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NCAA MEN'S 2ND & 3RD ROUNDS: LOUISVILLE


March 18, 2015


Robert Brown

Jerod Haase

Nick Norton


LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY

Q. Nick, there was a lot of turmoil on your campus this year with football. I was wondering if you guys felt any sort of mission to turn things around from a morale point on campus when basketball season started.
ROBERT BROWN: It was important for us just to give the city something to cheer for. They were down about football, and it's something that we've all kind of talked about, but it's something that we wanted to just give the city, and especially our UAB community, something to cheer for, something exciting.

NICK NORTON: It was a big accomplishment for the City of Birmingham. We wanted to represent them in the best way and represent them at the highest level.

Q. For both players, you guys, obviously the record is vastly different at home and away. How do you bring your play from Birmingham in the BJCC here to this tournament?
ROBERT BROWN: We hit our stride a little bit, especially during this conference season. When we ended at BJCC, we just hope to continue that and play well. It's a neutral site. It's anyone's game really. We're just going to go out and compete as hard as we can.

NICK NORTON: We just need to rely on each other. We had some tough road games, and now we're in the NCAA Tournament, and we just need to rely on each other and trust in each other in all situations.

Q. What do you guys see on film when you look at Iowa State?
ROBERT BROWN: They're a very challenging team. They won the Big 12 conference for a reason. As far as our scouting report, we're just going out there and just paying attention to what Coach has said and trying to execute every little detail as best we can.

NICK NORTON: Fastpaced team, transition defense going to be key for us. Making sure we're picking up guys in transition and defending the three and then boxing out on the defensive end.

Q. How much can Coach help you guys? He's got so much tournament experience. On the roster, this is kind of a new experience for so many guys. What can he do to you guys? What has he said already to maybe help prepare you for this?
ROBERT BROWN: He just told us to enjoy the moment so far. This is possibly a once in a lifetime opportunity for everyone. He just told us, while we're here, enjoy it. At 12:40 tomorrow is when we really need to buckle down and do better than Iowa State. So as far as things that he's told us, it hasn't been too much about getting ready for the game or anything. It's just enjoying the moment.

NICK NORTON: We just need to listen to him. He got us to this point, and we wouldn't be here without him. Whatever he says, we'll do with no hesitation. Just whatever he says, we'll be on board.

Q. Nick, talk a little bit about Monte Morris and the matchup with him and maybe some of the challenges that would present.
NICK NORTON: Based off film, he's an attacking point guard. Capable threepoint shooter. We're just going to have to pick him up on transition. He runs the floor, sets everything up for everyone else, assist to turnover ratio is incredible. Try to pressure him a little bit. I know a lot of guys have tried, but just do whatever we can and just rely on ourselves. It's going to come down to how we execute on our offensive end and our defensive end.

COACH HAASE: Just like the other teams here right now, there's a great deal of excitement with our group. It's an extremely young group. I've heard different things throughout the year, but somebody just said we're the youngest team in the tournament right now. I don't know if we're first or second youngest, but at the end of the day, we do have a group that's grown up a ton from the beginning of the year to this point. It's been a group that different guys have stepped up throughout the year. At this point, one of the neat things about them is there's a great deal of trust between the teammates and a great deal of trust between the players and coaches. I've been very, very fortunate. This is my 18th NCAA experience, as a player, as a coach, and now as a head coach. One thing I'm trying to tell them is through my experiences I can kind of give you guys information, and it's a great feeling as a coach to know that they try and take in everything that we tell them.

Q. Jerod, your team has played so well in Birmingham, capped by the run through the conference tournament last week. What gives you confidence that you can bring that A game on the road this week?
COACH HAASE: I think one thing is I feel like we've grown. We did struggle in conference play with true road games. I actually feel like the moreĀ  the bigger the arena, the bigger theĀ  the greater the competition, our guys have really embraced that part of it. I don't know if it's lack of focus throughout the year keeping a young team ready and at peak level the entire time. We have had a couple of dips throughout the year. But when the stage is the greatest stage, I feel like the guys have really risen to those levels. That does give us a lot of confidence. With a young team, whether it's a lack of experience or whatever, being naive, I don't know what it is, there's a great deal of confidence in that locker room. And I think they've really tried to learn from the troubles that we've had throughout the year and also learn from the successes we've had throughout the year. From both of those, I think we've really kind of got to the point where it's ended up helping us have a great deal of confidence.

Q. I was asking the players this. I know in the fall there was a lot of tumult there because of football. I wonder if your team felt any kind of responsibility to turn around those feelings on campus and sort of dedicate themselves and get everybody back to feeling pretty good after the football controversy.
COACH HAASE: I think there's a couple things there. On a personal level, with me knowing the coaches and knowing the programs that are gone now, it's a tough situation, again, on a personal level. With our studentathletes, on a personal level, seeing their friends no longer on scholarship or no longer at UAB is a tough situation. We never put it upon ourselves that, hey, this is bigger than us. We've got to do this. We've got to win this game for UAB. We really actually narrowed our focus and said, we need to get better as a team right now. We need to focus on rebounding and defense and doing what we're trying to do offensively. As we did that and I've had some success, I do think it's been a point of positive experiences, point of good feelings around UAB, and that's a byproduct of what we did. But I think we really took the approach of kind of narrowing our focus, and good things happened from there.

Q. You mentioned how young your team is. I'm wondering if there are instances or examples earlier in the season where they showed their youth, where you saw you had to maybe start from square one and how you've brought them along.
COACH HAASE: Well, yeah, there were many, many examples early on. One of my former coaches, Ben Miller, is the head coach at UNC Pembroke in the Division II program. He's done a heck of a job, and they've had a great year, but in our exhibition game, they beat us. And in our first home game, we lost against Louisiana Monroe. We were playing so well, we decided to go down to the Bahamas and take on Wisconsin, and that game got ugly in a hurry. So we had a lot of experiences early on where we did struggle. Having that said, we went on a four and twoer this year, and I think that helped us lay the foundation for the team. And the preseason games and nonconference games really helped us because we didn't let it just tear us down. We talked about, guys, we feel like we do have a group of talented guys, and as long as you stick together, we're going to make big things happen. One of the neat things as a coach, one of the greatest feelings you can have is when your players truly believe in you. Even when times are tough, they believed in me, believed in the staff, believed in each other. That's when we were able to start training the right way.

Q. What's the number one concern you have when you look at Iowa State on film and getting ready for the game plan for tomorrow?
COACH HAASE: It is difficult to say number one concern because I didn't sleep very well last night, and there's a lot of concerns. Obviously, with Georges Niang, you have to be able to defend him in so many different ways. He'll bring the ball up as a five man, post up smaller guys, he'll handle the basketball. He's the point of so many things they do. So we have to find ways to limit his effectiveness, which is going to be extremely hard to do. Our activity level has to be fantastic on the defensive end. I think the goal that I have for the team is that we really try and challenge all their shots. They're going to get shots. They shoot the ball fairly quickly. But the goal is to challenge shots, make the ball go over our hands, and limit them to one shot and get the rebound.

Q. You mentioned that trip to the Bahamas. How much maybe can you draw on that playing those three teams in that span in the tournament in Atlantis as you prepare for Iowa State?
COACH HAASE: At this point, I think it's so long ago and we're so much a better team than at that point, but we drew on that experience. The Wisconsin game was a tough game. It really was. But we also were able to say, I don't know that we'll ever see anybody quite like Wisconsin. Kentucky, obviously, has done some amazing things, but Wisconsin has shown they're an elite, elite level team. With Florida, we were up at the under four minute timeout late in the game, four minutes left in the game. And the UCLA game, we came out extremely flat and then battled and really made that a game at the end as well. So we can learn again from those experiences, hey, guys, why did we struggle in those games at certain points? And why did we have success in those games? Again, we have looked back at those situations and learned from them. Again, with a young team, I think that maybe is more, as important as anything, is how do you learn from the process? And I feel like we have learned throughout the year.

Q. What do you remember about Fred as a player? Do you see any of those characteristics reflected in this Iowa State team?
COACH HAASE: Fred was an unbelievable player. Even in college, he had the nickname the mayor, and I didn't have any good nicknames in college. I jokingly say that I put him in the NBA because he had so much success when I was guarding him that he ended up having a great NBA career, and my career fizzled out right after I was done with college. He was always a very, very smart player. I always remember Coach Williams talking about, outside of his current team, he probably liked coaching against or maybe had the greatest deal of respect for Fred Hoiberg. I think, because he did it the right way, because he was smart, because he played hard, and those are the kinds of things he's taking into this Iowa State program now as a head coach.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
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