NCAA Postgame Quotes: #10 Creighton 61, #7 Syracuse 56

March 23, 2013

Jim Flanery, Creighton Head Coach

(Opening remarks)
"Well, we took 36 threes, and my prediction was somewhere close to 30. We were at 25 at half. I told the kids early in the game I thought our energy level was great. The first possession we got I think three offensive rebounds; I thought that was a great sign. Other than McKenzie we couldn't throw it in the ocean in the first 15 minutes, but we were still in the game. I said that's a positive because at some point somebody else is going to start making baskets, and that's what happened. Alexander's a load down low. We fought her all game. Kamphaus got in foul trouble, and Sarah had to guard her a lot the last 12 minutes and did a really good job. I was just really pleased with our composure at the end of the game. There were times where we got a little rattled against their pressure, but I thought for the most part we really did a good job of playing in the lead there those last eight to ten minutes. We're thrilled to be moving on. Syracuse is a really, really good team. I really liked how our experience I thought played out towards the end of the game."

(On his team's momentum late)
"As critical as McKenzie was in the first half, I thought Sarah was that critical in the last 10 to 12 minutes. She hit a lot of big shots. I thought she was really good. We went to a four-guard lineup when Kamphaus picked up four fouls. It hurts us defensively because it means Sarah is giving up four inches to Alexander. It means we're not as good a rebounding team, but it helps us offensively. We're going to be able to space the floor and move the ball better against their zone. We got more going to the basket. We got some layups and some mid-range stuff in the second half."

(On his reaction at the ending of the game)
"I jumped pretty high for having a bad knee. This is my eleventh year as the head coach, and we've had a lot of good teams, and this is our first NCAA Tournament win. Who knows why some of our earlier good teams didn't win. We were close. We lost three conference tournament finals in a four-year stretch by a total of four points. We had the potential to go to three NCAA Tournaments based on one possession. That bigger picture hits you at that time like "finally." How proud I am of this team because this year didn't exactly play out like we wanted it to. No year plays out exactly like you want or you think it's going to. I credit our team with being resilient and just being tough enough to win an NCAA Tournament game because it's not easy."

McKenzie Fujan, Creighton Junior Guard

(On her team missing early and then getting hot from the 3-point line)
"We weren't worried. We knew that even if we were going to miss, we were still going to shoot. That was our game plan. We knew that we were going to have to shoot a lot of threes against their zone. I feel like even though we were missing, we were still confident, still shooting."

(On ever having that many points in a half)
"I don't know. I don't think so."

(On what was going through her mind when she was scoring so much)
"I don't remember. All I know is I was hot, and my teammates did an awesome job of finding me. We had a great game plan like I said. I don't know; I guess it just worked out."

(On Syracuse's man defense)
"I think it was just a different look for us. We've played against man the entire year. We're a motion-based team. I think it kind of rattled us for a second, but we did a good job of adjusting and finding open players and back cutting and stuff like that."

Sarah Nelson, Creighton Junior Forward

(On defending Syracuse's Alexander)
"We knew we had a plan. Coach Flanery talked a lot about how they cheated off their point guards. I think that helped a lot even just kind of someone gapping off enough to help sway it a little bit from going in a little. I would say that helped. I think Coach Flanery's being a little nice. She had a couple and ones on me. She's obviously a really good player. I think it's one of those times where you know that you have to just try to contain her as best as you possibly can and hope to contain other people. She's really the only one who would go off."

Quentin Hillsman, Syracuse Head Coach

(Opening comments)
"First of all, you have to give Creighton a lot of credit. They're a very tough basketball team. We came into this game knowing we'd have to guard three-point shots, and our goal was just to keep them at their average, which is 9. I think if they made nine it's a different ball game. It would have been six points less. I give them credit. They made plays late. They did a very good job of guarding Kayla. They did a very good job of getting the ball inside. I don't think it was our defense. They shot 13% from the field, 30% from the three, which is their average. We didn't score.

"Defensively, I know it sounds crazy, but I thought we did a decent job of keeping them below their averages. They lead the country in 3-points made and percentage. I give Coach a lot of credit. He did an awesome job of spreading us out and attacking our pressure. As far as my team, never have I coached a tougher group of kids who commit and play hard. I'm tough on them. I demand a lot. They bring it every single day. I give a lot of credit to them. They deserved to win this basketball game. We have to do a better job of making sure we bring it to these games. They deserve a win because they work as hard as anybody in the country. I give them all the credit in the world for getting us here.

"We wouldn't get here without Carmen buying in and without Kayla Alexander being tough. We wouldn't get here without Laci being tough. We didn't get here without our babies, the freshmen. We started three freshmen in the NCAA tournament game in a great environment. It's tough. I feel bad for them. They really work at it. They do everything we ask them to do, unconditionally. I'm tough on them and they bring it. I can't express the amount of love I have for my players and the level of admiration I have. We don't have problems. They bring it every day. I feel awful for them because I really wanted this game for them, more than myself."

(On switching to man defense late in the game)
"It just got to a point where it was more about what we did to apply pressure. I really wasn't alarmed by the amount of threes they made. What alarmed me was that we weren't scoring. We don't shoot 15%. That's not how we play. We don't shoot 30% from the field, we shoot 40%. It wasn't our defense. That's what's going to be said: it's the zone. But they were 11-for-36. A lot of their threes were made in the scramble situation. They didn't make a lot of threes against our set defense. You can't give up in the transition. I guess our half-court defense and the shot-clock violations. They did a good job of getting offensive rebounds. They out-rebounded us. That's our strength: rebounding. Rebounding wasn't great, but defensively, if you told me they'd make 11-for-36, I'd be pleased. It was scoring."

(On their offensive rebounding)
"It was both their rebounding and our defense. We weren't scrambling out of our press. They were taking shots in transition and we didn't have our floor balanced. That was one thing. The second thing, we are a big, physical basketball team in the paint. They had a lot of rebounds; some bounced the wrong way. One thing that I know it wasn't was our team's effort. They go every night, every game, every minute. I don't let them do it any differently. I expect it from them. They expect it from their teammates. It was the long rebounds. I think they got five shots in the first possession. When you take five out of their 16, that's eleven left."

(On Kayla Alexander)
"Kayla has gotten better every year. That's been the thing for her: she's gotten better every year. She has competed every year. Whenever I give her an assignment to come back better at one aspect of the game, she's done it. She has meant so much to our program. There's about four or five players that meant that much to our program. We try to get the best players possible to come to Syracuse and represent us, and she's done that. When you look at her career, she has not let anyone down at all. She's gotten over 2,000 points. I would have never expected that. She's a tough player. She's gotten better every year, and I give her a lot of credit."

Kayla Alexander, Syracuse Senior Center

(On Creighton's ability to double-team her in the post)
"Honestly, no. They're a good basketball game. Throughout the entire year, we've had teams double-teaming in the post. We knew we had to come out and play tough and be strong. I was expecting them to double-team me. They're a good team."

(On the emotions)
"Right now, I'm in shock. This isn't the way we thought, planned, or imagined it would end. We had such high expectations for this level, and this isn't what we expected. It's shock right now."

Carmen Tyson-Thomas, Syracuse Senior Guard

(On the emotions)
"I agree with Kayla. I never expected it to end this early. I thought, going into the season, we had the expectation of getting to the big tournament because we've never been here before, with our class in the four years that we've been here. We needed to finish. Hopefully, the other class can come back next year."

(On the momentum shift at the end)
"Of course I'm going to say I thought it shifted in our favor, but they were knocking down shots. They were moving the ball and running their offense. I thought we had a run also. Basketball is a game of runs. It's just who has the better one. In the stretch, we didn't have the better run. I feel as though, when it got down to the last minutes, we did what we were supposed to do. It just wasn't in our favor."





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