Missouri-Memphis Postgame Quotes
March 27, 2009
Missouri - 102
Memphis - 91
THE MODERATOR: We will begin by asking Coach Anderson for a few general comments on the game. We will go to questions for the student-athletes and then come back to Coach for questions.
COACH ANDERSON: Wow, you wanted an up-tempo game, that was an up-tempo game there. I'm real proud of all these guys up here on this podium right now and our basketball team. I thought they came out and played with the heart and desire. They deserved to win that game. We came out and kind of took the fight to Memphis early on. Before you know it, our guys had a little confidence going about themselves.
We shot the ball well. We outrebounded them in the first half which I thought was going to be a key part of the game. When you look at getting to the free-throw line, we got to the free-throw line 45 times. We made 30 of them. We will work on that.
But I think the bottom line is our guys -- and tournament play is about surviving and advancing. That's what our guys did today. We survived against a very, very outstanding Memphis team coached by Coach Cal.
Q. Is there any way you can gain perspective this soon after that victory? Because some people are saying that's the biggest victory in the history of the school.
J.T. TILLER: Like Coach says, our next game is our biggest game. That was a big game for us, just at that moment. But, yeah, we can gain some perspective really quick. We have UConn on Saturday. We can't dwell on that win that much. We just got to enjoy it until 12 o'clock and get past it.
DEMARRE CARROLL: It was a good game, great Memphis team. Great Memphis team. But I don't think we are stopping there yet. We got Connecticut. We are going to enjoy until midnight like Coach said and get ready for UConn because that could be our next biggest victory.
LEO LYONS: Even though we won, there are still a lot of things we can learn. That's the only thing we can take from this win is things we need to improve on for the next game.
ZAIRE TAYLOR: What they said (smiling).
Q. Zaire and J.T., can you guys describe the impact of Marcus' 3-pointer at halftime and have you ever seen a shot quite that far away before?
ZAIRE TAYLOR: That was a big momentum play going into the half. I think it got us up 13, I think. And also it is funny because Coach had us practicing that the whole tournament. Every day at the end of practice we get two shots each. I like to believe it paid off.
J.T. TILLER: Yeah, it was just a very big play. It carried us in with a lot of energy and it brought us out in the second half with a lot of energy. It was a very big momentum play.
Q. You guys handled that really well on a perspective thing, but are you too exhausted to be excited or what?
LEO LYONS: Not at all. Just with the chance and opportunity to keep playing more games, I don't think exhaustion is, like, even in our minds right now. We are so excited about being this close to a championship, a sense urgency is about to kick in. These are the last few games we need to take care of, so I think we will have the most energy through the whole season that we have ever had.
Q. Memphis had a very, very good defensive record, especially field goal percentage-wise during the season. You guys scored over 100 on them and had your way offensively. What were the keys to attacking their defense?
ZAIRE TAYLOR: J.T. came out there just really -- I think J.T. set the tone as far as offensively with the way he was attacking the basket. I think he showed that you can get to the hole on them.
Once that happened, I think the whole team just followed his lead and we just attacked. I think we got a lot more shots inside than we usually get instead of the outside jumper. I think that will be key going into the next game.
Q. J.T., you hurt your wrist at the end of the last game and then you come back tonight with your career high. How were you feeling out there? And how did you have such a big game?
J.T. TILLER: I just came out and did what they allowed me to do. The court was spread and they allowed me to attack. That's what I did and that was my game.
Q. How was your wrist?
J.T. TILLER: My wrist is good. As you can see out there, I'm 100 percent.
Q. Can you describe if you found a moment where you felt like it was caving in a little bit on you and was there a time where it was stop and get everybody composed, and, if so, what that was?
LEO LYONS: When we first got up to -- was it 20? Or close to 20, that's normally the time in the past where we made mistakes and started playing safe. So we automatically kind of got a little tightened.
When they started to getting to the free-throw line and getting past our defense and getting to the basket, that's when we started coming together and trying to get these stops. After that, I think we pulled it out in the end. It was kind of similar to the Marquette game.
ZAIRE TAYLOR: Personally I feel like I really want to give my teammates a lot of credit, especially J.T. and even -- I really want to give Miguel a lot of credit because I felt like after getting two quick fouls I feel like I personally lost my composure for a quick second being on the bench in a big game. It was getting to me on the bench. Just seeing the intensity they were coming out there with and the effort and talking to me and telling me -- he said he was going to step up. He really stepped up today.
So I feel like -- I feel like they gave me composure. It just spread throughout the whole team.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Coach Anderson?
Q. Mike, have you done this with two teams now, making tournament runs with teams that eat McDonald's, beating teams that recruit McDonald's All-Americans. Can you put this in perspective how this system is able to accomplish that?
COACH ANDERSON: I think we got the right kids. I always say the recruiting, people put Stars on people. But you can't put a star on a guy's heart. When you look out there to J.T. Tiller, J.T. is a very good basketball player.
DeMarre Carroll, he is as good as any forward in the country, I think, Leo Lyons. That's what we did at Arkansas. That's what we did at UAB. You find those guys, they're hungry and humble. They will work extremely hard. They play to win.
I think you saw a team out there that was hungry. Our basketball team was very hungry tonight. Again, I can say the Stars and McDonald's All-American, those are somebody's opinion. But you can't put a star on a guy's heart, how big a guy's heart -- when I look at a guy like Zaire Taylor who transferred from Delaware and see the impact he is having on our basketball program, you know what? That's a Five-Star for me. I don't know what it is for everybody else. That's a Five-Star for me.
Q. Coach, I'm sure you don't really care too much as long as you are winning, but you had been a second-half team and the last two games you have been stronger in the first half. What has been the difference?
COACH ANDERSON: The sense of urgency. In the tournament play, it is a different mind-set. It is about survive and advance. If you don't come out with the energy and match the intensity of the other team, you may dig a hole early and you may not dig out of that hole.
So in terms of coming out, I think it is a tribute to our guys. This team here, they respond positive to all the things that have taken place. There are some negative things, but any time they have an opportunity to learn, I think they respond in a positive way. That's been the story to this basketball season with our players. As you listen to them, they say some of the same things and that's because they are looking at it through my eyes.
They are seeing all this through my eyes. I have had an opportunity to be in many, many tournaments. When you have guys that will listen and are willing to go out and play the way they play, they play -- to me, they play exciting basketball. They are having fun. They are having fun.
Q. Mike, at what point -- you have coached a lot of big-time players going from Nolan and all that. At what point in your career did you decide that it wasn't about the big-time players but this was going to be your route, just guys who may not have names but who fit into the team concept? At what point did you decide that was going to be the way you were going to coach?
COACH ANDERSON: I think when I look back and I played for Coach Richardson, we were a team that you have Paul Pressey who was a JUCO All-American, was probably honorable mention, and as of 1980 we go and win NIT championship. He had a lot of sums -- parts that made up the sum. We were a dynamite team. And then you look at his Tulsa teams, Arkansas teams, until we got the great players, the third year we got Mayberry, Miller and Day. But we also have some other guys that were there, Robert Shepherd and those guys. They weren't highly sought out. I think you got to start somewhere and then eventually you are going to bring those guys in.
I think one of the keys is we develop players. Joe Johnson wasn't a household name. Jannero Pargo, Corey Beck. I think putting a team together to me is like putting a puzzle together. You get the right pieces and you got to have some NBA players in order to have an opportunity to win a national championship, and we experienced that at Arkansas.
But this is my third year at Missouri and there are some guys I inherited and the last two, Leo and Matt Lawrence, you can just see the development in those guys, the confidence they are playing with.
Of course DeMarre is a fifth-year senior, he is playing some of the best basketball of his career. So I think that's the key there. You get guys that will develop. Those guys, they are hungry and they will come and work. I like winners, I like guys that like to win.
Q. Can you just comment on the impact of Marcus' shot. And when something like that happens, do you feel like sort of inside it is your night or do you not even dare let yourself think that?
COACH ANDERSON: I think the first shot -- when he made that first shot, he banked it in. I thought, oh, man, wow, this might be the night for us. And then when he comes and makes a second one, I say we ought to call the game right then and there (smiling). But unfortunately we couldn't do that.
I thought we came out in the second half riding that momentum. We had some energy and played awful well. I thought our defense was good and people may look at the score and not think that. But I thought our defense was really good. It was disruptive. There is a lot of ways you can disrupt a team. It is not necessarily about taking the basketball. I think that's what this team is finding out. It is not feast or famine with our pressure defense.
Our pressure defense has an effect of wear and tearing on people, taking people out of what they want to do. You saw in the second half eventually Tyreke, he just took it upon himself. I got to make some plays. That's the defense that we try to play forces you to do. But by then, they had a big hole. Our guys were able to hang on and finish the game out.
Q. Was there the same sense of calm as you guys when Memphis was making the run to get back as you had on Sunday against Marquette?
COACH ANDERSON: I think there was. Even Leo alluded to it. Very similar to the Marquette game.
You had a big lead, a cushion against a great team like Memphis, they are going to make a run at you. You know that. I thought our guys got a little hesitant playing not to lose and made some little chippies. You go to the free-throw line and you don't make free throws, eventually that momentum is going to shift.
I saw a calmness with our basketball team that was very prevalent going down the stretch. We knocked free throws. We made stops when we had to. Different guys coming off the bench. Really played well for us.
We got Keith in there for defensive assignments, Matt making plays for us. Total team effort. Leo getting to the free-throw line. Finally started making some free throws. And ended up with Zaire.
We are the ultimate team. When you watch our basketball team, it is the ultimate team. How about Kimmie English? He doesn't make a shot but makes six free throws. All free throws were big for our basketball team this evening.
Q. Can you just talk about J.T.'s effort tonight coming out with a career high in points in a Sweet 16?
COACH ANDERSON: What a game to have it, your career high. His energy was just contagious. I thought he was like a pit bull in a china shop out there. He was going everywhere, just bowling down everybody. He was wherever the ball was.
I thought he set the tone, and some of those guys started following his lead. We had to have him to do that because Zaire, his partner in crime, he was on the bench. But the key about -- the thing about a basketball team is they trust one another. You saw a freshman, Miguel Paul, I thought he came out and gave us some great, great minutes, Denmon. It goes on and on.
Our strongest component is our bench. When our starters are playing well and our bench is playing well, we are a dynamite -- we are a fun team to watch. I thought we shot the ball well. We rebounded the ball well. We got to the free-throw line. All the things we talked about we continue to share the basketball, 17 assists.
Tonight I thought we did what we have been doing all year long. I think now a lot more people get a chance to see it now. That's the thing about it against an outstanding Memphis team.
Q. If I would have told you at the beginning of the season you would be playing for a chance to go to the Final Four, would you have believed me?
COACH ANDERSON: No, I would be asking what are you smoking and drinking, man? But you know what, in order to have something, you got to be able to see it. I have experienced that as an assistant head coach. I experienced that as a player, as a matter of fact, in a championship, NIT championship.
Every year I think most teams they prepare for that. And so this team here, hopefully it will continue with their dreams. They would be dreaming, but I'm hoping to keep them dreaming.
THE MODERATOR: Coach, a few opening remarks from you.
COACH CALIPARI: First thing I would like to tell you, I was really proud of how these guys stayed in that mode to fight to finish the game. Gave themselves a chance to -- I think we were down as many as 24.
Told them after the game that nothing will take away from what they did. We didn't lose for three months. And these guys took on every challenge, but we kind of got punched in the mouth right from the beginning of the game. I thought J.T. Tiller really affected the game. We ended up having to try to put Antonio on him just to slow him down.
But my hat's off to Missouri. Mike did a great job. They beat us at our own game basically. If you would have said you will shoot 50 percent for the game, you outrebound them by three and have 14 turnovers, I'm telling you we win that game. So that tells you how well I thought Missouri played.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about the shot there at the end of the half and what -- did that change your mind-set at all going in at halftime?
TYREKE EVANS: Not at all. I think they got a great start on it in the first half. We went into the locker room, Coach just told us to come out with more intensity and try to play harder and get the game closer.
ROBERT DOZIER: Pretty much what he said. Just want to come out. If we did lose, we wanted to say we gave it our all at the end of the game. I think that's what all the guys did in the second half.
ANTONIO ANDERSON: My teammates pretty much summed it up. Coach told us to come out in the second half early with some fight. He said that half is over. We just put that behind us. We weren't really too worried about the shot.
Q. Robert, Antonio, you have been on the other end of some of these situations where you get a 20-point lead and you stun somebody. Were you stunned in that nine-minute stretch and did you lose your composure at all?
ROBERT DOZIER: I don't think we lost our composure. I thought -- well, maybe on the defensive end a little bit. I think we weren't talking. And on the offensive end, we weren't finishing the plays we needed to finish. I think that was the biggest thing.
ANTONIO ANDERSON: Like Robbie said, we weren't stunned. We were playing defense. Sometimes we weren't talking, sometimes we were. They were just making some tough shots. It seems like every time we got our hands up, they threw something up, it went in regardless of whatever they put up. We just tried to keep fighting and keep fighting. That's how we tried to play it out.
Q. This is it for you obviously, Robert and Antonio. Can you put it into words, what it means? How would each of you like to be remembered as Memphis basketball players?
ROBERT DOZIER: I haven't really put too much thought into it. Hopefully we would still be playing but, I mean, we're not. I enjoyed my career here. I think I gave it my all. I got better and better every year.
So, I mean, that's pretty much all I can say.
ANTONIO ANDERSON: It has just been -- it has been a terrific four years with Robbie and the rest of the guys who I have been here with and Coach and the coaching staff. It felt like a family. Definitely going to miss it. And I just want to be remembered as a hard worker.
Q. Antonio, you had a hand up in his face at the end in that shot, did you not, the one at the end of the first half?
ANTONIO ANDERSON: Yeah. I knew he was going to try to take off, so I tried to time it a little bit and jump. Like I said earlier, every shot they put up in the first half was just going in. Whether or not it was half-court shots or bank shots. There was nothing we could do about that.
Q. Antonio, was it their speed that you guys had trouble with or just the fact that they played that system really well?
ANTONIO ANDERSON: It wasn't their speed because it was an up-tempo game. They got off to an early start. They were making some tough shots. We were driving, doing what we usually do.
It just played out that way. Like Coach said, we tip our hat off to them. They played a terrific game for 40 minutes. That's how it was.
Q. Tyreke, how much thought have you given to your future? What do you expect to do in the coming days with regard to possibly entering the draft?
TYREKE EVANS: I haven't sat down with my family and talked to Coach yet. I don't know yet what I'm going to do.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you. Questions for Coach Calipari?
Q. Can you talk about the shot there at the end of the half? Did you think it did have an effect?
COACH CALIPARI: When I saw it go in, I said you got to be kiddin' me.
But, again, I was just so disappointed in our first half aside from that shot. Lyons and Carroll just went right at us. We're a team that we lead the nation in field goal percentage defense. They shot 56 percent. And so all I talked about at halftime is let's be proud of each other in the second half, whatever happens.
And in the first, five six minutes we are down 24, it didn't change. Very physical game. Very bump and grind and we're getting shots, but we talked before the game, you got to play through all that stuff. You can't make an excuse.
I was proud of how they fought back after that. We got it to six and messed around. You know, they made every free throw and did what they had to do, Missouri. So ...
Q. Antonio is there at the end with his hands on his knees and it is the end for you and with them. I guess you were proud of the way they fought back in the second half. Does that epitomize what they have done here at Memphis?
COACH CALIPARI: Well, their numbers have been retired already. They have won more college games than any players in the history of college basketball. They are going to graduate in May on time in four years. And they have reestablished what we're about. And I'm proud of them.
It is going to be sad when they're gone. Even Robert, who did not play well in the first half, he gets 18 -- 19 and 16 rebounds. 19.16, and really only played about 12 minutes in the game.
So it is like family, missing family. That's it. Wanted it to extend for them, really did.
Q. I know it is sort of generalities here but, I mean, people aren't used to seeing Memphis down 24 points. What did Missouri do right? What did you guys do wrong?
COACH CALIPARI: Well, they -- we weren't able to play through where they come at you. We weren't able to play through some of that stuff. And the second thing was they broke us down defensively like we break people down.
Like I said, they beat us at our own game. It is not that they beat us shooting 3s. It is not like they beat us shooting free throws. It is that they beat us going to the rim and offensive rebound and getting layups.
And Tiller -- every time we got it to where we needed it, Tiller makes a layup. We talked about guarding the ball on the drive and really stunning off other men and just weren't able to do it.
But we haven't been down 24 that many times. It is also hard to coach in that way when you haven't been down like that.
Q. You did go zone on a couple of possessions and didn't get much out of that.
COACH CALIPARI: Tried everything. I was trying different combinations, zone, anything I thought we could get the tide going our way.
And really what we needed to do was to play with unbelievable energy, which we did for about a 12-minute stretch. We may have been stunned by -- because really all they did was run it up our backs. They got it in quick and ran it right up our backs. We couldn't get back there and form that wall which we were trying to do.
But we were trying everything. I was trying combinations. I tried a small team. I tried a big team. I tried everything. And we just -- we just didn't have it. And I want to tell you, Missouri was even better than I thought. Carroll just -- he just took us in the paint in the first half and just turned and shot balls. So did Lyons. And then Tiller did his thing and then they made shots. 56 percent, I'm not sure anyone has done that to us in four years, let alone in a NCAA tournament game.
Q. You know the inevitable questions are going to come about whether or not you guys were prepared and good enough and all those -- the caliber of competition. How do you defend against that?
COACH CALIPARI: Well, I think there is only one other team that has won as many NCAA tournament games as we have in the last four years. And I think that kind of tells you that in the NCAA tournament we're prepared to play, and obviously we didn't play as well as Missouri today.
And I will say it again, I loved how we finished the game. I love how we fought and tried and no one gave up. They were giving themselves a chance to do something special. Just unfortunate we put ourselves in that hole.
Q. You guys are so similar, if you were playing on Saturday, what would be your approach? Connecticut has got guys who are supposed to be in the NBA. What would be your approach to that type of team?
COACH CALIPARI: If I were playing Connecticut?
Q. You and Missouri are so similar, what would be your approach.
COACH CALIPARI: You have to go into the mind-set they went in with today which is "we can beat these guys."
I think what they did to us today in the first half, every 50/50 ball they got, every rough play, hands-on bumps, they just made those plays. We did not. And you are going to have to go in against a tough Connecticut team and do the same. You got to get the 50/50 balls.
They will probably have to do something to get the beat away from the basket because they are not going to drive in there like they did against us if D is in there. But it will be a great game.
I'm going to say it again. The job that Mike has done at Missouri, phenomenal. From what he went into, how he has built it over a period of time. They were 16-16 last year. They are in the Elite Eight with a chance to go to the Final Four and win the national title. What they did to us today, I'm telling you, Dana asked a question, no one has done this to us. We lost Elite Eight games but we were like right -- it was a four-point game, two-point game, to UCLA, to Ohio State. Kansas we are up nine and the coach screwed up the game. But, I mean, they punched us in the mouth and we did not respond.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.