Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Big East Tournament Day 1: Quotes, Takeaways & Nuggets

Three players posted double-doubles in Big East Tournament's first night, but none were more dominant than 20-point, 10-rebound performance from Rutgers' Wally Judge.  (Photo courtesy of Rutgers University)

Seton Hall 46, South Florida 42 (in overtime)
Seton Hall head coach Kevin Willard's opening statement:
"We've had injuries all year.  These guys have battled all year long, they gave great effort.  I was proud of the way they gave themselves opportunities to stay in the game.  We've had six, seven guys every game in this league.  It's been tough, but that's why I'm proud of them."

On Fuquan Edwin (17 points, 6 rebounds) and his desire to take over the game:
"He's got an unbelievable motor.  He can play 40 minutes and still go.  I think he still had a little juice left."

On defensive nature of the game:
"It's happened before, it's not the first time.  I think the way Stan (Heath, USF's coach) plays, they're going to make you guard for 30 seconds.  They limit the number of opportunities.  We hurt ourselves early with turnovers, and I think that's what kind of got us in a little bit of a fog."

On tomorrow's matchup with Syracuse and their recent struggles:
"I think Syracuse's struggles are a product of who they've played.  We're playing the two best defensive teams in the country.  We played Syracuse a month ago, so we know their players, we know they're going to play a zone.  We have to go over our offense and then just kind of figure out what we did wrong in the first game and see if we can correct that."

South Florida head coach Stan Heath's opening statement:
"It's a tough way to finish our season.  We gave the game away.  We certainly had an opportunity to close it out in regulation.  I think the wrong guys had the ball and some of the wrong decisions were made.  We took way too many three-point shots for the game, but especially in overtime.  We're not a great three-point shooting team, so I don't know why we went to that as our way to finish."

On getting 27 offensive rebounds:
"Rebounding has been a weak spot for us all year long, so that's a positive take from tonight."

On USF's future:
"I think we're going to have a bright future.  We've got a lot of young, talented guys right now.  Some of the areas I feel like we're weak in, we've addressed in recruiting.  It is what it is, you line it up and you play."

Nuggets of Note:
- Seton Hall's 46 points were the lowest winning point total in Big East Tournament history, and the 88 combined points were just one off the tournament record for lowest combined point total.

- The Pirates ended the game on a 17-5 run after they trailed 37-29 with 2:50 remaining in regulation.  The Seton Hall defense forced USF to miss each of their final six field goal attempts in regulation on a night where the Bulls shot just 24 percent (16-for-66) from the field despite crushing the Pirates 27-8 on the offensive glass and 47-33 on the boards overall.

- In addition to Fuquan Edwin scoring the final six points of regulation to force overtime, Gene Teague had a quietly effective double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds.  Zach LeDay had a similar performance of his own in the losing effort for USF, posting 13 points and 15 rebounds to offset a 5-of-13 shooting night.

- USF managed to own the transition stats even after a crushing loss that ends their season at 12-19, scoring 20 points off 14 Seton Hall turnovers, and outscoring the Pirates to the tune of 13-4 on second chance points and 8-4 on fast breaks.

- Finally, Seton Hall moves on at 15-17 on the year to face Syracuse in this afternoon's second round matchup, with an approximate tipoff of 2:30 pm.  Following a February 16th meeting that was initially going to be the final clash between the two longtime rivals as Syracuse moves to the Atlantic Coast Conference next season, the Orange will have the backdrop of their second home court to open their postseason, and Jim Boeheim's team will look to erase a lackluster end to the regular season that culminated with posting the lowest point total in the Hall of Fame coach's 37-year tenure in a 61-39 loss to Georgetown.

Rutgers 76, DePaul 57
Rutgers head coach Mike Rice's opening statement:
"I thought for 40 minutes that the energy, intensity, and the ability to play for one another was there.  This was probably one of our better execution games.  These young men beside me (points to Wally Judge and Myles Mack, who attended the press conference with him) had tremendous balance tonight.  It's what, when I looked at this team on paper, I envisioned."

On Wally Judge (20 points, 10 rebounds on 9-for-9 shooting) and his performance:
"No matter what happened this year, he continued to work, and there's not a doubt in my mind that he's improved every single day because of it.  It's a credit to him that he didn't hang his head.  His response was tremendous."

On Rutgers closing out games easier:
"Hopefully we've learned from our mistakes.  The last two teams we've beat don't have double byes, but it feels good."

On Jerome Seagears (15 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists) and his effort:
"He just gives so much, you see his talent, you see the athleticism and the skill."

On athletic director Tim Pernetti giving him a vote of confidence:
"I'm glad he did, but my focus is completely on this team.  I think he sees the potential in this team, and he sees the growth and development.  Rutgers basketball is going to happen.  It's just slower than some people would like, but it's going to happen."

DePaul head coach Oliver Purnell's opening statement:
"I thought our guys came out ready, I thought we prepared well.  (Myles) Mack's three was a big basket for him that kind of gave them a little bit of a working margin.  We felt like we were down further than we really were.  Our inability to generate sound offense once we started to turn them over proved to be our undoing."

On Rutgers' 16-6 run to open the second half and whether it hurt them:
"You think?"

On improvement in the offseason:
"We've got a number of guys back, but being really close and standing pat doesn't work, I think.  We all need to look in the mirror and see what each individual could have done better, and that starts with me tonight."

On what to expect from DePaul in the new Big East:
"I think the competition level is going to be pretty similar, to be honest with you.  I'm just looking forward to winning more games and getting over the hump."

Nuggets of Note:
- Wally Judge may have played the game of his life, and by far his best in a Rutgers uniform after a 20-point, 10-rebound outing topped off by a perfect 9-of-9 effort from the field.  In addition to Judge, Jerome Seagears added 15 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists, while Myles Mack scored 19 points on 8-of-15 shooting.

- The Scarlet Knights played arguably their best basketball of the season as well, shooting 61 percent from the field for the night (33-for-54) and forcing DePaul into a 3-for-18 performance from the three-point line, effectively taking away the uptempo transition style the Blue Demons employ.

- Besides the aforementioned three Rutgers players accounting for 54 of the Scarlet Knights' 76 points, Mike Rice's team demolished DePaul 50-28 in the paint, and outrebounded the Blue Demons 36-20.

- DePaul enjoyed an efficient outing from Cleveland Melvin, as the former Big East Rookie of the Year scored a game-high 25 points on 10-of-16 shooting.  Sadly, Melvin and point guard Brandon Young were once again the sole producers for the Demons, as Young added 15 points to end the night as DePaul's only other double-figure scorer.

- Finally, Rutgers moves on to meet Notre Dame tomorrow night in their second-round matchup, and one has to be concerned with the interior presence of the Scarlet Knights and whether or not it overextended itself tonight.  Besides having to stop perennial double-double machine and Luke Harangody lookalike Jack Cooley, Rutgers will also have their hands full with a Fighting Irish team that is extremely proficient from beyond the arc.  If Rutgers can guard the three-point line the way they did in this game, Rice's team will have a chance to keep it close and send Notre Dame out of their final Big East Tournament as a one-and-done team.

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