COACH WILLIAMS: Congratulations to Syracuse, to Coach Boeheim for his fourth appearance in the Final Four. I hope they win the national championship. We will miss not having them in our league.
I think that the institution and the program that he has created is comparable to any in the country. They were fabulous. The answer is never we didn't play our game, we didn't make shots, or some other ill advised excuse when you get beat. They beat us from start to finish. We collectively tried everything we knew to try collectively.
We're disappointed that we didn't have an opportunity to continue to play, but when we get beat, we get beat, and I thought Syracuse was great from start to finish.
Q. For any of you, how much better was the Syracuse zone from when you last saw it on February 25th?
Vander Blue: I don't think anything was different. We just were not making shots we usually make. Couldn't get stops, they were really good on the glass. I don't think anything was different from when we played them in Milwaukee. We made a lot more shots in Milwaukee and we did a lot better job on the glass.
Junior Cadougan: I just think they flat out played better than us from start to finish. Coach said we did everything possible to put us in a better situation, but we didn't get consecutive stops and they did a great job.
Trent Lockett: I agree with both my teammates, they got on runs, when they hit shots, it made them even more active in their zone, that got the crowd more behind them, they made tough shots and they played really good.
Q. Any of you guys, how would you describe playing against that zone, trying to score against it?
VANDER BLUE: It's a 2 3 zone, they have great athletes, they're long, athletic, they cover ground really good. It's like playing against any other zone but they're taller. You got to get the ball to the middle, play inside out and get the ball to the 3 point line, can't live and die on the 3 pointer when you're playing them. They're really good.
Q. Junior, can you talk about you've obviously played this is your fourth year. Can you talk about what you'll remember most about this team?
JUNIOR CADOUGAN: Just going to war every day in practice as a unit, as a family. That's what I'm going to remember, every day, just answering the bell every day, no matter if it's on the court or off the court, in school, whatever, being at Marquette working.
Q. For you too, Trent, since this is your one and only year, your some of your reflections on this team and this year?
TRENT LOCKETT: More than any other team or even group that I've been a part of, this group and this team, paired with the coach and all the administrative people is really like a family.
I think that also has a hand to go with what we went through in the preseason. I've never done anything like that with boot camp and individuals, and for them to accept me and take me in, on such short notice, knowing that I'm only going to be here for a year was very special, and it will be these last ten and a half, eleven months will be a time that I'll never forget.
Q. You've seen this Syracuse zone you've seen it multiple times. What was different this time? Not so much just the last regular season game, but are they better players this time around
JUNIOR CADOUGAN: I played against them a bunch of times. In order to beat Syracuse you have to hit shots, get to the free throw line and stop 'em in transition. You've got to do a whole bunch of stuff to stop 'em. Obviously today they were clicking real well. They did a great job from start to finish. We didn't get to the free throw as much, we didn't hit the shots we usually hit, and they came out with the victory.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, gentlemen. You're dismissed. Questions for Coach Williams.
Q. Coach, in terms of playing against the zone, obviously you know what's coming, but even with that, how difficult is it with the size length they have, especially on the wings? COACH WILLIAMS: They have pro's. I think they probably have guys on their team that after they win the national championship may not play for Syracuse anymore. It is the zone, and it is the players in the zone. For our team, we played possession wise, we played the highest percentage of zone possessions this year than we have at any other time during our tenure.
To compare Syracuse's zone to someone else's zone I think is unfair to Coach Boeheim and disrespectful to their players, because every game is a different game.
Yes, we knew they were going to play zone just like the other seven times that we've played 'em since we've been here, so it's a combination of both.
Q. Buzz, I know how you are sometimes after games, you're kinda wound up. Is this a time that you can reflect on the season and some of the good things?
COACH WILLIAMS: Maybe in a few weeks. I think when you run as hard as we do, it's not just games. Those are the times that you guys have an opportunity to ask us questions. Obviously you come once a week to practice, but it's the cumulative affect of not just the games, not just the practices, it's the games, the practices, the preparation, the sacrifices that are involved, not just from within your family but the sacrifices that are involved with all the families that are represented within our team.
Q. Can you talk about what your game plan was defensively, going up against someone like Michael Carter Williams who is so multi dimensional and when James Southerland hit three, threes over the course of the game?
COACH WILLIAMS: Those guys cause problems no matter how hard you guard them. I don't think any good player can, you guard the same way all the time. Similar to Shane Larkin and Durand Scott, I'm not comparing Michael Carter Williams or James Southerland to those guys, but you can't feed a steady diet to an NBA player the same way over a 40 minute game. I think Michael Carter Williams over the last couple of weeks may be playing the best he's ever played and that says a lot because he's always been really good. And James Southerland, it's hard when Michael Carter Williams forces rotation, because he's so good off the bounce, you can either give him a layup or you better figure out how you're going to rotate to try to stop the penetration and you hate to leave 43 because he's as good a shooter as there is in the country. No matter who you put on him, he's taller than any really good shooter in the country.
Q. You guys had that little pocket in the first half late, where Davante got good touches. Did they make an adjustment in the second half? What changed?
COACH WILLIAMS: I thought Davante did do a good job and I thought our perimeter guys did a good job of getting it to the high post. If you never get it to the high post, then what ends up happening is their bottom forwards and their two top guards, they just keep coming on top of you, so now all of the sudden you're reversing the ball and you're at 35 feet. Well you guys know this, you can't throw it to the nail hole when you're at 35 feet above the coach's hash, you can't do that.
I wouldn't say they have done anything different and I'm not speaking for Coach Boeheim, I'm not as good of a coach as he is. But within their zone and relative to their zone I think they play the same. They may shade someone one way or another. They don't want to get it to the high post but in accordance with who does get it at the high post they may fan out differently, but I don't think what they did in the second half was any different than what they did in the first half.
Q. I know there is disappointment now but could you talk about balancing that with the things that you did to get to this point?
COACH WILLIAMS: It's been a lot of fun. It's been a whole lot of fun. If you think back to you know the kids always talk about the preseason, that's always the funniest time for me because I don't have to see any of you guys. That's where our team is formed, not just on the floor, that's where our team is formed off the floor, during fall break. Marquette has a fall break which is just a miniature spring break and we go out in the woods where the cell phones don't work and there are not any TVs, I remember those things more so than I remember who we played or where we played, because I think it's those things that put us in a position to play games such as this, so I distinctly remember it. I think the chemistry and the togetherness combined with the toughness of this group is as good as I've ever been around. It's been a lot of fun to coach 'em.
Q. You caught Syracuse when they lost four or five at the end of the season, you saw them then, saw them in the Big East and studied them close to this point. You hinted at Michael Carter Williams playing better. Could you talk about why they have caught fire on this run and maybe some differences between that end of season?
COACH WILLIAMS: I think they were 10 4 and we were 10 4 when we played 'em. It was a big Monday game, and we played that Saturday, it was our last home game against Notre Dame, so that might have been March 1st. But I think the next game that Syracuse played, they lost at home, is that right?
We beat Syracuse in Milwaukee on February 25th. I'm pretty close to certain that our next game was Notre Dame, maybe it was March 1st or second. They went home and played a home game and I think that was the largest crowd in college basketball history against Georgetown. Is that right? Louisville immediately after us?
COACH WILLIAMS: I think that's always a great coaching clinic when you can watch Coach Pitino notice and Coach Boeheim go against one another. They always seem to have really good players and watching those games even, Pete, when you watch Coach Willard and a little bit of Coach Cronin anyone, you can see some of Coach Pitino notice and you know how they're attacking the zone is probably along the right path, but I do think that Michael Carter Williams is playing better. Jerami Grant was starting when we played them, I think James Southerland is playing more minutes, not that Grant is not a great player. But when you make shots like we did against Miami, it makes everybody seems better. I read something where Michael Carter Williams' family's house burned down and that's extremely sad at any point in time, particularly at this time of year for a kid that has as much at stake as he does, so happy for him.
Q. Coach, the game did just end and you haven't had a chance to look at the film or anything, but could you tell us how much it was how your team played?
COACH WILLIAMS: Yeah, maybe I'm wrong but I know you don't know who I am but, anytime I get beat I say I got beat. I think that's part of the problem in the world and in our industry. If you got beat say you got beat, don't come up with a litany of excuses on why it didn't work. They beat us from start to finish. We were prepared, we did all the preparation that we should have done leading into today's game. There were pockets of time when we were okay, but you don't shoot 53 shots and make 12 and say, well, we just didn't make shots, or we weren't feeling good, no, they beat us. I mean that not sarcastically, I mean that as sincerely as I could possibly say it to you.
Q. You mentioned, I thought it was interesting, that Jim basically bet that you you're not going to make enough threes to beat 'em and I was wondering if there was a point where you thought, this is kinda what he wants, and then like you said, trying to figure out different ways to figure out things and you exhausted them all, I guess?
COACH WILLIAMS: I think we tried everything we knew to try. Like I said, that was our seventh game playing Syracuse, we're 3 4 against them during our tenure here. We've added, maybe, a little bit each time that we've played 'em, maybe different things to try to counter their zone.
Leading into today and their three NCAA Tournament games, teams were shooting 16% and we helped them so now they're shooting about 14%, because we shot 13. You don't want to take too many threes, but you have to understand that you're probably going to play late in the clock a lot, because you're spending so much time trying to attack the gaps of the zone, whether that's in the high post or not, and they want you to shoot threes is the other part of that. So it's a combination of both, but I think we tried everything we knew to try.
Q. You mentioned Coach Pitino and Coach Boeheim. Do you expect to see those two teams in the final? Would you like to see that? Do you think their the two best teams left? COACH WILLIAMS: Who does Syracuse play? THE MODERATOR: Florida/Michigan. COACH WILLIAMS: And who will Louisville play? THE MODERATOR: Wichita State/Ohio State. COACH WILLIAMS: Those are some really good players and really good coaches. I don't know, I don't bet but I'm definitely rooting for Syracuse.
Q. You talked about the chemistry and the time that you invest in the players and how that's important to you. All of that produced a step further than you've been before with this team, and I'm wondering what kind of a bench mark do you see that as, is that momentum? How do you see the fact that you progressed further than before with this school?
COACH WILLIAMS: Thanks for asking. I think a lot of people take for granted how hard it is to get through the NCAA Tournament. There is a lot of coaches that are really good and a lot of players that are really good that didn't make it this year. People sometimes take for granted how much work goes into just get to go that point. I think that was our wasn't that our 13th NCAA Tournament game since we've been here? So to get momentum is the hardest thing. To keep it is even harder. When you talk about the togetherness and the toughness and those things, everything we do is built on the foundation of trust. It's built on the foundation of love. If you don't