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March 21, 2018
PORTER MOSER: You know, I know, obviously, just like everybody, we're excited to be here. Our guys have enjoyed this journey, but just like each step of the way of this process, they've been focused, locked in in practices and film. It won't be that they're enjoying the moment too much. They're enjoying the journey, but they're ready and locked in.
Q. Porter, I understand that you had some difficulty getting to the arena. How did you handle that, and what happened?
PORTER MOSER: Our guys handled it a lot better than me. I guess my immaturity came out. But no, it was frustrating. We couldn't get here. But when we got here, everybody was great.
We had a good practice. Guys got a lot of shots in. We went over a lot of things. You know, you can either let it bother you or not, so we're not going to let it bother us, and everything since that moment has been great. People here have been great, and we've been able to -- hey, maybe it's a first -- fighting adversity. You're going to have to do that in this situation.
Q. There have been some reports there is some student on arrest and possible professors getting ready to walk out and protest on campus. I was wondering if you had a chance to address that with your team.
PORTER MOSER: Yeah, we haven't been able to address it yet. I know the University is. I know the University is very much on top of it. But it isn't something that we've addressed. Everything has been happening for us so fast. We got back from Dallas, then we found out we were going to play, then it's been prep, and we left Tuesday morning. I know the University, there's great people there, and they're handling that.
Q. Tell me your first memory of Donte Ingram, and how much has he grown since that first time you interacted with him?
PORTER MOSER: The first time I interacted with Donte was over at Simeon doing a recruiting visit, and watching him come from a great program to where the kids are about winning. Their coach is a terrific coach, getting after the guys in terms of discipline and playing the right way, and I just saw his athletic ability first. And then I saw his skill, and I like mismatch guys.
Some people were saying, oh, he's too small to be a 4. He's not quite the ball handler to be a 3. And I love tweeners. I think they're mismatch guys.
And then I got to know him walking around campus, and I got to meet his parents, and his brother played at Loyola 10 years earlier. So they were well aware, right out of the gate, one of the first things is he said to me is we know how good an education Loyola is. I thought, wow, they get this, this is great, it's a fit. Donte has got an infectious personality. He's got a smile that lights up a room, and then when he's got a competitive streak on the court, that lights up a room.
He has been about winning. He's been about others. He's been a great teammate. And then the other thing that really struck me about Donte over the years is how much he's improved. Every single off-season, Donte has improved, and that's part of our culture of development, which we have to be a program of development, and a part of his culture as a buy-in.
Phenomenal parents, phenomenal program he comes from, and a high-character young man.
Q. People might look at these two teams and see a lot of similarities because of the size of school and the stature, et cetera. How are you alike? How are you different?
PORTER MOSER: You know, I think they play unbelievably hard. They are somewhat positionless. They have a number of different guys that are interchangeable parts.
They have interchangeable parts of a lot of guys can bring it up, a lot of guys can shoot it. They'll have their point guard post-up, back you in. They're interchangeable. They switch everything. They've got shooters. They've got guys that can put it on the deck. They've got guards that can post you up that are thick. Interchangeable parts across the board.
Then you combine that with extreme toughness. I think where we're different is the size of their interchangeable parts. I mean, they're 6'7" across the board. The Martin twins, those are two unbelievably difficult guys to scout against when you're breaking down film. Jordan Caroline, I was familiar with him when he was at Southern Illinois, and watching him develop; and he is a mismatch nightmare.
They have a bunch of guys that are mismatch nightmares, and that's why they're so hard to guard. That's why their offense is one of the best in the country, because they've got interchangeable parts.
Q. I hear a lot of talk about this being sort of the Kentucky Invitational at this region. As a competitor, what do you make of that, and what do you hope your guys make of that?
PORTER MOSER: You know, I might have thought that with our problems getting here to the arena. But truly, our guys, all year long, we haven't even looked at who's ahead of us farther than the team in front of us. We really have not mentioned the other two teams, you know, the other two teams.
Obviously everyone follows the tournament, they know who they are, but we haven't even addressed it, talked about it. It has been all about Nevada. And I'll say this -- I've said this to our guys, and this is one characteristic part of our culture that I love, is our guys have embraced -- in this day and age, respect is not a weakness. Respect is not a weakness. And these guys, we've spent the last 48 hours, 72 hours getting ourselves locked in on Nevada, and we respect them a ton. I mean, how hard they play, how well they're coached, the pieces they have, the toughness they have.
Our focus hasn't been on anybody else. It's been about what Nevada does well and what we have to do to stop them.
Q. I spoke with Tony Barone about you playing for him and also giving you your first job, and he was saying he treated you kind of like another coach in terms of tasks, responsibilities. What do you remember about that job, maybe some of the more menial aspects of it and what it's done for you going forward?
