By DREW OLSON
In advance of their Elite Eight matchup Saturday afternoon in Washington, D.C., members of the Marquette Golden Eagles and Syracuse Orange met with the media on Friday. Here are the transcripts, courtesy of ASAPSports.com:
THE MODERATOR: We have Marquette with us, head Coach Buzz Williams, Chris Otule, Trent Lockett, Juan Anderson, Junior Cadougan and Vander Blue. We will have an opening statement from Coach.
COACH WILLIAMS: Excited to be here, thankful to be here. Much respect to Coach Jim Boeheim and their team. Glad to be representing the Big East with Coach Boeheim.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for our student‑athletes.
Q. Vander and Junior, the way Syracuse plays zone defense, is that almost a one‑off preparation, compared to the way you prepare for other teams?
JUNIOR CADOUGAN: I mean, we played Syracuse before and we play against a lot of teams that play zone against us this season and that obviously prepares us to play Syracuse anytime we play 'em. Because we will be in the comfort zone by then from the teams we played zone against.
VANDER BLUE: I think it's definitely helped us playing once already and beating them and like Junior said, we played against zone pretty much all year. Not too many teams have played us man‑to‑man all year and we're comfortable against Syracuse's zone.
Q. Vander, about a month ago you played Seton Hall, it was kind of a big night. Did that spark these last two months right now for you? Did you gain some sort of confidence from hitting that point or anything?
VANDER BLUE: I wouldn't say that sparked it. I guess it's just the longer you are playing, the better you should start playing, I would say. I just wanted to help the team as much as I can and being one of the leaders on this team I know what the guys expect from me and I've been mentally and physically locked in these last couple of months because I wanted to do something special for Junior and Trent.
Q. Junior and Chris, one of the Coach Buzz Williams's philosophies is he wants to get to the free‑throw line as much as possible. How do you carry that out? How do you get fouled?
CHRIS OTULE: I would say that our game plan is to get the ball in the paint as many times as possible over and over again, each possession we call the paint touches, you guys are familiar with that term. Our goal is to just have more free‑throw makes than the other team attempts and if we can do that, we're going to win the game, so hopefully we can do that tomorrow.
JUNIOR CADOUGAN: We try to emphasize going into the game to get the ball turning, you know obviously if you try to beat a team on the first side, it would be harder for you to get to the free throw line or get paint touches as Chris said, so what we're trying to do going into the game is to get the ball turning, get the defense in rotation, then attack the paint to get fouled or get an easy shot, a great shot, not just a good shot.
Q. John, compared to the guys on either side of you and some of the guys who aren't up on the podium, you've flung under the radar a little bit, yet you've been able to start the year after an injury. What's the season been like for you in that regard?
JUAN ANDERSON: I'm just here to play my role and help these guys out. I feel like I bring energy to the team. It was unfortunate that I did have injuries last year so it's kind of like I'm a freshman playing in a sophomore year, because I wasn't able to play a lot this year but at the end of the day, like I said, I'm here to bring energy to the team, rebound, play my role.
Q. Trent, you were telling us last week about this is new to you. Can you talk about this experience of going through this and how does it compared to what you expected it to be like?
TRENT LOCKETT: I don't know if I can compare it to anything, given that this is my first post‑season experience. It's been a great one, but we don't at the present time to stop here. I think yesterday really solidified that we can do something special, and we had a good day of practice today and we're looking forward to the game tomorrow.
Q. Junior, what is it you guys have been playing in the NCAA Tournament all these different teams that you've never seen before. How does it change your mind‑set that now you're going to have to play one of your conference rivals that you've seen tons of times in your career, does that change your mind‑set?
JUNIOR CADOUGAN: Going into the Davidson game we didn't know that much about Davidson, and obviously we're playing against Syracuse who we have seen before and who I've seen a bunch of times. So going into the game, I can help the guys like Derrick Wilson, Derrick has been doing a great job stepping up and being the back‑up and taking on responsibilities, and for me to show him, you know, things on offense and things on defense against Syracuse a team that I've seen a bunch of times could help us a lot. When I'm not in the game with the second unit and stuff like that, just helping Derrick out a lot, being the next general on the team could help us a lot.
Q. Chris, Davante goes 6‑9, 290, something like that, what's it like guarding a guy like that in practice? Do you watch other teams try to guard him when he's in the game and you're on the bench and laugh?
CHRIS OTULE: Davante is an incredibly talented person and in practice we make each other better, because I'm known for defense and he's known for offense and we can make each other better in practice each and every day. He's an incredible player and he scores easily and it's amazing to watch him. When we get a chance to play together it's even better. It's happened before.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, guys, you're dismissed. Good luck tomorrow. Questions for Coach.
Q. Buzz, how are you?
COACH WILLIAMS: Good, you all right?
Q. If Marquette wins, it will end Syracuse's tenure in the Big East, it will be their last game. If Syracuse wins, they will get to keep playing as a representative of the Big East for another game. Your thoughts on these two Big East teams colliding, what does it mean for the league and what would it mean for you guys to win and go to a Final Four by beating them?
COACH WILLIAMS: I wish we weren't playing each other. Maybe if we were in different regions, maybe we could both continue to play. I guess I haven't thought about it in that regard. When I think about the Big East, I think about Coach Jim Boeheim, I think about Coach Calhoun, Coach Pitino, Coach Thompson, Sr., so I haven't thought about it like that. Obviously I don't necessarily mean this negatively, but whoever wins tomorrow as much as they're playing to say we are a part of this league, they're playing to win for all the people in the locker room to advance and continue their season, to play in the Final Four, and those are memories that will last a lifetime and lives are changed when you get to this point in March, when you're still playing.
Like Trent said, everybody wants to continue to keep playing.
Q. Buzz, do you think a young coach could come in and play exclusively zone from the get‑go and establish a career that way or is that a little risky?
COACH WILLIAMS: I've studied Coach Boeheim. I think he's way smarter than he gets credit for. I think at this point in his career he's probably hard to get to know and I can completely understand that in my five years of tenure at Marquette, it somewhat makes you cantankerous. I've done a little research. He was not exclusively zone when he started his career and I've tried to find people with knowledge about what sparked that change and it was an immediate change or did it go, we were 100% man and then the percentage just began to tilt until it eventually became exclusively zone and how long of a period of time was that. Coach Raftery has been a good guy to give me info on that, because he was coaching at that time. I think your question is good. I don't know. Maybe if you were at a one‑bid league institution, where maybe you weren't track and had followed. Don Maestri was the head coach at Troy for 27 years and could be easily sitting up here, he did unique things. Don Meyer, a Hall of Famer, he did a lot of unique things, but those guys learned their craft not having media like this.
So I would maybe say that depending upon where that coach was, it would probably be more difficult. If you study the numbers on Coach Boeheim's success at Syracuse, I don't know that you can necessarily contribute offensively it to the zone. A lot of it has to do with who is playing the zone and a lot of it has to do with the shots they get offensively from their zone.
So I think there are residual benefits to playing a zone but for a guy to do it full‑time, young, and at a high level, I don't know that you'll see that.
Q. Jim Boeheim did mention when he made the switch, he said some Division II team in an exhibition game beat him about four or five years ago and that's when he made the switch. Getting back to the zone you guys have seen it a lot this year for obvious reasons. Is there something different about the way that Syracuse does it beyond the fact that they play it all the time with their length, for example?
COACH WILLIAMS: Obviously their length causes problems no matter what type of defense they would be in but because Brandon Triche and Michael Carter‑Williams are so long that when you try to initiate offense above the free‑throw line now their back line is above the first hatch and everybody keeps saying "get it to the high post" you guys know that, coaches know that, players know that. You can't get it to the high post when there are five guys standing within 9 feet of one another, from top to bottom.
So when that bottom of that zone is above the first hash mark, now all of the sudden you've cut off 8 feet of the floor. Now their length‑‑ it just overwhelms you because there is nowhere to go only backwards. In the NCAA Tournament teams have shot 16% from three, and I would say that if Coach Boeheim told you this, a lot of that zone is statistics based. Over a 40‑minute game you're not going to make enough threes to beat us and if you do, over the course of my career you're not going to win enough games to alter the fact that I'm going to be in the Hall of Fame.
So you have to get that zone to shift, but before you get that zone to shift you have to make 'em play from the 3‑point line to the baseline. If you don't, it's going to end up being a bad possession. When you start bad offensively in a zone possession it's typically going to end bad.
Q. What does Trent represent to you this year, considering how he came into Marquette?
COACH WILLIAMS: He's everything that you would want a student athlete to be. Like 100%. Every single day, exactly what you would want a student athlete to be.
I have two sons, 10 and under and they watch too much TV and too much Sports Center, but Trent Lockett is a guy that if they turn out to be like him as a human being then my wife and I have done a good job at parents. He is the most diligent worker, the most consistent worker that I've known in my 19 years of coaching and I've only coached him one year.
I think for him to come in through the situation that he did for our kids to accept him in our culture as a 22 year old graduate student, speaks to that. That's because he's a worker and that's why he fits here.
Q. Given how he did get there, the delicate nature that he did, when did you say, okay, time with compassion is over with and time to go to work and how did you put the screws to him?
COACH WILLIAMS: I'm way more compassionate than you would think off the floor and I have zero compassion on the floor. In the lines the game is pure, so no matter what has been written or what you're ranked, whether it's shirts or skins on national TV, whether it's Elite Eight or TV game inside the lines the game is pure. I coach that way.
Off the floor I'll do anything that I can to make sure that our kids understand that I love them and care for them, not as player but as people. I think my relationship with Trent is along that line. I mean, I don't holler and scream at him any different because of the nature of where he transferred to Marquette than I holler and scream at Steve Taylor who is a freshman, I holler and scream at 'em all the time, it's an equal opportunity deal.
Q. I saw you out there during the Syracuse game scouting, they were out there during your game scouting. Because you guys know one another so well, is this game won and lost on the court tomorrow night as much as it is what you witnessed and saw last night trying to find the one thing that's different or that they did or you did?
COACH WILLIAMS: I think they're playing better than when we played them, and when you're playing two games a week once you play that opponent, you really don't get back to them other than keeping up with did they win or lose, unless potentially they're in your bracket in the conference tournament.
We had the same scenario two years ago when we played Syracuse in the NCAA Tournament. I don't want to play Syracuse again. Well, you know them and you know their zone, I know all that. I don't want to play 'em. I would rather play somebody else. But it's part of having so many good teams in our league that go to the NCAA Tournament.
I don't know exactly what you can accomplish the day in between the Sweet 16 and the Elite Eight from a physical nature. I think a lot of your practice is mental and a lot of your learning on the floor and in the conference room is mental.
Q. How much emphasis do you put on that scout that you did last night? Do you take a lot of stock in that or just say, okay, they're do get same things or different things?
COACH WILLIAMS: We have watched their last six games. How we handle scouting is probably unique to some organizations, but our kids know what to expect when it comes to scouting. My staff has been incredible. This year and in years past, for that matter, in scouting. I'm over the top on the analytics involved as a team, as an individual. So it just adds to the sample size. I don't think that it necessarily changes the course of it one way or another, it's just another good game and you know when I first got into coaching you could watch teams in person. When I was in college, I would go watch as many games as I could. I think I'm better watching it in person than I am on TV. I think it's hard to see how physical Durand Scott is, watching him play Pacific, watching him play Illinois, but then you watch him 6 feet in front of your bench last night and you're like, holy smokes. So when you get to watch them in person that's healthy for me.
Q. Buzz, when you played Syracuse earlier in the season, Davante Gardner had a great game. Do you expect to be able to get something like that out of him again or do you think they Syracuse has a game plan for Davante and they're not going to want him to score 26 and you have to find a different way.
COACH WILLIAMS: I don't think they wanted him to score 26 when we played them. He played really well that night, you're right. I don't think he will play that well again, and that's only because he's never played that well before or since. So‑‑ he played incredible. But we do need him to play.
If you look at the games where we've won, the games where we've lost, Davante is a big pendulum swing in that so he's important to our team for sure.
Q. If you were to win tomorrow‑‑
COACH WILLIAMS: You work with Zags?
Q. Unfortunately, yeah.
COACH WILLIAMS: Boy.
Q. If you were to win tomorrow night, advance to a Final Four you would join exclusive company that have done that. Can you talk about your feelings like potentially joining Jim Boeheim, Pitino, Calhoun, Thompson?
COACH WILLIAMS: That's why I had to go to a junior college, they have that word association, like on the SAT, if that question would have on the SAT I would have gotten that right. I don't belong. Not to not answer your question, I don't view myself in that regard, I don't have a lens introspective of who I am. That's not why I do this. Obviously I'm humbled to be in this position and I'm not doing it for the outcome I'm doing it for the lives that are changed because of the experience.
Maybe at some point in time in my career maybe I will think like that accident but I struggle with enjoying and being absorbed in the moment in that regard. I absorb and enjoy the moment to get better and to improve and to figure things out, but I never look at things that way.
That's only because if you were to look at my path to this point, there is no possible way that you could say that I would have ever gotten to this point, much less get to the point that you're talking about.
Q. Coach, your research is legendary. I wondered if you have any connection to the close call like you had with Davidson and then having a deep run, if you were the first to do that.
COACH WILLIAMS: I'm not sure how that would correlate I haven't studied anything like that, but I'm sure that's happened. Has there been a team that goes the to Sweet 16 winning by 3 points. I don't know, you know if there has been, that's a small number, has there been? Do you know the answer to that?
Q. Syracuse famously won in 03, they trailed by 17 in the second round to Oklahoma State and came back and beat 'em and the rest is history?
COACH WILLIAMS: That was what Coach Sutton was at Oklahoma State?
Q. Correct, famous for the line "These macadamia nut cookies are delicious."
COACH WILLIAMS: That's what Coach Sutton said? How about my man he says if you want to talk to our players it's by the media buffet.
Q. That's how you're going to get people there. You survived a game, you become better because of it?
COACH WILLIAMS: For sure. I think that the close games, the game against UCONN when Coach Autry was coaching our team, I think the game at Pitt when Davante threw it at the band, in the zoo, that went into overtime, I think the game at the Garden against St. John's, the game against Davidson and Butler, I'm missing a few, the game against Butler when we lost earlier in the year, I think all of those things grow you up. Even when you lose I think they grow you up if you're looking to learn in the right regard.
I hope that we can play well enough tomorrow that we're in that same situation with Syracuse.
Q. If you were in the same situation on this stage, would you play the Jake Thomas card again?
COACH WILLIAMS: Yes. I think Jake can shoot. The times that Jake has played, he's changed the complexion of our team. We got beat at Green Bay and I know you were there, I would still run the same play for Jake to take the shot. I trust Jake. Just because he doesn't play a lot of meaningful minutes, he works every day, our players respect him, he's accountable for his work, he's a really fun kid to be around, and I don't say that about a lot of kids because I'm not necessarily always a fun coach to be around but I like Jake, and I hope that he has an impact tomorrow.
THE MODERATOR: Coach, thank you.
THE MODERATOR: We are joined by Syracuse. We have student‑athletes, James Southerland, Brandon Triche, Michael Carter‑Williams, C.J. Fair, and Rakeem Christmas along with Coach Jim Boeheim. We will take questions for our student‑athletes. After an opening statement from Coach Jim Boeheim.
COACH BOEHEIM: We are happy to be here. We realize we have a huge challenge against Marquette, they beat us earlier in the year and they are playing at a really high level right now, so it's a tremendous challenge for us to play them. THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student‑athletes.
Q. C.J. and Rakeem, last time you played Marquette they did a good job of getting the ball inside and Davante Gardner had a big night. What will be different this time with the way you guard them?
C.J. FAIR: Yeah, their bigs got a lot of second‑chance points, so we are going to do a good job of packing it in a little bit and making our job a little harder like yesterday against Cody Zeller, so the main thing is keeping him off the offensive glass, and I think we can limit him.
