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March 13, 2019

Bryce Drew

Saben Lee

Yanni Wetzell

St. Louis, Missouri

Texas A&M-69, Vanderbilt-52

THE MODERATOR: We are joined by Vanderbilt. We will begin with an opening statement from coach Drew.

BRYCE DREW: First half didn't get off to a great start. Didn't make many shots. At halftime, we really had a heart-to-heart talk, how do we want to play this second half out, how do we want things to go.

Credit our guys. We talked about fight. We talked about heart. We talked about competing. I think we found a group out there that last 12 minutes that really played with a lot of fight and a lot of togetherness.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes.

Q. Saben, you guys had eight dunks as a team. How much was it the game plan to attack the rim that way? How much was it just opportunity?
SABEN LEE: I mean, it wasn't really a game plan to attack the rim like that. It was just more opportunity. The lane was opened up, so guys were just attacking the paint really well.

Q. Yanni, how much will this losing streak this season drive you in the off-season to not let this happen again?
YANNI WETZELL: It hurts a lot. We're all fired up for next season already. It's going to be a long off-season. We're going to go at it because it's going to be a sour taste in our mouths for a while. We're coming back better, for sure.

Q. Saben, how much did frustration become an issue? How did you deal with it through this streak?
SABEN LEE: I mean, definitely going through this season is definitely frustrating for the guys. We're competitors. We want to win. Just I think it's a testament to the people in this locker room, how we like to deal with adversity. It just showed I guess my teammates' true colors.

Q. What specific things do you need to work on and get better at going into next year?
YANNI WETZELL: Individually for me, I need to get better at my outside shooting, ball handling, keep working on my post work.

As a team, I think overall we need to get better executing and finishing around the rim. Also just outside shooting.

SABEN LEE: Personally just outside shooting, making the correct reads, decision making. Then as a team, I feel like we get a lot of good looks, just knocking down shots, timely possession errors.

Q. Saben, it seemed during this season a lot of moments you and Aaron carried this team. Talk about the dynamic that brings.
SABEN LEE: I definitely feel like Aaron is a great player. We play off each other really well. A lot of guys on the team, they're great players. Everyone is a great player on this team.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, fellas. We'll excuse you and continue with questions for coach Drew.

Q. You've been asked this recently, but to repeat, are you worried about your job? If you come back next year, why will things be better?
BRYCE DREW: My biggest concern is our players. This has been an emotional ride for them. Adversity that none of us have faced before. So my first priority is to them.

I'm a basketball coach, but I'm also a mentor. I'm also a leader. I'm also going to tell their parents I'm going to care for their hearts and futures. That's my big concern. That's my job. That's what I do.

There's definitely some things that we've recognized several months ago, some changes, necessary changes, that needed to happen. We've already been working on those changes and we'll continue to work on those changes.

You mentioned the eight dunks. I thought we should have more three-pointers made than dunks. That's one big thing in the off-season, is shooting the basketball better, being able to shoot a much higher percentage.

Q. Seemed in the second half the team found another gear. How would you assess the compete level from this team throughout this streak? Have you seen that wane at any points?
BRYCE DREW: Losing is draining. When you make a good play, then you throw the ball to them, it bounces, they get a dunk, or you make a good drive, you kick it out, miss a couple wide-open threes, it just keeps mounting.

I'm extremely proud of our guys. They easily could have folded in the first half, could have folded in the second half. Yet, we made a nice run at them. If we didn't have a couple costly turnovers in that stretch, a couple bounces that went their way, I'd like to think we get it down in that six area. You get it down to six with three minutes left, you never know what can happen.

Q. It's early, but do you have any ideas yet about how you're going to turn this around next season, strategy?
BRYCE DREW: We have a lot. First of all, I think we have some really good players on this team that are going to be significantly better next year. About 12 games ago I started kicking myself for redshirting Ejike Obinna. He's 250 pounds now. Really could have helped us tonight and in other games. It was best for our program's future to redshirt him.

We've signed a couple guys that will come in and be good shooters, good passers, be really skilled. Those are some areas that we need.

I think as you look at this team, guys had to shift kind of from their strength areas into some other areas. Next year as we put this thing together, we'll be able to put these guys back in their strengths like they were earlier in the year. The experience they've gained is going to be invaluable for us next year.

Q. You started Yanni and Clevon together without Simi. What was the thinking in that decision?
BRYCE DREW: Yanni has played really well lately. We thought he deserved to start. He showed another double-double tonight. Thought he played with a lot of energy. I wish we could take back a couple of those turnovers in transition. If we could have got that dunk instead of them getting that dunk, that could have been a big play for us.

Q. Going from his year one to year two, what are you looking for out of Simi in terms of his development?
BRYCE DREW: Simi tore his ACL last year. He had no off-season. He stepped in, had a few days in October, pretty much tried to learn a couple plays, we started playing him. He's never had a chance to really work at his game.

He has a great skill set. I think he needs to get really good in that pinch post, needs to get really good off those elbows. I think he's got to develop making a top-of-the-key three. If he can make a three, teams have to guard him closer, his game is going to change our whole offense.

Q. You recognized months ago some necessary changes. Can you tell us specifically what some of those things are?
BRYCE DREW: I think a lot through recruitment. I think it's taken a little time to realize what this job is here, realizing what we have to do to be successful, move forward. We need to have more skill. We need to have more shooting. I think we have some guys that are continuing to get better at their skill. If we can intertwine a couple ingredients with the guys we have, it's really going to help these guys blossom more, help our offense look better, it's going to bring a better confidence to our whole team.

Q. What is the wrap-up to the season? You sit down and meet with Malcolm? What is on the agenda to talk about?
BRYCE DREW: We agreed that we were going to talk after the season. He's my boss. I don't have the agenda. But we'll talk after the season.


BRYCE DREW: Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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