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March 16, 2018
Q. Clayton, you mentioned last night the three-pointer. I think a little bit tongue in cheek, said this is just because Ben always knows where I am or something like that. But I'm just curious, you guys have obviously gone back through your childhood, but what is the chemistry you have, and are there some moments where you do feel like there's some connection out there that you can't explain?
CLAYTON CUSTER: Yeah, I mean, we've talked about it a lot. We joke about it in the room. A lot of times when I come off pick-and-rolls and stuff, I won't really be able to see him because there are people between us and stuff, but I know he is back there somewhere. So I will throw it over my head over the defenders to him and stuff, and it's just situations like that. I think we do such a good job of feeding off each other.
I think it's kind of -- people feed off our energy when we're playing well together, sharing the ball. It's kind of -- everybody kind of starts doing the same thing, and we're able to get the ball moving, spacing it, one-mores, and people feed off that energy. Me and Ben have been doing that for our whole lives.
Q. Clayton, does Coach have like a 24-hour rule or whatever as far as after a game to say, okay, if you win, celebrate for 24 and then forget about it? And I assume maybe now it's more like 12. And what's it been like since the end of the game? Did you look at the shot a lot? Is it something that it's been kind of hard to not spend a lot of time looking at it or getting away from it?
CLAYTON CUSTER: Yeah, Coach does a really good job of keeping us focused. So last night he wanted us to enjoy it. He wanted us to enjoy the moment because he knows that that's something that we all have looked forward to our whole lives for a moment like that.
But last night, we sat down, we got in the film room and we were watching some film, just so that we could kind of stop thinking about the past and kind of move forward towards Tennessee. And then now that we woke up today, I mean, I think we're kind of done celebrating yesterday. We've moved on, and now we're ready to go to try to beat Tennessee tomorrow.
Q. Clayton and Aundre, I think you guys might be able to help me with this: Have you studied the history of Loyola enough to consider whether the 1963 championship team was maybe the first Cinderella that the NCAA ever had?
CLAYTON CUSTER: I mean, the 1963 team did a lot more than -- they transcended the game. They were the first team to start four African-American players, and Glory Road gets a lot of the movie, the Texas Western team, gets a lot of the popularity or whatever that everybody knows about that, but a lot of people don't know about the 1963 team.
So I mean, I guess in a way it was a Cinderella, but that team was really talented. They had a lot of really good players. But aside from that, I think it was amazing that Coach Ireland recruited all those guys and brought them all to Rogers Park, and that team is an inspiration to us.
And we definitely know about the history of Loyola basketball. We've spent time with the 1963 team. They come to our games. They were at our last home game this year, and they've told us all the stories from back when they played.
So I mean, they're a really good team, and they're an inspiration to us for sure.
AUNDRE JACKSON: He covered it all.
Q. Aundre and Clayton, as older guys who were recruited after your first stop coming out of high school, how would you describe Porter as far as a recruiter and his pitch to you, and what stood out about him in the way that he kind of presented it to you?
AUNDRE JACKSON: I'd say his vision. He kept on preaching culture, kept on preaching family, just the direction that the program was going. He's an honest person, so he never told me that I would have a cookie cutter. He always told me I had to work for what I'm going to get and work for my spots. So just that honesty and the culture aspect and just the family preaching has just helped me get here.
CLAYTON CUSTER: Yeah, like what Dre said, I don't know, just his passion and his energy is the first thing that you notice with Coach Moser. He always brings it every single day, and even when he first -- the first time I ever actually talked to him in person, he actually came out to Ames after I decided to transfer from Iowa State, and I got to eat lunch with him.
You could just see it in his eyes how much he really cares about this program and how much he really wants to be great. And that was the first thing that stuck out to me. He's definitely a really -- like you can see it, I think that's why he's been able to get a lot of good players into this program. He's a really good recruiter because you can just see how much he really cares about it.
And then also -- I don't know, the culture part is a big part. You want to be around good guys. You know he's going to recruit character guys. You know it's going to be a program where you're going to fit in and feel comfortable.
