March 19, 2009


KEVIN KLINTWORTH: The University of Memphis student athletes, Antonio Anderson, Robert Dozier and Tyreke Evans.

Q. For all three of you, just, what effect did last year's championship game, disappointment, how did it affect you guys going into this season? Did it put you on a mission? Just talk about the effect of the KU game today.

ANTONIO ANDERSON: It really has no effect on it at all this year. That was last year. Last year is last year. We're not worried about that. We're focused on this tournament and this year.

ROBERT DOZIER: Pretty much the same. New year, new team. We create our own identity. Last year is behind us. We just focused on this year.

Q. How did you get over it? Had to be a long summer.

ROBERT DOZIER: Yeah. Fortunately me and Antonio had another season to come back. Other guys left and pursued their careers. We had that extra hunger in us to come back and make it to another Final Four, if possible, a national championship game.

Q. How will you guys benefit from that experience as we go into this tournament? Is there some sort of, you know, mission that you're on?
ANTONIO ANDERSON: We're not on any mission. We're out here taking it one game at a time and just trying to play our best basketball. We can't come to this year thinking about last year. That's the case, you get knocked off.

We're worried about this year's team. Nobody is worried about last year, none of the players or coaches. That's all behind us. We're ready to play.

Q. But in crunch time, will the Kansas game be in the back of your head?
ROBERT DOZIER: No, it's absolutely behind us, man.

Q. Antonio, Robert, for you guys. What have you shared with Tyreke about this NCAA experience? This is going to be his first time.

ROBERT DOZIER: Just knowing that every possession counts. You got to be serious. You got to play hard. Even in practice, you just can't go through the motions. You've got to {practice} how you're going to play. That's the biggest thing.

ANTONIO ANDERSON: I just told him, "Keep playing the way you've been playing all year. I know it's your first NCAA Tournament, but the ball still the same, the hoop is still the same. Just go out there and play."

Q. For any of you guys, what did you know about Cal State Northridge, if anything, before you found out you guys were playing them, and do you go on the Internet and do research? What did you guys do individually?
ANTONIO ANDERSON: We don't do nothing.

ROBERT DOZIER: Leave that to the coaches. They give us the game plan of what we need to do, their weaknesses and strengths. We just go from there.

Q. For Robert and Tyreke, Antonio seems to be kind of the unsung hero of the team, the leader. What does he bring to the table that maybe a lot of people don't realize?

ROBERT DOZIER: Just that leadership, that tenacity on the court. Always have guys' backs and always have guys on their A game. He's been a tremendous leader since my freshman year here. Even when we had Rodney Carney, guys like that, he's been a leader.

TYREKE EVANS: It's big for me to see that because I'm working on the same thing, trying to be a leader. As I see him do it on the court, i just try to, you know, do the same thing, you know, talk more and be more vocal to my teammates.

Q. What about on the court? What are some of the little things he does on the court that people might not notice?

ROBERT DOZIER: Nothing. Everything he does, he's in your face. He gets on guys out there, but like I said, that's what our team needs. We still have some young guys who don't quite understand what it means to play hard all the time. He gets on them. He gets on me, too. It's what we need.

Q. You know, it was very clear from watching the broadcast of the field being announced that you guys were not all fired up about the No. 2 seed. You guys weren't jumping up and down. The Big East gets three number one seeds is there any part of you that feels like, okay, now let's see them prove it. You left us now, now let's see them prove it.

ANTONIO ANDERSON: Not really. We're just ready to play. Coach told us before Selection Sunday leading up to the conference tournament that we'll probably end up being a 2 seed. We knew what was at stake. Even if we win our conference tournament, those three teams are well deserving. Their resume shows it and record shows it.

Now the numbers are all thrown out, the rankings are out. Everybody has to play basketball. We wasn't affected by it. We knew it was coming. We do the best that we could to prove our point for the No. 1 seed, but they made the right selection and we just got to deal with that.

ROBERT DOZIER: I was personally happy to get it over with. I was tired of answering questions for a lot of the last month. Where do you think you're going to be seeded? You're the 2 seed? What happened? Let's throw the ball up in the air. We're ready to play now.

Q. Let me ask Randy's question a different way. For you guys, how did Coach Calipari help you guys get over last year? Did he just tell you forget it? I imagine it's pretty hard to forget.

