"As great a player as Chris Wright is and [Vlad Moldoveanu] is, I think we gave them too much respect," said St. Edwards head coach Eric Flannery. "What we were doing defensively was not what we were doing the rest of the tournament. We were kind of back on our heels, and we were allowing them to do what they wanted to do, so they were scoring a lot of points. They were kind of dictating the entire game and it was kind of a mentality, effort, all that stuff. I think that was the difference in the first half."
At halftime, Flannery made a point to get his team back on task, doing what they do best. He wanted to force tempo and make St. John's have to make decisions in a faster pace.
He also challenged his bench to be more supportive when the team was trailing, not just when they were ahead. When the teams returned from the break the Eagles were so enthusiastic that they looked like the team who was leading, not trailing.
"We talked about that halftime, how the bench has been into it the whole game and we didn't want to just have the bench into it when we were winning. The bench should be behind us even more when we're losing just to get that spark and that energy, and that's what we got tonight."
The Eagles immediately seemed to get a spark and began a furious comeback, outscoring the Cadets 21-7, knotting the score at 43 and extending the run to 38-10 for a 60-46 lead, their largest of the game.
"One of our philosophies is we talk about 'Next play,'" said Flannery. "I think it is something Mike Krzyzewski uses at Duke. We always say, 'Forget about what happened before. Just keep moving forward and keep playing; whatever happens on the scoreboard happens. I think the kids really took that to heart today. They forgot about the first half, got their energy back, and once they believed that we could win this thing or at least play with this team, that just kind of snowballed from there."
Flannery was intense throughout, standing, coaching, and giving instructions to his team for much of the game. In particular, he displayed a Roy Williams mannerism, crouching, pumping his fists, and challenging his team on defense.
"I think that is just two intense coaches that are trying to get involved in the game as much as they can," said Flannery of the comparison to Williams, "and that's all I was trying to do is to inspire our guys to get down and really get stops. Whether it works or not, it helps me. I played better defense in the second half." (Grinning)
"I started getting some easy buckets," said Roe. "My teammates started finding me, and we started getting a lot off transition. I just started finding my spots and letting the game come to me."
Roe was all over the place in the second half, first on the defensive end, and then on the offensive end scoring on dunks, lay-ups, and put-backs. The pace was so relentless that he was gasping for air at times, but every time the pace dictated he was streaking down the court in blur.
"When you are trying to win a championship, nothing is easy," he said. "You have to bring it night in and night out until the clock runs out."
Roe had hoped to be able to make it to the UNC/Dayton game in Chapel Hill on December 31, but a conflict with his mother's work schedule prevented it. Among the school visits on his final list of five, he will attend the UNC/Duke game at the Dean Dome in March and plans to announce his college decision in April or May.