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March 18, 2015

Rick Barnes

Demarcus Holland

Jonathan Holmes


MODERATOR: From Texas, student-athletes Demarcus Holland and Jonathan Holmes. Questions for the student-athletes.

Q. Start with Demarcus. What do you know about Butler and what, in the scouting report, is most concerning to you?
DEMARCUS HOLLAND: We know they led their league in rebounding. I know they have a great coaching staff. I know they've been a good program for some years now. They play really hard. They're going to fight it out to the buzzer like we do and I just know it's going to be a brawl.

Q. Demarcus, I was wondering how Isaiah Taylor's injury earlier this year sort of affected your role in this team and sort of what you're doing on the team now and also your confidence level, having to play a few more minutes early on there.
DEMARCUS HOLLAND: With him being out, I had to play some of than one, so I had a chance to learn the game even more by being able to organize the team and being able to manage the game. My coaching staff had great confidence in me. When he came back, it moved me to the side and I was able to look at the game from a different perspective and kind of understand how to be a better leader. So I think overall, it helped me become a better leader, him being out. Now that he's back, I'm able to share some of the information with him.

Q. Jonathan, what gives you guys confidence that -- I've read after you got selected on Sunday, you believe you're playing your best basketball this season. It's been spotty. You played in a tough conference. What has you confident you guys have sort of figured it out?
JONATHAN HOLMES: You look at the last few weeks, starting with the game in Lawrence against Kansas, we played them tough and could have went either way going into the half of the four minutes. The two big home games against Baylor and Kansas State and then playing Tech and Iowa State, we had a chance to beat them and kind of blew it the last two minutes. We were confident. We knew we were playing better. We were holding each other accountable so we could feel things turning a little bit.

Q. What was it like watching the selection show on Sunday, kind of waiting for your all's name to come up? I apologize. I can't remember when in the show it came up. Was there real anxiety for you all?
JONATHAN HOLMES: It was like within the first five minutes of the show where we got selected. So, I mean, leading up to the show is the anxiety, but we didn't have to wait too long. So that was a good thing.

Q. You guys have obliterated the school record for blocks this year. Is there anything in particular that has sort of led to this, other than the fact that you've got guys that are good at it? Is that something that you can practice, or is that just guys being attentive defensively helping and that kind of stuff?
JONATHAN HOLMES: We don't really practice blocking shots, but, I mean, we have guys that are really good at that. That's how you can change the game. Like Prince Ibeh, Myles and Cam, they're probably some of the best shot blockers in the country and it's good to have them on our side.

MODERATOR: Other questions for the student-athletes? Gentlemen, thank you. From Texas, head coach Rick Barnes, we'll have a two-minute opening statement from coach and then we'll go to questions. Coach?

COACH BARNES: We're excited, obviously, to be here and be a part of this tournament. When you really get down to it, the ultimate goal, I think, of every team is to have a chance to be a part of this. When you're a part of the 68 teams that are playing for obviously what everybody wants, it's exciting. I think our guys are looking forward to it. We know that we've got a very tough opponent to start with here, with Butler, that when you look at them, you see they're extremely well-coached team, a team that really works hard defensively. They really rebound the ball really, really well and they're not going to give you anything at all easy. From an offensive standpoint, they've got some players that certainly have the ability to go off and score a lot of points. So it's really a challenge for us.

MODERATOR: Questions for Coach Barnes.

Q. Coach, you're a shot blocking team and they're a smaller team. What do you think they'll do to minimize your ability to block shots and how will you counteract that?
COACH BARNES: I think this time of year, I really do believe most teams are going to do the things that they've done all year. And the way they move the ball, they will, I'm sure, try to get our post players away from the basket. They're going to set ball screens and multiple ball screens, double ball screens, I'm sure, to open up the basket area and move the ball. Those are things they do now because they're coming out of an outstanding league themselves. So from that standpoint -- and we play, obviously, sometimes with a big lineup, sometimes we play with three guards. And so as the game goes on, we've played man, we've played zone. But I don't think they'll be surprised by anything that we do.

Q. Rick, a lot of coaches like to talk about how the NCAA tournament is sort of a new start for teams. After the up-and-down year that you guys have gone through, how important is that attitude for you guys?
COACH BARNES: Well, regardless of how your year has gone, and some teams maybe have had surprising years, some teams maybe haven't had the year they'd liked to have had. But when you get into this tournament, it's a new start for everybody. I don't care if you're Kentucky or any team in this tournament, it's a new start and you realize it's a one game. It's a one-game tournament, every game or you don't get to move on. I think you realize that any team in this tournament, they're here because they've earned their way here. They're excited to be here. They get -- history has told us that crazy things can happen, and so I don't know that there's a team in this tournament that is not excited. And you do realize, hey, yes, this is a chance. But it gets down to you still have to go play basketball. You've got to execute, you've got to get your thoughts on the game and know that you're a part of something really special.

Q. Rick, it sounds like that your team, because of some injuries and some other situations have had a hard time getting some continuity this year. I think you've started the same lineup the last six games. Do you feel like you are starting to get some of that at the most important time of the year?
COACH BARNES: Yes, I would -- that's an accurate statement because we, you know, went through December after Isaiah's injury and really piecing things together, and then him coming back, trying to get back into a rhythm of what and how we thought we could play and should play. We dealt with some injuries, obviously, in February. But over the last six games, actually prior to the West Virginia game, we felt like we were heading in the right direction that way.

Q. Coach, everybody thinks of Butler about those two runs to the National Championship game. In reality, they've been good for 25 years through multiple different head coaches. I don't know how much you've seen of Butler over the years from a scouting standpoint. When you watch them play on TV or you're scouting them, what is the common theme that has made this program good for 25 years?
COACH BARNES: Toughness. I think they have an atmosphere where they've built that, where rebound -- when you play defense and rebound the ball, when you rebound the ball the way they do, that tells you that you're finishing possessions. They do a great job. You can watch them play and realize where I think they place their emphasis. Then on the offensive end, it's a team that, again, they'll spread you out. They'll move the ball. They fight. They grind it. So you go back to, as you mentioned, through the years, that's when I think Butler, that's what I think of.

Q. Rick, just how has this season been for you personally and how is it maybe different from any others? But just how has it been for you personally?
COACH BARNES: Well, I think the longer you stay in this, it seems like the older you get, the losses are harder. The fact is we've got a great group of guys and the regular season didn't go the way we would have liked it to go. But with that said, I really appreciate and admire our players for the way they've stayed with it. Because, as you know, when things aren't going well, so many people have opinions about what's happening and they don't really know what's happening. They have their opinions from an outside person looking in. From the inside, we know where we are. I think our coaching staff, my assistants did a great job of keeping our guys focused on knowing where we were, what we had to do. But the fact is we're -- the ultimate goal is to be in this tournament. We're here and I just hope that we can play our best basketball this time of year. And again, there's going to be some teams that will surprise people. There are going to be some teams that have had a great year and could be gone in one game. So that's what makes this tournament special. It affects every state in the country and you think about it, I think it's the greatest sporting event in our country. To be a part of it, to answer your question about me personally, I think that when you deal with the kind of guys that we've dealt with on our group, there hasn't been one day this year that I haven't looked forward to going to practice with them. We've got a special group of guys that have really stuck together, and that pleases me a lot.

Q. How has Myles Turner's game evolved since the start of the year, since he got on campus, to his first tournament?
COACH BARNES: I think Myles has had a terrific freshman year, in the fact that he's learned a lot. He's improved a lot. He came into a program where we have front line players, and every day having to work against those guys I think has probably helped him as much as anything. If he has struggled anywhere, it would be physically just to jump from being a young high school player. He's 18 years old coming into the college game. He has struggled, you know, some physical type -- our league is a grind, it's a hard-nosed, hard-fought league and it's the toughest it's been since I've been in Texas in terms of the parity from top to bottom. Every night was that type of game. He's improved. Like all freshmen, I think he's been up and down. Overall, when you look at it, he's still learning a lot about the college game, but I think he would tell you that the physical part of it is harder and the grind of -- that he's had to go there is probably more difficult than he could have imagined.

Q. Rick, you're in the tournament for the 16th time in 17 years, yet there's speculation about your job security. How do you deal with that personally and do you feel like you have to shield your players from that at all?
COACH BARNES: I don't. I don't worry about it. I've been very fortunate and blessed to have worked for great bosses and I can only tell you that they've been nothing but supportive to me. I think, just like with our team, I think media on the outside, they speculate. I think they try to create stories and come up with things. The one thing about this athletics is you don't always get rewarded the way you want to when you want to, and it can be cruel at times. But the fact is how can we ever complain about anything? I mean, I've got a -- I've had great players I've been able to be around, worked for great universities. Work for, I think, the greatest university there is right now and have great bosses. And so regardless of what other people say, I think I've been blessed. How do I deal with it? I've been doing it long enough to know that there always are going to be people that are going to have their opinions, and you don't worry about it. You really don't. I hope my identity is not just basketball, is probably one way I deal with it. It's what I do, but when it's all said and done, I hope that's not what people will remember me for.

MODERATOR: Thanks, Coach.

COACH BARNES: Thank you.
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