PORTER MOSER: You know, Coach Barone was a huge influence on my life. He was my college coach and then he was the coach to hire me into this profession. So I spent four years as a player with him and six years as a coach.
The thing that I learned from him is you can get on kids. You can demand kids if they know you love them and trust them. Coach Majerus was the same way. Coach Barone was very hard on us as players, but our whole locker room knew how much he loved you, so you can have that. It's like my father. My father was a disciplinarian. He was on me, but there wasn't a day I didn't know he loved me. You can do that if there's a relationship there.
When I worked for him, you know, he wouldn't allow you to think that any task was too small or too big. It was about getting it done, getting it done the right way. And the work ethic of working and doing things, he was very demanding of me.
Coach Majerus was the same way. I've had a lot of assistants go through Loyola that are high-major. In seven years I think I've lost six assistants to high-major jobs. I can go down and list them all. They're at high-major schools. I have a couple of them that are head coaches. I have three assistants that are head Division 1 coaches right now, and I think you'll ask them, and they'll tell you the same thing. You learn from who you've worked for earlier, and I think they'd all say, I learned it from Coach Barone on task-oriented, do your job, do it with energy. He wouldn't let you -- if he gave you a job and you hung your head and you did it half heartedly, you knew about it. You achieved what you emphasize, and he always had a ton of energy, and I love -- that's been my MO. That's what I connect with.
Q. What exactly happened coming to the arena? You kind of mentioned not being able to get in. And then the other part is with Donte, him being a Simeon kid particularly, that school being in Chicago, how big has that been for your program going forward, being able to get kids like that from the city?
PORTER MOSER: I'll start with the latter one first.
You know, when I got the job seven years ago, we were Loyola Chicago and we had one Illinois player on our team, which is nuts. We had no Chicago public league kids for a 12-year span before I got the job, which is nuts. So then we signed Milton Doyle. Milton Doyle was the first, who's now with the Brooklyn Nets. Milton was the second-rated player in the state, and when we got Milton, I think everyone just kind of looked around the city and said, wow, Milton is staying home.
And then Donte was the one that followed. He said, well, if Milton says home -- then I think people. Then Lucas came along, and everyone from Chicago that comes on our campus here recently, because they've redone the whole thing, they say the same thing: I can't believe this is here. It's right on the lake. It's a gorgeous campus, and I think these guys, it's meant a lot. I think a lot of people in Chicago -- how apropos was it that a Chicago man hit that game winner against Miami? I mean, there's a ton of pride.
And you can just hear it in Donte's voice, the pride he has playing for a hometown team, and hopefully that snowballs, that other young men look at it and say, I can get a first-class education and play great basketball and have the opportunity to win right here at home where friends and family can see it. So that's been a huge thing for us to maintain some Chicago kids being loyal to Chicago.
In terms of what happened at the arena, we were supposed to get an escort. We didn't and no one knew how to get here. Our bus driver didn't know, and it took 35, 40 minutes to get here, but you overcome. You know, I told our guys, it's our first thing to overcome, and it's like getting a couple turnovers early. You've got to put it behind you and overcome.
Q. Talk about this national platform and how it works wonders for your recruiting.
PORTER MOSER: You know, I think we're a program that can recruit nationally because of the Jesuit education, and I think -- so that's something nationally with the education.
You know, the question always has been, man, they've went 30-something years without winning. It's been that. And to see the videos of Chicago, of our student body, going viral after this tournament -- Chicago is a prideful city. It's a prideful sports town. And I love that about it.
People always told me, oh, Chicago is a sports town, you can't get a college team. No, Northwestern proved it last year, we're proving it this year. They love and respect hard work, tough togetherness, and this city has embraced us. This city has absolutely embraced us, and it's great to see. Someone just sent us a thing about the Loyola watch parties around the country. There's Loyola gatherings in almost every city because of the alumni base. How cool is that, the interest level.
I love that Loyola nation, Rambler fans all over the country, because pride is an awesome human trait. And to see the pride in Loyola alumni, fans, and Chicago is something that is great.
Q. Obviously this probably applies to several of the teams still left in this regional, but you handled it well last week. Is there anything you have to do to kind of show your team not to be -- the moment too big for them and to get caught up in the hype?
PORTER MOSER: Sure, I mean, obviously this is the highest moment we've been in, but we've been preparing for high moments that we haven't been in for about a month. When we won the conference outright at Southern Illinois, it was a huge moment for our team, big celebration, we came back to campus. We still had another game at home, and it was our first sellout, and it was a huge hype. We won that game, and then the surrounding of that, getting presented the trophy, then we went to the tournament. Then we were worried, everyone kind of said we've got to win the tournament to get in. And that moment wasn't too big. Then we won the tournament, and then there was another level of huge height. We had a watch party. Everyone was worried, how are you going to handle this. We went into the tournament and refocused and won two games.
