March 25, 2009
THE MODERATOR: We have been joined by the student-athletes from Memphis. We will go right to questions.
Q. Antonio, can you talk about -- you in particular the importance of you helping Tyreke tomorrow against the Missouri press.
ANTONIO ANDERSON: It is not just me. We contain all five guys and the coach is getting us well-prepared for that. They will play full-court pressure for 40 minutes, and we got to be prepared for that. Tyreke knows he has help from all four guys. We knows we are not going to go out and try to force anything.
Q. Antonio and Robert, what do you guys remember from the game against UAB when Coach Anderson was coaching your freshman year? Do you think that will help you tomorrow?
ANTONIO ANDERSON: No. That was three years ago. He has a whole -- he has a better team now. He has a whole new corps of guys. We played them three times that year, and we were 2-1. So that benefits us as well.
Q. Robert or Shawn, when Coach Anderson was in here for Missouri he said that Antonio is the unsung hero of this team. Do you believe that too?
ROBERT DOZIER: Yeah, I believe that. He is a guy that comes out on our team and does everything on the court. You don't have to pep him up, talk to him like we need you in a game. He has been that way since he has been a freshman. He has been a leader of our team, like I said, since our freshman year. No matter who we had here, Rodney, Shawn, Derrick, he was the guy that people looked to to get fired up with.
SHAWN TAGGART: He is always out there to be the defensive stop. He stops the best player on the other time. He also rebounds the ball very well. When you need a scorer, he is a scorer, if you don't, he don't ever complain and just goes out there and plays hard.
Q. The NCAA tournament is not just about college ball but there is a lot of NBA scouts that come to these games evaluating talent. Is it hard to not get caught up in the knowledge knowing there are people watching you and evaluating you?
ANTONIO ANDERSON: No. When you play a lead program such as Missouri, Memphis, UConn and everything like that, the scouts come to practices. You play on TV so many times throughout the year, so you are used to being on the national spotlight. It doesn't affect you.
This is what you live for. You never should let anything like that affect you at all.
Q. For any of you players, what do you think of Missouri's defense? Did they remind you at all of yourselves, maybe a smaller version?
SHAWN TAGGART: They go out there and they play hard and their full-court defense is very aggressive. Half court, they try to trap the big man and try to get the ball out of ball handlers' hands. They play rough and tough and they go out there and play aggressive like their coach wants them to.
Yeah, they remind us of ourselves a lot. We try to pick up the tempo and make teams run to change the flow of the game and have a high-scoring game. That's what they do too. It is going to be a good game tomorrow.
Q. So many guys coming through the Memphis program who are NBA talents. A lot of guys who stay for only one year. Usually guys who are that talented also have big egos. How does Coach Calipari blend so many good players and such big egos and make it win?
ROBERT DOZIER: It just kind of starts off the court. Just guys hanging with each other, being with each other, knowing what each other been through, knowing each other's family members and things like that.
I think that kind of helps, you know, free up people's ego a little bit, rather than walking around like "I'm the man," I'm this, I'm that. We talk to each other. We hang around each other. We do everything together off the court. It translates on the court. We play together, we talk amongst each other and we got each other's back at all times. I think that kind of helps bring down that ego thing a little bit.
Q. How do you deal with the doubt from the outside, the whispers that, ah, who did they beat? Do you think maybe Missouri appreciates that because this is a team that nobody figured would be here?
ANTONIO ANDERSON: You know, we never tend to worry about what people say about us. And Missouri deserves to be here. I know they are not worried about what other people are saying as well. They are very well coached. They come in with their mind-set that they are going to win by themselves like they have been doing all tournament.
Neither one of us, I can't imagine we are worrying about what the analysts are saying because they don't play the game. It is Memphis and Missouri who is out there on the court. And that's what it all boils down to.
Q. The Missouri coach is saying the biggest thing he worries about is rebounding. Is that what he should be worried about? Is that your guys' biggest strengths?
SHAWN TAGGART: That's just one of our biggest strengths. We got a lot of athletic, long guys out there who go out there and try to get a ball with two hands and very aggressive. We are very tall. Me and Robert Dozier and Antonio Anderson, a great rebounding guard, he should be worried about it. But there is other things he should be worried about, too.
Q. Antonio, you're Defensive Player of the Year in your league. J.T. Tiller is Defensive Player of the Year in the Big 12, or shared it. You guys are two different people. He is a lot shorter. But do you appreciate the way he plays defense and what are your thoughts on that part of your game?
ANTONIO ANDERSON: I definitely appreciate the way he plays defense. I can't tomorrow because I'm playing against him.
But from watching him play during the regular season, he plays extremely hard, he is very aggressive. He likes to take the ball and he takes pride in what he does. When you are defensive players like myself and him, you take pride in shutting somebody down so you can help your team win. That's just how it is.
I just thrive off my teammates, and like Tag said earlier, I'd rather shut somebody else down and let them do all the other scoring and I will still be happy. As long as my team wins the game, I'm satisfied. Whatever.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, gentlemen.
We will conclude today's round of press conferences with Memphis' head coach John Calipari. We will ask you for a few opening comments, and then we will go to questions. Coach?
COACH CALIPARI: Well, we're still playing. We are wondering if we can win one more. It has been a fabulous run. We have been to this Sweet 16 a few times the last few years and our kids seem to be excited about being here.
Practice was a little sloppy today. I wasn't very happy, but I think they're in a great frame of mind. Questions?
Q. Missouri has been dealing with this thing about people saying how in the world did they get here? And I suspect -- I know you have been dealing with people that go "yeah, who did they beat?" Is it fitting that you guys are playing with those chips on your shoulders?
COACH CALIPARI: Well, first of all, let me tell you the job that Mike has done, what he walked into and what he is doing right now, phenomenal.
Now, I have coached -- we saw each other in the hallway out there and I said it is going to be another boxing match. I can just see it coming, and he laughed because we have had wars. His teams and my team. I have watched from a distance, and then I watched them beat Kansas at home. I happened to watch the second half of that game at my house.
I was just laughing saying he has got it going again. But he is a terrific coach and gets his teams to play extremely hard. Very physical, a lot of body-to-body, a lot of hands on the body. A lot of whacks at the ball. But they play, they ball basically.
Q. (Question regarding Memphis playing with chip on shoulder).
COACH CALIPARI: We're a team that -- everybody likes to say Cal says it is us against the world and he plays that, and if you talk to my team, I don't do that.
But what happens is in the information age, they see everything that's written and said about us because it's on the Internet or they are watching TV and half the people are picking us to lose. And each round we go, more and more people pick us to lose. Sometimes I don't know if it is their opinion or their hope, but they more and more pick us to lose.
And so you just kind of -- they see it. We all see it. And we say, we are going it go play. My team doesn't talk a lot. We have not ever done that. We just try to play.
Q. Talking about the effort that Missouri shows, is that something that you as a coach can really admire because of the way you want your guys to play? Are there similarities here?
COACH CALIPARI: This thing should be two teams going just toe to toe, not giving inches. And one of the things I have always respected about his teams is they play. They get after it. They feel unleashed, and that's what I'm always trying to get my teams to be. I want them to have more fun than anybody in this tournament. If I have done my job and you watch my team, they are having a ball playing. They are smiling. They're laughing. They are high-fiving each other, if I have done my job.
And that -- part of that is the preparation to the game to get them in the right mind-set and understand, like I have said, this is going to be -- you are going to walk on the court and no one has given one inch and we are not giving an inch, and this should be interesting.
Q. I want to go back to something you just mentioned, as you go on in this tournament you don't know whether people think you are going to lose or hope you are going to lose. The hope you are going to lose, that's what I wanted to get to. Do you think -- really think people hope Memphis is going to lose? And do guys get into the black hats?
COACH CALIPARI: I don't know. All I know is we have been higher seeds in the past. We were always the first No. 1 that would lose. We were always the first No. 2 that would lose. And so you say that like, you know, why would they think that?
A lot of it comes back to what they say, well, their league. In the last four years, we've played -- over four years, one of the best five nonconference schedules every year over the last four years. So we always do it the same way.
Our seniors have won more games playing the best nonconference schedule in the country over the last four years, the most games in the history of the NCAA. All four seniors on this team, one has another year of eligibility. All four will graduate in May on time in four years. In May that will give us 19 of 22 players graduated who stayed through their senior year.
But they are also competing on that court. When I say that, 19 of 22, people say there is no way. Well, why? Why? Because we're at Memphis? No, there is a way because that's the truth. Those are the numbers.
I'm proud of these guys, they've overcome a lot. They overcame my coaching early in the year where I didn't have Tyreke at point guard and no one really said anything. Tyreke didn't say anything. They trust me enough to say "you'll figure it out, get us in the right spots." But we got a great group.
Q. ( Question regarding coaching style).
COACH CALIPARI: I don't think that's the case. I haven't heard that. But maybe somebody says that, but I don't think that's the case. When you are graduating your kids and kids are doing what they are supposed to, so...
Q. Can you talk about Missouri's strengths, Mike Anderson's teams strengths. What do you have to do to get a win? Obviously you have to match their intensity.
COACH CALIPARI: We are going to have to make shots. I think we're going to have to be physical and play through bumps and grinds and play that way. And then the biggest thing is, we have to be who we are and play our best.
If that's not good enough, then we've had a heck of a year.
Q. At UMass, way back then, you played Nolan's I think '95 team, beat them in the opener Tip-Off Classic --
COACH CALIPARI: They went on to win a national title that year --
Q. (Indiscernible) -- to UCLA. You beat the defending national champions.
COACH CALIPARI: I think they won it the year that we beat them.
Q. Anyway, just talk about -- you can see the influence of Nolan and Mike and the way they press. Is it unconventional the way they press?
COACH CALIPARI: It is kind of random. They come at you -- there is random times so you can't say this is exactly what they are going to do and not do. They are pretty random. But they play hard. They play physical. They keep coming.
They play a lot of people. The team that you talked about we played in '94-'95, they played ten guys and all ten, I would think, nine out of the ten had a chance at at least a cup of coffee in the NBA. They were, like, ridiculous how many players they had and they were good. That was the Corliss Williamson team.
Mike is doing it the same way. He has terrific players. He is playing a lot of people, and they are coming right after you.
Q. Your old friend and rival Jim Calhoun was in here earlier. He made a Chip Hilton reference from the Clair Bee novels. I don't know if you know who Chip Hilton is --
COACH CALIPARI: No.
Q. Chip Hilton was kind of the adolescent book star of --
COACH CALIPARI: I know Clair Bee wrote the basketball books. But I don't know the stories.
Q. Okay. It is kind of for the love of the game. Do you see that spirit alive in this tournament?
COACH CALIPARI: Say it again.
Q. The idea of Chip Hilton was for the love of the game and doing things the right way and learning lessons through sports.
COACH CALIPARI: I hope so.
Q. Do you see that alive in this tournament?
COACH CALIPARI: One of the things we are all trying to do is giving kids an opportunity, creating life skills. In my case, I'm trying to get my kids to change all the time.
I'm talking to them about the mental image they have of themselves, which is created a lot by how they grew up, where they went to schools, how their family was, the socioeconomic background. So we are trying to do things to get kids to have success not only in basketball, off the court.
That's why we have a graduation rate of 19 of 22 kids going through our program. That's why all four seniors on this team here will graduate, which is doing it the right way, which will graduate in May. And I think that all of the coaches that I know have their kids at heart. I really believe that.
Q. Regarding where your team was -- what it did last year, is this a pitfall type of time now where any kind of let-up --
COACH CALIPARI: No.
Q. You are looking too far in the future even now?
COACH CALIPARI: No. The one thing this team has done, which is really interesting is that they've created their own identity in the face of a team that won 38 games, which is the most in the history of the NCAA.
Went to the final game, had a lead with two minutes to go, Coach blew it, and they lose the game. But, you know, I told the team as we went forward, we are staying in the moment. Today's practice, today's shoot-around, we will worry about tomorrow tomorrow. I want them to go out and have dinners together, because I told them, this is winding down. You will not be with these guys again. This team will not be together after -- whenever it ends. So they are going out to dinner tonight together. We are not staying in the hotel.
I want them to enjoy the experience. I want them to stay in the moment. They are not thinking about last year. If they do, I want it to be positive. That's why when the game ended people asked me why -- why did you approach it the way you did? Because they gave us everything they had. We got a steal with 16 seconds to go. We got an offensive rebound on a missed free throw with ten seconds to go. That doesn't sound like a team that had stopped playing. We just -- the ball bounced here, this missed that, a timeout you could have called, foul earlier, don't foul earlier, do this, but they fought. That's why I could live with that game.
Again, I also said I never feel this is about me. It is about these kids. If it was about me, I would have slit my wrists. It is not about me. Again, I don't treat this like life or death because if you do, you die a lot. This is another game. We are treating this game coming up like we treat Tulsa, UTEP, Houston, UAB, Tulane, no different than Tennessee, Gonzaga, Syracuse, Georgetown, Xavier, all the same. We are treating this game the same.
Q. Can you just talk about DeMarre Carroll, what you have seen of him on film, the type of play -- player he is?
COACH CALIPARI: He is a ferocious, relentless, has a body language that I love, just a bubbly "here I come." And if he misses a play, he has amnesia. Next? Which is how I try to get my kids to play. You miss a shot, you miss a layup, have amnesia, next play. And he does it. He is terrific.
Q. I like the idea of creating your own identity, living in the moment, taking your own road. I would assume you have preached all those things. And it is hard for you to forget how it ended last year. But when did you see that, hey, these guys were creating their own identity? Was it first day of practice? Christmas? Midconference?
COACH CALIPARI: It was when I put Tyreke at point guard. And if you wonder why didn't I do it earlier -- and I was just with Bill Frieder -- I said have you ever had your leading scorer be your point guard? And he said no. Do you ever want your leading scorer as a freshman to be your point guard too? So I did everything I could to make sure he was not our point guard. Tyreke never said one word to me. When we put him at point, it was obvious to everybody that I should have been fired. What are you doing? And I said to Tyreke, "why didn't you say something to me?" He said, "because I came here to play for you. Whatever you told me to do is what I was going to do." So that's where you wanted me to play.
I tried to put him in Chris Douglas's hole. I wanted him to be Chris Douglas-Roberts. But he is not. He is Tyreke Evans. At that point, they became comfortable. And from that comfort, they began to grow as a team and get better. And so, you know, as that happened, you started seeing it.
Again, I'm big on win streaks. I think win streaks are important because it builds a sense of invincibility. It doesn't have to be as many as we have now. But you always want to get in a season where you win 10 or 12 or 14 straight. Why? Because in this tournament it is about going on a run and playing well over a period of time and playing poorly and figuring out how to win anyway. It is important.
And our teams historically have had runs in the year. Some of them early. Some of them late. Some of them to finish the season. This one happens to be to finish the season.
Q. If you had to encapsulate what your defensive philosophy is, and obviously your team has followed it very well this year and the past years, what couple of sentences would you boil it down to?
COACH CALIPARI: Old school. As much as our dribble drive motion is the hip thing now, it is old-school defense. You guard your man. If you can't guard, you can't play here. You got to guard your guy.
And then the rest of us try to help like heck. And so every drill we do -- and we do drills from the beginning of the year to the end mark -- that we're always guarding the ball. You got to guard the ball. If you can't guard the ball, it doesn't matter what kind of defense you play.
And then from there, you are just trying to really in a nutshell, really trying to help one another, talk to one another, cover for each other and then you have to take pride in it. You just got to go out and say "we are going to be a great defensive team." And historically, as you know, you have seen my teams at UMass and here at Memphis, we have been pretty good defensively.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.
THE MODERATOR: We have been joined by Missouri head coach Mike Anderson. I will ask Coach for a few opening comments and then we'll go to questions. Coach?
COACH ANDERSON: We are certainly excited the Missouri Tigers could be part of the Sweet 16 and having one of the tougher challenges; to play against a Tiger team -- a Memphis Tiger team that is playing awful good basketball.
I think it is something our guys are looking forward to. And this tournament is all about survive and advance. We certainly survived to this point and so to me this is a fun year. This is a fun time of year with basketball and to be playing out of 16 teams in the country, we are certainly looking forward to tomorrow night's matchup.
Q. Just talk about the influence over the years of Nolan on you, the way you play him, even the way you dress, you address from the sidelines. Just talk about the influence?
COACH ANDERSON: I think I dress better than Coach Richardson. I tell you what, Ron, you know Coach Richardson is real dear to my heart. He is like a father figure. He is a mentor. He is a hall of fame coach.
I had the opportunity to meet Coach Richardson in the junior college national championship game. I was a player and he was the coach of a team that went 37-0. Needless to say, my Jeff State Junior College team was a victim of that particular team. That was my first meeting of Coach Richardson.
From then on, it has been a truly, truly blessing to have an opportunity to be a part of what he started there at Tulsa University. I have had an opportunity not only to play against Coach Richardson but to play for him at the University of Tulsa and play in a system very similar to what we're doing this day and time. I think that's probably the influence in terms of playing it and understanding it. I worked with him at Arkansas for 17 years.
So no one knows the 40 minutes of hell, as most people call it, better than Coach Richardson and probably better than him is me because I played it. So I have played it and I guess incorporated into how we are playing at the University of Missouri.
But he has certainly been a father figure. I talked to him probably twice a week. It is funny because we don't just talk about basketball. I think mostly we talk about family things that are going on and certainly he is a proud papa right now.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about what it has been like at Missouri. Do they recognize the fact that you were the last coach to beat Memphis when you were in Conference USA and do you still get any gratification out of that?
COACH ANDERSON: Well, I think that's -- that was three years ago -- that was many, many years ago. So from the standpoint of gratification, that has nothing to do with this particular game. Memphis is playing the University of Missouri. Coach Cal still happens to be the coach at Memphis, and I have the fortune of being the head coach at Missouri. We get a chance to meet of all places the Sweet 16.
But going back to that particular game, I thought it was played at UAB and I thought it was a fantastic played game by both teams. We were fortunate enough to pull the game off. I guess they kind of run the table since then. That just tells you the type of program that Memphis has. It is not only conference use. They were on a 26-game winning streak right now. But in terms of getting gratification, no, I don't.
It is going to be a big challenge for our basketball team. But I think it is one our guys are looking forward to.
Q. Memphis is pretty long and athletic. Is it safe to say this is one of the toughest tests you have had to face since you have been at Missouri with their athleticism that they bring to the table?
COACH ANDERSON: Certainly they play a brand of basketball that is very similar to what we do. I think that's -- to me, that's probably the fun part about it. They are just a little bit bigger than we are and longer. But I think to me it's -- it is a great challenge. I think you are in this tournament. The challenges are going to get tougher and tougher each and every game. Hopefully your team comes with the right mind-set.
We are going to do the things we have been doing all year long. That is we are going to hang our hats on our defense. We have created tempo and I'm sure they want to play up-tempo. We will see what takes place. I like our bench. I like how they are playing. I like how our team is playing right now.
We are probably one of the better passing teams, I think, in the country. That makes a big difference when you get to this time of the year. I think we're still doing that and hopefully defensively we can continue to trust one another on defense. I think a big key in this game will be we got to somehow stay in the ballpark with them on the glass. I think the time that we played them at UAB, it was a Memphis team that had big Robert Dozier, Antonio Anderson, some of the guys that are still on this team here. I think one of the things they do is crush people on the boards. Their best offense was to throw it up there and go get it. We can't afford to let that happen.
Q. Can you compare a little bit this team to those Arkansas teams of the mid '90s. Do these teams remind you of those teams? How similar are they, and how different are they?
COACH ANDERSON: I think -- I have heard from a lot of people that say that's what it remind them of. I think in our third year at Arkansas we were able to bring in guys such as Lee Mayberry Todd Day, and Oliver Miller and those guys were first-round draft choices. I don't know if I got some first round draft choices. Our kids play hard. They play together. They share the ball. Our benches -- I think our bench was deep at Arkansas.
And year three is when we really made the move. I see a lot of similarities with our basketball team to what took place at Arkansas. But when people say they remind you of those teams in the '90s at Arkansas, to me that's a great compliment.
Q. You mentioned Anderson and Dozier from Memphis. Those guys have had four straight Sweet 16s. Mack and guys like that have had three straight runs into the Elite Eight and Final Four. A lot of NCAA tournament experience. You have some but your guys don't have any compared to Memphis. What impact will that have?
COACH ANDERSON: That's the remarkable thing about our guys being here right now. No one is talking about our basketball team, for obvious reasons. The only one that had NCAA tournament was my son, which is Michael Jr. So here we are with seven guys that never played at this level. You talk about that and the six guys that are coming back, it's -- it is amazing they have done what they have done to this point. Hopefully they can continue to do what we have been doing all year long. That is see it through my eyes. That's the only way. I'm trying to show them the way. All they got to do is come out.
Have kept things simple for these guys. It is a one-game approach. A one-day approach, one-day-at-a-time approach. I know it sounds cliche-ish to you guys, but for our guys, that's how they have to be. It is just a brand-new basketball team.
But they are having fun. I think that's the most important thing. They are playing basketball. They are having fun. And they are going to have an opportunity to play against a very talented and experienced Memphis team that has been -- they were in the championship game last year. You got some guys with that kind of experience. I'm sure it helps in these kinds of situations.
We're here. They're here and we are going to play hopefully a great ball game.
Q. Have you ever shown any Arkansas game films here to your current team like the national championship team, did you ever show any film to this team to say "this is how you do it"?
COACH ANDERSON: You would be amazed. I have probably shown them more clips of the UAB teams I've had. They may have come in and looked at some of the tapes, but I've not shown any of that. This team here is a different type of team. I would say there is a similarity, but we are not at Arkansas. This is Missouri. To me, these guys are painting their own little path. They are creating their own image of who they are and what they are about. Like I said, I like this basketball team. It has been very refreshing this year.
I enjoyed going to the practice court with these guys because I know one thing they are going to do, they are going to leave it on the floor. So win, lose or draw I know they will leave it on the floor. The key is they will give themselves a chance.
Q. Do you feel that if you can slow down Tyreke Evans, you can severely slow down Memphis' offense?
COACH ANDERSON: I think a lot of what they do goes through Tyreke, but they have have some other weapons. You have Antonio Anderson. I think he is the unsung hero. He is one of those guys that kind of gets in the trenches and does all the little things that you look up and you win. Shawn Taggart, he is a guy that's capable of pulling off some big numbers.
So I think a lot of things go through him. But there is more to that team than just Tyreke Evans.
Q. Based on your experience against John Calipari's team, what do you have to do when you are playing against them to get a win?
COACH ANDERSON: I think you got to match their intensity. You got to match their energy. I think you got to match them especially on the glass. They are a tremendous defensive team. We pride ourselves on defense as well.
So it is going to be -- you throw the ball up and you just go play. But I think he has depth with his basketball team. As we said, with Tyreke, you have a very, very talented kid. He has probably three or four guys that are going to the NBA. I got some guys that are hoping they get into the NBA.
With that being said, when you play the game, that's where it sells out on the floor. Our guys are looking forward to the challenges I'm sure as well as the Memphis guys are.
Q. For the fans around the country, what kind of game are they going to see with these two styles going at each other like this?
COACH ANDERSON: I think you are going to see two teams that pride themselves on defense. And I think they play up-tempo. They utilize the athletic ability of the players. I think you will see some highlights that -- energy plays. You will see some things that you will marvel at. You will probably see some things like "wow, did he do that?"
I think it is going to be an exciting -- not necessarily just a half-court game. They want to get up-tempo and we want to get up-tempo. It is something that I think both teams are looking forward to.
Q. When you left Arkansas, they never really ever seriously considered you as their Coach. Did that bother you at the time and how quickly did you put that away?
COACH ANDERSON: I guess the minute that I left there, I left that behind. I had moved on. And I think it is amazing how some things take place in your life. That gave me an opportunity to go back home and be a head coach at UAB.
And I had the opportunity to spend some time with my mother before -- she got a chance to see me as head coach. Not only that, we got to the Sweet 16 in '04 and she passed away in October of that year. So for me it was a blessing to have an opportunity to get back home and spend some time with my mother, my family. We did some great things there at UAB.
I think things happen for a reason, and I understand that. But I have turned a page on that and I have moved on. And I'm excited what has taken place at us at the University of Missouri. I think there are some great things and I think there are some great days ahead.
Q. Have you had time to reflect on where this program has been and the fact that your senior class features two family members, two players that were with the previous coaching regime, one of which was a walk-on in, where you are today?
COACH ANDERSON: I have scratched my head and marvel at it, but I don't have time to reflect on it. Everything is in a whirlwind right now. We have an opportunity to win a national championship. We are here at the Sweet 16. And so I guess my thoughts and my mind-set is really in tune to what is taking place and trying to get our team prepared to play the best basketball they can play. Maybe after the season or even later on I will have a chance to reflect.
Right now, we are in the hunt. We are in the hunt for something. I don't know what it is. We are in the hunt.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.
We have been joined by the Missouri student-athletes. Let's start with Matt and work our way down and ask you for a couple general comments. And then we will open the floor for comments. Matt?
MATT LAWRENCE: Hi, everyone. We are happy to be here in Arizona. Man, this is probably the biggest stadium I have ever been in. I can speak for these guys too. It is a joy to be here in the Sweet 16. We have put in a lot of hard work and we are looking forward to tomorrow.
LEO LYONS: We have a great practice today. We had a chance to get used to the gym and the big backdrop. Seeing the court just reminds you of the major goal that we have to win a championship to show you that it is not that far. We are ready to win.
DEMARRE CARROLL: This is a great opportunity for our basketball program to be in this position. We are playing a great Memphis team tomorrow. Hopefully we can go in there and pick up a win. It is going to be the fastest 40 minutes. And I hope everybody enjoys.
J.T. TILLER: We are just glad to be here. The work is not done. We are excited to play this game tomorrow. We can't wait to actually get on the floor and get under the lights.
Q. DeMarre, did you ever get a chance to watch the UAB-Memphis games back when Coach Anderson was coaching them?
DEMARRE CARROLL: Yeah, I seen mostly all of them. The recent one I seen was in Bartow Arena when UAB won. It was a great game, great atmosphere.
Hopefully Coach being in this position before, the coach against the Memphis coach, hopefully we can follow his lead and pick up a big win.
Q. How much do you guys play on that? Coach had said he has shown you some UAB tape. Did you show you tape of the UAB-Memphis game when he was coaching? And do you feel you are similar to this program because there were a lot of athletic guys that liked to play in that time?
LEO LYONS: Before we started when Coach first got here, he showed us that exact game and where he wanted us to be. And we watched that UAB tape, watched how they played defense and watched how they pushed the ball. We had a major goal watching that trying to come from where we was not knowing anything about his system to where we are now.
I think we are pretty close to where he wants us to be. We are still trying to get better every single day. Hopefully we can get better tomorrow.
Q. How hard was it to get into his system, to play the intensity the way he wants you to play and the pace he wants you to play? How hard was it for you to make that transition?
MATT LAWRENCE: Personally for me it was definitely a challenge. I know he likes to get up and down the floor and play defense, two things I'm not too good at. But he said he always needs room for a shooter. That's what I am, and I try to be that for this basketball team.
I think Coach Anderson did a great job coming in with the guys he had and taking kind of a program that was down on its luck a little bit and in three years turning it around. I think it is unbelievable. And he recruits guys for his system, and he has brought in a lot of guys for that. And I think Missouri is going to be good into the future as well.
Q. DeMarre, it looked like you went down in practice. Was it your ankle? How serious is it? Do you think it will affect you at all?
DEMARRE CARROLL: I'm 100 percent. I'm 100 percent.
Q. Have any of you guys played in a dome before? Matt, maybe you are the guy that will be shooting the most from outside. What was that backdrop like for you? DeMarre, can you say at least what happened? You went down, right?
DEMARRE CARROLL: I went down, you know. Trying to make a move and I tweaked my ankle a little bit. But at this point, it is the Sweet 16. I'm 100 percent.
MATT LAWRENCE: I have never played personally in a dome before. I don't know about any of these guys.
But I think it was a little intimidating walking out there to begin with. Once you got up and down the floor and got a couple shots in, we got a ton of shots in today. You saw when we got up and down there during a scrimmage, a lot of guys were knocking down shots. I expect that tomorrow as well.
Q. Memphis the last four years has played in venues like this. Is that an advantage for them? Or does it really matter once they tip it off?
J.T. TILLER: They might be used to it, but at the same time, it is a basketball game, something we have been playing all year long. I don't think neither one of us have an advantage. It is just who can do the best in that 40 minutes we get to play the game.
Q. How similar is your style and Memphis' style?
LEO LYONS: I think from watching a lot of tape, they're very aggressive on offense. They play a fast-paced game and I think they control that with their offense. Of course they press like we do, but I see a lot more control in their offense.
I think with us it is more we try to control the game with our defense, control the pace with our defense. I think that's the tale. It will be our defense against their offense and try to keep them off the glass.
Q. DeMarre, you say you have watched Memphis. What did you see as some of the trademarks of Coach Calipari's team?
DEMARRE CARROLL: He always had them long, lengthy, athletic guys who attacks the offensive boards. His team is always well coached. He always had a great point guard. He got Tyreke Evans this year. He had Derrick Rose last year.
You have to start from the head of the team and work your way down. Hopefully if we can control Tyreke Evans, that will affect a lot of how the game -- the outcome of the game.
Q. The people in Memphis -- in the University of Memphis say they have been getting a lot of respect lately. As it has gone on, as the tournament has gone on, their rank has gone up. Missouri, do you feel like you are getting the respect here? You are the Big 12 conference tournament champion and you have made it in here with the rest of the team.
MATT LAWRENCE: I don't know if we have earned the respect that we want yet to this point. That's why we're still battling. We're still thinking we have to prove ourselves out there. Obviously Memphis has earned it going undefeated in their conference however many years they had and win 27 in a row this year. That obviously automatically earns respect.
We kind of like that, that people really don't give us a chance in games and people don't respect us. We kind of use that to our motivation. And we are still trying to earn that and we are still hungry. That's why we are still going after it right now.
Q. You guys touched on it before, but do you think rebounding will be the biggest key in this game?
DEMARRE CARROLL: Yeah, rebounding is going to be a very big key, keeping their guys off the glass. Our post-guys we have to key in and keep their guys off the glass because that's where they get most of their points from. They shoot it and they go get it if they miss it.
Hopefully we will keep the rebounds at the same margin that we can win the turnover margin.
Q. J.T. and Leo, before you guys were up there, but you have nine or ten players that average ten minutes a game. How important with the system you play up and down is the depth and how big has the bench been for you guys this year?
J.T. TILLER: Our depth is very important to us. That's one of our weapons that we use against other teams. The starting five will go out there and give it all they got and get tired and we know we have backups and another five that will go out there and give the same amount and do a great amount of energy -- give it a great amount of energy and do what we were doing and give us a rest. So it is very important.
LEO LYONS: We pride ourselves on having one of the best benches in the country just because of what he said. Our bench goes in there and they maintain or they bring it up. It is never a fall-off with our bench. I think that's why we have a tough bench, because when they get in the game, we have the confidence to go down and play as hard as we can and come out whether it is a minute and a half or three minutes. We know they will be here for us.
Q. Obviously you have seen all the UAB films with Coach Anderson. Have you ever seen any of the Arkansas films when he was Nolan's assistant? Have you seen any Arkansas tape at all?
MATT LAWRENCE: We've watched some highlights definitely. The correct way to press, the correct way to trap, some half-court -- just a lot of defensive things and seen the way they get out and run on offense as well and how their defense leads to a lot of their offense.
He also showed us one other team, how quickly they got the ball up and down the floor to put pressure on their defense. You could just see this constant pressure, how much it affects the other team and how they kind of wear down towards the end of the game.
I think we have gotten to that point where we are doing that well and getting into the second half and that's how we have won a lot of games in the second half.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you for your time.