Syracuse fell 85-71 at Duke on Monday. Head coach Jim Boeheim spoke with the media following the loss.
"We did the same thing we did against Notre Dame," Boeheim said. "We know they have guys who can shoot. We know Steward can shoot. We know Roach can shoot. Obviously we know Hurt can shoot. In the first half we didn't guard the guards. I think in the second half, we guarded them. They each made four and three threes in the first half. One didn't make any threes in the second half and the other one made one. Somebody just said in the locker room, I'm not going to talk about who, but one the starters said, 'well, I didn't play defense in the first half.' At this stage of the season, I don't know. That's something I can't understand. But we didn't cover shooters. The big guy is good. He's really good. He's made their team. The reason I said they're better is he wasn't playing earlier. They were playing the other kid and he wasn't playing. He's a factor out there. He's a force. We wanted to get at him, Quincy didn't go directly at him. He tried to shoot around him and you can't do that. He just took Quincy out of his game. He tried to get to the basket and he couldn't get there. He's a big physical presence. He's good. He's talented. We can live with that. We can live with Hurt. But we can't live with letting guys shoot open shots. They made 10 threes in the first half, same thing as Notre Dame. Ten threes. Second half, they made three. They didn't take as many but they made three. We just moved better, but you can't wait to the second half to do that. We know we can't press good teams. We know that. As a coach, you have to know whether your team can press or not. Notre Dame was desperation, we had to and it worked a little bit. To actually think we can press a good team, we can't. We're not that athletic, we're not that good in the press, we don't have a shot blocker, all those things. But we practice it a lot and maybe once in a while it'll work. We can't put ourselves in that position.
The one thing I said is I said Duke was playing better. The second half against NC State you could see that. Then, Wake Forest, which battled a lot of people in our league, they beat them by 30. And then, Virginia played really well here and they're really good. They're a top 10, 15 team and they beat them. Tonight, again, I thought they played well. The big guy gives them a presence. The guards now know they're going to play a lot of minutes, Steward was coming in and out. They've stabilized their team. Roach and him are really good. Tonight they shot it really well, maybe better than they normally would. We still have to do a better job on defense. We battled them as hard as we could after that start, spotted them that lead. But you can't do that. We played, we moved better. First half, Quincy tried to get in there, he just couldn't. Second half when he got it he passed it out, we got some open shots. We have to work better together. Alan was just trying to do one dribble pull-ups two games in a row now. We've got to find a way to get better movement on offense. Our offense has been OK. Tonight it was not good in the first half. We have to get better movement and defensively, we have to be more active. This was two games in a row we gave teams 10 threes. Notre Dame's a good shooting team. Duke, I mean they're not a bad shooting team but they're not a great shooting team. They shot it great tonight. That's to their credit and that's why they won the game."
WHAT DID YOU SEE OUT OF KADARY RICHMOND TONIGHT?
"He made six field goals in the first half and I think one of the things that happens when he goes in, they're so concerned about Buddy and Alan and Quincy, they don't really help on him. The big guy was out of the game and he got four layups. Five layups. Then he hit a three, so he had all of his points, just about all of his points in the first half. In the second half, they saw him coming. They stayed back, they didn't let him get as much penetration. When he got there, the big guy was there. So he got up in the air and couldn't finish. A couple times he got the ball up there, Quincy, one time, was up there, there was nobody there and he said he didn't see the ball. I don't know how you don't see the ball, we're playing basketball. They just adjusted to him. In those situations he's got to get in the lane and find people. Make better decisions. He's learning. He's a really good player. That's what I've said all along. But in the second half he didn't score because they took away his drive. He'll learn. He's got to learn how to handle that and when to make a play. I think we need to move better. He did make a couple plays. We got Robert wide open on four threes and he's been making those at practice. Those were, he had really good looks. I think Robert is playing better defense. Quincy is not playing good defense. I don't know why, but he's not."
WHAT'S BEEN GOING ON WITH QUINCY OFFENSIVELY THE LAST COUPLE OF GAMES?
"He's not good at finishing around the basket yet. He was always a shooter and he's trying to work on his game. Get to the basket. That guy's good. He's a good shot blocker. Probably the best shot blocker in the league now that he's playing. And he changed his shot a few times. He didn't block it but he changed it. He was good. He's really a good player. He's going to have an affect on the team. They're way better than they were. Jay Bilas knows something about basketball, I know more than he knows. I said they were better, they are better. Period. I'm not bringing anybody else into the equation. It has nothing to do with any other player. Here or not. I saw they were better against NC State and Wake, Virginia and tonight. They played really good tonight. We gave them some open shots, but they made them. And they made a bank and made some tough shots. But they're a good team. Really good team. They're going to beat a lot of people the rest of the way. They have young players. It took them a while to get together. Roach and Steward weren't playing like that. They're really good. They played really good.
"They played good defense, they got good shots, they moved the ball. They did a great job. They're a good team. They're a really good team. They just had a bad start and have a lot of young guys. Trying to fit them all together. They're really good. I'm proud that we battled back. Getting down 20 like that, right away, we got back, battled back. We kept battling. We played them even the second half. You just can't get off to that kind of a start on the defensive end. I love Quincy, he plays hard, but he can't finish against these big guys. He's got to get better at that. He's got to get better at getting to the basket and finishing. I thought Marek was really good. He battled the whole game, but he's a little overmatched out there. We need Alan and Quincy to play well for us to win these kind of games. This is a hard game. Forget about Duke's record. They're a really good team. That's what I see."
WHY DOES THIS TEAM HAVE PROBLEMS WITH EARLY GAME INTENSITY?
"Turnovers, we don't have a problem with. We didn't finish offensively around the rim. That hurt us. The last two games we haven't played well in the first half. We have played well in the first half in games, but we certainly didn't tonight. Normally our defense is better in the beginning and them teams kind of get used to it. Kind of play better against us usually in the second half. There's no excuse. We're just not coming out and getting the movement we need on defense. Everybody wants to blame, trust me, it's got nothing to do with our guards. Our forwards are not playing defense. That's the best way I can say it. They're not. They're not covering, they're not coming up. They're just not. They're not playing defense. Some of it's the guards, but the majority of it is the forward position. It's hard to see that when you don't know the defense and don't know what we're trying to do. Trust me, these two games we just had in the first half was the forwards.
"We're playing the same defense in the second half. There's just more effort at it. I think a couple guys are more interested in their offense and you can't win that way. We have to play better defensively to win. Period. Until we did that against NC State, until we did that against Notre Dame and even Boston College, until we got some stops. We're not the worst defensive team in the league. We're far from it. We may not be great, but we're way away from the worst defensive time. But we're not good enough. And we have to play better defense if we're going to be successful. There's a hundred teams that could get into this tournament. We haven't had bad losses but we haven't had enough good wins. Virginia Tech isn't enough. It's not enough. Georgia Tech's playing great. That'll be as hard a game or harder game than this maybe. Carolina's playing great again and whoever we play in the last game will be a good team. We have to win games, it's simple. A week ago, Duke's out of the tournament. Now they're in, practically in the tournament. And they will be because they'll win more games because they're good. I just hate to be right."
WHAT DO YOU MAKE OF STRUGGLES AGAINST THE TOP HALF OF THE LEAGUE ON THE ROAD THIS YEAR?
"You have to go game by game. Our defense wasn't good enough. We missed some easy shots inside, partly because of their shot blocker. We just haven't played well enough. I don't think we've played great at home, but we've managed to hang in there and grit it out. Squeeze out wins there, some have really surprised me. I think this team's trying. They're doing waht they can. Bottom line we have to play really good defense to have a chance to win. Especially on the road. We haven't been good enough. It's pretty simple. We had a really good game at Boston College, pretty good game at NC State. We didn't play well at Pittsburgh, we didn't play at Clemson, we didn't play well here, at Carolina we actually played well. That was our best game. That might've been our best game of the year even though we lost. Our defense has not been good. A little bit ourur offense too. When you lose it's not one thing, it's a combination of things. We haven't turned the ball over all year. We've been good at that, I think. We're rebounding better. We did a decent job on the boards tonight. We scored 71 points, I don't know if we're much better than that, to tell you the truth. I'm not sure we are. To win these games, you're not losing by two or three points. If you're getting beat pretty good, you're probably not good enough."
HAVE YOU SEEN ANY PROGRESSION FROM FRANK ANSELEM?
"He works hard, he's just not ready. He should really still be in high school, he had another year. He works hard everyday. He and Jesse, they're just not ready to play right now. Everybody wants to see them. Like they wanted the freshman quarterback to play this year. Then when he played they found out he wasn't ready to play like the coach said. These guys are just not ready. John Bol tries but he's not ready to play. We're going with Marek because he gives us a chance to win some games. Like he did against Notre Dame. These games are not Marek's fault. Trust me. The one position you can't fault on our team, on either end of the court, is Marek's position. He's covering people, he's helping, he's getting his share of rebounds. He really helps us on offense. He's the only guy that really makes good plays sometimes on offense. Quincy and Alan are too concerned with getting some points. Marek kind of fits it together better. Kadary's great. Gets to the basket. He's just got to learn that he's got to make plays for other people too.
"It's hard sometimes because they're not coming off our shooters. Sometimes he has to shoot. But when he gets it up there, and the shot blocker's on him, then our forward's got to get the rebound. They should be easy. They should be easy baskets because they're coming over to help on Kadary. Our big guys, they're not ready to play. If they were they'd be playing. I don't like to lose. We're trying to give our team the best chance to win that we can give them. We're in a very unfortunate situation. We're playing good at home. Most teams do. We could've had Louisville, Florida State, and we had those games at home. We didn't get to play them. Those are big games to lose. Three games. Florida State, Louisville and Clemson. Those games would've really helped us, no guarantee you're going to win them, but would've been a better chance there. Would've helped. We have to do what we can now to finish. We're going to have to cover the three point line better. Two games in a row we let people shoot 50%, just about, from the three. And they did shoot 50% in the first half. That's not going to get it done. We have to do a better job on defense. Keep working and trying to get better on the offensive end."
GIRARD HAS FIVE POINTS IN HIS LAST FIVE HALVES. IS THERE SOMETHING GOING ON WITH HIM?
"He just hasn't played well. That's what's going on. The stats are right there. He hasn't played well. The first half he was 0-4, turned it over, he dribbled out of bounds. Kadary comes in and gets 12 points. Obviously it's not a hard decision. Even if I started Joe, I would've played Kadary most of the second half. I thought it might give us a jump to start him in the second half. Joe just has struggled. He's some really good games and he hasn't had just OK games. He's been bad or he's been good. This is two or three out of the last four games he's been bad."