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March 22, 2006
THE MODERATOR: On stage we have student-athletes from No. 1 seed Memphis. We'll open it up for questions.
Q. Darius, can you talk about what you know about Bradley. Is there any hesitation about having to play a 13-seed on such a roll, maybe to start thinking you can beat anybody?
DARIUS WASHINGTON, JR.: We know they have some inside presence, some outside presence. We know they got the run-and-gun like we do. We're going to just go through the game plan, just go all out.
Q. They just said they're not going to play zone, they're going to do what they do, come out, pressure, go right at you. In a year where people have consistently tried to slow the game down and come up with sort of pack it in and pray, is it refreshing or good news to hear somebody say that?
ANTONIO ANDERSON: Well, it definitely does. Usually we try to pick the game up, the pace on ourselves when playing opposing teams. The team is going to try to play the same way as us, hopefully that plays into our advantage.
They're a real good team. We just got to come out and play hard.
SHAWNE WILLIAMS: Like I said, that's their game plan, our game plan to run, too. We're going to do what coach tell us. We have to go out there and bring the (indiscernible). Got to be well-prepared and play hard.
Q. One of the big compliments that Bradley paid you was they couldn't think a person to key on, it could be one of anybody. If you had a choice as a team most valuable player, who would you pick?
DARIUS WASHINGTON, JR.: Well, it depends what game you look at. Andre, he played great. Rodney played great. He hit some key shots. Who do you give it to? Had to go down to a team award. Everybody plays great. Everybody steps up. You can't just give it to one guy. Most teams have one guy, that one guy don't play good, that team kind of struggles. With us, we have so many guys, somebody's going to step up.
I think the coaching staff mentioned last week that we had one bad game, that was UAB. Our whole key is not to have one of those nights again. So far, somebody's than been off, two or three guys step up.
Q. Did you get a chance to see Bradley any during the tournament? If so, could you comment on some of their players that impressed you, what you like about them?
ANTONIO ANDERSON: Well, coach don't let us -- we're really not able to watch games or do such things like that. He really don't want us watching too much film or doing anything like that.
But we do know they got some guards that can shoot the ball real well. They got the big men, power forward that's pretty good as well. We just know we just got to come out and be able to defend like we're capable of doing. The coach is going to get us well-prepared, what they're doing in their offense, things like that, so we can be ready tomorrow to play.
Q. Darius, can you talk a little about what it's like playing for somebody like Coach Calipari, and also the comparisons to UMass, what that means?
DARIUS WASHINGTON, JR.: Playing for Coach Cal, it's great. Sometimes you going to love him, sometimes you going to hate him. That's how it's always been since day one. He talks about like past experience when he coached Marcus Camby, Kellogg, Tony Barbie (phonetic). Our coaching staff, he tells how those guys play, some things that Marcus did. You know, he just shares the light with us because he's been there before. We were trying to get him back there, trying to establish ourselves in the NCAA tournament.
It's a great experience because he's been here before. He tells us, you know, about getting rest and about not being overhyped. We might have a game at 3:00, our shoot-around is at 12. He says, don't be overhyped because by the time you be to the game, you be worn you out. He tells us little things like that to keep us prepared for the game.
Q. Two freshman, sophomore, all year long big games, but have you ever felt any pressure at all? Your first NCAA tournament. Butterflies, anything?
DARIUS WASHINGTON, JR.: I mean, coach just tells us to go out there and play. He tell us, don't go out there to play to win, just play. That kind of help us out a lot, too, because more teams go out there to play not to lose, they end up losing.
He just tells us to go out there, do what you do best, just like it's a regular game. That's what all 15, 16 guys do when we go on the court. Play like it's a regular game. He tells us all the time for the first five, six minutes, don't look at the clock. That what we do. That's helping. We're going to keep doing that.
Q. The importance of you getting a chance to make a trip like this out to the west coast, coming from where you came from, living how you live, now you're traveling around the country and seeing the things that you're getting to see playing basketball.
SHAWNE WILLIAMS: Well, a lot of people getting it mixed up like I ain't ever been nowhere. But playing AAU I ain't been all over the country -- I never been to California, but it feels great because we're here in the Sweet-16. It's something we looked at on TV. Now we're here, we get to witness it and feel it.
ANTONIO ANDERSON: I traveled as well in the AAU, did things like that. Just being so young, us getting an opportunity to play in the Sweet-16, that's some things that some people can't do. We're still playing. A lot of teams, their season is over. We're just happy we're in the situation to be able to get to move on and we can get a win tomorrow.
DARIUS WASHINGTON, JR.: We're just taking advantage of it, you know. Coach always says, you know, take advantage of this moment because who knows when you're going to be on a team like this again, this great of a team.
I mean, every moment we get together, every moment we go on the court, we just play like it's our last because, I mean, this year who knows if our team's going to be this great or this good. So we got to just take advantage of every moment.
Q. Darius, everybody when they talk about your team, they talk about how talented you are, how athletic the team is. Are people overlooking maybe the mental part of the game, your team's basketball IQ?
DARIUS WASHINGTON, JR.: You could say that. You know, I mean, we're smart. I mean, we use our ability to the fullest. We're fast, we're quicker than the other team, we're going to do that. But if we're not, we can grind it out, we can slow it down as well.
I think we saw that against Bucknell. They tried to slow it down, and we stayed in the stance for 35 seconds.
We're capable of doing it. If not, why do it? If the other teams want to play Memphis ball, we'll make them play our ball. They want to play their game, we'll play their game.
Q. What are your impressions of what Bradley has been able to do getting this far?
SHAWNE WILLIAMS: Well, I feel like they accomplished something great, too. But they still in the Sweet-16. They with us. They're a top, elite team. We got to go out and play hard, like I said to every reporter. Any team capable of being beat in a NCAA game. A night, a shot, one foul, only take two or three mistakes to cost you a game. Seems like two or three mistakes them teams they played against that cost them teams the game, and they kept advancing. That's what counts.
Q. It was a David and Goliath with Bucknell. Now you're getting Cinderella. Do you mind ruining these other teams' dreams on your way to the Final Four?
SHAWNE WILLIAMS: Basically that's what it's about. Going to have to be a winner every game. That's bad, but there got to be a winner, there got to be a loser. We just going to take it as it come.
DARIUS WASHINGTON, JR.: Same thing what Shawne said. Somebody got to win, somebody got to lose. We want to be on the winning end. We know Bradley coming in, we know they're good. If not, they wouldn't be here. This is the Sweet-16, so everybody's good. We know they coming in with tremendous confidence because they just beat Kansas, Pittsburgh. They coming in with tremendous, you know, intensity, come in hyped to upset another top 10 team.
Q. You just said Bradley is good. They obviously got this far. You're a No. 1 seed, they're a No. 13 seed. How do you worry about getting overconfident? Do you worry about being overconfident? Does Coach keep that in check for you?
ANTONIO ANDERSON: Well, we tend not to like pay any mind to that because we're the No. 1 seed and we know that. A lot of people think we didn't deserve that No. 1 seed. A lot of people didn't think we'd be this far in the tournament just because we're so young and things like that.
When people see that we're playing Bradley, such a team like that, they see it as another game just because they weren't expecting neither team to be in this situation. So like they said earlier, we're just taking full advantage of this opportunity. We're just going to keep playing ballgames.
SHAWNE WILLIAMS: I feel like right now, a number, that don't have nothing to do with it. A No. 1 seed, a No. 13 seed, we just elite 16 teams right now, you know, and somebody got to win. Any team can win. Ain't nobody locked to win.
Q. Darius, you said if you guys have an advantage running, you're going to run, why not. Is it fair to say that you feel like you have an advantage running against anybody?
DARIUS WASHINGTON, JR.: Yeah. I mean, they're fast, too. Coach kind of say they're kind of fast. We haven't seen any tape on them. You know, we trust his word. So we have to do the small things that's going to help us win. You know what I mean? If they're fast or maybe even faster than us, now that comes to the IQ of the game. That's where we have to grind it out and get easy buckets.
Q. Antonio, if you were a television analyst or a radio analyst, how would you assess the other game? You have to play them both, what do you think?
ANTONIO ANDERSON: Assess what games?
Q. UCLA is playing Gonzaga.
ANTONIO ANDERSON: I'm really not even worried about UCLA or Gonzaga now. All our focus is on Bradley. If we can get past Bradley, we'll put our focus on whoever wins the next game. We played both of those teams earlier in the year so we know how they both play.
Right now our whole team focus and the coach's focus is on Bradley.
Q. Any of you want to have any fun with that question?
DARIUS WASHINGTON, JR.: Nah.
SHAWNE WILLIAMS: We ain't trying to predict nothing.
DARIUS WASHINGTON, JR.: Antonio already answered that question. We're focused on Bradley right now, nothing but Bradley.
Q. When did you get the new warm-ups? What do you think of them?
SHAWNE WILLIAMS: We got these warm-ups for the media. We got these for y'all. How do they look (smiling)?
Q. How do you think they look?
SHAWNE WILLIAMS: They look good. Coach had us in the jackets and everything. He says he likes this. It's his type stuff.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, guys.