ANTONIO ANDERSON: After the season, you know, it was heartbreaking while we was talking about it. You know, like Robert said, Joey who was with us, Chris and Derrick also left as well, and me and Robert came back. They're still thinking about it because I was -- that was their last college game. It wasn't ours. We had the chance to win the national championship. We didn't.

We lost to a great Kansas team who had 8 guys go to the NBA. You just have to suck it up and realize they're the better team. In that case, that was the situation.

So, we really didn't do too much talking with Coach about the game. We just continued to work out and work hard and try to make ourselves better so we can try to get back to where we were last year.

ROBERT DOZIER: Pretty much what he said. Wanted to keep working hard through the {summer} to be able to get back to that point.

Q. If you guys go back to that Tulsa game is a game on the road, how different would your season be, do you think, if Antonio doesn't make that last second shot?

ROBERT DOZIER: I don't know. That was big. That was huge for us because one conference loss I think probably would have shattered, maybe 2 seed, probably 3, 4. Not too much of a difference, I don't think.

We played for ourself because we went on at the end of the season and got two big road wins and Gonzaga and Tennessee. Hopefully that would have proved something, but, I mean, we'll take the win any way we can get it.

Q. Robert, what happened in the middle of the season? You and Shawn Taggart seemed to take your inside play to a different level, the rebounding advantage got a little bit better. Was there some particular moment or something that happened that you guys took it to the next level?

ROBERT DOZIER: Coach was on us earlier in the season, him, you know, like getting production and me and him just started coming in, working out early. We kind of just turned around from that point, you know, just came with the intensity everyday at practice. We wanted to work hard and get better, you know, just started to show on the court. We stayed with it.

KEVIN KLINTWORTH: Any other questions for the student athletes?

Q. Tyreke, where were you the night of the national championship game? Where were you watching it knowing - did you know you were going to Memphis then, and just tell me about your experience, feeling for them.

TYREKE EVANS: I didn't know I was going there yet, but I watched it at my mom's house. It was one of the schools that I was looking at. So, you know, it got close to worse to the end, and I had to leave the house because I wanted them to win, but, you know, I told my mom in the car, tell me who won the game. She told me. I said that's just a disappointment. I really wanted them to win. I didn't know I was going there then.

Q. When did you {make} the decision to go there?
TYREKE EVANS: You say why?

Q. No, when.

TYREKE EVANS: I was at a camp, me and brother sit down and talk. That's when I wanted to come here.

Q. You two veterans talk about the aftermath. I know you don't want to look back, but you're in Kansas City. Talk about the community and how the people, they reached out to you. I know everybody there took it hard, felt that you had it in the palm of your hands. Can you talk about how the fans and the students, just talk about how people came to your support.

ANTONIO ANDERSON: The same as winning the game, honestly. We got off the plane, there was 5,000 people at the airport waiting, clapping, yelling, screaming, signs and everything like that.

So our fans embraced us regardless of the win or the loss. We were just -- we were just -- we just fell short. But our fans, it didn't mean nothing to the fans or the students. They all felt like we won the championship. That was the best part.

Q. Do you have anything to add to that?

ROBERT DOZIER: No. I just say what he says. They cheer like we won, you know, so it wasn't a big difference.

Q. Antonio, how do you describe your game? What do you try to do on the court, and maybe how has it evolved over the years?

ANTONIO ANDERSON: I just try to do as much as I can to help my teammates. Just try to help Tyreke out as much as possible. He's a point guard. He gets tired. We need him in the game when he's tired. He'll give me the ball to bring it up sometimes. I try to give guys the shots they like to get.
I know all these guys like to score. I try get them in the ball in the right situation, and I just try to defend my butt off as much as I could to make the job easier for my teammates.

Q. What did you learn over the four years?

ANTONIO ANDERSON: I learned a lot. There's been games where I needed to score and I scored. There's been games where I don't laugh to score and I don't score. There's games where I rebound and have assists. I just feel like I could do everything and I just try to play a cool, calm, relaxed game and just lay low a little bit.

Q. This is for an Tony and Robert, both. You guys were sitting here last year with another freshman point guard took his game to a different level in the post-season and was pretty phenomenal. How do you compare where Tyreke is right now to where Derrick Rose was last year?

ROBERT DOZIER: They're just about the same, same pace. They have great years all around and I think come tournament, you know, {it's} do or die. I expect the same thing out of him, turn it up a notch. So I mean, you know, that's what I see happening as well as our whole team.

ANTONIO ANDERSON: I feel the same as Rob. He been playing extremely well all year. Derrick played well for us last year. There's really no comparison. They're both two totally different type of players both, you know, he's a kid who has tremendous heart and as tough as every so we know what we're going to get out ever him. We're not going to get anything less but everything. We just know. He'll perform.

KEVIN KLINTWORTH: Thanks, fellas.

Now up, Memphis coach John Calipari. He'll make a brief statement and then take questions.

COACH JOHN CALIPARI: We're excited. Probably in a different mode mentally. Because last year it was just put at us. If we didn't get to a Final Four, it would have been a total bust, which is crazy, but that's how it was thrown at us. And this year we're a little bit under the radar, not as much expected but excited. Means we're going to have our chances, and we just hopefully come out every game to try to play as well as we can play.

Q. You mentioned last year. Can you just talk about how your team got over the disappointment of last year? What did you have to do to move on, and has that team been able to carry that into this year, lessons learned that will help, et cetera?

COACH JOHN CALIPARI: Well, first of all, you have to understand it happened so quick and everything could have gone wrong or right for Kansas, if you're a Kansas fan. My first job was to make sure that no one felt responsible for what happened. I'm very happy anytime I see that it's all about a timeout or a foul earlier or -- and it's on me. I didn't want any player to think a turnover or missed free throw, a missed shot, foul cost us a national championship. They shouldn't have to live with that.
So that was my first thing. And then just try to make out of that situation what a positive it really was. I mean, I'm going to tell you, I must have told the officials, and they'll tell you, at least five, maybe ten times, you know, I'm loving this. That's exactly what I said during the game. I loved the whole game. When we were down 7. I said, you know, I'm {loving} this.

So I wanted my players to feel that, and we talked about the blessings that we had last season versus one shot, one overtime and I think you use all those experiences and what I've always tried to do is use them as a positive. That's what we've done.

Q. Would there be an occasion in this tournament do you think you'll be able to fall back on that during a timeout or during --

COACH JOHN CALIPARI: I don't call many timeouts so -- the only thing I can tell you is -- I was just in the back and I heard -- we have not -- this team has created their own identity, which is incredible in the face of a team like we had last year.

Their identity -- and even they've taken themselves to another level defensively that even last year's team didn't go to, which was incredible that no one is talking about last year except you guys. They're talking about now and this team and the opportunities we have.

Now, it's hard. I mean, our first game is hard. Our first game in this tournament has been hard every year. Oral Roberts, North Texas, Texas Arlington, they've all been hard. Northridge is going to be a hard game for us. We know it.

Q. John, since you brought it up, from two-minute mark to overtime, how much was your fault? I know you don't like to call timeouts.

COACH JOHN CALIPARI: You know what? Here is the greatest thing about coaching, one, I took responsibility and I do I'd do it again. But if he misses the 3, I would have been a genius for not calling the timeout, and wait a minute, he didn't foul. No, we were trying to foul, but we were going to foul at half court.

The other side of it is, if I called a timeout and we fouled too early and he misses -- makes one and misses the second and because Joey Dorsey is out of the game, our best rebounder, and they rebound the ball and they had won and we lose in regulation -- whatever I did was going to be looked at as he did wrong.

The talking heads, oh -- especially the guy that has never coached, oh, my goodness. The talking heads are going to jump. He should have done this, this. Have you ever been in that seat?

Then the other side of it is, I'm not one that calls a whole lot of timeouts. If I've done my job, I'll end the game with three, four timeouts. Now, if you want to go back on the stats of this year, you look how many games that we had three or four timeouts left and we went home.

I don't want to give them a break. We're trying to win. If I've done my job in practice, I can make a call in the huddle while they're free throw shooting. We went over 30, 40 times in practice. We called a chest.

But they were shooting free throws and I had talked to them. We knew what we were doing. At the end of the day, you're up 9 in a national championship game. You should win that game. I said it a year ago and I'll say it now. I take full responsibility even. And I'd rather it be on me than any one player did this, this or this. I can live with it. I'm fine with it. I am so happy we won 38 games.

You may not believe this, that's never been done in the history of college basketball. I'm going to make a statement. In our lifetime, it may not be done. so it's pretty good what happened.

Q. Just to follow up?

COACH JOHN CALIPARI: Oh, my gosh. Can we talk about this game?

Q. You know how hard it is to get that to championship game. Did your head ever hit the pillow and say am I ever going to get back?

COACH JOHN CALIPARI: We'll be back. I believed it at that time. A lot of this, you look at it as I hate to say fate. I look at it and say I really believe we'll be back.

Q. John, how do you compare where Tyreke is now to where Derrick Rose, another freshman point guard, was at this time last year-in?

COACH JOHN CALIPARI: They're different players but they're very similar in their growth into this offense and how we play defensively.

Both would bring different things to the table. Derrick brought an explosiveness which he has taken to the NBA. He almost blew out a knee last night if you saw the game. He did a crossover and the big guy almost fell. He's taken what he did with us to the NBA.

Tyreke is more of a physically tough, long point guard who can create for his teammates. He just gives you something. We can post him up, we can do different things. He gets steals, rebounds. He's one of our best rebounders. So he gives us something different.

But he's come -- I'm so proud of him. Here's a kid, I had him in the wrong position to start the year. I should have been fired. We're 6-3.
When I put him at the right position, point guard, this all changed. Now, I'm not saying I'm a genius. I told you, I should have been fired. But he never said one word to me about being in the wrong position.

And I said to him, "Why didn't you say something to me?"

He said, "I was doing what you asked me to do. I came here to be coached by you, and wherever you wanted to play me, I was going to play." That's the kind of kid he is.

Q. John, we've all talked a lot about the adversity that your team has faced overcoming last year. Your opponent, as I'm sure you know, they've had some terrible things happen this year, terrible car wrecks, off-the-court distractions. Would you say that it speaks to the character of those players that they were able to hold it together and get here?

COACH JOHN CALIPARI: I've had more people call me and say they cannot believe they lost their two leading scorers in the middle of season and still where they are. So the -- let me just say this: It doesn't matter what the score is. With 7, 8 minutes to go, if you think this team is going to go away, you're out of your mind. They're going to play because of what they've been through. They're well coached. If you watch them on tape, they're so active defensively in what they do. They play different kind of zones. They're man to man. They steal balls. They're an outstanding team.

Q. Coach, I asked the players this, also, but back to the Tulsa game on the road this season, if Antonio Anderson --

COACH JOHN CALIPARI: We're a 5 seed.

Q. But how different would your season be?

COACH JOHN CALIPARI: Am I right, though? We're a 5 seed. We're a 5 seed, and we got a tougher road to where we're trying to go.

Q. Coach, Antonio is kind of your unsung player?

COACH JOHN CALIPARI: I'll give it a 4 seed.

Q. Antonio is kind of your unsung player. When you recruited him, what did you envision and how has he evolved?

COACH JOHN CALIPARI: He and Chris Douglas came in similar players. And as we recruited them, everybody was telling whoever was recruiting the other, "Why would you go there when you're going to be playing against the same guy, the freshman, in the same year as you?"

And he trusted us enough to know that you're different, it doesn't matter. The way we play offensively, I can have four guys on the {floor} like you.
He trusted what we said. And all of a sudden, he's played more minutes in the last four years. Every year as a freshman he lead us in minutes.

As a sophomore, he's lead us in minutes. As a junior and senior, he's lead us in minutes. Because I trust him, one, to be on the court because he does everything.

I think he'll be a long-term NBA player, Raja Bell, style of player. A player I love, Bruce Bowan, was with us for a little bit in Philly. I love him. He's a little bigger than Antonio, but he's a lot like Bruce Bowan. When a coach gets him, the coach will keep him because he can play 1, 2, 3. He can play all those positions.

People may question his shooting. They never do that in the NBA. They just -- we know eventually he'll shoot it. He shoots it well enough, free throws and other things.

Q. Coach, Antonio Anderson, Robert Dozier were not playing particularly well to start the season and something seemed to switch. Was that part of Tyreke moving to point guard or a particular moment that you had a discussion?

COACH JOHN CALIPARI: I think part of it was that because now they became more comfortable in their position and they could move back into the position doing better than a year ago, but very similar to a year ago, and they became more confident. I think there just came a point in the season where this thing is on, let's step this up.

Shawn Taggart is probably, the last four weeks, I can't even believe it's the same guy. He's gained weight, more {confident}, better conditioned. You know, just has a swagger. My job is to make sure that swagger is not arrogance, because he'll also slip into that occasionally.
But he has been -- his swagger has been like, wow, and he's performing on the court.

KEVIN KLINTWORTH: Any other questions? Great. Thank you, Coach.


KEVIN KLINTWORTH: On behalf of the NCAA and the Big 12 Conference, welcome to Kansas City. We are joined by Cal State Northridge. Two athletes, Tremaine Townsend, Mark Hill, and Kenny Daniels. We're ready for questions.

Q. Hi guys. Tell us first, if three of you guys could talk about this is your first trip. The school's first trip back to the tournament in a while and your reaction when you heard your name and then your reaction when you found out your opponent.

TREMAINE TOWNSEND: It was -- you know, this is a very exciting time for your school and to bring recognition to our program, and we're just all very excited to be here, and, you know, a chance to compete on the stage is just awesome opportunity.

So we're all very excited and, you know, Selection Sunday when that came around, you know, that's a moment that everybody can enjoy, and we got to be there and enjoy that moment so it was all great.

MARK HILL: Yes. I kind of feel the same way. You know, just a very exciting. I really can't just describe the words, really. Just amazing, you know, and then when we found out we was playing Memphis, we're just excited. They're a great team and we're a great team. So we'll just excited, really.

KENNY DANIELS: Just like these guys said, it's exciting. Like a dream come true. I'm kind of close to home, so I get to play in front of my fans. That's also exciting for me and Selection Sunday, we have to do that with our team, with our family. It was a good experience for us.

Q. Kenny, how did you make it from St. Louis to California?

KENNY DANIELS: It's a long story.

Q. Give us the short version.

KENNY DANIELS: I played at Vashon, I guess, who is from Kansas City, know where Vashon is, what Vashon is about. I went to junior college in Wyoming, and I got a chance to meet Coach Danny Sprinkle, and he told me about Northridge. And I went on a visit and I liked it. I made a decision to go there.

Q. How many folks you going to have in from St. Louis?

KENNY DANIELS: We're going to be a lot of us in there.

Q. Mom, dad?

KENNY DANIELS: Mom, dad, cousins, just my family.

Q. Brothers and sisters?


Q. How many?

KENNY DANIELS: Four brothers and sisters.

Q. Mark, in particular, Memphis is like you had said before, they're a very long and athletic squad. I think their shortest starter, he's 6-5. How are you guys going to manage the side disadvantage you have in some areas?

MARK HILL: I feel that we're going to try to use our quickness. Guys are taller, but we're just going to try to use our quickness and going to go out there and play basketball. We're going to go out there and play fearless and going to play our best and see what happens.

Q. Speaking about Memphis height and length, what is it that you work on? Have you matched up against anyone during the season that compares to that, and how have you worked on trying to attack what Memphis tries to do?

TREMAINE TOWNSEND: Well, you know, throughout our season, at the beginning of our season, we played a lot of top schools -- played Stanford, UCLA, played New Mexico. He got some good experience against some top schools, and we just go out there and compete, and that's that we plan on doing against Memphis. Just them versus us, and that's how we look at it, and that's all we can do is just step on the floor and compete and see what happens.

MARK HILL: I feel that we're not going to try to change our game plan. We're going to go out there and play Cal State Northridge basketball. We're going to play our game.

Q. Speaking about that, just to give the fans an idea, what exactly is Cal State Northridge game? What is it that you guys like to do?

MARK HILL: We like to get out and defend; we like to run. Our secondary game is probably like our -- we run 90 percent of the game. We're going to go out there. It's going to be exciting because Memphis like to run, we like to run, so we're two running teams, basically. That's Cal State Northridge basketball, pressure and run.

Q. For all of you maybe starting with Kenny; how have you guys overcome the off court distractions that you've had this year? How have you turned it around and been able to focus on basketball?

KENNY DANIELS: It just seems like, though, things made us come closer together. We know we needed everyone to come together to accomplish what we just accomplished. So I just feel like, although things that happened, made us become a better team.

MARK HILL: Yeah. I feel that, you know, we're a family and a team. I feel like it made us closer. You know, we just depended on each other more and just didn't want to mess up because we knew we're messing up for the whole team. We just really treat it like a family, makes us ultimately closer.

TREMAINE TOWNSEND: Just like they said, you know, we're a family and we just looked at it as another life problems. Just another up and down, and if you let it put you down and not move forward, then you just got beat by life.

We wasn't going let that happen. You know, now we're here, so we accomplished what we needed to accomplish. Here we go with Coach Braswell.

KEVIN KLINTWORTH: We're joined by Cal State Northridge coach, Bobby Braswell. We have opening statement and questions for Coach Braswell.

COACH BOBBY BRASWELL: Well, obviously we're very, very excited to be here and have this opportunity to play in the national tournament. This team has been through quite a bit this season, and they've handled it very, very well. And as a coach, I couldn't be more pleased and satisfied with the group of young men that have just persevered and worked hard and, you know, we had a lot of tournaments make excuses for not being here, and these players haven't done that. I'm extremely excited and proud of my basketball team.


Q. Hey, Coach. We asked the players to talk about the excitement they felt in hearing their name on Selection Sunday. With you as a coach and getting this team back to the tournament and then follow-up about seeing who you were going to play.

COACH BOBBY BRASWELL: Yes. Well, I think we all probably had the same level of excitement. Even though I've been to the tournament in the past and have sat through going through the selection process, it was a very moving moment.

It was a moving moment probably because, again, of the obstacles and the adversity that this group has had to deal with throughout this season, and that made it even more special.

I've always challenged the group and suggested to them that there's nothing greater than sitting home on a Sunday afternoon at 3:00 and hear your name and see your name come across that television, and for a lot of these guys, it was their last opportunity to have that done. So I was extremely excited for them in that way, obviously.

When we -- it really didn't matter who it was. You know, obviously we were just happy to see our name. When you see Memphis, obviously you think one of the absolute best teams in the United States, and so we've been to this -- down this road before.

We played back in the tournament in 2001. We opened up with Kansas in the tournament, and obviously they were very good as a basketball team then. I explained to our players in the locker room, once you get through all of the fluff and the pomp and circumstances of the tournament, you walk out on the floor and all the dimensions are the same. We've played a pretty aggressive schedule this year, and our guys have played in some tough situations. Hopefully, we'll be able to respond tomorrow.

KEVIN KLINTWORTH: Next question.

Q. Coach, you must be awful proud of these kids for the way they've come through. Here they are in the tournament. I mean, whether they win tomorrow or not.

COACH BOBBY BRASWELL: Yeah. Words -- I mean, you hear this said, you know, words can't express how proud I am. But I'm extremely blessed and extremely honored to have worked with this group.

You have to remember by the end of the season, we were playing guys that hadn't played a lot of minutes at all and asking guys to do things that they weren't used to doing. We asked Rodrigue Mels to play point guard.
He never had played it his entire life. You know, when Josh Jenkins went down and he stepped up and obviously, ended up being the MVP of our tournament, the Big West Tournament. We had a great group, a great team back in 2001 when we won the Big Sky Championship. I was talking to one ever my assistants who was with me at that time. I said, "What's the difference between those two teams?" That team in 2001 probably had a little bit more talent, but this group has more heart and more character and more toughness than I've seen, and I'm just very, very -- I don't want to take anything away from the 2001 group because I would take those guys back tomorrow, but I'm extremely proud of our guys.

Q. Coach, how specifically do you turn around these kind of off-court distractions and make it a positive? What specifically do you tell your players so that they can cope with something like that?

COACH BOBBY BRASWELL: You know, as a coach, you've been in this business long enough, you've always talked to your team about adversity. Dealing with adversity. Usually that has to do with maybe losing two, three games in a row and how you respond to that kind of adversity.

The kind of adversity these guys faced this year was a whole lot different. I understood that, and I understood that it was a moment in which their character was going to be tested.

We have a saying, we have a thought for the day that we occasionally use in practice, and it's about character. And our definition of character is the ability to meet the demands of reality.

And we challenged our guys. You know, your reality is different now, and our ability to meet that, to step up and still perform in the face of all things we're dealing with will say a lot about the character of this basketball team, and I think that's what did it.

I also understood it was important for me to stand up in front of those guys and they have to believe that I believed in them. They have to see in it my eyes that I believed they could still win and still be successful and, you know, and that was kind of the task that at hand throughout the season.

Q. How -- strategically when you look at Memphis, you see the length and speed and their defense in particular. What do you do?

COACH BOBBY BRASWELL: We can't stretch our guys and make them any taller or any faster or quicker. We are who we are at this time.

Obviously, their length, as you said, and their athleticism is a concern, and that's what makes them a very good basketball team. You know, it's funny when you watch them, and I've had a chance to talk watch them extensively on tape.

You would think they're out in passing lanes and doing a lot of denying and pressuring. They really don't do that. They take advantage of their length. They get you in circumstances and situations where you have to put the ball on the floor, and then when you put the ball on the floor, you end up facing guys that are 6-9 probably wing spans of 7 feet or more and block a lot of shots, get a lot of deflections. Makes it hard on you offensively.
I told our basketball team, obviously we have to take care of the basketball. Just watching them, it seems like every time an opponent turns the ball over, they convert it on the other end.

If you look at our stats, we've had a problem with turning the basketball over. We've got to be very, very smart about handling the basketball, being very strong with how we handle the basketball, and I believe play with some confidence, too. There's a certain style that we play. It would be wrong for me to ask our guys to come into this tournament and all of a sudden become a different team. We still have to be the team that we've been all year, but we definitely have to eliminate mistakes.

Q. Coach, speaking about that, you have to do what it is that you do. When you played your out-of-conference competition, how did -- did anybody compare to what you saw on tape with Memphis, and how did that help you?

COACH BOBBY BRASWELL: Well, you know, if you look at our out-of-conference schedule, we were at UCLA, at New Mexico, at San Diego State. We were at Stanford. You know, we played some what you would call high major competition, obviously at those places.

I don't think we played a team that had the length and the athleticism that Memphis had. Maybe San Diego State a little bit. They just present a whole different situation for you, and it's really hard to practice against that, obviously. So that's why you have to depend on really just doing what you normally do.

You can't recreate the scenarios you might face. You just have to, you know, hope and pray that your guys come out and they execute the game plan and they execute what you have to do on the offensive end of the floor. We ended up leading our conference in scoring and also in important defensive categories as well.

So it's about execution for us and not turning the basketball over.

Q. You talked about some of the -- overcoming something of the player distraction. How about yourself? What happened to you? Did your life pass before your eyes when dash talk about that experience.

COACH BOBBY BRASWELL: Yeah. I'll tell you for Bobby Braswell, just 27th, obviously I was involved in a serious car accident and it changed my perspective on things on life a little bit. I've always been a person of faith, obviously. I had just dropped my family off at home and went out to run by the office and pick up something when the accident happened. So I was very thankful, number one, my family wasn't with me, but it just gave me an appreciation of life and your family and your players and not taking things for granted and, you know, told somebody the other day, I really believe I'm a better coach today than I was before the season started. I believe I'm a better father, a better husband, and I believe our players are better players today because of the experiences.

I think adversity does that to you. I think it matures you. You know, I depend heavily on God's grace to kind of get me through things and learning how to handle situations and everything else, but I just believe that when -- there's also a saying we have that what doesn't kill you will only make you stronger, and I just think that it's really held our group together.

Q. How badly were you hurt? What was the extent --

COACH BOBBY BRASWELL: I was extremely blessed. When the Fire Department got there, they were surprised that I was out of the car and standing, and, you know, it was a situation where I could have been killed, obviously and -- but, again, grace of God, I was able to survive that, and I was out a little while dealing with some back and neck issues and everything else, but by the time the season came around, I was able to get going and deal with the issues of our team.

One of the things I always tell our guys again is the one thing that basketball does for all of us, it's a relief from reality sometimes dealing with issues off the floor. We can come in and do something we really love doing, and I really focus on that couple hours that we have practice.

Q. Coach, 15 has beaten a 2 only four times in the history of this tournament. Is there a particular formula, anything in your mind that you see playing out that has to happen in order for you guys to have an opportunity here?

COACH BOBBY BRASWELL: We have to play well. We have to play well. That's the bottom line. We're going to have to play a nearly flawless game, and we're going {to} {have} to just -- for you it starts with our defense. There's some goals that we have every game, and that's -- if we can get close to those goals or have those goals, we have a chance and that's -- if we can force our opponents to shoot the ball below 40 percent, if we can get between 35 and 40 deflections a game, if we can win the war of the boards, the battle of the boards and we protect the paint.

If we can do those things, we feel like we have a chance, and for most of our games this year, when we've done that, we've won. Again, I know this is a different animal we're dealing with here with Memphis. The bottom line is we're not going {to} {have} a chance unless we defend and we can slow them down and get some stops.

On the offensive end, we're going to have to make some plays and take care of the basketball, obviously.

KEVIN KLINTWORTH: Any more questions for Coach Braswell. Thank you, guys.

End of FastScripts