Pre-Big East tournament quotes


| brennison@queenscourier.com |

On whether or not they’ve thought about winning the tournament:

Justin Burrell: “I definitely have. I don’t like to get ahead of myself, but I feel like the whole team probably has as well. It’s one of those things that’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to be able to do that, cutting down those nets would be the most spectacular feeling aside from winning the national championship for us.”

Dwight Hardy: “I think about that a lot. I think it would be a wonderful moment, just to show all we’ve done this year. To win the Big East that would be something spectacular and it would just show that we’re one of the best teams in this conference.”

If winning the conference tournament is the best thing for a team or can it be a detriment: “It’s a shame to hear somebody say it would exhaust them. I don’t understand that. Whatever the ages of college basketball players, we’re not going to be tired. This is the best tome of our lives, with the most energy, so we’re not going to be tired. That’s ridiculous. That’s unacceptable to say you’re tired.”

Burrell:

Hardy: “We’re going to give it all we’ve got to win this tournament. We’re going to put it all out there. We have times to rest our bodies after that. We don’t believe at all that we shouldn’t expend all our energy. We really want to win this tournament and we’re going to leave it all on the court.”

Steve Lavin: “I think both are possible. I think the most important thing it you want to play good basketball. I think the various theories on the road to the final four and national championship is varied. I always use that Arizona team in ’97 as the greatest example that logic goes out the window. They stumbled and staggered to the finish line and then caught fire and won six straight for [Lute Olson’s] only national title. And you think of all the teams that were one seeds or two seeds and won the Pac-10 and many of them went out in the first weekend. Its fun to try and play the crystal ball, but the reality is we have no idea and that’s the beauty of the postseason.”

On the advantages of playing at MSG:

Burrell: “We’re very confidant in the Garden. The Garden is like Carnesecca extended. We’ve played there so much, we know the dead spots in the floor. It’s a big advantage.”

Hardy: “I mean I’m not going to be cocky, but I think teams are worried. They know how well we play there and they know how good we can do on that floor. [Other teams] can say it’s their home court, but we know it’s our home court.”

Lavin: “I like the fact that we’re familiar with the Garden because it’s our home court and we’ve had a degree of success there, but this is a whole other animal when you step into the postseason, single-elimination game format. But we’d always rather be there than not.”

On the focus of the team:

Burrell: “Today in practice our coaching staff kind of took a step back as far as directing and policing us. A lot of it was us today, which is something I was very excited about. Instead of our coaching staff jumping on [players] guys jumped on them right away. And I actually looked around and saw our coaching staff about to say something, but was cut off by a player. That’s really good once players start to hold each other accountable. That’s the best kind of teaching or basketball to be played.”

On watching others cut down the nets:

On seeing others cut down the nets:

Burrell: “I remember watching Caron Butler when he cut down the nets. I’m good friends with Da’Sean Butler from West Virginia, so I remember that run. So to see those guys I had the feeling of I want that, slight jealousy. So I definitely want to be in that position.”

On whether he’s satisfied with the team’s season:

Hardy: “There’s some level of satisfaction, but we know we’re not done and we know we can do way better. We can make a real run for this national title.”

On the team’s trouble with zone:

Lavin: “What I really felt was the blessing, even though we would have rather won the game, was from the Seton Hall experience it forced us to bring some of the zone offensive concepts out of the treasure chest, or as I like to say bring the ornaments out of the attic. Dust them off get them ready for the postseason.”

On talking to the team about his experience cutting down the nets:

Lavin: “We’ve touched on it throughout the entire season. And more recently as things have taken shape in terms of viable candidacy of a NCAA tournament team we’ve touched on it again. To this point we’ve touched more on the opportunity. Earl Watson talked to our team yesterday, really poignant stories and lessons he’s learned through basketball. It’s more having that opportunity, like Earl said, that’s what he remembers more. The NCAA tournament was his highpoint. He said as great as the NBA playoffs are they don’t compare to the tournament.”

On what the season’s meant to him:

Lavin: “What jumps out about this season is our seniors and the great run they’ve afforded us and then our coaching staff, which really means our basketball family, that’s what made this season really special. To inherit ten seniors who have taken us on this wonderful run as a basketball team and then to work alongside a great group of coaches are really the two things that are really special to me.”