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March 20, 2015

Mike Anderson

Bobby Portis

Michael Qualls


Q. Obviously this is a chance to play in the second round of the NCAA Tournament against a very good basketball team. Just talk about your thoughts on North Carolina and what you see out of them.
BOBBY PORTIS: They're a very experienced and poised basketball team. They have a great leader in Marcus Paige, who always dominates the ball throughout the basketball game. So I feel like if our team just gets it out of his hands, it will be towards us.

Q. Admittedly not a lot of people know who Wofford was or where they are. North Carolina is a different deal. Talk about going from playing a team pretty far under the radar to somebody like North Carolina?
MICHAEL QUALLS: It's the big chance. Match-ups are a particular thing. Wofford, they matched up perfectly. They was a totally different team than we were, so they was battling and bringing it to us all night. North Carolina, they're a bigger team. I feel like our press will be more effective against them than pressing all those guards for Wofford. It's just a big thing, and we're just happy to be here.

BOBBY PORTIS: I feel like with us playing UNC, it will benefit us better because Wofford has four or five guards in at a time. I think that kind of hurt us a lot just because they had four or five ball handlers in. I think with us playing UNC it will benefit us.

Q. But is it just more exciting to play a big-name team like North Carolina in terms of national prestige?
MICHAEL QUALLS: I'm more excited to be just in this round. Every game that we win, every game -- that's life. We're still going. It's win and survive. No matter who we play, we're going to have to step up and play to the occasion if we want to stay here.

Q. Last night was the first tournament game for everybody on the team. Is there a new comfort level going into tomorrow now that you've got your feet wet?
BOBBY PORTIS: Oh, no doubt, just because I feel like yesterday our guys had the nerves going for like a half just because we're just out there just trying to play instead of just playing how we normally play. So I feel like tomorrow it'll be a different story for us.

Q. North Carolina had like 17 turnovers last night. I think Harvard outscored them 27-6. That sounds like what you guys do to some of the smaller teams. What goes through your mind and do you feel like that's an area you could really exploit tomorrow?
MICHAEL QUALLS: We're not Harvard. They probably just had a hell of a game, but it is our strong point to try to make you turn the ball over. We've seen that. We're going to watch film on it later. Just try to play the way we play. Try to get the ball out of Marcus Paige's hands because he can do some real damage. He's a dynamite player. We want to speed them up, let Bob get some more isolation, and they won't have the net share defense that Wofford had.

BOBBY PORTIS: I feel like with North Carolina, they try to speed the game up like we do, so it's going to be a fast-paced game. And also I think that was their first game yesterday, too, so I feel like they had some of the same jitters that we had, also, so that could have caused some of the 17 turnovers also.

Q. You talked yesterday about how at halftime you guys came together as brothers and really rallied together. Can you elaborate a little bit on that and just how this group of guys has become so close and how your teammates thrive on each other?
MICHAEL QUALLS: Yeah, all year we've worked for this, 5:00 a.m. workouts, all the hard last-second losses, all the last-second wins that we had. It was a big year for us. We've worked to be here, and we just had to remind each other that we're not trying to go home. If we're going to go down, we're going to go down playing our style of basketball, and that's what we did. We came together, and I feel like it was almost like a sigh of relief, and everybody just relaxed, and we got after it in the second half and actually started playing basketball.

Q. Bobby, I think you had 15 points and 13 boards last night. People talked about you were struggling, off your game. Those are pretty good numbers. Do you ever feel like people have unrealistic high expectations for you based on what you've done all year?
BOBBY PORTIS: Yeah, for sure. I feel like people expect me to go out there and get 30 points and 20 rebounds every game and that's not realistic. With the defenses, how I'm being played, there's always a man on me and a man in the paint, so people that know basketball know I can't force the issue on offense. I can't just force to try to get stats or anything. It's not about that. Primarily it's about us winning. If our team won and I did what I did, then I'm satisfied with that.

Q. You guys have had a lot of firsts the last couple years. You'd be the first Arkansas team to the Sweet 16 in 19 years. Do you guys think about stuff like that?
BOBBY PORTIS: I've never thought about that. I was just trying to win. I never thought about what happened 19 years ago. That has nothing to do with us. But in a sense it does just because we wear this Arkansas jersey, and like our history is still a part of us.

MICHAEL QUALLS: You know, like Bob said, I'm not too deep into the Arkansas fun facts. I just know we worked for where we are right now. Of course we have Arkansas pride. We play for the city, the state, and the University, but it's just one game at a time, so we just focus on this game. Of course, if we play the way we are supposed to play tomorrow, good things will happen. If we just try to overlook things, that's how you slip up. So we're just going to focus on this North Carolina team one half at a time, play a good first half and a good second half, and I feel like we'll be where we want to be.

Q. Talk about practice today, a lot of games over the last two weeks, how you guys feeling? How are the legs? How is everything going there?
BOBBY PORTIS: I'm feeling good. Last night I got a good seven, eight hours of sleep. That's more than like what I normally get, just because I probably sleep like four or five hours in a normal day just because I be so anxious to play. So I feel like I'm more well-rested, and today I also got some treatment with Dave, so I think that kind of helped me out, too.

MICHAEL QUALLS: I think it's time to get some shots up. We're going to come out here, we're not just going to get after it. We going to save our legs for tomorrow. More of a mental teaching aspect, we'll probably go run through some half court plays, just get on the free-throw line. I felt like we kind of struggled last night on the free-throw line, just the basics. It's not rocket science when you've made it this far. We're not going to change anything. We are who we are, we're just going to come, get some shots up and relax and then get ready for tomorrow.

Q. You've been part of a lot of North Carolina-Arkansas games as an assistant coach. Did you not play against them when you were at Tulsa, too?
COACH MIKE ANDERSON: Yes, in 1981, and I think that's the year they won it, '81. Did they win in '81? '82. The previous year we won the NIT Championship at Tulsa, and we had a game scheduled at, I guess, in Chapel Hill, and we played this team -- we were like No. 9, I think they were like maybe 4 or 5 or something like that. And we played this team with a guy by the name of Michael Jordan, freshman. I guess he was one of the first freshmen to start for Dean Smith, and he happened to drop 22 points on us. So when you talk about -- I've had a chance to play against Michael that year they won it against Dean Smith and North Carolina. Then the next year, I was a volunteer coach and we played there in Tulsa, in the All Capital Classic, and we beat them. There's a history there with Coach Richardson, but for me to have an opportunity to play against them as a player, that was interesting.

Q. You've beaten them as an assistant, now you get a shot as a head coach. This is going to be the fifth time that Arkansas has played Carolina. It's the most anyone has played Arkansas in the tournament. Talk about the history and playing Carolina again.
COACH MIKE ANDERSON: Well, obviously I was an assistant coach there. There were some great games. They were basically in the tournament. Some of those games that I coached with at Arkansas, they were -- I think one was in the Sweet 16, one was in the Championship, in the semis 20 years ago, in Seattle, against Stackhouse, Rasheed Wallace, Jeff McInnis, that group there. We were fortunate to beat them to get into the championship game against UCLA. Now, we're in the NCAA Tournament again, so it's an opportunity for us to play against an historic program. Coach Dean Smith, his soul rest in peace, established a dynasty there at North Carolina. And, of course, one of his proteges -- and Roy Williams is after him now, and we know there's an unbelievable tradition there. So it's a great opportunity for us to play against an outstanding program. And we've got some tradition at Arkansas, as well. It's going to be Arkansas versus North Carolina to vie for a Sweet 16 berth. It's an opportunity. It's a great challenge there. They're a dynamite team, great size, great length, great athletic ability. Paige is without a doubt an All-American type of player, but it's not just Paige. They've got Meeks in the middle, they've got the Johnson kid. They've got a lot of players. We've got to play a very good basketball game in order to have a chance with this team. Their size is something that really concerns me.

Q. Coach Williams described you as -- some of the relationship that you guys have and said your best attribute as a head coach is your wife. Would you agree, and also talk about your relationship with Coach Roy Williams.
COACH MIKE ANDERSON: I am a recruiter, I can recruit my butt off. I'm very fortunate, very blessed to have a wife of over 30 years, and we have a beautiful family. She's kind of the wings up under my -- puts the air up under my wings and I can fly a little bit. But she's a good one. She's a keeper here. I guess I'm a good keeper, too.

Q. Carolina had 17 turnovers last night, and I think they've had 18-plus about five or six times. Harvard outscored them 27-6 on turnovers. When you see a stat like that, what comes to mind, and do you feel like that's an area you can really exploit tomorrow night?
COACH MIKE ANDERSON: Well, I think, first of all, you've got to draw back -- the first game in the tournament is always the most difficult game. You don't know how your kids are going to come out and perform, and so it was a game that they had going away pretty handily, and now Harvard has nothing to lose, and they get after it and they turn them over a little bit. One of the things we do thrive on is trying to apply pressure to teams. We cannot sit and play a half court game with a North Carolina team. We've got to hopefully cause some chaos with our defense. And hopefully we can get some turnovers. But more importantly, I think we've got to defend and we've got to rebound the basketball. I think that's going to be big. Our guards have got to get in there and rebound the basketball.

Q. None of your guys have ever played in the NCAA Tournament. How do you feel about getting those first game jitters out and do you think they'll be sharper against Carolina?
COACH MIKE ANDERSON: I really do. The first game you never know how -- the psyche, how they're going to come out. And for us to finish the game off, especially when you look at the way that game was going, the crowd getting into it, and as a team, let's say a Wofford, all you want to do is hang around and give yourself a chance to win. But I thought our guys did a tremendous job in the last four and a half minutes. I thought our defense was probably the best it was all night long. They only scored three points going down the stretch, and I thought we did a good job of executing, whether it be on half court, we started making half court offense, and then we started making some free throws going down the stretch, and we rebound the basketball when we had to. Again, we did a lot of good things last night from a defensive standpoint. And playing at the pace of Wofford, so that tells me we've got a good basketball team. We prefer to get up and down the floor and cause havoc, take a shot every five seconds, six seconds if we can, but that wasn't the case last night. We have to have some patience with our defense, and we did at times, and we had to have some patience from an offensive standpoint.

Q. Bobby has been playing very good, but his offensive game, shots are not coming down like we've been accustomed to seeing them fall for him lately. Is this one of those things where you think he's pressing or is it something that happens throughout the season?
COACH MIKE ANDERSON: Well, he's been playing at an unbelievable clip. This guy has been a double-double producing machine, night-in and night-out, defensively just been active, blocking shots, just doing a lot of things for us. He may hit that wall a little bit. He's been playing a lot of minutes. Hopefully he'll have some recovery time where he can come back and really come out and put on a good performance. One thing about Bobby, it's not going to be because of lack of effort, and I think we'll see it on display tomorrow. When you're playing against, let's say, a North Carolina, that tends to give you even a little bit more extra energy, so to speak. But we know what Bobby is capable of and he's the bell cow that we're going to go to. But it's good to see other guys pick up the slack when he's not playing well. From a scoring standpoint, he had 13 rebounds. I thought he played well to tell you the truth. He took some shots, he didn't make them, he missed some free throws. But Michael Qualls only missed one shot last night, did a good job of rebounding going down the stretch, getting some offensive stick-backs last night for us. I thought Alandise Harris, his defense, his presence on the floor was really big. And Ky, I had to take him out of the game to kind of settle him down. He was falling on the floor and I thought he was kind of anxious, but he came back and I thought he did a really good job of running the ship. He ran the show. He had the assist that got Alandise, that got us the and-one to go up, got some rebounds going down the stretch, defended Cochran. I'll say it again, we've got multiple guys doing some great things for our basketball team, finding ways to win.

Q. You had expectations for Bobby heading into the season. Has he surpassed even what you thought he could do, and talk about Corliss Williamson, what he meant to Bobby growing up and getting him to where he is now?
COACH MIKE ANDERSON: Well, first of all, when you talk about Corliss -- Bobby's mentality to me reminds me of Corliss. Corliss coming out, he was one of the best players in the country. He was the No. 1 player in the country, and Bobby is one of those kids that had to work at that. And I just see a humbleness, as good a player as Corliss was, he was one of the most quiet and humble guys you'd ever come across. But when he hit that floor, he was the big nasty. Well, with Bobby Portis, this guy has come on like gangbusters. We knew he had the potential coming in. His freshman year was very good. His sophomore year has been even better. He's the Player of the Year in our league, and not only one of the best players in our league but in the country, and that's why as we continue in this tournament, we'll see what Bobby is made out of, and I think we've seen throughout the year. So if you say did he surpass what I expected out of him? They never do that, but no, he's had a phenomenal year, he really has.

Q. How well has Qualls been playing for you down the stretch? He's put up double figures now every game except Texas A&M since the beginning of February.
COACH MIKE ANDERSON: He's doing well. I thought starting off in conference play, he took a little dip there, and now I think he's maybe seeing the opportunities where he can really impact this team. The beauty of this team is that it shapes up to me right around February, late February, and on into March, and I think we're seeing the identities of these different guys at different stages of the season stepping up for us. Like Michael Qualls, right now, we're starting to see his toughness, we're seeing his athletic ability, we're seeing his energy be contagious to our basketball team. Bobby has been consistent throughout the year, and even though he's not scoring at the high clip, he's doing other things for our basketball team. Alandise Harris, he's given us a toughness that we've got to have. Guys can lean on him. He can defend a guard, he can defend a forward. Now we're starting to see him defend the basketball. Ky Madden, I think Ky is becoming more of a facilitator. Early in the year he was trying to get some buckets. Now he's being more of a facilitator, and being that guy and maybe have to get to the line and make some plays for us. Anthlon Bell, he was hurt there for a little while, and in the Southeast Conference against Georgia, he came on and did the things we've got to do, knocked shots down to open up the floor. So we get different guys doing different things. Beard, he's found his niche, he's no longer a freshman anymore and he's playing with a gimpy ankle and that shows me he's got big time heart, big heart. As we get to this Carolina game I think our bench is going to be critical, really critical in this game here.

Q. Last night when Qualls responded with Arkansas is a big time program, too, it seemed like you had a grin of approval on your face or a smile of satisfaction. What's it like to see those guys believing that and playing on the court to where they're back to being nationally relevant?
COACH MIKE ANDERSON: Well, I think it's like anything else, confidence. We know we have a tremendous program, and throughout the year, a lot of things have been thrown at them, a lot of things have been said, and they're still standing. They finished second in the league against the -- with the best team in the country in our league. They finished second in the SEC. Now let's go on and continue to make a statement, and how do you do that, have an opportunity to go out on the floor and let people see what Arkansas is made of. The pride, I think that's what to me -- they've got the pride in the uniforms they wear, and it ain't about the name on the back, it's the name on the front.

Q. Kind of following up on that, everybody talks about they don't know much about Wofford which is understandable. Everybody knows about Carolina. What's it like playing Carolina after playing Wofford, a team that's really good but under the radar?
COACH MIKE ANDERSON: I always said, I don't look at names of teams. Everybody has got good players. There are only 13 scholarships, so that means you've got -- every team has good players, and it ain't about the talent, it's about the team. I said that last night, and I honestly believe that. That's hard maybe to convey to your student-athletes. There are teams you don't have to get them ready for. Hey, they know that North Carolina is an outstanding team. They know that Kentucky was an outstanding team. They know the teams in our SEC were very outstanding. So now we're in a tournament playing for a championship, and it's survive and advance. It's a big game, and that's how we've treated each and every game. It's a big, big game. North Carolina, Arkansas, we've played through the years, and so we're playing for a berth to continue to play. We want these seniors to go out the right way.

Q. I'm curious when you saw Jacorey Williams fling the shoe down the court last night, what went through your mind?
COACH MIKE ANDERSON: First of all, I still haven't figured out how it got off the floor. I don't know how Ky got the shoe off the floor. But I'm standing there and I heard something, and I just see something just go right by me, like here's your shoe. I never seen anything like that. I mean, because my question for him was you threw it to him, but what the hell was he going to do with it? Was he going to stop and put it on? I've witnessed some things, man, but I've never witnessed that. But you know what, it's something I can talk about now. It's a teaching point. Why? Because you threw things on the floor, I think they tell the fans that. I think I need to tell my players, you cannot throw anything on the floor, man. People can get hurt. It whizzed right by me. It was quite interesting.

Q. Pretty good arm, huh?
COACH MIKE ANDERSON: Pretty good arm? Yeah, I don't know if he threw with his right hand or left hand. I don't know.
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