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March 17, 2015

Archie Miller

Jordan Sibert

Scoochie Smith


THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Jordan Sibert and Scoochie Smith.

Q. Jordan, your thoughts on playing Boise State, and have you gotten a look at them? What stands out to you as an opposing player?
JORDAN SIBERT: They're a really good shooting team. They shoot from all five spots, basically. It's something that we're definitely going to have to work on today and make sure that we pay attention to, because they're a really good scoring team. They kind of slow the pace down and switch it up a bit and there's something we want to key in on is how well they shoot, and we're just going to work on that.

Q. Scoochie, how do you limit the amount of 3-pointers they take. It's a team that lives and dies by the 3, what you do you key in on?
SCOOCHIE SMITH: We have to play hard, communicate with one another and stay true like we've always been doing all year and just let the game come to us. As long as we dial in throughout the 40 minutes of the game, we'll be right there to win it.

Q. Jordan, you guys are undefeated here in Dayton. To have this as sort of a home game against Boise State, what sort of advantage does that provide?
JORDAN SIBERT: Well, I mean it's always nice to play in Dayton and play close to home. But regardless of whether we're playing here or if we were in Portland or wherever we could have been, basketball is basketball. And we don't necessarily play on the advantage, we just want to focus on what we do well and come out there and just play our game, and just make sure that we stay together and focus on winning.

Q. Derrick Marks, the Mountain West Player of the Year for Boise State, a guy that that likes to light up a score sheet, do you take it as a personal challenge to go up against a guy like that, and what's it like to battle and what do you see from a guy like Derrick on film?
JORDAN SIBERT: He's a strong competitor. He's able to score in many different ways, and that's something that we're going to have to have a team approach on him and make sure that we focus on him, but we can't solely focus on him and lose track of the other shooters they have on the court. They're a really good all-around team and it's going to be a team focus from us. But from him we're definitely going to key in, make sure we try to limit his touches and limit him from feeling comfortable.

SCOOCHIE SMITH: He's a real good player, had a real good year in the conference, player of the year. Just one of our main focuses coming into the game, just keying on him like Jordan said. And just try to contain him to the best we can. We'll be right there to win the game.

Q. What was your initial reaction to the bracket being unveiled, seeing that you're in a play-in game and also seeing that it was obviously here; is that a bittersweet feeling or kind of the overall reaction to both parts of that?
SCOOCHIE SMITH: It's just a real good feeling, give the fans another chance to see us play. Give Jordan another senior night, I guess you could call it that. Just a real good chance to have this opportunity to even be in the NCAA Tournament.

JORDAN SIBERT: Just kind of piggybacking on what Scoochie said. It's just a blessing to have an opportunity to play in the tournament. Some guys didn't hear their name called at all and we just, we approached it as just being happy and being able to take this as a humbling experience and it's great to have our fans to be able to come, five minutes away and just drive over to the arena. It's a great feeling.

Q. You obviously lost some size earlier this season. How are you able to maybe not be the tallest team out there but how are you able to not let that be a big disadvantage for you?
JORDAN SIBERT: Really we can't, we can't let it be a disadvantage. Regardless of what happens or how many players we have or whatever the height disadvantage may be, we have to go out there and play every game. And we're a tough group, regardless of what people think or what they say, we're an extremely tough group. We play together and we're not going to let anything distract us from what we want to get.

Q. Jordan, for you guys, you had such an incredible run last year and an incredible experience. Does it feel like you guys are in the NCAA Tournament despite the fact that you are at home? And what's kind of been the reaction maybe amongst some of the student body of you guys playing at home?
JORDAN SIBERT: It's been great. A great reaction from definitely our fan base and our students here. Everybody's just excited. Excited to be close to home and regardless of whether, like I said earlier, we played here or away, we're in the tournament and we have an ability to keep advancing and that's the only thing we care about, that's the only thing we want to do.

Q. For those of us that haven't seen you guys play, what do you guys think are your strengths, how would you describe your team?
JORDAN SIBERT: Transition team. We like to get out, push the tempo, push the pace. And just playing together. I think we're extremely unselfish. We like to see each other do well out there on the court. Regardless of how things turn out, we all stick together. We know at the end of the day we start the game together, we finish the game together, and that's something that I don't think a lot of teams really get to say that they experience with their teammates.

SCOOCHIE SMITH: I think the number one thing about our team is just how together we just stay throughout the whole season and that just translates to 40 minutes of each and every game. And just to push the pace and it starts with me to get the team going and just to stay connected as I said before.

Q. You mentioned Derrick Marks and his competitiveness, last game he was 6 of 21 from the field. As a player when you know someone of that capability, he's coming off a bad game, might be extra fired up, do you put that in mind? Do you keep that in mind knowing that that guy is going to come out maybe extra fired up the next game?
JORDAN SIBERT: Not really. As a competitor, he should be fired up regardless if he made every shot or not. That's something that I feel like we all as competitors have in us. But he probably will have an edge, but their whole team should have an edge. We have an edge about us, too. It's the NCAA Tournament. We're here. We're ready. So if you don't have an edge, then I don't know what you're here for.

Q. For each of you, what is the one thing you'll learn from last year's run?
JORDAN SIBERT: The main thing for me is to just stick together all the way until the end. There were a lot of close games that we had last year. And there were a lot of runs. And basketball is a game of runs. And we played Ohio State, Syracuse. There were plenty of runs and plenty of times we got down but we never got down on each other. We stuck together. We played together. And we fought all the way to the finish, regardless if it was a game-winner or just a close shot and they happened to miss, we fought all the way through, and it was beneficial for us.

SCOOCHIE SMITH: Exactly what Jordan said. And then another big thing that we learned, just to have the opportunity even to make the tournament. All you gotta do is give us a chance as they did to put us in the First Four, and we're just going to take advantage of the opportunity.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you. Coach, an opening statement.

COACH MILLER: Really excited to be here. And very proud of our guys, for what we've worked very, very hard to build a program, and I think to be here in back-to-back years is starting to show the signs of a program that's built to last. And the core group of people that we have on our team right now, they've been a big, big reason why we've been able to do that. Really unselfish kids. Very tough-minded. Very coachable. And a pretty remarkable group, that for our program, our university, just in general, will be one of the more special groups of people that has represented it. So, again, happy to be here, very excited.


Q. I asked Matt this earlier. Obviously knowing your dad's history coaching. Do you think beyond that, there's anything about the upbringing of basketball players, kids who grew up playing basketball in Western Pennsylvania that might explain why so many of you grow up to not only be collegiate coaches but have a lot of success, if you look at this tournament, look at Susie in the women's tournament, there's a lot of success. Do you think there's anything about the upbringing that leads to that?
COACH MILLER: Absolutely. I think Western Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh, it's about work, work ethic. Most of the people you're around every day, whether they're mill workers or their families were mill workers or they've been doing something for 25 or 30 years, men and women, it's a proud place about work, work ethic. And I think that Western Pennsylvania is a little under the radar in terms of the caliber of competition, the special coaching that you get as young people, in particular the high school levels of who you deal with, are great teachers. And the success of some of the people from Western Pennsylvania, all the way from Hall of Fame football to NBA, to George Karl, you start going down the list, there's just amazing people who have impacted not only a lot of sports but basketball in general. So I think coming from that area, just in general, year-round competition and work ethic, it's sort of in your fabric. So it's no surprise that a lot of people from Western Pennsylvania are successful in the coaching fraternity.

Q. Archie, I'm wondering, what was your reaction to getting put in the play-in field, being so close to the edge, maybe, when you thought you might have been a little bit more secure, but also the flip side of getting basically the home game, does that offset that?
COACH MILLER: You know, we're in. It's the only thing that matters. We were 11 seed last year, played Ohio State and Buffalo. We're an 11 seed this year. They gave us Boise State and told us to play in Dayton. I don't care, First Four, last four, it doesn't matter to me. Being in this tournament at this time of year is what every single person who does this for a living wants to do. And we're here. And on Selection Sunday, I'm glad I didn't know. I would have been a little bit more nervous. But I thought we did a nice job this season, played for a regular season championship. Played for our conference tournament championship. We won 25 games. We tried like heck to schedule a non-conference schedule that would help us. Sometimes you can't control how that goes for you. But I'm not going to -- like I said the other day, I'll never apologize for being in the tournament. It's a special feeling. And the fact that we're playing in Dayton, I just don't want people to think that this is a cake walk. I don't want people to think that this is going to be very easy. I have a lot of respect for Boise State. They're a terrific team. They're the Mountain West champs. They're a lot like us, they're coming out of a non-BCS league with great players. Marks, he's about as unique as a perimeter player as I've seen. The shooter at the front court, I don't know that I've seen a front court make 120 3s together. So regardless of where we would be playing right now, this is a very difficult matchup and that's sort of what you focus on.

Q. When you look at Boise State, what do you think is going to be the greatest challenge in playing them?
COACH MILLER: Defending the 3-point line. And I think, as you get mesmerized by the way they shoot the ball from 3, at times you can actually forget that the player of the year is a perimeter player who plays in the post. They have a very unique system. They're very unorthodox. And as much as we try to probably be hard to guard or have our defensive system that's in place that's built to play anybody, there's some real concerns for us just in terms of that. And the transition game, defending the 3, and then having a player that can get 35 points on you in a tournament game. So as I look at Boise State, to be honest with you, no one would want to play them. There isn't any seed in the tournament that would feel comfortable playing them, because of how well they're coached, how unselfish they are and how skilled they are. And to me it's a heck of a team.

Q. You mentioned Marks and his uniqueness. Wonder if you could talk a little bit more about that, but also he's coming off a game where he shot 6 of 21. As a coach do you think about this guy has a lot of potential but didn't have his greatest game, if he might be more fired up the next one?
COACH MILLER: He's a great player, I don't think I need to be worried about how fired up he's going to be to play in the tournament. Terrific player. He's unique in the way he doesn't get sped up. He's never out of control. And he's physically very, very tough in terms of the physical, the physicality that he brings to an opponent. Guards who guard him are dealing with a guy that can punish him. Whether he's dribbling the ball and backs you all the way down, whether they put him down there, to me he's a guy that can catch the ball ten times on the wing and doesn't need any help. And so when you deal with guys like him you're at their mercy a little bit. You try to make things difficult and try to challenge some shots. But he's going to score some points, too. I think the big thing is you're going to have to, you know, pick your poison a little bit in defending the 3 and letting him operate.

Q. You mentioned the 3 and obviously a guy Nick Duncan, 6'8", who shoots the 3. And James Web, 6'9". If you could expand a little bit on how tough it is when they're sized like that, those two guys in particular can have success shooting the 3?
COACH MILLER: Shooting the 3, just in general, for their team, is good. But front-court players with that type of range, that type of freedom, you don't see that all the time. You don't see their style all the time. So that's something you have to be aware of. And their system takes advantage of how teams play and help. They pick on you a little bit. So they're going to get some shots off. That's not going to be the thing. We've got to be dialed in and challenge them and we just gotta try our best. And I think our effort level is going to have to be at probably the best it's ever been, our communication's going to have to be the best it's ever been. And we're going to have to play really hard.

Q. What type of home court advantage do you guys have here at UD Arena, and do you think you'll have one tomorrow night?
COACH MILLER: Our regular season, just in general, when we're playing a home game we have about as good of a home court advantage as anyone does in college basketball. And our fans are tremendous. They've been doing it for a long, long time. And our players get great benefit from our home court. That's why they come to play here because you're on a big stage and it feels like it. I've been in here for an NCAA Tournament game with Ohio State, when I was an assistant there, and it's a magical feeling in here on the NCAA Tournament night. And I remember sitting there during that game, thinking to myself, boy, I wonder what it's like to play in here when they're in here. I guess we'll see sort of on Wednesday night what it's going to be like. But I'll also tell you that for anyone who is building this as a home game or a walk-through or, hey, they've got such an advantage, I just think they're really underappreciating how good Boise State is. If we were playing a regular season game at home versus Boise State you'd be sick to your stomach because you know what you're in for. They went to San Diego State. I've coached at San Diego State when I was at Arizona. They broke their 29-home game winning streak. And they won at UNLV. They've done a lot of good things. This is a veteran team. They've got some tough guys.

Q. It's very rare we consider that Boise State might be the taller team. How has your team been so successful despite that lack of height that you've had to have --
COACH MILLER: Size is overrated at times. I think when you're Kentucky and you're Kansas and you're Arizona, and the big guys they've got are great, I think that's one thing. But I think so many times size is overrated. Style of play is huge. If you're able to do your style and you're able to work your, do what you do better than the other team does, then you're going to be successful. And we have a versatility in our program. So when we had to adjust, you know, we were able to continue to play the way we wanted to play. We actually got better on offense because of the skill level and the spacing. And defensively it's effort. It's toughness. I think we had a lot of that intact. But we just had to be really smart with how we protect ourselves from foul trouble. So we were I think the number one defensive rebounding team in the Atlantic-10 this year. It's about what you emphasize. And what we emphasize is ball movement, player movement, share the ball. Defensive rebound and play really hard on defense. And that's what we try to do. And it's worked out well for us.

Q. When you look at last year coming into the tournament and this year coming into the tournament, can you kind of compare the two teams entering it and then how much you think playing last year and winning last year a lot of games will help?
COACH MILLER: Coming into the tournament last year, on Selection Sunday, I probably had 200 congratulatory text messages. I think I had two this year. It was like that you broke through. It's the greatest feeling in the world, man. And we ended up drawing Ohio State, which made things very exciting for the lead-up into the game. And we were able to win. This year, we have a group of people that have been in those games. We have a group that's set out this season to go to back-to-back NCAA Tournaments. We're trying to build a program to last. And one of the things is to be in back-to-back tournaments sort of shows there's a maturity about us. We carried over a lot of those big moments last year, a lot of those big wins carried into this season. We were able to win a lot of games this year because of being on that stage last year. So being here this year, playing against Boise State, it's a one-game shot. But I do think last year's success really helped us this year. It really prepared us to play in big games. And there's a will about us that's shone through through the course of the season. They're prideful guys. Being here this year, I don't want to say we expected it, but we weren't surprised to be in the tournament. I think that's the thing that we're about right now. We're not surprised to be in there. There's a lot of people that are surprised that we're here due to the circumstances that we endured. But the group of people in the room, I don't think they ever doubted it.

Q. You mentioned twice about you don't want anybody to think this is going to be an easy game. How do you think the experience of last year in the tournament, and the lead-up dealing with sort of the buzzy opening-round match that you guys had last year, prepares you for a situation where on the outside it can look like a home game but that isn't always an easy situation for the guys to deal with for a tournament game?
COACH MILLER: We sit down last night and you watch the films and you show your players Boise State right away. If you're a team it's about the right things. You got your head on straight very quickly. They're very startling in terms of what they're able to do personnel-wise. That's the first step. I think the second step is there's a lot of noise out there that wants to sort of make this not a big deal. Or a big deal, I should say. Like you were snubbed. You were lower seeded. Boy, you got a home game. None of that matters. The relevant thing is you're playing a championship-caliber team in the NCAA Tournament. They just happened to tell us we were playing in Dayton. If they told us we were going to play in Portland it would feel the same. Our players don't know what it's going to feel like in there Wednesday night. It's a tournament game, and it's going to be electric, and it's going to be a great environment to compete in. And we'll see how it all shakes out. But I know me and our staff, just in general, we don't feel as if, boy, we have a heck of an advantage. We're playing a great team.

Q. I was wondering if you were one that paid much attention to RPI. I know your team's was really good but you were close to being left out. A team like Colorado State wasn't in it. With that in mind in the future would you pay more attention to it or other metrics?
COACH MILLER: RPI? I think we were 29 -- were we 29? I think our RPI was 29 on Selection Sunday. I don't think your RPI matters as much as the amount of top-100 teams you play. I think in general, if you looked at the field this year, the amount of teams that played just a lot of games against that type of competition, tournament-caliber teams, got the benefit of the doubt. And we crunched the numbers like everybody else. If you're not in a power conference, there's about seven to nine bids a year that everyone's fighting for. And to be one of those 34 at-large teams, it's pretty special. And our conference this year got three at-large bids. We got three NIT bids. Six bids postseason again. Last year we got sixth in the tournament. We're in a really good league as well. Our non-conference schedule next year will be very difficult. And we're going to try and play as many tournament-caliber teams as we can play. It's hard for us to get tournament-caliber games at times. I'm sure Boise State has the same conversation every year. But that's our challenge. And it's worked out well for us. Our schedule isn't the reason that we didn't get in. We're in again. So last year and this year our schedule has done enough for us.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.
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