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March 20, 2015

Robert Brown

Jerod Haase

Denzell Watts


Q. Both players, you played UCLA before. What do you remember about them?
DENZELL WATTS: They were a tough team. We started off slow. We got down, I want to say, 20-plus early, but we were able to fight back, and we only lost the game by, I believe, 12. So knowing if we come out and play how we're playing now as opposed to how we were playing back then, how we play defensively and how we come together as a team, we should be all right when we play them tomorrow.

ROBERT BROWN: We also didn't have too many people playing well, especially during that tournament. We were going through a slump. Ha Ha (William Lee) was coming back off of injury. Now we have the team clicking and getting into a groove. Ha Ha is playing well, myself, Nick. Hopefully, with everyone playing well, it will be a different outcome.

Q. Speaking of that, talking about playing well, how much confidence maybe do you draw from yesterday, being able to fight off a Big 12 team and advance.
DENZELL WATTS: Coming off the big win against Iowa State, we have a lot of confidence. Winning that game let's us know we can compete with anybody out here as long as we are playing together. Like I said, doing everything that Coach has preached us to do. As long as we do that, we go in pretty confident, and we'll do fine.

ROBERT BROWN: Especially coming off of the conference tournament. We've been on kind of an upswing. Everyone is kind of clicking right now. Especially with the game we had last night, we don't want to dwell too much on it because we do need to move on. We do want to remember we're playing well and do want to keep that momentum.

Q. It seems like the success yesterday was a lot inside. You really played well inside, a lot of offensive rebounds. How can you replicate that against a pretty big and strong inside UCLA team.
DENZELL WATTS: We've just got to attack them and be the more physical team with Tyler Madison attacking off of the glass the way he did yesterday. Rob Brown and everybody else just attacking the glass. As long as we're as physical as we were with Iowa State and even more physical, we'll be all right.

ROBERT BROWN: It's always the key to our team to be the most physical team. We're not the biggest, most athletic. Just to go out there and have the most fight and be the most physical team is something we always have to do. On the scouting report, it's always get to the offensive glass and attack the glass and get second-chance points. If people play like Tyler did yesterday, and we have Tosin, Chris and our bigs hit the glass, we have a chance to beat anybody.

Q. What kind of reaction have you gotten after yesterday, texts and calls and messages, and things you might have heard from your friends and maybe anybody else who was notable.
DENZELL WATTS: I got a lot of messages, a lot of encouraging messages. A lot of people saying we busted their brackets and all that. There's been a lot of stuff. With me playing against a close friend yesterday, I got a lot of text messages about that. So it's been a lot of good things.

ROBERT BROWN: I got to a point where my phone ended up freezing up because the texts wouldn't come through. We don't really want to sit here and dwell on it. Like Coach said, he didn't talk about UCLA yesterday. He wanted us to enjoy the win. Now we're here just trying to move on and focus on UCLA.

Q. Just curious if you watched the goaltending shot live and what your reaction was when you did see it. Also specifically, about when you have a three-point shooter like (Bryce) Alford getting hot, what's the best way to handle it?
DENZELL WATTS: I seen the play. I don't really have much to comment on it. It happened and now it's over. With that type of shooter, you just want to pressure the ball and not let him get into a rhythm or not let him get any easy shots to get going. You just want to keep him -- you never want to let him get comfortable.

ROBERT BROWN: I'm actually happy they did call it because they did beat us in Atlantis, and we do have a little payback for them, and we want to play them. As far as he goes as a shooter, sometimes you get hot, and we can't do anything about it. We're going to switch defenses and switch defenders and give him different looks to try to throw him off his rhythm a little bit.

Q. With this being the first tournament experience for so many of you all, do you look back at UAB's history, the fact that this program has been to a Sweet 16 three times? Do you draw anything off that, or is it just history and focus on what you're doing now?
DENZELL WATTS: It's a good thing to know that we have been here before and the history, but now we're just focusing on us now, trying to, I guess you would say, repeat history and just focus on us and do what we can and keep surviving and keep playing, make it to the next round.

ROBERT BROWN: This is the first time, I think, anybody on our team has been in the tournament. We don't really have too much experience. We kind of try to sit back and pay attention to what Coach Haase says with all his experience, and even Coach Ehsan. We want to continue the history of UAB. They have had success in the tournament, so we want to just keep that legacy going and continue that.

Q. I know you guys sort of talked a little bit yesterday about what it feels -- for the people of Birmingham and the community, what yesterday's win meant. What was it like when the football program was going through what it was like. Your friends on the team and just kind of can you explain what that was like and then how maybe rewarding it felt yesterday to give the community the big win.
DENZELL WATTS: No, with the football situation, it happened, but we're -- with us winning like this, it gives the community something to still be happy for. It just keeps everybody happy, basically.

ROBERT BROWN: I had a couple friends on the team, and it was devastating for them. We're just really trying to focus on keeping the city positive and giving them something to cheer for. I know they're still trying to work through the football situation. We wish them the best of luck. At the moment, we're just trying to focus on our tournament and moving on.

Q. For both players, how much basketball did you watch yesterday? For anything that you watched or heard about, what stuck out for you in this tournament so far?
DENZELL WATTS: I watched a lot, just looking at the highlights of the game and ESPN. I seen a lot of upsets. That's what I seen. It was just great to be a part of one of those upsets. That's basically all I'm saying.

ROBERT BROWN: Basketball's been on every TV in everybody's room. So right now our total focus is on basketball. The tournament is always where anything can happen. Upsets are happening all over, but we're really trying to just focus on UCLA right now and just trying to beat them and move on.

Q. Robert, you had talked about payback after losing in Atlantis. How hard is it to beat a team twice in a row in a season?
ROBERT BROWN: I think it is tremendously hard. We played Middle Tennessee three times, and each time the game got harder and harder. We ended up in a three-overtime game with them. It's usually hard to beat a team twice, and hopefully that continues for them, and we find different ways and different things. It's a lot of things for the coaches. We see what we did wrong, what we did right, or what we were able to do against them the first time, and we were able to game plan against that. The I think that's a bonus for us.

Q. Robert, I know you're talking about how you guys are basically a different team than when you played UCLA the last time. How much do you draw specifically from that game versus just kind of preparing for this as a new game, given the fact that you guys are a lot different than you were then?
ROBERT BROWN: We just kind of look at what we did wrong, watch the film, and just try to learn from it. Right now we are a different team. We're playing a lot better. We're clicking. We do want to remember and focus on what we did wrong and what we can control from last game to this game.

Q. Coach, looking at the more recent film of UCLA, how do they compare now to what you guys saw in them back in November?
COACH HAASE: I think they made a lot of progress. I don't know that they've changed their style of play or anything. They're just doing what they do better. They're still a great offensive rebounding team. Five guys right now, starting five scoring in double figures, and they're great in transition. (Bryce) Alford is doing a great job of getting shots, but you have five guys out there who can all score in bunches. We have to be a great transition defense, great on boxing out, but really when I look at them, I see them just being the same team, same philosophy, and just doing a lot better.

Q. Coach, Robert Brown and Denzell (Watts) both talked about how they're kind of glad to get UCLA to get a chance to show how much they've improved from November. When you look at your team, what's the difference between then and now for them?
COACH HAASE: For our team, it's night and day. I could talk a lot about how our team has grown up and changed, everything from injuries to -- especially the young guys, especially the freshmen and some of the sophomores. Just learning how to play at the collegiate level. It's a big jump up from high school to college, and it took some time to get used to that. We made some changes before the conference season in terms of really buying into the defensive end, trying to tighten up some shot selection issues, and we continue to get better throughout the year. So I do think we're a much different team than we were. The guys really get a lot of credit for that.

Q. Coach, I'm sorry, I don't really know how much your paths may have crossed with Steve Alford over the years. I'm curious, in watching his son play yesterday, did that performance remind you at all what you might remember of watching Steve play?
COACH HAASE: Yeah, I remember watching Coach Alford on TV and watching those Indiana teams, and it was very impressive. Needless to say, if you can go 9 of 11 from three, there's going to be those kinds of comparisons. It was a special game, and the way he was shooting the basketball was pretty darn impressive. I think there certainly could be some comparisons drawn, like father, like son.

Q. I wanted to get your thought on what did you think about how the UCLA game ended yesterday? And what was the craziest ending of an NCAA game you've been involved with.
COACH HAASE: In terms of the ending, I watched it live and then saw one replay of it. I really didn't get into the right call, wrong call. I thought it was probably an appropriate call, but it was just the timing of it. It was such an impactful call in the game. I've been trying to think the craziest one I've been in. For me, the most exciting were certainly the two National Championships when I was at (North) Carolina and just watching the guys cut down the nets, but the one against Illinois in 2005 was just really a battle till until the very, very end. That was probably the most exciting one I've been in.

Q. Jerod, how drastically did you redefine the roles of certain guys on the team before you went into Conference USA play? Is Tyler Madison a good example of that?
COACH HAASE: Yeah, I would say, when I told certain guys that you will not shoot any more 3s, it's about as drastic as you can get. But it was great because the guys all talked a big game about wanting to win, and everybody said that's what we want, and they basically said, Coach, "You come up with a game plan." We did. We told certain guys that you can have a huge impact on the team. You can have a huge role on this team, but shooting 3s may or may not be where it's at. So we really defined shot selection and told them what the parameters were going to be. Tyler Madison is certainly a key example there where he wasn't shooting a lot of 3s as it was. We have certain guys right now, if they are in rhythm, that I've loosened it up a little bit, just to be able to give them the freedom to shoot if they've earned that right back a little bit. But to see him -- the real goal of the whole thing was play to our strengths. Nick Norton should be shooting as much as he wants from the three-point line. Tyler Madison should be trying to get nine offensive rebounds in 14 minutes like he did last game.

Q. Coach, you guys did so well on the boards against Iowa State. Up against UCLA, Kevon Looney, Tony Parker, what kind of different challenges do they pose when it comes to beating them on the glass?
COACH HAASE: They're a phenomenal rebounding team, especially on the offensive, on the glass. We're going to have to have the attitude of being as physical as we possibly can. It's not a game where we can just go out and jump people. It has to be five guys on the defensive side of things, and we want to attack the offensive glass ourselves. We understand it's going to be a big key to the game and a big challenge in this game.

Q. When you talk about being such a huge scorer in high school and then being a guy willing to come in, like you said, off the bench and get a lot of offensive rebounds or attack that way, is that a characteristic you see when recruiting a guy or just something that, when he's with you already, kind of shines with his willingness to accept that role?
COACH HAASE: With recruiting, we look at how tall, how fast, how well does he shoot, what can he do defensively. But I like to recruit guys that win and guys that really like to win. I think you can put some kind of definition on that as you're recruiting a player and learn about their character and see how important that is. With Tyler, we felt that was evident during the recruiting process that he did want to win and that he would love to be a part of a team, especially a hometown team, since he's from near Birmingham there, of being on a team that can win. I think he was certainly willing and able to help in any way, and as long as he gets that end result of the team having success.

Q. I don't expect you to give away any state secrets, but when you have a player that gets hot, like Alford did, what can you do? I mean, it's hard to rebound when they're not missing, but just sort of generally speaking.
COACH HAASE: Well, in terms of what do we do to stop him?

Q. Yes.
COACH HAASE: With him in particular, you have to be there on the catch. You can't get caught up on the screens. They do a great job of screening for him, and he does a great job of using screens. You can't get off balance. You can't anticipate. You can't try and take shortcuts. You have to be there on the catch and then challenge from there. He does have an unbelievably quick release. He does a great job with his footwork. So there's only so much you can do. Defensively, the goal is to challenge the shots the best you possibly can without fouling.

Q. If you could think back to that game at Atlantis compared to this game, did you notice a difference in how they were using Alford at all in terms of who's in for most of the point guard duties?
COACH HAASE: Not too much. I know he's doing most of the point guard stuff now -- or back then. Then and now, he was a play maker and also a scorer. To be honest with you, I watched that first game after we played them, studied the tape then. We're such a different team, and I think they've improved so much as well, that I'm really finding more value in my opinion of watching current games now. In terms of comparing the games now, it's probably not as fresh in my mind as those details like that. I do think from then to now he has been used as a primary ball handler and as a big-time shooter and scorer.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
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