March 18, 2023
Denver, Colorado, USA
Q. They've got a pretty outstanding center in Ryan Kalkbrenner. What do you have to do to maybe slow him down?
FLO THAMBA: The best thing we can do is just limit his touches. Usually if somebody gets the ball and they're not able to make any kinds of moves and stuff like that. But limiting his touches and limiting other players from scoring the ball, that will definitely play in our favor.
Q. I know it's a short turnaround for a quick game. What have you seen from Creighton and what are you working on to try to limit them?
LJ CRYER: We see that they like to throw the ball to the posts. Big fella is pretty good, so we've got to be real physical with them and be physical with the guards, as well, to not have those post touches so easy.
Q. First tournament game for you that you got to play extended minutes. How did that feel?
LJ CRYER: It was definitely exciting, something you dream of doing as a kid. I'm looking forward to the next one.
Q. LJ, you guys played great defense second half. What do you have to do to maybe start it that way, too?
LJ CRYER: Just come out there, focused, locked in on the scouting report, and make winning the main thing. As long as we put winning in our minds and that's all that matters, we'll go out there and play great defense.
Q. You're both outstanding players; on the rare occasions when you do mess up, how does a God-fearing man like Coach Drew chew you out?
FLO THAMBA: He chews us out by giving us more confidence as far as going out there and executing and actually doing it right. As a matter of fact, him chewing you out, it's not really -- it's more so knowing the fact that you made a mistake and you let your teammates down, but you kind of take it personally. And usually the guys on the team take that to heart, so just go out there perform and fix your mistakes and move on to the next play.
LJ CRYER: I think he hit it head on.
Q. Flo, you guys hit the boards really well yesterday. Was that pretty much pounded into you guys' heads for a few days and you feel like it paid off?
FLO THAMBA: Most definitely. We pride ourselves on being great on defense, and obviously when you play defense as much as you can guard, the reality is you've got to finish by getting a rebound. So we definitely work on that and make sure we end plays and limit teams to one shot.
Q. LJ, you guys have been in situations this year in tournaments where you've had quick turnarounds. Explain how that helps you come NCAA time.
LJ CRYER: I mean, quick turnarounds earlier in the season is definitely going to help us because it's the same type of format as this tournament. I mean, we know what we have to do to get our legs under us, like ice baths, Epsom salt, stuff like that. We've been in this situation before, so it's nothing new to us?
Q. Flo, I know y'all don't look around across the country or anything like that, but with the FDU over Purdue upset, and you've been playing college basketball a long time, watching it, too, is there the most parity in college basketball right now than in recent years?
FLO THAMBA: I mean, there's over 360 teams Division I, and the reality is you can't underestimate any team. Obviously with March Madness, you're going to have the best team of every conference. The reality is you've just got to show up and play. You can't take any game for granted, whether it be the first game or the last game.
SCOTT DREW: Well, the great thing is when you win, it's always a great win in the NCAA Tournament. Everyone knows the parity, and it's the reason no one has a perfect bracket after the first two days.
At the same time, the bad news is that means we're preparing for another really good team, and Coach McDermott and his staff do a really great job, and Creighton is one of those teams that ranks seventh in the nation. And then an injury to big fella probably kept them from getting a 3 or 4 seed. But it's a really good team, really well-coached, a lot of respect for them.
Q. The challenge of facing Ryan, their center. What do you have to do against him?
SCOTT DREW: Well, you don't face a lot of guys 7'1", 260 that have his skill level and his touch, leads the nation in field goal percentage, back to back Big East Player of the Year. So part of his success is because of players around him. They do a great job getting him the ball. They can shoot it, which spaces the floor.
And like any good team, they've got two or three things. I mean, so if you collapse on them, they can hit the three; if you stay out, they hurt you inside.
With us, this time of year in one-day prep, you are who you are, you do what you do, and you make a tweak here or there. But definitely everybody sees them on the court, you can't miss 7'1", 260.
Q. Off of that, how do you simulate 7'1", 260, in practice?
SCOTT DREW: Yeah, we've got cowboy boots for Flo, so we're good. But the good thing is we've got big guys, Josh, Flo, Jon, Zach. At the same time in the Big 12, every team has got some big guys.
But really credit to Creighton and their coaching staff for doing a great job developing him and how they utilize him.
