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News Conference: Florida State, Vermont, Marquette, Murray State First Round Preview

August 31, 2019


PLAYER 1: PLAYER 2: Test test test the test test
test PLAYER 1:
PLAYER 2: PLAYER 3: PLAYER 4: SNRKS ANTHONY LAMB:
PLAYER 2: PLAYER 3: PLAYER 4: STEF SMITH:
ERNIE DUNCAN: PLAYER 4: .
THE COACH: JOHN BECKER: Q. Anthony, this season, what
expectations did you put on yourself going into the year and have you achieved them
thus far? ANTHONY LAMB: Yeah, so this year
mostly for me trying to get healthy and trying to get back
to myself and the level of ply I expect from myself. I was trying
to become a leaderer on this team. Knowing I had to step into a
bigger role as upper classman. Really trying to do what the
coaches tell me and get back to 100
percent is my goal. I think I’ve done that to the best of my ability this year.
Q. Q. Ernie, can you — I’d like you
to kind of talk about Coach Becker a
little bit. What he brings to the Bram program and what was it about him and the
tone he sets for the program that encouraged all three, both
your brothers to come as well. STEF SMITH: I this i the winning
culture is the reason why I game and the chance to get to the stage is why
myself and Evan came to very Mott. Coach bigger is a
competitor, a great person to relate to off the Court. He did a good job bouncing the
life off Court and on Court. Q. Q. For Anthony and Steph you
playeded in acc goal early this year. And had big games, can you talk
about that experience and what you prepare to do at Florida
State? STEF SMITH: Yeah, it was a great experience, stadium, atmosphere,
it’s just that level of basketball is a little
different. I think it’s good we got to play that game, to
prepare us for this game coming up on Thursday.
ANTHONY LAMB: It’s a lot of fun when you get to play against
better competition, so, I think we’re going to take advantage of
that experience and try to bring it into this NCAA
Tournament game .
Q. Q. For Anthony then Ernie. You got here two years ago, lost
to Purdue, what do you take away from that experience and how
much does it help you prepare for the game you have
tomorrow? ERNIE DUNCAN: Yeah, we’re
definitely hungry with Anthony. I have a taste of the big stage. I know him and myself are hungry
for a chance to compete against a major team. Overall win, we’re definitely
excited for tomorrow. ANTHONY LAMB: It it was a great
game two years ago. We were able to step up on the big stage and
now we know what it takes in the game like that, playing against
higher competition and how it feels to play in front of that
many people in front of such a great crowd.
Q. Q. Really for any of you guys
getting to play somewhat close to home, what do you guys expect in terms of fan
support, students and family coming to
the games? ERNIE DUNCAN: We feel like it’s
a home game for us in a way. It’s really exciting we’ll have
fans coming from Vermont and into the area and coming down to
support us. STEF SMITH: It’s amazing. Fan
support has been really great the whole year. That’s going to
be great to have that support. It’s like a home game, like you
said. ANTHONY LAMB: Just grateful that
my mom can make the trip. It’s not too far for her. Anything
that makes it easy for my mom is good for me.
Q. Q. For any of guys but maybe
Anthony. Florida State’s length and height is uncommon even for
other “A” KRFRJTS KRFRJTS teams. How do sort of make up for that
disadvantage? ANTHONY LAMB: I think it’s our
job to understand that, and going into the game, being
prepared for that. We haven’t faced a team as long
or athletic as him. We got close playing Kansas and
Louisville. So, it’s really understanding where we can get to on the court and how
we can best exploit our advantages
versus their strengths.
Q. ….. . JOHN BECKER: Yeah, exciting to be home in Connecticut, the opportunity to
play NCAA Tournament game in
Hartford. We’re looking forward to tomorrow afternoon against a
really good Florida State team, hopefully get a good
turnout from our Mt. Cat amount fans and New England Wimbledon
fans. We’re really looking forward to tomorrow.
Q. Coach, playing against at
Louisville and Kansas, what did that do, that experience,
especially the success a couple of your guys really had in those
games. What does that do going into a
game like this? JOHN BECKER: I think it’s going
to help us out tremendously. We but together a than conference
schedule that included at Louisville and at Kansas, so, hopefully, that
will pay benefits tomorrow. You know, I don’t think — I think
this will be the most athletic and
longest team we play all year. I think it will be an adjustment getting used to the size and
athleticism. Hopefully once the game starts and we get a feel for that, we’ll
settle of in. Q. Coach, you’ve obviously been
back here plenty of times at least in the area. When is the
last time you played in this building or coached in this
building. Is it nice to be back and see
some friendly tastes? JOHN BECKER: It’s really
exciting for me and my family to have this opportunity. Last
time I was in this building, I think it was — I took my
daughter to see the Eagles here a couple
years ago. But the last time for a basketball game, was their
national championship year can Kimball walker and
those guys, and it was pretty neat, Ryen
Russillo gave the pregame talk. Mike Lon began was a head coach,
I was assistant and we were up three at the half and things
changed in the second half unfortunately, but they
went on to win the national championship. Napier was a freshman and Kemba,
pretty good back court they had there. Yeah, it will be really,
really neat tomorrow to be able to coach out here in the head
coach in a NCAA Tournament game in my home state.
