Game Talk: Seton Hall 80, Arizona 76

RALIEGH, NC - At halftime Arizona led 37-31. The Wildcats increased the margin to 14 at 53-39 with 15:03 left and appeared to have the game under control. However, a combination of Seton Hall's tenacity and Arizona's loss of concentration allowed the Pirates to go on a 23-5 run and end the Cats season. The Wildcats will return to Tucson, while Seton Hall remains alive and will play Duke on Saturday.<BR> After the game, Lute Olson and players tried to put this game and the season in perspective.

Lute Olson's comments

"I thought that both teams were competitive and played very hard. To me, the biggest problem was taking care of (Kelly) Whitney inside, especially on the offensive boards. Whitney is a real warrior inside."

On losing the 14 point lead
"We had a hard time dealing with prosperity because of youth and the absence of a take-charge player. This is a problem that we have had all year long and were not able to develop from that. On their 8-0 run we couldn't score when we needed to and Seton Hall played very good defense. I also think that they were very patient on offense passing the ball and waiting for their good looks at the basket."

On the season in general
"This is not the kind of year we're accustomed to having. 20-10 is not acceptable. Losing in the first round of the playoffs is not acceptable."

Channing Frye

What was the difference in the second half that allowed the Seton Hall to make up a 14 point deficit and pull out the win?
"I definitely think it was our defensive intensity. Our mental focus on that end of the court wasn't as good as it was in the first half." In the first half you were getting transition baskets. How important is that to the success of the team?
"As fast as we get out, I think that's really what helps us on offense. We get those easy baskets from steals from being excited on defense."

How much was the rebounding of Kelly Whitney a factor?
"We gave them too many opportunities on the boards. They just took advantage of it. They are a very good team."

Chris Rodgers

What was the difference in the teams' play in the first half and then in the second half when Seton Hall went on their run?
"I think we did a great job in the first half and it's a shame that in the second half we didn't come with the same energy, the same focus. We just didn't execute and we got lazy on defense and we had some turnovers and it got to us. It really hurt and they made a big run and that was pretty much the turnaround of the game."

How do you some up the season?
"In my view it was a learning experience and this year was no different. We're a young team and we're learning what our strengths and weaknesses are and we just have to try to get better. It starts tomorrow, we just have to get better tomorrow."

Mustafa Shakur

Since this was your first NCAA Tournament game, were you nervous?
"No I wasn't nervous. I made some mistakes and I take that blame. I didn't come through."

When the team got up by 14 points, did you feel like you were in command of the game at the time?
"We were definitely in command of the game, but we didn't continue to play with that sense of urgency on defense. We tried to maintain instead of playing to win."

How big a factor was Seton Hall winning the battle of the boards?
"It was a lack of concentration and focus by everyone. Everyone made the same mistakes not boxing out instead of just going to the basket and getting the rebound."

You played great in the first half and fell apart in the second. Was this game kind of microcosm of the season?
"We played great for awhile. That's how it's been, that's how it's been all season. We play great, then we play down to the level of our competition and play terrible. I think that we're going to learn from that, learn that we need to develop some consistency as a team."

As a whole, has this season been frustrating?
"It's been very frustrating, playing up and down and losing. When you lose it's definitely frustrating. I know personally I'm going to be very hungry for next season."

When they went on the 23-5 run, what happened?
"Not everybody ran back hard on defense and some of that was my fault. They were sending three or four guys, running hard and breaking."

It looked like when they picked up their defensive intensity, you guys kind of relaxed, is that a fair observation?
"I wouldn't say we were relaxed. I'd say we just didn't have that same concentration from each and every guy. It was just too many people on the court lax at the same time. During the time we had all five guys collectively just concentrating and focusing on every part of the game we were fine. Sometimes we'll have three people click or four people click. And once in awhile when we have those great games we'll have all five guys with that total concentration."

Hassan Adams

Is it fair to say you guys let down your guard and relaxed on defense?
"It's not fair, but when things happen they happen, and they happened today. We have to put this behind us. We lost and we have to put it behind us."

How difficult has this season been?
"It's been tough, but that's life. It's not easy."

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