Q. I know this is an old story to you, but indulge me if you'd be so kind. The 10-pushup idea --
SCOTT DREW: For curse words?
Q. Yeah. What was the genesis of that? How does it work? Is there a list of words or --
SCOTT DREW: So our strongest guys on the team usually curse the most. But Rico Gathers obviously cursed every word because he was a beast.
No. We have so many young kids that come to our practices, games. They're role models. I mean, we all curse, and I'm not condemning anyone or judging anyone. Just we've got a no cussing policy because I don't want a seven-year-old coming to our practice and going home and dropping F-bombs and saying they heard it from our players or coaches.
Q. Does one set of 10 usually get it done?
SCOTT DREW: Well, sometimes we've got to do lines. Just like parenting, you have different degrees, different amounts, and usually the problem gets resolved.
Q. I'm just curious what you remember from that 2014 NCAA Tournament matchup against Creighton.
SCOTT DREW: I mean, that was a long time ago. I had a lot more hair back then. We were a different team. We had a lot of size, length. We had a good zone. I know that was a game that they just missed a bunch of shots. They had some good looks. Some games they go in, some games they don't.
I know, again, Coach McDermott is a great coach and they had a lot of success, and they're never going to beat themselves, and you've really got to be on point so that you give your guys every chance to be successful.
Q. Just how much are you preaching getting off to a fast start in this game after kind of seeing two different sides of your team in the first half versus the second half in the last game?
SCOTT DREW: Well, I think coaches always know that you prefer to get off to fast starts, but we had a coach, Coach Driscoll who used to say early leads mean nothing. At the end of the day, it's a 40-minute game. You have to handle being up, being down, adversity, success of it all.
At this level, teams don't go away. You look at two of the upsets, I think Arizona was up 12 in the second half, and Virginia was up 12 in the second half. I know Tennessee is beating Duke right now and they were up 18, and Tennessee won by three in the end.
The game, there's so many runs with the three-point line, with the athleticism. You've just got to do whatever you can to be successful each possession.
Q. Did you recruit Baylor Scheierman, and --
SCOTT DREW: He's definitely got the best name in the tournament.
Q. Did you know much about him in recruiting?
SCOTT DREW: No, until he hit the transfer portal and we didn't need that position at the time. But Coach Mills played against him and said he was a heck of a player, and obviously watching him, he's a heck of a player. Again, love his name, and hopefully this Baylor does better than that Baylor tomorrow.
Q. In terms of that, he has the similar quality to your guards where it seems like once he crosses half court, he's got a liability to shoot. Does that help having Adam and LJ and Keyonte kind of know what guarding that is like in practice?
SCOTT DREW: Well, definitely having talented players and depth allows you to face and focus everything that you're going to see in a game. Baylor, the unique thing about him is his size at 6'7", being able to shoot it so deep and pass it. He's a fun player to watch and definitely one of the most skilled players in the college game.
Q. I want to go back to something you just said, the runs. Knuckleheads like me usually say the coach has to stop the run when the other team -- get your time-out. I haven't thought about it the other way. Do you know when a run is coming for your team and how do you coach up runs?
SCOTT DREW: Well, if we could do that and make them to order, every coach would start the game with a run and have that run go the entire game.
You know what, you feel the momentum, you feel it just in the arena when the crowd, when the other team has confidence. You feel it when you have confidence and when you have energy. It's amazing how quick they can start and things that lead to them starting. An open shot that you miss that normally you hit, or missing two free throws or just anything.
But today the games change so quick. And it starts with the three-point line and the athleticism, the pace of the game. The shot clock each and every year has gotten reduced. It's like the NBA; you can turn on the last three minutes because up to that point you never know what's going to happen, besides Jokic and a triple-double.
Q. Could you go back to everyone wants to limit Kalkbrenner's ability to get the ball? Could you expound on what they do well to keep getting to him?
SCOTT DREW: Well, first they have great sets, they have great spacing. He's a big target. He's like a big tight end in football across the middle. It's hard to guard them. I mean, you can front them, you can double them, try to push them out and be physical with him. You can play zone. But 7'1", they do a great job keeping four shooters around him, four skilled players around him. If you have a team that can't shoot, then you can really pack it in.
Again, that makes it all difficult to guard him.
Q. In terms of Langston, how do you think he did in the couple minutes that he returned to the court. And was not utilizing him as much in the second half, was there something that maybe he was still getting bothered by or just the flow of the game?
SCOTT DREW: Yeah, Langston wanted to try to give it a go. And again, I think when you've just come back from an injury -- Santi for them was back but didn't really play until the last minute of the game. It's hard when you miss practice and then all of a sudden go out there without having a chance to get the rhythm and routine.
So it was really important to get him some minutes because I think that'll open up possibly in the future to get him more. Obviously practice days would help, but we don't have that right now.
Q. Scott, I'm trying to think back, have y'all faced anybody who compares to Kalkbrenner? Seems like most teams are so guard oriented.
SCOTT DREW: Yeah, I think I go back to the Kansas teams with Doke McCormack. I think that size probably simulates him a lot more than current basketball. There are several great centers, but in the Big 12 this year we were a little smaller than we normally have been.
Q. Both these teams have a lot of NCAA Tournament experience now, especially you guys, how much does that mean? And you've already had a game under your belt here in similar situation, what do you think that means going into a game on Sunday?
SCOTT DREW: I know experience every coach would rather have it than not have it. But again, in this tournament, in a one-game setting, there is no exact recipe for success. You watch a team play one day, and then you say the next, they're going to the Sweet 16. You turn on the score and they get blown out. Every game is different. Every matchup is different.
Often heard this, the ball is in the air, good coach, bad coach, good coach, bad coach, with how many one-possession games we've had, anything can happen. Coaches just want to control everything we can control with the team, meaning play winning basketball, take good shots, not turn the ball over, do a good job on defensive assignments. And then if the shots are falling, that helps; if they're not, you've got to find other ways to stay in games.
Q. You talked about the parity earlier. Two 16 seeds have taken down 1 seeds in the past five years. Is that a trend that can continue, and how is the competition of college basketball increased?
SCOTT DREW: Oh, most definitely. I mean, it's just going to get more and more so-called upsets. You look at it, and players see numbers and 1 and 16, and it's like rankings. You see someone ranked 40th or 30th and you just assume they're a lot better than someone 300th. What was Steph ranked coming out?
And with the COVID and people playing five and six years, I mean, Keyonte is freshman of the year in our league. And I said, how many 13 year olds are beating you? And he's facing guys that are five and six years older than him. People got to remember all that, and sometimes we don't.
Q. We saw you go pretty much nine deep in terms of guys getting double-digit minutes yesterday. Was that more a Denver focused altitude, getting guys a break? Is that something we could see as you go deeper into the postseason?
SCOTT DREW: I think everything is on the table each and every game. The great thing is we've got guys that if their number is called, they're going to play, and if their number is not called, they're going to be great teammates on the bench.
But we have confidence and play 10, we have confidence in all 10. And I think especially in altitude, that's something that first game, early game, we knew we wanted to do. As far as moving forward, whatever game plan gives us the best chance to be successful. And such a luxury when you have players that let you coach them, and it's not about them, it's about the team. So if it's four minutes, they give you a great four minutes and great teammates on the bench. It's not, why am I only playing four and they're pouting and distracted. I think teams that win have that this time of year.
Q. What does playing Dale at point guard a lot more these last two games given the team that maybe you didn't have before that?
SCOTT DREW: I think it gives Adam a chance to rest a little and Adam a chance to come off some different actions. And also Dale does a great job in getting guys shots and is just a different look. Dale's energy -- because Adam plays a lot of minutes, it allows Adam to rest a little bit off the ball. Where when you're on it, obviously it's a lot harder.
Q. To get LJ back out there after what he dealt with last year, you talked about it a little bit, but how good was that to see?
SCOTT DREW: It's still -- LJ is a junior, and our trainer said when we were playing at Oklahoma State -- this is the first time LJ has played here. You forget about that. You love a guy who comes back from adversity and injuries and having a chance just like Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua. You love it that they have an opportunity to play.
Q. Josh O yesterday in the pick-and-roll defense especially seemed like it was active. What was he giving you and maybe what can he continue to give?
SCOTT DREW: He's really improved the last couple weeks in practice, even though he hasn't been playing. When we practice, he's really been good. This time of year you really don't have freshmen anymore, so his learning curve was tough because he wasn't here in the summer much, and he's really been progressing, so that's why I wanted to give him a chance, and he gave us a good lift.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports