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March 22, 2019
Salt Lake City, Utah
THE MODERATOR: We welcome Baylor student-athletes to the dais, Makai Mason and King McClure. Let's go and open it up to questions for Makai Mason and King McClure.
Q. For both, Makai first, what is this turnaround like? You played on Thursday, you have a whole new team you have to get ready for on a Saturday, that quick turnaround.
MAKAI MASON: It's a little tough physically. But mentally, it's kind of nice, you can get to refocus real quick, you're not waiting around a whole lot, not a lot of practice time. So that's one nice thing about it.
KING McCLURE: I think it's a lot of mental preparation. You have to be mentally focused, mentally locked. There's not that much practice time. We watch a lot of film. You've got to be locked in to the personnel, to adjust to what they do compared to what the last team did. So a lot of mental preparation.
Q. King, when Makai got to Baylor, what was your reaction considering he had just beaten you in the NCAA tournament?
KING McCLURE: I was like, Why did we get this guy? Why? (Laughter.)
Coach Drew talked to me about it. He's a great player. Coach Drew asked me how I felt about it. I was like, He's pretty good, he's proved himself that first game. So I was happy when we found out we got him. He's been a great teammate so glad we got him.
Q. Makai, how does one come in and sort of smooth over the thought like, I know I torched you for 31 but now I'm on your team?
MAKAI MASON: I hoped a lot of the guys were gone. I think only Jake and King were pretty much left over. Those guys in particular had done a great job in welcoming me pretty much as family. So it's been easy to take on the leadership role with those two guys already leading the way.
Q. Makai, how did you wind up there when you were looking at options? Did you think, like, Those guys could do with some offensive help considering I went off on them?
MAKAI MASON: It's funny. Baylor was a school I got my lists together of schools I might want to go to, and reach out to. Me and my dad was talking and I was like, We might as well throw Baylor on there in the end. Coach Drew recruited me very hard. Just got very comfortable with the staff. Took my visit, it ended up being the only visit I took and I fell in love with the coaching staff, the team, the school as well. So that's how it happened.
Q. Why did you decide to put Baylor on the list?
MAKAI MASON: (Laughter.) I don't know honestly. It's just one of those gut things, that just ended working out.
Q. For both, Makai, I don't know if you had a chance to watch the Gonzaga game at all before your game, but if you guys have or seen, what do they do well that could give you guys some trouble tomorrow?
MAKAI MASON: I think we only got to watch a couple of minutes. They're impressive in person and impressive on film. They have a lot of guys that can do a lot of different things which makes them very dangerous. They have three or four guys averaging more than ten points in their starting line-up. So it's always tough to face a team like that. Obviously very well coached, and it's going to be a battle.
KING McCLURE: I think they're really talented. They have Rui, they play really fast, so transition between defense and offense will be key. They have guys who can score the ball, three or four guys in the starting line-up. So it will be a battle, a great test for us tomorrow.
Q. King, those guys are probably more your size, the team size as compared to Syracuse. Will that be a nice change? What do you think about the height they bring?
KING McCLURE: We've always prided ourselves on being the toughest team. So regardless of last night, they were 7-2, 6-10, it really didn't matter. We will go in there and do what we do, and do the business. Size doesn't matter to us. We pride ourselves on sticking to our game plan and doing what we do every single day, that's it.
Q. Makai, what were the last two years like for you? You played one game, did you have doubts about ever getting back?
MAKAI MASON: I don't know if I had doubts. It was obviously definitely a struggle, mentally more than anything, just to kind of stay engaged, just having setbacks pretty much all along the way. Just when you think you're getting back, there's another setback.
So I really attribute my family and friends for keeping me locked in, keeping me on the right path and getting through the rehab and everything like that. It definitely makes it more special to make it back here. It kind of puts everything into perspective.
Q. You said yesterday that the second NCAA tournament was better than the first. Why was that?
MAKAI MASON: Just the struggle that was alluded to before. Basically not playing basketball for two years, something that you love so much, to have that taken away from you is really a struggle.
So, you know, kind of, a culmination of everything over the hard times to get back here, just made it a little more special.
Q. Makai, grad transfers have become very popular in the last few years in college basketball. When you were looking at going down that path, was there a particular grad whose game you liked, that translated well and who you almost looked up to as a role model almost?
MAKAI MASON: Not off the top of my head, really. Grad transfers have had success because they're older than everybody, they've had the experience, they've gone through battles. So it's a little bit easier, the transition, versus a freshman who doesn't have the experience.
Q. For both of you. Yesterday was the first time for a lot of your teammates to play at this level in the NCAA tournament. How are they handling it? Are you guys having to guide them through not being too excited but realizing you still have another game or is that just taken care of?
THE MODERATOR: Makai, let's start with you.
MAKAI MASON: They have handled it really well. There's only so much me and King can say. You can't simulate the game atmosphere in the NCAA tournament. So all of our guys have done a great job. Obviously you saw yesterday, just adjusting to that really quickly. We have a lot of mature guys, some of our freshmen are super mature out there on the court, so that definitely helps.
THE MODERATOR: King.
KING McCLURE: I'd agree. I'd say they have handled it really well. Not getting too excited. But at the end of the day, we won one game. We have to win another one on Saturday.
So the biggest thing that Makai and I can do is just get our minds focused on what we have to do Saturday and just try and help them understand the mental preparation that needs to go into the game on Saturday in order to win.
Q. For both of you. The way you guys played last night, on both sides of the board, shooting, taking charges, what does that do for your confidence level going into another game?
THE MODERATOR: King.
KING McCLURE: I think that's who we are. The four games before, that was not a good representation of us. I think last night, that's who we are. We can shoot the ball, we can defend, we have a lot of guys step up when their time is called. That's huge for our confidence, especially having so many young guys. It is huge to finally get a win after the four-game losing streak, especially in the tournament. That was huge for us in our confidence.
THE MODERATOR: Makai.
MAKAI MASON: Like King said before, the biggest thing for us is our toughness, that starts with the defensive end and then with rebounding offensively and defensively. Those are always our keys really. Then if we can hit shots like we did last night, we're tough to beat.
Q. Makai, I know that your name is from Hawaii and I understand you have two brothers who have Japanese name. Is there any connection with your family in Japan?
MAKAI MASON: No, there's actually not. My mom just kind of likes out-of-the-box names, so that's just how it happened.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, guys. We will wait for Coach Drew.
Let's open it up to questions for Coach.
Q. How is Jake Lindsey still able to impact this team now that his career's done?
SCOTT DREW: First of all, Jake loves Baylor. He's well-respected with all the team. And once he knew he couldn't played, he wanted to do whatever he could to help the team. He's a great voice of reason and he does a great job helping the young guys out as far as what he sees. And the great thing is Jake is very intelligent, he could be a coach, he could be a GM, he could run his own financial company.
So we're just glad that he loves Baylor and wants to help.
Q. Scott, I know Makai is the first grad transfer in program history. Did you have opportunities with other guys and feel like it wasn't a good fit? And what made you want to have him there besides the fact you knew he could score?
SCOTT DREW: We have recruited other grad transfers and he's just the first that it's worked out with. And couldn't be more pleased and blessed to have someone like him.
Part of our reason of getting him was a lot of times when people grad transfer they want to know, Do you really know my game? Do you know how good I am? So it took us taking an L to be able to explain, Yes, we know how good you are and what you can do.
The good thing is, it was great, we were walking off the bus together and I said, It's great going in with you today before the game rather than going against you. When we played Yale he was the number one person we were concerned with coming in, had a lot of respect for him even at that point.
Q. With a tough win last night, is it difficult with a quick turnaround having to prepare for another team on maybe a day of rest?
SCOTT DREW: In this situation, I'm glad it was a quick turnaround, because the more film you watch of Gonzaga the more worried you get. So there's the reason they're a No. 1 seed. Our staff, Coach Jakus was on their staff, one of our GAs played there. But as a head coach, you don't watch a lot of other basketball games during the year, you're so busy watching your team and your opponents that you don't get a chance to watch a lot of other games. So watching them last night, you go from being in a great mood to, Oh crud. (Laughter.)
