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NCAA Tournament: Quotes From Syracuse's Post-Middle Tennessee Press Conference

Coach Boeheim, Michael Gbinije, and Trevor Cooney were back at the mic ready to answer the media's questions after their second round throttling of Middle Tennessee State.

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

After the Syracuse Orange defeated Middle Tennessee in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday, coach Jim Boeheim, Michael Gbinije and Trevor Cooney all spoke briefly with attending press.

Boeheim was quick to identity want went right in the big win over the Blue Raiders:

"I thought that, just like the last game, we had 11 turnovers in the first half the last game, we weren't settled offensively. Same thing tonight, we had three offensive fouls and seven turnovers, and I thought in the second half we just got our offense under control and we executed and Mike knocked down a couple really hard shots and that got us a little space, and then I thought Tyler -- our inside guys -- got something happening inside which we haven't gotten too much, and our defense was good the whole game."

With the ACC's record-setting six Sweet 16 teams (absent: Pitt), there was obviously a focus on the difficulty and strength of the conference as a whole. There's more to discuss on Syracuse's own strength of schedule too. Boeheim had plenty to say on the league and its banner year so far:

"We knew it was a hard conference -- we were in it all year. When we played outside the conference in the tournament, we had some success. We struggled in the conference, for the most part, because we were playing good teams, really good teams. It's hard to judge a conference during the year, and you can't just go by the NCAA Tournament, I think you have to go a little bit by what teams do in the Tournament -- that's the only thing we have to judge on, because, during the regular season, you're just playing within your conference and it's hard to tell. You're just proving that you're good within your conference.

I think that the Tournament is a good measuring stick, it's not everything, but it's certainly something you can look at as to just how good-- I think last year, no one was talking about our conference going into the Tournament and Duke won, and we had about the same level, not quite as high, of success in the Tournament both years. That has to mean something."

Continuing the point on strength of schedule and the ACC, Boeheim put it bluntly that the Orange's weak finish (1-5 in their last six) had a lot to do with its opponents:

"Well, we're not playing at Louisville, at North Carolina, or at Florida State, that's the difference. Played good in those games, too."

When asked about his own stellar performance, and possible thoughts on his college career coming to a close, Gbinije wasn't even considering it. On taking over for a stretch in the second half:

"I'm just focused on time of possession. I'm looking at the scoreboard and just trying to make sure we have the lead and I just wanna come out and compete and try to win."

Part of Syracuse's second-half surge, other than Gbinije, was obviously the team's defensive effort:

"Middle Tennesse is a very good basketball team, I think they do shoot well, but it's obvious, to me, that they're better against a man-to-man (defense) because they all can drive, and that's a big part of what they do. Our zone is a little bit different, and people are not used to seeing our zone, they see zone but they don't see it the way these guys play it so that zone was a little bit of an advantage for us when there's just a one-day turnaround."

Expanding upon the defense:

"I really thought that we were better defensively when DaJuan (Coleman) came back in and we had Tyler (Lydon) out there with him. I thought DaJuan got 'em a little off-balance and then Tyler Lydon's there to rebound the ball in those situations, so I thought that combination was very good for a stretch there."

Given Syracuse's success, and the strong play of many double-digit seeds in this year's tournament, Boeheim was asked about whether or not the Orange were under-seeded.

"No, I was just happy to get in. I would've taken a play-in game [laughs] because we did lose games at the end, but they were good teams that we lost to, but I think the committee recognized that we won against good teams, not just that we played good games, we won good games... when we've played well this year, when we've shot the ball well this year, we've been very good. The handful of games where we shot it well this year, Connecticut, Texas A&M, Wake Forest, at Duke, Florida State, Notre Dame at home, we beat all those teams by double-digits, except for Duke -- when you win at Duke, that's good enough....

It's extremely hard to pick this tournament, and it's extremely hard to seed this tournament. The bottom line is, you get in and you have that opportunity, you're gonna have to beat someone good, it's as simple as that. I'm sure everybody thinks that we're happy that Michigan State got beat, but this team (MTSU) beat 'em, so it's not like it's gonna be an easy game. I'm just happy with the way we're playing -- we've played like this this year quite a bit. It doesn't always show up when you're in the ACC, because, like the last few games we played, three of them were on the road. And, we can't beat Pittsburgh, so [laughs]. It doesn't mean we aren't good, we just couldn't win those games. If you can play in a league like ours and win nine games, and you've got some non-conference wins, you're gonna get in the Tournament."

Gbinije on playing in the NCAAs at all:

"After finding out that we got in, that was a big relief for me, and just being a part of the Tournament senior year, it's an honor. Once you win that first game, you get it under your belt and then you're on to the next game and just every win is a great accomplishment and I'm happy for me and my teammates."

Boeheim on whether he thinks the ACC is tougher than the Big East at its peak:

"You know I'm never gonna say that. [laughter] It's a very good conference, there's no question about it. We came from a great conference and we're in a great conference and I think it's gonna get better in the future, from what I've seen."


Full video below, for those who want to watch themselves: