March 18, 2009



KEVIN KLINTWORTH: We're now in the interview room with Oklahoma
student athletes, Blake and Taylor Griffin.

 Q. This is for both of you. What's this week been like. You've been
off about a week now since you {lost} the Big 12 championship. How
have practices gone for you, and have you worked more on yourselves or
with Morgan State and your opponent is going to present?

 TAYLOR GRIFFIN: You know, I think we've had some really good
practices this week. I think we have worked more on ourselves, just
making sure that we get back to playing Sooner basketball, playing how
we were playing earlier in the season, what made us successful, just
really concentrating on competing and playing hard every possession.

 You know, obviously we looked at Morgan State after Sunday, and, you
know, we've put in a lot to defend them and how we're going to play
them, but I think mostly, you know, we're working on making sure that
we're ready to play and that we're ready to play our game.

 BLAKE GRIFFIN: Like he said, we took a day off or two in there, and
really when we came out for that first practice, we really
concentrated on getting after it and, you know, trying to get back
into the flow of things and really making practices competitive Like
he said, also, after Sunday, we watched a little bit on Morgan State,
and we decided to do some things to prepare for them as well.

 Q. After the Big 12 game, coach mentioned several times that this
team needed to regroup. Do you feel you have regrouped as much as you
can up to this point and what did you mean by regrouping when you guys
were at practice?

 TAYLOR GRIFFIN: You know, I think kind of like I said earlier, just
getting back to playing the way that made us successful early on,
playing together, you know. We've had a few games where we've kind of
been a little bit out of sync with each other. I think we really
concentrate on getting back to that and relying on each other,
trusting each other, which, you know, I think we've made a lot of
progress over the past week and, you know, at this point in the
season, you know, that's what it comes down to, and I think that, you
know, we're on our way to having a pretty successful tournament. I
like the way our guys are playing together right now. I like how we're
relating to each other and how we're interacting with each other on
the court.

 Q. Blake?

 BLAKE GRIFFIN: I mean the same thing, really. We just needed to get
back to playing how we were in the beginning of the season and early
in the conference games. I think we've done a good job. I don't feel
-- throughout the year we haven't had problems like guys being mad at
each other or anything like that. We haven't had problems like that. I
think it's more about just really getting back to everybody playing
the way they were and everybody understanding what they need to do,
and I feel like we've done that this week. And, like he said, I've
been really happy with how we've practiced and how we've competed and
all that.

 Q. Taylor, you've been on a couple of teams that made the NCAA
Tournament, pretty good teams but not great teams. At times this year
you guys had been a great team. Can you talk about how special it is
to have a group of guys this good, this talented, and how you need to
take advantage of it when you've got that opportunity?

 TAYLOR GRIFFIN: Yeah. I mean, I've known how talented this group was
going to be since last summer when we started playing pickup ball
together, and I knew this was going to be a special team. I knew we
had a chance to make a long run in the tournament and, you know, that
time is upon us and, you know, it's been a blast playing this season
and having the success we've had, but, you know, none of that really
matters if you go out and lose your first game here.

 You know, I think everybody is really aware, from seniors to
freshmen, is really aware of how big this is and what a big
opportunity this is and that, you know, we got to take advantage of

 Q. I got two questions. One, you said get back to Sooner basketball.
What is Sooner basketball and then I'll ask my second one.

 TAYLOR GRIFFIN: You know, I think this year we kind of created a
little bit of an identity for ourselves, just playing, you know -- I
thought a lot of times this season we played really well on defense,
we played really well offensively, and just kind of clicking with each
other, playing off each other, playing to people's strengths, guys
knowing their role, just playing hard, and, you know, that's
ultimately that's what's made us successful. That's where we had our
most success. That's the way we were playing when we went on our two
biggest winning streaks. That's what it's going to take for us to be
successful in this tournament.

 Q. Did Blake's injury just kind of throw you off kilter and just a
matter of putting the pieces back to be playing the way you were
before he got hurt?

 TAYLOR GRIFFIN: A little bit. I think it started a little bit before
he got hurt. Obviously when you take the best player in the nation off
of any team, it's not going to be the same team, but, you know, I
think we're kind of -- starting a little bit before that happened.
That kind of added to it, but, you know, we're all healthy and back
together now. We've had some time to prepare and, you know, I think
we're ready.

 Q. Blake, less than a month ago, you guys were one away from being
ranked No. 1 in the nation. Now it's hard to find a prognosticator out
there that thinks you guys will get to the Final Four. Have you guys
played the disrespect card?

 BLAKE GRIFFIN: I was watching ESPN today. Samuel Jackson picked us
in the championship game. That gave us a lot of confidence. So many
people pick their Final Fours, and sometimes people are right and
sometimes people are wrong. We're not worried about what other people
think. Right now we need to be worried or concentrate on ourselves.
Only we can control our destiny. You can come out and play a really
good team, they can play well, and we can play better and we can win.
We're not worried so much about what other people are thinking. We're
worried about who we're playing at the time and how we're controlling

 Q. For both you guys, you listen to some people they say the sky is
falling around you guys and everything is over.

 What keeps you confident? Why do you believe this team will make the
run that you're talking about?

 TAYLOR GRIFFIN: I mean, we know better than anybody what this team
can do. I mean, you know, everybody outside the program can talk,
{you} {know}, as much as they want, but in the end everybody, coaches,
staff, players, we know exactly what we can do.

