March 17, 2022
Fort Worth, Texas, USA
Baylor - 85, Norfolk State - 49
THE MODERATOR: Welcome, everyone. Gentlemen, congratulations. Make sure everybody has their cell phones silenced, please. We did have one embarrassment yesterday. Don't want you to be the second. No video recording allowed, other than our friends at Hammond in the back. This is a hybrid press conference. So we'll have questions here in the room, followed by questions on the Zoom, if there are any.
And with that, Coach, your opening statement.
SCOTT DREW: Well, from a coaching standpoint, you're always concerned you don't come out and play aggressive. And our guys were really focused from the jump. Got to credit to -- the staff had a great game plan. The players did a great job executing. And I thought the upper classmen did a great job in making sure the focus and attention to detail was there. It was fun to watch. Not many things to complain about this game for sure.
THE MODERATOR: All right. Thank you, Coach. Questions for the student-athletes and Coach Drew? Okay. On the front row to the left.
Q. Matt, how important was it to hit those early threes? You guys had a tough time against OU. How important was that just to establish that?
MATTHEW MAYER: Yeah, that was big. For me personally, I've been in a little bit of a slump. And my teammates were finding me. Dale found me early. I think Adam, and then I just felt a lot better. So -- and, obviously, that helped us win the game.
THE MODERATOR: Let's go to the right. Second row in the middle.
Q. Coach, obviously, you talked about in the past with some of those slow starts. What changed about the pregame speech today that maybe led to a little bit of a better start?
SCOTT DREW: Trust me, it's not the speeches. If they're good, we don't play well. If they're bad, they play well. That's all that matters is how we play. And these guys, it's a player led team. They did a good job.
After last game, we didn't come out in the Big 12 Tournament and play like we wanted to start the game. And I think that was a conscious effort of everybody to come out and be a lot more aggressive in both halves. And we did that and set the tone early.
THE MODERATOR: Let's go back to the left, second row.
Q. Matt, you talked about the threes that you hit. But you were also, you know, getting the passing lanes, getting some steals. You got some offensive rebounds. Is that the best you've played at Baylor, 40 minutes?
MATTHEW MAYER: I don't know. I think I've had some pretty good games. But I think that was a pretty good one. I mean, this one was a lot easier, I would say. Because they were playing in a zone and my teammates were just whipping the ball around and finding me. So I didn't really feel like I had to do too much. I just stood there and then they found me. So, yeah.
THE MODERATOR: Go back on the right, third row.
Q. Jeremy, two parter. How did the pink hair went out today, and were you kind of consciously going into this game looking to get your three-point shot going?
JEREMY SOCHAN: I actually made it pink yesterday. So it was kind of impulsive, but I wanted to surprise my teammates. And then, yeah, I felt like I was also in a little bit of a slump. And we had quite a few days to just work on the shot, work on different stuff. So I think we'll be working hard and it shows on the court.
THE MODERATOR: Far right, front row.
Q. Jeremy, I told you outside I was going to ask you this question. I was going to ask you about that assist or that play in the first half. And then, Matthew, tell me about what you saw how that first half ended, that play?
JEREMY SOCHAN: Yeah, I got the rebound and I saw Matt. I didn't really pass it to him, but I'll take it. I'll take it. (Laughing.)
MATTHEW MAYER: It was weird. I didn't really see what was happening. I thought it was, like, a rebound or something, and then all of sudden the ball was just, like, right in front of me. I was like, wow, that was great.
Q. Flo, your development in your offensive game, I know I asked you about this yesterday, but even more so today, is it just a matter of just being comfortable with looks and just having confidence going up strong knowing that you can finish? Or what have you seen from yourself, really, over this last month?
FLO THAMBA: I mean, it's just improvement. First of all, I give credit to my coaches, just believing in me and just keep working at it and even after practice, working and focusing and finishing off the top of the glass. But, I mean, it's just my teammates. Like they said, teammates finding me in the right places and just finish my breakfast, as I like to call it.
Q. Scott, I know you would have liked to be playing on Saturday in Kansas City last week. But do you think that maybe those few days off and the rest helped you guys today?
SCOTT DREW: Definitely. I thought the legs were fresh. The guys had worked on their -- got some more reps shooting-wise and had some confidence. I thought it was really fun to watch. They really shared the ball. And like you said, Flo, seven for nine, opened things up on the outside. And then the outside shots were falling.
And they were really good looks. So when we get good looks like that as a coach, then you're confident they're doing a good job sharing the ball and taking the right ones.
THE MODERATOR: In the back.
Q. Question for Coach and a question for the players. Coach, you said not a lot to complain about in this game. When your team is expected to take care of business and they do like this, what does that tell you? And then for you guys, the crowd seemed pretty -- there were not a lot of empty seats. Pretty great crowd. What did you make for the atmosphere here today?
SCOTT DREW: Well, first and foremost, it's March Madness. And you expect the unexpected. So every win is a blessing. And if you're not ready to play, you're done for the year. So I credit these guys being ready and focused and making sure we put our best foot forward. I'll let them address the crowd.
MATTHEW MAYER: The crowd was pretty awesome, because last year we won the championship. But like in some ways, we felt like we didn't get the full experience. So just being able to have that atmosphere again, it feels a lot more fun.
THE MODERATOR: All right.
FLO THAMBA: I mean, the crowd was really good. Especially for me, considering my parents were here for the first time. So, you know, after the game, after the buzzer came off and it went off and then just walking on the side, seeing them smiling and cheering, it meant a lot to me. It was special.
JEREMY SOCHAN: Yeah, to me, it's exciting just seeing all those people watching us is a blessing and it's very fun.
Q. Flo, just to follow up on that. What was it like playing in front of your parents for the first time in college and how much motivation did that give you?
FLO THAMBA: I mean, it gave me a lot of motivation. But, I mean, when I saw them for the first time in the stands, it was kind of weird. Kind of shot two air balls in the warmup. I was, like, hey, listen, just be yourself. Just be yourself, everything will take care of it. And, yeah, just went out there and just played. And it was overall fun to see and stuff.
THE MODERATOR: Back on left.
Q. Thankfully these guys have kind of already led the questioning here. But Flo to follow up on that as well, I actually spoke to your parents before the game, but we had to use your older brother as a translator. How often -- do you speak French with them, and what are your conversations like at least leading into this week with them knowing that they would eventually arrive here today?
FLO THAMBA: One thing I like about my family is like, there's not a lot of pressure about the stuff that happens on the court. For them, it's just more like family environments, it's like having fun, like we enjoyed it. Even after this game, when I see them again, it's not going to be, like, I'm the superstar who plays basketball. It's more like just that little brother who's the youngest in the household.
But, overall, this is fun. But, I mean, obviously the hardest part, too, is like the fact that they don't really speak English, so my brother always has to be there to translate. They basically just see stuff, smile and then that's their communication language. But, overall, it's just amazing having them around.
Q. Question for Matt and Scott. Because of the last two years and COVID, and all of this great fun, did this finally feel like the way the NCAA tournament normally feels like?
MATTHEW MAYER: Yeah. Like I said before, it was just super fun having that environment. And, you know, I'm just thankful to be able to play in March Madness again.
SCOTT DREW: To me, when you first arrived and you saw the other teams' bands around there and there are people in the hotels, and it just -- people bring energy and excitement.
So from a coaching standpoint, then we got to make sure we have our own challenges with that, making sure we stay focused and with the distractions that come with that. At the same time, it sure is fun playing in front of people and see family, friends, and loved ones.
THE MODERATOR: Got about five more minutes left with the Bears. We'll go second row on the right.
Q. In terms of Matt, how much can -- what can that do for your offense, the next couple weeks, if he can continue to shoot like he did today?
SCOTT DREW: I think it shouldn't -- it's going to come and go. The whole key of coaching is it the right shots? And if they take the right shots, we're going to get offensive rebounds if we miss. And we have confidence in our guys. From a coaching standpoint, it's about trying to come up with schemes and ways to make sure they get the right shots.
Again, these guys all work really hard on their craft. They're serious hoopers. They care about -- they're perfectionists, they want to do well.
So I don't know if you'll -- if he'll have 40 next game or if he has a 10. Other people will step up and that's what it takes in a great team, is you got to have different people. Otherwise, you just key on one or two guys and you're losing.
THE MODERATOR: Back on right.
Q. I was just wondering: You said this was kind of like a new season. How nice was it to start that season on such a hot streak? And how do you keep that momentum at this point now going into the next round?
SCOTT DREW: Well, I think you always feel good after a win. And especially when the team plays well. At the same time, we have enough returning players and we'll do a good job in talking and educating the other guys that haven't been in this situation.
This is a one-game tournament. It's not a four-week tournament, three-week tournament. If you're not ready Saturday, then season's over and it's done. So, really, it's about locking in and making sure you're giving yourself every chance possible to be successful in that next game.
THE MODERATOR: We'll go to a question on Zoom from Daniel Rodriguez.
Q. My question is for Coach. You guys had a great game right now against Norfolk. Is there anything you see the team can improve on as now you're waiting the winner between Carolina and Marquette?
SCOTT DREW: There's always things you can improve on. I know rebounding, we missed some block-out assignments. No one plays a perfect game. But the grand scheme of it, we played well, we did what we needed to do, which is win and advance. And now it's all about preparing, getting ready and making sure we're in the best shape possible for the next game.
THE MODERATOR: Anymore questions in the room? One more on the right-hand side, halfway up.
Q. Scott, y'all played through some early foul trouble quite well tonight. If the games get called a little bit tighter in the Big 12, do you want to keep staying aggressive defensively, or you have to kind of pull back? How does that sort of work for y'all, you feel like, going forward?
SCOTT DREW: Good question. I think we're going to air on the side of aggression. So at the end of the day, we can always dial it back. It's hard to dial it up.
THE MODERATOR: Any more questions for the Bears? Okay. We'll go one more in the front on the left, and then we'll let you guys go.
Q. Yeah, Scott, you got a whole bunch of guys in at the end. How beneficial do you think that could be, not only getting them some experience, but also saving these guys' legs?
SCOTT DREW: Hopefully it's beneficial in multiple ways. One, help those guys with experience and be prepared and ready if called upon. And then, two, hopefully these guys have more gas in the tank. We're just praying for a quadruple overtime game next.
Q. Scott, would you prefer to play Shaka just because you know him better and played against him several times?
SCOTT DREW: We're just glad to be playing. And whoever that is, we'll prepare and put our best foot forward. Like the shades, though.
THE MODERATOR: Men, thank you. We'll see you in the round of 42.
SCOTT DREW: Thank you, guys.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports