Big East Tournament Postgame Presser: Providence
Big East Conference Men's Basketball Tournament
Thursday, March 8, 2018
Providence - 72, Creighton - 68 (OT)
COACH COOLEY: There's a reason I brought all the seniors here. Alpha played well. This senior class has been an amazing group for us to coach, to see these young men grow up, up and down year with some injuries and more importantly our health. But I thought that was a great team win.
You can't say enough about the Big East, you really can't, and the competitive nature of our game. The spirit that's always in this building, great, great atmosphere. It's a credit to Val and what she's doing with our league.
But today was a win that I thought our players went out and earned. We made a lot of mistakes but I thought we were good when we needed to be.
Coach McDermott does an unbelievable job. They had a wide open shot to tie the game. But today divine Providence was on our side. It really was. And that word is engrained in my soul; divine Providence goes a long way.
And I couldn't be more proud of these guys. They made timely plays, timely shots and free throws across the board. I thought the entire team played well. But we have our four seniors here for a reason.
This is going to be the first time in history of Providence College that a recruited class goes to four consecutive tournaments, and I can't be more proud of this group for doing so, which is really, really hard to do given where we took this program from to where we're trying to go. It's a credit to what these young men have done.
I'm proud of them. They'll all be college graduates. And at the end as much as we want to win my job is to build them up as men and make sure they're educated so many of you out there that own your companies can hire them. So they've got a free interview right now.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. You missed a lot of free throws through the second half -- second half one-on-ones and two-shot fouls. Then overtime you started making free throws. Talk about timely shots. How did the guys respond to the pressure?
COACH COOLEY: You know, I mean, they're older guys. We've missed some free throws. I think we made the ones we had to make. As much as we want to make all of them it's part of the game. You encourage them to make the next one. You don't beat them up for missing.
Today -- I was the free throw coach, so I'll penalize myself -- but we made enough to win the game. Hopefully tomorrow against a really talented Xavier team we're better.
Q. Creighton only attempted nine 3s in the second half. What did you do defensively to maybe limit some of their open looks limit, limit some of the chances they normally would have taken from that area?
COACH COOLEY: Since the launch of our great league, I think we've played Creighton more than anybody. We're used to the style of play each other. Very competitive games, all of our games are very competitive especially in this wonderful building.
High alert. We both scout really well. And if you take away their 3s and make it tough 2s you're going to position yourself to have an opportunity to win, because I think they have one of the most explosive scores in college basketball in Foster.
Q. You've talked to us several times about the atmosphere out there. Today it was almost like you were either playing in Omaha or Providence. What does that feel like? If any of the guys want to talk about on a Thursday afternoon, quarterfinals. It was really something out there.
COACH COOLEY: I'll let them answer first because I'd like to answer that.
KYRON CARTWRIGHT: Playing in the Garden, play here a lot. It's like, feels like our second home sometimes. We got a lot of great alumni who come out, a lot of great fans, a lot of students here from the New York area.
They always come out. They support us. They're really loud out there and we feed off their energy. They're a part of the team, just like we are. We're on the court but they also helped us to get that win.
Q. What was your defensive idea was both at the end of regulation and that Ballock shot, you could have chose to foul there?
COACH COOLEY: We talked about it. We talked about it several times. 8.8 seconds left, the length of the court, do we want to foul. At first I wanted to, and then the players told me no. And sometimes you gotta listen to the players. They play a game. We see the game.
They got open, whether it was miscommunication, we didn't switch the right way. At the end of the day they missed a shot. They got a great look, wide open look, maybe the look they wanted, but again divine Providence.
Q. Alpha, can you talk about the last run in regulation? Foster lost the ball.
ALPHA DIALLO: It was tie game.
COACH COOLEY: We're slow, not dumb.
ALPHA DIALLO: I tried to stay in front of him. Tried to contest the shot, if he was to pull up or don't allow him to get an easy drive right to the basket.
COACH COOLEY: I do want to reflect on the question you had with respect to Omaha and Providence. I think it's a credit to the Big East. Again, I go back to where we came from and where we're trying to go, all the naysayers saying the old Big East.
Our Big East is as dominant as any conference in the country. And I think the product on the floor, when people come out to support us -- the fan base coming from Omaha, coming from Butler, coming from Ohio -- tells you the brand and the product that's on the floor and people are excited to see it. And I think it's a credit to the leadership of the conference.
Q. Coach mentioned that you made the NCAA Tournament four straight years now. Coming in on the bubble, is that a motivation to kind of control your own destiny?
COACH COOLEY: Whose bubble?
Q. I guess you didn't feel like you had any pressure, the added pressure then to make the tournament.
KYRON CARTWRIGHT: I'll take that one. We never were thinking about that coming in here. It's our senior class. These guys up here, it's our last chance to play in this building like this. And we just want to play hard and leave it all on the floor. Our goal at the beginning of the year, we say it every year, is just to get to the tournament and try to win every day.
You gotta focus on the data that's at hand. You can't look past anybody because everybody in this league is so great. And we did that today. We're looking forward to getting back on that court tomorrow.
Q. Alpha, for you to have the second half that you did and force overtime, being from New York and from this area, what does that mean for you to help your team get to the tournament, like Coach said, doing it in this building? Must be special to you.
ALPHA DIALLO: It's very special because I have family and everyone, they come down to support. And they all -- they make it up to Providence some games, but when I'm home they're always here. So it was great to play in front of that crowd and my family was there. So it was also good.
Q. Rodney and Alpha, Creighton is a team that doesn't foul a lot, but you really forced them to foul; I think you played more physical. Was that part of the mentality? What did you guys try to do to get inside and attack their defense?
RODNEY BULLOCK: Coach emphasized earlier during the week in practice to tell us just to post these guys up. We had a lot of mismatches, and we ran a lot of plays for us to get the balls in the post and play off the post.
We knew a few guys would get double teamed, he told us, and we just made a play out of that. And we happened to get them in foul trouble.
Q. There's nothing like playing at Madison Square Garden. And it's obvious that you have the fans on your side. Do you feel that's an advantage to you against a very strong Xavier team tomorrow?
JALEN LINDSEY: Yeah, definitely. Like Kyron said before we played here many, many times, so we have a great feel of the court. And obviously being so close to home, from Providence, we have a bunch of fans and alumni who actually moved to New York and come to see us play. We have fans who travel across the country to watch us and stuff like that.
We're playing against a really, really good team in Xavier, and I think it is an advantage, but I think it's more of how we play than just the crowd.
Q. Xavier shoots a very high -- they're one of the best free-throw shooting teams in the country, where you guys were shooting in the 60s today, which means that -- the question, though, is let me go back to the 8.8 seconds and you made the decision you took it on your backs to not foul in that situation. It's a double bonus, and you foul and how many free throws do they get? They're getting from any point on the court. Was the team, like, bone-on-bone kind of thing, we're going to win this? Is that correct from you guys?
KYRON CARTWRIGHT: When you step on the court playing for Coach Cooley he instills a lot of confidence in us. And we came to each other in the huddle before we saw Coach, and we looked in each other's eyes and it was, like, we've got to get this stop, we're going to get that stop.
We had that look in our face. As soon as Coach asked us, we all knew at the same time we wanted to say no. And we just wanted to gut it out and we were going to leave it all out on the floor.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.