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March 21, 2019

Bruce Weber

San Jose, California

MODERATOR: We'll welcome Coach Weber to the dais. We'll open it up to coach for a quick opening statement, and then we'll do some questions.

BRUCE WEBER: Obviously you're always excited to be part of March Madness, just so proud of our team, to do what they did to overcome injuries, illnesses, you know, just seen so much adversity, and to stay consistent and resilient, you gotta be proud of them to win a Big 12 Championship and then give themselves an opportunity to play in the Big Dance.

I couldn't be more proud of our seniors. That group kind of got our program going again a few years ago, and they've been our leaders, they've been our foundation. Just my heart goes out to Dean Wade, you know, two years in a row to have injuries, almost the same time of year, and then just what he went through as a senior, not to be able to really practice and try to play in games.

It's just sad because you always want guys to be their best at the end of their senior year and have a chance to show what they can do on the national stage. But he can't do it. So that part's sad, but our other group has been able to pick up pieces and figure things out, and hopefully we can do that tomorrow.

Barry's been as good a leader as anyone I've been with in my 40 years. Kam Stokes is that little guy that keeps trucking along, dealing with all the things he's had to do, and Xavier Sneed, you know, Mak. The whole group. Just a fun group to coach, and hopefully they're up to the challenge tomorrow.

Q. What do you guys miss without Dean out there?
BRUCE WEBER: He just does so much. If you studied his stats, he's leading rebounder, he's probably the best passing big guy in the country. Maybe Happ, Wisconsin, those two guys are both very, very good. We could run our offense through him and he would get so much attention. When he's not out there, you gotta do other things, and that's why I give our guys credit, because they've been able to improvise, our coaches have done a great job figuring out new game plans, ways to score.

And you got a really good defensive team tomorrow. They're one of the best field goal percentage defense. Points allowed, especially in the two point, that part of the game, so we're going to have to move them and hope we can find other ways to score. It would be nice to get some transition. It always helps.

Q. Russell Turner was saying that he didn't know whether Dean was going to play or not, but if he didn't, he said you guys still can present different types of problems. How is your team different when he doesn't play?
BRUCE WEBER: Well, you go from kind of a legit power forward that can do a lot of things to a small ball team for a lot of the -- you know, now tomorrow because they present problems with their size, we might have to play big at times and use some of our bigger guys off the bench, just kind of deal with them and combat their inside presence.

But we have -- if Cartier Diarra, we're fortunate. I guess right timing, get him back, he gives us some quickness, some ability to get to the basket. You got Xavier Sneed can play 3-4 and then the two guards really spread you out. And Makol Mawien can score inside. I think that will be a key in the game tomorrow who gets points in the paint. And whether it's transition, it's inside presence, drives to the basket, we gotta protect the paint against them and we gotta be able to score in the paint at some parts of the game. I don't think there's any doubt.

Q. Coach, you have said previously that it would be a miracle if Dean played or whatever. But I haven't actually heard you say he's out?
BRUCE WEBER: You know, I just don't think he'll be able to go. I wish he could. And, you know, again, my heart goes out to him. He's doing treatment now. He just hasn't been able to -- we can't take a chance. His future is more important than us winning a game. And there's nothing you can do. Things happen in life, and it's just sad it's for him two years in a row.

Q. You guys are so good defensively, and I was wondering whether the defensive principles that you guys had at Purdue and other places you've been, are they the same, or have you had to kind of change because of the three point being so popular? And what's the contrast between those two things?
BRUCE WEBER: Our foundation is what Coach Keady, we started years ago, and we found ways to win in the Big Ten at that time, whatever he was, six-, seven-time Coach of the Year nationwide, the Big Ten Coach of the Year.

And defense was always our foundation. You know, you have to tweak it. One thing he taught me years ago, if you want to stay in the business, you gotta be flexible because the game changes, kids change, people change. And you have to do that. So when the rules, the touch fouls changed, you know, we couldn't pressure, we used to pick up and get after people, wear them out, you had to change a little bit of that. When ball screens became prevalent, you had to change how you did that.

But again, I hopefully give credit to our coaches. Our principles are the same, our foundation is the same. Our commitment, our pride is the same, but at the same time you have to change because of the rules and the way the game is being played.

Q. Coach, you've been so good on the road this year and making things business trips. You got out here early this week. Do you get the sense they're treating it like a regular road game despite being a different case?
BRUCE WEBER: Yeah, it's not a pure road game even though we're playing a team from California in California. But that's why we got here, one, to get our time clocks. We talk about preparation, and they've been so good about preparing. Part of preparation is not only the scouting report, but it's also getting mentally and physically ready.

We just thought it was important to get out here. We got here Tuesday night, so Wednesday we could practice early here. We had a good practice yesterday, very good. You could have a relaxing day. We let them go shopping last night, kind of hang out after dinner. Today we had a quick practice, go about an hour workout and now we'll shoot. And then you got your film and stuff. In the early morning, wake up tomorrow and get ready to play. They're a mature team. Our veterans know what's at stake, and hopefully they come ready to play.

MODERATOR: Thanks, Coach.

BRUCE WEBER: Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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