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March 19, 2011

Jim Boeheim

Rick Jackson

Scoop Jardine

Kris Joseph


THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Syracuse student-athletes Rick Jackson, Scoop Jardine and Kris Joseph. Questions?

Q. Scoop, how are you feeling? How is the wrist holding up and did you have any problems with it this morning or at practice?
SCOOP JARDINE: We didn't practice yet. But I'm fine. I was fine yesterday. Like I said, we play today, I'll be playing.

Q. I'm wondering, the difficulties of guarding Jae Crowder in the zone last year, you had a little trouble with him. What might you do differently I guess this time?
RICK JACKSON: He really just tried to get into the dead areas, and we played him and now we know what they're going to do. I think once we find him and make him take tough shots, we'll be fine. I think last time he really got open and he shot all open shots, and that really hurt us. But now we're going to get out and contest them, and we're going to do a good job on him.

Q. Rick, can you talk a little bit about the process you went through in the off-season with the much better shape you were in, the conditioning, what prompted you to do that to drop the weight and to really make a concerted effort to become the player you've been?
RICK JACKSON: You know, last year during this tournament, you know, right after we lost, Coach pulled me to the side and said he's going to need me to get in top shape. And he think I can lose a few pounds and really just be in shape to keep going, keep rebounding play after play, and being in the shape to play 30, 35 minutes.
So right at the season I took that into consideration and really just worked on trying to change my body, trying to eat better, just trying to work out, stay active, and it all worked out for the best.

Q. Scoop and Kris, a lot of times in the NCAA Tournament when you guys get ready to play teams that haven't seen you and seen the zone that's a perceived advantage for you. Now you're playing Marquette and have obviously seen you. So does that take away a little bit of an advantage that sometimes you enjoy in the postseason?
SCOOP JARDINE: Well, when you play against a team like Marquette, our zone really wasn't as good as it is now. We made a lot of mistakes in the first game, and we put them on the foul line a whole lot in the first game. I think they went to the line 33 times.
So I'm just happy we get a second chance at them. And as everybody knows it's hard to beat a Big East team twice in a season. And hopefully we can come out with a win.
KRIS JOSEPH: The first time we played them, our defense, like Scoop said, wasn't as good as it is now. We're a lot more active in our zone. And we won't give up as many open shots as we did last time.
And playing a team a second time, you know, like we beat Georgetown the second time, we beat Villanova our second time around, and it's really going to work to our advantage playing these guys again. We know what they're capable on offense and defense, and I think we're a pretty smart team and we won't let the same mistakes happen again.

Q. Kris, looking back I guess on your freshman season, went through a lot of things there with respect to C.J. Just how impressed have you been with his, I guess, maturation through his freshman season and what he's doing now?
KRIS JOSEPH: C.J. has been great for us all year. Coach gave him an opportunity early, and he really took advantage of it. He plays hard every possession, and he's a guy who, like Scoop and I were last year, he provides a spark for us off the bench. And we really need that from all our freshman, but C.J. in particular. He does a great job rebounding, helping us down low, and on offense he gets in where he fits in. And it's going to be a big help for us going forward in this tournament.

Q. Rick, free throws last night. That was probably the best game of your career. Is that just a fluke, or is that something you've been concentrating on the past few days?
RICK JACKSON: We've been concentrating on that. During the whole year, just trying to get better at that. I think I got into a good rhythm scoring the ball early, so I think that really helped me at the foul line, as far as confidence, and just taking my time and making them.
This is big time right now, and if I can keep making them like that, I'm not going to complain.

Q. Rick, what is your mindset now as you're going through the NCAA Tournament for the last time, and do you ever think back about past NCAAs or just feeling -- what are your emotions now as you go through for the last time knowing each game could be your last?
RICK JACKSON: Really just to go out there and play as hard as I can. Just trying to make the best of it. Don't overlook a team. I think in the past, like a Butler team, we overlooked them. We thought we were just flat out better than them last year, and they gave us a run for our money. So we're just trying to stay focused, stay positive, and just go out there and play hard and just give it all we got.

Q. Guys, Coach Boeheim has talked about getting contributions from the freshmen, how that will really help you guys advance in this tournament. Can you talk about what advice have you guys given to the young guys?
KRIS JOSEPH: For one, this is a big tournament. Probably the biggest tournament they'll play in. We just tell them it's like any other game, the jitters are early, just do what they've been doing all year. They've been great for us all year, and this is just like any other game, they just have to come out and focus and just stick to the principles and they'll be fine.
SCOOP JARDINE: Yeah, like Kris said, they just have to really stick to their principles and basically just play basketball. They've been playing this game for a long time. And nothing changed. I mean, the stakes is higher, but I think we got the most confident freshmen in the country, and all of them look forward on trying to help our team win, and that's a big plus when all four of them try to help on every night to win games.
RICK JACKSON: I think our freshmen are doing a great job. Right now we like to look at them as sophomores. They've played a lot. They helped us win a lot of games. Some of them had big games.
And you just take that, and that just adds more experience for them. And I think they're doing a great job. And they're going to help us throughout the whole tournament.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you. We're joined now by Coach Jimmy Butler. Coach, an opening statement.
COACH BOEHEIM: You know, I thought Marquette played great yesterday. But they played great against us when we played them earlier in the year. They've got a lot of weapons. Offensively, I think as many offensive weapons as any team in our league.
They just have been very, very good against us and then again last night.

Q. Just your thoughts on if you care having to play a Big East team so early in the tournament and if that makes that -- may or may not make a difference in prep?
COACH BOEHEIM: No, it's just -- it is what it is. You have to play the next team, and you know in the second game it's going to be a difficult game. And they know us and we know them, so it's just a matter of going out and seeing who plays the best.

Q. We saw Ricky last night have a terrific game offensively. A lot of touches and really got going. He talked a little bit earlier here about the shape he got into in the off-season. Did you envision this type of player when you were talking to him about that after last year?
COACH BOEHEIM: Ricky's gotten better every year he's been with us. I think last year he had a solid, solid year, and we needed him to be much better this year, you know, given -- losing Wesley and Arinze, and we needed him to play a lot of minutes. Last year he only averaged around 22, 23 minutes a game.
And I knew he would have to play 35 or 36 minutes a game this year. We had hoped that our big guys would take some -- a little bit more time than they've taken, but the way it's worked out, Ricky's had to play huge minutes and he couldn't have done that last year.
So I think his work in the off-season really enabled him to be able to play more minutes and be more effective than he has been in the past. But Ricky's made steady improvement every year. He's not just a guy that can score down there, but if he gets doubled, he finds people. He knows how to play the game. He moves the ball and makes really good decisions with the basketball.

Q. Jim, Buzz has a roster with a lot of junior college players, including guys like Jae Crowder, who have made a big impact on their program. Over the years, you've taken a few junior college kids. Can you talk about the adjustment that those kids have to make when they go from the junior college level to the four-year level?
COACH BOEHEIM: In 35 years, I think we've taken a couple. And we did when we had an emergency situation that we felt we needed somebody. But I think Buzz has done a great job of finding really good players who could come in and make a quick adjustment, because his kids have come in right away and played well. I think that's difficult to find guys that can do that. And the kids at Marquette have really done a great job being able to come in and fit right in right away like that.

Q. The last game against Marquette it was the end of the four-game losing streak. What's been the biggest change, if any, within your team since then?
COACH BOEHEIM: Our defense has been better. During the four-game stretch, we really just didn't guard anybody. Our defense was really bad. Our offense was bad a little bit and it was some good -- quite a bit of good offense in that streak, but there was no defense in that streak.
And sometimes players, you win a lot of games and they get out of -- for whatever reason, they forget how they win the games, and we kind of forgot that our defense was what got us there. Our offense wasn't that good in the beginning of the year when we were winning all those games but our defense was good.
And we just got away from playing defense, and you can't do that. We got it back a little bit at the end of the year. I think we're back to where our defense is much better now than it was during that streak of games.

Q. Jim, can you talk about the development your freshmen have made since we saw them at the Villanova game in January, and have your seniors or veteran players played any role in their development?
COACH BOEHEIM: I think the veterans are important. They're encouraging. They've done a tremendous job, the four veteran guys, Scoop, particularly, Ricky, of talking to the younger guys, kind of helping them get through the things, whether it's me getting on them or just learning what they need to do.
I think those two guys have really been important. Kris has helped a little bit. Brandon doesn't talk to me or anybody, so I don't know if Brandon's had much effect on them. I haven't seen him talk to anybody since he's been with us. In fact, I haven't seen him talk to anybody since he was a freshman in high school.
But I think the freshmen, I think obviously C.J. helped us win the game last night. We wouldn't have been in the game last night without him. Dion made a big 3 in the corner when they went to the zone. And then he made a great pass to Ricky when the game was in doubt, made some very good plays.
The two big guys are -- they struggled yesterday. We just don't know what they're going to do. They played well at times. One of them has played well at times once in a while, the other one. Rarely have they both been able to get it together in the same game. More often than not, they both have not been able to get it together. And we need something from those two guys as we get going here.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.

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