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March 25, 2010

Jim Boeheim

Wesley Johnson

Andy Rautins


Butler – 63
Syracuse - 59

THE MODERATOR: We have Syracuse representatives with us. We'll ask coach to make a brief opening statement, then direct questions to student-athletes and come back to coach.
COACH BOEHEIM: I thought Butler played extremely well in the first half. The game was a story of turnovers. They didn't make turnovers. They were really good with the basketball. We made 18 turnovers. You can't give away that many possessions.
You know, it was just probably one of the two or three games all year where we have not been good with the basketball. We just made some unforced errors, just throw the ball out of bounds.
Other than that, you know, the game went just about like you expect. Two teams battled hard for 40 minutes. We just made too many turnovers.
THE MODERATOR: We'll take questions for the student-athletes.

Q. Andy, when you hit the three-pointer, then had a four-point lead, they went on a big run, what was happening there from your end?
ANDY RAUTINS: I'm not sure. I mean, we came down we made two turnovers in a three-minute span. That's pretty much the story of the game. When it came down to it, they executed.
They had a kid who shot 15% on the year from three, and knocked one down. That's what happens in close games. We didn't execute at the end of the game.

Q. Wes, could you talk about Butler's defense, what they were able to do? Were you surprised how physical they were?
WESLEY JOHNSON: No, not at all. Just watching film, coaching staff told us they were a very physical team on defense, they pride theirself on defense. So they did a lot of front, and then a lot of this happened off the center. They just played real good defense.

Q. Butler's defense, the man-to-man, came out strong in the first half, limited the shots you were able to get. If you could compare that to one matchup you saw in the regular season, who would you compare that to?
ANDY RAUTINS: I don't know. It's tough to say. I mean, like West Virginia of type defense. They're pretty aggressive and physical. We expected that coming into the game. We just beat ourselves in the first half. I thought we did a better job of attacking in the second. Like I said, we beat ourselves.

Q. When you had the ball out of bounds under your own basket with under four minutes to go, what happened on that inbound play?
WESLEY JOHNSON: That was a play that we had drew up. Ball got away from me and they got it. So just miscommunication.

Q. I know this is a difficult time, maybe you need more time. But will you be able to appreciate what you did this season?
ANDY RAUTINS: I think maybe down the line we will. But losing never feels good, especially at this point in the season. For a team that had such high aspirations, I don't think we're going to be able to see the good side of it for a while.
WESLEY JOHNSON: Yeah, we accomplished a lot this whole season, just the expectation for the team was high. The games we won, winning the Big East outright, we got a lot to be happy about it. But it's always not good to lose like this, though.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, gentlemen. We'll continue with questions for Coach Boeheim.

Q. How do you explain the 18 turnovers?
COACH BOEHEIM: I can't. Butler's a good defensive team. So many of the turnovers, we made really bad decisions with the ball. Really just bad decisions, bad passes. You have to give the defensive team credit in situations certainly with some turnovers.
But I'm really at a loss. We haven't done that. A couple games throughout the whole year maybe where we've turned it over, but not like that. Just hasn't been our team. We haven't done that.

Q. At times you looked like you were going on a run. There was a foul or Butler would come back and hit a three. Can you talk about the fact you were almost there and Butler responded?
COACH BOEHEIM: We were never in a situation or position that we were going to blow the game open. We were behind the whole game. We were fighting to get back to even the whole game. We never had any opportunity to blow the game open.
We took a lead at 40-39, then gave them two buckets. Then we took the lead at 54-50, and it was all we could do to get to that position . Then we made two turnovers. They capitalized. That's what good teams do. Four-point lead. The shot clock was running down. They had a 16% shooter make a three. That happens sometimes.

Q. You've talked a lot about what a pleasure this group has been, how close they are. The emotion that was taking place in your locker room after this game, is that something you've seen before?
COACH BOEHEIM: Whenever you lose this last game of the year, it's tough. It's always tough. When you get to this stage of the year, you're in this tournament, you have a chance to win. The emotion's always going to be tough.
I think when you lose by 20, you know, in the tournament, like happens sometimes, there's not that much emotion involved because you just weren't good enough. But when you know you're good enough, that makes it hurt even more.

Q. How significant was it not having Arinze?
COACH BOEHEIM: We haven't had him. There's nothing I'm going to say about that. We don't make excuses.

Q. The two times that you got the lead, you were able to get a stretch where you had a couple transition baskets. How significant was it that you weren't able to get more of that during the game?
COACH BOEHEIM: I didn't expect to get any transition baskets. Butler is a very good halfcourt team, very patient. They're going to take their time and execute. They didn't make turnovers. That's how you can get in transition. They're not a team that makes turnovers.
I expected this to be a hard, difficult, difficult game. If we played well, did not turn the ball over, you know, we would have just enough, I thought, that we could win the game. It was never going to be any kind of game except that.
They're a very good defensive team. Some of our turnovers they forced. Some of our shots that we missed were good defensive plays. But the bottom line is, you know, we just made too many turnovers. We shot better. We rebounded better. You know, we just made too many turnovers.

Q. This team is clearly very talented, a couple unfortunate injuries down the stretch. Where does it rank in your mind talent-wise of teams you've coached in the past?
COACH BOEHEIM: I never ranked a team talent-wise in my life, so I guess I would not start doing that now. There's plenty of you guys that do that. So I'll leave that up to you.

Q. Put this season, this team in perspective after the season they've had.
COACH BOEHEIM: I think whenever you lose a game like this, it's very difficult for players to think about what happened for a long time. That's as it should be. It should hurt when you lose at this stage. It hurts especially when you're young.
This team has accomplished a tremendous amount. There's no question about it. They've been good from the first day of the season on. They played well. In every game we played, we played hard, we competed. Our defense has been good. Our defense was very good today. It needed to be 'cause we just couldn't get anything going on offense for a long time.
You know, but this team, I think everybody realizes what they've accomplished. It's been a tremendous group. We lost a lot of our firepower and experience from last year. We had a lot of question marks. And, you know, I've been very fortunate in 34 years, we've been in this tournament 28 times and we never had a player get hurt going into the tournament. That's just one of those things.
Arinze is such a key guy for us, you know, it's just unfortunate that that had to happen. He's worked so hard to battle through injuries and to, you know, become one of the better inside players in the history of our league. Kid shot 68% from the field. You know, he's just a tremendous force out there. He draws so much attention, he's such a focal point of our defense, even in the first two games, we shot the ball unbelievably well. That's how we overcame it. Tonight we didn't shoot it that well, and we made too many turnovers.
These guys had a really unbelievable year. I couldn't be prouder of them. Of any team I've ever coached, they've accomplished as much as you could ask for.

Q. You talked a lot yesterday about how important it was to keep Rick out of foul trouble, how you might be stretched at the four if he got in foul trouble. Down the stretch, he did. How big of a blow was that?
COACH BOEHEIM: Well, he did a pretty good job. He managed it. He did a pretty good job in there. He did. DaShonte made a couple good plays when he was in there. He didn't hurt us. We escaped one there.
Butler is not a big, physical, strong team. But certainly we were a little bit fortunate in the tournament. We didn't face a team like that. I think that would have been a big problem if we'd have gotten into that situation. Ricky still is a little undersized for a center.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, coach.

End of FastScripts

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