Q. Coach, when you look at Florida
State, you put together your game plan, is it three thing,
five things? What do you focus on going into a game against
them?>>?
JOHN BECKER: Yeah, I mean, it’s a pretty simple game plan and
offensively, we’re going to have to make a
lot of shots, shoot a lot of threes just because of their
size in and around the bass get and offensively, rebound is important, real we’re really good defensive team
but we haven’t played the likes of this size before, so we’re going to have
to really clean up the class glass and box
out and get rebounds. If we can do that, we can get out and play
in transition and hopefully attack them early before they
can get their defense set, so, you know,
there’s — there’s a lot of similarities to our recent
games, as far as the game plan goes, and, we’ll see.
Q. Q. Two quick ones for you, first
one, what can you say about Anthony’s maturation this season
and how much will the team rely on him today, I mean, tomorrow
and how can the team continue to stay as dialed in as they were
in the conference tournament? JOHN BECKER: Yeah. Anthony’s
been amazing this year. You know, his growth as a player,
he’s really — his perimeter skills have really improved in three-point
shot, it really made him a hard cover, but most importantly, as
a leader, he’s been tremendous, and he’s become,
along with Ernie Duncan, become the leader of this team. He’s
been there every day for us and every night. He shoots 35
percent of our shots which is very different than how most
Vermont teams play, where it’s much more balanced scoring. We’ve really relied on Anthony,
night in and night out. And he’s delivered. And the other piece of him
authentically, has really become a complete player and really
passed the ball when he double and triple
teamed, was an all defensive player this year, which I’m really proud of, he’s
become a two-way player. So, that’s — he’s going to be
foreign for us, obviously, again,
tomorrow, so. And what was the second part of your question?
Q. How can you keep your teams focused?
>>Yeah, we’ve been really, really focused. For a young
team, that’s been really important for us, and we’ve
gotten better as the year has gone on, and I thought in our
conference tournament was the best we’ve done all year, of
executing our system and executing the game plan, and, you know, for a
full 40 minutes, our guys did a really
good job with that, and, you know, there will be excitement
early in the game around be egg in a NCAA turn, but
hopefully we can calm down early in the game and settle in. Get a
feel for their athleticism and go out there and play to win.
Q. Q. John, I’m wondering your
experience coaching at Gallaudet, how that
shaped your career, unique experience, has it made you
become a different coach in some ways?
JOHN BECKER: Yeah. I learned a lot from that experience as a
young coach. The first and probably most important is the
value of communication and where I had to teach myself sign
language to communicate with my players and other coaches, and I
took that really seriously, and, you know, really
proud that, you know, was able to
communicate there, and, you know, we take
for granted, you know, the
communication piece, and I had never have
since then, and we commune —
overcommunicate in our program here, and — and understand the
importance of that and the value of that and how easy it is for us, and that — and the
friendships I made there, and just to be
part of that culture and part of that community, gave me a great
appreciation for a lot of things that I have and that
we have. You know, I stay hopefully a little bit a part of
that community I bring forward with me, and it’s made me a
better coach for your.
Q. Q. What umbc did last year, was
that relevant at all for the conference? I know this isn’t a
160 match-up? 346 yeah, we’re really proud as
a conference emwe’re really proud
what embc was able to conference this year. As a conference, we have
confidence and we want to be competitive and we
want to win games in the tournament. We can see what that
does for us, and they helped give us confidence. We’ve won tournament games,
obviously Syracuse game and la Lamar in
2012. So as a conference we really
pride ourselves as being a little underappreciated and
undervalued, so this is our opportunity to show the country
just how good of a conference we are. So we’re here representing
our conference and we expect to — we expect to advance.
Q. Q. John, can you talk a little
about the pref racial to play Florida State with your reserves
because they’re not quite the same length and same
athleticism. How did you prepare and how did those guys prepare
for their role in getting your starters ready?
