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Syracuse Press Conf. Transcript (3/22/13)

March 22, 2013

Quentin Hillsman, Syracuse Head Coach

(Opening Statement)
"Well obviously we are very happy to be here, we are happy to still be playing, and I think this time of year is about a couple of things. It is about being healthy and we are that, and having a definite scheme and a style of play and we have that. So I think that we are in the best possible situation to be successful at this point in the season. Obviously, we understand that there are no bad teams in the Big East Conference and there are no bad teams in the NCAA Tournament. So we are fully prepare to play a tough game and coming into this tournament we understand what the task is and that task is to win a game and advance. Obviously, we are playing a good basketball team. They make shots and we are a zone team so it will be a contrast of styles. So we have to be able to get out and guard the arch. As you look at their shooting percentages and the things they do well, those are the things that really hurt a zone. So we have to make sure that in our scheme and task at hand, we have to limit their 3-point shots and contest their shots. Overall, we all know that this 7-10 game is pretty much an even game and we understand that we have to play really hard and really well to win".

Carmen Tyson-Thomas, Syracuse

(On Creighton 3-point shooting ability)
"They remind us a lot of Villanova. That's an opponent we have faced twice. So far, it seems they are a pretty good 3-point shooting team so we really know we have to get out and guard the arch like coach said and limit their 3-point attempts.

Kayla Alexander, Syracuse

(On getting the Syracuse senior class' first tournament win)
"Honestly, we just look at this like every other game. We are coming in here to definitely win. We are going to follow our game plan and follow what we do to play our basketball, but at the same time we are going to go in here and try to get this W. This is a great opportunity for our team and our program".

Elashier Hall, Syracuse

(On Tennessee fans cheering for Syracuse orange)
"Definitely. The more fans the better. We have our team here, which has been driving us this whole time. We have a pretty good bench, which has given us support and has been there throughout the whole season. We have a couple of fans who are a few hours away and of course we all will have some family here to show us some support. Cornelia (Fondren) who is from Memphis, which is a little further than we thought it would be (laughs). Obviously we will have some fans here, but the extra support would be great for us".

Kayla Alexander, Syracuse

(On reaching the Big East conference tournament finals)
"Starting from the preseason, all of us just decided we were not going to have any short cuts and dedicate ourselves entirely to this season. We broke (the season) up into sections: preseason, pre-conference, conference and then post-season. We just dedicated ourselves and focused on one game at a time. I think that helped us get to this place that we are at now. I feel like the time that we spent together, with the freshman class and the people we had beforehand. We have a veteran class here who is familiar with the scheme. I think that all came together and helped us get to this point".

Carmen Tyson-Thomas, Syracuse

(On how the Big East helped prepare Syracuse for this tournament)
"I think it has. Personally, I'm going to be biased when I say this. I think the Big East is one of the better conferences in the nation. I feel as though with the physical play that we have; we have tough defenders, we have great scorers, we have top teams like Notre Dame and UConn in our conference and teams like Louisville and Villanova who shot the three very well. I feel as though we have a very diverse conference and I think that will give us the edge with whoever we play in the post-season".

Kayla Alexander, Syracuse

(On if being a senior helps motivate you in this tournament)
"I don't know about the rest of you guys, but I'm extremely motivated. We came here and we know that the rule of the NCAA Tournament is survive and advance and that's what we are trying to do this year. We are going to take it one game at a time and focus on what we need to do and get it done and hopefully moving on to the next game and the game after".

Carmen Tyson-Thomas, Syracuse

"Every game is going to be our last game. So now more than every, we are going to have to leave it all on the floor. So being a senior, it's just about knowing that. I think at this point, it is really about being aware of that and bringing your best every time you play now".

Elashier Hall, Syracuse

"I agree with them both. We definitely have to take advantage because this next game against Creighton could be my last in a Syracuse jersey. So I'm definitely taking advantage of that and honing in on the things that we do and knowing that will definitely help us advance to the next level".

Quentin Hillsman, Syracuse Head Coach

(On being a No. 7 seed)
"It was good that we seeded. We were sitting for a couple years thinking that we should have been at least a 16-seed, and got nothing. I think that when you go throughout the conferences, there's so many worthy teams in this tournament. Honestly, I was looking anywhere between a five- and a seven-seed, seven being on the low end. But we relish the opportunity to play, no matter who it is. There are no bad teams in this tournament. I remember walking past Coach Boeheim when theirs came out. I said, "Coach, you have a long trip." And he responded, "At least we're playing," and he put it all back in perspective with that one comment."

(On Kayla Alexander)
"She's been huge for us. Obviously, it helps when you have someone who can score in the paint. She can shoot the ball. Defensively, she's a great shot blocker. I think, on both ends, she's been an anchor for us. You have to have a go-to player on both ends of the floor, and I think she's been that for us for four years."

(On matching Creighton's 3-point shooting)
"I think a lot of people look at the zone and say, "Why would you guard a team who can shoot the ball in the zone?" My biggest thing about a three-point shooting team is that you know where they are. You can find them. You're not chasing screens; you're not chasing flares. If you play your principles and play your quarter, there's always someone in front of you. So for us, it's about getting out there and contesting shots. We've been very solid in our screen and our style of play. Obviously, when you look on every stat line in the NCAA, there's some stats at the top percentage and we'll have to do our job on our quarter of the floor and contest shots strongly."

(On rigorous regular season preparing them for post-season)
"I think it's all about their toughness. They're a tough basketball team. They play very hard. As a coach, that's all you can ask for is for effort every night. Something you don't want to have to coach is effort. They play hard every night, every possession. That makes it easy to coach."

(On conference realignment)
"I think it's a combination of things. I think when we're realigned, as far as women's basketball is concerned, you've combined some very good teams from the Big East with some very good teams from the ACC. When you look at all the realignments, it's all helpful to women's basketball with just having really strong conferences. I think it really remains to be seen, but with us going to the ACC will be a tremendously strong conference. We're taking Notre Dame, Louisville, us, and Pitt, who is a young team; we're taking four teams to a very good conference. It remains to be seen how this is going to hurt or help women's basketball."

(On the relationship with Coach Boeheim and the zone defense)
"He doesn't bounce many things off of me, but I bounce things off him. It's important to have a relationship with coaches. And Coach has been great. If I have any questions, I can always go ask. I'm a visual learner. I go to his practices a lot and watch what he does. He's the master. He's tremendous at that. When I first started coaching, I went to ask him about the zone. He gave me simple concepts that made sense, and it's helped us with game prep. It's helped our players understand exactly what we need to do scheme-wise. He's been great. He's the best in the business, so to be able to walk downstairs anytime every day and watch practice. It's been tremendous for me as a zone coach."

(On being a zone coach before going to Syracuse)
"I was a man coach. But you look out your window and see all those banners, and you think maybe you should do some of the things they do. It's been a transformation because he wins, and he wins at a high level. It's been good for me to put some plays on the floor that we probably wouldn't have been able to play. It's always good to help with penetration. For us, it's been good for our program and our team."

(On the senior class)
"I think, for them, it's been sacrifice, too. Carmen and Elashier had to sacrifice a lot for our young kids. They've been great leaders. They've showed our kids how to play basketball at Syracuse, and that's been one of the main things. I think they have a cohesiveness that's been great for us. If we continue that and stay together, we can win some games."

(On the legacy of Pat Summitt and WBHOF)
"We talked about doing that today after practice; we have a window of time. I think it's important that, when you go on these trips, you take care of business first, but it's also about learning and growing, too. Obviously, then, in the venue, I've been here before because I coached at Alabama, but for our players, Coach Summitt is Coach Summitt, so to come take in some of the history, it's good for our team."



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