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March 3, 2016

Greg Lansing

Khristian Smith

Brenton Scott

Devonte Brown

St. Louis, Missouri - Arch Madness

THE MODERATOR: Indiana State is here. They are the sixth seed. They will play the third seed, the Illinois State Redbirds. We're going to ask head coach Greg Lansing to start off with a statement.

GREG LANSING: Just really excited about being here. It's one of the best conference tournaments in the country. More excited about being with these three guys up here in our new season. They've been -- especially these two seniors, Brenton only being a sophomore, redshirt sophomore. But being around Khristian and Devonte, can't thank them enough for everything they've done here on the court and would love to see them go out in it a special way.

They're here in a tournament final that we didn't get done. Everyone is here to win the championship. We didn't win the regular championship, but there's one right here in St. Louis. So we're ready to go.

Q. This question is for Greg, and then the players can join in afterwards. I was listening to Ben Jacobson. He said something interesting. They went through a rough patch at the beginning of the year, and he said they stayed the course, and that really made a difference in terms of pulling back together and getting on the winning track. Can you talk about your approach with that? And for the players, can you talk about the approach you guys need to take to turn this tournament into a positive moment?
GREG LANSING: I've talked to Jake about it too. He and I are good friends. Obviously, what they did is probably better than what I did as a head coach. They did stay the course. A lot of guys, a lot of big games, NCAA Tournament team, and doing those things, and those guys hung in there with them. I think they were playing four -- I think he said they have four sophomores in their top eight.

If you're not playing well in the league, you're going to lose. We did lose our way. We lost our way for a while, and these guys will be the first ones to tell you. We tried a lot of different things, some that didn't work, obviously, but, again, we had a very difficult schedule. You're going against really good teams that are playing at a high level, and we weren't, and you saw the results of that.

None of that matters right now. Finished on a high note, played better. We've had better practices. I know, I trust these guys, and they'll be ready to go tomorrow. There's no question. We're going to have a good half hour here to shoot. We're going to go practice, and I'd be shocked if they weren't locked in and ready to go tomorrow night.

THE MODERATOR: Same question. We'll go with the student-athletes. Devonte, you'll start off. And then Khristian, and then Brenton.

DEVONTE BROWN: I think it's a good opportunity to come in here. Everybody is undefeated. We've got a game under our belt, a win streak going. That's what we're going to do, have a good little practice here, shoot some shots here and go over and get a good practice in. Everyone is just focused and locked in and prepared for the task at hand. We stayed the course. It was a little rocky. We found our way, and that's the only thing you can be happy about. You find your way going into the conference tournament.

KHRISTIAN SMITH: Everybody goes through rough patches in a season. Illinois State went through it. Northern Iowa went through it. It happened we had it at the wrong time of the year. You want to build momentum in March and everything like that. We always kept our heads up high. We stayed positive with each other. We stayed positive with the process. Everything worked out. We're still here. We still have another fighting chance.

We're not really worried about what happened behind us. All we can worry about is these next days right here in front of us.

BRENTON SCOTT: I agree with what Coach said and what Devonte and Khristian said. We went through a little rough patch. Our last game against Bradley, we tried to correct things and get back on the right path.

We get a new start here in this conference tournament. We're all going to be locked in, ready to go for our shootaround and our practice today. We're going to be ready tomorrow night.

Q. Devonte, what did Illinois State do differently the second time you played them? They were able to hold you to two points that second time.
DEVONTE BROWN: They just stuffed the box. They packed a lot of guys in, and I kind of wasn't prepared, the coaches prepared me a little bit, but I wasn't prepared to really see it. They did a really good job as far as stopping the team, not just me. Other guys on the team didn't have a good night that night. It's really about we know what they're going to do, and we've made some minor adjustments to be prepared for what they're going to do. So we'll be alright this time.

Q. When you play Illinois State, what is the biggest concern from the coaching side of it?
GREG LANSING: A lot. Where do you start really? They're as gifted athletically and skill-wise as anybody in the league. They have several matchups across the board that are difficult, and they're not just difficult for us. They're difficult for anybody. It shows they beat everybody in the league this year. They got guys playing at a high level right now. Dan's got them playing with a toughness, like when he played. They shorten their bench. They're playing eight, and all those guys know they're going to get their minutes. They're coming in extremely confident.

I really think they played awfully well at the defensive end. Like Devonte said, they did stuff the box, taking away other teams' strengths, as we need to do the same, try to make some adjustments. But they have been very impressive playing here down the stretch.

Q. This is for Khristian and Brenton. For both of you guys, you've beaten all the teams on your side of the Arch Madness bracket, including Illinois State. Teams evolve over time, but is that something you guys can fall back on when you look at the tournament as a whole and certainly for tomorrow night's matchup against Illinois State?
KHRISTIAN SMITH: I think that's the one reason why we walk in here with our heads held so high because, I mean, we know what we're capable of and what the coaching staff has taught us this whole year and what our background is made of. It's proven, obviously, we went through a rough patch, but if you look back at those games, our defense was topnotch, and everything was flowing right. We were moving the ball right. Everything was going.

I mean, yeah, we do have a little confidence in us too, but it's March. Anything can happen, so we're not guaranteeing anything. But we know the type of team we're capable of.

BRENTON SCOTT: Yeah, looking back at those games early in our conference season, beating those teams, knowing that we get another chance to play them again on our side of the bracket, it gives us a great deal of confidence, and I think we're going to just be ready to play. We know what we have to do. Looking back at those games, we played great. We played good basketball. So we know we can play at that level and get here in March.

Q. Not going to belabor the point, but last year was not a pleasant memory here playing. How much does that drive your motivation this year to make it better?
DEVONTE BROWN: I think it's been motivation for the entire season. The games we lost and went through, we forgot the motivation. And definitely motivation here, especially being Khristian, Brandon, and myself's last ride here. You've got to find something to motivate you and play at a higher level. If not, you have to find something to push you over that edge and have you play with that type of intensity.

It's a great opportunity to play with a guy like Brenton Scott, K-Smith, and Brandon and be coached by this guy. It's going to be a great opportunity.

KHRISTIAN SMITH: I think it's motivating because this could be our last game as the college career. Just coming out here knowing you have to give your all, you have to give 100 percent, or else it's not going to go your way, especially with a talented team like we're getting ready to face. Everything has to be different -- our focus, our preparation, our mentality. Everything has to be win or go home because, obviously, that's the situation we're in.

Last year was definitely motivating to everybody in that locker room right now, regardless if they played in it or not, because we still have that name on our chest, and that carries over until we change it.

Q. For Devonte and Khristian, you guys have obviously played in this tournament now four years. What does that leadership bring to some of those younger guys as you prepare for a game on Friday night? Especially being a later game than you typically play throughout the season.
KHRISTIAN SMITH: I think the first two games are just a lot different just because they're home and away. It's just who could come out, prepare for the game playing in there. This is a dogfight. Every position matters.

I remember our sophomore year when we played Southern, and that game came down to the last final seconds. It didn't matter what seed you were, what your record was. Like I said, this is March. Everything matters. Just got to relay it to these guys. The last two games we played against them don't matter. This game right here is the most important. Every possession matters.

Like I say, everybody is capable. Anybody can go on for a big night. We've just got to be locked in and focus on every aspect of the game.

DEVONTE BROWN: I think they've just got to understand the most important game is the first game. When you come to the conference tournament, it's not really about the offense because everybody is going to move the ball and everybody knows you've got to move the ball, but it really comes down to the defensive end. If you can play defense at an elite, high level in a conference tournament, you're going to have a good chance of winning. Like Khristian said, it's a dogfight every single position. You can't take one off. If it's a fast break, you've got to go ahead and bust it and take a foul. Maybe it might be your second one and put them on the free-throw line, but it also stops that momentum.

So it's really about stopping momentum and playing great defense and really being scrappy on the defensive end.

Q. For Devonte and Brenton, you guys obviously were named Second Team All-Conference. What's that do for your spirits kind of just to see that everybody overlooked that rough patch a little bit? Obviously, you guys didn't. But still to get that notoriety from the conference.
BRENTON SCOTT: Knowing Devonte and myself, we obviously wanted to be on the first team. But that six-game losing streak wasn't what we expected, and it's not what we wanted for ourselves. You know, it's a great accomplishment, especially for a guy like myself, just being younger. I'm just learning. I'm learning from these guys right here. I'm just thankful for my coach, and I'm just learning and trying to get better.

DEVONTE BROWN: It's always a good thing to be honored by your peers. It's a blessing to be on the list. But to have a guy like Brenton Scott and to get something like that, it really speaks to his work and how he's come along because a lot of people doubted him and he kept playing. He fought through a lot of things. And the way guys are playing, he still was successful, and it just speaks to our coaches making these little minor adjustments to make sure that we're successful as players in different areas of the floor.

So it's an honor, first and foremost, but I'm just thankful anyway.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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