Louisville-Morehead State Quotes
March 19, 2009
THE MODERATOR: Joining us today are Louisville student athletes Andre McGee and Terrence Williams. Questions for the student athletes.
Q. When the president released his bracket yesterday, looked like he had you guys picked to win and scratched you out and put Carolina in, I just want to know what your reaction was.
ANDRE MCGEE: I actually didn't get a chance to actually see that, I just actually heard about it. But that's the president's picks. He's like anybody else. He has his thoughts on who he thinks is going to win. But it doesn't really affect the game at all, actually.
TERRENCE WILLIAMS: I actually seen it, and I asked J.C. and he told me no. At least he had us in the final game, I'll take that. But like Andre says, president's pick, everybody entitled to their own pick just shows you who is watching and shows you how important March Madness is.
Q. Can you guys talk about the difference that Jerry has made? It seemed like he kind of was under the radar for a lot of the season, but especially in the Big East tournament, seems like he's kind of stepped up.
ANDRE MCGEE: I think he started working harder in practice. He didn't start the season like he usually does. I think it took a toll on him mentally as far as him being a junior and him playing a larger role on our team. I think he just started to work harder in practice. And as that happened, he started to play better. He started to make his shots. He started to after practice coming in the gym getting more shots up, working on his game harder and it started to show. He started to hustle more.
He was starting to get more steals and make better plays and play like the Jerry Smith that we're used to seeing. I think the second half of the season he started to really show that, and he was a big part of us going on our winning streak and helping us get these championships.
TERRENCE WILLIAMS: I agree totally to everything Andre has said about working harder and getting extra shots up. I kind of told him to block out everything and just come out and play basketball. And he started to do that, and I told him you shoot so well that you pass up a lot of shots. So he started to ball fake instead of going to the hole, step to the side and shoot a 3, because he can make shooting 47 percent for his career.
So it is a mental thing, and I think he got over the mental thing at the right time of the year, and now we're playing much better basketball as a team.
Q. The Notre Dame game aside, playing in the league such as the Big East with the competition, does this mean pretty much that there's no possibility of ever taking a mental night off? By mistake, ever falling into that trap of taking a mental night off?
TERRENCE WILLIAMS: We had our mental nights off early on in the year. Notre Dame, it wasn't a mental night off. We tried we played hard. They were just more hungry than us that night. They needed that game. They knew they needed that game. So everything they shot went in, every rebound they got. It wasn't a mental night off. They just played more hard.
But we had our mental lapses early on in the year, with our losses in the preseason, so we know that, like you said, coming from the Big East that you can't have mental nights off in the Big East because you could lose to anybody every single night. So that prepared us for March Madness because one loss and you go home. And we're not trying to go home.
ANDRE MCGEE: I think the Big East gives you great preparation for this type of tournament, this type of environment because you're playing against so many different style of teams, and the emotions are there, so any given night you can be beaten by any team, as you could see earlier today. Memphis had a tough game with Cal State Northridge, which few people knew about. So it's wide open for everybody just like our conference. Some people had other teams picked higher than others. You can see how it finished up. A team like Georgetown, which was regarded as a great team, ended up going to the NIT and it was such a tough conference.
It shows night in/night out you have to bring it at this level, especially during the NCAA Tournament, because that one loss, it's only six games and that one loss can get you shipped home.
Q. Could you both just talk about a lot of times the underdogs, you let them get off to a good start and hang around and get their confidence, you find yourself in the game, how important is it for you guys to come out and establish yourselves early on in the game tomorrow?
TERRENCE WILLIAMS: It's very important, and you guys know that. We know that as individuals, and I think that we're smart enough to not put ourselves in the hole early on, like our past two games, losing at halftime. So I think that we're hungry enough to come out and we're so fired up, especially guys that haven't been here, especially guys that's back here, we're so fired up to play in this game and playing in the tournament because it's tournament time, that I don't see that happening. I think that we're mentally ready.
But it's very important not to get in the hole because you don't want to let it become a factor. It might be tied up and they shoot from the court and they win and you go home. You don't want to be in that type of case there.
ANDRE MCGEE: I think this tournament, so many times teams come and jump on other teams or you see good teams or higher ranked teams come out going into shooting slumps or something like that or start off cold.
I believe starting off with a good start always helps a team. Either it's us or any other team you have to come out and have a fresh start. That happens by executing your coach's game plan. You really can't deviate from what you guys talk about in the locker room. The coaches set up a game plan for us to be successful, and for us to do that we have to go out there and execute it. So we have to make sure we focus on what the coaches are telling us, how we're going to run our offense, what defenses they're running and just try to go out there and play our style of basketball and not try to play any different style.
Q. Obviously you guys are focused on your first opponent. But you're in the rare opportunity of being at a site with another No. 1 seed. Are you at all interested in checking out Pitt and seeing what could be a showdown down the road?
TERRENCE WILLIAMS: We don't look forward to no days. We cherish right now. We work on this right now and take care of the task ahead of us. We played Pitt before, our move on Pitt every time they play because they come from the same conference as us. It's like family.
We don't look past that. We don't check out no team to see what they're doing. We only know that Memphis almost lost because we were told. We don't sit here and watch games and hope other teams lose. We just take care of the task that's in front of us.
ANDRE MCGEE: Like he said, we just concentrate on everything about what we're doing, focus on our task at hand, and as far as what's happening around the tournament or different cities or different regions, it's out of our control and not our concern right now. We have to focus on the role we have and the path we set and the mission we're trying to accomplish.
Q. What is the most surprising thing you've learned over your time about Coach Pitino?
TERRENCE WILLIAMS: I always knew that he had a will to win, but the most surprising thing about that is whether it's me or Earl, whether it's Chris Brickley, that you guys probably don't even know that don't even play. He won't play until next year, he'll still probably be a back up when he do play next year, he coaches everybody the same no matter who they are on this team. And that surprised me because whether someone, say, this person is a superstar, he doesn't treat this person any different than he treat the person that would never play in the game. So that surprises me a lot.
ANDRE MCGEE: I think the most surprising thing is his professionalism and his work ethic to succeed. I think it just starts off every day he comes into the office early. He instills in us the attitude to always be early, never be late or even on time to things. Always be ready before things are ready to go and just always have a professional attitude with the way you present yourself, the way you dress, the way you handle the media, the way you talk to people. The way you treat others, is everything with him is professional from top to bottom and from every day.
And he also is the type of guy who isn't really moody. He doesn't really come in sulking on days or after a loss. He'll get on us after a loss, but he knows we've got to make sure we focus on the next thing. He's always concerned with the precious present, tells us to cherish these moments because they go by so fast.
You look at us two now this is our third NCAA Tournament. This is our last year.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you. Coach, if you will please begin with an opening statement.
RICK PITINO: We're excited to be part of the tournament once again. I think it's the time of year that everybody looks forward to. These three weeks I think the casual fan, the expert fan, everybody who is involved in college sports loves this time of year, and certainly we're excited to be part of it.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. Have you been in a pod situation with two No. 1 seeds before, and if so does that change the overall dynamic at all for this first weekend?
RICK PITINO: Not for us. Obviously it doesn't affect us in any way and we don't affect them in any way. It's just good basketball, certainly, that you get a chance to watch in your region.
But right now we're just totally zoning in on Morehead State, and hopefully advance.
Q. How does this group rank on your coachability scale?
RICK PITINO: Well, they do things that I like to coach. They press very well. They're very active athletically, they get their hands on a lot of balls, and they're fun to coach in that regard.
They started very slow offensively to get continuity, because we did so much with this young man, David Padgett, and it took us a while to get used to playing without him. And I think they've adjusted very well, right around Christmastime.
Q. Over the last 10 games you guys' scoring average has gone up, field goal percentage is up, 3 point percentage is up, what has gone into the change over the last 10 games?
RICK PITINO: We just put more of a heavy emphasis on passing. We try to stay under because we understand our offensive skills. We just try to stay under six challenge shots per game, and every time we have faltered it's been 11 or 12 challenge shots per game. We've done a good job staying under 6.
It was interesting, even in the Morehead State game, we took 9 challenge shots in the first half and shot 29 percent. In the second half, we took 2 challenge shots and shot 67 percent. And that even though that was a long time ago, that's a true indicator of what we do well, and when things don't go our way it's due to poor passing and taking challenge shots. We're conscious of that and I think we've improved dramatically because of it.
Q. Rick, Donnie Tyndall has credited you to being an inspiration to him as a coach. Have you had a chance to spend any time with Donnie, and what do you think he's done of the job he's done at Morehead at this point?
RICK PITINO: We were talking about a lot of basketball during the beginning of the year. They came down to watch some of our individual instruction practices, and we all share ideas and concepts, and he's done a terrific job at Morehead in building enthusiasm, in recruiting players that are athletic that fit his system. Done an excellent job rebounding the basketball.
So he's a young basketball junkie, and it's really great to have him in our state.
Q. Bob Huggins made a comment about getting through the Big East this season, could be as hard as getting through the NCAA Tournament. I'm wondering what your thoughts are, if you agree with that.
RICK PITINO: It was very difficult. Last year I thought it was difficult. And we played Georgetown the last game of the season to win a regular season championship. And we both had three losses. Going into it this year I thought it would be four or five losses to win it.
And the teams at the top started pulling away a little bit altogether. And it was a fight to the last game of the season again. So those six, seven teams at the top, it would not surprise me to see any of those teams get to a Final Four because they're all very, very strong, and West Virginia is certainly one of those teams. But West Virginia, Villanova, Syracuse, Pitt, they're just all great basketball teams that bring I've seen almost everything I could see as a coach in terms of offense and defenses. That's the good and the bad of the Big East.
Q. Forgive an off topic question. You coached Travis Ford. May be curious to see some of his games on television. They have a kid on the team who is maybe five eight, five nine and people say, Oh, my gosh, he's like Travis Ford as a player. As the guy who coached Travis Ford, have you seen Keiton Page play and is he anything like Travis?
RICK PITINO: I followed every one of Travis's games, but I only got to see him but one time. And Travis was a great college basketball player. He was 5 foot 10. He was sort of a combo guard, tough guy. Very smart. The ultimate competitor. The ultimate competitor. He would compete any shooting drill he wanted to win, anything he did, he wanted to win, and he was a great college basketball player.
I remember he had to make two free throws in front of the world to put the game into overtime against Michigan in the Final Four, and he was there standing by himself and there was no question in my mind both of those free throws would go down.
So he's the ultimate competitor. Oklahoma State is lucky to have him, because he's such a passionate basketball coach and really cares so much about the game. So I was real proud of him to coach him and real proud of him now as a coach having great success in the business.
Q. You look at Memphis today, Northridge got off to a great start, got their confidence going and really made a game of it. As the heavy favorite, is it a little more imperative to maybe try and get off to a better start so you don't allow those teams to get in the rhythm and get confidence and give themselves a chance to pull it out late?
RICK PITINO: You know, you're just going to face all different types of things. I remember in '96, it was I believe it was San Jose State with Olivia St. Jean at the time, I believe he changed his name, and somebody asked the question before, How does it feel to be the largest favorite in the history of the NCAA Tournament?
And I said, Well, we don't get into those things. So I changed the question. And at halftime we were either up 1 or down 1. I think we may have been down 1. And you go in at halftime. We had a great basketball team and you've just got to stick with your game plan and understand that balls of the 3 point line, because of great players getting hot or changing defenses, anything can happen at a half. You just have to stick with it. And whatever point that you're going to have your run, you have your run. But you can't dictate how you get off in a game. It just doesn't work that way. So we understand Morehead's going to bring a lot of emotion. We understand they could make some shots early in the game. You've just got to stick with what you do and hopefully have your run throughout the course of a game.
Q. Just to go back to the two No. 1 seeds being here. You said you guys are zoning in on Morehead. But how do you get your players to do that and not let them get caught up at all in maybe trying to get a glimpse of Pitt, or is this just a focused enough group that you don't have to worry about that?
RICK PITINO: I know our players watch the games on television. But I'm not sure Pitt's going to be on TV for this area. I don't know how that works.
But we've seen enough of Pitt. We want to take a break from Pitt. We don't want to see Young and Blair at all. So we've got great respect for them. But we really do concentrate. And you have to understand, in this game today, just anybody can beat anyone. Northridge was just mentioned there earlier.
These teams get there because they have talented basketball players. And we realize Morehead is a talented team and that if we don't take care of business it could be the same type of game.
So we have great respect for what they do, and if you don't, that's how you go home. If you don't have great respect for every little detail, you go home earlier than expected. So we know all about Pitt, but we're not looking at Pittsburgh at all.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.
MOREHEAD STATE QUOTES
THE MODERATOR: Joining us today are Morehead State student athletes Maze Stallworth, Brandon Shingles, Demonte Harper, Kenneth Faried, and Leon Buchanan. Questions for the student athletes.
Q. The first time you all played Louisville, it was a game you were all in the game at halftime. When did the game turn for you guys, and what do you have to do differently to stay in there for 40 minutes this time?
LEON BUCHANAN: The game kind of turned for us, we started turning the ball over. The first half of the game we had 9 or 10 turnovers at the half, and the second part of the game we started turning the ball over. And they went on a run. So I think what we basically need to do is under their pressure, their full court pressure, handle the ball and not turn it over so much.
KENNETH FARIED: Well, yeah, I believe so, the same thing as Leon said, we have to handle the pressure better, and we have a better guard as a point guard, more solid Demonte, because he plays the 2 better, better than Shingles, so I think that really helped them in the back court, and I think we'll handle them a lot better than before.
Q. How much confidence do you take from the fact that you played them tough in the first half? I think you limited them to 29 percent field goal shooting. How much confidence do you take from the first time you played them? I think you limited them to 29 percent shooting in the first half and it was a fairly close game.
BRANDON SHINGLES: I didn't play the first semester due to transfer rules. But I've seen it. You just have to build off that. They're not invincible. We've just got to take from what we did in the first half and try to put a whole game together.
LEON BUCHANAN: I agree with what Brandon said. They're a good team but any team can be beat, as we know in college basketball. We've got to build on the fact we played them. We know their tendencies and the scouting report and we know what guys like to do. We know who their go to guys are, the best passer and best 3 point shooters, I think we've got to build on that and study the scouting report and plays and get everything down pat and handle them under pressure.
Q. Demonte and Brandon, you know Louisville makes a living off their press, scoring fast break passes, as guards I know that's something you're thinking about, but how critical is it to take care of the basketball and limit your turnovers?
DEMONTE HARPER: It's critical. If we don't take care of the ball they're going to, when they get turnovers and running up and down the court, it's playing right in their hands. It's very critical for us to take care of the ball.
BRANDON SHINGLES: I mean, the same way Demonte said, it's very critical, taking care of the ball against half court or whatever because the game can easily go from being tied to being down 15, just by the snap of a finger. So we've just got to just take care of the ball.
Q. Kenneth, arguably as the leading rebounder in the tournament, can you talk about what problems they pose inside of the matchup inside of Louisville?
KENNETH FARIED: The power they pose inside is they're stronger and bigger and faster when you play against them because they have a lot of fresh bodies coming off the bench that's my height and as athletic as me. Some even better than me.
But I'm just going to try real hard and I, believe me, Leon and Maze can hold it down and the guards will help rebound down. So I believe we'll have a good shot on the rebounding point.
Q. Can you guys just talk about kind of the bigger picture of getting Morehead into the tournament and kind of maybe dispelling what may have been the perception of Morehead basketball not being able to compete on a higher level?
DEMONTE HARPER: Perception of that, coming from OVC, we're going to be the underdog because of who we are. We're not like the best school out there, but we're just going to play our hardest. We're happy to be here. Louisville is a good team but we're going to give it all our on the court no matter what. We're going to play MSU basketball.
MAZE STALLWORTH: We're going to go out there and play the game like we're back in OVC. We have a reputation to play hard and get after it. So that's exactly what we have to do come Friday night that we have to get after it and don't be scared by the atmosphere, just keep playing like we usually do each and every night.
Q. Just wondering how much feedback you guys have gotten in the last two days from friends or people back on campus about your win?
BRANDON SHINGLES: As soon as the game was over with I had probably 36 text messages, everybody's excited and everybody everyone's just excited. The whole community of Morehead, friends back home, Albany, Georgia, everybody's just excited.
LEON BUCHANAN: Like Brandon said after we got the win and we went back in the locker room, of course we had our phones. We checked our phones. I had so many missed calls and text messages I couldn't even check them and I didn't reply to all of them the same night. I think the community of Morehead is proud of us and they're pretty much happy with what we're doing in the tournament.
Q. Did any of you get recruited by Louisville or by any Big East schools?
KENNETH FARIED: Me personally, I did. I got recruited by Rutgers and Seton Hall, and I got recruited by Louisville a little bit but they backed off, as you know.
MAZE STALLWORTH: Me being a Kentucky kid, I live no more than 20 minutes past Freedom Hall, so I never got recruited by those guys, but I've seen a lot of games. Being in Kentucky you always want to play for Louisville, Kentucky. It's a big cost getting to this point playing against those guys, toss it up and see how you can do.
BRANDON SHINGLES: No, I'm a small town guy from Georgia. I didn't get recruited by no Big East schools or anything like that.
DEMONTE HARPER: I didn't get recruited by any Big East schools, either.
LEON BUCHANAN: Me, either. Me and Brandon are from the same hometown, small hometown. We didn't get recruited by any Big East schools.
Q. Maze, so many times this year this team goes as you go. When you hit from the perimeter, you've been the game changer a lot of times. Talk about how important it is for you to find your stroke early?
MAZE STALLWORTH: I think it's very important. But I have to stay within my role and do as our game plan goes. I can't go outside my role, because if I do, it hurts our chances of winning. I have to play my role feeding Ken and Leon everything. And play my role as in our game plan and I think if we do that we have a great chance to win.
Q. Taylor Tyndall became a national celebrity. ESPN showed her quite a bit during the game. What does she bring to the table? What does she mean to this team?
KENNETH FARIED: She means a lot to us because she's our heart and soul and she's really emotional. For a little girl her age to be as emotional into basketball and care about us so much is amazing, and she really cares, win or lose, she's always happy for us. She cries when we lose games that we shouldn't.
She gets joy when we win games. It's just amazing.
BRANDON SHINGLES: Yeah, Coach Tyndall, Jr. (Laughter) she's there in practice running with us, stretching with us, trying to do drills with us. If you really talk basketball with her she actually knows what she's talking about for her to be so young. But like I said she's the heart and soul of our team and I enjoy being around her.
Q. I wanted to ask you guys what being in the tournament this year, getting that first opening round win, what does this do looking forward, moving forward? Do you guys feel like you have the foundation kind of like you set up Morehead for big success down the line?
LEON BUCHANAN: Personally, I think we set up Morehead for big success down the line because of course we didn't want to play in the opening round game but we ended up getting in anyway. But we went out there, played our hardest. I think it gave us a boost of confidence and we know what type of team Louisville is and we know the scouting report on them, and ill just think it gave us a boost of confidence.
DEMONTE HARPER: It gave us a lot of confidence like Leon said. We get a lot of national exposure to show everybody what we can do. So like I said we're the underdog. So we're just going to come in and play hard like we've been doing the whole season.
Q. Kenneth, I think everybody in the nation by now knows your name, knows what type of player you are. How much pressure is on you going into tomorrow night as far as trying to carry the load for this team and of course Louisville is going to be focused primarily on you?
KENNETH FARIED: Well, I would say that's even better, because if they just focus primarily on me they don't know about my other teammates who are wonderful guys who can play, too. And it's the fact that the national pressure I'm not really nervous about, not worried about. I'm happy, but, like I said, I'm not a star player, I'm a role player and I play a great role on this team and I love them all.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, guys. Coach, if you would please begin with an opening statement.
COACH TYNDALL: We're very excited to have the opportunity to advance. It was the first win for the Ohio Valley Conference in 20 years. So we're very prideful of that and obviously very excited to continue to represent MSU and play against the Cardinals.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Coach.
Q. Would you talk about, the first game you all were in the first half you were right there, I believe down by 9. And in the second half they went on a run. What do you all have to do to maybe put together two halves like that game and give yourselves a chance to win?
COACH TYNDALL: The biggest thing you just can't turn the ball over. Louisville's a team that most of you know plays in spurts. They turn you over in their press, and it's a dunk. It's an open 3, and before you know it, it goes from down 4 to down 13 or down 15. And basically that's the spurt in the game that makes the difference. And they do that. Coach Pitino's teams have always done that dating back when he was at Providence, but every team he coaches that's the way they play, they try to wear you down and their press kind of imposes its will on you.
And so I think if we can play this game with 12 turnovers or less we'll give ourselves an opportunity in the game with five minutes to play; if we turn the ball over in the upper teens or 20s, we won't give ourselves a very good chance. That's the bottom line.
But with that being said at their place in the first game we turned it over 10 times the first half, and we were only down 9. So we did some nice things defensively. But we have to control our turnovers, limit our turnovers.
Q. I just wanted to get your thoughts on what this season will do for the program moving forward. Do you feel like maybe playing that opening round game national exposure maybe that gets you in a few more doors recruiting wise?
COACH TYNDALL: No question. I think what it's really done that a lot of people outside of the Morehead community maybe haven't had the opportunity to see yet is bring a community together to bring a faculty, staff and an athletic department together where I feel like everyone is on the same page pulling for each other and trying to help each other.
Not that it necessarily hasn't always been that way, but everyone is so excited and feels like they're a small piece of this success, and rightfully so, they should feel that way.
So I think that's the first thing that's been done. Secondly, I definitely feel like it will help with recruiting, we hope it helps as early as this spring. We're involved with some good players. But they've seemed to have had nice response to what we're doing here in the post season, and certainly thinking in the '10 and '11 classes it will definitely be impactful for us.
Q. Donnie, does the first game help you guys in the sense that it sort of demystifies them a little bit, or was it the fact that it got away from you so much, does it create doubt, do you think?
COACH TYNDALL: I think it will certainly help us, get those first game jitters out of the way. No discredit to Alabama State at all, because they were a very good team. But I don't think our team played real well in that game to be honest with you. We had a nice win. We're excited about that but we turned it over 21 times against a team that really doesn't pressure you very much.
And I think a lot of that, the unforced turnovers was due to first game jitters or being on such a big stage opening night. And that's probably for any team across the country. So I think getting that first game under your belt and those first game jitters behind us will help us going into tomorrow.
Q. If you were ever sick, could your daughter Taylor run practice?
COACH TYNDALL: (Laughter) well, I don't know if she could, but I know Faried thinks he can. Maybe we turn it over to Kenneth. (Laughter) but Taylor is a special little girl, as our guys said. She's kind of like that girl from Remember the Titans, if you have seen that movie. She loves the game, loves our players and it's fun to have her around, that's for sure.
Q. You played Louisville early part of the year back when they lost to Western, lost to Minnesota, lost to Vegas. It's a different team over the last 10 weeks since they've won the Big East in the Big East tournament, what have you seen as their greatest areas of improvement?
COACH TYNDALL: I think some of their younger players have stepped up and improved their roles or increased their roles. In particular, the Jennings kid, I think he's just fantastic. He's made great strides over the season and going to be a dominant player for them in the future.
Preston Knowles is playing with a lot of confidence offensively. He's kind of always been known as a defensive stopper, but playing very well offensively. I think guys that kind of settled into their roles maybe earlier in the year, guys like McGee and Sosa who were splitting times, and I don't know this, but it's normal for guys to maybe not want to accept not being the starter or playing the bulk of the minutes, and those guys have all settled into their roles. Obviously, they have a great leader in Terrence Williams that makes their team go.
So I think the biggest thing is it seems like those young players have improved. When you think about it, a guy like Delk averages 10 to 12 points a game at Mississippi State and can't even get in the game on this team. They're deep and they're talented.
Q. So often this year, as Maze goes so does the team because he opens everything up for Kenneth and Leon. Talk about the importance that Maze will play in the game tomorrow night?
COACH TYNDALL: As you know, when Maze Stallworth shoots the ball well for us from a perimeter, we're a pretty complete team because Brandon Shingles is our pretty typical point guard that gets everybody involved. Demonte Harper is our athletic slashing kind of creating off the dribble 2 guard, and Leon and Kenneth do what they do very consistently.
They have been double double type guys almost every night at our level. So when Maze shoots the ball, he's kind of that third scoring threat or that added dimension, and when he makes 3s as he has probably in two thirds of our games we usually play well and win.
I'm sure Louisville's game plan will be to limit his opportunity. So we're going to have to try to get him some trail 3s or spot up 3s in transition when opportunistic times present themselves and do a couple of play set things to get shots and free him up.
Q. Could you talk about your relationship with Coach Pitino? If I'm correct you had an opportunity to compete against him as a player and had a chance to visit their individual instruction. Can you just talk about your time you spent with him and your impressions of him as a coach?
COACH TYNDALL: Coach Pitino has been so gracious to me in my short time back to Morehead. He as you mentioned, he's allowed my staff and I to come visit and watch his individual workouts a couple times. Spent about an hour, hour and a half one day giving us a tour of their new practice facility, which he certainly I'm sure had better things to do. But gave us the tour himself and showed us around and just has been very gracious.
Obviously, as a young coach, growing up he was a guy I looked up to and studied and watched how he handles himself and how he does things. And I don't know Coach Pitino real well at all, but he's obviously been a great role model for a lot of young coaches like myself. And think about it now, we play them this season and he still let's our staff come and watch their workouts and spend some time with us. I think that speaks for itself.
Q. When you first took over this job, I mean the first part of this question is: Did people think you were crazy? Did they think that you could get it done at Morehead? And the second part is, now that you guys are in the tournament and everything, are you maybe ahead of the schedule you kind of had in your mind?
COACH TYNDALL: Well, to answer the first part, I did have some people that I really respect and trust in this profession that have helped me say, "Donnie, are you sure you want to do this? It's not a job that's been very successful."
They have never had a coach in the history of men's basketball move on to what's considered a better basketball coaching position.
And some people thought that maybe it was a little bit of a dead end. But I think the biggest thing for me being an alum and having played at the university, I understood the obstacles and the challenges with the job, which there's obstacles and challenges at Duke or Carolina or Louisville. It doesn't matter. There's things you have to overcome to be successful or beat other universities on players or whatever it may be.
So I felt like coming in, the line I kind of used is what's the difference between Murray and Morehead? Murray had great tradition, the towns were the same. Morehead didn't have that tradition, the town was the same. But the bottom line is Murray had hired the right coaches who went and recruited the right players.
Now, I think at Morehead probably there were times they had the right coach who didn't recruit the right players. Or maybe they had the right players but maybe the coach wasn't involved in the community or whatever it may have been. But the mix wasn't there.
And I think not saying this boastfully, but me understanding the job and the town and the culture and wanting to be there and having a passion for Morehead, coupled with our work ethic and how our coaches work, it was a good fit, a perfect fit. I said this to Brian Hutchinson, our athletic director, I said I don't think I was necessarily the best coach that interviewed for the position that particular year, but possibly I was the best fit. A lot of times that's what helps people be successful.
In regards to turning it around, I think when we looked at our blueprint or our map for success, we were hoping to do what we're doing now in about year five or six. So we do feel like we're ahead of schedule. But most of that is attributed to our recruiting and the players that we have.
When you have guys like Buchanan and Faried and Stallworth they make you look like a better coach than you are. Recruiting is the life line of any program, and I feel we've had success in recruiting good kids and good players.
Q. 16's never beaten a 1. You've already played them they beat you pretty convincingly, do you give a Lou Holtz speech at the beginning of the game or do you tell the guys to go have fun or how do you approach it?
COACH TYNDALL: We approach it exactly like every other game. No difference in how we scout. No difference in how we prepare the team. Our kids understand that no 16's ever beaten a 1. The one thing I have said and I don't know how fiery the speech will be tomorrow, but at some point at some time there will be a 16 seed beat a 1 seed.
We certainly hope that's tomorrow night. And that's our expectation. We know the task that we have at hand and how good Louisville is. They're coached by a Hall of Fame coach. They probably have five or six guys that are going to play in the NBA on their roster.
But if I didn't as a coach expect to go out and win this game, then I feel I'd be doing a disservice to my players, and that's the way we'll approach it.
Q. Getting back to you talked about studying Rick Pitino, do you ever envision yourself walking out onto the floor in a White suit?
COACH TYNDALL: Not with my physique, man. Coach Pitino has a style of his own and not many people can match that. I'm going to stick with the navies and the blacks for me.
Q. Have you guys heard from Phil Simms since winning the OVC tournament or since Tuesday night?
COACH TYNDALL: I'm glad you asked that. Phil actually contacted Brian our athletic director the night after we beat Austin Peay, and then I tried to call Phil a day or two later and missed him but left him a voice mail. He was actually out of the country, but he's back and he's in California and he left me a really nice message Tuesday night right before tip off, which obviously we won, and I let our kids listen to it after the game.
It was about a minute and a half message just going on about how proud he was for the university and our team, and he couldn't make it to our game tonight. I offered to leave him a couple of tickets right by my family, and he's in California on business. But he did say he was going to be on our campus this summer and look forward to getting together. And he's obviously probably the best athlete to ever come out of Morehead State. So I certainly look forward to meeting him.
Q. You talked about Taylor a little bit. How is she dealing with her national celebrity? She was shown quite a bit during the game the other night?
COACH TYNDALL: She's pretty humble. She likes the exposure. But she's been around it so much it's kind of become secondhand.
We had a tournament this fall around November, Thanksgiving time, we went to Cancun and CBS Sports, CBS Sports did the game, College Sports, and they talked about her for three or four minutes. So it's old hat to her. She kind of thinks it's what happens when you're the water girl. (Laughter).
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports