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March 22, 2013

Jim Boeheim

James Southerland

Brandon Triche


THE MODERATOR:¬† We're joined now by Syracuse student‑athletes Brandon Triche, a senior guard, and James Southerland, a senior forward.

Q.  I'd like to ask Brandon, before this tournament started were you aware of the Cal team at all?  And now that you're into the tournament what's your impression of the team you're going to play tomorrow?
BRANDON TRICHE:  I was aware of them.  We played them a couple of years ago.  I haven't seen them play this year, though.  But I know they're a pretty good team.

Q.  Both players, could you compare your team's mindset and confidence now as compared to when you were going into the Big East tournament?  You were coming off a few losses and seemed to be struggling.
JAMES SOUTHERLAND:  I feel as if we're all on the same page now.  I feel before the end of the regular season we weren't all on the same page due to my absence.  DaJuan also getting hurt.  I feel as if it took awhile for the team to sync back in to get on the same page.  And playing in the Big East, any team can beat you on any given day.
I feel as if we actually did a great job of focusing going into the tournament and we're just continuing to do it now.
BRANDON TRICHE:  I believe we also have our confidence back, our swagger back from the early part of the season, after losing a little bit and struggling.  We've been struggling, even though we've been winning, we've been struggling offensively.  We haven't really been playing our game.  Until like the end of the season, until Big East, that's the only time we've actually been playing good offensively and good as a team.

Q.¬† I know you guys got a chance to look a little bit at the Cal‑UNLV game.¬† Their coach talked about their zone defense and how it's a little different than yours, it's more of a 3‑2.¬† Have you looked at that and what are your impressions of it?
BRANDON TRICHE:¬† It seemed like a match‑up, similar to what a lot of teams played against us, more 3‑2, like you said.¬† But they have length.¬† They have big guys protecting the baskets and also athletic guards.¬† So I'm sure they're pretty disruptive.

Q.  James, obviously a lot made of Cal playing so close to home and you guys traveling all the way out here.  Do you go into this expecting it to be a road game with the crowd and the atmosphere?
JAMES SOUTHERLAND:  Definitely.  This is California, so the team from the University of California are going to have about 90 percent of their fans here.  I feel like it's not going to be much of a problem for us.  It shouldn't be because we played in great games like Arkansas, and Louisville and pulled out a team with a No. 1 team.  So we are just going to focus on what we need to do.

Q.  Lost in the offensive success last night was the fact that you guys held Montana to just 34 points.  Do you think the defense really is maybe more the key to your guys recent success than the offense?
BRANDON TRICHE:  I think defensively we haven't really struggled all year.  I think we've been there.  And that's one of the things that we pretty much kept the same.  I think offensively we were shooting, when we were losing, like 31 percent in the last six games.  We got our numbers up to 40 or 50 percent.  That's a mixture of everything.  But when you're playing good offensively, playing defense is much easier to play.

Q.  Brandon, based on the ups and downs that this team has faced this year at various points in the season, what is it going to take when you guys face your next dose of adversity?  It's going to come at some point in the tournament.  What is it going to take to fight through it?
BRANDON TRICHE:  Like you said, we've been through ups and downs, pretty much everything battling the whole season against adversity.  We're used to it.  We're used to playing bad and winning games.  You're used to playing good and winning games.  We feel like no matter what a team throw at us, we're going to put ourself in a good position to win games.

Q.  Coach Montgomery talked about one thing that makes your guys' zone so effective is you play it all game, all year long, and you're well versed it in it.  How important is that to you?
BRANDON TRICHE:¬† I think it's similar to anybody playing a good man‑to‑man defense.¬† You're not switching as much.¬† It's going to be a patented defense.¬† You obviously have to play at your best.
I feel for teams that keep switching defenses, usually they're not really good at one defense.¬† So we're pretty good and we recruit the right players to play in the Big East and playing our 2‑3 zone.

Q.  James, with you shooting so well in New York there's going to be a lot of attention from teams now, and maybe more so than there was before.  Is your mindset different knowing that the teams make a conscious effort to get up maybe more so than they were earlier in the year?
JAMES SOUTHERLAND:¬† Not really.¬† If I see a good shot I'm going to take it.¬† Maybe put a little more pump fakes in there.¬† When they're flying at me, get a foul or one dribble pull‑ups.¬† That will work.
But also the more pressure it is on me, the better it is for my team.¬† They go out there and gives ‑‑ less pressure off Brandon, pressure off C.J., Mike.¬† I feel like it's a good thing when they focus on me, because we have a lot more weapons than just me.

Q.  Maybe a little strange question, but a lot of the tournament is conference versus conference and trying to represent your conference.  How do you guys feel about that now that you're sort of in transition, Big East tournament is over, you're heading to another conference?  Do you feel like you're representing the Big East or how does that work?
BRANDON TRICHE:  I think my first three years I felt that way.  I think at the most we had like 11 teams in the Big East.  And you want to represent the Big East.  You want to represent Syracuse as a whole, as a program.
But you want to represent your team.  That's the most important thing.  So it's bigger than just Big East basketball.  We've got a whole city to represent.
JAMES SOUTHERLAND:  For me, it's definitely a great thing to have a lot of Big East teams, a lot of conference teams.  But at the same time we've got to focus on what we're doing.  At the end of the day we want to beat everybody and that's all that really matters, because more than likely we're going to face a Big East team.
THE MODERATOR:  We're joined now by Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim.

Q.¬† Cal has gotten a lot this year out of its back‑court.¬† Could you talk about the match‑up between their guards and yours?
COACH BOEHEIM:  Their guards are good, really good.  Crabbe is a tremendous shooter, one of the better shooters in the country.  And their point guard made so many big plays last night, really big plays.  That game would have gone the other way, but he made some huge plays down the stretch, getting in the lane and getting the ball to the big guys.  Two really good players.

Q.¬† What about the match‑up?
COACH BOEHEIM:¬† I never talk about match‑ups, you know.¬† We don't play man‑to‑man.¬† So Syracuse against them ‑‑

Q.¬† They changed defenses a little bit.¬† I'm curious about what your impressions are of the zone that they run, a little bit of a 3‑2 type?
COACH BOEHEIM:¬† Well, they're a good defensive team.¬† They play primarily man‑to‑man, but they do play a 3‑2 match‑up, as well.
But during the course of the season you play teams that use both defense, and particularly this year we've seen a lot of zone defense, more than usual at this stage of the year.¬† And last night Montana played a lot of match‑up, too.¬† Seton Hall plays all match‑up.¬† So we've seen pretty much both those defenses.

Q.  Knowing Mike the way you do, did it surprise you to see him play as much zone as he did?
COACH BOEHEIM:  Well, he once asked my wife if I was wearing a skirt.  So when we were watching last year I think it was, we texted immediately when he was playing zone to see if he was wearing a skirt, as well.  But I guess he was.
He's a man‑to‑man coach, he always has been.¬† But I think you see really almost everybody play some zone now, teams that ‑‑ coaches that have never played zone play zone.
When I do my clinics around the country, I probably do, I don't know, three or four a year, I've always said if you don't have some zone just in your pocket, I don't think you're smart.  For a long time there were a lot of coaches that weren't very smart.  But now most of them I guess are because pretty much everybody has some zone.

Q.  Statistically it looks like this is one of your better defenses, the defensive field percentage, those numbers are real good.  How do you compare it and how pleased are you with the way you're playing?
COACH BOEHEIM:¬† Yeah, I think it's one of our better defensive teams.¬† We pride ourselves on defense and we're usually in the top ‑‑ you know, we're not in the top usually in points allowed because we run and try to score, so we push the pace.¬† We're usually in the top three or four in field goal percentage defense and 3‑point field goal percentage defense.
And this year we're probably a little bit better than the norm.¬† Our defense has been good all year.¬† We really ‑‑ it really has.¬† Our offense was up and down a little bit, but not as much as I think people think.¬† But our defense has been good.¬† It's been a good defensive team.¬† We've worked hard at it and they've really worked at it.

