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March 12, 2016

Josh Pastner

Markel Crawford

Dedric Lawson

Shaw Goodwin

Orlando, Florida

Memphis - 74, Tulsa - 54

THE MODERATOR: We'll start with an opening statement from coach and then take questions for the student-athletes.

JOSH PASTNER: First off, I just want to say that I think Ed Conroy does just a great job with Tulane. I think they're very well coached. He's really, really good. They do a great job. He's one of the great coaches in the game, and their teams are so hard to play against all the time. They got good players. And this league has got, has really good coaches in this league. So, I just wanted to make sure I said that on Ed, on Coach Conroy. Because he's one of the best coaches in this league, and he's known around the country as just a tremendous coach.

Regarding us today, I was really proud of our young men. I thought we battled, we did a great job valuing the ball for the most part of the game. Only nine turnovers. One of them at the end was because of me. So really eight, and then we had 10 yesterday. So you're talking under 20. At the pace and speed that we play at, that's at a high level of us valuing ball with our pace that we're playing at. Bottom line, though, is defensively. We're just guarding the right way. Our first 17 games, we were one of the 10 best teams based on numbers defensively. Then we just had slippage. We stopped guarding the ball screens well. We didn't shrink the floor. We weren't in the gaps. We just weren't good defensively. We had slippage. That's why we became inconsistent.

In the last few weeks, we have gotten back to who we are as a defensive identity, and that's why we're much better right now is because of our defensive presence on the defensive end. To the three gentlemen to my right. Dedric Lawson was terrific. I feel bad that I took him out because he was one rebound away from his 17th double double, which would have tied Keith Lee, but -- so he'll have to try to get that tomorrow. But because Keith Lee has 17, most for a freshmen, in Memphis history, Dedric has 16.

So I thought Shaq -- we fed Shaq early, he was active, and really got us going active early and helped us get a leader early. Then I thought Markel Crawford, I talked to him this morning because Avery Woodson did not play. And I said, this is an opportunity for Markel. Markel, you got to step up. And you're a great player, and you're talented, and you're a world class athlete, and you got to be big for us on the glass and he was terrific tonight. 10 points, 10 rebounds, double double, plus he had three assists and no turnovers. So really proud of Markel. Really proud of all the guys.

Great win for us. We know tomorrow versus UConn, they're a great team, very well coached by Coach Ollie. He's one of the best coaches and they're tremendously talented. We know we're going to have to play a great game if we want to have an opportunity to beat them, so we're going to have to play great. But we're excited about the challenge, and it should be a high level game with against two high level teams tomorrow afternoon.


Q. Shaq, obviously you were on the bench towards the end of the game. Probably for rest purposes. You guys looked like you were having a lot of fun. You were enjoying the game. How long will you guys allow yourselves to enjoy the fact that you've made it to the championship game before you re-gear knowing that you still need to win that game to get in?
SHAQ GOODWIN: Well, I know me, me personally, I was talking to Nick, Nick Marshall, he was like, we're going to the 'Ship, we're going to the 'Ship.


SHAQ GOODWIN: I'm sorry. 'Ship. Championship.

JOSH PASTNER: I don't curse, so we wouldn't allow that from our players.

SHAQ GOODWIN: We're going to the 'Ship. We're going to the 'Ship. And I said, you know, I said Nick, we're going to win the championship game because -- I've been there with coach, and it's easy to just like you said, be in that moment of getting there instead of worrying about winning the game. I know me, personally, I'm ready to -- I'm going to enjoy the victory with my brothers tonight. We're going to sleep on it and be ready first thing tomorrow morning. So it shouldn't last long.

Q. Shaq, being the senior on this team, you're the energy plug. And these last moments, are your last times with your teammates and your last time to try to win a championship. So, are you that much more focused every time you guys bounce the ball?
SHAQ GOODWIN: It's really a hard thing to do to be -- to keep that tunnel vision, all the while being relaxed at the same time. But we have a great mind coach in Greg, and my teammates do a great job of letting me know that, one play at a time, we're going to do it together, and just relax. So, I have tunnel vision. Of course, I'm excited. I have the butterflies, maybe this could be my last game. I say that before every game. Maybe this could be my last game. Just being realistic with myself, all the while enjoying the moment and embracing it with my brothers. So, it's hard, but I have that tunnel vision and I'm relaxed at the same time.

Q. Coach talked about the inconsistency that you guys have had throughout the season. What was the mentality like coming into today's game after putting on such a strong performance yesterday to get to this point?
DEDRIC LAWSON: Me personally, I treat every game like one game and it's over with. And me and my brothers, we do the same. Like Shaq said, we talk to the mind coach. He talks to us about one play at time, one shot at a time, and just taking everything as one, as a whole, and just -- when we win, we put it in the past and we've got to regroup. Because any game could be our last game. So moving forward, we're just trying to win as much as possible.

Q. Shaq, a few years ago you guys played in a mid-season tournament here in Orlando, you guys ended up winning that tournament. Are there any things, any experiences or anything at all that you were able to take from that tournament and being able to kind of carry a trophy there at the end of the season that you guys might be able to bring into this tournament and bring into that championship game?
SHAQ GOODWIN: Beside the fact of going into the championship game like we have the to win the game, not just being excited for getting there, you got to do it together. After every huddle and every time we bring it in, even before the game, I like to bring everybody into the five-man huddle and just tell them, whatever we're going to do in this game, whatever we're going to do, we're going to do it together. So, with that mindset, we win together, we lose together. We live with it. As long as we're doing it together.

So that team, when I was a freshman, and in 2012, that team that won, we did it together. It was three overtimes to win the game. It was a nail biter. I still remember it like it yesterday. But I remember us sticking together. I fouled out the first or second overtime, something like that. But my teammates did a great job of just -- everything was together. So I try to preach that to these guys and they do a great job of keeping it together.

Q. Dedric, I think it was like on the far left baseline you made a move, did you -- was that like a little bit of like a Shammgod that you threw? Like you're in the perimeter and you shot -- is that what you did? Because it looked like you threw it and then brought the ball back and then let it go.
DEDRIC LAWSON: Normally, when defenders see the ball, you throw it out, they try to reach it, and I just brought it back before he could get it, and it was a little step back in, a little fade.

Q. Did you slip?
DEDRIC LAWSON: I did slip. He made the floor wet.


THE MODERATOR: Thank you, gentlemen.

JOSH PASTNER: Also, just in case, win or lose tomorrow, if I don't have time it say it, I do want to give a shout out to -- I thought that the host city has been great. It's not just because we have won two games. Everyone here at UCF has done a great job, and obviously the American Conference and my man O.J. is right there, who I think is as good as you get. But I do want to say that everyone in the host city and the volunteers have been really, really good. It's been a great experience here in Orlando.

Q. As I mentioned before, Shaq, last nine minutes of the game, you had him on the bench, some of the starters as well, I'm assuming for rest. But when you have a game like a championship that's so important, how do you keep those guys focused despite them not being in late?
JOSH PASTNER: Well, they're 18- to 22-year-old young men and you're in that moment of the game, you're not -- you're trying to beat Tulane, not worrying about the next game. And guys are having fun, and I believe the more positive energy that we can have the better. Look, we have been inconsistent this year. As I mentioned that already. There's been a lot of negativity that we have encountered, and rightfully so in a lot of areas on -- based on some of our games that we dropped. So it's good to see those young men have a good time and enjoy the win and not take it for granted. Because it's hard to do that. It is hard to win games. Winning is very, very hard to do. So, when you win, you want to be able to not take it for granted. It's a hard thing to do.

Q. Can you tell about your mind coach that the guys kept referencing?
JOSH PASTNER: Yeah. They're talking about this gentleman Greg Graber who does -- calls it -- he does mindfulness. And he just -- he's -- he works with a lot of different teams and works with a lot of different college teams, but he's located in Memphis. He just volunteers his time and he does a lot of stuff. It's mindfulness, and it's kind of the new stuff. I've always said this, we spend so much time working on our strength and conditioning and our X's and O's and building the body up, but so much of it is the mind, the power of the mind. And a lot of times we have had some -- when we haven't played as well or a guy hasn't played as well, it's strictly because of the mindset. So, I said this, maybe next time in the future if -- if they have openings on staff, maybe I need -- instead of hiring a basketball assistant actually hire a sports psychologist or -- I mean, literally. Because so much you're dealing with just the mind of it and dealing with players, it comes down to dealing with so much -- with the mind., but they're addressing that gentleman by the name of Greg Graber. He's a Memphis guy and does a great job and works with a bunch of teams.

Q. At this point in the season you've scouted, you've seen the teams multiple times. UConn has started to get a little bit hot and Daniel Hamilton in particular last few games has been pretty on. What is it about UConn that makes them so difficult to defend and play?
JOSH PASTNER: UConn's -- they got really good talent and they got guys that can score. I think Jalen Adams is an excellent guard. I think he's going to be a guy like Nick Moore is in the league, where he's just that type of guard, that level. You can see how good he is in the league. Everyone talks about the half court shot he made yesterday, but he made some other big time shots and plays that not everyone talks about because everyone talks about that one shot. He made some big plays again today.

Daniel Hamilton is just excellent. He's a tough matchup. Gibbs, you got Purvis. They're good. Calhoun can shoot the ball. They just are a very good, well coached, high-octane offensive team, and we're going to have to really defend. We're going to have to do a great job against them if we're going to have an opportunity to win the game.

Q. Along those lines, did you see anything different from UConn in this so far in this tournament from your previous two meetings?
JOSH PASTNER: Look, when you're going back to back and now back to back to back, I don't know how much it comes down to the X's and O's, really how much strategy you're going to be able to do. It comes down to the Jimmys and Joes. We're going to have to get it done on the court, and it's going to come down to the players making plays. Just going to come down to the Jimmys and Joes, not as much the X's and O's.

Q. The next 16 hours, talk about -- talk a little bit about the preparation that you will put into tomorrow's game and what will you tell them before the game for a chance to go to the NCAA Tournament tomorrow?
JOSH PASTNER: You know I've been fortunate that when I was in Conference USA, we had won three conference tournament championships. The difference is we would play -- we would, based on the TV schedule -- on that Saturday morning for the championship, we would play at 10 a.m. One time in El Paso, we had to play at 9 a.m., and our game ended about 7 p.m. We had to get the guys up at 6 the next morning. So we get a little more time to sleep in the morning than those periods.

But, bottom line, is we just got to get ourselves, get off our feet, go back and watch some film, talk about some things, maybe a minor adjustment here and there. But in the end, I mean we're going to have to play well, and we're going to have to -- our guys are just going to have to flat out get it done. It's going to come down to the players making plays. And we're going to have to do a great job of defending a very, very good and talented UConn basketball team.

THE MODERATOR: All right. Thank you.

JOSH PASTNER: Okay. Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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