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March 14, 2018
Q. Aundre, selection day, you see Dallas pop up, what's it like being here now?
AUNDRE JACKSON: It was an amazing feeling. As soon as I saw we were in Dallas, I jumped up and screamed. And ten seconds later, I was on the phone telling my mom telling her I was coming back home to play. I've had a lot of people that wanted to see me play college ball, and now they get that chance to, so it's a great feeling.
Q. You guys had the big win over Florida earlier this season; what kind of confidence does that kind of game give you moving forward in a season?
DONTE INGRAM: It was a great confidence booster for us. We already had confidence coming in, but obviously to get a great win over an SEC school like that, that's something that you don't forget. So obviously moving forward, we want to carry that momentum. We weren't content with just getting that win. We knew we would go against other athletic, great teams. Obviously it was great to get a win, but moving forward, we knew we had to do more.
Q. If you guys won with people watching you for the first time or being introduced to Loyola basketball for the first time and wanted to know one thing about your program, what would it be?
MARQUES TOWNES: Just a high team of culture. We really pride on our culture. I think that's what made us successful this year. You know, Coach always drives our cultures during our games and practice, and if we get that culture into the game, we knew we would have a really good season, and I think it showed, and this is why we're here.
AUNDRE JACKSON: Going along with the culture, I'll say it's the little things. We focus on a lot of little things that help us for the bigger picture, like high hands or like short close outs, no middle and everything. We focus on the very small details that help us become great.
DONTE INGRAM: I'd say unselfish team. Each of us like we got like six guys on the team that can score 20 each night, but we do a great job of spacing the floor and moving the ball. We don't really care who scores. I think that's a great thing and why we're such a big threat.
CLAYTON CUSTER: Yeah, I think they pretty much covered it, but just like our togetherness I would say. We're so close on and off the court, and I think that in clutch situations in the last four minutes of games, I think that really comes in handy because we trust each other so much that we're going to get the stops that we need to get at the end of the game, and we're going to continue to move the ball and space it. I think that's been a huge part of our success this year for sure.
Q. Clayton and Marques. My limited understanding of you guys' offense, there's a spacing. Do you think your offense is very difficult for a team to prepare for because it seems like you guys just sort of read the defense as it goes along? Is that a fair understanding, and do you feel like that's given you guys a little bit of an advantage this year that it's hard to prepare for?
MARQUES TOWNES: Yeah, I mean, I think you hit it on the head. We really space the floor. That's what we try to emphasize. Like they said, we're really unselfish, so I think that plays a big factor. We don't really care who scores the ball as long as we just keep moving the ball and sharing the ball and just seeing everybody score, that's just -- it's just good for us. So yeah, I think if we just space the floor and share the ball, I think that's why we're a really good team.
CLAYTON CUSTER: Yeah, I think Coach Moser has done a really good job of getting us to buy in on spacing, and we push at opportune times. When we have the opportunity to push it and run, we're trying to do that. And if we don't have something, we're going to run something, and we have really good actions that have worked all year.
Our ideas on spacing and stuff makes it really hard to guard, and especially with the unselfish part of our team, if we space the floor and we're unselfish, I think it's hard to match up with us because we have so many weapons for sure.
Q. Apparently you guys are the trendy upset pick right now, and I don't know if when people are filling out their brackets they're talking about that, you're hearing it, and what your thoughts are?
MARQUES TOWNES: Yeah, I've seen there's a lot of media attention going for us right now, but we just try not to handle those distractions right now. We're just focused on our team and what we have to do to win this game. We have this thing that we say, just have our blinders on, just block everything out and just focus on us, focus on our togetherness, just look forward to this next game and what we have to do to win this game and set our goals for this next game. We try not to really look at it, but yeah, they really have us as an upset pick, I guess, but we're chasing still.
AUNDRE JACKSON: I've said this before, if we play how we play, we can beat anybody. I think our team has something to prove just focusing on us and handling our business, and then we'll be able to get the win.
CLAYTON CUSTER: I mean, we've definitely seen all this stuff. It's hard not to see it with today's social media and stuff like that. But I mean, we have the ultimate respect for Miami, and we know they're going to be a really, really good team. They're one of the top teams in the ACC, so we know they're going to be good.
We've done a good job all year of respecting our opponents for sure, but at the same time, we have the confidence that we can go in and play against anybody and win games in this tournament for sure.
Q. Aundre, what's the story with how you wound up at Loyola out of community college? How did they find you, or how did they get on your radar?
AUNDRE JACKSON: In JUCO, we went to the Dream College National Tournament up in Hutchinson, and I had two really good games. And then after the second game, Coach Porter came to the hotel and talked to me, and we just clicked. And when I went on my visit, I liked everything I saw, respected the culture, just what the program was doing, and it was a perfect fit for me.
Q. Donte, it's been a long time since Loyola was back in the tournament, and there was a lot of pressure on you guys to win the automatic bid because otherwise you might not have gotten in. I get the impression that's far from your guys' radar. Can you kind of explain the mindset that you guys are kind of starting a new season here?
DONTE INGRAM: Well, first, we didn't look at it as like pressure. Obviously we didn't want to leave it into the committee's hands, so we wanted to do what we had to do to get a win, so not even cut it close or think about it.
And second, we're far from content, as you said. We're not happy to just be here. Just like any other team, we want to compete and we want to win games. I think that this team is very capable of that. And just going forward, that's all we're focusing on. We're not looking at it like, oh, we are here now and that's the end of the road for us. We want to do what we can do to go in here and get wins.
Q. Do you have a specific NCAA Tournament memory that comes to mind as far back as your first one that you remember watching the tournament as a kid and imagining yourself in the position you are now?
MARQUES TOWNES: I think it was my -- I guess my first kind of memory of the NCAA Tournament was when -- I think where Mario Chalmers hit that shot when he was on Kansas, and I think that was a really exciting moment, and that was my first fond memory of the NCAA Tournament growing up as a kid. So yeah.
AUNDRE JACKSON: I don't know, I can't really think of anything in particular. I was a big Duke fan, so just hearing about Duke every year. I've always picked them in my bracket, but now it's changed. (Laughter).
DONTE INGRAM: For me, just coming up, always seeing -- obviously you've got the Dukes and North Carolinas and everything, they're always having that success. But I like seeing Cinderella stories as well and seeing teams have that success that people didn't expect to have. Obviously seeing that one shining moment songs and obviously being a kid growing up, you want to be a part of it, and now I'm happy to be a part of it.
CLAYTON CUSTER: I grew up in Kansas, so I grew up -- my dad went to KU, so I grew up watching KU. I remember KU actually -- well, the Mario Chalmers shot in the National Championship against Memphis was one of the things that will always stick out in my mind just because I was watching that game. And when Mario Chalmers hit that three to send it into overtime, that was definitely one of the moments that I'll never forget.
And then also Butler making the run when they were still in the Horizon League is definitely one that sticks out to me just because, I mean, obviously it's hard to do. It's hard to make it to the National Championship game from the Horizon League. And they had such good teams and they played so hard, and that was definitely one of the teams I remember, too.
Q. Talk about how it feels to be the team to break the NCAA Tournament drought for Loyola.
CLAYTON CUSTER: I mean, it feels really good. I mean, obviously it's been a long time. There's a ton of history around Loyola basketball with the 1963 team. And the 1985 team was really good, too. It takes a lot.
I mean, it's been a really long time, but the thing that makes it even more special for us to be the team that has made it to the NCAA Tournament is we've brought like the buzz back around the campus. Basketball is important again around the campus and the community. So it's more than just us on campus. Like it's more than just us. It's about more than just us. It's about bringing basketball around Rogers Park in Chicago and just seeing the smile on people's faces when they talk about Loyola basketball is the part that's special.
Q. Donte, we've already kind of touched on this, but people kind of see you as the Cinderella team. Do you guys see yourselves as that?
DONTE INGRAM: Like I said, we've said -- obviously people have picked us as the team to be the Cinderella story, but we just have had blinders. As Marques said, we don't want to get too fed into the outside distractions and everything. We just want to control what we can control.
Obviously it would be great to be looked at as the Cinderella story as we try to move forward and win games, but like I said, our main focus is just buying into all the small things and just getting ready for Miami, to begin that process.
Q. Aundre and Donte, apparently students across Chicago today are participating in a national walk-out in protest to gun violence. Chicago has been particularly hard hit. Just wondering how you feel about what's happened the last few years with gun violence and if you have any thoughts about gun control or things that might be able to solve the problem or improve the problem.
DONTE INGRAM: Obviously me living in Chicago and being from Chicago, I've lost friends to gun violence, and I've seen it happen so much around the city of Chicago. That hurts. I mean, you don't want things like that to happen. But I mean, I don't know, I just think that there needs to eventually be rules for who can get -- the owners of guns, who can own guns, I think they need to tighten down on that because I feel like there's a lot of people, especially in the city of Chicago, who own guns that shouldn't. I think if we can somehow try to cut that down, that would help.
AUNDRE JACKSON: I guess -- I don't know, it's the guns and the people. You have two sides of the story. You have people like who's responsible with guns, so I wouldn't say guns are all bad, but when you have people that like misuse guns, I guess there's just two sides of the story.
PORTER MOSER: You know, excited for our program, our University, our guys, obviously, to be here. Dallas is a great city. I was fortunate enough to coach at Texas A&M for six years, and recruited the area a lot. My wife is from Texas, and ironically, in 1989 when I played for the Creighton Blue Jays, our regional was Dallas regional, played at Dallas Reunion Arena. It's a really great city and excited to be back.
Q. How did that go? What do you remember about that as a player being here in the regional?
PORTER MOSER: I remember it was the same kind of feeling in terms of the group. We had a really close family atmosphere, very close-knit group and coaching staff at Creighton. And we went into the game, and we were playing a Missouri team, and it's a game that just sticks in my craw, still does. We were in control of the game, and they were loaded. *they had Anthony Peeler, Doug Smith, Lee Coward, Church, Byron Earvin. They were loaded, and Doug Smith had a half-court shot to -- we were up like six or eight, six or nine, and they hit the shot. And it went into halftime, and it just kind of turned the momentum, and we ended up getting beat to a very, very good Missouri back then.
An experience in the NCAA tournament, I have been asked this a lot, what is better as a player or coach? And unequivocally it's a player. You have a short window as a player. The excitement, it's what you're working on as a boy, watching it, dreaming it. And just watching these guys up here, to share this with them, as you listen to them talk, you can understand top to bottom, we've got high-character guys, guys that you want to go into battle with.
So the experience of having a close-knit group is very similar to what I had at Creighton.
Q. How have you seen Cameron Krutwig develop as his freshman season has gone on?
PORTER MOSER: You know, he's the most vocal player that I've ever coached. I mean, he is locked in. He's talking ball screens. He's talking. He's yelling. I remember one of the quotes we had on our wall culture, great defenses are noisy. And he's constantly talking. His confidence level has just risen as it went on.
I'll tell you, I probably made a mistake early on. Early in the year, he's an elite passer. He's really good, old-school passer, so we were running a lot of things through him, and I think he was passing -- his first and second thought was pass. And it was about right around Christmas, and right after Christmas, the conference started. I was getting mad at him because he was passing it out of the post with two feet in the paint, just got on him pretty good. And he is now looking to score when he gets a deep catch, and now you saw his scoring average just go up. He still can really pass. Everyone knows that. But he's getting more of a mad mentality when he gets it down low, and I love that. He's spent a lot of time getting his body right. He lost 30 pounds in the off-season, and I think he's just scratching the surface. I think this off-season he'll be focused in on agility, not only losing weight, but getting that next maturation process with weights and conditioning. But he's a fun kid to coach because he's locked in every single day. He's locked in on scouting, what we're supposed to do. He's a very, very fun kid to coach.
Q. I talked to Steve Watson, I think, a few years ago. He's a basketball guy, obviously, and he said it takes time for a program to rebuild the way that you guys wanted to do it, the right way. Did you think you would be here this quickly?
PORTER MOSER: You know, I did. I did. You always think that. You know, you build your program to that, and I know when we got here, we were last in the Horizon, and then jumping to the Valley was a huge jump. And then that first year we took a hit, and then the second year on, which was the last four years, we won the CBI championship. We won 85 games the last four years. So that's your vision. Your vision is to get here.
We've showed the team one shining moment. We've had our own private selection show with our own team with nobody there, going this has got to be us. It's more than visualization. The effort these guys have put in, it has been a grass-roots rebuild going to the dorms trying to get students involved to speaking at freshman orientation to just absolutely the recruiting process of the amount of time and effort we put in to get the right kind of student-athletes to balance the education and the type of people we wanted at Loyola. So it's been grass-roots from the very, very beginning.
Q. I think Marques talked about having blinders on and trying to ignore the noise. How difficult has that been this week?
PORTER MOSER: You always love it when players regurgitate what you say in the locker room. We talk about this laser-like focus with our guys, because how -- the experience they went through is the last eight or nine games of our season, it was -- you start talking about the first four in, the first four out. That starts happening so early. And everything they heard was we weren't in. We had to win the tournament.
So we kept on talking about having these blinders on and just focusing in on us, our locker room, what we could control. And then we went into the tournament. We won the league, and then we went into the tournament. It was the same thing. We didn't talk about the at-large bid. We didn't talk about that.
That's what we've been talking -- that's kind of what we mean by that. The same thing with distraction. We've had more distractions around Chicago. I love it. I mean, you've been there. There's been more people talking about Loyola basketball in 30-some years. And the guys are handling it because they're high-character guys. They know every practice, every film session has been locked in. And obviously the NCAA Tournament is another level of attention, spotlight, which is great for them. It's what they wanted.
You know, their focus hasn't changed. This week of practice for these film sessions has been good, and the blinders have got to be strictly on Miami, what we have to do for ourselves and what we have to do with Miami. Nothing further. It is those two hours when we play them Thursday.
Q. You found Aundre at a junior college around here. Do you remember that, and how difficult was it to find him?
PORTER MOSER: You always see reports, and we were following him, and one of the things we liked when we read the first report on him is he gets a lot done. He is very efficient, but he is undersized. And sometimes high majors read that word undersized, and it scares them off. It's never scared me off. I would rather have a 6'5" guy that is unbelievably efficient.
So then we started digging in, and Aundre was the second or third leading field goal percentage player in the nation in junior college. Well, that translates. I remember Rick Majerus used to always say that translates. Last year as a junior, he was the top five in the nation in division one in field goal percentage. So we flew out to the national tournament to watch him on this stage, and he played I think it was Northwest Florida, a team that was loaded. I think they ended up winning it all. He played really well against 6'9", 6'10" guys. He had a knack to get it done. He was perfect for what we tried to do. Back then, he was 6'5" and not 6'7", 6'8", but those things don't bother me. I like guys that can get it done rather than just looks good to announce to your boosters that you signed a 6'8" guy.
Q. A lot of people are looking at Loyola as the Cinderella team. Do you guys see yourself as that?
PORTER MOSER: No. We haven't talked about it a lot, and here's why, we've always said predictions are always from within your own locker room. We weren't picked to win the Missouri Valley Conference. We were not picked to finish second. Here is the thing, it's unfathomable to think you've got a team like Miami. We finished third in one of the best conferences in the country, in the ACC. They are extremely well-coached, space it. Lonnie Walker is a pro. He really is a good player. They've got a ton of good players.
I love what one of our guys said about respect. We've talked about in our locker room all year long. We said it when we went to Florida. We said it to Northern Iowa. Every team we said, this day and age, respect is not a weakness. Sometimes people think you can't respect -- respect is not a weakness. And I mean, these guys have an unbelievable amount of respect for Miami. And all our focus is on what we have to do to try to contain their athleticism because they're extremely athletic. But we haven't bought into this -- I can imagine what they're saying. They finished third in the ACC. I mean, they're really, really good.
Q. Porter, from Jerry Harkness to Gene Sullivan to Alfredrick Hughes, you do something like this, a lot of the history of your program becomes a part of the present. How have you tried to incorporate that so these players live that tradition and don't forget that now?
PORTER MOSER: You know, I've said it from the beginning, I've had the guys talk to them. From the very beginning, I've said the past is part of our future. And when you start talking about the '63 national team, National Championship team and what they went through with segregation and the game of change, I think that has been one of the best things -- Shannon Ryan wrote a great story about the '63 national team. And the conversation to talk about that for young people, look it up. There's a great video on it, a great movie on it.
It's unbelievable what these guys went through. And then when you get to know them, you get to know the Jerry Harknesses, the Jack Egans of this team, you're like, these guys did it, unbelievable character, unbelievable guys. I love Alfrederick's era. Alfrederick called me like -- it was like he was right there himself going to the tournament. He was so excited congratulating our guys. And pride is an awesome human trait. And to see the pride coming out of Loyola alumni, Chicago, is a fun thing for the Loyola University.
But 100 percent what they did in the past, the '63 team, and what they went through and persevered has been something that's been talked about with our guys and our program. And I've loved that this NCAA run here, getting in the tournament, has brought that '63 team and what they meant to the country at that time to light.
Q. The fact that you're kind of being able to bridge Coach Majerus to this team, I was talking to Ben Richardson about how you explained about how successful people and you can kind of emulate that sort of stuff. Can you maybe articulate a little bit more about Coach Majerus maybe having an influence on this team?
PORTER MOSER: 100 percent. I mean, Coach Majerus had a huge impact on my life, my coaching career. You know, just being around a guy like that who thinks differently and just thinks game preparations. But there's so many things I took from him. One, it was amazing how he taught the game. You can go to practices, clinics, and people will talk about practices, and you'll see a coach yell at a kid. All right. I want you to hard hedge the ball screen. Then you see Coach Majerus say, all right, your toes have to be perpendicular facing the sideline. Your shoulders got to be ahead here. Your hips can't be -- I mean, it's a lot of teaching points on how specifically to teach to hedge it.
That's kind of how the wall of culture that we've had in our program and our locker room start. There's a lot of little phrases that he used that our guys have bought into. And he was an amazing teacher. It resonated with the guys. Here's a great example. This was fun. I've had former players will call, and they said -- they watch a game differently. So Donte Ingram in the hotel yesterday, we have one of our things is never come off a corner shooter. That was a big Rick Majerus thing, never come off of the corner shooter. The corner is three and the highest percentage shot. Literally yesterday we were in the hotel, and we were watching a game, and Donte was screaming because he is like that guy is coming all the way off the corner off the shooter and they hit a three.
It's fun to see them look at the game differently. Any player that played for
Coach Majerus will say that. He said, you look at the game differently after playing for Rick Majerus. I coached the game differently after working for Coach Majerus.
Q. Could you expound a little bit on Miami, and do you think that they'll be -- well, they said yesterday that they are motivated by the fact that you guys are being called the Cinderella, the sleeper team, the upset team. How do you think that will affect the Miami players, and also, what about the Miami team scares you -- not scares you, but concerns you the most?
PORTER MOSER: You can use the word scare. That's okay. They're unbelievably athletic and long. Coach Larranaga, they do an unbelievable job spacing the floor. They really space you, and they're going to drive you. They've got guys that can shoot it, their length. We just don't see length and athleticism to the level that Miami has. And they just space you.
You know, that's one thing is their combination of being able to strike you off the dribble. Sometimes you'll have teams that can strike you off the dribble and you can pack off and they're not great shooters. They've got some big-time shooters on the perimeter to go with that athleticism.
The Cinderella thing, it's just -- both teams have to look at it. Predictions, all that stuff, only matter within your own locker room, but what you believe and what you think, I know they're not buying into it. I can tell you right now watching how hard they play and how much they space the floor, so I know they're not buying into it. It has nothing to do with Thursday.
From our end, from their end, it's hard to fathom. Like I said earlier, they're the third -- they finished third in the ACC, which is like an unbelievable conference when you just start looking at it. It's unbelievable that they finished third.
You know, they check a lot of boxes. They're well-coached. They space the floor. They've got shooters, athleticism. There's going to be no lack of respect or no -- we're not looking like they're the underdog 100 percent. There's a ton of respect from our end going into this Miami game.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports