“... We got it a little closer but made a couple of mistakes back to back and they made shots. I just thought that they were so much more aggressive and had so much more intensity than we did. You know we hurt ourselves in the late stages of the first half with some turnovers. That’s about all I can give you. It’s very disappointing.”
Did Syracuse do anything specifically defensively that led to offensive struggles?
“Well their zone is very good. There’s no question about that. Early on, we did a better job of moving and we had more patience. We had that stretch late in the first half where they took it out when we had a couple of turnovers. I think at halftime there was only one shot that I didn’t like. It was just the turnovers and our inability to stop them from getting offensive rebounds. They had us eight to zero in points in the first half. At the end of the game it ends up being 12 to two and that’s still a big margin. They had seven more possessions than we did. It just looked like they were more alert, more assertive, more intense and it seemed like every loose ball didn’t just bounce their way but they went and got it. You’ve got to congratulate them for doing that.”
Comments on Syracuse’s play from their main core of players:
“I thought C.J. (Fair) was really good. I thought Jerami (Grant) was really good. One of them had 12 and the other one had 10 in the first half. Jerami didn’t score in the second half but had some big rebounds for them. C.J. was a load, there’s a reason he was picked as an ACC preseason favorite for player of the year. Again, you’ll need to ask Jimmy (Boeheim) but I don’t think he’s going to say it was a great game for them. They got by and didn’t shoot the ball well and still beat us easily. I love (Tyler) Ennis. Tyler and Trevor (Cooney) in the backcourt give them tough guys and a shooter in Trevor. Ennis is a high level player, he doesn’t look like a freshman out there.
"I mean they shoot it one time and it barely hits the rim as the shot clock is going off and they get it off the floor and score. We foul them with five seconds left on the shot clock one time. We kick it out of bounds and give them 10 more seconds. It was just a comedy of errors down the stretch but we’ve got to play with a greater aggressiveness than we did today. The zone, I’ll go back to that, they do it very well but again I wasn’t displeased with the quality of the shots but we turned it over when we shouldn’t have against this zone.”
Is there any particular reason for some of your players to be tired at this point in the season or is fatigue a non-issue?
“It’s been a little bit of a grind. We don’t play again until next weekend. We’re going to give them a couple of days off and hopefully that’ll help them. When things are going well the ball is an energy pill. When things are going poorly you don’t have that energy pill out there. Not picking on any kid but Isaiah Hicks played eight minutes one stretch in both halves and if he had really sprinted that time on offense when J.P. (Tokoto) threw it ahead then he would’ve caught the ball and dunked it. I think a lot of things are a lack of confidence and poor play tends to make you be more tired than if you’re playing better.”
What do you think your team sits mentally right now moving forward after an 0-3 start to conference play?
“We’re not very good right now but it doesn’t make any difference. We’re going to play 15 more games and we’re going to find out if we’ve spotted everybody enough or what it is.”
Does the lack of confidence you mentioned carry over to rebounding as well?
“I think so. If you’re confident then you’re on your toes, your feet and going after it. If you’re not confident then you’re hesitant about everything and you’re reacting a little slower than the other guy. Right now it’s a tough time in that locker room. The kids are feeling it. They feel some stress and they’re going to continue to feel that. We’ve just got to be tough enough to mentally put that stuff aside and if you have a little confidence and you’re a little tougher then you react a little quicker.”
Comments on Leslie McDonald’s play that included some rough stretches:
“I wouldn’t pick on Leslie above anybody else having any stretches. He did have some but everybody’s got to play better. If you play better, everything goes smoother, you’ve got more energy and the whole bit. You’ve got to make better decisions. Again today, we get a rebound inside and you feel like it’s your constitutional right to go up and 17 guys block it on the other team. You’ve got to play with your brain and heart and we didn’t do either one of those quite as well as we wanted to. I didn’t coach as well as I needed to but it’s all of us in it together.”
Do you think this week off will be good for your team?
“It depends. If I were a player then I would hate it. I’d want to get back out there and play somebody. As a coach I like it because we’ve got some time to rest their bodies and have some injuries to heal up a little bit. Then as a coach it does give us some time to work on a few little things but as a player I’d hate it. I’d be so damn competitive that I’d go out there and kill somebody everyday.”