RAKEEM CHRISTMAS: We're going to not give them second‑chance rebounds and try to get the‑‑ keep the ball from getting down there.
Q. I understand you're close with James, and I was wondering if you could share with us a little when he missed those six games was there a moment where you could tell it was eating at him or where you got the sense that it was painful for him?
RAKEEM CHRISTMAS: He just told me to go out there and have fun and he came back. We're just happy to have him back basically.
Q. James, what's it like to play zone and where do you suppose more teams don't play zone?
JAMES SOUTHERLAND: I feel like other teams don't have the length we have, especially in our guards and forwards. It feels good, we have been doing it for four years now and it's great to have a bunch of guys who work together and work very hard. It's got us really far and it never failed us.
Q. Mike, it's been talked about a lot, but how have you been able to compartmentalize your thoughts this week, based on everything that's happened with your family?
MICHAEL CATER‑WILLIAMS: You know, I think when I'm on the court or when I'm in practice, you know, all my focus is on my teammates and the team and, you know, outside of basketball I think I can just be there for my family as much as I can, but when it comes time for basketball, everything else is kind of irrelevant.
I'm just focused on the team.
Q. James, I want to ask about the zone. When you play on the street you don't play zone you play man‑to‑man, you grow up guarding a man. When you get to college how long does it take mentally for this to kick in, this is how I'm going to play, it's not the way I played out on the cul‑de‑sac.
JAMES SOUTHERLAND: We all grew up playing man‑to‑man especially AAU and high school, most of us. I feel like it takes a‑‑ it takes practice, just takes a while, like two months, if that. After playing it for a couple of years, we have a bunch of guys, Mike, Brandon, C.J. and I have been playing it for a custom years together and it makes a bigger difference.
Q. Brandon and Mike, two Big East teams here in the Elite Eight so definitely one Big East team to the Final Four. Just your thoughts on what that says about the league and is it appropriate that that's happening this year when Syracuse is leaving to go to the ACC next year?
BRANDON TRICHE: I believe so. I think the Big East one of the toughest leagues. Obviously, one of the reasons why I chose the Big East because you're going to play against strong competition, it's going to be a battle each and every game.
For one of the Big East teams to make it to the Final Four is incredible. Hopefully it will be us.
MICHAEL CATER‑WILLIAMS: I think, like Brandon said, the Big East is a tough conference. It's special that at least one team is going to the Final Four, and the Big East has been tough all year. Going against Marquette is going to be tough, but we've seen them before, so it should be good.
Q. Brandon, can you take us into the subtleties of what a team has to do when you reintegrate a player like James. You have him, you lose him, you get him back subtlety. What happens when you reintegrate him?
BRANDON TRICHE: You just adjust. We are a team that adjusted all year, when James went out Jeremy played a whole lot of minutes and we got used to Jeremy playing and James back Jeremy's minutes declined, and it takes a while, some time to get used to but basketball in general is about adjusting to whatever is thrown at you, and that's what we did.
Q. You guys were in this spot playing in the Elite Eight. How much does that experience help you this season?
C.J. FAIR: Yeah, I think so. We was at this stage last year, and we didn't make it to the Final Four, we know how it feels to get so close and come up short, so we got another chance this year to have a different outcome.
I think we are going to do whatever we can do to get to the Final Four.
Q. Brandon, last night when you were in here, you told us you hadn't checked your phone yet. Have you heard since then from your uncle and what did he have to say and what was that like, if you have?
BRANDON TRICHE: He just said congrats on the win and keep it going. He didn't say anything about Indiana.
COACH BOEHEIM: That's a lot of conversation for those two device, that's like about three weeks.
THE MODERATOR: Any other questions for the student‑athletes? All right you guys are dismissed. Thank you. Questions for Coach Jim Boeheim now?
Q. I know you've talked endlessly about the Big East and the end of the Big East here, but as you move into this game with two Big East teams, your thoughts on the two being in the Elite Eight and given the end of the league this year how special or what would it mean if you or a Big East team were to get to a Final Four?
