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March 17, 2016

Phil Martelli

DeAndre' Bembry

Isaiah Miles

Aaron Brown

Spokane, Washington

THE MODERATOR: We'll get started with questions for the St. Joe's student-athletes.

Q. Pretty sure you played against Cincinnati when you were at West Virginia. What do you recall from, kind of things of the style of play and what to expect from the way they play even though they're, this is a different team now?
AARON BROWN: I did. But it's a completely different team, but they still play the same way. Physical, big bodies, rebound, defend really well. So we just want to be prepared for that.

Q. I know you were on the team last time St. Joe's won a tournament, but you weren't able to play because of the transfer process. Now especially being such a pivotal part of getting here, what's this kind of experience been like for you?
AARON BROWN: It's been a great experience. It was definitely a great experience when I just practiced because I was up in Brooklyn, I was a part of the championship team, and I practiced with those guys every day. So I felt just as a part of it as they did.

Q. There's a lot of, maybe, focus on you in terms of being a NBA prospect and one of the best players, Mid Major players, in the country, but a lot of players make their profile in the NCAA Tournament. Is that something that you're kind of thinking about, is that something that might be motivating you?
DEANDRE' BEMBRY: Well, it's always team first. People can come in here and worry about their self and that's how you get out of character. It's always been about the team throughout the year, and I wouldn't have won the Player of the Year if it wasn't for these guys.

So I'm not really worried about that. I'm just going to come in and play our game and winning, that's what people like. So that's what I'm looking forward to, trying to get another win.

Q. Cincinnati's known for their defense. What have you seen from them, just what they do defensively, what you expect from them?
ISAIAH MILES: I saw they play a 2-3 man zone and we played against that when we played against Richmond, so I feel like we're used to it. We've practiced against it these past couple of days. And just focusing on where we can find the mismatches at. There's spots in the zone where we can find mismatches and we're going to try to attack those mismatches the best that we can.

Q. They do block a lot of shots, how much of a concern is that for you?
ISAIAH MILES: Not my concern at all. They're big bodies but like any or game, you have to go to the basket hard. You don't have to worry about that. When you worry about your shot getting blocked that's when it does get blocked. So just finish through contact and just finish strong.

Q. You talk about winning, last time you guys went to the tournament when you were a freshman that overtime loss to the vent actual national champion, is that something that also motivates you here, wanting to get that win after one of the best seasons in program history?
DEANDRE' BEMBRY: Yeah, definitely. Just looking back at my freshman year with the team we had and the team that UConn had that ended up winning the whole thing, it was just a great experience to be able to be on that type of level and actually get a chance to play against a team that actually won the whole thing. So just being in that position and seeing that atmosphere, it's definitely going to help me this year.

THE MODERATOR: All right. Thank you. We'll be back with coach in a moment.


THE MODERATOR: We'll start with an opening statement from coach and then take questions.

COACH MARTELLI: Well, 68 coaches have done this and said the same thing. We're delighted to be here. But I'm especially delighted for these players that with me, leading them, won 13 times last year, we averaged 60 points a game last year, we scored under 60 and this is today's college basketball, we scored under 60 I think 12 times. And that is a badge of courage this year. We have lost two games where we scored 90.

So, the players commitment, the coaches commitment to improvement, to not repeating what happened last year, it's been an honor to be a part of this particular group. We do have a little bit of, we get cold shivers when we think about Spokane. We were out here last year, at least we were purported to be out here last year. We played Gonzaga in the pre-season NIT and the score at one point was 60-11. They had 60. So, we went back to the same Spokane Community College where we practiced. We looked a lot better than we did last year at this time, and I'm hoping that we can play better basketball tomorrow night against Cincinnati.


Q. When you're asked about DeAndre', you talk about his intangibility a lot, but what's the No. 1 thing you feel like he gives you on the court?
COACH MARTELLI: On the court? He gives us a place to put the ball, and I think that a basketball decision is going to be made when he gets the ball. The ball's not going to go someplace that you don't expect it. His turnovers could come down, but it's just the fact that his basketball IQ is really up to the next level where he'll eventually end up.

Q. You talk about the next level, and I think for a lot of guys the NCAA Tournament is where they become national kind of household names. Do you think that's something that DeAndre' is capable of doing this March?
COACH MARTELLI: Putting his name out there?

Q. Yeah. With great performances on the biggest stage?
COACH MARTELLI: Well, look, every team in the NBA came through in the pre-season, because he had a chance last year at the Nike Basketball Academy to play just terrific basketball in a great setting. And every team came through. Many of them multiple times. And I don't even ask whose been to games this year. So he's been evaluated.

And just to take it off on a tangent, this new rule that the NCAA and the NBA and the NABC have put together, where these young guys are going to be able to put their name in, find out if they're invited to the combine, go to the combine and play, and then 30 teams that know their business, not some street guy, not some runner for an agent, not the Internet, not the college coach, is going to tell him, this is what you should do.

And then he and his mother and his grandfather will make a very intelligent decision about his future. He's going to be a NBA player. But this new rule is tailor made for DeAndre'.

Q. Everybody's talked all season about the parity across the nation. This might be the year that a double digit team makes a deep, deep run into the tournament. Curious your thoughts about that.
COACH MARTELLI: Well, since we're an 8, I hope a double digit run doesn't make a long run into the tournament.


