March 20, 2009


KEVIN KLINTWORTH: We have the University of Oklahoma. Coach Jeff Capel, Willie Warren, Blake Griffin and Taylor Griffin.

COACH JEFF CAPEL: It's great to get this win. I thought defensively we were pretty good. Contested shots made things difficult for Morgan State and we're pleased to survive and advance.

KEVIN KLINTWORTH: Questions for student athletes only.

Q. Blake, you just talk about the situation with Ameer Ali?

BLAKE GRIFFIN: We just kind of got tangled up and -- just got tangled up. Turned out bad.

Q. Blake, obviously your back was bothering you after that. How are you? What's hurting?

BLAKE GRIFFIN: Just my tailbone a little bit. My back is alright. It's mainly my tailbone. Should get better with time.

Q. Taylor, is this as good of a team win with several guys contributing as you've had in a?

TAYLOR GRIFFIN: Yes, absolutely. I think everybody played well. I think we kind of got back to playing how we were playing early on in the season and midway through the season. You know, I think we moved the ball well. I think we played good defense and, you know, something we've got to build on.

Q. Blake, also for Taylor. How do you manage to keep your cool out there when all that physical play, getting mugged out there and I want to get your reaction to your brother, too, Taylor? How do you manage to maintain your cool during a game?

BLAKE GRIFFIN: Just understand why people are doing it. The only reason they're doing it is to get me to do something stupid for me to not be able to play. I'm not going to let them win that game so I just walk away.

TAYLOR GRIFFIN: I think Blake has matured a lot over this past year just handling retaliation, knowing like -- knowing why people are coming at him. I think I have faith that he's going to handle any situation that comes up the right way and, you know, even though I may get fired up a little bit but, you know, I know that he's going to do what's smart and what's best for our team.

Q. Blake, it looked like early in the game everything was going your way in terms of getting you the ball and scoring and easy. Then later, 34 got in the game and you had a couple of situations with him before that play. Can you talk about how did the game get more and more physical the longer it went?

BLAKE GRIFFIN: As far as getting touches and scoring like I did in the first half, you know, he really didn't do anything except just hit me. I mean our other guys were scoring, Taylor was scoring, Willie was scoring. I felt like they were doing fine so I mean it got a little bit more physical but I don't think that contributed to not scoring as much.

Q. Willie, did you feel like from a guard perspective tonight that the guards got back into it and really played like you wanted to play and got into the rhythm of the things and got back on again?

WILLIE WARREN: Yeah. The guards did a good job tonight. T.J. hit a couple big buckets for us. I felt like Omar came in and give us good minutes and T.J. came in at the end. We didn't lay down. All our guards came in and stepped up. That's what freed Blake up and freed Taylor up to be able to make shots.

Q. Willie, with that in mind and all the talk about the guards, how did you get into the game without being too aggressive, trying to do too much?

WILLIE WARREN: That's a good thing about having Blake. In the first couple of possessions get a feel for the game. He gets it early and once you get the feel for the flow of the game it's easy for us to step up because the defense is getting down to double team him and opening up plays for our guards.

Q. Blake, that wasn't the first time something like that happened to you this year, might have been the more blatant. How do you keep your feelings inside from hauling off and hitting somebody?

BLAKE GRIFFIN: Just understand why people do that and not let them get the best of me. I don't want them to -- I don't want them to know -- it's an individual game they play with me. I don't want to have to sit out a game for doing something stupid in retaliation. The best thing to do is just walk away.

KEVIN KLINTWORTH: Any other questions for the student athletes? Okay, guys. Get back to the locker room.

Questions for Coach.

Q. Coach, we now how cool Blake is. What were you thinking about when you saw him getting judo-flipped there at mid-court, what goes through your mind? Talk about it.

COACH JEFF CAPEL: Well, I wanted to make sure he wasn't hurt. That was the first thing. Those kind of things really upset me. Look, I know Todd Bozeman. I know he doesn't teach his kids to do that.

Maybe it was it was inadvertent. I hope it was. I didn't see it as it happened. As I turned I just saw him up in the air so I didn't really see the play. But it just really upsets me because he gets hit like that throughout the whole game and it's not called all the time and it just really bothers me.

I know he's a really difficult guy to officiate. I understand that because he's big and he's strong and you have to be physical with him because he's so physical. But some of these things that happen and that have been happening, you know, it's borderline on ridiculous, to be completely honest with you.

Again, it's not anything with Todd Bozeman because, again, I know him and I know he doesn't teach his kids that. Again, if I go back and see the play, when I go back and watch the play -- I'm pretty sure Blake said they just got tangled up. For me it's scary and it pisses me off, to be honest with you.

Q. Jeff, you were able to play a lot of guys. You substituted freely. You substituted early. Was that the game plan going in and did you accomplish what you wanted to in that area?

COACH JEFF CAPEL: We won so we accomplished what we wanted to there. I thought we did some really good things. We still didn't shoot the ball from beyond the arc as well as I know we're capable of. That excited me as crazy as that sounds because maybe it means we have that coming on Saturday.

But I thought we moved offensively better than we have in a while. I thought we defended better. Played a lot of zone in this game. We kind of played the percentages.

We knew that "Kelly" was a kid that shot the ball really well and other than that they had guys that shot it just okay so we wanted to get back in the zone but we were really aggressive in our zone and very effective with our zone.

We were able to get up and press a little bit, some different types of pressure and so I was really pleased with what we did defensively.

I wasn't pleased with how many offensive rebounds they got. That's an area where we have to really, really improve if we want to have a chance to win on Saturday.

Q. Jeff, using the zone did it also kind of -- it seemed like it kind of slowed the pace of the game down, made it more of a half court game. Was that a little bit of the idea or not?

COACH JEFF CAPEL: Not really because we wanted to press. We were getting up in a press and falling back and, if anything, against this Morgan State team we didn't really want to slow it down. We wanted to kind of get it going a little bit and that's what we were more aggressive in our zone. Sometimes we'll just sit back. But I thought we were really aggressive in the zone, able to force some turnovers and force some contested shots which in my mind are like turnovers as well. If we would have rebounded the basketball better then the zone would have even been more effective. We held them to 29 percent shooting. It was pretty good, pretty effective.

Q. Jeff, why is Blake hard to officiate and why don't other Player of the Year candidates get that sort of treatment?

COACH JEFF CAPEL: It's amazing to me. Again, because he's physical. You have to be physical with him. When I played, there were some guys in our league that -- Tim Duncan was pretty good. I played against him for four years. He got some calls. You couldn't be real physical with Duncan.

Randolph Childress scored 40 on us in the ACC tournament and the big reason is you couldn't (indicating). That was a foul. He was kind of a made man because of what he had done.

You know, I don't know. I don't know. I can't speak on that. Can't speak freely on that (laughter).

Q. With the grind that you guys have been through and Blake going through the concussion, losing four of six, how big is it confidence-wise for this team to have a game like this today where you're running up and down the court and throwing the alley oops?

COACH JEFF CAPEL: It's good. We moved on past that. It may be hard for some to realize or believe, but, you know, we're able to move on quickly.

Our guys are able to move on quickly better than me, to be completely honest with you. When you're 18 to 21, not a lot of stuff bothers these guys. Sometimes that drives me crazy but, you know, they've been able to move on.

We had to really -- we had really good practices this week leading up to this and, you know, I'm pleased with some of the stuff we did today but, again, we have a really tough challenge on Saturday against a very good Michigan team.

Q. Jeff, you had a number of guys contribute tonight in a lot of different ways and hadn't necessarily been that way for the last few weeks. I'm guessing you hadn't really liked that.

COACH JEFF CAPEL: Yeah, I did. I was pleased. Obviously when you're able to have a lead like we had, we're able to feel a little bit more comfortable as a coach to get guys in there. Some of these guys have been doing a really good job at practice.

Actually Orlando Allen has been doing good at practice. Obviously everyone knows Omar Leary has been doing a good job for us the last three, four weeks. I felt very confident having him in there.

Get Cade going a little bit. Get him some makes. Hopefully that will come on Saturday because we need him. Juan has given us a boast of energy throughout the season.

So, again, I'm confident in our bench. I feel confident when I go to those guys they can step in and deliver for us.

KEVIN KLINTWORTH: Last couple of questions for coach.

Q. Jeff, despite your anger and your fear over what has happened, did happen to Blake, do you appreciate the demeanor and the fact that he looks like nothing is going to be able to get him to blow?

COACH JEFF CAPEL: I appreciate it because I couldn't do it. When I was his age, there's no way that I would have been able to handle it like that.

One of the things I think it shows, Taylor talks a little bit about Blake being mature. I think more than anything it shows how smart he is. He understands why people are doing some of these things and, again, by me saying that I'm not saying the kid from Morgan State did it intentionally. I don't think that he did. But it was something bad that happened and -- again, Blake is a really smart kid. He understands why they're trying to do it. He understands his value to our basketball team and, you know, he can't react selfishly because that hurts our basketball team.

Q. Jeff, second half, you guys had three straight turnovers. You called a timeout. Not trying to be negative, are you concerned -- 15 turnovers, was that any kind of --

COACH JEFF CAPEL: I was concerned about that. I thought we got sloppy. One of the things we talked about coming into this tournament was competing on every possession and our last game prior to this in the Big 12 Tournament, I don't think we competed -- I thought we got "out-competed" and that's why we didn't deserve to win that basketball game. That's something we talked about.

We tried to simulate those things in practice and I thought we did a pretty good job of that throughout the game but that's where that timeout was from. I didn't think we were cutting hard. I didn't think we had a sense of urgency with anything we were doing. We got sloppy. We wanted to try to talk about that and remind them things that we worked on and that's changed that. We're trying to break that habit.

Q. Quick turnaround, Michigan, what do you know about them?

COACH JEFF CAPEL: I know that they're really good. I know that they're well coached. They have two -- the two players I really know about are Manny Harris who is as good as any guard probably in America and then DeShawn Sims.

Obviously I know they shoot a lot of 3s and they're a really good shooting team. They play various styles defensively, 1-3-1, 2-3 zone, man. I think they played all of them today. They do a great job offensively. They spread the floor, they cut, they move, they share the basketball. They're a really good team.

They've had some really, really good wins this year and it's going to be a quick turnaround. We did do some preparation for them before we came here just a little bit. We kind snuck some in there on them and Clemson just in case, you know, we won today and had an opportunity to get to play one of those two.

But we'll get back to the drawing board tomorrow with our guys. We'll actually do that tonight. We'll show them some tape on Michigan tonight, some clips we already had some things and we'll start talking about them with our guys. We'll probably stay up all night as a staff, put together a game plan, get here and practice tomorrow and get ready for them.

KEVIN KLINTWORTH: Thank you, Coach.

End of FastScripts



COACH TODD BOZEMAN: Well, first of all, I'd like to congratulate Oklahoma. Jeff's done a great job with this program. They're an outstanding ball club and we'll coached and Blake Griffin is as good as advertised.

Obviously the best team won. They did what they were supposed to do and obviously it was a tough fight for us. We missed a lot of shots early on and never really got going.

But all that said, I'm really proud of these guys and proud of the seniors in particular because they bought into the dream and the vision and it was hard because starting out there was nothing tangible for them to believe in so they had to grasp on to and trust in us, the coaching staff and what we were trying to do and these guys have made history. No one can take it away from them.

No one will do it ever again in terms of being the first program or team to go to NCAA Tournament, Morgan State, but, you know, again, after the game, I didn't even really talk to them about the game other than the fact you ought to be gracious in victory and defeat and if someone is better than you, they're better than you. You move on.

But their program is where -- is an example of where we want to go and we want to build so coming from three years ago when winning four ball games when we first got there to have back to back 20 win seasons is tremendous. I think these guys played a large part in it.

KEVIN KLINTWORTH: Questions for student athletes.

Q. Marquise, Jermaine "Itchy". Ameer Ali. What you guys saw, talking to Ameer afterwards and getting ejected as tough as that was for him, give us a sense of what happened out there, the reaction of your teammates.

MARQUISE KATELY: After talking to Ameer, he pretty much -- he wasn't trying to hurt him. They just got tangled up and, you know, I feel like it just -- it looked a lot worse but, you know, I don't think he was trying to hurt him.

Q. Jermaine?

JERMAINE BOLDEN: I didn't even see the incident. I was down court.

Q. Can you just talk in general terms about the physical nature of the game?

MARQUISE KATELY: They were real physical. You know, they were bigger than us but, you know, we didn't back down, you know, but they did what they were supposed to do. Give them all the credit in the world.

Q. Talk about how you try to defend a guy as big and strong as Blake. What do you want to do to stop him from scoring, obviously?

MARQUISE KATELY: Really, you know, you double him. He's a great passer. He can pass it, handle the ball. You know, you just got to kind of -- you know, you got to pretty much have help. You got to face front him or, you know, just have the help, rotate.

Q. For Marquise and Jermaine, does what happened tonight diminish the type of season that you guys had when you look back, when you still look at it as a very successful season?

MARQUISE KATELY: Man, you know, we made history. We did what we set out to do. We didn't get as far as we wanted but, you know, we came a long ways and, you know, I'm just blessed just to experience this.

KEVIN KLINTWORTH: Any other questions for the student athletes? Okay. Guys, we'll let you head back to the locker room. Questions for Coach.

Q. Again, Coach Capel gave you great credit, knows the kind of coach you are, the way you coach the game. As bad as it looked out there, some of your thoughts. What happened with Blake Griffin?

COACH TODD BOZEMAN: I'm not going to belabor the point. Obviously you don't want your players to get into any type of thing that would emotionally embarrass themselves or the University. I don't think he was trying to hurt him.

They were getting tangled up and they were in the ballgame. He got tangled up. I told him that, you know, you don't ever want to try to hurt anybody. I told the guys in the huddle we're going to keep the game clean, want to compete and keep it as clean as possible but, you know, there's always a lot of bumping and grabbing.

They got tangled up. I'm glad that the kid didn't get hurt. He's a great player. Want one of those. Coached those kind of guys before. It helps, trust me, it helps so -- I'm glad that he didn't get hurt.

He's got a great future. He's going to be an outstanding player and one day I'm going to be paying to see him play. I don't have to today but I will be the next time I see him.

Q. What was your game plan to defend him? Jeff said that he understands a guy like Blake is a physical player, you have to be physical with him. What did you want your guys to do? Did it --

COACH TODD BOZEMAN: He did catch the ball off the block. We didn't want to double him off the block because he can pass the ball and he was already facing up. I thought the first ten minutes, you know, we competed. We just couldn't make shots. I don't know how long it can last against him doing that because they're going to go inside to him. He had a couple tipbacks. He has tremendous energy. Even before the game, like I said, I mean who stopped him? Who stopped him yet this year?

Why would we be any different? But I do know that if he gets somewhere between 20-something and double digit rebounds I don't know if you beat them because that means the other guys are involved and when he gets 40 or something like that maybe, but, you know, I didn't think he caught it too much down in the low post on us.

He made some big time shots. Those shots falling away, banking them off the glass. Those are pro shots. He's off the charts. Nothing you can do other than I tried to find some kryptonite but they didn't have it.

Q. Talk about after the incident, would have been real easy for this to generate to a free-for-all. Credit to both teams for maintaining composure.

COACH TODD BOZEMAN: It was just something that happened. I told him, "You don't want to go out like that." What was I going to do, berate the kid right there? Wasn't going to do.

He was thrown out of game. That's his punishment. Go to the locker room. I told the team in the huddle, let's keep the game clean, don't want to hurt anybody, nor you want to get hurt. Play the game. Somebody is going to win, somebody is going to lose. That's how it goes. It's a basketball game.

Q. It would have been real easy for the players to start mixing it up. It didn't happen.

COACH TODD BOZEMAN: If it was meant to be or intended, yes, it could have been but obviously it wasn't intended. The guys don't play like that. We haven't had an incident like that all year. It's not our style. We don't play like that nor would I want them to play like that.

Q. Coach, you made the comments during your opening statements about elaborating on the three seniors, Barnes, Kately and Bolden, how much they will be missed. COACH TODD BOZEMAN: Like I said, they won back to back 20 win seasons, back to back regular season championships. If you note the history of Morgan State basketball you have to go back to the '70s before you could find anything that even comes close to it.

So as a Division I, since becoming Division I in '85, I mean two tremendous seasons. Those guys have been a part of it. They put two banners up in Hill Field House and something no one can take away from them. Something their grandchildren will see when they come in.

They meant the world. I'm truly grateful to them because it takes those kind of players with commitment and have to buy in before you can build your program. I'm proud of those guys and proud of the season that we've had. There's no way you could -- everybody -- somebody is going to lose. Only one team that's going to have this feeling right here. That's the team that wins it all.

So, you know, we were 1 of 65. It was a great season. It's been traditionally the case coming out here. When the bracket buster -- first time ever being in a bracket buster. Like I said, it's going to be -- the field is shrinking today. It's going to shrink again tomorrow and shrink again on Saturday. So, that's how it goes. It's a basketball game. Keep it all in perspective.

Q. Todd, you were talking about the two seniors. Can you address the foundation that you think you laid for the next few years, and I have a follow-up?

COACH TODD BOZEMAN: I think it's a great foundation. I really look at Kevin Thompson and Rodney Stokes, those are two guys that have some valuable experience and then they played against an outstanding pro, outstanding player in Blake Griffin.

You have to get something from that. I'm not mentioning Reggie because obviously Reggie, it will be his team next year and I know him and he's a guy that when he feels bad, he wants something, he's going to work hard this summer and he's going to be on fire next year coming back because that's how he was this year because when we lost in the conference finals last year.

So I know how Reggie is. He's going to be off the charts. He's going to lead these guys and raise the expectation level. So it's only going to help us. Whenever you go to the tournament you see a team that comes back, you look at American University how they came back this year and played extremely well and did extremely -- had a great season.

So it's because those guys tasted it. They went to the NCAA Tournament. This right here does wonders for your program, for your players' confidence and we didn't back into it. They earned it and deserved it. They had a great year.

Q. How confident are you you're going to be a part of that whatever they do next season?

COACH TODD BOZEMAN: That time will come. We'll deal with that when the time comes. I'm not going to -- it doesn't do me any good -- I'm not going to negotiate in the media. Obviously I want to be back.

I think we're going to have an outstanding team next year but things will work out the way they're supposed to work out. I feel like I did what I said I would do and they gave me an opportunity to. I'm forever grateful for that and I feel as though I honored my commitment so we can -- if we can extend it, fine. If we can't, then things will go the way they're supposed to go.

Q. Blake Griffin, who does he remind you of? How good could he be at the next level?

COACH TODD BOZEMAN: I said before the game as I watched so much tape on him that he reminded -- I grew up with Len Bias. That's who he reminded me of. I don't know if he's as skilled as Lenny was. He's as good an athlete for sure and he's younger than Lenny when Lenny first hit the scene nationally. That's who he reminds me of is Lenny because of the athleticism and Lenny was big like that and very athletic. That's what I thought of.

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

End of FastScripts