Q.  Mike Montgomery when he was out here, he said he thought he recalled meeting you for the first time out at a golf tournament in Santa Clara.  Do you remember that?  Could you talk a little bit about your relationship with Mike?
COACH BOEHEIM: ¬†Yeah, yeah, it goes back to that.¬† That was a long time ‑‑ I don't even know exactly how long.¬† But it was a really good two‑day golf tournament.¬† Then we ‑‑ subsequently we've been on the Nike trips for, you know, probably 15 years.¬† Our wives are really good friends.¬† We've been friends for that length of time.¬† He's a great guy and a great basketball coach.
THE MODERATOR:  That golf tournament would be the Cable Car Classic, those of you who are interested in that.

Q.  Has your opinion of the PAC 12 conference changed at all as of yesterday that three teams winning games?
COACH BOEHEIM:¬† Well, I don't make judgments, you know, on conferences.¬† It's very hard to do.¬† I think you really ‑‑ and because you play well in the tournament doesn't necessarily mean that you're good or bad, you know.
I think the Mountain West is a really good conference.  They had some upsets.  That happens.  It's happened in our league some years where we come in with three or four top teams that don't make it.
Those are match‑ups and games and I don't think that can really indicate the strength of a conference.
But I watch basketball, I watch way too much.  I watched the late night games from the West Coast every night.  I've thought all along that Gonzaga is by far the best team they've had, and they struggled.  You just don't know when you come to the NCAA tournament what's going to happen.
LaSalle struggled sometimes this year unbelievably, and then they go out and beat a really good Kansas State team.  Harvard lost two of their best players and struggled at times this year.  And then they beat one of the hottest teams in the tournament, New Mexico.
So I think it's very hard to judge leagues and teams.  I did watch Oregon when Artis was there.  And obviously they were really good.  When they lost him they slipped a little bit.
But Cal during the middle of the year was playing the best of anybody in the PAC 12.
So I think it's hard to judge people and teams.  Even based on results in the NCAA tournament I don't think you can always go by that either.  It's difficult to try to figure this stuff out sometimes.

Q.  What happened in the Big East tournament when you guys got it going and now it seems to have carried in here?
COACH BOEHEIM:¬† Well, I think we just ‑‑ you know, you really ‑‑ to analyze our losing streak, we played very well in Marquette.¬† They didn't lose a game at home this year.¬† That's one of the four losses.
Louisville we're up 1 with a minute 36 seconds to go at home.  So obviously that's not a bad loss, the No. 1 seeded team in this tournament.  And Georgetown got us twice, and one game was very close.  And we played one very poor game in those four losses.  Our defense was pretty good in all four of those games, except the second half of Georgetown.  So that was it.
It wasn't like we were getting beat 15 or 20 points in two or three of those games.¬† We had a seven‑point lead over Marquette in the second half.
So it was an exaggeration to say that we weren't playing well.  We were playing pretty good, but the competition level was very high.  And we had a chance to win three of those games.
But when we got to New York we shot the ball the first night against Seton Hall better than we had been shooting it.¬† We shot during those four losses like 25 percent from the three‑point line.¬† We shot over 50 percent against Seton Hall.¬† And some of that is because the defense isn't as good as you're going to get against other people.
But then we continued that against Pittsburgh, they're one of the top defensive teams in the country again.  And we shot the ball extremely well against them.  And Georgetown again, another one of the top defensive teams, we shot the ball there.  And we shot the ball well for the first 25, 30 minutes of the Louisville game.  We made too many turnovers.
So we came off four really good games in New York.  And part of that wasn't that we were so bad before.  It was we just weren't quite good enough.  And mainly our two seniors shot 1 for 22 or something from the three in the last two games of that losing streak.  And obviously they've turned it around.  So I think that's a big part of it, those two guys.  When they shoot the ball well we're more effective.

Q.  There's been a lot of flagrant one fouls throughout the conference tournament and now the first couple of days in the NCAA tournament.  I wonder what your opinion is having seen some of these calls.  Are you happy with the rule and the way it's being officiated?
COACH BOEHEIM:  Well, my understanding of the rule, from talking to people on the rules committee, there was a push because of concussions to do something about injuries to the head.
To my knowledge, there's never been a concussion from an elbow in college basketball, to my knowledge.  I've never seen it.  I've asked people and nobody's told me that.
So it seems to be a rule that was made for no reason, because an elbow is not going to cause a concussion.  Most of them end up being in the chin area or nose area, some place in here, and most of them, I think, are caused by the defense putting their face right there.  And every kid from day one has been taught to protect the basketball.  So he's making a normal move.
So there's a huge problem with the rule.  And with what the defense does to get into that position.  I think in the best case scenario if we went back to an offensive foul, that would be something I could see as being the right place to go.
I think the guy that really swings his elbow on the rebounds, that's pretty much been eliminated.  I haven't seen much of that.  I think players have figured that out.  I think that's a good flagrant rule, if you are really swinging your elbows to get a guy off.
Although in my experience, 95 percent of those times when that happened the guy was fouled first, but they didn't call it.  I just think we have a bad rule right now.  And I'd like to see it be just an offensive foul, like it really should be.  But we'll see what happens.

Q.  Your comment after the Georgetown game about the golfing.  Were you just being flip and it got misinterpreted?  Are you finding that the grind is getting tougher to take after the years?
COACH BOEHEIM:  My first year I said the same exact thing:  I can't wait to get on the golf course.  They didn't write that I was retiring then, though.  I guess it depends on when you make these comments, which year you're in.  I guess after 30 you have to be careful of what you say.
I look forward to getting away and playing golf every year.  And no more so now necessarily than then.  In fact, I probably was looking forward to it more then than I am now.
I've never had ‑‑ I've been thinking about retirement for about 15 years, that's all I can tell you.¬† People always ask me, did you ever think about retirement?¬† Yeah.¬† I've been thinking about it for 15 years.¬† I think everybody in here once they get to 60‑something, they're thinking about retirement, too.¬† It doesn't mean you're necessarily going to.
I certainly am going to sooner rather than later.¬† Whenever we play bad during the season, I want to retire, believe me.¬† I'm thinking retiring.¬† And sometimes even when we play good.¬† That's when it's really ‑‑ I know I'm really getting close is when we play good I'm thinking about retiring.
But I have not ever thought that, you know, this is going to be it or that's going to be it, ever.  And I would never make any kind of decision like that until well after the season, in the summertime sometime, probably.  You have to let it all get away and see how you feel and what you want to do.
I'm excited about the move that we're making to the ACC.¬† I think it's a great challenge.¬† I think it's better ‑‑ it's a better basketball league than we would be in than if we were where Connecticut is.¬† I think it's potentially a great basketball league and a great challenge.

Q.  I want to piggyback on that.  Do you feel like you're representing the Big East at this point or have you put that in your rearview mirror?
COACH BOEHEIM:¬† That's a good question.¬† Yeah, you know, right now we're still members of the Big East, and we're representing the Big East right now.¬† But it's kind of ‑‑ it's a real gray area, there, I think, as well.
I think really when we get to this stage I really think that we're representing Syracuse, you know, at this stage, pretty much. ¬†And this year probably ‑‑ it's a gray ‑‑ that's a good question.¬† It's a real gray area.¬† We had an unbelievable history and I wouldn't trade what ‑‑ the experiences I've had in this league for anything in the world.
When we started with Dave Gavitt, and I remember sitting in the meeting room with Louie Carnesecca and Rollie Massimino and John Thompson and Rick Pitino at different times, Rick Barnes, PJ, you know, so many different, great coaches and great players that came through in the Big East.  It was an unbelievable experience.
And I'm just grateful that Dave Gavitt was able to drag us all into this league and keep it going, along with Mike Tranghese for 30‑some years.

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