Men's Basketball

Postgame Quotes: UMass 81, Syracuse 77

Etienne Brower had 19 in the win.

Etienne Brower had 19 in the win.

March 25, 2008

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UMass Head Coach Travis Ford:
"I told our guys at halftime I wasn't really happy. I told them, 'Get your heads up. We're lucky we're only down 19.' That was the worst half of basketball we've played all year. But being down 19 wasn't a problem. The way we play, 19 points wasn't a problem."

"I'm just so proud of our guys. It was an incredible, incredible comeback."

Ricky Harris On The Win:
"We just knew we had to play together when we were down. When we started making the run, we saw they were fatigued. They started to yell at each other and complain to each other, but we just stayed together on the same page and that helped us come back."

"I just took a deep breath, and I knew my teammates were behind me, which gave me confidence,"

Etienne Brower On The Comeback:
"It hurts a team when you think you have the momentum back and the other team goes down and scores. We never feel like we're out of a game."

Dante Milligan On Going To New York:
"Since day one, our goal was to get to Madison Square Garden. It's finally coming true. This game shows how tough we are mentally and physically."

Luke Bonner On The Win:
""That was one of the most incredible games I've ever been in," said Luke Bonner, who filled the void left by injured Tony Gaffney's absence and scored a career high 13 points in 19 minutes.

Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim's Opening Statement:
"The first half, I really think we did the things we needed to do to get in the lead. Our defense was good, we made some bad turnovers, but overall our defense was good. The second half, we just broke down defensively and gave them some wide-open threes, and they're going to make them. First half, we didn't. They shot 2-for-15 because we were there. Second half, we didn't. The pressure is going to hurt you, they're going to get some errors, we made a couple. We handled the pressure, but we missed 20 layups. When people are pressing you, you have to keep scoring. You have to keep going to the basket, you have to keep scoring, you can't hold the ball. We did a good job of getting the ball inside, and Ricky [Jackson] and Arinze [Onuaku] got what we wanted, but you have to make them. They're going to make some threes, they're going to get some turnovers, they're going to get openings because they can push it so well, and we're going to wear down a little bit. But, you have to make your layups, and we didn't do that, and that was the ballgame."

On UMass pressing Arinze Onuaku:
"They had to do that, and that's the only way they could get back into the game - to pressure. We have seven guys - we got tired a little bit. But, we handled the pressure alright overall. We actually had less turnovers in the second half than in the first. But, we missed too many layups. It wasn't just Arinze, Ricky missed some easy layups, too. We just missed too many layups. When a team pressures you and gambles like they did, you have to score. We just didn't score."

On UMass's three-point shooting in the second half:
"The second half, they had more coming at us in transition, when we were fighting to get back, and didn't get back. Paul [Harris] and Kristof [Ongenaet] were back there a couple times, and didn't get to the three-point shooters. You can't do that. They're going to score, and they're going to make some threes, when they're running and pushing it like that. You can't miss 25 layups. You just have to keep scoring. We missed too many easy shots around the basket."

On Paul Harris's critical turnover:
"Paul didn't get back on the three-point shooter, then he caught the ball and threw it right to him. Same thing he did against Pittsburgh. It was the exact same play."

On losing big leads throughout the season:
"We haven't blown a lot of leads, actually. Pittsburgh and this game are the two games. Some of it is that we do wear down a little bit. Paul Harris is not a guard, never has been a guard. We're playing two freshmen guards, and they're going to make some mistakes in those situations. I'm more concerned about the amount of missed layups. You cannot win college basketball games when teams are pressuring you and you miss layups. Until Paul [Harris] turned it over on that play, we hadn't turned it over because of their pressure. Get the ball down, get it inside, and you have layups. We just didn't finish layups. You cannot miss layups and win college basketball games."

Donte Greene On what he was thinking during the last eight minutes of the game: "I just didn't want to lose the game. I can't even remember what was going through my head, really. I was just - I didn't want to lose the game, that's all."

Greene On squandering a 22-point lead:
"Too many threes. We were still scoring, but we'd get a lay-up and they'd come down and get a three. Or we would miss a lay-up and they would come down and hit a three. It's easy to lose a 20 or 30-point lead doing that - missing lay-ups and coming down and giving them threes. It's real easy for them to come back."

Greene On the biggest regret of the season:
"Losing to UMass the first time. We lost the Pitt game close, but I mean, I feel it was just one win period that kept us out of the tournament, so I think it was UMass. UMass and Rhode Island."

Kristof Ongenaet On Massachusetts' second-half shooting:
"We needed to stop them at the three-point line, and we knew what their strengths and weaknesses were. One way or another, we just couldn't stop them."

On ending the season with a loss: "It's really disappointing. But the fact of the matter is, you can't do anything about it. It's tough, it's really tough. I still can't believe it, but it happens."

Paul Harris On the Massachusetts comeback: "I didn't know what happened - it went fast. It was crazy. They wanted us to score, so they could go down and hit a three. I think it was basically that we weren't contesting a lot of shots. A couple of times, I was getting caught up. They were putting two good shooters on one side and I would go to one and the other one would be open and he would make it."




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