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March 15, 2018

Mike Anderson

Daryl Macon

Jaylen Barford

Anton Beard

Detroit, Michigan

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Arkansas student-athletes Anton Beard, Jaylen Barford and Daryl Macon.

Q. Jaylen, what do you know about Butler and what have you seen from the scouting reports and the film that you've watched that you think hey we need to do this against them?
JAYLEN BARFORD: They're a pretty good team. They seem scrappy and remind us of maybe Florida or Tennessee the way they shoot the ball, spread the floor out, shooters all around the floor.

Q. Anton, your young center talk about his development from the first day of practice to today and where is he today as far as his ability to impact the game?
ANTON BEARD: His ability to impact the game is amazing, coming in from the start of practice, he was a guy from a country town, El Dorado. And we didn't know what he would do, what he would bring. He brought so much energy and so much enthusiasm in what he do. He always works extra in the gym, gets it done. So he's not even half of what he can really possibly do. But right now doing real well.

Q. Daryl and Jaylen, thinking back to last year when you lost to North Carolina you made a decision to come back to Arkansas instead of going, playing professionally. Now you're back to the NCAA Tournament. Is this kind of what you had in mind getting back here and having another crack at this?
DARYL MACON: This is exactly what I pictured it would be, having a great season and hopefully trying to make a run in the NCAA Tournament this year. I think last year really taught us a lot as a team and individually, and I think we learned from that and I think we're ready to go now.

JAYLEN BARFORD: I think it brought us closer together after the loss last year. We've just been learning from the experience every day and just going hard in practice and even taking those practices to the game and just holding each other more accountable.

Q. Daryl, how tough of a matchup is Daniel? And I guess if you were preparing to face them what would you try to do?
DARYL MACON: I would tell my big man to just play hard, just try your best. It's no real way to stop Daniel -- he's a force on the offensive end and the defensive end. A lot of people think if he's not scoring the ball he's not impacting the game. Well, he's going down blocking big shots or he's getting a big rebound. It's just other things that Daniel does outside of scoring. So it's pretty hard to stop him.

Q. Anton, seems like you've stepped into the leadership role at that point guard spot this year. You've played a lot of minutes especially lately. How have you evolved lately as a senior and taken that role with that team?
ANTON BEARD: Just become more understanding of what these guys really need. This is probably one of the best teams I've been on since I've been here. These guys can score in so many ways, and just trying to keep them under control and just understanding that they can do more than what they really can do.


JAYLEN BARFORD: They call us Earth, Wind and Fire, by the way.

THE MODERATOR: We'll get started with head coach Mike Anderson, University of Arkansas. Coach, an opening statement.

COACH ANDERSON: First of all, we're excited to be here in Detroit. Just right off the bat, when we got off the plane to our hotels, the hospitality couldn't be any more than first, first class. And so on behalf of -- I'm sure the University of Detroit is hosting this tournament, and the people here in Detroit were very gracious. And thank you guys for welcoming us and we're looking forward to hopefully going on and playing an exciting game against a Butler team coached by Coach Jordan out of the Big East.

Very well-balanced basketball team. The thing that concerns you is they have so many guys that can really shoot the ball on the perimeter. They're very versatile. They rebound the ball well. They just do a lot of good things.

Their bench comes in and plays well for them. The Baldwin kid, he is capable of scoring. So we have our work cut out for us. But at the same time it's a great opportunity to participate in what I think is one of the greatest sporting events there is -- the NCAA Tournament, March Madness.

When it's all said and done, there's going to be one champion. And we're here and hopefully have an opportunity to survive and advance. That's what it's all about.

Q. Coach, you've been in this business a long, long time, not too long?
COACH ANDERSON: I've been in for a while, you're absolutely right, yes, I have.

Q. Is there a common theme from the Butler teams that -- and I know maybe you haven't studied them super closely -- but is there a common theme from, like, the Brad Stevens teams to today's? That this program always does this really, really well?
COACH ANDERSON: They do it well. You can go back to when Barry Collier was coaching them and the coaches that have come through there, it's amazing how the program just continues to evolve. And obviously they reached a tremendous pinnacle with Brad Stevens there. But everything was already set in place.

I think Coach Jordan, a guy that played there -- it's one thing when a guy plays there, he embodies what it's all about. It's easy to see him continue that success when you look at their basketball team. They're doing some of the same things they did and they're only going to get better. And this is year one for him and look where he is right now.

So, again, it's a tribute to Barry who is now, he's the man that's kind of over -- and bringing the coaches in there. And so it's kind of like his staff that took place and it continues. I think for an AD or former coach, that's a great thing.

Q. Some people have asked, because you've talked a few times about how your teams are built for tournament situations, and I know you've explained it before. But when you say that, what are you talking about as far as the way you build your roster for this time of year?
COACH ANDERSON: Well, we play, I think it starts from day one. We play a style of basketball that I play a lot of people, a lot of guys on my team. As these guys assume their roles and understand what their roles are, I think our team gets better. I think there's a trust factor amongst them, with each other and then with me. And so it's like, I always sometimes talk about an artist, when you throw paint on a canvas, you go in there, it's everywhere. But as the season progresses you clean it up, you clean it up.

I think that's what we've been doing. You saw our team. It looked like it came out of the gates running and then got popped upside the head once we got to conference play. We have to recalibrate. And I think now, with so many seniors on your team, I think guys now understand their role.

We've had some guys moving on from our basketball team. Now you've got to recalibrate again. But I think the key is that those guys now understand their role. Let's say Daryl Macon, he's in a better place than he was last year. Different role from last year. He's one of those guys, when you had Manuale Watkins, Moses Kingsley and Dusty Hannahs. Those guys were kind of the core guys. The core had to be reshaped.

And I think now we're seeing that. We're seeing Anton Beard now in a much more comfortable role. He's a little general out there on the floor. Whether you know it or not he is that guy. Trey Thompson, and of course the emergence of the young guys. It takes those guys a little while to get their footing. Daniel Gafford, early in the year he had more fouls than he did points. But now he's figuring it out, as well as a guy like Darious Hall. You go on and on and now I'm adding pieces to the puzzle.

Gabe Osabuohien, now he's giving us quality minutes. So what I mean by putting it all together now, we're a team that when you get to this time of the year you can have adversity, you get guys in foul trouble. Easy to plug some guys in there. They and play meaningful minutes.

A lot of guys don't play but six or seven guys. If somebody goes down, there's some adversity there. But I think with our team here -- and then the turnaround. Here you play a game and if you're able to survive and get past it, the scouting reports are so intense right now. But one of the things we always worry about what we do.

And so going into that next game, I think it tends to favor us because I think when you get to this end of the year fatigue becomes a factor. If that bench isn't developed, and I think that's the strongest component of our team is our bench, then you're going to have some issues as you move in this tournament. If that makes sense.

Q. Coach, you touched on Anton Beard. 12 assists, two turnovers in the three games combined in the SEC Tournament. How has he grown? And I get a sense that he's really relishing this opportunity, the third trip to the NCAA Tournament the past four years?
COACH ANDERSON: I think I've heard him talk more about it, him being one of the older guys now, being one of the guys who -- he and Trey Thompson. And I think he's letting those experiences speak for themselves. He's doing it in practice and now he's carrying it over in the game. And I think he's finally figuring out, the byproduct of him being real productive is because people are keying in on Daryl Macon and Jaylen Barford because of the all-star stuff -- as well as Daniel Gafford.

So, sometimes he's going to be the beneficiary of some of the things that take place. But he's got to be the little coach there out on the floor. He's got to be the coach -- Coach A, coach Anderson, whatever you want to call it, out on the floor. And like I say, it goes back to that trust factor.

Q. Coach, there was a stretch in February, I think, of five games where you had over 40 deflections in each of those games. How do you balance aggressiveness defensively with being solid defensively and not gambling and jumping out in the passing lanes too much? There's a fine line there.
COACH ANDERSON: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. We have a saying, you know, sometimes it's no guts, no glory. You've heard that before. But there is a fine line. And there's that fine line of, actually as a coach, you're letting those kids have the freedom to go out there and make good decisions.

But I still go back to what I talked about. You throw it on the canvas, you clean it up, and we've got to clean up the fouling and we've got to be in the right place. It's not feast or famine in terms of the defensive pressure. But the deflections tell me that we're active. And if we're seeing the man and seeing the ball we'll come up with some of those.

Our defense is geared to not letting people get comfortable doing what they want to do. But we don't want to put people on the free-throw line. But there are games we've done that, but I just think through the course of the year, I think our guys are starting to really start to figure out the system, if you want to say that, or figuring out how to play without fouling.

I think there's a lot of things, stealing the basketball -- this team here has not forced as many turnovers as teams of the past. But this is a different team than other teams. I think this team is better offensively. We can score. But I know when you saw that period where we actually were doing a lot of touching, we had to turn our attention to the defense because we were just trying to win with offense. And you can't do that. So there's got to be that balance.

And I think we're more balanced now than we have been. We've been playing really good basketball here lately and I'm anxious to see how we come out and play. Our last game, I thought we just kind of ran out of gas, but I thought the second half of that game we really fought to get ourselves back in with Tennessee.

So I'm anxious to see how we come out against a really good Butler team that can spread you, can attack you, rebound the basketball. They have the Martin kid, this guy had, like, four 30-point games. The Baldwin kid has had 30-point games. So they got guys that are really capable -- McDermott, he's a sharp shooter. Wideman, he just posts it up and he's got the whole length to himself. So our team has got to make some adjustments on the fly, but we can't let them get comfortable. And I'm sure Coach Jordan said the same thing.

Q. You talked about not forcing as many turnovers this year. The flipside of that is you've taken very good care of the ball this year and avoided turnovers yourself. Is that something that's gotten overlooked about your program over the years that you've been able to have your guys value the basketball may be more than what people expect for a team that likes to get up and down the court?
COACH ANDERSON: I think that's true. That's been the case wherever I've been. We value the basketball. If you look at some of the ingredients, some of the things that take place when we have success, we value the basketball and -- we should be a much better free-throw shooting team because we get to the line.

Because we're an attack team. We'll attack you defensively. Offensively we're going to attack you we've got balanced scoring. Of course when you have prolific scores like a Macon and a Barford, they can score it in bunches, and we see now Daniel is starting to score for us.

But our team, again, we share the basketball. We're a team that shares the basketball. So our assists totals, the turnover ratio is always, we've been some of the top ones in the conference and maybe not as much as this year.

And I think our rebounding is better than it has been. And if we can stay in the ballpark and rebound, and we can continue to do those things -- the assists, the field goal percentage; it's one of the better 3-point shooting field goal teams we've had.

But you go back to last year. It's one of the better free-throw shooting teams we've had -- and the field goals. So we play up-tempo and we love to get up and down the floor, but I think it's run and execute. And I think we're doing more of it; we're being more efficient in what we're doing.

Q. Does Baldwin remind you of anybody that you played this year?
COACH ANDERSON: You know what, I just look at him in a different category in terms of what he brings to the table. He's a guy -- he's a point guard that can score. And he goes right, he goes left. He does whatever he needs to do with that team to help them win.

He's a very good defensive player. I think for a guy that's a sophomore, certainly his upside is very big. I think this year he probably -- he really stepped up his game and Coach Jordan has to be commended for that. When you talk about guards we played, we played some really good ones in our league.

You think about Chiozza with his quickness and he can create, he can score, do a lot of different things. There are a lot of great guards that have been in our league. But I just put them in a class by himself because he's left-handed, but he shoots the ball with his right hand I notice that. He goes to the right he shoots it just as effective going right as he does left-handed.

But he's a very good basketball player. He's an important player for them. Very much, let's say, like Daryl Macon is important for us. He's an important player for them.

Q. The players were saying in the locker room you've lost your championship ring but that you found it recently. Maybe that was a good omen, just wondered --
COACH ANDERSON: I did. Man, them guys tell everything, don't they? (Laughter) I guess no secret dealing with family. I lost the NCAA national championship ring. I had no idea when I lost it. Gotta remember, we won that in '94. And I recently, this year, someone called me from a pawn shop outside of New Orleans and said, I did some research and this ring came in my shop and I looked at the roster and there was only one Anderson. Are you that Anderson? Yep, you got me.

And lo and behold, to make a long story short, it got to the pawn shop. So somebody evidently -- I thought I lost it or somebody took it from me. I didn't know. And the guy called me and said, hey, you want it back? And we went through all that.

You know how sometimes you think about pawn shops, they're just trying to get you, man. But true enough, it was my ring. And he sent me a picture and all that stuff. And it's amazing -- Matt Zimmerman was my operations guy. And I had the picture and I showed him. And all the guys, this guy, he don't forget what took place in 1922. And he wasn't even born then. This guy has just got an unbelievable -- Coach, I remember when you lost it. It was at a hotel in New Orleans. We just played Tulane. And we got on the bus, the plane.

You said, I think I left my ring in the room. Would you call back there? He said he called back there. They had the maids look for it and all that stuff. They never did find it. But it worked its way to a pawnshop. And so you can imagine that was in, I think -- I must have lost it in '04, I think. So '04 to 2017 -- '18, 2018 -- '17. Lo and behold it shows up. So I got my NCAA national championship ring back.

Q. Did the pawn guy make you pay for it or did you take it as a good omen?
COACH ANDERSON: No, I had to pay for it. But it was an omen. It's because it's something that's been on my mind. There's one you create as a -- we made up ourselves with the one in it, the hall (indiscernible), the 40 minutes of hell.

This one came from the NCAA. And it was still like in the same shape it was when I got it. So it's in a keep sake possession now.

Q. When Daniel had that great windmill dug in Florida, I didn't notice video, he sprinted back down the floor like it was one-point game or a tie game. What do you think that says about Daniel, the game is won, few seconds left, he sprints down the floor on defense?
COACH ANDERSON: I said it before, he's got a big-time motor. This guy exchanges ends faster than guards. He plays with a lot of passion and energy. I think he's just out there having fun. He's having fun.

Q. Right as your players were exiting the stage there, Jaylen made the comment, they call us Earth, Wind and Fire. And so we didn't get to ask them about that. That's a reference you and I would understand in our generation. But what's the story behind Earth, Wind and Fire?
COACH ANDERSON: I have no idea what these guys are talking about. I don't. It's scary because I put all three of them together, and that's what you get when you put all three of them guys together. You know what, I think they're making up something. They're that kind of group. I'll tell you what, it's a good group of guys. And they like each other. You can tell that.

Q. Mike, if you guys had beaten Carolina last year you would have played Butler in Memphis. I don't know if you've thought that, but here you're playing Butler. Is that destiny or karma or do you put any stock in that that you're playing Butler a year after you came so close to playing them?
COACH ANDERSON: I didn't see it like that. I'm a day-to-day guy, game-to-game. My focus was on North Carolina and beating them. We got our butts kicked. I was pissed, ticked off. I didn't see it that far down the line.

It's ironic, we played in the PK80 and I had a chance to sit down with Coach Jordan and I actually had a chance to sit and talk with him a little bit. I had never had a chance to meet with him and talk with him. Seen him out on the circuit. So that was kind of cool there. And here we are in the NCAA Tournament.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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