JOHN BECKER: Yeah. I think our — our bench is
going to have to play well tomorrow. I mean, just with how
hard Florida State plays. They play 11 guys, and, you
know, to play the full 40 minutes, we’re
going to have to trust the bench. They’re going it have to be
productive. We’re going to have to keep rotating guys so that we can play the
whole game, so to speak, and so, our bench
has been inconsistent all year, has been
much better. You know, we — I tinkered with the starting lineup more than we
ever had this year as recently as the
conference playoffs. Our bench is constantly evolving. I like
where our starters and who we have coming off the bench and
how they complement each other. We will need them to play well.
Q. FastScripts Transcript by ASAP
Sports FastScripts Transcript by
ASAP Sports of the test test test off the bench and how they
complement each other. We will need them to play well.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports .
JOHN BECKER: . . . . .
Q. Q. I was wondering, from both your
perspectives, we know, when they’re on defense, you’re on
offense, you’re going to focus a lot of attention on
JFRJTS Georgia ja. What are you expecting and how are you going
to beat it? SHAQ BUCHANAN: This year we saw
a whole bunch of different defense from
ja. We prepare for it. They play solid men defense.Ja.
What are you expecting and how are you going to beat it?
SHAQ BUCHANAN: This year we saw a whole bunch of different
defense from ja. We prepare for it. They play solid men defense.
I don’t expect nothing different. We been preparing for
it the whole week. JA MORANT: Like Shaq said, all
year, we’ve been seeing different types of defensive schemes against me,
and we watch film and they played a lot of man, so that’s
what we prepare for. Also, just go through some of the other
stuff, like if they go zone, anything, so —
Q. Q. Shaq, I’m sure you guys are
going to alternate defensive assignments
on Marcus Howard, after studying him for a few days. What are you are you going to
try to key in on defensively?>>
SHAQ BUCHANAN: I know every player on offense had different
moves. I saw that on film, I’m
accepting the . Q. Q. Jumping off on guarding Marcus
Howard, you write — I’m sure it’s
multiple assignments. How much do you think you’ll get a chance at guarding Marcus, ja?
JA MORANT: Me and Marcus have been studying Marcus Howard. We both within studying a lot of
film on him. He’s a great forward and we’re just ready to take on the challenge.
Q. For both of guys ja and Shaq. Murray state has a long history
of success in the NCAA Tournament
and ovc. How much does that motivate you to put another
banner up there in the rafters? SHAQ BUCHANAN: It’s been a goal
of ours, we know the type of tradition,
and know one of the reasons we came here to leave our legacy
and we have a chance to do that with the team we have this year.
ERNIE DUNCAN: Like you said, Murray has a great tradition, and this is
our goal since June, when we first stepped on campus with the
team we have now. We put a lot of time and hard work into this, and just hanging another
banner feels good. Q. Q. Ja, I know you’ve got a huge
cheering section and family that come to every game. How many
people are you expecting and what has that level of support
meant to you throughout the season?
JA MORANT: As of right now, I have like 15 coming. I know most
people don’t get the support from families. Sometimes their
families can’t make it in, and just with me being nine
hours from Murray State and probably
further from here, just to have my family come, it just feels good and I just
appreciate it .
Q. Q. Ja, your national profile has
really risen here this year. I’m curious kind of how you’ve tried
to deal with that and just what you think about all of the extra
attention you’re getting, the magazine deep articles, ESPN and
all that stuff, what’s that been like?
JA MORANT: It’s something I’m not used to. I come from being
under the radar. My coaches, my teammates, really
helped me with it. They haven’t looked at me any different since
I guess my name started getting out there and my parents. So I give most of the credit to
them for keeping me level headed.
Q. Ja, you started generating a lot
of buzz at the Chris Paul camp in the summer.
What do you remember about that experience? I Nomar cuss hour
was there. Did you get to interact with him after that
experience? JA MORANT: Marcus actually was
the first person I stalked to. We had a meeting with him at
night. I sat at the table with him and
had conversations with him. The experience was great. Just being with with there with
Chris Paul and other NBA players, just to learn from him, it was good.
Q. Q. Ja, just coming from a
politely recruited as you were, to on this stage now, what have
you thought of the whole journey to get here and what that’s been
like for you? JA MORANT: I say it’s been
rough. Like you said, coming from being overlooked in high school, and
not receiving that much attention, there was times I
question myself, was I good enough and now is just my hard
work is paying off and it feels good.
Q. Q. Ja, I wanted to follow up on the
Chris Paul camp question. What were your impressionses of
Markus Howard at that time. I know he’s been injured a little
bit lately in February he got
injured. What do you expect from him so two questions what do you
expect from him tomorrow and what were your impressions of
him at camp? JA MORANT: I expect a lot from
Marcus tomorrow. He had a couple 50-point games. He’s a great storier we just
going to go out there and try to play our defense and contain
him. I saw that at Chris Paul camp he
was able to get up and down a little bit and he scored the ball very well, so — ZBLE Shaq, the ocv was so
good this year. Belmont gained the win. How much from the
league helped you get ready tomorrow?
>>. SHAQ BUCHANAN: I say, it was a
tough league. Even though it was major, it was hard playing those
teams back twice a year and had to change offense, or defense,
you got to go do. Though, we did, it was tough but we grinded it out.
Q. Real quick, can you guys talk a
little bit about just how the experience from last year in San
Diego against West Virginia has prepared you, perhaps, for the match-up tomorrow against
Marquette? SHAQ BUCHANAN: I say last year , it was our first time, so guys
are happy to be there. But this year with me and ja and
Briya, we got to go far, we have the
focus and got the team to do it. I have all of the confidence we
have the team to do it. We’ll see how we do Thursday. JA MORANT: Like he said, our
first year coming here, was a little excited. Probably a
little bit nervous, this being our second year, we’re a little
bit more comfortable and aren’t ready to leave this team to go
deep in the tournament. Q. Q. I understand you’re from the
same home town as ray Allen, I read your
father was actually a high school teammate of his. I wonder
if that’s the case. If you’ve gotten to know ray at all if
he’s been a sounding board or played any role in your life at
all. JA MORANT: I really haven’t
spoke to ray as much. Him and my dad and uncle of
still close, so I get the chance — I spoke with his mom a little
bit. But other than that, I really
haven’t. Q. Q. Ja, one more about the camp
with Marcus. You said he was one of the first guys you talked to.
Was it somebody — did you seek him out, or did you know him at
all before hand, or was it just a coincidence that he was one of
the first guys you connected with there?
JA MORANT: I think it was just coincidence. We just happened
to sit at the same table and just got to know each other. He told me that he played at
Marquette, and after that, we was just talking throughout the
camp, and now we played against each other tomorrow, so
— Q.
Q. Did you stay in touch? JA MORANT: Yeah, we do stay in
touch. Q.
Q. Ja, was there any interaction between you and Marcus leading up to
this game? JA MORANT: I — we spoke a
little bit last night, just saying how it’s
crazy that we met at the Chris Paul camp and now both,
obviously our names are out there, and now we get to play
against each other . FastScripts Transcript by ASAP
Sports FastScripts Transcript by ASAP
Sports We spoke a little bit last
night, just saying how it’s crazy that we met at the Chris
Paul camp and now both, obviously our names are out
there, and now we get to play against each other.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports . .
COACH MATT MCMAHON: All right. Thank you. Excited to be here. I have a lot of respect for a
very good Marquette team we’ll see tomorrow. Our guys have had a long layoff
here, 11 days now. But they’re excited to get back
on the court and play tomorrow .
Q. You guys have been really good
defending the three-pointer. You are a really good shooting team.
What do you guys think you need to do
to defend against Marquette you guys think you need to do to
defend against Marquette’s three-point attack.
COACH MATT MCMAHON: I think as a critical part of tomorrow’s
game. I think they’re beyond good. Making almost 10 in a
game. THOOINT in the country from a percentage standpoint. No
the only Howard’s ability to create his own and shoot from
well beyond the NBA three. But they have guys 6’8″ in
multiple positions who shoot well. It really puts a lot of
pressure on your defense to be very solid and fundamentally
sound. I think it’s going to be a great
challenge for us tomorrow. Q.
Q. Coach, without giving away too many defails general
offensive strategy against Howard and their offense this?
COACH MATT MCMAHON: Play, extremely hard. Try and make as many shots as
difficult as it can. He’s going to score. I think look at key
stats from him not only his ability to shoot from the three
and create his own. His ability to get to the three
low line is a key stat. I think he took 24 free-throws
in his last game. I think that’s important as well.
Q. Q. I was curious, obviously guys
like Markus Howard, ja more ant, from
they’re probably going to get theirs. What is the XFRJTS
factor how you take care of them from a defensive stand point
much? COACH MATT MCMAHON: I think
both teams and I can’t speak for Marquette. I think both teams
have star players that get a lot of attention. They both have good teams, we
both have balance, multiplee double figure
scorers. I think everything’s important. You look at things
like Ed more row having 17 offensive rebounds in
the last three games, key stats like that. I think will be of
importance. Who wins the turnover battle,
and on down the line. I think, for us to be the team of their
quality, we’ll have to play exceptionally well both ends of
the floor .
Q. Q. You know, you have two good
defenders in ja and Shaq on the perimeter. Without divulging too much of
the game plan are you go together throw both of those
guys on Markus Howard a little bit?
COACH MATT MCMAHON: I’m in the sure how we’ll match up. It’s not only Markus Howard.
Howard’s efficiency numbers off the charts doing it at a high
level and his ability to shoot the three as well and his
explosive drives to the basket. One of our strengths this year
has certainly been our perimeter defense and it will have to be
really, really good tomorrow. Q. Q. You’re a player and coach at app
state for so long, late 90 and 200s. Steve Wojciechowski was a player
at the same time. I am curious did you ever cross
baths did you have a relationship with him?
COACH MATT MCMAHON: No, we did not. He is a much better player
than I ever was. Q. Coach, talk a little bit about
the success at the Murray State program’s had in developing
guards through the last few years that have been able to go on and have success, after
college level? COACH MATT MCMAHON: Thanks,
Kenny, I think it starts with recruiting. We’ve been very
fortunate to recruit some talented players from great
families who have come in and been about the right things.
They put in a lot of hard work. Our coaching staff invests a lot
of time in the player development aspect of the program, and when the time
comes for ja to be drafted he’ll be the third point guard since 2012 to be
drafted into the NBA in the top 35 and there are only two
schools in the country that can stay that, Murray State and the
University of Kentucky, so, we just haven about fortunate to
get great players like ja more act and
when he gets to Murray State he’s been getting better,
because he’s about the right things.
Q. Q. For those people who haven’t
seen it, what makes ja such a great
player? COACH MATT MCMAHON: He’s a
bination of a lot of great things number one athletically
and from an explosiveness standpoint, he is elite. And
then on the basketball side of things, phenomenal,
understanding and “I” iq for the game. He’s got great court
vision. He sees things develop before
anyone else on the floor and then the intangible type things you
combine with those traits such as his
unselfishness, his competitiveness. His drive to
win. You combine all of those things into one and you get this
once in a lifetime player and that’s what he is.
THE MODERATOR: Coach, is he the national player of the year?
COACH MATT MCMAHON: I don’t get caught up in all of that. I think it’s a great honor that
thethe year? COACH MATT MCMAHON: I don’t get
caught up in all of that. I think it’s a great honor that
the past couple of days he’s been named one of the four finalists for the
Oscar Robinson national player of the
year and Naismith player of the year he’s certainly well
deserving. He’s had an historic season. I looked the other day
there’s 16 players with four points and ten assists this
year. 16 in the country did it at one time. That’s what he
averaged this season. He’s had a marm Cal year and very deserving
of all of the awards that come his way. .
Q. Coach, of all of the different
statistic ticks in this game going into it, both teams really
rebound the basketball differently but exceptionally
well. How do you guys plan on
attacking the glass know he they have such a rebounding margin as
you guys do? COACH MATT MCMAHON: I think
it’s hard to just lock in on one stat and say that’s going to
determine the game. I think for us, we know we’ll have to play a
complete game. There’s a reason Marquette’s been a top 15 team
all season long, because they’re very good in all Arias. I think
their offense gets a lot of the attention, but if you go through
the defensive efficiency numbers, they’re very, very good
there. So we’ll have to play a complaint game at both ends of
the floor. Q.
Q. Coach, for the first time in 20 years, Murray State’s been to the snit
NCAA Tournament back-to-back years. What do you credit that beyond
having good players that enabled Murray State to rise to the top
in the hoist valley. COACH MATT MCMAHON: It’s a
great accomplishment for our team and our program especially
do something ha hasn’t happened in to years in our league but we
haven’t talked about it one time after cutting down the
Nets after beating Belmont Saturday. I think it starts with the
players you recruit not just ability and talent but what
they’re about. We brought in ja more ant, Shaq Buchanan, Anthony Smith, Devin
brown. Those guys are winnersers not
only on the court but off. It created a culture in our
locker room of sun elfishness. Toughness relentless to win. Ja, Shaq, they take pride
they’re 53-10 in two seasons at Murray State that they have two back-to-back
championships and two back-to-back ovc
championships and two back-to-back appearance in the
big dense lanes. Obviously I have three great
assistant coaches. Tim change Stacy long. Have done a incredible job.
building the rupture of our locker room. I can go down the
line. They’ve been fact. Q. FastScripts Transcript by ASAP
Sports Obviously I have three great
assistant coaches. Shane Nichols, Tim Kaine, Casey Long,
have done a incredible job of recruiting, player development,
game preparation, recruiting, building the culture of our
locker room. I can go down the line. They’ve been fantastic. FastScripts Transcript by ASAP
Sports . Q.
Q. Q. Trent, you guys don’t play
Vermont or many America east teams. What do you know about
them, what are you expecting tomorrow?
TRENT FORREST: They kind of played different from what we
used to. They kind of just play a slower
type of pace. I mean, they have the lay-up kid
who is pretty good. They play a lot of ball through him. You
know, we just have to stop him and try to pick up their pace a
little bit to what we like to play at.
Q. Q. My question is for Terrance. You’re a low mass kid what does
it mean to come back to New England to play in the NCAA
Tournament? TERANCE MANN: It definitely mes
a lot for me. Because of last year, I get to come back and
play in front of presents and family. So it’s a good feeling.
Q. Terrance, kind of going off that last question you prepped
at then school. What can you say about how playing at Tilton
helped develop you and the type of competition you played in the
prep league? TERANCE MANN: It helped develop
me a lot. I played a lot of competition in
the any sack. A lot of d1 players. Night in, night out. It definitely helped out a lot
prepping me for my Knicks year. Q. Q. Phil, coming out of the A KRFRNT
CCC tournament, you guys were in some pretty crazy games there. I
mean, touch does having that just so recently under your belt
help you against a theme that you’re very unfamiliar with?
>> PHIL COFER: I Ty basically those
three games were dog fights. We are putting that in the past. Looking forward to the next
imgame. I think what we did is look
learn from our mistakes and going 0 on.
Q. You guys had a great run last year in the NCAAs. I’m wondering
what you take from a run like that that you can bring to
the next tournament?
TERANCE MANN: I think definitely we learned a lot from last year.
You know, we learned how to take it one game at a time and not worry
about future games ahead. I think last year we did a good
job of that, we stuck to every game. It was kind of wimps last
year. We did a good job taking one game at a time. I think
we’ll wear that over this year. Especially since we got a lot of
returners on the team from last year’s run. TERANCE MANN: Yeah, what Terance
said taking it one game at a time. I feel the whole
experience last year it happied Tuss throughout the season with
winning games. That’s going to help us be even better in this
year’s tournament. PHIL COFER: The main thing is
not looking in the few future and
looking at what is ahead. That’s what made us have a good run,
looking what team we have and mainly focusing on them.
That’s really helped us have a run last year.
Q. made us have a good run, looking
at what team we had and just mainly just focusing on them.
That’s really helped us have a run last year. FastScripts Transcript by ASAP
Sports FastScripts Transcript by ASAP
Sports what really helped us have a run
last year. FastScripts Transcript by ASAP
Sports . COACH LEONARD HAMILTON: Our team has kind of been on a
journey from the beginning of the year, we’ve had an awful lot
of adjustments that we’ve had to make. We start the season off
with our lead returning scorer, Phil Cofer. Dealing with a stress fracture,
which I thought really challenged our players somewhat to make adjustments to
our rotation, guys had to accept
different roles. Once we got into the season, we started off
1-4. That was another challenge that I thought that was unexpected, but
it was challenging, and I thought through those challenges
that we’ve had to overcome, our team has grown stronger, they’ve
become a more of a unit, trying to adjust to the different
challenges that we had, and I think that we hit a point there
during the season where I thought we were grow egg in
confidence, togetherness and unity thatthey’ve become a more
of a unit, trying to adjust to the different challenges that we
had, and I think that we hit a point there during the season
where I thought we were grow egg in confidence, togetherness and
unity that allowed us to sometimes win close games,
overcome deficits in games, and I think we’ve grown to — to be a team that
played with a lot of confidence. The best thing about our team, I
still feel that we have not played our best basketball, and
I think that as we can — I’m hopeful, that once we get that the NCAA Tournament, we can
strive similar to where we were last year and hopefully that would give us the
come PEthat we have not played our best basketball, and I think
that as we can — I’m hopeful, that once we get that the NCAA
Tournament, we can strive similar to where we were last
year and hopefully that would give us the come confidential to be extremely
successful in the tournamentstill feel that we
have not played our best basketball, and I think that as
we can — I’m hopeful, that once we get that the NCAA Tournament,
we can strive similar to where we were last year and hopefully
that would give us the come confidential to be extremely
successful in the tournament. .
Q. Coach, it’s been a little white, you but you have some
familiarity around here. You coached in the building,
coached against UConn, any favorite
memories? Nice to be back a little bit?
COACH LEONARD HAMILTON: I can remember Ray Allen hitting six
threes from the deep left corner in transition, and I got
introduced to the league. I thought we were playing really,
really well. And each time we would score,
Ray Allen would streak down the left side of the court and
seemed like they throw the ball from out of bounds and he hit a
three. I looked at my assistant coach and said, you didn’t tell
me that was part of the challenge that we had to
overcome, but no, we enjoyed — the people in Connecticut really
are babble fans, extremely knowledgeable, very supportive
of the local teams. We always — you always knew when you came to
Connecticut you’re going to be in a tremendous atmosphere. I belonged baying down as
Gamble. We got invited to Gamble once. We got a little more
competitive. UConn would always bring the teams they knew they
were going to beat easily to Hartford and once we got more
competitive. It was a compliment that we had an opportunity to play on campus .
THE MODERATOR: Coach, give us a brief scout on Vermont, what you
know so far. COACH LEONARD HAMILTON: I’ve
watched Vermont play in this — I’m extremely impressed with how
well they execute. They seem to always be in control. They play to their strengths,
they have great spacing, they move the
ball well, they shoot the ball well from perimeter. They have a go-to guy that they
keep the ball in his hands as much as possible. One of the — I know e-Lamb, one
of the radio announcers interviewed me and asked me what
we thought would be the keys to the game.
And as I look at them, I think they execute very well. I think
the team gets that’s go egg to be successful is the team that
is playing up to who they are. We have a system offensively and
defensively. They have a system offensively and
defensively. The team that’s going to be successful is the
team who executes who they are the best. I think both teams are
extremely compete AV and successle if if you look back
over the years, Vermont has a risk tradition. They are opposite from Florida,
they are at the top of the USA, and
weer at the bottom, so we probably don’t
know that much about each other. But I have a tremendous amount
of respect for the tradition that they have been
establishing. I’m not surprised at all a. They have been one of
the inwithingest programs in college basketball that nobody
knows a whole lot about. But we have respect for them in
the tournament. Hopefully our playersers response will be a
direct reflection of how much respect we have for their
program. Q.
Q. What do you think this game, especially up in Hartford means to Terance
Mman Mann? He’s a New England kid and gets to come home for a
few games? COACH LEONARD HAMILTON: I think
philosophically, this means a lot to him being in an area where people are familiar with
you. Once they throw the ball up, Terance won’t be thinking
about anything other than competing. He’s extremely
competitive. He has high basketball IQ, he’s a team
player. He’s a leader of our team in the
locker room, on the basketball court. I think it will mean an awful
lot to him to have an opportunity to go and play in
advance. I think that’s what he’s going to be talking about.
He has the ability — he’s a matured guy. He won’t allow
himself to be diskitty trayed. I’m sure he’ll have a few more
people can issing him forric it et cetera. Other than that, he’ll be old
Terance and that’s who we continue to
love .
Q. Q. There’s been a lot of
comparisons with the A “C” C this year with the old big east,
three number one seeds and all of that. Can you compare what
it’s like to have leagues that strong and how did that prepare
you guys? How does it prepare a team for this tournament to be
from a league that’s that strong?
COACH LEONARD HAMILTON: Well, there’s no doubt that the
competitiveness of our league is extremely challenging. Every night out in the ACC, if
you’re not at your best, you can have the — you can have
something bad can happen. If you’re on the road, they can
give you a hat and show you the door real quick. This is a
league that it doesn’t seem to matter whether you’re ranked
number one or Hu you hit 15. You’re in
a competitive game. You have to end up respecting
the game name on the front of your jersey
and not let you worry about who you’re playing. If you allow
yourself to be affected by the name on your opponents jersey
you have too many highs and lows,
you have to be representing who you are. You have to be in that
frame of mind. It doesn’t matter who you’re
playing. You turn the TFRJTS VFRJTS on and you’re number one
ranked team in the league. It’s a three, four point game. 70
percent of all of the games in the ACC are decided by four
points are less. That means this league is competitive. I think
once we get into a tournament like this, because of the
competitive nature of our league and the
challenges we’ve had all year long, I think we’ll be well
prepared. s it all down the floor as fast
as any team down the ball. He really tees that. And
half court he’s terrific on ball screen so our ball screen
defense will be tested, not only turn the corner and score and
hives ability to turn all screens and set other people out
for good shots. Outstanding team, certainly he’s incredible
talent. It’s going to be a huge talent
for us. Q. Q. WFRJTS ojo, Ken Davis from
the associated press. I’m most curious about your
reaction Sunday when you saw the match-up and I’m sure as a
coach, your thought goes to, you know it’s going to be a lot of
emphasis on that individual match-up between Markus and Ja.
As a coach, does that bother you to think about all of the focus
being on them, you know, in the media, or
do you just roll with it? COACH STEVE WOJCIECHOWSKI: You
know, we can’t really control what the media’s focus is, and so, we try not to
worry too much about things that we can’t control, the things
that we knew that we were in control of was our
preparation for an outstanding Murray State team, and, you
know, I think a lot of people won’t want to make this a
one-on-one dual, but, from our perspective,
this is Marquette versus Murray State.
Q. I was wondering if, drawing on your experience both as a
coach and before that, there’s this whole thing
where of course you want to win every game, especially you want
to win your conference tournament, but a
loss in a conference tournament could be used towards like kind
of waking your team up and being like, you know, that’s
the last loss you guys can take before the season’s over and I’m
wondering how you’ve, you know, kind of lead your team on that
thinking over the past week. COACH STEVE WOJCIECHOWSKI:
Yeah, well, first of all, we never want to lose. You know, so I — I’m not like a
firm believer you have to lose to be motivated. I don’t think a loss should
cause you to be more motivated. So, we haven’t really talked a
great deal about what happened in the
Big East tournament in preparation for the NCAA
Tournament. However those experiences go into what our
guys have now as we start this new season. We have a lot of
reference points, mostly from things that have gone really
well, and then we have some reference points where things
didn’t turn out the way we hoped, so, we use all of those
as we’re at this point now . ZBLE
Q. I know it’s a team assignment
but Sacar is probably going to be the
defender on Ja, what makes him a good player
his feet, instincts. COACH STEVE WOJCIECHOWSKI:
Number one, he wants to. Sacar takes pride in trying to be a
stopper and trying to play outstanding defense and he
combines that mind set with really good focus, because, you know, in order to be a really
good defender, you have to have great focus and concentration
throughout possessions, especially when you’re assigned
to the other team’s best player which he often is. So, he’s got
the right mind set and want to, he’s got great focus and he’s a
really good athlete. He can get low in the stance, he
can move his feet and the combination of those three
things is the reason why he’s I think one of the better
defenders. Q.
Q. Do you think playing against all of those, you know, those
great guards in the Big East, Shamorie, Myles
Poul, Phil booth, do you think that’s prepared Sacar for this
matchup? COACH STEVE WOJCIECHOWSKI: I
certainly hope so. Obviously Ja is the guy that people are
saying is going to go in the top two or three in the NBA draft but Sacar
on our team has had the challenge of playing really good
and great college guards. Hopefully we can use that
experience to our advantage. Although Ja may be a different
type of guy.
Q. Q. Coach, I know you weren’t
coach of Marquette in the old Big East days, but is it cool do you have you
Villanova, and Leonard Harrington in the Big East
experience. Is it cool for your experience
here in the former Big East building?
COACH STEVE WOJCIECHOWSKI: Yeah. It’s cool. I haven’t
really thought about it that way. Certainly I’m happy for all
of the current Big East teams in the NCAA Tournament who earned that
honor, and know coach Hamilton from not only his days of being the Big East coach
but ACC and have a lot of respect for him and his program. A lot of focus has been on
Marquette and Murray State, and trying to stay in those two
lanes. Q. Q. Murray State’s got a couple
long-armed defensive guys. Shaq Buchanan. Turnover has been an
issue for you guy this year. What are you telling your guys
to prepare for that defensive attack?
COACH STEVE WOJCIECHOWSKI: You know, I think we’ve seen, and
Murray State can really pressure the ball.s ayou mentioned they
have a lot of, especially on the perimeter, very active
defenders, and they can turn you over. Buchanan’s a heck of a defensive
player. “J” a Morant gets his hands on a
lot of balls, a lot of deflections. We have to be
strong with the ball. We have to keep it simple offensively and
be as fundamentally sound as we can possibly be. Because if you
turn it over against them, you’re probably going to
end up on “Sportscenter”.” Q. Q. Woj, when you have an
outstanding player like Markus, and they
have Ja, an all American player who can dominate the game, is it
a different coaching challenge for you right from the beginning
of the year to get your kids to adjust to that, and then not
sometimes not maybe be tempted to just kind of stand around and
watch and rely on them so much? COACH STEVE WOJCIECHOWSKI:
Yeah. You know, I think the strength
of our team this year has been our team and certainly Markus has had an
incredible year with incredibly high scoring output. But it’s a
function of team play. And, you know, I think our guys
are wildly supportive of Markus, and
Markus is supportive of the other guys,
so, you know, we — we — our offense runs best when we don’t
turn it over and we got to really take care of the ball. FastScripts Transcript by ASAP
Sports

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