Q. Clayton and whoever else wants to answer, whether you win by 26 like Tennessee did or you hit a buzzer beater, does any of that matter come tomorrow night, or does it?
CLAYTON CUSTER: I mean, I don't think it matters now. I mean, we both got a W. And now we're moving on to the next one. I think we can play better than we played yesterday, so I think that's a good thing. We kind of got that first game under our belt now, and now we feel a little bit more comfortable. Just playing on the court, the feel of the ball, all that stuff. I think we'll feel more comfortable out there shooting and everything.
I don't think it matters how much we won by. I think we're going to get on the scouting report and do whatever we can to try to get a win tomorrow.
CAMERON KRUTWIG: Yeah, I don't think it really matters obviously. They won by a large margin of victory. And we won on a last-second shot. But we're just going into tomorrow playing like we played against Miami, obviously. We know we're not going to lay down for them. We're not going to be shocked because they play in a better conference or they're a high major or anything like that.
We respect them, and hopefully they respect us, too. And we're just going to go out there and play like we normally play. And once that ball gets tipped up, we're just going to play hard and set the tone with them.
Q. After Tennessee's game, I talked to one of the Wright State players about Tennessee's defense, and he said they've got a lot of long, quick, big guys, which a lot of teams have, but they really get after it defensively. That's what he said, that that's what kind of sets them apart. They're one of the best defensive teams in the country according to Ken Pom.
Is that something you can really see from film, or until you guys get on the floor tomorrow, is that going to be something that you may have to kind of adjust to during the game depending on how they come after y'all?
AUNDRE JACKSON: We're used to playing against size, but we was watching film earlier, and they try to block shots, so just a lot of pump fakes, a lot of eyes to the rim, and we will get them out of stance and out of position, and then it'll be easier for us to score.
Q. Clay and Aundre, you guys have been here a couple years and you've played in front of Gentile crowds that there weren't that many people, but I'm sure you saw the video of Damen yesterday, so what's it like seeing the buzz around your team grow on campus?
CLAYTON CUSTER: I mean, that's when the cool -- one of the really cool parts about being a part of this team this year is that we've kind of created that buzz around the University and around campus and around all the whole community.
They've started to come out and support us, especially towards the end of the year where we started to get big crowds at Gentile, and to see those videos of '63 and Damen and Schreiber downtown and the Bulldog, everybody was in there and they were going crazy when we won.
I think everybody -- a part of every college experience, everybody wants to be a part of that. It's something cool. It's something that we've seen growing up. They pan to the University and everybody is going crazy on campus. We got to experience that yesterday, and it was really cool.
AUNDRE JACKSON: It's a great feeling. After we beat Florida, we got a little bit of buzz, but as we kept on winning and winning our conference, winning the conference tournament, the fan base increased, and then winning the game yesterday was amazing. It was a lot of videos on Twitter about people that wasn't even in Chicago, like Las Vegas people that was watching the game and everybody just screaming and yelling after the great shot. So yeah, it's just nice to have a good fan base.
Q. Clayton, could you just kind of reflect on your path from growing up, Kansas household, outside Kansas City in Overland Park, to that year at Iowa State, and then finding your way to Loyola, how did all that unfold?
CLAYTON CUSTER: Yeah. So I grew up in Overland Park, Kansas, and I played with Ben. We went to Blue Valley Northwest. And I started to get recruited in high school, and it was mainly like by a few Big 12 schools.
I ended up deciding to go to Iowa State at the beginning of my junior year. And then when I ended up getting there, I enjoyed the experience a lot. It was fun being there, and I'm glad I spent that year there. It was a good experience for me.
But I mean, it just didn't work out. And that's kind of how sometimes this works in this business and stuff like that. I have no hard feelings towards them at all. It just wasn't the right situation for me, so I decided to make the move.
When I decided to transfer, it's obviously kind of a scary situation because you don't know what your options are going to be and who's going to give you another opportunity. Coach Moser and Coach Gordon were two of the first coaches to call me right when I got my release, and that meant a lot to me, that they were really serious about giving me another opportunity.
Like I said, Coach Moser came out to Ames actually to eat lunch with me, which was awesome. And he actually went to see my family, too, in Overland Park. That was right off the bat, like I kind of knew that me and Coach Moser were going to have a good relationship. And then also, add in having my best friend from high school on the team, as well, and having the opportunity to play with him again in college, not a lot of best friends get to play Division I basketball together. I thought it was too good of an opportunity to pass up.
Q. Cameron and Lucas, as younger guys, what was your first impression of Coach Moser's style, hands-on style and how aggressively he does coach all the time?
LUCAS WILLIAMSON: Well, when I first got here, the first thing that I really noticed was his energy and his passion. The way that he coaches is something that I'm kind of used to coming from Chicago and the way -- the style that we play in Chicago.
So it wasn't really hard to get accustomed. It was just the speed and how everything -- he wanted everything to be so detailed. I think that's really helped me throughout the year.
CAMERON KRUTWIG: Well, one of the main things that lured me to Loyola was just when I came down for visits and things like that, just kind of the family that he preached and all these guys just being great friends. You know, that culture that we always talk about, he just kind of introduced me to it. And in high school, I came from a program like that where we had a lot of culture and we did things the right way, and at Loyola obviously we do things the right way.
And Coach was always telling me that he had a vision for me and that if I came to Loyola, we could do some big things. With these guys, we've got a lot of pieces, and I just like the guys a lot, and Coach's vision, and obviously it all worked out.
Q. Lucas, how has your state championship experience helped in these big moments as a freshman?
LUCAS WILLIAMSON: I think just that path, that whole state championship like run has really helped because of I kind of got used to, okay, win a game, put it in the bank, focus on the next opponent, and that like next opponent, next game mentality is something that we've really bought into all year, and especially postseason, and Arch Madness and March Madness.
PORTER MOSER: You know, our thoughts have been Tennessee and how big and physical they are, how much -- how balanced they are. They've got side. They've got speed. They've got shooters, and they're well-coached. The guys really enjoyed the moment last night. It was great here. Leaving the arena, we got back, we kind of just decompressed with a team meal with each other, and then our coaches went to work. We let them get some rest, and we went to work and got our minds focused on Tennessee.
Q. Porter, in that situation, are you one of those coaches with kind of a 24-hour rule after victory where you say, hey, give them 24 until the next game, and obviously this is a different situation with a different game. Was there any kind of a different approach to try to make sure that they kind of, like you said, enjoyed the moment, but then kind of start resetting to play Tennessee?
PORTER MOSER: Yeah, like if it was a regular season game where you know you're not playing the next day, we have a 24-hour -- you let them. But last week at Arch Madness and the thing, you have to get moving. You play the next day.
For this, it's kind of the same thing. You can't prepare yourself, especially at Loyola, for the national scope of what happened last night. These guys are back in their hotel room watching themselves all night. The social media was berserk.
I'm one of those guys where I wanted them to enjoy the moment. I mean, this is how hard they've worked for it, and I can do that, because I said this yesterday or two days ago, it's a mature group.
Then we went back talking about Tennessee's personnel. This morning we had some meetings, some film, and every time that it's time to do business and do that, this group is completely locked in.
You know, we decompressed at the hotel a little bit with a team meal last night. And our coaches, we went right at it. We went right back and moved forward, put it in the bank, and now our thoughts are to Tennessee.
Q. Porter, so this moment and everything that comes with winning a NCAA game the way that you did and just winning it, period, when you were a 31-year-old head coach, Division I program in Arkansas, Little Rock, did you think it would be easier or come sooner, and do you look back at that guy at that time and think, boy, you've come a long way, or how do you reflect on that?
PORTER MOSER: You know, I haven't really thought about that, that long of a journey. I've just thought about the -- I've taken over rebuilds, complete rebuilds. This rebuild at Loyola has been a grass-roots rebuild.
I really haven't reflected on that. I've just reflected on how far and how great it is for the University, what kind of group I have, and I'm listening to the press conference with Donte Ingram, and I know this because I know how good a guys these are. But he makes a comment about any one of those guys in the locker room could have hit that shot. I was just fortunate enough to be the one Marques passed to. What a humble, great thing to say for a 21, 22-year old in that moment right there.
That's who they are. They share the ball. They're humble. They're high quality kids. We've got an unbelievable parental support system. Our parents of these young men are first-class. And I was reflecting on -- I'm blessed to go through this journey with the guys in our locker room. And I said that early -- like first week of the season, and now we're here, and that's what I was reflecting on.
Q. Are you still the official darlings of the NCAA Tournament, or did Buffalo steal your Thunder?
PORTER MOSER: No. Damn Nate Oats and Buffalo. I said that this morning, gosh darn it. I was happy for them. But it is truly -- you don't try to think about that. You don't. I mean, it's fun to joke with it. But I heard Lucas say the term -- I love when players regurgitate what you tell them. We've been talking about put it in the bank, put it in the bank, because we've been doing that for a while now because we've had to, especially when we were on that proverbial bubble, which we weren't really in the bubble. Put it in the bank, and that's what our guys said last night. We got that one, now we've got to move on. They're looking at it like we're still chasing. We're really chasing for another one.
Q. But do you believe in destiny?
PORTER MOSER: Sure. Why not? Why not believe in it? We've all watched the tournament. Crazy stuff happens, March Madness. But it just doesn't happen by daydreaming about it. You're not going to compete against Tennessee just daydreaming about it.
I mean, you're going to have to play physical. You're going to have to box out every possession. You're going to have to guard the post because they have some of the best duck-in players in the country. We've got our hands full on things we've got to prepare for yourself.
I think people that just think and daydream about destiny and all this, it becomes fantasizing. There's a lot of things we've got to get ready into this game plan and then produce and do in this game to compete with Tennessee.
Q. Porter, Clayton talked about when he had decided to transfer from Iowa State, you visiting him, having lunch, that sort of thing. He hadn't played a whole lot that freshman year, but what did you see in him, and did you envision the kind of upside that he's displayed at Loyola?
PORTER MOSER: Yeah, 100 percent. I'd seen him in high school when I recruited Ben Richardson, and just -- I loved their program, where they come from. They won two state championships together. I saw how character -- so I saw him play and the program he came from and win, as we had signed Ben.
And then when he became available, I remember right away, we got his release, and it was game on. There was -- I don't know if I've ever -- it was the foot on the gas pedal. We envisioned him having this kind of impact on us. That's the kind of player that I saw in high school and I saw with Ben, and it's been really cool to watch those two. Like he said, you don't get to really have your best friend play this level with him, and it's really cool.
Q. Porter, I talked with Grant Benzinger, the leading score for Wright State after they lost to Tennessee. He talked about the fact that they're so long, they're quick, they've got all the physical attributes, and a lot of teams have that. But defensively they just get after it, and a lot of teams don't do that.
From watching them on film, what do you think of them defensively, and will it be something that you can really tell from film or until the guys get out there and realize how strong and physical and quick these guys are, is that going to be maybe a bit of an adjustment?
PORTER MOSER: Well, we've -- they do get after it. Tennessee does. They contest every shot. They really do. They do not want you to get easy shots. They really -- they're long. Their guards are put together. I mean, they're really a physical team.
You know, we've played big teams in Florida and Miami, so the size -- these guys have -- Donte and Ben have had three years of Wichita State, which is a ton of size. So they've seen it, but you make a great observation. They've been really at a high level on both ends. They're efficient. They don't beat themselves. They're efficient on both ends. There's a reason why they're that good.
But you really -- I think the thing that really impresses me is how fundamental Williams is posting up. I mean, he is the best duck-in guy in the country. You show me a better guy that ducks in, and in the words of Rick Majerus makes and maintains contact. He makes and maintains contact when he ducks in. I've just been really impressed with his fundamental in ducking in and posting up.
Q. With Clayton and Ben, what is it like coaching guys that have played together since third grade? Do you have to say anything to them sometimes? Can they communicate without speaking?
PORTER MOSER: They've been -- you can get on them. You know when -- they just get it. But I'll share with you when you asked me what it's like to coach them. I'm going to tell you a story that happened last week at the Missouri Valley Tournament. We won the game, the final game, so we're going to the NCAA Tournament.
We had an hour-long celebration on the court. Then we had to go to the locker room. We had five minutes to adjust our team. We said a prayer, talked, and then we had to go to the press conference. So we're walking to the press conference, and I'm walking behind them, and it was the coolest moment. They both had their hats on, Valley Championships, they had nets coming out of the side, and they're just walking next to each other and he goes, man, can you believe this, we've won since we were in third grade. They're just hitting each other back and forth like, can you believe this, we won a state championship, now we're going to the tournament. It was the most genuine little-kid moment of two grown guys just sharing it like, man, we've been winning our whole lives. I'm just walking behind them like, man, I'm blessed to coach these two. They're winners on and off the floor, and it's been cool to coach them.
Q. What are you going to need out of Krutwig and Aundre tomorrow to go up against Tennessee's big men?
PORTER MOSER: 15 rebounds apiece. That's what I'm asking. They're rebounding -- we don't see it from four out of the five -- like they crash four guys. We were pushing the pause button. They box out on the offensive side. They box out to get the offensive rebound.
So we're going to need a tremendous effort on the glass. We're going to have to have a tremendous effort post defensive wise. They pound it inside. They duck you in. You've got to do your work early in the post. You just can't sit there and let them just post you up. So we're going to have to have the best rebounding and post defensive effort of the year tomorrow.
Q. Before Rick Majerus, who were your greatest coaching influences, and have you ever had to temper your hands-on style either during a game or practice to regather your poise?
PORTER MOSER: Another one of my biggest mentors in my life is my college coach and who brought me into this profession is Tony Barone, Chicago guy. He was my college coach at Creighton. I coached with him six years at Texas A&M. He was high energy, as you can get, passionate. And I spent ten years with him.
He left me a message. He was at our game when we clinched -- when we won the Missouri Valley championship at home, when we got presented the trophy. He lives right near Loyola campus, still a huge influence in my life. But no question Tony Barone was a huge mentor of mine.
Q. Have you studied history enough to have an opinion on whether Loyola was the first Cinderella in the 1963 championship season?
PORTER MOSER: The first Cinderella? I've studied history to know about all -- the game of change and the four African-American starters, but the first -- I would have to guess no, if you're asking me, because there must be another Cinderella out there. Was there?
Q. I would argue they might have been. If you look at the list, you might be able to make the argument. I don't know. It's an interesting question.
PORTER MOSER: It is, because I -- you look at all the programs that won National Championships. There's not -- I don't think there's more than 40, if someone knows the exact number. But Loyola Chicago sticks out. Like Loyola Chicago won one? So that year, that year was such a monumental breakthrough for so many things. I guess I've always looked at that as so much more of a breaking segregation, the game of change, that I really haven't thought about them being a Cinderella because it was Loyola Chicago, so it was interesting to think like that. But that team is -- obviously means a lot to us and to what it was all about back then and the game of change.
Q. Very quickly, another thing I wonder about is if the term Cinderella based on the social implications just kind of cheapens the whole thing because of what we think of Cinderella today?
PORTER MOSER: Yep. Yep, I agree.
Q. Can you kind of trace your recruiting of Aundre Jackson? Is he just a guy that slipped through the cracks for other Power Five schools?
PORTER MOSER: Yeah, you know what, I love guys that are efficient and get it done. He's a get-it-done guy. It doesn't bother -- he's an undersized guy. I've had a lot of -- I've had like three all-league players that are undersized. I had Montel James. Christian Thomas was 6'5". Now Aundre Jackson is 6'5".
I think sometimes coaches get into that mode where they hear the voices from outside, whether it's fan bases and recruiting services, and God, we need a big, we need a big. He's a two-star. He's a three-star. None of that matters. There's a lot of guys that'll take -- well, we need this 6'9" guy and the 6'9" guy can't do anything.
Aundre was second in the nation in field goal percentage. That's a stat that translates, your field goal percentage. He shot like 64 percent at junior college on a team that went to Hutchinson, Kansas. I watched him play there a couple games against a team that had like four or five high-major guys, and he had 26 points. He had a knack to scoring the ball against bigger guys. And when we signed him last year, he was top three in the country in Division I in field goal percentage. It translated right to Division I, that field goal percentage.
So I love get-it-done guys, and we watched him. So 6'5" post player scared a lot of people off. It doesn't bother me. I like get-it-done guys, and he's one of them.
Q. Who did you have to beat for him?
PORTER MOSER: A lot of schools that were at our level. There wasn't a high major school on him. It was a lot of schools at our level recruiting him.
Q. Years ago when I was at Marquette, I had the good fortune to interview Rick Majerus. He was nice enough to give me time to help me with a journalism project I had, and I'll never forget him telling me one of the biggest challenges when it came to recruiting was keeping kids, whether it was kids from Milwaukee or wherever, keeping kids from the city in the city or getting them to come to Marquette, a city campus. How tough is it getting kids from Chicago to stay in Chicago?
PORTER MOSER: When I got the job seven years ago, we're Loyola of Chicago, we had one Illinois player on the roster. And we had not one Chicago public league player in a 10 or 12-year window. That's amazing to me. Think about that.
Probably David Bailey was the last. It was like 11 or 12 years, and we convinced Milton Doyle, who was a highly ranked player from Chicago to come, and everybody knew Milton in the city, outstanding first-team all-state player. And I think people are like -- and if you asked Donte, he'd say the same thing, Milton went there, I'll check it out.
And we had to grass-roots recruit coaches, parents to come to our campus. Our campus is absolutely gorgeous on the lake, and they've put so much money in redoing it, and we had so many people from Chicago, myself included, that when we got in and walked our campus, they said, I had no idea this was here, tucked up on the north side. So we started it just grass-roots bringing people. Then we got Donte, then we got Lucas Williamson, and it started with Milt.
Young people, it wasn't cool to go to Loyola. They hadn't been winning. They hadn't been on campus to see it. The people that advised them hadn't been on campus to see it, so we had to really grass-roots the whole thing. And I think people are saying now, hey, you know what, Milton Doyle graduated and got a great degree, and his friends and family saw him play a ton.
You look at Donte Ingram, he's going to graduate in a couple months with a great degree from Loyola of Chicago. Donte has an entourage at all the games, all the games. And I think it's becoming something where -- I think staying home now and playing in front of family and friends, because at times people will say, man, I want to get away. I want to get away.
We're in a great part of -- we're right on the lake tucked in. We've got 6,000 students live on our campus. It's a great setup. It's a setup I think we can really snowball into bigger and better things, and I think more and more kids in Chicago are looking at Milton Doyle, Donte Ingram, Lucas Williamson and looking at, you know what, I can stay home, get a great degree, have friends and family see us. And now they can add the piece we're in a great conference and we have the ability to win that conference.
Q. Porter, for years you've been going to freshman orientations and begging students to come to games. What's it like seeing the celebrations in Damen and the student centers and the bars around Chicago and seeing all that work pay off?
PORTER MOSER: Absolutely awesome. To watch -- what he's referring to is the freshmen have an orientation, and they break it off into six groups throughout the summer, and I'd run between basketball to speak to all the friends and family and beg them to come to games. I've been doing that for years.
To see that aerial view of Damen student center last night gave me chills. It was just nuts. They had a celebration at the business school, at the student center, at Ireland's, all around. They had student-athletes. I saw the softball team. I saw the track team all having watch parties. That's what you want. That's what up want in a student body. I told them it can help their experience getting behind it.
It meant so much because of the efforts I've put in to connect with the students and to get them to buy in, to see their excitement over our run meant a lot.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports