March 10, 2010
Q. Coach, you have had your ups and downs this season. Where do you think you are at this point?
COACH John Thompson III: I think we're at a good place right now. Our team is healthy right now. I think that the guys are extremely focused right now. And so mentally and physically and emotionally I like where we are right now.
Q. What do you think is the difference between and playing at your place and (inaudible).
COACH John Thompson III: I'm not sure about that, comparing and contrasting the two games. I think what we did today, they made a run. They have very good players and are well coached. We aren't going to run and hide from them. I think we did a very good job of executing the offensive end and getting shots and making key shots. Jason and Chris made big shots when we needed shots. And then our defense got better as the second half went on. It took us a while, it took us longer than it normally does to figure out the rhythm of their offense and what we needed to do. But I think our guys eventually figured it out. Our defense got better. But they put you in such difficult situations. You go into it and someone was asking me about stopping the points in the paint. That's what they do. That's what they try to do. They have very good players. They set those screens, and (Dominique) Jones and Chris Howard I think is one of the more under heralded players in our league just for how he runs that team, make sure they get the shots they should get.
Q. Coach, can you speak to the importance of Jason Clark's contributions today, especially his three point shooting.
COACH John Thompson III: Everyone's contribution is key. And Jason made some shots today; that's not abnormal. He's a very good shooter. I think our guys did a good job of finding him the ball and took the right shots. But I think our guys did a good job of helping each other do that.
Q. Coach, was there an aspect of your team's play that you were particularly pleased with more so than others? Anything stand out?
COACH John Thompson III: I just think our focus, I thought, especially in the second half, especially you know, they made a run. They made a run. It feels like I don't know what the numbers were, but it feels like the first ten possessions of the second half we got fouls called against us. And it's easy to get frustrated at that point. But I thought our guys did a good job of weathering the storm and understanding that it's tournament basketball, may be called differently. We didn't get frustrated when they made a run.
Q. Can you talk about Chris's performance today? Was he any more aggressive on the offense?
COACH John Thompson III: I don't think so. Maybe he was. But I thought he made the right reads, most importantly. All of our guys can be aggressive. He made some big baskets, particularly in the first half when we needed baskets. And the second half, also. His aggressiveness is fine. It's just I think our guys made the right decisions most of the time.
Q. This is for John and Chris: It seems when you guys play well (inaudible).
COACH John Thompson III: I think he's one of our key guys. I think that by definition I think most people equate scoring points with playing well. And that I guess we won when Chris has scored points. I means so much more to this team because he has the responsibility or burden, however you want to look at it, of running the team, of running the game. Of managing the game. He is a scorer. Just so the understanding of when he shot today or he has to get Jason or Austin the shot, it's a responsibility he has and he has done very well this year.
Chris Wright: We won when I haven't scored and we won when I have scored. It's a matter of understanding the flow of the game. Sometimes they are on the side or (inaudible).
COACH John Thompson III: Henry gave us good minutes. Jerrelle gave us good minutes. Hollis and Vee, also. Everyone has likes to talk about our minutes. I've said many times, these guys along with Freeman, we had a discussion the first day of school, and they knew they were going to have to play defense to produce. Physically they are ready for that. That being said, we are and I am and the team is much more comfortable at this point as we should be than we were earlier in the year. Henry came in and gave us great minutes. Jerrelle came in and gave us great minutes. We were proud of it. That's where the team is.
They know what they're supposed to do. They know their responsibility. They came in and stepped up and played well when they were supposed to. It was good.
Q. Coach, I wasn't here at the very first question, so I'm sorry if it was asked, could you speak a little bit looking forward to the challenge of a third meeting against Syracuse and what your team is going to have to do differently or better for a different outcome?
COACH John Thompson III: I said this to the TV walking off the court, they asked me the same question out there. We have to make shots and guard our guys. You know, let's not make it they are a good team. They can hurt you in many different ways. They have a terrific defense. And so we just have to come out and execute at both ends of the floor. They put a lot of pressure on you, not literally pressing pressure, but they put pressure on because they don't allow to you get good shots and they find a way for them to get a good shot. And so you cannot be careless against them because they make you pay. You can't have an excessive amount of turnovers against them because they make you pay. It's a group effort guarding them because they're so talented. They've done a very good job this year of what I thought we did a decent job of this game. Getting the shot to the person who should take the shot when that person should take the shot. So we have to be better both ends of the court.
Q. Just can you talk about your approach on guarding Jones today? He had such a big game against you the last time. Did you guys change some things today?
COACH John Thompson III: I just yelled at these guys and said, "guard them." No, there's not much that you can shift or change against him. He's very good in not forcing anything. For someone who scores as much as he did this year, he doesn't force. Very few possessions you can look at and say Dominique Jones that was a bad shot. That was a forced shot. That's a function, as I said earlier, Chris Howard does a very good job of getting the ball.
They do a good job of setting screens and putting him in positions where he has the edge and has the advantage on you. I think we just went into it with more focus as a group effort mentality. If you look at the stat sheet, he gets his points. He gets to the line so much. And so we wanted him to make tough, difficult shots, which he did. Which he has been doing all year.
And I think the key was to try to take away the first time that we played them, he got his, as he has all year. Their ancillary people, a guy averaging 4 points, he got 8 points. A guy who averages 2 points got 5 points that game. We wanted to see if we could do a good job Dominique is going to get his. You can't stop him. But if you ca somehow limit the numbers other people got. That's what we wanted to focus on in this afternoon's game. Today's game.
THE MODERATOR: Anything else? Georgetown, thank you.