Kevin Mackey was rolling. He was talking so fast that his Boston Irish brogue was beginning to sound like a 33 RPM record being played at 78. The subjects included life at Boston College, recruiting the inner city and building a program.
But time was up. This was, after all, an NCAA tournament news conference and St. Joseph's Coach Jim Boyle was waiting patiently in the back of the room for his turn.
"Uh, coach," the moderator said, "Time's up."
"Not yet," Mackey answered.
Not yet is right.
Time was supposed to be up for Mackey's Cleveland State team last Friday when it played all-powerful Indiana, coached by all-knowing Bob Knight, in the first round of the NCAA basketball tournament.
Cleveland State 83, Indiana 79.
Time probably should have been up Sunday when the Vikings faced a tough, experienced St. Joseph's team in the second round.
Cleveland State 75, St. Joseph's 69.
Not yet. Again.
So CSU -- one of those commuter schools that have sprung up in the last 20 years, a college with 18,000 students, many of them part-timers who have no intention of getting a degree (the school's graduation rate is about 30 percent) -- finds itself in the NCAA sweet 16, rubbing elbows with Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina and Georgia Tech.
All this while Indiana, Notre Dame, Michigan, Georgetown, Maryland and other glamor names talk about next year.
"We've never been afraid of schools like that," said Clinton Ransey, the 6-foot-5 forward who is the leading scorer on a team that plays 10 men every game.
"All we wanted was a chance to get to the tournament and show what we could do."
Cleveland State had to be given that chance because its league, the Association of Mid-Continent Universities, doesn't get an automatic bid.
Last year, with 21 victories, CSU went home and brooded. This year, with a 27-3 record, the Vikings barely got in.
But now, no one is enjoying the NCAA tournament more than Mackey. He is 39, a round-faced Irishman who loves to talk.
He has a story for every player he has recruited. If the first one doesn't work, he has another. He is also a very good coach. Just ask him.
"I had a nightmare about playing against this style of basketball, and that's when I decided this was a way to coach," he said. "Pressure is insidious. It wears people down. I tell our players they play as hard as they can or they don't play."
Mackey talks about basketball as "an inner-city game . . . a game for stallions . . . These guys play with their heads above the rim. I couldn't touch the bottom of the net."
Some are offended by Mackey's verbiage. He is not exactly the first coach to discover that running waves of quick players at the opponent, applying pressure for 94 feet and wearing down the other team can win a lot of games.
A team called Georgetown, among others, has applied that concept with some success recently.
But don't tell Mackey that. Not now. Not when his system so thoroughly thrashed Knight's system. Not when people are just starting to notice how tough Ransey is inside. Not when people are beginning to rave about Ken (Mouse) McFadden, the 20-year-old New York freshman whom Mackey found playing AAU ball a year ago.
McFadden is one of the tournament's intriguing personalities. He is 5-10 -- yet taller than two teammates -- and didn't play as a high school senior because of a broken arm.
He went unnoticed by recruiters and took to the schoolyards. In one AAU game, he scored 45 points against the vaunted Riverside Church team, one that included North Carolina's Kenny Smith and Arkansas' Kenny Hutchinson.
"I just like to go out and play," said McFadden, who has the sly grin of someone who isn't telling you something.
"That's the way our whole team is. Put us on the court and we'll play you 40 minutes. You handle it, fine, you beat us. But it isn't easy." CSU is legitimately 10 deep, and Mackey rarely plays anyone more than 30 minutes. He believes quickness wins and says he searches actively for the tiny player. His two point guards, Ed Bryant and Shawn Hood, are 5-7. They make people crazy.
If Navy point guard Doug Wojcik thought that facing Syracuse's Dwayne (Pearl) Washington was tough, wait until he casts a look at Bryant and Hood when the Midshipmen play Cleveland State in the East regional semifinals at the Meadowlands Friday (7 p.m., WBAL-TV-11).
"We'll just do what we've done all year, nothing different," Mackey said. "I honestly think it's very tough to beat this style if it's played well.
"I thought we could beat Indiana; so did our kids. We go into every game believing we have a way to win."
They will go into Friday's game believing that. But just in case the joy ride doesn't go any further, Mackey and his players cut down a net at the Carrier Dome after beating St. Joseph's Sunday.
They wanted a souvenir of their first trip to the NCAA.
Then Mackey, net around his neck, walked off the floor to talk some more. His time still is not up.