH BOEHEIM: Well, first of all, he's a tremendous defensive player in the top of our zone, one of the best we've ever had. He was second in the league in steals to -- I think Walker beat him by one steal in our league. That's pressure man-to-man team that's going to get steals.
I think that's one of the main keys for us is his defense.
Offensively he's leading our team in assists, which is very unusual for a two guard. You know, he's our best three-point shooter. Other than that, I can't think of what else he's doing this year (smiling).

Q. The expansion of the zone. Because you had to expand it, you create more gaps, right? Is that why you decided to trap more out of it?
COACH BOEHEIM: Well, I think, you know, our defense has changed over the years. We try to do different things, different games, different teams we play against within the game. We try to change it, we can change it. Just like you can change man-to-man. You can go out and pressure, you can come back and be soft, you can double-team out of the man-to-man. You can do all those same things out of a zone.
The reason there aren't good zones is because nobody plays zones. We practice our zone. We work on it. Teams that play man-to-man don't practice their zone. They practice it once a week and they think they can now play zone, and they're surprised when it doesn't work. Well, no defense would be good if you didn't practice it. We practice it. We work on it.
But any defense can be beat. The best defensive teams in the country get beat all the time. We try to do some different things in our zone. Sometimes they work; sometimes they don't.

Q. Is there any injury update on your big guy? Any chance he'll play?
COACH BOEHEIM: You know, he's doing better, but he's not practicing. Will not play.

Q. If you advance?
COACH BOEHEIM: Will not play this game. That's it. That's all I got.

Q. Game-by-game type deal?
COACH BOEHEIM: (Nodding head.)

Q. In general, you won twice obviously, but what changes have been made in the way you do things?
COACH BOEHEIM: Well, the biggest difference for us is we don't have a forward substitute. That's what really hurts us. Our depth is fine. Obviously we have three guards. Two can play the one or the two. Really all three could play the one or two. We have tremendous depth at guard with those three guys.
At center, we think DaShonte Riley is giving us a little bit at the center. It's obviously not what Arinze would give us. We think he can give us some minutes at center. The problem with Ricky playing center 30 minutes, you know, then he's not available for the forward spot. You know, it makes Wes and Kris have to play big minutes. That's the position that would concern me in terms of foul trouble. We just don't have that.
Arinze, one of his biggest values, he's our best scorer inside, which we miss. It allows Ricky to play forward for 20 minutes. We don't have that. That's the one thing we're going to have to try to struggle to overcome as we go along.

Q. They have two guys on their team who have played in USA basketball. Obviously you're greatly involved with that.
COACH BOEHEIM: I'm the chairman of the committee that put them on the teams.

Q. God forbid we don't give you all due respect.
COACH BOEHEIM: I just wanted to point out I recognized how good they were and made sure they were on the teams. Every once in a while, we cut a guy, we play against them, and the guy gets 30 against us, so...

Q. What do they get from the USA experience that might help them in this kind of scenario?
COACH BOEHEIM: You know, you have to ask players that themselves. But, you know, I think my take on it is they get to play with a good coach, a different coach. They hear different philosophies. They get to play in some really tough, tough hostile environments overseas.
You know, I've always thought that players benefit tremendously from playing with USA Basketball. It's another 10, 12 games, two, three weeks of practices. I think it's a tremendous benefit for all the players that play with USA Basketball pro or college players. I think it's tremendous. Both the kids from Butler were just tremendous kids, they really were. They're tremendous players.
The reason Butler is in the top ten is because they have players that can play anywhere in the country. This is not some senior-oriented team that's come together and gotten better. These are very talented players. They can play anywhere.
Their players are probably higher rated than ours are coming out of high school. Not that that means anything.

Q. You just touched on Mack and Hayward. What sticks out about Hayward that makes him such a special player?
COACH BOEHEIM: He's just a tremendous player, he really is. He can do whatever you need to have done. Offensively, shoot it, pass it, handle it, defensively. You know, I was as impressed with him as anybody that we've had with USA Basketball in the last eight years I've been involved with that, working with college kids. He's a great player.
Mack, too. They're both very, very impressive players.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, coach.
COACH BOEHEIM: Thanks, guys.

End of FastScripts

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