Head Coach Jim Boeheim
“We played better tonight -- I think we did. Our offense struggled a little bit. We got open shots early and when you don’t make those shots early it’s difficult -- it just is. We had some really good looks early and the ball didn’t go in but our defense held us up and the second half we made some shots. I thought we were very patient on offense and we got the ball to Rakeem in really good positions and he finished extremely well around the basket. He was very solid under there.
Overall our defense got to their shooters. They are a better shooting team but we never let them get comfortable. We finished the year playing very well the past few games and now we will get ready for conference play Saturday. We have come through this about as well as we could have expected at this stage of the year. We are playing much better and we look forward to getting ready for conference play on Saturday.”
How did you adjust going from such a high scoring offense such as Long Beach State, to a defensive battle like tonight?
“It’s going to happen. They held the ball and took a lot of time and we’re going to see that. We could see that Saturday and something that it’s good for us to see that.”
How did Kaleb Joseph play tonight?
“He’s getting better, he’s learning, he had a couple today (turnovers) that, you know, were pushing. He’s much more aware of it.”
Did you do anything special on Shonn Miller?
“Not really. He wasn’t really aggressive in the first half. They didn’t really find him. I thought he got more aggressive in the second half. He’s a good player. We were aware of where he was for the most part and we wanted to do a better job in the high post. Last game (Long Beach) we did a very poor job in the high post area. We did a much, much better job of contesting the ball in the high post and I think that was really the key for us defensively today.”
You talked about Trevor Cooney being a player, and not just a shooter. How has he done with that the past couple of games?
“He was much more aggressive. Today he took a couple bad shots there, when we were trying to be patient, when we trying to work the ball and I wanted him to go but he didn’t really get good enough looks in those situations.”
How has the team improved to this point?
“I think overall we’re just more confident offensively. Our defense has to get better, but it is getting better. We’ve been able to play Tyler Roberson a lot now, Ron has gotten some time, so we have some guys that have gotten in and played, not always well, but they’ve been in there. Hopefully, that’ll help us as we move forward here.”
How has Kaleb Joseph gotten better so far?
“He’s working, he’s learning, and he’s doing better. His defense has been a little better. He’s doing some things better and I think every game he improves.”
Would you like to see more scoring coming from the bench?
“Well, as long as you score points, it doesn’t matter where they come from. I’m not concerned with that.”
Is Rakeem doing better passing the ball out of the double team?
“He’s fine. He’s a good passer. He’s fine. He’s always been a good passer. They stopped double teaming, so we just went to him and he scored. Early they double-teamed him and then they stopped and he had a good match-up down there and he finished. He was very, very good today. He made about four or five in a row, I think, down low. He was good -- very good today -- and they were good looking for him and getting him the ball.”
Rakeem Christmas, Senior, Center
What impact did Michael Gbinije have on the game?
“When Mike is on it changes a lot. People start focusing on him more and it opens things up for me. Then, people start focusing on me again and he’s open and gets a shot. So it’s great to have him.”
Can you talk about the team’s defensive performance?
“We had to keep up on our defense. In the beginning of the second half we started slacking on defense and they started to come back so we turned it up.
“We have to come out and play hard. Everyone was aggressive tonight. Everyone was playing good and we’re going to have to carry that into the next game.”
Trevor Cooney, Redshirt Junior, Guard
Can you talk about starting the ACC portion of the schedule next week?
“We’re taking the right steps right now and that’s when you want to take the right steps. You want to play well now and you want to keep continuing that into our next game and into conference play.”
Can you talk about Michael Gbinije’s Performance?
“Mike was huge. He’s like that in practice all the time. I think he’s getting confidence in himself to come out every day and do good things.”
Can you talk about Kaleb Joseph’s development?
“Kaleb is a really good player. He works hard every single day. Everyone has to remember that he is a freshman and it’s a learning process.”
Michael Gbinije, Junior, Forward
Why have you been so successful the last few games?
“Work ethic. There’s been stuff behind the scenes that is starting to pay off for me. I like the guys who I play with and I’m just trying to win as much as I can.”
What’s your mindset heading into the next game?
“Just come in with the same mindset we had today. Each game is going to be different, but just keep winning and have fun out there.”
How do the last few games affect the team’s confidence going into ACC play?
“It’s us just playing with each other, getting used to each other more. I think our chemistry is better and we’re starting to develop consistency on the offensive end. As long and we continue to do all that we’ll be ready for the ACC.”