March 17, 2022
Greenville, South Carolina, USA
Bon Secours Wellness Arena
THE MODERATOR: Welcome to our press conference for University of Southern Cal. We have our student-athletes, Isaiah Mobley and Drew Peterson. Floor is open for questions.
Q. Earlier this week, Max was talking about how he doesn't know what you guys have to do at this point to get some national respect. Is that something that you guys have thought about at all entering the tournament?
ISAIAH MOBLEY: Not really. Just because I feel like, when we start winning, people will like begin to respect us more, and like it's out of our control. We're just going to control what we can control and go from there.
DREW PETERSON: It's win or go home at this point. We're just focusing on every next game and let the play speak for itself.
Q. I just wondered if you lost anything or learned anything down the stretch losing a few?
DREW PETERSON: Yeah, definitely. Obviously the last couple weeks, we're playing a lot of good opponents. Obviously, Arizona's a 1 seed. UCLA, a 4 seed. That's a lot of learning experience we can take going into this tournament. We're coming back with a lot of older guys and guys who experienced the Elite Eight run last year, so we'll take that, the last couple weeks and the experience from last year.
We know what it takes out here to win and go deep in this tourney. So we'll definitely use that to our advantage.
ISAIAH MOBLEY: It's important for us to learn from every opportunity we had these last couple weeks and throughout the season and even last season, and that's what we plan to do, applying that going forward and playing in this tournament this year.
Q. Kind of following up on that, Miami plays a pretty similar style to Washington in terms of a lot of deflections and steals. What can you take away from that game last week to help you tomorrow?
ISAIAH MOBLEY: Just being smart with the ball, playing at our own pace, not allowing them to speed us up. Yeah, just being smart. I think we can do that, play defense like we know how, we can be successful.
DREW PETERSON: We came out and took care of the ball a lot better against UCLA. We have been emphasizing that. We know Miami plays fast and aggressive. So we'll be ready for their play style for sure.
Q. Drew, what do you think is the national perception of the Miami program and the Miami team this year? How much do you know about them? Do you think they're kind of an underrated team in some ways?
DREW PETERSON: Yeah, they're a well coached team. Obviously, they played Duke to the end the other day. So it's not a team that anyone can take lightly. They're a team that wants to come out and prove everything too, as being a 10 seed, slight underdog. They want to come out and show on the national stage that they're building their basketball program.
So we'll be ready to go. I didn't know too much about them before the last couple weeks, but I've seen them play here and there throughout the year. We know that, if we don't take this game, obviously with it being March Madness and everything, we've got to come out and play with some fire and be ready to go.
Q. Isaiah, can you talk about what in particular impresses you about UM? What is it that they do? Any players or something in their style of play that you guys are going to be challenged by?
ISAIAH MOBLEY: Yeah, the University of Miami, they're a great squad. They play together well. They play fast. They play defensive. They play smart on defense. They can beat teams. They beat Duke at Duke. It's impressive. They took Duke to the wire, like Drew said, in the ACC tournament. They're just an all around good team. They have a great coach who's been around for a long time, and he's experienced.
Like Drew said, if we take any team lightly, especially UM, we could drop a game. So we're just going to do everything that we can in our power to take them seriously and try to come out with the W.
Q. I wonder if both of you guys could speak on this. I wonder what Chevez Goodwin has brought to this team and what he means.
ISAIAH MOBLEY: Chevez is a super energy guy, great on defense and offense. Throughout the season, he's played real well. His experience, just being around college basketball for as long as he has, is important to us. He's like one of the roots of our team. We can't do what we've accomplished already and what we want to accomplish ahead without him. So he's a big part of our team.
DREW PETERSON: I'd say he's one of the most passionate players I've ever played with. He was a huge key to us last year, and he really stepped up his game, really improved his game over the summer and all of that stuff. So it's awesome he gets to now come back home and play in front of all of his friends and family.
We're really excited for him, and we want to do well to hopefully make his last run worthwhile.
Q. For both you guys, Isaiah, you tested the draft last year. Drew, you're a senior, even though you didn't participate in Senior Night. Has the possibility that these games could be your last in college, does that stay in the back of your mind at all this week?
ISAIAH MOBLEY: I just try not to think about it. If it is, we'll try to make the most of it. If it's not, same thing, just try to make the most of it. It's a wonderful opportunity, even just being up here right now and being in Greenville and getting to experience the tournament fully, especially this time around.
Yeah, I just try not to think about it for me.
DREW PETERSON: Yeah, agreed. Kind of focus on all that stuff after the season. Year to year, I don't think you can take anything for granted because you never know what happens -- injuries, just random factors. I'm always fortunate to be in a position that we're now in the NCAA tournament and hopefully can make our run.
I just don't think you can take anything for granted because all the crazy stuff that can go on, even COVID canceling stuff. There's so many unknown factors. We're ready to go game by game, and we're excited to be here.
Q. It seems like this is a defense first team. Is that true, and is that something you kind of talked yourself into to be proud about?
ISAIAH MOBLEY: I would say so. We have to be smart on offense, obviously, because putting the ball in the basket is what wins the games. But if we feel like we can hold teams to not what they're typically used to making, then we can make a real difference in the games. That's kind of what our program has tipped our hat to in the past years. I think we plan to keep that on our shoulders going forward.
DREW PETERSON: As Isaiah said, we pride ourself on our defense, as we've been kind of known for the last few years. We're hoping to continue that. The ball doesn't always go in the hoop, so our defense will always translate. We've got to be there and really lock down, especially as you try and make a late tourney run.
Q. Miami has that stretch five that can kind of space the floor. What kind of pressure does that put on the defense?
ISAIAH MOBLEY: He's a great shooter, shooting around 40 percent, so we've got to guard him well. We have that in our scout to make sure we don't give him any easy looks. If we don't pay attention to him, he definitely can be a threat to us. We try to lock in on our scout and try to take care of business with that.
Q. Just talk about the travel from West Coast to East Coast. Do you guys still feel like you're getting used to the East Coast time? What's the difference for getting you guys ready for tomorrow?
DREW PETERSON: It's not bad. We got here a couple of days early. We got here on Tuesday just to get used to everything. A little bit of a transition early on. We're all good to go. We've been here a few days now, and we'll be ready to go tomorrow afternoon.
ISAIAH MOBLEY: Like Drew said, travel was pretty smooth. Of course your body has to adjust, but it shouldn't be a problem for us, and even if it is bothering us, it can't be an excuse now. This is March, so yeah.
THE MODERATOR: We're now ready for Coach Andy Enfield, head coach of the University of Southern California. Reminder, when you ask questions, to please state your name and affiliation. Coach, just a couple of opening comments.
ANDY ENFIELD: We're excited to be here to play a very good Miami team. Greenville is a beautiful city. We had dinner last night in a very pleasant downtown area. Great meal, and we're ready to play basketball now.
Q. You have such a history in the state of Florida. Coach L says you guys have known each other forever. You're very familiar with their team and program. How does that help you in scouting? I'm assuming you kind of keep an eye on them from a distance?
ANDY ENFIELD: Sure. I've known Coach L and their coaching staff, Coach Courtney and Caputo, for a long time, since they were at George Mason. I was in the NBA coaching, and then I went to Florida, Florida State, Florida Gulf Coast when they were at Miami, Coach L got the job. I actually played them twice in my two years at Florida Gulf Coast.
It's been a long time. He's had such a great career as a head coach. Really done a tremendous job at Miami with this team especially because they were -- a lot of new players came together, a few transfers, and they've done an amazing job. We're exciting for them. Obviously, scouting is tough because they're so dynamic with the basketball, their guards, they spread you out, and they have a lot of three-point shooting.
The fact I know Coach L and the coaching staff for a long time doesn't really give us an advantage because they're their own team right now, and they're playing great basketball.
Q. Any updates on Reese or Isaiah White?
ANDY ENFIELD: Progressing both, they're day to day. Reese is a lot better now than he was last week. Unfortunately, he didn't play in the semifinal game. We missed him, missed his outside shooting, his ball handling. We're hoping he'll be ready tomorrow, Isaiah White as well, but we're not sure. It's day to day, and we'll find out probably later tonight or tomorrow.
Q. What did you learn from that run with Florida Gulf Coast that kind of translates into a higher level in the Power Five?
ANDY ENFIELD: The number one thing you need as a head coach, you need very good players to play on your team and to compete in this. It's hard to get in the NCAA tournament, and it's even harder to win games. Florida Gulf Coast, we had tremendous players. They came together as a team. They were a lot of fun to coach, and they believed in themselves.
I think, as you go up a level to the Pac-12 and the power conferences, it's the same concept. You need outstanding, talented players that come together as a team and they play their best basketball come March.
We have had a lot of good teams at USC, very proud of our players, proud of our teams. This team has been very unique because we were coming off an Elite Eight run last year with losing our top two scorers. Evan Mobley was the third pick in the draft, and Tahj Eaddy, who averaged 14 a game, just had an incredible year for us and he was All Conference. Losing those two guys made this an opportunity this season for our players to step up and take different roles, take bigger roles on the offensive and defensive end.
Some of the new guys that came in, our four freshmen, our transfer, Boogie, they had a chance to come in and mold together into their own team. It was fun to do that this year at 26-7, and they've had a really good season.
Q. Can you talk about Charlie Moore and what impresses you as a point guard? He's really transformed that team a lot this year. What is it about him?
ANDY ENFIELD: We coached against Charlie at California, University of California, I think, when he was a freshman. He transferred a few times, and this is his fourth school. They have three starters that are sixth year players, and Charlie is one of them. He's just a very -- he can really score the ball at the point guard, but he's a very good playmaker. He's turned himself into a true point guard, elite guard at this level.
It's been fun to watch his progression. I lost track of him a few years, but now he popped up, and as you said, he's made a big difference in their success this season and is a really good basketball player. So we have our hands full with guarding him.
Q. How did Chevez Goodwin adjust to the big city, and what's he brought to you guys?
ANDY ENFIELD: Chevez is one of the hardest working players I've ever coached at any level. He's one of the most improved players in the Pac-12. He's nonstop energy. He comes at you every day in practice, never takes a day off in practice, and he's improved dramatically since he's been at USC.
Can't say enough about his toughness, his physical toughness, his mental toughness, and his energy, what he brings to our team, his maturity, and he's a lot of fun to coach because you can -- you teach him something, he soaks it in, he tries his best to improve. To come all the way across the country to play in a Power conference, I thought was a leap of faith on his part, on his family's part, because he was going away from home.
To see his father come out on Senior Day was special, a couple of weeks ago when we had Senior Day at USC. And the year he's had for us, and ironically we get to play a first round March Madness game in his home state, a few hours from his house in Greenville. This is a tremendous experience for him and his family. Hopefully he'll come tomorrow and play a great game for us because we need him to play well for us to win.
Q. Earlier this week, Max was talking about how he just doesn't know what this program has to do to gain national respect at this point. What do you feel? Like do you address that with the team at all? Or is that something you tell them to kind of put out of their mind at this time of year?
ANDY ENFIELD: All we can do is do our best, try to win games, and they've done that. They've done that the last few years, the last seven years really because we've had some other good players at USC.
I think last year no one picked us to win any NCAA tournament games. We won three of them, lost to Gonzaga in the Elite Eight. We don't concern ourselves with what other people think. We just have to try to do our best, and whatever happens happens. It is nice to -- for our players -- I've been around this game long enough, that I don't buy into much of that, the respect, disrespect, the media attention, et cetera. I'm so focused on our team.
But as a player, I think our players do deserve credit when credit is due. Fortunately, the Los Angeles media and the West Coast media has been very supportive of our program and done a lot of features on our players over the last couple seasons. So we're very appreciative of the Los Angeles media and the West Coast media.
I grew up on the East Coast in Pennsylvania. I understand that no one watches our games. They're too late. People are asleep. I fell asleep in the overtime game last night, the Notre Dame-Rutgers game, because I'm exhausted. So I understand. I never watched a USC basketball game growing up in Pennsylvania. I don't think it's an intentional bias on people. I just think it's a lack of awareness at times and a lack of understanding that the West Coast does have really good basketball players.
If you look at the NBA, USC, we put six guys in the NBA the last five years. We've had three straight years with first round draft picks. We had the third pick in the draft last year and the sixth pick in the Draft, Onyeka Okongwu, the year before, and Evan Mobley is going to be Rookie of the Year this year.
There's a lot of good basketball on the West Coast. I don't think it's intentional bias most of the time. It's just a lack of awareness of how good the teams are, especially the basketball players, individual players.
Q. Miami just plays a pretty similar style defensively to Washington in terms of deflections and steals. What can your team learn from that game last week for tomorrow?
ANDY ENFIELD: Well, we handled Washington's pressure really well. We only turned over 23 times instead of 24, but we were able to pull off that victory.
We've been pretty good all year with turnovers. We have to take care of the basketball. We had nine the other day in the semifinal loss. We have to make open shots. We have to finish in the lane. Our two-point defense is second in the country. We have to defend in the paint, but we also have to score in the paint. We've been an inside-outside team all season, and we have to have our best players play well.
So that means take care of the ball, pass it when someone's open, and finish, when it's your time to finish in the lane or make an open shot, we have to make a high percentage of those to beat a really good team as Miami.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports