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March 13, 2018

LeVelle Moton

Pablo Rivas

Raasean Davis

Dayton, Ohio

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by student-athletes from NC Central as well as Coach LeVelle Moton. Questions for Raasean Davis or Pablo Rivas.

Q. Pablo, this is your second trip to the NCAA Tournament. How does this differ from last year?
PABLO RIVAS: This year is more special because we, first of all, as a team we're the underdog. So I feel like we had to really work to get here. And it's just like without these guys and my team and the coaching staff, you know, like, they're being a big part of this role. It's been a long journey and we're finally here now. I can say that we made it here.

Q. Raasean, your first trip here, how exciting is it for you to be able to play here with North Carolina Central?
RAASEAN DAVIS: Very exciting. As a kid growing up, this is something you dream of, especially when you have a passion for the game like I do. So it's just very exciting and it's a great experience.

Q. Pablo, last year the team was led by quite a few seniors. This time you're a senior. What have you done to be a leader for this team to help prepare for this kind of environment?
PABLO RIVAS: What I've done is I've been the bigger brother all year all season. Once we got to conference season and the MEAC Tournament I had to step up a lot. And I kind of locked in and changed my mindset. So I just have to be the bigger brother and help them, help us do anything really that I can do to win.

Q. Raasean, it's been short turnaround from winning the championship on Saturday, finding out where we're going on Sunday and now we're here on this Tuesday. What does this whirlwind been like for you personally?
RAASEAN DAVIS: To be honest, it's tough. But this is what we live for. At the end of the day, like this is what we compete for. This is what we do all the conditioning for, all the weights that we lift. This is the reason why so we can capitalize on these moments.

So it's really a blessing, and I'm humbled and I'm thankful because we could have lost. We came in as a 6 seed but we ended up winning the MEAC Tournament. So it's a special moment and I'm just grateful.

Q. You've had a long season. Can you explain some adversity you guys had to overcome as a team to help you guys here?
RAASEAN DAVIS: Can you repeat that?

Q. What was some of the adversity you had to overcome to get to this point in the season?
RAASEAN DAVIS: It was a lot of adversity. For example, we went through a stretch during the season where, like, we were on the losing streak. And it was just, it wasn't really looking good from there, but that's kind of part of it. You have to be mentally strong as well as physically, just so you can prosper through those situations. Everything that's going to go your way. So just thankful.

PABLO RIVAS: The adversity that we faced as a team I feel like it was the beginning of the year when we were playing in non-conference games. We had a whole new team and we didn't know how to play with each other yet. And that was like the adversity that we was facing during those times. And once we started clicking and getting to know each other and playing for each other that's when things changed.

Q. A lot of people are talking about the job that Coach Moton has done to turn this team around again. A real experienced team that he brought here last year. But then to bring this team back with no starters returning from last year's squad. Can each of you just take turns talking about Coach Moton and his impact on you?
PABLO RIVAS: Coach Moton, he's amazing at what he does. He's very smart. He always comes out with a game plan, and for us, it's our job to execute. So him, he prepared for moments like this, and it all starts from the beginning from the summertime all the way to, like, the end of the season. And so just how he works and how he thinks and how he prepares, it just pays off every time. And we've just gotta do what we gotta do.

RAASEAN DAVIS: Coach Moton is an excellent coach. And just to piggyback off what Pablo said, he comes up with a great game plan every time. And it's really just up to us to execute the game plan. I feel like with the game plans that he comes up with, as long as we go out there and give it our all, he's going to have us prepared. So it's really up to us, as long as we execute the game plan and we give ourselves a pretty good chance to compete at a high level. That's what it's about.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you. Coach, an opening statement.

COACH MOTON: This never gets old. Definitely excited to be here. I need to get in better shape. I'm tired after that walk up that ramp.

To be honest with you, we had some injuries early on in the year and many people didn't give us a chance. I lost two of my best wings. Rashann London tore his ACL. Alex Mills tore his Achilles. He's back now but he's not the same player. We rely heavily on those guys. It kind of put us in a bind, forced us to go to plan B.

It's unusual because we're starting two freshmen and a walk-on. I've never done in my life. I never had any intentions of doing it in my life. But here we are. And there was a time during the season where we weren't playing our best. We were just trying to figure it out.

And there was an article, not an article, there was some things said on a blog that someone sent me and they called us soft. And it was my last motivating tactic to use to the team. I said, look, man, as a man there's certain things that other men or other people just can't say about you and that's using the word "soft."

And from that point on it seems like our attitude took off to a different level where we fought to have something to prove. We fought to establish a legacy. And we took some momentum into the MEAC Tournament and we were able to win it. And here we are back in Dayton.

Q. While you've been here in North Carolina, since you've had back-to-back MEAC championships but now this is the first back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances, how does it feel to be back here almost exactly one year later from the last time we were here?
COACH MOTON: It's kind of surreal. The thing about these moments you don't get a chance to fully embrace them because you're constantly busy, constantly doing something. We're running on E right now. So we have to recharge our batteries from the celebration. We played four games in five days. We just caught a long flight. So we definitely have to recharge our batteries. But the momentum and the jubilation of the moment has carried us this far.

We understand the task at hand. We understand it's going to be business as usual tomorrow night. We're playing a really good basketball team coached by a tremendous guy who I consider a mentor and a friend in Mike Davis.

I don't know why he's not at a Power Five school. I challenge anyone to match his resumé. Some of the things he's done is tremendous. And we definitely are excited to be here and we understand we have our hands full.

Q. The Eagles had to play four games to win the tournament last week. How much do you think this has helped this team prepare for the large NCAA Tournament environment?
COACH MOTON: I think it was good in the fact that you don't have much time to prepare. But on the flipside of that coin it can become a perfect concoction of disaster because our legs -- I always can gauge their fatigue level based off mine. And I'm extremely tired and I haven't run up and down the floor one time. They've done it four days.

I know when to rest them. I know when we need to go hard. Yesterday we just did some layups and got some shooting in just to get our legs back under us. But at this point in the season if you don't know it you don't know it. It's more about personnel and scouting report. And that's what we did yesterday for Texas Southern. So we understand we've got a monumental task at hand.

Q. You mentioned two freshmen and a walk-on in the starting lineup for the Eagles. The last two NCAA Tournament appearances you've had seniors in the back court. What have you told the freshmen to get ready for tomorrow's game?
COACH MOTON: Nothing. I think the uneducation is a good thing sometimes. That's what we call it, the uneducation of a point guard, uneducation of a shooting guard and uneducation of a walk-on.

They're not knowledgeable enough right now to know what they're up against, and I think that's a good thing. I think when you know the task at hand, sometimes it can freeze you. Sometimes it can paralyze you in the moment. They're just going out there playing free as possible. That's what I want them to do.

We understand there's two freshmen and a walk-on. But we're a no-excuse basketball club, and we demand the same thing that we're going to demand from anyone else and that's excellence. And they certainly know that. So they're battle tested and we don't consider them freshmen and a walk-on anymore. We consider them sophomores at this point in the season.

Q. You've talked about your long standing relationship with coach Mike Davis. How do you feel going to play against him tomorrow?
COACH MOTON: I hate it. You know, the irony is he called me Saturday, late Saturday night, early Sunday morning at around 1:00 in the morning. And he said, Coach, I just wanted to congratulate you on your win. And I said, man, thank you. I said, congratulations to you. I just finished watching you because my family was out to dinner and we were watching them at the bar.

And he said, you think they're going to have us play each other? I said I hope not. Yeah, they wouldn't do that. I said, yeah, they wouldn't do that. I said, man, all the best. And we hung up the phone. And after the Selection Show we called each other and said, man, they did that. And I said, yeah, they did that.

So I hate it. I hate that it has to be two HBCUs clashing, because I had the ultimate respect for his program. And truth be told we've kind of been the representation of each league, and I wanted the world to be able to see what each league can offer. It's unfortunate, but it's best to be on this side of the coin than on the other side not getting a bid at all and not having to play anyone and having your season be over with.

But I have a deep affinity for Mike and what he's accomplished and what he's done. And I wish I could tell you guys about some of the conversations and the insight that he provides for me just during the year and how to navigate myself through this thing, because coaching will make you jump off a bridge if you're not careful. So you need that mentor -- you need that guy that says he's been that focal point for me.


FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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