Now we have head coach for No. 1 seed Memphis, Coach John Calipari. We'll start with a brief comment.
COACH JOHN CALIPARI: First of all, I cannot see any of those. Those lights are so bright. You'll have to say your name and let me hear it.
I like the frame of mind my team's in. We strive every year to have fresh legs and fresh minds as the year winds down. I feel we have that.
This team is chasing greatness. We've been talking about it. We're still on that path, chasing greatness. I don't want them to think about anything except playing. Forget about end result, what I like to say, "Just ball, just go out there and ball."
Great thing is, it seems like Jimmy has his team playing the same way, Bradley, that's how they're playing. It should be an interesting game.
THE MODERATOR: Open it up for questions.
Q. Bradley players said they're not going to be afraid, not going to play zone, not going to pack it in and pray. Is that good news for you?
COACH JOHN CALIPARI: They're really fast and quick. They're really big. They've got a terrific foreman in Sommerville, who is a 3-4. Their guards, one, two and three, may be quicker and faster than us.
I've only seen it on tape, I've never seen them in person. And the big kid, O'Bryant, is probably -- he and Aldredge (phonetic) are the two best big cat guys in college basketball right now.
You're talking about a team that shouldn't be afraid. I know they won't be.
Q. Would you put them among the upper echelon of teams you've played defensively?
COACH JOHN CALIPARI: You know, they could be. Again, I'm going to be honest, I've not played against them. What I'm seeing on tape, yes. But they may be better than everybody we've played defensively. I just -- I haven't seen them in person.
That's the one judge. You have an idea, this is what we're going to try to get done. Until that game starts, until I see their true size, everybody's guys are four inches taller than they're supposed to be. When the game starts, I'll have a better gauge of that.
I will say this: they play hard, they'll play fast and aggressive both on offense and defense. They're not afraid to bump and grind. They go after the ball. I mean, your elbow and shoulder are part of the ball when they're going after it. I mean, they're playing. They always have that big seven-footer behind their defense, which really gives them a big time advantage, which is really why they do a good time of denying the wings, denying the top, make you go back to the basket.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about the challenges of being such a young team, the importance of Carney because of that?
COACH JOHN CALIPARI: Well, there's positive and negatives. The positive part of it is they think they're supposed to win every game. The positive part is their excitement level for all this. The positive things for this team is they get along, all of 'em.
The downside is the experience, or lack of. Rodney has played in two NCAA tournament games. Now two more. He's played in four to this point. The other guys have all played in two. You know, they've not been in that grind. This is a one and done.
I'm doing my best to keep them off of that and just worry about what they have to do. Very simply, play your man and do what you're supposed to do for us. Worry about two things: who you are guarding and how is he guarding you, and what do you have to do for the team. That's it. Trying to keep it simple for them so we worry about doing our jobs versus worrying about winning.
Q. What do you think it says about college basketball today that you show up here and there's only one representative from one of the so-called power conferences?
COACH JOHN CALIPARI: Well, one of the things that's happening, when you're not able to recruit McDonald's All-Americans, those kids usually stay four years. A lot of the rest of us are losing players after one year, some of them not showing. It's really brought parity to basketball.
So now, you know, if you get a couple seniors, maybe they sprout up or maybe they just turn into something unique and special, you're there because the bottom line of all this is about having players. If you have better players than the other guy, normally you're going to win. If you don't, he's going to win.
When you're taking a young group like ours, it makes it a little more difficult. But it's added balance to college basketball.
Q. Along those same lines, so much has been made of the big names who you have recruited, haven't ever worn a Tigers uniform. How refreshing has it been for you to see some of these kids who are sticking around, going through your program, developing into stars, to see them accomplish what they have?
COACH JOHN CALIPARI: Well, Rodney has been the one, and it's amazing. If a Amare Stoudamire came, we wouldn't have gotten Rodney. I think Amare made a the right choice, too. I question that, but I think he had a pretty good pro career. I think Rodney has developed as a player, a person, he's matured. His self-confidence, his self-esteem, his skill on the basketball court, his poise, his personality has blossomed. He's primed to be a lottery pick in the NBA.
No one knew who he was coming out of high school. People saw him play. He was in the state tournament and did well. There were a lot of people. They didn't think he was quite good enough. He was undersized, he couldn't do this, he couldn't do that. Well, he's proven a lot of people wrong in that he just comes and plays.
The one thing I'm going to say about him that's unique, if you were a player and you knew you were in the top 10 pick right now in the draft, this coming draft, would you not play to get to the top five, in other words, shoot every ball, try to score 30? Say, okay, you think Morrison is good, watch me? He's not doing that. He only took 10 shots last game. He's trying to defend and rebound. He wants his team to win. How unique is that?
