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Jan. 17, 2011

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No. 5 Pitt 74, No. 3 Syracuse 66

January 17, 2011, at Petersen Events Center, Pittsburgh, Pa.


Quoting Head Coach Jamie Dixon


Opening Statement:


“I’m really exciting for our guys and how they played. Syracuse is a very good team and its numbers speak for itself. We have great respect for them and we know we beat a very good team tonight. We got off to a great start but we knew Syracuse wasn’t going to quit or shut down so it was the game we expected. I was excited about how we executed against the zone. We did hit a little lull but we made some adjustments and found a way to finish it off. Our defending was key and overall I thought we defended very well. We had a few too many turnovers, but again Syracuse is a very good team with very good players. I’m very proud of our guys and how we played as a group.”


On the 19-0 start:


“Things like this happen from time to time but Syracuse is a very good team so we knew it wouldn’t continue and that they’d make a run. Obviously we wouldn’t have liked to give up that lead but Syracuse made some good shots, which was expected. They missed some open shots during the stretch, but so did we. There were two really good teams out there and I didn’t think anyone thought we would pull away and shut them down for 40 minutes.”


On playing against the 2-3 zone:


“We did a really good job of attacking. We knew Seton Hall would play some 2-3 zone against us so really we had a week to practice against the zone. I thought we became a little more passive as the game went on, but in the second half we attacked it better and got some more penetration. We didn’t want to settle for jump shots against the zone, their opponent’s 3-point shooting percentage is ridiculously low. We knew we had to get interior touches and baskets.  You have to break a zone with a team, not just one man, and we did that for the most part.”


On Gilbert Brown:


“Even though he doesn’t always get assists for some of his passes, he was key on getting the ball inside. His numbers are far better than what he was doing in the past. Missing time to injury hurt him but now he’s making up for it. He just made a lot of good passes tonight and he’s doing some really good things. He’s also unselfish, even when we’re up big he’s not hunting for a shot and he’s letting things come to him.”


On Nasir Robinson:


“He’s really effective when he waits and lets his teammates get him the shots.”


On Brad Wanamaker:


“He did a great job as always, and had six assists that really stood out. He’s also gotten so much better defensively for us.”


On the technical foul called against him:


“I raised my arms, but I didn’t say anything. I apologized to the team afterword. I haven’t gotten a technical foul in at least a couple years, so I guess sometimes you have to get one. We did make some shots afterword, so I wish I could say I planned it that way. They are good officials, but I will say that I didn’t say anything.”


On the teams start so far:


“We still have a long way to go. It’s only January 17 so it’s early. We need to be a team that keeps improving. We have improved dramatically over just two months time and our seniors have done some incredible work to improve themselves. When you see your seniors improve like this then it gives inspiration to all your players.”


On the crowd:


“We always have great crowds and I can’t thank our supporters enough. We came out all fired up with our new Nike uniforms and it was great for the fans. We have had times where we tell people not to come to the game because of snow and we still get about 9,000 fans, and we had a game at the same time as the Steelers and we still get 10,000 fans. You can’t sell anymore tickets because it’s all sold out, and it’s just a great sports town.”


On Coach Jim Boeheim:


“He’s a hall-of-fame coach who has won more games than I can even think about. He’s done so much for USA basketball, NABC, coaches vs. cancer, etc. He’s just a guy who I have great respect for. I also know him as a great friend because the day I got here 12 years ago he’s been very supportive and friendly to us. His wins speak for themselves. His team is 18-1 and the program is really good. They are going to win a lot of games this year and we caught them on a day without one of their best players tonight.”


Quoting Pitt’s Brad Wanamaker:


On starting off with a 19-0 run:


“It was the first time in my career that we got off to a start like that. It was great because we had the fans into it. Our adrenaline was pumping.  Syracuse is a great team- they made their run, That’s what basketball is- a game of runs.  We made our first run- they made theirs, but we stuck it out.”


On being so effective against the zone:


“(We’re so effective) with guys inside like Gary McGhee and Nasir Robinson, who can make plays for other people.  We just get it to them and let them make the plays for us.” 


On having Gary and Nasir being successful in the paint:


“Any time they play well is a plus for our team. They are both great players for this program and for us to be good, we need our big men to contribute on the offensive end.  That’s what they’ve been doing lately and that’s why we’ve been winning.”


On beating Syracuse 5 times in a row and success in this matchup:


“It’s just us taking their zone. We always have somebody down low and our big men that can make plays for other people.  Nasir and Gary were the best at doing that today.  We got it to them, let them go, and we fed off of them.”


Quoting Pitt’s Nasir Robinson


On beating the zone in the middle:


“Coach preached to me all week preparing for this game this game to get catches in the middle so that we could work out of that so that we could find our perimeter shooters, Ashton Gibbs, Brad Wanamaker and Gilbert Brown and that’s what I did.”


On making their way into the paint to beat the zone:


“It was good.  The key thing in zones is getting inside touches.  It opened up a lot because you suck the defenders in and then the outside opens up.  It was good for us.”


On his fast start and having the first 9 points:


“I just was relaxed.  My teammates found me and I just finished the plays. Once I got a good rhythm, I just kept rolling.”


Quoting Pitt’s Gilbert Brown


On keeping the lead even when Syracuse came back:


“I think that is just one of the most important things about this team.  Even through adversity and hard times, we stick together and push through.  Like Brad said, “this is a game of runs” and we were able to withstand it and make some good defensive stops and convert on the offensive end.”


On Talib Zanna block as a momentum changer:


“Talib came in and played great defensively.  He really helped us and that one play right there just sparked us.  It lit a match under us and we really caught fire on the offensive end and we shut down. It really changed the momentum of the game.”


On the first place showdown and making a statement tonight:


“Since the Tennessee game, we felt what it was like to go down and take a loss at home in Pittsburgh. We’ve really been on a mission to just prove to everybody and ourselves what type of team we are and what we’re capable of.  I think since then our practices have been more intense and we’ve just been going out there and focusing.  And it really shows out there on the court.”


On people forgetting about them as a top contender:


“I don’t necessarily think that they forgot about us.  They may have doubted us a little bit.  Just looking at where Tennessee was at the time and where they are now, they probably look at us as a different team- not capable of making a strong run and being a top 5 team, but I think we’re capable of that.  We have all the players and everybody is a valuable asset on this team, and you saw that tonight.”


On his block:


“I saw it in his eyes.  I knew he was going to try to do it, so I decided to meet him at the rim and I knew I was going to take care of business”


On the record crowd and atmosphere:


“It was crazy.  When we made that first run that was the loudest the Pete has ever been since I’ve been here.  And for all of you that know, I’ve been here a long time.  It was just crazy. Every time we made a big run or had a big stop, the crowd was right there behind us.  They truly are our 6th man.  It was big for us. I think having a crowd like the Zoo really helps us out a lot and there is a reason why we’re so tough to play at home.” 


Quoting Syracuse Head Coach Jim Boeheim


Opening Statement:


“Obviously we got off to a horrible start, while Pittsburgh got off to a great start. We just did not do anything well in the beginning. We regrouped; I thought we played really well the rest of the first half once we got over that start. We made as good a comeback as you’re probably going to make. The second half I thought defensively, we just didn’t do a good job. We let too much penetration get in there and they took advantage of that. Pitt is a tremendous basketball team. To me, it is probably one of the best, if not the best teams we’ve played. They have a lot of weapons – great senior leadership, and strong juniors. When you start three seniors and two juniors, that’s a lot of experience and good players. They just got off to a great, great start. We battled back, but it’s a long way to battle back. We just didn’t have enough after that.”


On C.J. Fair and James Southerland:


“I thought C.J. Fair played well. James Southerland just disappeared – he has to be more active. He can’t play 37 minutes and just get one rebound. Our centers got off to a horrendous start. Part of the 7 points they scored right off the bat was because of the centers. Our guys are young. They just weren’t ready tonight. The rebounding is very disappointing, our guards did nothing; they had the worst defensive game they had all year. They didn’t do a good job at all defending our zone. They just weren’t good at all.”


On not having Kris Joseph:


“You just have to play with what you have. There’s nothing you can do about that. Injuries happen and you just have to go out and play. He’s a big part of our team and was certainly missed tonight.”


On Pitt’s overall effectiveness as a team:


“I think they have a good team overall – top to bottom. Their past teams these last few years were very good teams. I think this team shoots better, and more consistently. Travon Woodall stepped up and made a big shot here just like he did at Providence. Ashton Gibbs, Gilbert Brown and Brad Wanamaker can shoot the ball. They’re still tough defensively and are rebounding the basketball as good as they have been. I just think they have a really good team. To me, they’ve had good teams but this is a really good team.”


On making a comeback in the first half:


“As a coach, you never think about that. People sit at home and you (members of the media) think about those things. We don’t think about those things – we think about making a good play and another one and another one. If you’re going to get behind by 19 it’s better to do it early.”


On Kris Joseph’s condition for Saturday’s game against Villanova:


“We’ll see when we get back.”

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