Feb. 1, 2010
QUEENS, N.Y. -
Junior Forward Justin BurrellOn the Rutgers-Notre Dame outcome:
It didn't surprise me at all. The BIG EAST is so deep. You never know who can win a game. If you come in with your head down about a loss, then you might take yourself out of the game. So Rutgers came in there with their heads up and making sure they play as hard as they can and they got a win. DePaul almost beat Syracuse and they are in last place, so you never know.
On practice since Pitt:We struggled in the second half to get baskets. And we were working on figuring out the problems that we were having. We spent a lot of time getting deep into offense to find out different ways we can score on offense and staying in our characters. A lot of times we find ourselves stepping out of what we do best, and that causes us to come up empty on plays. We have focused on our roles and are trying to get back to scoring the basketball at a high level.
On what needs to change going forward:We have to work on scoring the basketball in the second half. That's a big key for us. That cost us the game. Right now in the first half we are +8 on teams, but we're coming out in the second half and not executing as well as we need to.
On if there is more motivation playing other area schools in the BIG EAST:Most definitely. When you play a school in the tri-state area you want to try to win those games because of recruiting and because you grew up with these guys. You've known them for as long as you've been playing AAU so it's about bragging rights because you're going to see them again when you go home.
Freshman Guard Malik StithOn practice this week: It's been about executing. Coach has been doing drills and putting us in late-game situations. He's been making sure we know what we're doing in certain situations.
On if he's seen improvement in late-game execution: We've been improving since the beginning of the year. We just haven't been able to win those games. But we've been improving.
On his own performance:I just go out there and don't really look at statistics. I try not to turn the ball over, that's one thing I try not to do. I think I've improved from the beginning of the year.
On if there's a sense of urgency for the Rutgers game:Definitely. We've lost our last three games and this is a must-win game. There has to be a sense of urgency. A win would give us confidence going into West Virginia on Saturday.
Head Coach Norm RobertsOn Rutgers beating Notre Dame: I don't think it's a surprise. There are no surprises. Our league is unique in that anyone can beat anyone else on a given day and lose to anyone else on a given day. There is so much parity in our league. The key is to come and play well on that day. Rutgers played well that day and they were very focused and they caught Notre Dame.
On what Rutgers did differently against Notre Dame:I don't think they did anything differently. They played exactly the same way. They made shots, they made plays, they rebounded the ball probably better than they have all year and they guarded the three. Notre Dame didn't shoot the ball very well. Harangody played a lot on the perimeter and that helped Rutgers. We don't play that way. We don't shoot a ton of threes. We are going to have to get the ball inside and attack the basket and score within the paint.
On scouting Rutgers:As a team, I think they have a lot of talent. Mike Rosario can really shoot the ball and score. He really broke out against Notre Dame. We're going to have to make sure that we guard him really well. James Beatty gives them a guy now at the point guard position that can shoot the three. Mike Coburn is always dangerous taking it to the basket. Johnathan Mitchell gives them a new dimension because he's a pick and pop. He's really a three man playing the four. He's a guy that can really shoot the ball from the three-point line. They can spread you out in different ways. What we have to try to do is wear them down. We have to use a lot of bodies, pressure them defensively and take them out of what they want to do. We have to limit their easy opportunities.
On practice:Practice has been good. We've been doing some things where we are getting up and down quite a bit, then we go to the half-court, then we go to the full-court again. So that's us playing coming out of halftime. It has been different scenarios with us. We came out of halftime against UConn and didn't play very well and UConn got back. We came out of halftime against Villanova and we didn't play bad and we were right there with them and then we had a lull later on in the second half. And then at Pittsburgh, you can see that we're getting better in that we had a lull, they took a lead, we came back on them and cut it to two points with a minute and a half to go and just didn't finish it off. It turned out to be a ten-point game but it was really them making free throws there at the end and us taking shots. It was a much tighter game than that. We've improved from each area, but we have to improve enough to get over the hump.
On if he's seen progress from practice:I think we've seen progress just within those three games. But the ultimate progress is to have success and win. We've done a better job of playing on the road this year in tough environments. The last few years we've been getting beat by 15 or 18 points. Now the games are much closer and we are closer to getting a victory. We just have to get over the hump. That means making big plays in the gut of the game. That's what our guys understand. With two minutes to go and you're wide open for three, you have to make it. That's the bottom line. We played against Pittsburgh and it's a two-point game with 1:30 to go and we play great defense and Wannamaker makes a shot with two seconds on the shot clock as a floating one-hander over Paris Horne. That's just a player making a play. That's what it comes down to in our league. The bottom line is that players are going to have to make plays.