I'm extremely confident in each one of my teammates and our team as a
whole, our coaching staff. I think that if we're playing at a high
level or our highest level, that we can be the best team in the
country. Just knowing that is enough for me, and, you know, I think I
speak for the rest of the team as well.

 BLAKE GRIFFIN: I think just the confidence I have in my teammates
and our team is really the reason why I feel so strongly about that. I
feel like we have great players at every position. You know, lot of
people talk about how we don't play a lot of bench, lot of our bench
guys. You know, that might be a weakness to some people.

 That might seem like we don't have enough to get there. But, like I
said, I have confidence in my teammates. I have confidence in my
coaches and our coaches and everything. So I feel, like he said, if we
play at a high level, we take care of what we need to take care of.
We'll be alright.

 KEVIN KLINTWORTH: Any more questions? Anybody else for the student
athletes? One more.

 Q. Blake, in the Big 12 you played teams four and five times in the
last two years and they schemed all these new things to try to stop
you. Are you kind of excited to see some new blood in teams who
haven't seen you before in?

 BLAKE GRIFFIN: I'm always excited to see a different team. You know,
I think as a whole team, we're excited to play outside of our
conference. So, I mean, we're definitely excited to go up against
Morgan State and see what we can do.

 KEVIN KLINTWORTH: Everybody okay with OU? One more question.

 Q. You guys do a bracket? Taylor?


 Q. You don't have one out there, middle name on it or something, no
one knowing who you are?

 TAYLOR GRIFFIN: Try to stay away from it.

 Q. Blake, you mentioned something about people talk about your bench
may not be strong enough. Any chance you were talking about the
Presidential analysis?

 BLAKE GRIFFIN: No, not at all. I was referring to other people, I
guess. I don't know. I didn't I don't want to question what he's doing
right now.

 Q. You guys have played in this building before, you're in the Big
12 Tournament here last year. I mean, any familiarity, any comfort
knowing that you've been here before?

 TAYLOR GRIFFIN: I guess. I mean a gym is a gym. I really like this
place. It's a really, really nice place. You know, I guess it is nice
to not have {any} surprises when you walk in the door. But yeah, I
mean, it's a nice facility. We're excited about playing on this big

 Q. Taylor, how hard did you guys work in practice to get Blake more
touches? Nine shots against Oklahoma State. Is it just a matter of you
guys got to shoot better or anything you can do to get him more

 TAYLOR GRIFFIN: You know, I think just having the confidence to put
-- to place the ball in there. You know, we've seen everything from
pretty much any kind of defense you can imagine, being thrown at us to
guard him this year, and, you know, I think we just have to be
confident enough to, you know, know that we can get that ball in there
and confident enough in our passing to get it in there, and, you know,
we know when that happens, he's going the make good decisions, he's
going to get other guys open, and, you know, then it's just up to us
to make shots and capitalize off of that.

 KEVIN KLINTWORTH: Thank you, guys.

 We're joined now by University of Oklahoma Coach, Jeff Capel.

 Coach, if you could give us a few opening statements, and we'll open
it up for questions.

 COACH JEFF CAPEL: We're excited to be here in Kansas City. Excited
to be a part of the greatest sporting event I think in all of
athletics, the NCAA Tournament.

 We're excited to play. We're anxious to play. We haven't played in a
while. Been practicing, had some good practices, some spirited
practices, and we're anxious to get going.


 Q. Jeff, this week, did you work more on Xs and Os or the mental

 COACH JEFF CAPEL: Both. Probably an equal amount of both of those
things. We obviously started preparing for Morgan State, have a lot of
respect for that team, but we spent a good part of it working on us,
trying to get better, trying to improve, you know, all those areas.

 Q. Jeff, a noted basketball fan, Barack Obama, said today you don't
play enough guys. Would you like to comment on American economic
policy? (Laughter)

COACH JEFF CAPEL: I was hearing that all year, back in Oklahoma, that
we didn't play enough guys. So, we're trying to win. So I'll let
President Obama stick to running the country, and I'll try to {coach}
my team to the best of my ability.

 Q. Coach, you lost I think four of your last six, is it? I know
there were some injuries factored in there. Are you worried about a
dip in confidence as you come into the tournament?

 COACH JEFF CAPEL: Not really. If you've been around our guys, you
know, there's not a lack of confidence there. You know, our season was
interrupted a little bit. We were playing really, really well, and
with that game at Texas, our best player gets hurt in the first half,
and, you know, it's a really significant blow because everything we do
revolves around Blake, both offensively and defensively, and we didn't
have a lot of time to prepare, especially for that game for the second
half, but even for the next game against Kansas and so that happened
during arguably the toughest stretch our season.

 We lose to Kansas after a valiant fight. We go down to Texas Tech
and we win. I think what happened, in my personal opinion, is after we
beat Texas Tech, the first game Blake was back, I think some of our
guys thought that, well, Blake is back and everything is fine, when in
reality it wasn't because we weren't playing well, and we go to
Missouri and we didn't play well and they beat us.

 Then we finish out against Oklahoma State at home and we win and
come to the conference tournament and we didn't play well, and they
made us not play well, Oklahoma State did, and we didn't deserve to
win that game. It was during a tough stretch when all these things
were happening. We've had some injuries that we haven't publicized,
just where our practices are disjointed.

 This past Sunday before the selection show, we practiced. The first
time in a month we've had everybody in practice. I'm talking about not
just guys that don't play for us, guys that played significant
minutes, we've had them in practice.

 So all of those things I think factored into us not playing well, on
top of we were playing against some good teams.

 Q. Jeff, some people say the sky is falling around you guys with
four losses in six games. You still seem confident. What is it about
this team that makes you believe that you're ready to make a run {in}
this tournament?

 COACH JEFF CAPEL: I believe in my team, and we don't get into
listening to what other people say. I think I know my team. I
certainly know what's going on within our program. So I don't have to
listen to anyone else or hear what someone speculates or what sources
close to the program say. I'm there everyday, so I know what's going
on. And you just have to get back to the drawing board, and you have
to get back to practicing harder and trying to figure out some
different things, and I think we're on the right track of doing that.

 Q. Coach, those injuries, can you talk about them now?

 COACH JEFF CAPEL: I mean, it's no point. They're fine now. We're
good now. So, again, we've had all the guys in practice this week.
We've had some good practices, good preparation, and I look forward to
us playing well tomorrow.

 Q. I'm sorry. I also wanted to ask you about something. You said on
the Big 12 Conference {call} other day, we were talking about
impressions of this part of the country, especially if you're from
back in ACC territory.

 When you were thinking of Oklahoma, back when were you back in the
East, did you think of Oklahoma as a football school, and after that,
is it -- I'm trying to do something on football schools versus
basketball schools and how you can have winning programs at both. Does
Oklahoma prove you can have winning programs at the highest -- play at
the height highest level in both major sports?

 COACH JEFF CAPEL: Everyone thinks of Oklahoma as a football school.
As many times as you've won at many championships and everything,
that's what everybody sees. How would you look at Florida? They one
back-to-back championships a couple years ago. Couple of years ago the
National Championship game was Florida and Ohio State. What would you
think of those two schools?

 So it can be done. It has been done and has been done at the
University of Oklahoma for years. If you look at the rich tradition of
our basketball program, it's been very, very good.

 I can honestly say that until I took this job, I didn't know of the
complete history. I knew of some of the teams and I knew some of the
players, but I didn't know the basketball program has been as good as
it has been through continuous years. And so it can be, but there has
to be a commitment to each sport, and it has to be a commitment to
both necessary.

 University of Oklahoma has been very fortunate that they've had some
really good players and they've had good leadership from president,
AD, to some of the coaches that have been there, and I think that's
why both programs have been very, very successful.

Q. Coach, you have the best player in the country, may have the best
freshman in the country. You're a 2 seed. Not a lot of people are
picking you to go to the Final Four. Have you played the disrespect
card at all to your team?

 COACH JEFF CAPEL: Not really. I mean, that's -- again, I didn't know
that. I've been in my bubble. I don't know what people are saying
right now since we got beat last Thursday. I didn't really want to
hear what people had to say after we lost last -- yeah, it was
Thursday. I've been trying to focus on my team. Not really.

 Q. Having said all that, a month ago you were 25-1. Are you as
confident now?

 COACH JEFF CAPEL: I am. Our team is. You may not be and other people
may not be, that's fine. That's -- you guys are going to write what
you think or say what you think. That's fine. People didn't think back
in December that we would be good. There was talk about our guards
weren't good enough back then, and then all of a sudden, we started
playing well {and} we were on the cusp of being number one in the
country until our season was interrupted. We're fine and will be fine.

 Q. How much do you try to coach your players the way you kind of
tried to play when you were at Duke? I remember your freshman year,
the regional final you were trapped in the corner against Purdue and
threw a behind-the-back pass for a basket. How much do you try to let
players just play?

 COACH JEFF CAPEL: Well, I think it's important, but, you know, I
think you have to try to teach them how to play on a team concept or
the concept of what you're trying to do, of what you want to get

 I don't believe in putting guys in a bubble and kind much cutting
them off. It's almost like if you have, you know, some seeds and great
soil for a flower but you put it in a jar and you put the top on it.
You know, you're not giving it a chance to grow and see what it can

 That's the way I feel about -- that's my coaching philosophy. It's
different now because I think these kids today are more sensitive, a
lot more sensitive than they were back in my day. I don't know if any
of these guys could play for the guy that I played for, but, you know,
it is important to have freedom of expression and allow these guys to
be able to make plays.

 One of the things I try to tell them, if you're going be a
basketball player, you're going to have to be allowed to make
mistakes. You're allowed to miss. We don't want to miss too much, but
I don't want guys being afraid, playing afraid to make mistakes.

 Q. Jeff, you both played and coached teams that were top notch, top
elite teams, and you've had some teams that were a little bit lower
than that caliber-wise. Can you talk about how important it is when
you do have a really big time team, talent, success, all that, how
important it is to take advantage of the opportunity?

 COACH JEFF CAPEL: It's very important because these opportunities
don't come around that often. I remember after my freshman year, we
lost the national championship, and I remember being up here on the
stand doing the media stuff afterwards and in the locker room, and I
remember thinking, you know, hey, man, we'll get back here at least
once, twice, during {my} career.

 I'll have another chance to win it. We never got close. The furthest
we got during my last three years was the second round.

 You certainly don't want to take it for granted, and you have to be
able to hopefully lay everything out there on the line. You don't want
to look back, and as a player, this is something I have talked to our
players about. You don't want to look back, you know, a year from now,
five years from now, ten years from now and think about what could
have been.

 My brother talks about his junior year at North Carolina. They were
the No. 1 team in the country. They had won 18 games straight. They
had just beaten Maryland, and then there was some friction on their
team and things just kind of turned. And he says now that that still
something that haunts him that he regrets to this day.

 So if you care about something, you certainly want to take advantage
of it and you don't want to live with any regrets.

 Q. Coach, now that you've studied Morgan State, what concerns you
about them and specifically "Itchy"?

 COACH JEFF CAPEL: I think they have good guards that can really
score, that can go off the bounce. They're tough. They have a lot of
kids from Baltimore, and those kids there, they're different. They're
very, very tough. They've played a very tough non-conference schedule.
It's a team that won at Maryland. It's a team that won at DePaul, a
Big East team. It's a team that went to the University of Washington
and played well there.

 So as a 15 seed and those kids from Morgan State, it's their first
time in the tournament, but we won't be in awe of the moment. They
play really, really hard. I think they're very fundamentally sound on
both ends of the floor. They don't turn it over {ever}, and
defensively they do a good job of containment and helping each other.

 So it's -- and they're confident and they're good. You know, they've
done something really special throughout the season.

 When you get to this part, when you get to this tournament, you're
usually facing someone that's done something special, whether it's a
whole body of work throughout the year or they've gotten hot towards
the end, and certainly Morgan State I think encompasses both of those.

 They're well coached, and we know they'll be ready to go. And so
will we.

 KEVIN KLINTWORTH: Anything else for --

Q. Coach, I don't want you to give me exact stats, but in your
opinion, to be successful in this tournament, how many times do you
think Blake Griffin has to take a shot or two?

 COACH JEFF CAPEL: Has to get the ball a lot. The ball -- our offense
goes through him. He has to get the ball a lot. But it's different
ways to get the ball. You know, he can get from it offensive rebound,
get it from running the floor. You know, we anticipate them double
teaming. That's what everyone has done to us this year except for two
teams, and, you know, with that, you know, he has to figure out and we
have to figure out different ways to be able to get him the ball with

 Our last game against Oklahoma State, I know a lot was made of him
only getting 9 shots. He went to the line a lot, still had five
turnovers, and so he got {touches}, but also they didn't -- they
didn't guard some of our guards. They fronted them, they played them
differently. They fronted them, and they didn't guard some of our
guys. So it's going to be important for those guys to step up and make
shots as well. But he has to have his fingerprint on everything we do,
not just on offense, on defense, too.

 Q. You mentioned your guys are in pretty good shape healthwise. Give
us about Austin Johnson, because he seems to be a guy that's missed
some practice time.

 COACH JEFF CAPEL: He's practiced every day this week and he's been
pretty good.

 Q. Jeff, one of the things that's been said since last Thursday that
you might not have heard is that Seth Davis asked one Big 12 coach
what's wrong with Oklahoma. The Big 12 coach who wasn't named said the
only thing wrong with them is they're overrated? What's your reaction
to that?

 COACH JEFF CAPEL: I have none. That's that guy's opinion. He's
entitled to it. It's fine.

 Q. Can you guess who it was?

 COACH JEFF CAPEL: Probably somebody that beat us. (Laughter).

 KEVIN KLINTWORTH: Anything else for Coach Capel?

 Thank you, Coach.

 FastScripts by ASAP Sports


KEVIN KLINTWORTH: We are being joined in the interview room by Morgan State University athletes, Jermaine "Itchy" Bolden, Rogers Barnes, Reggie Holmes and Marquise Kately.

Q. I'll ask it. Where does the name "Itchy" come from?
JERMAINE BOLDEN: Well, my mom told me the other day it came from my brother, you know, before he passed. He always wanted a family, give his nickname. He just came up with that.

Q. Say that again.
JERMAINE BOLDEN: My mom told me recently it was my brother that came up with the nickname "Itchy" from the cartoon The Simpsons and my brother gave me that.

Q. No reason, though?
JERMAINE BOLDEN: Not that I know of.

Q. For Rogers and Jermaine, how come or why does the schedule you guys played, will that give you guys confidence as far as playing Oklahoma. Lot of people say you won't be intimidated. Are you guys confident?
JERMAINE BOLDEN: Well, we won't be intimidated because we always play hard. We don't overlook anybody. We play to the best of our abilities, and our practice is so intense like the game, it just comes with the flow.
ROGERS BARNES: We're always confident no matter who we play, practice real hard, go into the game real hard. Like the coach also said, it's two baskets and a ball, let's do it.

Q. Jermaine "Itchy," what happened to your brother?
JERMAINE BOLDEN: He was killed in an argument, like I say, about a couple blocks away from our home.

Q. Recently?
JERMAINE BOLDEN: It's been a few years now.

Q. Reggie and Marquise, that are your thoughts on Blake Griffin?
REGGIE HOLMES: Personally, he's a great player.
MARQUISE KATELY: I feel he's a beast down there. He's a great rebounder and defender, and he can score with the ball. He's a good all-around player.

Q. Marquise, you and Todd were both there. Tell me how you and Todd came together?
MARQUISE KATELY: It's been a long road. I've been at Morgan State. I feel like it was the best thing for me. You know, Coach Todd Bozeman, he pretty much -- he had a vision, and I seen what he saw. So, you know, we got it done.

Q. Were you looking at other schools, or did he just sell you on that school and -- it's all the way to the other coast. So how much talking did he have to do to get you to come to the other side?
MARQUISE KATELY: I mean, you know, it was different. But I've been on the East Coast before. I stayed out there. I went to prep school at MCI. So, you know, I just knew -- I know he was a great coach, and I just believed in him, in what he was saying.

Q. I just wonder if you guys have played against some strong inside players like Griffin and how you have to defend somebody like that and keep them from dominating on the boards, also.
MARQUISE KATELY: You know, actually we have played against some pretty good low post players, but I think to help slow down Griffin, we're going to have to help side defense, keep a body on him and be physical.

Q. Marquise, Oklahoma has lost four of their last six, as I'm sure you guys are aware. Does that give you any confidence that they're not invincible?
MARQUISE KATELY: Well, you know, like my man Rogers said, we come to play the game. We really don't think -- well, how would I say it? We don't think that any team in the whole tournament -- you know, that they're not invincible, so we just go out and play.
KEVIN KLINTWORTH: More questions?

Q. This is for any of you. What do you think Coach Todd Bozeman's best attribute is, as a tactitioner, a motivator, or as a teacher?
ROGERS BARNES: He has great energy all the time. No matter what time practice is, whether it's early in the morning, late at night, he always comes in the gym with the same enthusiasm about the game. He's a great motivator.
Sometimes he feels like he has to motivate us a little bit more, and he does that, and you can tell that his energy is way up. So we got to pick our energy way up. So, I mean, that's a great attribute for him right there is energy.
MARQUISE KATELY: And also, you know, his knowledge of the game. You know, he taught me a lot, just him knowing the game and being able to get it through to us. Like, you know what I'm saying, what it takes and what we have to do to get to where we need to go.

Q. Marquise, what specifically did he teach you that maybe you didn't know before or hadn't really been fully instructed on? What did you learn from him that you didn't already have?
MARQUISE KATELY: Really, you know, a few defensive principles. Just, for example, like help side, little things like that.

Q. Reggie, can you talk a little bit about the discipline that Coach Bozeman brought in when he first got there and, you know, how tough it was and what were some of the things that he made you guys do or those kind of things, rules?
REGGIE HOLMES: He was very disciplined till this day, since I was a freshman. I'm a junior now. He's been on me since day one. My freshman year I told him I like it. It's going to make me better in the long run, and I improved every year.

Q. How did he get on you?
REGGIE HOLMES: In my face, everything. He ain't let me get away with nothing. If I missed a layup, he yelled at me in my face, body language, shot selection.

Q. Rogers, what do you think Oklahoma's weakness is that you need to exploit tomorrow?
ROGERS BARNES: We've got to go in there and play hard. We got to hang with them, no matter what they do. Don't let them -- like they get a big dunk or crowd, get into it. Got to keep playing no matter what happens. I'm not going to say there's a weakness we're going to try to exploit. We're going to try to play our game.

Q. Marquise, Coach Bozeman talked to you about the circumstances that he went through at Cal lead to him being out of the game for so long. How do you guys look back at this? Make him more human?
How do you -- how do you view the circumstances of him leaving Cal and ultimately winding up in Morgan?
MARQUISE KATELY: Really, you know, I just know he's a great man. He's a great coach, great person. He just -- you know, I just feel -- I don't really -- like I said, pretty much, he's just a great person. I don't really have nothing to say about that.

Q. Is it ever anything he talks about with y'all?
MARQUISE KATELY: I mean, you know, he let us know the situation, but, you know, for the most part, you know, we don't talk -- we don't, you know --
KEVIN KLINTWORTH: Any more questions for the Morgan State student athletes? Okay.
Thank you, guys.
Here we go with the Coach. Coach Todd Bozeman, Morgan State. Coach, if you wouldn't mind giving us just a brief opening statement, and then we'll open it up for questions.
COACH TODD BOZEMAN: First of all, I told those guys to tell you guys that my best attribute, that I was the best looking coach out here. They messed that up. So I'll be in Reggie's face after this.
No. We're obviously excited about being in the tournament. You know, I told those guys when we were on the brink of it that it's a very special time, very special event, one of the true great events in all of sports in that not every college basketball player gets a chance to participate in the NCAA Tournament and that they should really cherish the opportunity.
I want them to soak it up, to live in the moment and enjoy it. We obviously have work to do, a lot of work to do, but I really want them to enjoy it because it's something that's not guaranteed to everybody.
I played Division I basketball, but I never played in the NCAA Tournament. I've only had the experience as a coach. It's a great feeling as a coach, so I can only imagine as a player what it's like.
So we're just happy to be here and not in terms of just happy to be here, meaning we're just here, that's it. We're obviously competing and preparing ourselves to play. But it truly is a great experience. I'm really happy for the guys, happy for the Morgan State community and for Dr. Richardson for giving me the opportunity to get back into college basketball as a head coach.
And he's retiring in December of '09, and that's one of the things that when he hired me, I told him I wanted to do was get him an NCAA banner so that he can add it to his wall. He's been the president at Morgan for over 27 years and never been to an NCAA Tournament.
So it was definitely a goal of mine, and I'm really happy that we're able to fulfill that for him. What's up, Coach?

Q. Coach, when you saw the bracket come up and you saw you were coming here to Kansas City and realized that obviously they're in a different bracket but Cal is here, too, that were your thoughts?
COACH TODD BOZEMAN: Well, I can't say that I didn't raise my eyebrow. I smiled because I know that although the circumstances of me leaving Cal weren't necessarily the greatest, I know that I still have a lot of family and friends out there and, you know, we kind of call them "framily" friends that are like family.
There's probably more that think positive of me than think negative. I'm not saying there isn't any negative. I'm sure there's no more positive.
I've gotten tons of text messages today even on -- I was on Gary "Radus" show this morning and then on ESPN as well. So I got a lot of text messages from the West Coast from a lot of people. I thought I would see Monty Pool and these guys out here. So I was looking forward to that.

Q. Todd, with all that you've been through, why -- how are you a better coach now than you were when you were 35?
COACH TODD BOZEMAN: Well, I think that any coach, you know, ten years later would be a better coach. So I don't -- I just think it's a natural progression. I would say some things that probably helped me along the way was the fact I spent the time in the NBA as an advance scout.
When you're sitting on the sidelines and got to read Flip Saunders lips and Pat Riley and try to get play calls but also have the plays down and make sure you do the scouting report, then going back home to the D.C. area, you know, I wanted to make sure -- I wanted to try to get back to the community and help the basketball in that area.
So I was coaching 9 and under, 10 and under, all the way up to 16 and under. I kind of went back to the roots and was teaching basketball from the very basics and I was running my camp the whole time.
I still kept involved with the game. So, sometimes when you go back to basics, it kind of helps you a little bit and it slowed me down a little bit and it took away -- I obviously didn't have to recruit. I only had to focus on basketball.
And then, you know, guys like Larry Brown inviting me to training camp and other college coaches inviting me out to their practices and things like that, getting a chance to talk to people and probably more assuring myself that what I was doing or the direction I was going in was the right direction.
So, a lot of that, it had a lot to do with that as well.

Q. Considering the circumstances when you left Cal, when you see recruiting violations on the road, when you get -- you see somebody bending the rules, what's your reaction, and do you ever pull aside a young coach and say "Don't do anything, don't do this, this"?
COACH TODD BOZEMAN: That's a two-part question. If I see anything, that's not my business. So I don't have an opinion on it one way or the other. Just like when I left Cal and NCAA asked me to talk about things and give them information, I wouldn't do it because it's not my place.
But I have had young coaches, and I've talked to them and ask me about different things or maybe asking me in terms of how to recruit somebody or telling me a situation, and I definitely have told them it's not worth it, guys, it's not worth it.
When I was out, I said, listen, I'm not. My plan is to get back in. I have people telling me it would never happen and I wouldn't believe that, but I also told them it's not worth it for their careers and guys are involved with really big time recruits and getting down to the nitty-gritty.
I say, "Listen, whatever you do, keep it on a on the straight and narrow because it's not worth it for one player." And Roy Kramer, who used to be in the Southeastern Conference when I was walking out of the committee on infractions when the last meeting we had there, he put his arm around me and said, "Son, you know, sometimes the ones you want the most, you have to do so much for, they end up not being worth it. But the ones that you just kind of, you know, fall upon or you don't work as hard for, they end up doing more for you."

I always remembered that. He said it's just not worth it. I do share that information with a lot of young coaches for sure. I've done that a lot over the years, and since I've been back in, I even tell my own staff, guys, "Listen I work just as hard as anybody, and I feel like I'm relentless, but no player is big enough for us to break the rules for us. We're going to do it right and keep going forward."

Q. Coach, Oklahoma has lost four of their last six. From looking at film, does it seem to you like maybe they kind of got out of rhythm or got out of kilter when Blake was gone for those two games?

COACH TODD BOZEMAN: You just asked my guys that question. I heard it in the back. We're not going to give them any bulletin board material whatsoever, but maybe that was an aberration.

They're a great ball club and Blake Griffin is consensus Player of the Year. Arguably the number one pick in the draft. People have been asking me, "How do you stop him?" I've been looking for kryptonite and been in all the different stores and trying to get it. He's an outstanding athlete and player. They go to him an awful lot. The offense runs through him. His brother, Taylor, is a great player, the kid, Warren is an outstanding player as well, and they're very well coached.

People lose games. That's the reason why you play the games. You can't just win it on paper, and that's the reason why my guys also are not intimidated either.

I heard a question about have we played against post guys like that. We played against University of Washington, who has a physical front line, and I can tell you that they play extremely hard and I thought our guys did a good job against those guys. We lost by maybe 12, something like that, but five-point ballgame midway through the second half, and they have a great front line, and they won the PAC-10.

Q. Todd, you talked about Blake Griffin's status nationally and NBA prospects. Fifteen years ago you had a dominate future, superstar?


Q. You know him better than I do. But can you talk about how important it is when you do have a player like that, how much of an edge that can give a team trying to advance deep into the NCAA Tournament?

COACH TODD BOZEMAN: Well, it definitely can give you an edge, but, you know, remember that a lot of times, you know, the great players don't make it as far. You know, you can think of Tim Duncan. He never played in a Final Four. Steve Francis was All-American at Maryland and Maryland after he was there even looking at Stanford, Brevin Knight, when he left there, and sometimes that happens.

When you have a great player like that and you hit those walls sometimes in games, they can kind of pick you up and carry you. That's a tremendous asset to have, because those guys can just go and get a basket and they also garner a lot of attention. So it also can open up things for other players.

Blake Griffin, you have to really be concerned about doubling him because you allow Warren and Crocker to take rhythm shots and that causes issues. You have to really think about your game plan when you go in to plan.

Q. After y'all won the automatic bid or since then, have you had a chance the reflect on getting back after 16 years? And also when you were out of college coaching, did you have any real low point where you thought this just isn't going to happen again?

COACH TODD BOZEMAN: First of all, I never thought that I wouldn't get back in. I just never did. I always thought I would have a chance to get back in. I wasn't sure when it would happen, how old I would be. Maybe I would be a volunteer coach at 75.

I was determined to get back in, and really, a lot of it was really for my dad. I felt like I embarrassed him and really wanted to get back in while he was living. And that's my only regret to this day I wasn't able to do that.

He passed New Year's Day of 2006. I got back into college basketball March of 2006. He had said at a cookout, we talked all the time, closest person that was to me, we talked during a family reunion, cookout in September of '05. He was telling relatives that he just wanted to live long enough to see me get back into coaching. So, you know, that would answer that question.

In terms of reflecting, I'm not much of a reflector while I'm in the moment, but the one thing that I did think about when we won the championship was that I wish my dad was here to experience it, and, you know, it meant a lot to me that my brother drove down and kind of surprised me and walked up on me while we were on the court. It was a very special moment, and we hugged, and we both spoke of our dad, and I brought my mom out here to this tournament. So she's out here soaking it up. She's going to watch us practice and obviously give me tips.

I'm not much of a reflector while I'm in the moment. Even the year we beat Duke in the tournament. I didn't watch the tape for probably two years, just because you always moving on to the next thing. But I will reflect because it is a special moment and it was a long road back.
But, you know, I probably have maybe five people, you know, that told me -- agreed that I would have an opportunity to get back in. You know, definitely is a special, special moment for sure.

Q. Can you describe for us a little bit what you feel, what you were feeling the moment that the job offer was accepted and the deal was sealed?

COACH TODD BOZEMAN: Again, I thought of my dad. I'm a strong believer in prayer, and I talked to him, and I think of him every single day, sometimes four, five times a day.

Friend of mine once told me that when my dad passed, whenever you see -- his mom had passed. Whenever you see a penny laying around, think that's your dad telling you, he's walking with you and pick it up.
I pick up pennies all the time. "Hey, Pop." I do it all the time. So that was -- that would probably be the thing that -- when it first happened, that's what I thought of. And when I buried my dad, I had a particular black suit on and a shirt and tie. I wore the same shirt, tie, underwear, everything to the press conference, to the first game, and I really got emotional at the first game.

We were playing East Carolina, and I got really emotional right before the guys went on the floor. And I apologized to them I said, "Look, guys, if my dad was here, he would be right here with me. So this is a very special moment for me."

I know Ricky "Stokes" was looking at me. My eyes were red. I came immediately out on the floor. That's what I thought of when I got -- when the job was sealed and called my brother and my mom and they both screamed in the phone, and my wife and my kids, they really didn't care. They just went, "Oh, so now the phone bills, can we now get the extended text messaging and can you upgrade the cable?" That's all they cared about. But it was a good day in the Bozeman household for sure.

Q. Can you also tell us a little bit about what it was like to want to be a coach at a time when no one wanted you?

COACH TODD BOZEMAN: Well, it's probably more of feel like coaching is what I was born to do. I was listening to T.D. Jakes on the Black List, and he said that when you're doing something that you feel you're born to do, it's almost like when you do it, it's like God blew his breath through you. That's not the exact quote. I got it on my phone.

It was a tremendous quote. It just meant so much to me. But, you know, being out of coaching, I really missed being around the guys. I missed the teaching aspect of it because it's my form of communication, ministry. I reach people through coaching. I coach in my household. I can't make them run sprints, but I coach all the time, and I really missed that. I missed being on the floor.

I missed the traveling, being with the guys, being with young people, seeing them come in as boys and leave as men and like Reggie Holmes. He's been here since he was a freshman. He and Rogers Barnes have been there the longest. Just to see those guys grow as players.

They didn't have the roles they have now and they weren't as mature, {obviously} as they are now, but to see those guys. Reggie went from being -- he would shoot a 3-pointer way out or go for a layup. I kept trying to get him to get a mid range game. Now he's developed that. It's a great feeling.

I can't even explain it to you when you see that or when you see guys start saying that and repeating for example the things that you say to them, it's just a passion. I enjoy working with the players, the managers, the assistant coaches, you know, everybody, and even to this day, some of my managers from Cal are here, some of my former players are here, and we've stayed in touch, you know, over the years and everybody has stories, and they've sent me little notes throughout the time.

And when I see Michael Stewart when we would go down, when I got back in and go to Orlando and I was seeing with his kids and wife and I knew both of them at Cal. I can't even tell you how good it feels, because I remember Yogi when Yogi he had milk behind his ears. Now he's a father of two. Now he has a great life and business and has -- had a great career in the NBA.

That's what this whole thing to me is. It's about life lessons, and I use basketball as a means to teach those guys life lessons. Even to this day, I tell the guys, I use my own story and say there's consequences for your actions and so you have to really think about things before you do them, think about before you say them.
Just the fact of dealing with adversity, the fact that you might fall down but you can get back up. I mean all those different things is what encompasses to me coaching. And, so, we all have something that we feel passionate about, and that's something I feel passionate about.

That's why the guys see my energy level the same everyday. I'm so fortunate to be coaching, I can't even put it into words. I mean -- I wouldn't want to be doing anything else.

Q. Two questions, Todd. First, did you watch the NCAA Tournament all these years?
COACH TODD BOZEMAN: Yes. I'm a basketball fan. I watch Old Classic Sports Network. I watch old NBA games, international games. My wife doesn't understand it, but I do.

Q. My last question. Does part of you hope that this week helps to bury the past, or do you anticipate having to answer some of these questions as long as you're coaching?

COACH TODD BOZEMAN: First of all, it has been buried for me. I've buried it when I apologized. I meant it. That was the last time I was going to apologize for it. I wasn't going to do it again.

I actually did an interview with a guy today. He asked me about do I feel like a villan? If somebody still views me as a villan 13 years later, come on. There's a lot more things going on in the world. If that's that you're been harboring for 13 years, some issues going on. Because I've moved on from it.

People make mistakes, and the great thing about this country is that you've seen it time and time again, you know, from the Steve Jobs to the Martha Stewarts -- and I'm not comparing myself to an older white woman (laughter), but I'm saying in terms of making a mistake and being able to come back from it.

It just happens, you see it all the time, and you could have people there. Quote, unquote, they viewed Muhammad Ali when they didn't accept him into the Army. He's the most recognized sports figure in the world. I will not allow anyone else to define who I am.

If the weatherman says it's going to be an ugly, rainy day, who are you to determine that that the day is going to be ugly. That's the way I view it. Monty is saying this cat is the same, he hasn't changed.

Q. Coach , you coached at Cal, you coached at Morgan State and done some stint in the NBA. What do you consider to be your singular greatest accomplish?

COACH TODD BOZEMAN: I don't know. I'd have to say that signature win, the signature game is the win at Duke. I could say, you know, why -- I would probably say that because -- even when I was out of basketball and I would see people in the airports and I would see people -- anywhere then they would go hey, I was either Jason Kidd's coach or the guy that beat Duke, one or the other, because a lot of people -- you know, kind of Duke is such a special program.

People like kind of root against Duke all the time. I had a lot of people that always brought that up. Even the Duke fans say, "Hey, man you messed up my bracket during that time of the year."

That would probably be the most -- well, the signature one. I don't know if I could say the greatest moment, because sometimes that could come -- the game we had against USC when I first took over at Cal was a triple overtime. It was just a special moment because of the way the guys played their hearts out, you know, when we when we were on the floor. I don't know if I could just pick one.

KEVIN KLINTWORTH: Any more questions?

Q. Oddly enough, you got emotional after you won the conference title game. What was behind that, and what were you thinking about at that moment just last week?

COACH TODD BOZEMAN: It was definitely my dad. I thought of him when the clock was ticking down. I was like, I mean, could you fill the blank?. Man, dad, I wish he was here. I spoke to him and I just -- I was overcome with emotion, and I wanted to make sure I shook the coach's hands after the game.
And that's what I thought about, and it's been a long, long road. I mean, I could never even put it into words.

Some day I want to write a book, and I always said to God that if you let me get back in here, I want to be an example that for people in different ways, you know. It could be for "Don't do what I did." It could be "If you have adversity and you fall down, you can get back up." It could be in terms of perseverance, in terms of having a passion and the passion burning for so long. Because I've had coaches say to me, "I can't believe you still have the same passion that you had back then."

I can see it. My energy level was the same. I mean, only difference is I'm a few pounds heavier. I said a few pounds. I am a couple pounds heavier. That's probably the only difference and -- but all that stuff that happened, I could really say that, you know, that during that time -- I'm not saying I'm glad it happened.
I got to spend the last two years of my dad's life with him, and we played golf and we got even closer. My children got to know their grandfather, which, had I stayed on the West Coast, they would not know him, only know him through little visits and be telling him things about them.

I got closer to my children who are now teenagers. When they are young, they're all over you. You're able to deposit things in them much like your players. When they become teenagers like they are now, they don't want to have anything to do with me.

So I did my dues with them. I still fix them breakfast every morning. Leonard Hamilton told me once you're able to do some stuff that I wasn't able to do. I taught my son how to ride a bike. I can't put a price on seeing my man hit the mailbox, hit the tree, and finally go 50 yards and jump off, and "Daddy, I did it. "
Lot of times as coaches you don't get a chance to do that because you're so busy, you know, doing the next thing and doing the next thing. I cherish that time right there, and I'm really thankful that I was able to experience that, not how I got there, but just the fact that I got there.

And I mean, I couldn't even put it into words, but to answer your question directly, I know I could go on and on, that's what I thought of was my dad.

KEVIN KLINTWORTH: Thank you, Coach.

End of FastScripts