Utah-Arizona Quotes, March 19
March 19, 2009
LARRY WAHL: We've got the Utah Utes, fifth seed in the Midwest, champions of the Mountain West Conference. We've got Lawrence Borha, Shaun Green, Tyler Kepkay and Luke Nevill. We'll open it up for questions at this time.
Q. Luke, this game, so much has been written already about how whichever one of the two big men in this game has the better day, that team is going to have obviously a huge advantage. Do you look at it at all in that way, and how much pressure do you put on yourself to kind of affirm the year you've had to do it on this stage?
LUKE NEVILL: Well, we have a great bunch of guys. I have a great bunch of guys behind me. There will be games where I won't be the main offensive guy. I'll be double teamed. The ball will go outside, and we'll knock down shots. We don't need I don't need to have, you know, a stellar game offensively for us to be successful. You know, I have to defensively have a great game, but offensively we have a great bunch of shooters. We can score from a lot of different areas on the floor.
You know, offensively, I'm just going to go out there and do what I have to do to win. But it's not key for me to lead the team offensively.
Q. Lawrence, my question was you guys have kind of thrived off being the underdog; you were picked fourth in the conference. Now you're a 5 seed, and the question was how are you going to handle maybe being favored this time?
LAWRENCE BORHA: We've got to handle it the way we always handle everything. We're going to do what we do. We're going to come into this game focused, playing tough, and we're going to have our minds right, and we're going to try to get it done.
Q. Do you like it better?
LAWRENCE BORHA: I don't really pay too much attention to the underdog or whatever. But it's a game, it's a basketball game. We've got to go out there and win.
Q. Luke, how big a deal is the Tournament where you're from? Is it even shown?
LUKE NEVILL: Not that I'm aware of. You know, last time I was back in Australia before I went to college, no, we didn't see any coverage.
You'd see the highlights, but besides that, we don't see any tournament games. So it's not a huge deal over there.
But living here for five years, you know, it has become a huge deal to me, and definitely to Utah and the program. I take great pride in making the Tournament, and it's a huge accomplishment for us as seniors to be able to do that.
It wasn't a big deal before, but it's definitely a big deal now.
Q. When did you first get a grasp really on how big a deal this thing really is? And is there maybe a first significant game that sort of stands out, like the first tournament game that you watched or that jumps into your memory where you realized it's a little different level?
LUKE NEVILL: I was lucky enough to go my freshman year when I red shirted to the Sweet 16 with Utah. It was at that point where I realized how important this was on a national level. This is a great atmosphere to play, and like I said before, I take great pride in playing in this tournament, as well as my teammates. I'm sure they take great pride, as well.
This is a big time event and we're here to give a big time effort?
Q. How important is it for you to rebound, I know you're a pretty good offensive rebounding team, against guys you want to get down the floor and try to race you to 90 points and play up and down the floor the way Arizona will?
SHAUN GREEN: Rebounding has always been key for us in every game we played. We feel if we defend and rebound we can run the ball because we feel like we're a good running team and we can run with anybody in the country as long as we get stops and rebound offensively. We always like to be aggressive offensively on the glass, as well. I just think we're looking at this game the way we've looked at most other games this year playing athletic running teams if we get stops and focus on our defensive rebounds, then we should be fine and be able to run it right back at them.
Q. That's a comfortable pace for you guys?
SHAUN GREEN: We're comfortable at any pace. We've been in games where we've been close to the 90s and we've been in games in the 40s and 50s and we've won both of them. So I think we're comfortable playing at any pace.
Q. I wonder if you guys could talk about how much if at all you guys are drawing motivation from seemingly everybody picking against you in this tournament from the moment the bracket came out. Is that a big deal to you?
SHAUN GREEN: It's not like a huge deal to where we're like dwelling over it and feeling bad for ourselves. We more look at it as just motivation to just keep proving people wrong. We were picked fourth in our conference, and we ended up being tied for first. I don't think anybody picked us to win the conference tournament and we ended up winning that.
Now we're underdogs it seems like again for the NCAA Tournament, and that's fine. I mean, we've been that all year, and we're just going to keep playing the way we've been playing and just keep trying to prove people wrong.
TYLER KEPKAY: I think it's been a trend all year that we've been the underdog, so we're pretty used to it. We are just going to handle it, prepare and take care of business tomorrow.
Q. A question for any of you: You're 2,500 miles from Salt Lake City. You found out Sunday night you were coming here. It's not a cheap place to come to. Do any of you have friends or family that made this trip? And do any of you have friends or family that couldn't make this trip just because of the quick turnaround and all of the costs involved in flying to a place like this this time of year?
SHAUN GREEN: Well, me personally, both my parents are coming, and like my little brother and stuff. But I've had friends call me and say they were going to come, but then they found out where we were going and they couldn't come, but they're still going to watch and support.
I think all of us have people back home or anywhere that would have loved to make this trip and been here to support us. But it doesn't show us the lack of support. Everybody has different reasons why they can't be here, but we all know that they're going to be supporting us, watching us and still rooting for us, so I think it's fine.
LARRY WAHL: Anybody else, family here?
LUKE NEVILL: Yeah, my mom is coming on this trip, which is fantastic. She came to visit me from Australia, so it's great that she's flying out here to support me and to support the team, as well.
Just because it's kind of far away, it doesn't negate the fact that we have fans and we have supporters who would love to come up here, and some of them are coming here to support us. It doesn't show, like Shaun said, that we don't have any support. It shows that even when we're like, you know, thousands of miles away, we have the great fans and they'll support us back home.
Q. I think what I was getting at was, would you have maybe rather played
LUKE NEVILL: Would we rather play closer? It would have been great to play a closer game where we could bus up fans and kind of have a home environment, but that's not going to take away from how we perform and how we play. We still play great on the road, and we'll use that as motivation, maybe not have the fans in the stands with us, but we'll have the fans supporting us back in Salt Lake.
Q. Tyler, can you talk a little bit about the challenges. I assume you'll be covering Wise in the game, just the challenges he brings covering him defensively and going against him.
TYLER KEPKAY: He constantly puts pressure on the defense, he's always attacking. So we're just going to have to stay in front of him as best we can, and we're just going to have to rely on closing down the gaps and having people help off other people to shut him down.
Q. For any of you or all of you: This is obviously one of the more glamorous NCAA locations. Has there been any sense of distraction or difficulty staying focused on getting ready for the game when you're in a city like this with so much to do?
SHAUN GREEN: I don't think we've been distracted at all. We're definitely enjoying the experience and taking it in for what it's worth. But we definitely came down here with a job, just to get another win and win a couple games and hopefully move on, and that's the way we've looked at it. We haven't looked at it as vacation or time to just party. There's plenty of time to do that after the season, so we're definitely down here to win the game.
Q. Luke, you mentioned your mom is coming out. Is she flying from Australia, and was that always the plan? And how many times has she seen you play in the States?
LUKE NEVILL: She's not. She's in Salt Lake City and she flew in today. She came to visit me for my senior night back in Salt Lake, and she just stayed on, and she's going to stay on until the Final Four.
This is the second time she's come this season to support me, which is great. She's not flying from Australia.
Q. Is she staying at your house in Salt Lake?
LUKE NEVILL: Yeah, she's staying with friends in Salt Lake City.
Q. Maybe you could address this: Especially with BYU having lost today, do you guys feel any pressure to sort of carry the banner for the league. Is that on your minds at all?
LAWRENCE BORHA: No pressure at all. Obviously we want our league to do good in these tournaments, but we've got to worry about ourselves right now. You know, we have a tough test ahead, and we've got to prepare to win that game. So we're not worrying about anybody else but ourselves right now.
SHAUN GREEN: I think he's right. I mean, we don't really have to worry about what anybody else is doing. Our conference spoke up for how strong our conference is in the preseason and everything when we competed against teams non conference. Now it's just all about us, really. We're just out here to prove that we're a good team, we're not worried about the rest of our conference.
Q. I'll just ask Luke about your haircut. Was that an easy thing to do? How come you did it?
LUKE NEVILL: I mean, I don't know. I got a haircut. I kind of told my team that I would get a haircut when we won the conference, so it was going to happen since I was pretty confident that we were. I just went and got it done. Plus it's hotter here, humid, so it's more streamlined (laughter).
LARRY WAHL: Thank you, guys.
Coach Jim Boylen of the Utah Utes. Can you give a little run down on your season and what it's like to be here and in the tournament?
COACH JIM BOYLEN: It's great to be here. It's great to be back in this arena, to have a chance to play here. I was here a bunch of times in the pros, so it's cool to be back in Miami.
A great experience for my team. Three guys on our traveling party have been to Miami before, and I'm the fourth, so most of my team has never been here before, which I think is part of this experience, and I love that part of it.
Our season has been an amazing one. The development we've made, the schedule we've played, that's been talked about a lot. But we set to build this program on a tough schedule, and we played one this year.
You know, we get to the tournament as the fifth seed, and the beat goes on.
Just what we've accomplished, winning the league, winning the conference tournament, to have these four seniors up here, have success after going through a coaching change and going from that, learning from that and pulling together, and I think I wanted all four of these guys up here today because that's what these guys have done; they've played for each other, they've made it about each other, which from my experience that's what the game is all about.
Q. I'm sure you don't look at point spreads per se, but I happen to pick up the paper yesterday and it's a pick 'em. There's been parity in college basketball and such and you alluded to it with the schedule, playing a team that has two lottery picks, and when you see that you're a five seed.
COACH JIM BOYLEN: Well, I think we got a lottery pick, too. I think what's happened is we've done such a good job of getting a fifth seed, and I don't think the country is used to a Mountain West team being a fifth seed. So they're assuming that maybe because our conference doesn't get the exposure that other ones do, that we're not worthy of a fifth seed, and therefore when you play a team like Arizona that has tradition and a national kind of following, they assume that it's a game maybe that we should not be picked in. You know, we've been facing that stuff all year. But I think that's what's happened. All I can tell you is we'll be ready to play.
We've played good teams, we've beaten good teams, and you see from these guys up here, they understand what's going on.
Q. You may have heard me ask Luke a similar question, but of all the different variables that are going to go into tomorrow, how critical will the battle of big guys inside be? And you obviously know Luke far better than I do. Is he the sort of kid that will sort of embrace that challenge on this stage?
COACH JIM BOYLEN: He has embraced it all year. You know, he's been a marked man all year long with his talent and his ability, and he's really handled it well. You know, what I asked Luke to do this year was rebound, and he's rebounded the ball terrifically, and he's led us. I expect him to do that tomorrow, rebound the ball and lead us at both ends.
You know, he can impact the game in a lot of different ways, and obviously Hill is a terrific player and also a projected NBA player.
But Luke, he can pass the ball, he can rebound the ball, and he can score the ball. He's a rock defensively. He protects the rim for us, and I expect him to do those things.
We don't get into the individual match up, you have to do this, he has to do that. We understand what they do, and we'll be ready for what they do, and then we've got to play the game. Our whole year, our whole season is built on trust, trust in each other, caring for each other, playing for each other. And Luke said it; "If I score, great; if I don't, there's other things I can do to help us win, there's other players that can help us win."
Kepkay and Green off the bench is as big a story as anything, those guys coming off the bench and helping us win.
Q. You talked a little bit about how Miami is a novelty to much of your traveling party, and I know you like that, being able to show them a place they haven't seen or whatever, but is there any challenge there in keeping it from becoming a distraction?
COACH JIM BOYLEN: Well, that's why we came down a day early. We came down a day early, got acclimated, I got my guys up at 9:00 in the morning on Wednesday, which was really 7:00, trying to get them back on this time, and we practiced hard, then we came back. We went to Coconut Grove for lunch and walked around, which was great for my guys. Then we came back, we walked through, we had dinner, and I've kept them busy all day. I didn't want them napping all day and laying in bed all day. And I also wanted them to get that "ooh," "aah,"
factor of being in a city, being by the water. I don't know if any of you have been to Salt Lake, but the Salt Lake looks a little different than Biscayne Bay out there. I was trying to get that over with, which it's okay to do that. It's okay to go somewhere new and say, wow, this is cool, this is different. It's okay.
Then last night we also went to dinner at Marino's, and we were able to experience being out. We tried to push the information into them and have them get ready, but then we let them take a break and kind of come back and hit them, let them off, hit them, let them off. That was our philosophy in the league tournament, and that's our philosophy with everything we do.
Q. Your thoughts on Chase Budinger and what you need to kind of control him.
COACH JIM BOYLEN: Well, I think he's one of the better players we've played all year. The combination of size and shooting, ball skills. He can handle the ball in transition, he's a multiple ball handler, and he can play in the paint, too. Those are tough match ups for any team and for us, those kind of guys.
So we'll do the best we can. We'll probably guard him by committee, and we'll be ready for what he does. I think that's what's really tough about Arizona's team is they kind of have a three headed monster in those guys, and earlier I compared them to BYU. BYU had that three headed monster with Tavernari, Cummard and Fredette, and now we face another team with three big time players and then good supporting guys that help them be successful. Along with Budinger they're going to be a big challenge for us.
Q. If you look just at the seedings, you guys are supposed to win this game, but if you look at a lot of the experts you're not. Would you rather play a game where your team is the underdog, or do you like it better
COACH JIM BOYLEN: You know, it's a good question. What I try to do as a head coach is prepare my team to win, no matter who we're playing, no matter where we're playing. I've made the statement when we the first day I got the job, March 26 of '07, we'll play anybody, anytime, anywhere. My guys have been raised that way in this program, and we've done it already, and we've won in Florida before, so we'll be ready.
Q. I'm curious, you don't play until 7:00 here tomorrow. Will you bring the guys over to watch some of the noon game? Will you take them to a movie? How is tomorrow going to go for the guys?
COACH JIM BOYLEN: I'm going to discuss that with them tonight. I let my seniors and my captains make a lot of decisions and have input on decisions. So I'm going to discuss it with them tonight, see how they're feeling and see what they'd like to do. I've got some seniors that talked to me, Shaun Green maybe being the leader of the group will tell me, Coach, we need to do this, we don't need to do this.
Coach, we got it, don't worry about it. Shut up, we're sick of you talking to us. That's what I've been wanting. I want a player coach team, and I finally got one, and it's great.
Q. You talked about going and seeing some of the sights and going to dinner and kind of taking it all in, especially for your seniors who two years ago going into the tournament seemed very, very far away, is that part of the reason you kind of want them to enjoy the experiential part of it, too?
COACH JIM BOYLEN: Well, I also think I don't think you can come down here with the pressure that's on all the teams and grind your teeth for 48 hours getting ready to play. I just don't believe that. I just don't think that's the way to do it. What we're going to try to do is be fresh mentally and physically as possible when the game starts, and I think getting in early, having some time to walk around, experience the city is a big part of that.
Q. Just in the last couple of days I hear your preparations has been going well, that you actually maybe have cut back a little bit. Can you talk about the last couple days and how your team has been doing and how ready they are?
COACH JIM BOYLEN: Well, I think I'm going to go back to after the New Mexico game. We have practiced as good and as hard as we have since I've been the coach here the last 10, 12 days. The Thursday after New Mexico we practiced hard, Friday we practiced hard, we won Saturday. We practiced hard Monday and Tuesday for the league tournament, so our walk throughs during the league tournament were awesome. Guys were focused, communication was at a high level. I just felt like we were as strong a family as we could be the last 10, 12 days in practice, and that's what it has to be.
It's been that way here, too. You know, what I do and my staff, who does an unbelievable job, we force feed them as much information as we can. We give it to them in increments, and our guys have been sharp and they've been on them. I feel good about where we're at. You know, you've got to play the game. All that stuff is great, but you've got to go out, strap it on and play the game.
Q. You mentioned the pressure that's on every team here to win, but I wonder, do you feel any extra, either because BYU has lost and you're the last team representing the Mountain West or because Arizona is favored and you need to hold up your end of the five seed?
COACH JIM BOYLEN: Well, I do want to represent the league. I believe in our league. I felt we were a three bid league; that didn't happen.
But yeah, I do want to represent the league. All the coaches in the league have been very supportive, want us to do well. I'd like to represent what we have in our conference and what we've done.
As far as the seeding, I don't make a big deal about the seeding.
We're thankful for the fifth seed. I think it's great for our program.
I think it shows what we're building. I think it shows that we're back on the map. I think it's a great testament to what my seniors have done and what my team has done and the schedule we've played. But I was in the NBA for a long time. We won the world championship from a six seed and won nine road games. Guys believe in each other, they care for each other, they fight for each other, they've got a shot.
And that's what we're going to try to do.
Q. Just to clarify, you got here on Tuesday?
COACH JIM BOYLEN: Tuesday night at 8:00 o'clock.
Q. And being a five seed, since you didn't go to Boise or Portland, did that buy you a charter? Was it a tough trip getting out here, I guess?
COACH JIM BOYLEN: The NCAA got us a charter, and it was an awesome flight. I had a good turkey sandwich on the ride. It was good.
Q. When you arrived in Salt Lake, what condition did you find the program in?
COACH JIM BOYLEN: We inherited a group that just didn't take ownership of what was happening there, didn't take accountability for their actions on and off the floor and wasn't tough enough, didn't believe in playing for each other, and that was the hardest thing for me. You know, we just weren't tough enough. We weren't tough enough in the classroom, we weren't tough enough in the weight room, we weren't tough enough the way we interacted with people. My guys didn't shave, just stuff like that. It drove me nuts.
We had to change it. We had to change it and we had to build a foundation. You know, you see these guys sitting up here. They've got confidence, they've developed, they've grown, and what I wanted to be was a defensive team. I wanted to be a physical team, a tough team. I wanted tough minded guys. And we're getting there. Getting there.
Q. To follow up on that a little bit, do you have your guys shave?
You talked about not being tough enough, interacting with people. Is there a personal code of conduct stuff that you put in?
COACH JIM BOYLEN: Absolutely.
Q. Like what?
COACH JIM BOYLEN: Well, you shake somebody's hand you look them in the eye. People say hello, you say hello back. You go to classes and you sit in the front row and you don't wear a hat and you don't wear headphones. There's a way to operate.
Q. Was that hard for them?
COACH JIM BOYLEN: Was it hard for them? I didn't really care if it was hard for them or not.
"Utah" across your chest has got to mean something, and it didn't mean enough when we got there.
Q. This is just a follow up: As a five were you disappointed that you didn't go to Boise or Portland after you won your conference and et cetera?
COACH JIM BOYLEN: No. You know, I've learned you've got to control the things you can control, and I'm just going to try to prepare my team.
LARRY WAHL: With that we'll let Coach Boylen prepare his team and get out on the court to practice.
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