COACH BOEHEIM: We're going to get to the Final Four, I think we'll get two teams to the Final Four this year. Our league has been good. It's been good all year. You never know what's going to happen in the NCAA Tournament, how things work.
Some years‑‑ it really doesn't prove you've got the best league, it just means you played the best during this couple‑week period, but the Big East has been very good this year. It's a good league, always been a good league. It's remarkable that you could start a league and it could be good right away, like the Big East was. We had the right schools, the right players came in early with Patrick and Chris and Pearl and Walt, all those guys came in right away. The coaches were there right away. Dave Gavitt saw it, none of us saw it, we weren't that smart. He was right, and it's been an unbelievable 34 years, history of the league, over that 34‑year period it's been as good as any league. You can easily make that argument.
It's sad the way‑‑ it was almost inevitable that the football schools would need to get with football schools, and I think it will work for the basketball schools now that they're going to get together, and they will have a really good basketball league. I think that's for the best. I think it will work out, and we have a great challenge going to what will be a tremendous basketball league.
Q. Can you talk about the job that Buzz has done over the last two, three, four years to get his program to this point?
COACH BOEHEIM: Well, he's a tremendous basketball coach. He's done a tremendous job. They have a very good team. You're talking about‑‑ I just look at the players on the team, I don't look at the hype. They have very good players. They're very good defensively. They can score inside, they can score outside. They handle the ball, they don't make mistakes. They're a tremendous defensive team. That's what you look at as a coach, you don't look at how many High School All‑Americans, they had, whatever, half of the ^High School All‑Americans aren't any good. People don't realize that but half of those never play well in college, let alone past that. So that's nonsense, it's how good are their players. Their players are very good, and he's done a tremendous job with those players.
Q. Jim, when James came back after that St. John's game you talked about how difficult it is for a player to miss games, particularly a senior. I was wondering if you could share that and his season has been extended now because of what this team is doing, your feelings about that?
COACH BOEHEIM: Obviously we're happy and you can keep playing this time of year you're going to be happy, there is no question about that. As far as James, I think we all forget how important a game is for these players. As we get older we lose sight of that, or just playing 5 minutes, how important that is to a player. When you take away a game or two, or whatever, it's important‑‑ it's huge, you know? I remember when I didn't get into a game when I thought I should have got into a game for two minutes, when I was a sophomore, it's crushing. It's crushing. We sometimes forget as we get older how important it is and what you lose, and as far as our team goes, Jerami played above any hopes that we had for him, and we went 4‑2, beat Louisville, we beat Cincinnati, we beat Villanova and we should have beat Villanova the second time, we should have been 5‑1, and I'm not sure we would have been 5‑1 if James had ever gone out, but he came back. The funny thing is he played pretty well when he came back but we didn't look noticeably better. Then we had that losing streak with him in the lineup, and he played pretty well. It wasn't him not playing well. We didn't shoot well.
I'm not sure that this is true, but it's possible that the disruption and the getting him back, you know, maybe that had some affect on us, I don't know. You know, the problem with these things, it's not a lab experiment, we don't have a control, we just have what we have, so we really can't say. It's possible that we're now playing, say, starting the Big East Tournament and now, we would have played better if he had never gone out. We may not have had that. But I'm not sure of that.
Q. After the loss to Marquette and where Davante had the big game, Buzz said da haven't tea understands where the gaps in the zone are. If you are review of the game can you figure out how he was able to figure that out and how you adjust for that?
COACH BOEHEIM: First of all, you got a lot of offensive rebounds, that's not a gap in the zone. We got to do a better job there. We played them in Syracuse the year before and I don't recall him having a big game. He's a good player, and he got a lot of offensive rebounds, they found him in the lane, and he made good plays. To me he's a very good player down there, and we obviously have to do better with him, for sure.
The good thing is, from playing that game is that we know that. We have to keep 'em off the foul line, we have to rebound better. We did a good job on their perimeter people, at Marquette, that's why we had the lead. We played well on offense at Marquette. It's a difficult place to play, and they played well and they didn't lose any games at home, so that's okay.
They're playing well, they're playing at a high level, I think they're playing better now, I think we're playing better. Should be a great game.
Q. What effect does it have on a tournament game when two teams have played each other in the regular season and beyond that your conference rivals, so there is a commonality, a history, you've played each other not just this year but maybe the year before and the year before that.
COACH BOEHEIM: They know us, that's a fact, they know how to play against us, they're used to that, and we understand them, what they do. So I think that's all‑‑ that's part of playing somebody that you know. They're going to understand what to do and hopefully we will understand what we need to do as well.
Q. Late in the season I think it was after the DePaul win, you talked about how your big guys weren't where they needed to be at that stage of the season what's changed?
COACH BOEHEIM: I would say they're pretty much in the same place. I haven't seen much change. I think they have been pretty good defensively all year, I think Baye has picked up a little bit, gotten to some spots but it shouldn't be hard to score when nobody is guarding you, but I guess it is.
Q. Piggy backing off what Mike said, because and you Marquette know each other so well, does the advantage have to come on nights like last night where your staff is out scouting them, Buzz is out scouting you guys during your game and trying to find that one thing that has changed between two teams since you played each other last?
COACH BOEHEIM: I don't see‑‑ the biggest change is they're making more shots now and you don't have to scout very much to see that. You don't have to scout at all, you just look at the stat sheet. I'm not a big proponent of scouting, film work, I probably watch less film than anybody in the country. We know what we need to do, it's always‑‑ everybody in this business knows what they need to do. It's a question of if you can execute it in the game. Indiana knew exactly what to do‑‑ Tom Crean has coached against me, he's seen our defense, he knows‑‑ they knew what to do, it's a question if they can do it.
That's what basketball is all about. We all know the answers. You guys know the answers. Probably better than we do, in your minds, but it's whether you can get your players‑‑ I always laugh at football coaches they know every play, every position, every move that these other guys are going to make because they watch 36,000 hours of tape. Their players have no clue what they're talking about. If they can get some of the players to get some understanding of‑‑ I always say if the football player can do 1/10th of what those coaches know, they would be geniuses, because you can't. It's not what the coaches know or what you know, it's what the players know and how they execute, and sometimes it looks like we didn't coach 'em at all, you know, but we do. We do try. We do coach 'em.
Q. What has been your personal guiding philosophy with the zone defense that's made it such a characteristic part of your team for over the years?
COACH BOEHEIM: Well, number one, it's like anything you do. I learned this a long time ago. You have to believe in what you do. You have to believe in what you do. You have to believe what you're doing is right and good. It really helps in coaching to have a massive ego, which I don't have, I wish I did sometimes, but I don't.
The coaches that have those egos, they think they know everything and everything they do is right and they never second guess themselves, no matter what. They're the best in some ways, the best coaches. You have to believe in what you do, and we work on it hard. We've gotten better. You have to get better in this game. I've learned a lot over the years about what we're doing and what we can do better. My assistant coaches have put in a couple of drills, Gerry and Adrian and Mike the last year or two that we didn't use that much before that have helped us. I had nothing to do with that, they did it. That's been very helpful.
You have to believe in what you're doing and stick with it, and, you know, I think every coach has a philosophy, and you have to stick with what you do, and within that philosophy you have to be flexible. You have to be able to make a little change or do something a little differently. I think that's what separates not really just coaches but anybody in what they do. You can't be just rigid. Anybody can do that. Anybody can read a book and do this, these ten steps. It's being flexible within that, what you do, and that's why you become, hopefully, better at what you do, the longer you do it.
You lose some of that early enthusiasm you might have, but you hopefully gain knowledge that you do things better than you did. But you have to believe in it. We believe in what we do. One thing that's helped me is when we played both defenses I used to second guess myself. It's bad enough when 30,000 people are second guessing you, when you start second guessing yourself, you're really in trouble. When we went to just playing zone, at least I don't second guess myself anymore.
Q. What year did you go with that?
COACH BOEHEIM: We've been really‑‑ it's been‑‑ I think since we lost to Le Moyne. I figured out, we can't beat this team playing man‑to‑man we better forget about playing man‑to‑man because they lost 10, 11 games in Division II that year. Wasn't like they went undefeated in Division II, so I think that might have been the best thing that ever happened to me, because I stopped fooling around and we got more into practicing the zone more and by eliminating and spending an hour a day on the man‑to‑man we spent an extra hour or so‑‑ we still spend time on the man‑to‑man but we spend more time on the zone. That might have been a key.
Q. You guys show that it works so well. Why do you suppose more teams don't use it?
COACH BOEHEIM: Because you have to commit to it and most coaches have played man‑to‑man and that's what they commit to, that's what they do. That would be a major, major philosophical position. For some coaches they have switched, Buzz played zone now, John Thompson, played zone, Jamie Dixon played zone, Indiana played zone, so those coaches are playing zone, but you can't practice enough on both. The only team that's ever been good at both was John Thompson, Senior, "Big John" whatever, "Old John" now, because he practiced five hours a day defense, but you can't do that anymore. We don't know that they don't, because the doors are locked, but he practiced exclusively defense, I'm sure he would tell you that if he was here and they were the best defensive team ever, because most teams when they change defenses their second defense is no where near as good. When they changed it got just as good. And they changed between pressing, 2/3 zone, 1/3/1 zone, and man‑to‑man. So they played four defenses. Rick does as good of job as any changing defenses, they play good at changing man‑to‑man and pressure. It's hard to do that. More teams are playing zone and it's been effective, beat us a couple of games this year.
Q. You mentioned earlier about needing to keep Davante Gardner off the line. Obviously that's something Marquette tries to do is go in there and get those fouls. How do you keep somebody off the free‑throw line.
COACH BOEHEIM: I said we have to do a better job on the boards because a lot of fouls come off second‑chance rebounds. That's where you usually foul people. Not let 'em get the ball, whether it's off the boards or just in their offense, and not letting them get the ball where he really wants to get it. We need to do a better job of that.
Q. Do you think a young coach could sell himself to an AD by saying, hey, I'm going to come in and we're going to run 38 minutes of zone defense or is that so out of the ordinary that it wouldn't work?
COACH BOEHEIM: I don't think that would work. Nobody does it. If a young coach was at a school, whatever school playing zone, and it was successful there, then he could do that. But there aren't many of those‑‑ I don't see any of those guys out there right now. I don't see them.
Q. If you look at the arc of your tenure and even before you in the program, this is 9 Elite Eights now and if you get to the next level. They have been spread out, you haven't gotten fat in a stretch of five or six years. Other than this time we're with the back‑to‑back. Do you have a reflection of the ebb and flow of it over the years?
COACH BOEHEIM: Our fans think we should have been there more, I'm sure. But it's hard to get here, that's all I can tell you. There has been a couple of teams that we thought could have gotten here that didn't and we had a couple of teams that we thought wouldn't get here and they have. It's much more difficult now in today's world to get to this point. The balance is so much better. Long time ago your first game you knew you were going to win, if you were a high seed you were going to win‑‑ really you thought you could win your first two, then you're going to have a difficult time. But now they're all difficult. Davidson was one hold of the ball away from beating Marquette, just hold the ball, probably win the game. That's how crazy it is.
Q. One of your players earlier, talk about the kids growing up playing "man," how big of a sell job is that?
COACH BOEHEIM: First off, they don't play defense on the playground or AAU so you have two things there that don't count. They don't play defense in any of those venues.
We work on our man‑to‑man and work on our offense every day, so we work on our man‑to‑man defense in time, but we do more zone than we used to. We didn't used to play any zone hardly in practice, 10 minutes. Now we play more and do some drills.
They like the zone, they're good at it, they have worked at it, they understand it, it takes a little while. They know it's a weapon for us, so they're fine with it. Derrick Coleman used to argue with me a lot of the time but he's gone. He argued with a lot of people. But he always did it, and he was good at it.
THE MODERATOR: Coach, thank you and good luck tomorrow.
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