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March 21, 2013

Will Cherry

Kareem Jamar

Wayne Tinkle


Syracuse – 81
Montana - 34

THE MODERATOR:  We are joined now by Montana head coach Wayne Tinkle, and student‑athletes Kareem Jamar, a junior guard/forward, and Will Cherry, senior guard.
COACH TINKLE:  Tough game for us, obviously.  We tip our caps to Syracuse, they played great.  Took the fight to us early and we just couldn't get anything going.  We had opportunities in transition game to try to break the ice, didn't take advantage of that.  It snowballed and we just couldn't do much about it.

Q.  Will, you knew you were up against a tough zone defense.  Was it even harder to penetrate that zone than you thought it would be?
WILL CHERRY:  Not really.  I mean, we got it where we wanted to, we just weren't making plays.  They collapsed on us time and time again.  We knew they were long and athletic and we tried to get to the rim and take out the shooters, they were right there in our face, blocking shots and getting out in transition.

Q.  Kareem, you guys were pretty determined after the lopsided loss last year to Wisconsin to get it done.  Why was this year no different?
KAREEM JAMAR:  I wish I had an answer for you, but I don't.  Coach gave us a great game plan, we just couldn't really execute.  And when we did execute it, we couldn't hit shots.  It sucks that you work so hard and play so hard and the coaches gives you a great game plan and you can't go out there and execute it.  That's about it.

Q.  What's the feeling to you as the game sort of snowballed, is it a helpless feeling?
COACH TINKLE:  Yes, it was tough.  It got out of hand.  You know, we tried to break things down into three‑minute segments and get our guys attention off the overall picture.  We just couldn't get anything going.
We would have open looks.  We really wanted to attack in the high post, but when we got it there we didn't make great decisions or we weren't aggressive enough.  We had opportunities, like I mentioned, in transition.  We didn't finish like we finished all season, we didn't kick it to the open guy.
It's a tough feeling, but I tell you what, our staff, we didn't sit on our hands.  We weren't just going to ride it out.  We were trying to find ways to the final horn.  And that's what the University of Montana is all about.
It was ugly, you know, it was ugly.  They played really well.  We didn't play well at all.  We all know the margin of victory.  And there's more.  Their shots went in, ours didn't.  They're really good, they've got a lot of talent.
But I'm really proud of our team.  And what I told them in the locker room is I know this is tough.  It's the final.  This is it for this season, but we need to find a way to remember all the unbelievable things that we achieved when maybe not too many people thought we could achieve those things.
And yes, it's a shame we came here and we were far from our best, but we accomplished some great things and I'm super proud of our guys.  I'm proud of guys like Will Cherry and Mathias that have done remarkable things that have turned our program in the direction that it's gone.
I'm rambling, I apologize.

Q.  Obviously you haven't seen all the other teams, but based on what you saw of Syracuse tonight do you consider them a title contender?
COACH TINKLE:  You know, yeah, they've got the talent.  Weren't they ranked No. 1 in the country earlier in the season?  I believe they were.  They've got a lot of pieces, they really do.
I wish we could have given them a better fight and I might have been able to answer that a little bit better.  But from the games that I've watched ‑‑ what I think this year is there's any number of maybe 10, 11 teams that will have the ability to win it all and I would certainly put them in that group.

Q.  How much of a factor was their length?
COACH TINKLE:  It was huge.  I mean, we turned the ball over I think ‑‑ for some reason we just had a lack of focus.  Our game plan wasn't difficult.  We didn't try to reinvent the wheel.  We run that four high zone offense, and we just, for some reason, didn't execute, like the players said.  And then we got a little careless with the ball and they got out in transition and made us pay.
We haven't seen that kind of length and athleticism all season long.  We knew when we saw their name come up on TV in Selection Sunday that it was a tough match‑up for us.  But we tried to approach it like ‑‑ upsets happen, but let's get after it.
They jumped us pretty good and I think our guys maybe panicked a little when shots weren't going in, we weren't finishing in transition.  We tried to stop the bleeding using some timeouts early, getting some other subs in.  And just couldn't really get the bus heading in the right direction to get ourselves going and to create a little doubt in their mind.

Q.  If your old coach, Mike Montgomery were to give you a call and ask you about these guys, what would you say to him and based on what you know of their team, how can they, perhaps, match up a little bit better than you did tonight?
COACH TINKLE:  They've got maybe a little bit more size and athleticism and they've got some back‑to‑the‑basket guys.  We were hoping to try to get the ball inside to get their zone to compact, we just weren't getting the results.  We tried to go small, you know.
So my advice to him ‑‑ like I need to give him advice.  He'll find a way.  He'll find a way.

Q.  Could you just expand a little bit on what Will Cherry has meant to your program over the last four years?
COACH TINKLE:  Well, I mean, look what we've done.  We've won a school record games in a four‑year span.  We've set league records.  We've set school records, all in his time.
He's been our torch.  He sets the tone on both ends.  What I thought he really brought that we lacked early on in my coaching career there is toughness.  He brought a level of toughness that we hadn't had.
And he'll leave his marks on our program for a long time to come and hopefully our guys that are returning will learn from his lead and carry it forward.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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