Quotes from the Preseason NIT

Syracuse defeated Manhattan, DePaul, Michigan State and Wake Forest en route to capturing the Preseason NIT championship last weekend. DeShaun Williams was named Most Valuable Player, and Preston Shumpert and Kueth Duany were named to the All-Tournament team. Here's the players reaction on both Wednesday and Friday.

Final Quotes


On if he's happy with the win

"The win was just tremendous, especially being down 10, it just looking bleak."

On the press

"The guys, sometimes when a game's ugly, just slow and things aren't working, having that energy is important. When he put James in, and Jeremy made a couple great plays defensively. It really sparked a lot of energy and we got some steals, and we got some easy baskets. When you're struggling at scoring in the halfcourt, like we did at one point when they played zone, we've got to get some easy buckets. Those transition steals really helped us get over the edge."

On canceling preseason tournaments

"I don't like it. These tournaments are so good for the guys to play out of conference teams, to get some exposure. We just played the Big 10 and the ACC, we don't get that opportunity all the time. It was a great, heck of a win."

On November

"Ehh. I don't know. The guys just step up and make plays. The zone's hard to play against, especially for guys earlier in the year. We've always been strong at this time of the year, and we've always been strong in March. Those are the best two times you want to be playing well."


On spark

"I just try to bring some energy to the table. In the first half, we were kind of flat. Our team was hanging on the edge. That's just really what a point guard is supposed to do, just motivate and get the team back into its flow. That's what I try to do by using my quickness on defense and in the press."

On chemistry with DeShaun

"We do. He knows me and I know him very well. I know when we've got to step it up, and we just communicate. We just try to do it."

On where it comes from

"We're just really good friends off the court. Basically, that's it."

On his presence providing the run

"I don't know. It seems like every time I get in the game, at the end of the game, I hear about us going on a run. I just be out there playing. It just seems like any time I get in, we score a lot of points. I know I'm not scoring the points. I just try to get the ball to the right guys at the right times. They're just finishing for me. It seems like when I get in, it brings a certain style to our team, more energy. More people on our team come off picks to show everybody what they can do."

On how he was motivated

"Within. Within, you know. I'm a strong motivator of myself. I just like to play the game. If I weren't playing college, I'd be playing somewhere. I'd be playing in my backyard. I just love playing. I get motivated easy just thinking about basketball."

If press is better suited for the smaller lineup

"I don't know. It just seems like when I get in the game it's just more up-tempo. I know Coach likes that. It just depends on how the game is flowing. I don't know. I like that better. I like the small lineup better. I also like the big lineup. It's just whoever's playing good at that time you go with."

On if he's surprised

"No, man. Not at all. The only thing that's surprising me is that I can't hit any shots right now. I'm just trying to get out there and practice and just take a lot of shots and take more than I'm used to taking because this isn't like me, not really scoring. I've just got to sacrifice for the team and do whatever it is in that situation that I need to do. DeShaun and Preston are playing so good, I've just got to get them the ball."

On what this tourney win means

"It means a lot. It lets us know we've got a lot of work to do. We're still getting outrebounded a lot. We need to work on our rebounding. This Tournament was really good for us, to see where we stand."

On Preston's new shoes

"I knew they were coming. He got them before anybody. I was thinking about getting them. I probably still will. I knew somebody on our team was getting them. He just happened to be the first one. I like them a lot, they're light."


On if he's more comfortable

"A lot more comfortable. The crowd energy just got me hyped, my family was here, it just felt good to play this way."

On family coming up for the game

"My mom, stepdad, brother and sister. Plus, I know everyone was watching at home. I just wanted to get a big game. Finally."

On if the Garden fazed him

"They say it's the mecca of basketball. It was fun playing there. The first night, I was really cold. Tonight, I was hot. We came up. We came out a little sluggish, but JT and and DeShaun did a real good job in the second half."

On how he got open
"I just ran the floor and ran to the open slot. It was easy. All I had to do was finish."

On his dunk

"I just ran the floor, he found me. I went up, lost the ball a little bit, and then got at it again. I just finished it."

On if he's happy with the start

"It's fun. 5-0. Championship already. Just keep on going."


On winning every preseason tournament he's played in

"These preseason tournaments do a lot for your team. For us, it's just a case of seeing where we stood as far as a ballclub. Out of all games I've ever played as far as tournaments, this game was the game we showed the most as a team, where we just put our hearts out there, put everything on the line. We basically came down to the decision to just leave everything on the floor. It was a good win for us."

On how the win should be viewed by people around the country

"I think we're a pretty good team. We beat some good teams out here. Take it for what it's worth. We don't get that much hype or anything like that. But we don't really worry about that. We worry about going into each game, try to concentrate and do what we do best. Hopefully, we'll come out victorious. This week, we have."

On November

"The big key is not being satisfied. Go back to work and practice and just stay focused. Like I said, you can't get satisfied. We've got a long season to go. Definitely, this team's looking forward to it."

On his new shoes

"I call them the Ruby slippers, man. I saw them before and I just had to get them. They're going to be a nice little addition to our on the road jerseys. I don't know. I just like them. I had one of my friends from Ohio bring them down for me."

  • Hyperflights, Nike

On J-Hart's old-school NIKES

"I remember when J-Hart broke them out, but mine were like 1,000 years younger. His were old-school."

On when his shoe fell off
"I heard it the whole game, people saying, ‘I love the shoes. Yeah, nice shoes.' When my heel slipped out, somebody stepped on the back of my heel, I just knew they were going to give me hell. I heard people saying, ‘Put the Ruby slippers on. Put it back on.' I was trying to just run down the floor and stuff it back in. They were pretty good shoes."

On if this felt like a home game

"To tell you the truth, we did have a lot of fans. That's what made it great for us. We're very excited for this round. We heard the chant, ‘Let's go Orangemen.' I thought we were back in the Dome for a minute. We have a lot of fans here tonight. That helped us a lot. Whenever you get that little feeling of homecourt advantage, it's good for your team. Once we started pressing and we turned up the heat, that's when we started noticing it more. It rattled them."

On small lineup

"We're so quick. We've got James, he's unbelieveably quick. Kueth, he's very quick, and me and DeShaun we're quick and we sort of have the instinct where the ball's going to go. We know what they're going to try to do to break the press. We made the right reads here tonight, and we forced some big-time turnovers."

On if he likes pressing

"It sort of brings out your intensity and your drive. I knew we were going to it, I just wanted to stay in it. They asked me during the game, and we're just in pretty good condition. We're in great condition as far as running up and down the floor. Late in the game, we didn't lose a step. I started putting the ball on the floor a little bit more and started getting by defenders. When they were a little bit tired, DeShaun started doing the same thing. We started finding our teammates. A lot of credit goes to Korey Parker for keeping us in condition and stuff like that."

On if he's carrying the trophy home

"(Still holding onto it) Yeah. I'm going to carry it. The old guy has to carry it. The old guy has some grey hairs up on top of here, man. I've got to carry it home."


On the defense in the tournament

"When they put that press in, it was unbelievable how they kept getting stops. I was waiting on them to come down there so I could block a couple shots. But the press just kept getting us shots."

On what his vantage point was like

"I don't know. I just know that when they got the ball and scored, I was on the other end jumping up and down like a little girl. I was happy that we pulled it off or whatever."

On what this tournament means

"I think it just means that we're real. We're doing it. We're out to get it. We ain't no punks. We're serious business, Syracuse University."

On November

"Let's see. I don't know. That's a tough question. As the years go by, people find out what we're about and what we're going to do. We just try to pick on their weaknesses or whatever. That's the only thing I can think of. That's weird that we play great in November. Down the road, we start losing games. Not saying that we're playing better, people just start scouting us real good. I don't know the answer to that question. But that's what I can guess."

On if they're underrated

"Oh yeah. Oh yeah. We've got some of the best players in the whole United States in Preston, DeShaun and Kueth Duany."

On Preston's shoes

"They're different. That's his thing, I guess. I've never seen cool shoes like that before."

On if he's getting any

"Oh, no. I wear size 17. I'll look like a clown for real."

Semifinal Quotes


"This was a good win for us because we didn't do what we can do best and that's shoot the basketball. The defense was good. We were active. We tried not to give them good looks, tried to keep pressure on them all the time. The key, really, especially in the first half, was the turnovers. Offensively, we had a little bit better patience in the first half. That enabled us to get some offensive rebounds. We did a good job against their matchup. We matched up on the out of bounds. Generally, we had good opportunities with their matchup. We battled hard, and we didn't make shots. But we were able to hang in there. They tied it, we were able to still hang in there and make a couple good defensive plays, a couple transition baskets. It was a tough, hard game. They played physical. We had to play physical against them."


"He was active. He's an active player. He took a few too many shots tonight, but a few of them he had to take. I'll forgive him for those two. But for the other ones, we'll have to talk about. I thought he did what had to be done. He played really well."

On forcing turnovers

"At the end of the game, they were trying to do the right thing, they were trying to get in the post. We allowed them to get in the post and throw it out once, then we just wanted them to go in the air and make that post guy put it on the floor. We had a couple traps in the corner, but mostly, we were active. In game situations, to his credit, Hill made some tough shots out there against our zone. At the end, it's tougher to make that shot every time you get inside. If you try to get inside, then we're going to get our hands on some of them."

On early tournaments

"I'm a big proponent of early-season tournaments. I can't understand the reasons why anybody – except somebody that likes football – would not want to have early season tournaments. That's the only reason I can possibly think they would not have these kinds of tournaments. The wrong-minded people, well, I wouldn't want to give them credit on the second part of that, think that if we don't play in this tournament, we're going to go play Michigan State in Michigan State or they're going to come play Syracuse at Syracuse on Nov. 10. That ain't happening. No way, no how. At least not while I'm at Syracuse. You don't want that. Why would you put yourself in that kind of game. But play them on a neutral court, it's fair for everybody. Plus, it helps smaller schools. Do you think Ball State would have been able to play Kansas? Yeah, they would have been able to play them – in Kansas, with three Big 12 officials working the game. It's just ludicrous that they're fighting this thing, that this things going on. The best thing you can have for college basketball is all these tournaments. We're on TV, we're getting a lot of publicity, we're getting a lot of people interested and excited about basketball. The players get to play top-level competition. The smaller schools benefit. The big schools benefit, too. I'm sure Duke learned something. These things are great. No question about it."

On Preston

"Tonight Preston was rushing it a little bit. But he's difficult to guard because he's putting it on the floor much better now. He's going to the foul line. We had them in foul trouble right away. That was a big part of it."

On DeShaun's ankle

"He's alright. I think those two turnovers he made aggravated that ankle injury."

On small lineup and Hakim Warrick

"We just decided to go with the smaller lineup. As long as we can break even on the board, we going to need that with a senior in there as opposed to a freshman. He's getting better all the time in practice. It will take a while. They're not quite ready for this yet."


"We knew what type of team they were. We knew they were going to be big. We knew that they were going to be physical. Before the game, we just made up our minds that we would just battle. If we were going to have any chance of winning this game, we were going to have to battle on the boards. If we couldn't get the boards, we would have to tap it out, do something else to eliminate their chances at a rebound. In the second half, they got on the glass a little harder than us. Overall, we did a good job as far as battling, just sticking our nose in there."

On November

"(laughs) I don't know. We've got a different team this year. We've got some different players, we're more versatile this year. A lot of players are going to step in at different positions. Tonight, we got some guys in there that didn't get quite as much time as they'd like, we were doing well as far as matching up with them. We had to match up with them. They were a big team. We knew they were going to be physical. We knew it was going to be a physical game the whole time. We just tried to fight and scratch and claw."


On being a Michigan guy

"It feels pretty good beating Michigan State. Basically not beating Michigan State, but one of my best friends plays for Michigan State (Aloisusuis Alongonye SP??). We've been playing together on the AAU team. That's pretty much bragging rights in the summer time. I'm pretty happy about that."

On if he nagged JT after MSU's NCAA Tourney victory

"He nagged me saying, ‘You should have came to State.' A lot of guys were saying stuff like that. I guess it's payback just to him, not to Michigan State."

On five consecutive steals

"DeShaun told me, we needed to just pick it up in the zone because the game was getting kind of dead. We were just finding ourselves out of place in the game. He told me we need to just be active and just do something, try to get some steals so we could get some easy layups and try to blow this game away. That's what we did."

On if that was one of his favorite moments so far

"Yeah. That was one of my favorite moments, especially with my mom being her watching. Cheryl Leggett. Brother here, too."

On if he played against Taylor

"I played against him growing up. We pretty much know each other's game. I just tried to do the best I could do out there on defense. It just worked out well for us."

On if Michigan State recruited him

"They recruited me real hard. It was between Michigan State and Syracuse, I just chose Syracuse."

On if he's more comfortable

"That's all it is, being out there on the court. That's the only way you can get comfortable, is just staying out there on the court."

On Michigan State fan

"I was. I was. I was real close. It came between Michigan State and Syracuse. Those were my top two schools."

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