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March 20, 2014

Jim Boeheim

Trevor Cooney

C.J. Fair


Syracuse – 77
Western Michigan - 53

THE MODERATOR:  We're joined by Syracuse University student‑athletes Trevor Cooney and C.J. Fair as well as head coach Jim Boeheim.
We'll have Coach open with a statement, and we'll just take questions for Trevor and C.J.
COACH BOEHEIM:  I thought our defense was really good right from the beginning.  We made some shots.  That always makes it a little bit easier when the ball goes in the basket.
But overall, our defense was really good, and I thought that was the big key for us today.

Q.  Trevor, could you just talk a little bit about this game and what it means for your confidence going forward in the tournament.
TREVOR COONEY:  I mean, my confidence was never down.  I mean, I had some games where the ball didn't go in for me.  I made a lot of threes this year, and I know I can make threes.  It was just about coming out and doing it.

Q.  Trevor, just to follow on that, I think this is the most field goals you've made since that Notre Dame game.  What was the difference today, and how much does it help your team when you're shooting like that?
TREVOR COONEY:  I mean, it just spaces the floor a bit when I'm making shots and defense has to come out on me when I'm out there.  It opens up other lanes for other people.
It just spaces the floor when I make shots.

Q.  Trevor, you missed your first three, but how important was it when on the second one you got a clean look after Rakeem's offensive rebound?
TREVOR COONEY:  It was just good to see one go in.  That just adds to your confidence a little bit, and I was able to get into a good rhythm, and guys found me in good spots.  I mean, the ball just went in today.

Q.  C.J., can you talk about your team's ability to force turnovers, especially early, preventing them from getting the ball inside?
C.J. FAIR:  Tonight we came out playing, you know, pressure defense, and we wasn't letting them get comfortable.  We was quick on all our defensive rotations, and that kind of hurt them.
You know, Tyler and Trevor did a good job anticipating a couple passes, get us going in the first half.

Q.  Can you also talk about your ability to get offensive rebounds and Grant being so active, especially in the first half, with the slams?
C.J. FAIR:  Yeah, we knew we were going to have a height advantage going into this game.  Coach always tells us whenever Trevor or Tyler get the ball, Do your work early.  Try to get in rebound position.
That's what me and Jerami tried to do because Trevor's not going to miss many, but you want to be thereto put it back or give him another chance at a shot.

Q.  C.J., Trevor's been in a little bit of a slump.  When he makes a couple there early on and starts to get going, what's that do to the rest of you guys?
C.J. FAIR:  When anybody is making threes in bunches, it gives the team that much more energy.  It gets us going.  It spaces the floor out.  It makes the defense have to react differently.
So when he's making threes and Tyler is making threes, it makes the offense that much more easier to get going.

Q.  Trevor, can you talk about the crowd?  It seems like almost a home game.  It's about 70 percent orange jerseys out there.  What did that mean to the team?
TREVOR COONEY:  I mean, we're only two hours away from Syracuse.  Syracuse, we have a lot of great fans, and they travel well.  And to be so close to home was definitely good for us.  We expected to see a lot of orange out there.
But when you get going and you get some stops and you score and you get the crowd behind you, it definitely adds to it.
THE MODERATOR:  Trevor, C.J., thank you for your time.
We'll take questions for Coach Boeheim at this time.
COACH BOEHEIM:  We can go home here.
THE MODERATOR:  I was going to say.

Q.  Jim, I know you said you haven't seen anything different from Trevor during his little slump he's been having.  Did you see anything different today, or was it just the shots were going in?
COACH BOEHEIM:  Same guy, you know, same guy.  He's just got to get his looks and take them.  I think he's been aggressive.  I think he stayed aggressive the whole time.
That's what you have to do.  If you're a shooter, you've got to be aggressive.  I think his defense has stayed up the whole time.  He's played all the other parts of the game, which is what you have to do.
It just makes our team different when it's 7‑4 and he shoots and it goes in, it's so 10‑4.  He shoots and he misses, it's 7‑4, and they can come down and get it within one.
I thought Rak and Jerami got him two really good looks.  Jerami got Tyler a really good look, and Rak got him a good look.
I thought we screened better.  I thought he made better use of the dribble.  Attracted guys to him.  He got fouled twice on three‑point shots, which he doesn't usually.  Usually gets it off too quick.  But I thought he did a really good job with that, and he got drove one time.  Those are things he's got to do that he'll continue to work on, and I think be able to expand his game.
He's much too athletic a player to just be a shooter.

Q.  Coach, how important was it to get up quickly like you did and get the crowd into it and really give them something?
COACH BOEHEIM:  Obviously, whenever you can get off to a good start, you know, it's always good.  When you can get some separation early.
We made some really good plays.  We made some shots, and we made some really good defensive plays.
They had a couple passes in there.  They were going for a layup, and C.J. made a good read, came across the lane, got the ball, and we went down and scored.  We made a couple plays like that.  We forced a couple turnovers.
When you get that separation, it's always easier.

Q.  Coach, we always talk about the confidence and the momentum from offense, but what about when your defense gets on a team like that early?  It builds for you, but the impact it has on the opponent.
COACH BOEHEIM:  It's important.  Our defense has been pretty good all year.  I mean, it hasn't been quite as good from the three‑point line as normal, but our field goal percentage defense, our scoring, we've really had a pretty consistent year defensively.
Our problems have been more on the offensive end in the games that we've lost or the games that we're closer maybe than we would have liked them to be.  We struggle sometimes to score.
But I thought at Florida State, we really played well.  We really scored against a good defensive team.  I thought against NC State we got great shots.  We just didn't make them.
So tonight we got the same type shots, and we made them.
So, again, I think we're a better offensive team than some of the numbers would show.

Q.  Jim, obviously, Trevor has a good night tonight, but looking at Tyler Ennis' numbers, does he continue to be maybe your most important guy out on the floor?
COACH BOEHEIM:  Well, he's a key guy.  There's no question about that.  We don't have a whole lot of point guards.  He's extremely important to what we do.
I thought he was good today.  He's always pretty solid.  Today he made a couple threes, which makes him even more effective.  I guess he made one, and then he made one long one.  He's been good all year.  He's been very steady all year.  He's a very mature player.

Q.  This was the first time all season David Brown had not scored in double figures.  How much of the game plan was centered around stopping him?
COACH BOEHEIM:  Well, we wanted to get out on him and not let him get comfortable.  He only got a couple real good looks, and he made them.  We wanted to try to make it difficult for him.
And then for the big kid, I thought Rak and Baye did a really good job making it hard for the big kid.  We wanted to try to contain those guys.
You know, you have to focus on the two best players on the other team.  We don't try to shut other people.  We try to get on those two guys and make it difficult for them, actually try to make somebody else score besides those two guys.
I thought we did a really good job defensively.  We worked real hard this week defensively in practice and what they do.  We had a lot of tape on them playing against the zone.  So we had a real good idea what we were going to do.
Most people do the same thing against us anyway.  They had one kind of wrinkle which was different, and I thought our guards did a good job defending that part of their game plan.
But, again, Rak, I thought, and Baye were really good defensively.  They made it difficult for him.  I think Whittington is a really good player, and I thought we contained him pretty well.

Q.  Coach, there was about a five‑minute stretch in this one where Jerami just completely took over.  When he's going like that, how much better of a squad does that make you?  Is there anything other teams can do to stop him?
COACH BOEHEIM:  He's a very good player.  Particularly when people double‑team Tyler, it gives Jerami a lot of space to maneuver in, and he's very good in those situations.

Q.  Coach, I know you didn't play Dayton in Maui, but did you get a chance to watch any of their games there?  If you did, what did they do well?
COACH BOEHEIM:  Yeah, I saw them.  I thought we were going to play them.  They lost a very close game.  I thought that we would play them in Hawaii.
I thought they were really the second best team out there.  They lost a one‑point game that they probablyshould have won probably.
So I was very impressed with what they did out there.  I've seen them a couple times this year.  I watched the game today.  They've got a very, very well‑balanced team with a lot of guys that can play and put the ball in the basket.
But I was tremendously impressed with them in Maui.  I really thought that we would play them there.  I thought they were just a terrific team.  I thought they were the second best team in Hawaii.

Q.  You have a good track record of playing these games wherever they are, all over the country.  Does it make any difference to you that it's two hours from campus?
COACH BOEHEIM:  It's good to have fans, but they don't score.  You've still got to play.  We've lost games close to home in the past.  We've won 3,000 miles away in the past.
Just the NCAA Tournament, you've just got to play.  It is good to have fans there, but, you know, that's just not going to determine too much at this level.  All these teams who played on the road in tough places, and I don't think that that's going to matter in terms of determining who's going to win a game in this tournament.
THE MODERATOR:  Coach, thanks very much.  Congrats.

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