Cincinnati-Syracuse Postgame Quotes|
March 10, 2012
COACH CRONIN: Just like we drew it up (laughter). Dion Waiters put on an unbelievable show in the second half. I don't know what his numbers were, but he made some big time shots to get them back in the game. I’m proud of our guys. We controlled the game. Our zone obviously was highly effective for the better part of the game. But my guys played with unbelievable toughness. To be able to battle them on the glass even, with our lack of size, and come away with 11 steals, just a tremendous job all around by a lot of guys on our team.
I've been telling them all year, people keep putting it that we stunned Georgetown. We’ve beat them four in a row. I've got faith in my team. When our toughness rises to the level of our talent, we've got a great team. We can beat anybody. We came here to win the tournament, and we've got one more tomorrow night at 9:00.
Q. On the three-pointer, you were just kind of planted down in the corner to rotate. Can you talk about how that play unfolded?
Sean Kilpatrick: I mean, I just -- Cashmere just told me to stay in the corner, and then Coach was telling me to go to the corner because Kris Joseph, he was going to come up and play Cash because Cash was hot, as well, throughout the game. Once he played Cash, I was just wide open, so Cash -- it was a good thing that Cash caught me?
Q. Did you know it was good as soon as you let it go?
COACH CRONIN: He always thinks it's good when he lets it go. Just ask anybody in White Plains.
Q. You played seven guys, a lot of wear and tear. Talk about the poise you had to maintain.
COACH CRONIN: Yeah, because we played zone the whole game, I'm with these guys every day, I know what they're capable of. I can tell when they're tired, and fatigue wasn't really a factor because we lived in the zone, and we were -- I thought we got a lot of rest. We never let the game get at the pace where they could get up and down and play in their comfort zone. They're the best conversion team in America from defense to offense. That was a big key for us. I think that helped us, as well, because we've got a lot of freshmen over there on the bench and Cheikh Mbodj is a first year player as well good tonight because of the pace of the game I didn't think these guys -- I kept asking them if they needed a sub in the timeouts, but everybody kept saying no. I had to get a volunteer one time to get our six man rotation going.
Q. If you could speak to the luxury of being up by 17 and the challenge of how hard it is to keep a lead a whole game against a team that good.
COACH CRONIN: Well, no matter who you're playing, the top half of our league, the game is never over. It's human nature to flinch a little bit when they come -- obviously it's like a home game for them, which makes the win even sweeter for us. But we hesitated for a little bit and didn't attack their pressure. Once we started attacking their pressure, we were able to get it back to a 10-point lead. I kept telling the guys in the timeouts, this is going to be a crazy ending and we're going to win by more than 10 because we got to break the press. I have seen them play. When they get behind, they're going to come. They're not going to sit back in that zone. They're going to come. So we did a pretty good job after our initial hesitation of attacking their pressure.
Q. As far as obviously you've got a whole game plan and you're prepared, but when your team shoots the way that it does, a team that makes a little more than a dozen threes a game, and is shooting the way they were, are you thinking that something has come together?
COACH CRONIN: No, we've made more -- in the course of the entire season, we lead the BIG EAST in three-point field goals made. We've made more threes than anybody in the BIG EAST. We're standing there wide open. Last night, we were 2 for 21. We shot 7 that went in and out. We've got guys that can make shots, so law of averages catches up.
When you let it fly with confidence the way we do, we only shot 22 threes, so I'm not going to sit here and act like it was some miraculous things that we made some shots. This is not the first time we've made -- we're going to make 10 threes in a game. We've made way more than that in games throughout the course of the season.
Q. You were sitting right where you are now when you mentioned that rebuilding the Cincinnati program was like trying to raise the Titanic. You beat Georgetown. You've had some good ones. You just beat what most people believe is the No. 1 seed on national television. What kind of a statement is this for your program?
COACH CRONIN: Well, it's a huge win for our program. I think what you've got to realize in college basketball is you've got to allow teams the course of the season, some teams get better. We had injuries to key guys early on, and we lost five seniors. We lost a lot of toughness on our team. It took us a while to develop toughness, and now that our toughness has caught up to our talent, when we make shots we can beat anybody. But our defense hung us in there last night. You need that all against Syracuse because they are arguably the best team in the country. But it's a great win for our program. Maybe the guys that vote in the coaches' poll will give us at least one vote on the also-rans. We didn't get any last week despite winning eight of our last ten.
Q. I just wanted to ask you about Jackson's basket at the end. Was that drawn up?
COACH CRONIN: I'm trying to remember which one. You're talking about the press? Well, I was begging our guys to throw over the top against their pressure. If you keep trying to play sideways they're going to steal it. They've got nothing to lose, so you have to throw over the top and attack. It's easier said than done. They were coming after Cash pretty hard. But once we were able to catch it and throw over the top the way we were trying to do it -- when you're in that situation they've got to take that gamble.
Q. You kind of spoke to this earlier, but it's a big win for the team and the program but you still have another big game tomorrow. Can you speak to not getting too caught up in a big win tonight?
COACH CRONIN: As soon as I -- by the time I got done with ESPN I walked in the locker room, the guys had written "we need to win one more" on the board. I didn't even have to write it.
Where we come from, we play to win. Like I said last night, we'll show up tonight at 7:00, tomorrow we'll be here at 9:00. We're not in it for the old college try. When this tournament starts next week, we're quietly going to try to win it. We don't let people outside our locker room define who we are as people. We're not perfect people or as a team. We try to define that for ourselves and make sure we're giving our best effort. That's what true greatness is, John Wooden.
Q. Yancy, can you imagine that you're one game away from a BIG EAST championship?
Yancy Gates: No, not at first, but as the season went on, yeah. I told the guys last night, talking about the Georgetown game, I was telling them, ‘we're not going to miss those shots today.’ I mean, we knew we'd come in here and we was going to have a good chance of winning. I didn't think we would be up that big at halftime, but I knew that we had a chance of coming in here and beating Syracuse.
Q. Yancy, the three-pointers kind of stopped falling there for a period in the second half, and you kept attacking the glass, going against those shot blockers. How critical was that, going to the rim like that?
Yancy Gates: It was big because them hitting those shots really opened it up for me in the middle, so you know, it was pretty much one-on-one with Fab Melo. A couple times they converged down but they blocked it out of bounds so it was still our ball. Then they had to try to play both of us and that's when Cash hit the three in the corner, so it just worked out the best for us.