Look, I think that the joy in college basketball this year is that we have cleaned it up a little bit. That we are scoring the ball. It's a more enjoyable game to watch on television for sure. It's been officiated better. Let me repeat that, it's been officiated better, so the three guys that have the game tomorrow night I think you've done a really good job. And I also want you to know that we're sixth in the country in fewest fouls, so as long as those guys see this, I'm good with that.

But it's older. It's an older -- we had this unbelievable phenomenon which we do all the time, these kids are going to be one and done and then you look at these draft projections and they're ranked and then all of a sudden somebody went, a month in, these dudes are kids.

And now you have like the old, the older states men are taking college basketball, I think, by storm this year. And that bodes well for those teams that have been around. And I think the other thing that parity has done is, it's eliminated any fear that have you. So, whatever name popped up, you were concerned, but some of the monsters that popped up in years past, you thought, well, I hope that we have a nice charter and a nice hotel, because we can't beat them.

Q. When Cincinnati popped up, what went through your mind?
COACH MARTELLI: Well, the first thing that popped into my mind was, here's another team that the personality of the coach is transferred to the players on the court. And Mick Cronin is a feisty guy, not in a negative sense, but he demands a certain way on every possession and I thought, oh, that's a problem. Because his players do. And it doesn't happen in every program where the coach's personality is taken out on to the court with his players.

The second thing I didn't know was how overwhelming their defensive numbers were. After probably about two or three in the morning Sunday, I realized how daunting their defensive numbers were. And I didn't realize their size.

So, probably throughout this year, I just glanced, mostly when they played Temple, I just glanced at -- and I was aware that they had lost the four overtime game against Connecticut. So, basically the No. 1 thought was, here's a team that really takes their coach's personality on to the floor, and we will have to battle.

Q. What about their offense? They sometimes have trouble scoring. What did you think when you saw them play on offense?
COACH MARTELLI: Well, I tell you what I'm concerned about, missed shots. Because missed shots could lead to offensive rebounds. Their size is daunting. And I mean this, you can report it anyway you want, but I'm hoping that all their guys that are banged up, I hope that they have a hundred percent health for the tournament.

These kids get 120 chances to play college basketball and I would hope that these kids get a chance to play at full health. So, the size and missed shots lead to offensive rebounds, which leads to fouls. We can't foul. There are guys on our team that are going to have to play 40 minutes and play 40 minutes at both ends of the floor in order for us to be successful.

I have an analytics guy, a graduate student, he gave me the numbers, and I think the numbers, if I'm correct, are 77 points at home and 63 on the road. But, ironically, their defensive field goal percentage is the same on the road as it is at home.

So, that -- I'm not into adages and all that stuff, but defense is traveling with them, and I'll be selfish and say I hope that their offense didn't make the flight to Spokane.

Q. Aaron Brown -- two years ago when you went to the tournament he wasn't able to play. But by all accounts he was one of the most energetic, positive guys on the team at that time. What's it been like for him from your perspective now that he'll be able to play this time around?
COACH MARTELLI: Well, Aaron Brown is a Philadelphia kid. It's tough for Philly kids to play at a Philly school because you're never as good as the people around you think that you are. And he had to find his way.

Two years ago when we won the Atlantic 10 championship, we played in the NCAA Tournament, he didn't travel with us, he wasn't with us. These guys all got beautiful rings for winning the championship. He was at that ceremony, he didn't get a ring. But I will tell you this, when we won in 2014, and I looked around the court as the celebration was full blown, he was the first guy that I don't know how he did it, I don't know how he got out of the stands and got on to the court past security, but he was running around like he had 20 and 20 to win that championship. That spoke volumes. Because that's not really how as a younger guy, he was. The fact that he's going to graduate from St. Joseph's in May, that he's taken advantage of that. The fact that he has this chance, and he's going to be announced as a starter on national TV, I think that's really great.

But I'm just going to give you a snapshot of what this group is like. They're sitting in that locker room and Aaron Brown and one of our deep walk-on subs are like laughing it up like they have been friends for 20 years. And I thought, I think we have accomplished something in his case.

Q. Talk about Isaiah, seems like DeAndre' and Aaron get a lot of talk, but Isaiah, with the weight loss and you talk about improving from 13 wins last year and scoring 11 points in the half at Gonzaga last year, how much did his weight loss have to do with this turn around?
COACH MARTELLI: He led the country in foul outs last year. Because he just wasn't in shape enough to make plays. It's his rebounding, it's his lay ups that are much more impressive than the numbers that he's putting up. He's gone through stretches here where, if he misses, you're kind of surprised. In the summer when we met going into the start of pre-season basically, he said, what do you think I can accomplish here? And I didn't know where he was going with it, so I basically said, why don't you try to become the most improved player in the Atlantic 10. If you're the most improved player in the Atlantic 10, and we're as good as I think we can be, then all of the other opportunities are going to present themselves. I was amazed that he thought that way. Like how, what mark could I leave. What mark could I leave. And the mark that he has left is our younger players now realize that you don't have to be spoon fed here. You don't have to get something early in your career. And if you stay with this, and you believe in your self, then all of your dreams can come true. This kid is now an all-league player, tournament MVP, he's getting a second ring for winning the Atlantic 10, and all the rest. He's not the most improved player in the country, I don't know who that is, but he's on that list. And he'll get a chance to play professional basketball a year from now.

THE MODERATOR: All right. Thank you.

COACH MARTELLI: Thank you for your time.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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