These guys have been preparing for it and the reason why we can do it is these guys are winners. It's been noted a lot that we have seven kids on our team that won state championships. They're winners and they're together. They're a connected team. They hang together off the court. They're talking in the hotels about the moment. Every film session, they lock in on the scouting. They're enjoying the ride, and I'm happy as heck they're enjoying the ride. I'm enjoying the ride with them Because they are awesome kids. We love our locker room, we love our team. And the reason why I'm not -- the moment is not going to be the reason. We prepared for this every step, and they're locked in. They're going to embrace it.
Q. Donte, quick question for you: Coach was mentioning you coming from Chicago. What was the thing that brought you to Loyola coming from Simeon?
DONTE INGRAM: Being from Denver, Illinois, and then moving to Chicago after my sophomore year of high school, I was kind of just getting situated in Chicago, at Simeon, then my family got to where I was my senior year. Obviously I was just getting situated in Chicago, and then started to get interested in Loyola, and going up, visiting. And I started seeing myself being implemented into the system, and I liked the culture and where things were headed. Seeing other Chicago guys like Milton Doyle on the team, it just helped my decision.
Q. Donte and Clayton, how would you describe your coach this morning on the bus as you guys were on it for 30 minutes looking for a way in?
CLAYTON CUSTER: I mean, we were driving around, and even -- like I think some of us were starting to be like, what is going on right now? So I knew Porter was not happy about what was happening. We were driving around, driving around, and then when we finally made it, I knew that he wasn't -- I knew he was going to say something to somebody, but no, I mean, I think he kept his cool pretty good there. I think he did a pretty good job.
DONTE INGRAM: What he said. What he said.
Q. Ben, much has been made about Nevada's positionless offense and defense and such. What problems does that pose for you match-up wise?
BEN RICHARDSON: Yeah, it's going to be a really tough match-up as far as finding guys in transition. It's kind of unconventional in the sense that there's no conventional rim runner. Everyone is running to the three-point line. They've got a ton of shooters. They can space the floor really well.
It's tough to match up with when you've got a 5 on the floor that maybe doesn't move as well as a guard, that doesn't guard as well as a guard. It's going to be -- it's going to take a lot of us to communicate and really stay connected to be able to guard dribble drives. And just the way they space it and score fast, I think we're going to have to do a really good job communicating and guarding in the first like 10 seconds of a possession because they really, really try to strike you early in transition.
I think you've got to take the whole team, all five guys on the court, to really slow them down.
Q. Donte, can you talk about how you guys have embraced this historic season and you guys haven't been to the Sweet 16 since 1985, so how have you as a team embraced all you've been through so far?
DONTE INGRAM: I feel like obviously it's been a great experience getting here, a great ride with this group of guys and coaching staff. We're just embracing the moment. You know, we don't take any of this for granted. Obviously we're happy we're here, in the position we're in. And this team, we know what we're capable of, and obviously you're in the Sweet 16. For us it's been 33 years, but we just want to take advantage of every moment that we're in and do whatever we can do to keep getting wins.
Q. Clayton, I believe I'm right about this, there's three guys from your high school team here in Atlanta with Mason, and I'm just wondering what that says about -- obviously you guys had a great run in high school, but what does it say about the quality of basketball, also, in that part of the Metro, and is it underrated?
CLAYTON CUSTER: Yeah, I mean, I think it speaks to our culture, I believe, out at Northwest, the type of players we had to move out of Northwest for sure. Coach Fritz has done such a good job of teaching us the game and teaching us how to play the game the right way.
And yeah, it's awesome that me and Ben are here with us, and then Mason is over there with K-State. But I mean, yeah, I think it goes to show that Kansas high school basketball is pretty good, and I don't know if it necessarily gets the respect it deserves. There's a lot of really good players there, and I think it's special that we have three kids from Overland Park, Kansas, playing in the Sweet 16 for sure.
Q. When you look at this bracket where nobody higher than a 5 is still in it, what does it say about basketball, that all the favorites have been knocked out of at least the top four? And do you guys pay attention when you hear people sort of penciling in Kentucky from this bracket when they see who's left here?
DONTE INGRAM: You know, obviously there's been a lot of upsets with higher seeds and lower seeds playing, but I mean, as a team, you can't really buy into who has the higher seed and who you're playing against and the name on the jersey. I feel like all across the country, there's very good players everywhere, and everybody wants to win. So at this point, when you get on that stage and you're out there in the tournament, everybody is trying to play. Everybody wants to win, and it's March Madness. You see teams just leaving it all out there and wanting to get wins and not buying into just the names on the jerseys. You can't get into that.
So obviously for us, we don't care who we play, and obviously we're going to be picked as the underdogs. We embrace that. We like that, that mindset that we have, and that's our approach going into the game.
CLAYTON CUSTER: Yeah, I mean, I think it just goes to show that maybe the difference between high-major basketball and mid-major basketball isn't as big of a difference anymore. I think that there's a lot of really, really good teams out there. I know I can speak -- we can speak for the Missouri Valley. I think the level of basketball that's played in the Missouri Valley is really, really high level. I mean, you see it every year, teams from our conference will win a lot of big non-conference games at the beginning of the year, and I think that just goes to show that we can play. I think that it's cool that we're playing Nevada in the Sweet 16 with a chance. One of us for sure is going to be in the Elite 8.
I don't think that any of us, once you get to this point, really care about the name on the front of your jersey. We're going to have to play. Everybody is going to have to play well in order to win.
Q. Donte, Coach Moser has talked about you as kind of being a classic tweener with your skill set. I was curious, coming out of high school, how did you view yourself as a player? Was there anybody in particular that you kind of patterned yourself after, and how did you grow into the role you have now?
DONTE INGRAM: Obviously coming out of high school, and I still -- like I consider myself, I'm a guard, but being -- coming into Loyola, I kind of embraced being more versatile, having that versatility, adding certain pieces to my game. And especially with the guys that we have, we were always at a mismatch position. I embraced it. Obviously basketball nowadays is becoming more positionless, so the more things you can do, the better chance you have of being out on the court.
So I kind of embraced adding low-post in, mid-post and everything to my game. And obviously nowadays, like I said, the way the game is, the more things you can do, the better chance you've got of being on the court.
Q. Ben, how do you think you guys have handled the extra media attention and sort of having cameras in your face all around?
BEN RICHARDSON: You know, I think it's definitely been an adjustment, not something that we get just in the normal routine and course of the Valley season.
We've enjoyed having you around (laughing), but it's been an adjustment, and it's been something we haven't had to talk about a whole lot. Coach has just kind of stayed on us about sticking to what's gotten us here and focusing when it's time to step on the court. It's that same level of focus, that same level of energy and intensity that we've had all year. I think this is probably the best practice team I've ever been on. We really go hard when we're out there, and we try to have a laser-like focus.
I think we can kind of compartmentalize the media stuff here, and then when we get out there, we're going to get after it, and I think that's why we've been able to be successful into the postseason and just in the tournament especially.
Q. What have the last couple days have been either like the best Tweet or phone call that you've gotten, from the most surprising person?
CAMERON KRUTWIG: This has got to be Donte.
BEN RICHARDSON: He didn't even have a Twitter, and he got two by Chance the Rapper, so he made a Twitter.
DONTE INGRAM: Well, the real story behind that, I've never really been a huge Twitter guy, and to be honest, I have two classes that require a Twitter right now, so I was on the verge of making one anyway. And then honestly -- I mean, obviously winning a couple games in the tournament and the chances we've been getting, guys tweeting at us and getting a shout-out from Chance the Rapper, the South Side rapper, that was the icing on the cake, and I finally gave in to making a Twitter.
Q. You mentioned Chance. What was it like hearing from him? Just tell me about that.
DONTE INGRAM: I mean, obviously that's huge, for another guy that takes pride in the city of Chicago. Obviously he has great music, and he does so much for the city. He's around, he's very supportive, and you look up to guys like that, so that's one of my role models, so I look up to everything he does and how he carries himself, so that was huge.
Q. Is there any one player when you're watching this Nevada team film, watching them play, that you find yourself kind of keeping an eye on, close attention, respect their game, any one player that pops out to you on this team that you focus on?
BEN RICHARDSON: You know, the thing about this Nevada team that's so dangerous is I think they have -- they've kind of talked about how they only play six guys, but each one of those six guys can really, really hurt you. You know, what we've been talking about in practice is just staying urgent and staying focused throughout the possession, and especially in transition to slow them down. Each one of them can beat you off the dribble. They've got the twins, who are both super-talented, can really make plays for themselves, and really great iso players.
So we've really, really focused on not really one guy but staying connected as a unit, five guys on the court, and really being together to slow down their attack. Like I said earlier, it's going to take all five guys being connected to stop, because any one of those guys can really hurt you off the dribble, from deep, any time. So it's going to take all of us to really lock in and stay connected.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports