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March 16, 2012
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Syracuse student‑athletes. Questions, please.
Q. Both of you guys and Coach Boeheim said yesterday you felt like there was a target on your back, you were against the whole world, which is pretty normal for a No.1 seed. Do you feel that way, more that way after yesterday's game? How much does that really drive you going into tomorrow?
KRIS JOSEPH: I mean, not necessarily. Any team that's a higher seed would feel like they have a target on their back. What we want to focus on is going out every game and playing our style of basketball and advancing one game at a time.
Yesterday's game is over with. We were able to come out on top and we're looking forward to playing Kansas State.
Q. After watching Angel Rodriguez on tape, do you think you can turn him over a good bit?
SCOOP JARDINE: I tell you one thing, he's a good player. We just want to try to stay in front of him, make it tough for him. If he turn the ball over, that's on him. For the most part we just trying to make it hard for him and his team, trying to get into any offense that he run.
For us, we just want to play our defenses and stay sound, stay mentally ready for anything they bring to the rim.
Q. Back in January when Fab was ineligible, you lost the very first game without him. You came back and won the next two. Yesterday you were able to win without him, although it was difficult. The more games you play without him help you adjust to his absence?
KRIS JOSEPH: Yeah, definitely. You know, when we lost to Notre Dame, that was our first game without him. I think that prepared us for this game, or yesterday against UNC ‑ Asheville, because we knew what to expect. We knew Rakeem would come in and do a great job, we knew Baye would come in at the 5 and do a great job. We were able to play without him. As we go forward, we'll get used to playing without Fab. He's definitely a great loss for us.
But I think everyone stepped it up. We rebounded well yesterday, better than we have in the past, and we did it together as a group. If we continue to do that, we'll be successful.
Q. Does Kansas State remind you of anybody in the Big East?
SCOOP JARDINE: Yeah. They similar to Pittsburgh, yeah, West Virginia. They beat you up on the backboards. Tough defensive team.
I said that watching them earlier in the year, they're a Big East style of play. They're a tough team. We know that. We know it's going to be a tough game. This is what you want at this time of year. It's March Madness, may the best team win, or whoever playing the best at that time. So it's going to be a great game tomorrow, and we just have to play Syracuse basketball and we should be fine.
KRIS JOSEPH: Same teams, Pittsburgh, West Virginia. They deny the wins really tough. They kind of force you to go back door a lot. They rebound well. They have a great big man in Henriquez who blocks shots. It's going to be a tough game.
Q. Scoop, can you talk about the importance of point guard play, especially at critical junctures of the game, how much your experience could really benefit you when you're playing against a young point guard like Kansas State's?
SCOOP JARDINE: It's experience. For the most part the point guard is the leader of the team, mostly got the ball in his hands all the time. What I could for my team, I make the right plays at the right times, just being there no matter what on offense and defense.
It's not really between‑me‑and‑him thing, it's about who team wins at the end of the day. I just want to be there controlling our team, making sure we get in the right sets, making shots when it's needed. That's the most important thing.
I played in this tournament now four years, I know what to expect. I know what it takes to win games and advance. That's all that matters.
Q. Scoop, where do you feel Fab's absence the most, offensively, defensively, rebounding? How do you make up for that?
SCOOP JARDINE: For the most part, his defensive presence. He's defensive Player of the Year in the Big East. I'd be lying if I said we wouldn't miss him on that part. For the most part, we got two guys that can make up for his absence. That's better than one. Two guys average about eight points and five rebounds. Easy to be made up with two guys.
For the most part, it's for the team thinking about Fab. You got to come in the middle, go against a 7‑footer, that hard to do. Also allowed us to be aggressive on top of the zone, we know we got a guy back there blocking shots, taking charges. He's definitely going to be missed on our part.
But we have two guys that can make it up. They playing very confident right now and I think that's the biggest part of our team right now.
Q. Scoop, in mid January around the Pittsburgh game you said you watched a lot of film. That's one of the reasons why you're successful throwing those passes. What do you need to do to have that similar chemistry with Rakeem and Baye?
SCOOP JARDINE: I watch all my guys. Being point guard, biggest thing I do is watching film. Not just on Fab, but the whole team, knowing everybody's personnel. I think Rock going to go get the ball. He never really had the opportunity. Now he got it. I think he's the best on our team beside my man right next to me.
For the most part there's a feel for it. You want to make the right pass at the right time. Me and Fab was able to connect a couple times this season. I think it could be the same thing with Rock and Baye. I think they capable of doing the same thing Fab was doing.
Q. After a slow start for both of you yesterday, how much added urgency is there now to get off strong from the beginning tomorrow?
KRIS JOSEPH: Us being the senior leaders on the team, the team goes as we go. We definitely have to get off to faster starts. We both had a slow first half, and we kind of picked it up in th second. We can't allow that to happen as we advance in the tournament.
We got to bring it for 40 minutes. The guys are looking to us to bring that intensity and bring that sense of urgency to the basketball game on both ends of the floor.
That's definitely something we spoke about after the basketball game, both Scoop and I. We'll both be able to bring it for 40 minutes tomorrow against Kansas State.
Q. Kris, two years ago right at the NCAA tournament you had to go from being the 6 man to the starter and struggled a little bit. Now that C.J. is in the starting lineup for the last three games, he seems to be struggling a little. Is that because of the change in the role? Is he in a mini slump?
KRIS JOSEPH: I think it's just a little slump. It's bad timing, of course. It's the NCAA tournament. I think he'll get over it. I spoke to him yesterday. I think that he'll be ready to come out there tomorrow against Kansas State and get it going early.
It is a different type of role that he have to play. Coming off the bench, you can pick your spots, see how the flow of the game is going. As a starter, you got to bring it from the start. That's a mini adjustment he has to make and I think he's ready now.
Q. There were a couple moments yesterday where it was almost a tale of two halves. As the two senior leaders of this team, what do you say in the locker room and the huddle to get the younger guys on the team to refocus their attention on getting back in the game?
SCOOP JARDINE: Well, for the most part we always have that sense of urgency, especially we don't play good in the first half. It's not really said in the locker room. Coach do all the talking.
For us, myself and Kris being leaders, we got to go out there and pick it up. That's the thing about basketball, there's always two halves. We just have to believe in each other. Things work out fine. We've done that all year. We've been in tough games all year. We were able to come back and win a lot of big games. We know that. We're very confident when things is not going well in the first half.
Nothing to be sad. Just continue to play basketball, take it one play at a time, not try to get everything on one play, and I think that's how you come back from deficits.
Q. In these quick turnaround games, Thursday to a Saturday, how much of the preparation is worrying about Syracuse basketball and correcting your mistakes from Thursday and how much is looking at K State and trying to game plan for them?
KRIS JOSEPH: You kind of do a little bit of both. We've been in situations like these where we played three games in four or five days during the season. It's a quick turnaround, most definitely. But we got to scout for K State. That's who we're playing next. It's more of a mental thing.
It's about paying attention to detail in practice. That's where it comes down, where you have to have that mental part of the game, because you have to pay attention to what they're doing, adapt and adjust quickly in the little amount of time we have to practice.
Q. Scoop, I know you maybe weren't surprised to have a target on your back. Were you surprised with the amount of booing yesterday that was going on?
SCOOP JARDINE: I didn't hear it. I thought they were Scooping (laughter), especially when I went to the foul line.
No, we've been in hostile environments before. It don't matter. I tell you one thing, I heard my dad. I heard my dad in the stands. If I can hear him, they wasn't that loud (smiling).
Q. Talk to us about Rodney McGruder. What is the 2‑3 zone going to look like, especially when he's trying to attack it?
SCOOP JARDINE: Well, we really haven't watched film on Kansas State yet. But I watched the game yesterday. The last six games, I know he's averaging like 22 points. He's playing at a high level. Kris know a lot about him, too, because they was on the same AAU team.
We've seen these guys throughout our career, AAU, summer league. We know what to expect from him. He's a great player. He's very, you know, talented.
But for the most part we just have to believe in ourselves and believe in our zone, believe in the things we can do on defense. Just try to make it tougher on star guys like that, make his shots tougher, and also gang rebound, because that's where they get they lead, on the offensive glass.
For the most part I don't think one guy can beat us. I think we shut him down, make it tougher for him, we should be fine.
Q. Last year you had a Big East opponent on the second day. Do you think you have an advantage because you play such a different style of defense that a team has to switch to the zone offense? Do you have an advantage and do you think we'll see that this year?
SCOOP JARDINE: Yeah, you always want to play against a team that's really not familiar with your style of play. That's the thing with this tournament.
But I think teams really watch us all year long and know that's what we play. If they ever had to play against us, they playing against the zone.
For the most part, you know, last year, we caught a tough break because we caught a team that was a matchup difference between us and a team like Marquette, who is really great against our zone. This year we're playing a lot of teams who really have to get ready. That's tough to do in one day.
For the most part, we just have to continue to believe in what we do and play basketball at the end of the day and things will be fine.
Q. K State, one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the country. What is the key tomorrow for equalize that, especially without Fab?
KRIS JOSEPH: I think Scoop just said it best. We have to gang rebound. It has to be four guys, five guys going to the glass every single time. They have a guy like Rodney McGruder, who is 6'4", 6'5". He plays bigger than he is. They have a lot of size. We're going to have to compete against that. It's going to have to be a thing of will and heart.
You have to go get the ball, battle on the glass. Even if you don't get the rebound, try to tip it out to one of your teammates, and I think we'll be fine if we do a better job on the glass.
SCOOP JARDINE: The thing, they send five guys to the glass, if we get the rebound, we able to get out in transition. If we get those rebounds, it's going to be hard for them because we excel when we all in transition.
Q. Kris, do you have any good dirt on Rodney since you were on the same AAU team? Break down his game a little bit. Did you become good friends?
KRIS JOSEPH: Rodney and I went to the same high school in D.C. I was there for two years. We played AAU for D.C. Assault together. He's much bigger, uses his size to his advantage. He got on the mid post and got easy baskets. He's more of a midrange type of guy than a three‑point shooter. But he can definitely knock down the long ball.
He plays hard on both ends of the floor. I think yesterday he might have been guarding one of the best players on Southern Miss. He likes those challenges. He'll get up for this game. Everyone gets up to play Syracuse. I know he'll be especially ready to play against us.
Q. It seems as if you guys have really dismissed yesterday quickly. How fast were you able to put it behind you and how?
SCOOP JARDINE: We won. That's it. You lose a game like that, I don't know how long that would have been on my mind. That's all this tournament is about: winning and advancing. You make it to the Final Four, nobody really think about how much you win by, how much you beat that team by. It's just about winning and advancing.
We got a good Kansas State team. If you dwell on that game, you can go into the Kansas State game and really get blown out the gym.
So for the most part, we won, put it behind us. We got a good team in front of us, that's our next battle. We worry about who's in front of us at that time, not who is behind us.
KRIS JOSEPH: Couldn't have said it better myself (smiling).
THE MODERATOR: Guys, thank you very much.
We're joined by Coach Jim Boeheim. Do you want to make an opening statement?
COACH BOEHEIM: Well, yeah, one.
I just wanted to tell Reggie that we do not play man‑to‑man defense, just in case you didn't realize that.
REGGIE MILLER: I do know that.
COACH BOEHEIM: It reminded me, if I never went to an NBA game, you missed your first two jumpers.
REGGIE MILLER: That would never happen (laughter).
COACH BOEHEIM: But if it did, me saying, Why didn't that guy just drive? Oh, because he can't (laughter).
I'll take questions.
Q. There used to be something special about making the Sweet 16, a barometer to survive the first weekend. Has that changed?
COACH BOEHEIM: Well, I don't know if it has in public opinion or expert opinion. I think it's important. It's always been important to me.
I don't know if it really says this, but it says you're in the last 16 teams playing in the country. I don't know if that means you're one of the best 16‑ I guess you could argue that point a little bit‑ but I think it means something like that. There's a lot of teams that play basketball. There's a lot of teams that are good teams. A lot of good programs.
I've always thought it's a good thing to get there, get to the Sweet 16. The good thing about it is you still have a chance to go further.
Q. When you get in the situation you are in, does it change because people might say no matter how many wins, if this is the end of the road, this isn't as good as people expected?
COACH BOEHEIM: I've learned you survive those things. It's a lot better than when you win 10 games and they're saying whatever they're saying in those situations.
Q. What you've seen of McGruder on tape, what do you like about his game? How do you think it might match up for the zone?
COACH BOEHEIM: He's a very, very good player. He can shoot it. He can drive. He's a terrific player. He really is. Tremendous player. Those kind of guys are always difficult to play against.
Q. You're going up tomorrow against Kansas State and Frank Martin who speaks very highly of you. You have different intensities in your coaching styles. What do you know of his coaching style, how that transcends to the players on Kansas State?
COACH BOEHEIM: Well, I don't agree with your hypothesis, first of all.
Q. Why is that?
COACH BOEHEIM: Well, the level of both of our intensities I think is high. I think what you meant to say is he may show his level a little bit more than I do. That's possible.
I think he's done an unbelievable coaching job. I've known him for a long time. You know, I wouldn't want to have him mad at me. But he's really a good guy. Always been good to be around. He's done a tremendous job at Kansas State, tremendous job.
Q. C.J. has been struggling the last few games. Is he adjusting to being a starter?
COACH BOEHEIM: I don't think there's any factors. I think he's had some good looks. You know, he hasn't made shots. I think that's something that can change at any minute, and I hope that starts tomorrow. But he's getting good shots, he's aggressive. He's in all the right places. Shots he had yesterday were all really, really good shots.
You know, he's got a knack for getting in the open areas. He played 15 minutes yesterday, he got seven good shots. The ball just hasn't been going down for him.
You know, but I have tremendous confidence in him. I think, you know, he'll get those same shots and he'll start making 'em. But when he doesn't, you know, then we're going to try to get James in there. Yesterday that worked out well.
Q. You've sat up here yesterday, and at the Big East, and acknowledged you haven't played as well as you have played and can play. I don't know whether you can get the senses as coach or not. Your players feel like tomorrow can be sort of like a statement game, We are No.1, we have earned this. Do you get any kind of a sense from your team?
COACH BOEHEIM: I'll give you an example, okay? I felt like this one year. We were getting ready, hadn't played well. In fact, we hadn't played well in the first half. We were down about eight or something. I said, We can't play any worse. We got beat 26 in the second half.
I don't think there's any way you can tell. Anybody that goes in the locker room and says after the game, I could tell before the game, they were ready. I've seen that before. They go out and can't play. Sometimes they're quiet. You know, you don't think they're really ready, you're not sure, and they go out and play great.
I don't think you can really tell that.
We haven't played well, you know, the last couple games. Like the first half the other night, we were 1‑13 from the three. If you make two or three of those, you know, it's a different outlook, different game. Part of playing well is sometimes shooting the ball.
Even though you don't want it to as a coach, it affects the player on defense. When he makes a couple shots, he's a little bit more active. It shouldn't be that way, but it kind of works that way, I think.
Q. After the win against UNC ‑ Asheville, you talked about how the center position had nothing to do with the win.
COACH BOEHEIM: You mean with how we played?
Q. Right. Obviously K State is bigger and longer. What do you expect from Rock and Baye? What are you preparing them for in a different manner?
COACH BOEHEIM: Well, again, they played this year when they both played against Cincinnati, they played against Yancy Gates. He's a very good big guy. So they played against good big guys. They worked in practice every day against Fab. So they've played against guys that are big.
It's important for them, you know, to play as well as they can play.
Q. After Scoop and Kris struggled in the first half, how important is it to play well right from the beginning, especially against better competition?
COACH BOEHEIM: Well, it's important for all of our players to play well. It's certainly important for our two seniors. They've set the tempo for the year. When they played well, we've had big games. It's important for them to play well.
It doesn't always translate into scoring a lot, but they need to play well, they really do. Rebound, defense, make plays, you know, we need those two guys to do that.
Q. When preparing for Syracuse, people think of your zone. When you look at Kansas State, what is it that they do that you really need to prepare for that maybe other teams don't do?
COACH BOEHEIM: Well, they're a very, very good defensive team. You know, you have to be aware of that. You have to make sure the players understand there's not going to be easy shots. They contest everything. They pressure.
They're a tremendous, tremendous defensive team and rebounding team. That's what you kind of think about as a coach when you think about them.
Obviously with us and our zone, we try to adapt to what people do against us, who they try to go to. We try to adjust our zone as much as we can to the teams we're playing against.
Q. You've had success all year with your press. They're led by a very good point guard. Do you envision pressuring him tomorrow full court?
COACH BOEHEIM: Well, I don't agree with your statement. We've had limited success with our press this year. The press is something we use on occasions, and it has been good to us on a couple occasions. It's not been good to us on a couple occasions.
We use it when we feel it's a good weapon. Pressing does a lot of things for you, and it does a lot of things that don't help you.
Q. Can you talk about James' contribution off the bench, particularly in that second half for you?
COACH BOEHEIM: As you well know, a good shooter is fairly important when you're not making anything. James came in, and what he did and he's really improved is he's rebounding the ball better than he was at one time. He really didn't really rebound. Now he's rebounding the ball. His defense is much better.
We know if we get him into shot situations, he can make shots. He's very capable. He started out the year, non‑conference games, we had some big non‑conference games. At NC State he made two or three threes that really changed the game. That was a tough venue against a good team. He shot around 40% from the three for the first 13 non‑conference games.
Then when the conference started, he just kind of lost his rhythm and his confidence. He was probably in the 20% range from the three‑point line. Then at the end of the year, in the Connecticut game, he hit two or three, I think got a little bit going.
So he knows he can shoot. I think it's just a matter of us getting him in position. I thought a couple guys made really good looks, pass‑back for the last three, a pass ahead for the other three. I think we have to get him in that position.
You know, he won the game yesterday. I mean, everybody talks about it was a close game, but we had an eight‑point lead. It doesn't matter, if you're behind eight points in the first half, that doesn't mean they're a better team. They're a better team for a half.
But when James hit that three and we went up eight points, it was our game then to win or lose. I mean, we were the winning team at that point. We made a couple bad mistakes. But we overcame that. We made our free throws.
Calls in games, there's always calls. If you go back and look, Brandon Triche got fouled with one second on the shot clock. He released the ball after the shot clock, but he got fouled with one second. So that means the clock stops with that whistle. So he should have had a three‑point play opportunity.
But those things happen. That's basketball.
I thought Baye made a great block in the first half. It was called goaltending. I guess they gave us that one in the second half, I don't know. Something like that. These things happen all the time. You play in enough basketball games, you can look back. It's a tough game to officiate. It really is.
And when Brandon Triche went up, the guy had both hands in his back on that play. He knocked the ball out of bounds, but the guy had both hands in his back, so...
Q. I asked Frank this same question. There are some programs that have certain personas, Kansas State and Cincinnati are viewed as tough, physical teams. I asked him what persona he sees in your team. He said discipline. I'm curious how you feel about that tag and what tag you would use.
COACH BOEHEIM: Never heard that one before (smiling). I don't know. I'm not sure what that means. You'd have to ask him to explain that. I'm not sure.
Q. He said you look at tapes from 10 years ago of Syracuse and now, they're the same in terms of what you're running.
COACH BOEHEIM: Well, you know, I've been coaching here 36 years, so we do a lot of the same things that we've done. I mean, there's differences. When we had Arinze, we threw the ball inside a lot. When we had Derrick Coleman, we threw it in a lot but not enough.
You know, different teams you do different things. We've had great point guards. We let them do things. We try to be efficient on offense. We're normally one of the top two or three scoring teams in the league. We're normally one of the top two or three field goal percentage shooting teams in the league. We get more talk about our defense, but I think our offense has been very good consistently.
You can't win if you don't have both. You got to have a little bit of both.
You know, I'm the same coach, same fundamentals that I've always been. But we try to change a little bit offensively every year. Our zone has changed tremendously over the years. It's much different now than it used to be. Part of that has been my assistant coaches have done a great job implementing some new drills and things that we didn't do before that have been very helpful to our defense.
Q. You talked about the challenge of looking at your players, you're not quite sure what you're going to get out of them based on how they're behaving in the locker room. Is that the crazy challenge and allure of coaching?
COACH BOEHEIM: Yeah, you don't know. Yesterday I thought C.J. Fair was ready. He went out there. The biggest part of coaching I've always said is getting your team prepared, all that part is crucial. If you're not prepared, you're not well‑organized, whatever, do what you do, you can't be successful. But once the game starts, you've got to be able to see.
Like yesterday, it's fortuitous, but it was obvious that C.J. just wasn't going to get it going. So you go with James. Now James might have gone 1‑7 and it wouldn't have worked. But yesterday it worked. We went back in with Scoop in the second half, even though Dion had a good first half, Brandon had a pretty good first half, but I felt that Scoop had to get us going. He had to get going.
We just play better when he's going, 'cause he's getting the ball to people and he's scoring. Sometimes when Dion is scoring, we're not getting the ball to people.
The results speak for themselves. Dion had 12 the first half. We lost by four. Dion did not score in the second half, we won by whatever. I mean, that's not his fault. But Scoop is important for us because he scores and makes things happen on offense.
Obviously Kris has to get going for us to be successful. You know, there's no question about that.
But those are adjustments during the game, and you make them. Every coach makes 'em. Sometimes they work better than others. It's just the way it works. In hindsight you always wish you didn't play the guy that went 0‑10, but he's the guy that got you.
The kid from yesterday from Asheville has carried them all year and he had a bad game. Just one of those things. We pushed him off some spots, but he had a couple looks that he can make. But it balances out by the other guy who is 0‑7, makes three threes. We foul him twice, and he hasn't scored on a three‑point attempt in the last whatever it is. You know, that's the way the game goes.
Q. You mentioned a little while ago that Southerland has improved his defense and rebounding.
COACH BOEHEIM: He's paid more attention to it. He's a good jumper. He's not as physical. He gets pushed around a little bit sometimes. He just has to be more physical, not let that happen. That's why he wasn't playing for a lot of time. That was the main reason why he didn't play last year, this year early. He wasn't doing a good job on defense.
He's been much better this year.
Q. You mentioned having great point guards in the past. How much importance do you place on the point guard during NCAA tournament play? How vital can they be to how far you go?
COACH BOEHEIM: I never coached a team that was good that didn't have a good point guard, so...
I mean, you can get by without a good center, a good power forward, a couple other positions probably. But it's hard to get by without a good point guard. Not many teams can. The only reason they can is they got Michael Jordan is playing the 2.
Q. You just mentioned that Southerland needs to get more aggressive down low. You've also mentioned Rakeem Christmas needs to be a little meaner, a little more aggressive. In your opinion, how do you do that?
COACH BOEHEIM: 'Mean' if I used that word, that's not a good word. More aggressive, more physical. I don't think 'mean.' The connotation isn't good there.
But toughness. I think players develop toughness, I really do. I think we've had a few players when they came in weren't as tough as you need to be to play basketball. I don't think you can be a good player ‑ my personal opinion ‑ at any level if you don't have a certain amount of toughness. I just don't think you can. Mental and physical toughness.
You can be a great shooter. Reggie Miller, one of the best shooters I've ever seen, but he's a tough guy. He didn't let anybody come at him. He's a tough guy. I just don't think you can play this game.
I think you can develop that, just like you can develop your shooting, develop your ball handling. It's a physical game, in our league especially. If you're not physical, you're just not going to be able to stay out there. Bottom line.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, coach.
COACH BOEHEIM: Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports