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March 23, 2016

Melo Trimble

Rasheed Sulaimon

Louisville, Kentucky

THE MODERATOR: We'll begin with questions, start on the left.

Q. Melo, you talk about this season, the coach was talking about maybe some of the preseason pressure, might have put more pressure on you, the expectations. Did you feel that? Did you not shoot as well this year as last year, is that part of it? What do you think about what happened?
MELO TRIMBLE: I guess I felt a little pressure after having a good season last year as far as shooting. Just coming in this year and being one of the top teams, everybody put a lot of weight on me because I was one of the key returners coming back from last year's team. And we had some additional players as well.

This year I had to be a leader on the team. Just to really go through all that, and I guess a shooting slump, everybody will say I struggled, but we still won some games and lost some. It's basketball. Things happen. I wouldn't call it struggling. I'd call it growing pains. I got better from it. I learned from it.

Q. Melo, I wanted to tackle the same thing from the opposite angle, which is the past week has seen a bunch of exciting buzzer beaters from other teams. Didn't want people to forgot about yours against Wisconsin in January. I guess for those of us who haven't hit a game winning buzzer beater, I was wonder, if you could take us through kind of both what's going through your mind when that happens, when you know the shot's going in, if you know it's going in before it actually goes in. And, also, how in practice if there's a way you can kind of simulate those circumstances for yourself?
MELO TRIMBLE: I don't know if the shot's going in or not. I know if I'm going to take a shot. I practice it every day, pre-shootaround, even over the summer I practice the shot, a rhythm up three. I know it's going to take a three when Coach Turgeon calls a timeout. I just want to get close enough and get enough space in order to take the shot and it went in.

Q. For both of you guys, certainly out there today the shootaround, looked like you were having fun. This year, at times, it doesn't look like it's been a lot of fun. It's been kind of a grind. The fact that you're the underdog, the weight of expectation seems gone. Can you be free and be yourselves more so than you were earlier this year?
RASHEED SULAIMON: At the end of the day, we're playing a game that we love. So with all the pressure that maybe outside sources are putting on it, I think it kind of lingered in our locker room for a little bit for the course of the season.

But we got back to having fun, playing the game that we love. Being a part of the NCAA Tournament is a once-in-a-lifetime thing, so we're just enjoying every part of it.

Of course, we're going to compete and every time we play in the game, we're going to try to win. But I think Coach just being loose like that and just getting back to the basics and telling us just go out there and have fun, play for the name on the front of the jersey and play for each other. If you do those things, regardless of the outcome, we're still winners.

So that's just been our mindset going into the tournament, and, like I said, we're one of 16 teams left. So we just want to enjoy the ride as much as we can.

MELO TRIMBLE: Rasheed pretty much said everything. The biggest thing for us, we just enjoy the moment. Throughout the whole season, we had a lot going on. We were losing, winning. Our rankings dropped. But we just forgot how to have fun. I say after we played Michigan and we won, we just learned how to have fun again and to love each other and know to enjoy the moment because certain players may not be with us next year. We want to have fun with the group of guys we have here.

Q. Rasheed, do you see a lot of similarities between your backcourt and Kansas, or are there more differences?
RASHEED SULAIMON: Kansas has one of the top backcourts in the country. With Devonte' Graham and Frank Mason, you can throw in Greene and Wayne Selden in there, depending on the lineup. They have a lot of versatility. They can shoot the ball, they can put pressure on the defense by getting in the lane.

Looking at us, we're very confident in our backcourt as well with myself, Melo, Jaylen Brantley off the bench, Jared Nickens. We feel we can do similar things. It's going to be a tough matchup. At the same time, we love competition so it's going to be our backcourt versus their backcourt, our team versus their team at the end of the day. So we're going to go out there and try to compete to the best of our abilities and we'll see what happens.

Q. Does Coach really take your cell phones away? And how do you celebrate if he does take your cell phones? And why does he take your cell phones?
RASHEED SULAIMON: He actually does, which was probably -- hurt our hearts, especially being college kids. But at the same time, we just wanted to understand that this moment is an important moment, and we didn't want any distractions.

You talk to the older guys, myself, Jake Layman and Robert Carter, just to kind of lay the ground rules to us first and see how we'd receive it. It was kind of hard to give up, but we all agreed with him at the same time because like I said, it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. So taking those phones and just having the less distractions, extra hours of sleep that we may have from not having those phones, we felt that it was an important step for us heading into the tournament just to make sure that everyone was on the same page and to ensure that everyone is getting the much-needed rest that we needed to compete at a high level.

Q. (Off microphone)?
RASHEED SULAIMON: He normally takes them around 10:00. So right after our team dinner, he'll collect them and normally we have an extra hour just to kind of relax before we have our curfew. So it's been good to us so far. Like I said, it probably hurts. But at the same time, it's been successful so that's one of the necessary sacrifices that we needed to be where we are today. So we appreciate it.

Q. Rasheed, I asked Melo about the shooting. I don't mean to be picking on that. As a point guard, can you talk about his development as a point guard, the whole picture, the whole thing?
RASHEED SULAIMON: Yeah. Just Melo's maturation process this year, he's grown a lot, in my eyes. From the first time I came on campus, he's naturally a more quieter kid, and Coach kind of challenged me to challenge him to be more vocal, to step into that leadership role.

At the end of the day, he's only a sophomore. That's a big task for any sophomore. But he's handled it with a lot of grace. He's an amazing talent, and just I admire him because with all the weight on his shoulders, the humility he has and the humble and his hungry nature, he's the first one in the gym, the last one to leave.

It's really been impressive. Just now, seeing where he has from the beginning of the year, he's more vocal. He's getting on people when he needs to putting his arm around people when he needs to. He's just being the total package of a point guard. He can score the ball with the best of them. He can penetrate and find anyone who's open and at the end of the day, he leads the team and he's one of the main reasons why our team is where we are today.

Q. Rasheed, your coach was in here. Like any coach, he's very happy that there are upper classmen in this tournament this year. What do you get out of it? What have these four years been like for you? Why stay?
RASHEED SULAIMON: Well, me personally, my four years has been an up and down roller coaster. But being here in Maryland for my last year, knowing Coach Mark Turgeon for a very long time, since I was in seventh grade, it's been a blessing personally.

College is a great place. It's a place where you can grow. You can mature for your game on and off the court. And especially lately, with a lot of kids who are younger, a lot of talented kids who take the spotlight, which is fine. But it's kind of neat to see this year that the older guys are kind of dominating or showing that we can play too.

So it's been a unique year, especially these past couple years with a lot of one and dons or whatever like that. But it shows that staying in college and maturing and getting better on and off the court can have a lot of benefits as well in your maturation process as a human being.

So me personally, I loved college and I think I needed every year to be where I am today and I'm 100 percent happy with my decision to stay.

Q. For Melo, when you have a game like Sunday, from 3-point range, how frustrating can it be? You're supposed to have a short memory about things like that, but how frustrating was that and how much did that help you when you look at the box score, how quickly do you kind of put that behind you?
MELO TRIMBLE: I don't worry about missed shots. I just keep shooting them. I know Coach Turgeon would agree with me to keep shooting threes when I'm off. But he knows me by now for the past two years. I'm a confident player. If I miss one, I'll shoot the next one. It's supposed to be a short memory, like you said. When you're having fun, you don't worry about the misses. You keep shooting and do whatever it takes to help your team win.

Q. You guys are long and a little longer than Kansas at a couple of positions, which I'm guessing has been the case throughout the year. Can you talk about the advantages of that or any disadvantages as far as taking care of the ball against smaller guards and even inside?
RASHEED SULAIMON: We're blessed and we have the luxury to have a lot of tall, athletic players. Even our guards stand at 6'5", 6'7". Jake, our starting three man at 6'9". It definitely can be an advantage. At the same time, Kansas can have some advantages as well by going small, increasing the tempo.

I think we have the versatility to both go big and small as well. And I think it's just going to come down to how each team executes their game plan. It's going to be a heavyweight battle between two great teams, between two great coaches. I'm sure they have a great game plan for us and we have a great game plan for them.

Essentially, it's going to come down to how each team can come together and execute the game plans when it matters most in a crucial game.

MELO TRIMBLE: I don't think the length will bother them. They're a great team and just like length wouldn't bother us. We're both great teams and we just want to go out there and both play hard and that's pretty much it.

THE MODERATOR: Thanks for your time today. Good luck.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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