COURTESY OF XAVIER UNIVERSITY, BUTLER UNIVERSITY, BIG EAST CONFERENCE
COACH STEELE: First, congratulations to Butler. I thought they played really, really hard, played a really good second half and into overtime. It was a tale of two halves. I thought offensively our ball was moving. I thought we were the aggressor during the first half, getting the ball to the paint. They kept the ball -- they kept their defense even tighter in the second half and I thought we lost our aggressiveness. We had some turnovers. Then we couldn't get stops when we needed to. We had -- whether it was a missed block-out or whether it was a screwing up our ball-screen defense, whatever it was, going for shot fakes, I thought it really cost us when we needed to get stops. I thought we took a few tough shots there in the last eight minutes. We've got to stay more poised. But like I said, give credit to Butler. Disappointed for our guys, very, very disappointed. We obviously know we needed that game. And we'll go back to the drawing board here.
Q. You mentioned disappointment there. Just the last few weeks you guys probably had more losses than wins. And it feels like the momentum shifted from where you all started the beginning of the season really hot. What was the mood in the locker room and how disappointed was this group when you guys had that vision, like you said, getting to the tournament right in front of you all the way?
COACH STEELE: Very disappointed. Our guys knows what's at stake. The outside world makes sure they know, you know? And I thought our guys played really loose in the first half. We played really, really hard. I thought our guys were ready. We just couldn't finish. Again, it's unfortunate, because our guys put a lot of work in. They sacrificed a lot for this year. A lot of people won't even be able to, you know, realize how much they sacrificed. And so I'm just disappointed for our guys in there. Man, I feel really, really bad.
Q. Late in that game you mentioned some of the shot selection. Those weren't the shots that you wanted your guys to get in that situation. They just got away from them?
COACH STEELE: Yeah, I think give credit to Butler's defense. I thought they were keeping it really, really tight there in the second half. We shot the ball well in the first half. But again, second half, they clamped us up and did a good job. I thought we took a couple of rushed shots there, those tough 2s, especially in the last eight minutes of the game. But again, at the end of the day, just had to get a few stops, as crazy as it is. But we just couldn't get them. And you always go back to why. We needed to execute our system better. Butler got us on the glass, especially in the second half, and that was the difference in the game. We led for most of the game at least, I don't know the exact amount of minutes, but we were in control. But we started off the second half in a poor way. They won all those, we break the game down into four-minute wars. And they got all those four-minute wars. They had the momentum going. I told the guys at halftime, you have to fight. Human instinct is to let up get comfortable. When you get comfortable you get your butt kicked. That's what happened there in the second half.
Q. Did you do anything, did Chuck Harris do anything different in the second half? It really looked like maybe he made some of the shots in the second half that he missed in the first. But maybe I'm not seeing it right. Did he or Butler scheme any differently offensively in the second half?
COACH STEELE: Not really. I think he got loose a couple times. He made a couple tough ones. But again, he's a really good scorer. And he's a tremendous player. He's the reason why he's on the all-freshman team this year.
Q. Your team has had 59 points in regulation, at least the last two games. I know this game went to overtime. How frustrating is that? Because you said last game this team has got to find ways to make shots, and you have to bank on that as a coach, that's just how basketball is. How frustrating was it again to see that happen in the second half, and what were you doing to try to get those guys out of that?
COACH STEELE: Our offense sputtered there in the second half. They were playing off a lot of our guys, keeping it really, really tight. They were trying to make it murky there in the paint, because I thought we got to the paint pretty much as we wanted to in the first half. And we made them pay for it. Scored a lot of points in the paint. Did a lot of kick-outs for 3s, and I thought they did a good job guarding us. But it's frustrating. I think we hit six 3s in the first half, for the finish we made nine, which is good enough, like it is. But you also can't score 19 points in a half and expect to win in the Big East. That's just not going to happen. And we've got to be better. We've got to execute better, gotta set better screens, roll harder, take better shots, gotta be more patient. There's a litany of issues.
Q. This is a loss that probably moves you guys on the wrong side of the NCAA Tournament. If that's the case and you guys don't get into the field, do you want to keep playing in the NIT? Have you talked to them about that, how that might play out?
COACH STEELE: No, I haven't even considered it or thought about it or anything at this point. We were just getting ready for Butler and Butler only. We came to New York to win a Big East title. So I've put literally no thought to it.
JASON CARTER QUOTES
Q. What was the difference in the second half? How did that game get away from you guys?
JASON CARTER: Just came down to they killed us on the boards in the second half. Defensively, we started slacking off. And I mean they took advantage of it. All credit to them. But those are the two big areas that we can control. And we didn't do as well in the second half.
Q. Was that foul with three seconds left on Chuck Harris, was that inadvertent or were you trying to challenge him to make those free throws?
JASON CARTER: Definitely wasn't meant to happen. I mean, I just think it just happened. It was one of those fouls that -- it's one of those calls you put the ref in a tough position you'll get it half the time and the other half of the time you're not.
Q. Wanted to ask you just about the offense. Really over the last few games and just about the last month or so, it's been pretty hot and cold. Can you attribute that to anything, the struggles you guys have had and why it's been so difficult really just to kind of get in a good rhythm?
JASON CARTER: I mean, obviously we've had some injuries. Losing Nate, our best shooter, the best shooter in the country, that really hurt. And we had to change and find a way to adjust in that area. And, I mean, at the end of the day just lost a couple of bodies and a couple of other breaks, obviously, it's hard to get into the groove. At the end of the day, can't make a ton of excuses. You've just got to find a way, especially in this league. In basketball it happens. It's not going to go exactly as you planned every single night. And that's all I've really got to say.
Q. With everything that you guys had on the line this week, and the way that it ended tonight, how tough is this for you being a senior, to sort of walk away from this experience, the way that this went down?
JASON CARTER: It's extremely tough. I mean, I've been in college basketball a long time. I've been on both sides of this type of game. Definitely feels a lot better on the other side. But to end this way and not know what the future holds, it's definitely really tough. And I know, like, our guys are struggling. And we just gotta stay positive but I definitely, definitely hurts.