Q. Scott, they obviously have so many offensive weapons. How tough are those guys to deal with?
SCOTT DREW: No. 1 offense in the country for a reason. If they just had one guy they wouldn't be the No. 1 offense. And I think besides their multiple weapons, besides Coach Few being a tremendous coach, and they have a great basketball history and culture, they all have experience, a lot of it international experience, a lot of older guys. And that really makes things easier especially come March.
Q. Speaking of Jake Lindsey, his father is a Baylor alum, how much is Dennis involved in the program? You have a couple of Baylor alums on the Jazz, they are out of town. Did you interact with Ekpe or Royce?
SCOTT DREW: First of all, that's the best thing about being a coach, having a relationship with the players after they graduate as well. Unfortunately asked Dennis, Could we dress Royce and Ekpe just for two games? He said no, the Jazz needed them. We talked to them all the time.
And probably I think any parent can attest to this, when you hear people talking highly of your kids, you really feel good. And just from different people around town that we've met, come across, boy, Ekpe or Royce, they're great people and they're just great role models. But when you hear that, it makes you even more appreciative to have the opportunity to coach them and have them represent your program.
As far as Dennis, Dennis is a Baylor guy. And that's why we're blessed to have Jake, he bleeds green and gold. And he is about the right things and about the same things we are. So appreciate him. I think he's entertaining a lot of his former teammates so he might be worn out after this weekend. (Laughter.)
Q. What has Makai meant to this team this year?
SCOTT DREW: With only three returning lettermen, so many first-year guys, it's a calming influence. He doesn't get rattled by his demeanor and the way he plays with such poise and confidence. He's like a security blanket for everybody out there. Then, obviously, you have his talent and that is -- people have to pay attention to him, and he stretches the defense and that allows other people to have opportunities to drive and make plays.
Q. Scott, I know you scrimmaged these guys a year or two ago. How much does that inform what they do for you? How much did that help you guys get ready playing that Gonzaga team that went to the National Championship game?
SCOTT DREW: We scrimmaged them a couple of times, played them a couple of times, so all that stuff helps. We don't have a lot of guys that were part of that. They don't have a lot of guys that were part of that. So coaches always adjust what they do to their personnel. So probably can't help as much as if we had a bunch of returning players and we were running a lot of similar stuff and the same with them.
Q. Scott, I know it's a bit of a bittersweet day for your family with Bryce. Have you spoken to him? You know how this business works. How do you help him get through this?
SCOTT DREW: Well, I think you go to bed and you finally, after watching film and answer other congratulation texts and told how much you appreciate that, I woke up and there were more texts this morning than last night. I was like, What's going on? And, obviously, I think everybody can relate. When things happen to you it's one thing. When it happens to your loved ones, your mom, your dad, your brother, your sister, it probably affects you more than them.
At the same time, he's got -- he's blessed to have great friends, great family support, and he's got a great faith and he knows God has a different plan for him. And as big brother, obviously whatever I can do to help him, I'm going to do. He knows God has got a plan for him. He's a lot more powerful and has more wisdom than I do.
Q. Their star Rui Hachimura, what does he bring to the table for them?
SCOTT DREW: Someone said can you describe him, his game to someone. I said yeah, it's -- a lot of guys I see playing in the NBA. So, with his size, his power, his skill set, he's a real tough match-up. And that's why -- one thing as a coach, you love he's progressed.
We've had several of our players, like Johnathan Motley ended up being power forward of the year, who didn't play much as a freshman. Same thing with him. He put in his time, listened to the staff, got better, now he is a great player, he scores inside-out, can drive it, can shoot it. So obviously a tough match-up.
Q. So, everyone knows what Rui brings and he's kind of the star of the show. But when you watch the film, who stands out to you as maybe their X factor, that's underappreciated?
SCOTT DREW: That's one thing. I think all of them have had a chance to get enough attention. Maybe it's because I've heard so much from our coaches about each one of their players. I don't think there is anybody that I'm not aware of.
So, I'm not going to limit it to one guy. I think, again, their strength of their team is they have multiple guys that can step up and make plays. I think with our team, that's why we have been successful. As a coach you go into game and you know, you've got nine guys you're playing and any different one of them can step up and have a big game, and have at different times.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports