Here's a sampling of quotes from the Syracuse locker room after their resounding, 87-65 win over Gonzaga in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday at HSBC Arena:
Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim:
Wes Johnson scored a career-high 31 points and added 14 rebounds for the Orange. Johnson shot 11-for-16 from the floor, including 4 of 6 from three-point range. Evidently, he has fully recovered from the hand injury he suffered against Connecticut on Feb. 10. Over a five-game stretch late in the regular season, Johnson shot just 18-for-65 because of the bad hand.
"It was hurting pretty bad," Johnson said. "Some games, I couldn't tuck my jersey in. As I felt I could tie my shoes and put my socks on, I knew it was getting better."
Johnson said he returned to full strength for the first (and only) game in the Big East Tournament. He shot 10 of 17 in that game, a sign of things to come. In two games in Buffalo, Johnson averaged 24.5 points and shot 61 percent -- 63 percent from behind the arc.
Center Rick Jackson, limited to 25 minutes by foul trouble, said the Orange is helping carry the banner for the Big East, which had four teams upset in the first two rounds, including Villanova and Georgetown.
"I think some people tend to sleep on the Big East," Jackson said. "Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean, people say the Big East is a great conference, but I don't think they really believe that. A lot of Big East teams got knocked out, but we're here to stay."
Jackson, when informed that Robert Sacre, the Zags' 7-foot center, had been overheard before the game telling his teammates that Syracuse was "soft and a bunch of pretty boys."
"I didn't hear that," Jackson said, "but I'm so soft that I'm moving on and he's going home."
Forward Kris Joseph on Syracuse playing its best game in its biggest game of the year:
"I think the whole year we played together. But this is the one game everything was clicking, defensively and offensively. I can't give our defense enough credit. We were really putting forth the effort to play defense, and our defense generated our offense. On offense, we passed the ball and moved it around, and got open looks."
On why more teams don't play the 2-3 zone:
"That's a tough question," Joseph said. "A lot of teams try it, but I don't think they play the same type of zone we play. It's not as active, and maybe the coaches just don't believe in the 2-3. I'm not sure why other teams don't do it. Out of our rotations, we trap every chance we can. It still works after all the times they try to show it on ESPN, too. So I guess it's a pretty good zone."
--- Jerry Sullivan