In my mind, if I was watching it and I was still picking players in the NBA, that would move him down a couple spots because I want a guy that's the best athlete in the country, that can make open shots, that guarded Redick and can really guard a player 6'4", 6'5", 6'6", and is unselfish.
Q. It's been brought up that with a lot of different teams you can sort of pinpoint a guy or two, you control those guys, can you control the game. Is that the case at all with your team?
COACH JOHN CALIPARI: The thing I've tried to tell each of these players is, be ready for your moment. Andre has had a couple moments. I am so proud and happy for that young man. So is Robert Dozier, so is Shawne Williams, so is Joey Dorsey, Rodney Carney, Darius. How about Antonio Anderson? How about Chris Douglas-Roberts? How about Waki Williams? How about Kareem Cooper? This may be his game.
The biggest part of that is they have to be unselfish. What if I only play Andre Allen eight minutes this game because Darius is really playing well? What about Robert Dozier plays 30 minutes because Shawne had foul trouble and Robert was playing well. What if this game is better suited for Kareem Cooper than it is Joey Dorsey? What I'm trying to tell our players is you have to live with that and march onto the next game, and that may be your game and your opportunity to be the star.
That's very hard because it's got to be about team and not me. Very hard. But we've done it to this point. I'm hoping we can continue to do it..
Q. You talk about coaching against human nature. Your kids are young, they're a 1 seed. They see this as a 13 seed. How do you safeguard against any kind of letdown?
COACH JOHN CALIPARI: I don't think they see it. I think what Shawne said is true. Everybody's the same now. There's 16 teams left. There's no who's No. 2, 5, 7, 8. Does not matter. It's who wins and who loses.
I think that my team sees it that way. I think you're all stunned when they say we haven't watched any tape. Does that stun you? I don't want them to worry about Bradley. I'm vomiting worrying about Bradley. I saw Bradley's big men, their speed and quickness. I don't want them to worry about Bradley. You worry about us. We'll show them some tape tomorrow. I don't even like them watching other games. The reason is because when I watch other games, I get sick to my stomach thinking, oh, my gosh. Just worry about what we got right in front of us, and that is Bradley, who are you guarding, and what do you have to do for our team? That's all I want them to worry about.
You know what, what a great group. They're in the locker room right now. I'm looking at them. They're enjoying each other's company. Again, we'll be tested now. We've taken shots and swings and punches and kicks from a lot of teams and stayed standing. But now it's going to be on. This is what your season's about.
Q. So many people talk about your team and talk about how talented and athletic. Could you address your team's basketball IQ, talk about some of the mental strengths your team has.
COACH JOHN CALIPARI: First of all, I would tell you defensively is what everybody's talking about our team, what I'm hearing. Everybody is saying, do they guard, they're long, they're skilled. What you're finding out is they're able to play different styles. So when you're able to play -- I think we're in the top three or four in scoring in college basketball. I think we're in the top in efficiency offensively. But we're also one of the top teams in defensive efficiency in college basketball.
I have to say this because I know people will say, "Your league." We only played 14 league games. Our numbers non-league are better than the numbers we have in the league. So that doesn't work.
We have played both ways. If a team wants to grind it out, then let's go. If you want to play zone, that's fine. I think it's important that your team knows that they've been prepared to play any way the other team maybe forces us to play.
I told them against Bucknell, look, we want to make this an up-and-down game. I had to coach against Temple. We could never make it an up-and-down game. So we'd win 60-40. Who cares? We'll play their way and let's beat them playing that way. I said, this Bucknell game may be the same way.
They're in a great frame of mind. I think they know they can play the way they need to play. Intelligent kids. They're doing well in school. They take care of business. They like each other. Decision making can be suspect at times based on their inexperience. Haven't been around this. You draw from past experience when you're making decisions. In basketball, those are quick decisions. So that affects us.
We can guard against foul trouble, injuries, a lot of things, because of our depth.
Q. You referenced the NBA experience. Has this tournament run sort of reinforced your preference for college basketball over the NBA? Could you ever see yourself going back to the dark side?
COACH JOHN CALIPARI: Oh, wow (laughter). I love what I'm doing. We're taking a program that had been down for a while and we're trying to make strides to make it a solid program for the next decade if we can.
I enjoyed my time in the NBA. But there were feelings that I had there that I don't ever want to feel again. There were other feelings there that were pretty unique and a lot of fun. I just got a call in the locker room from my point guard, Sam Cassell. He's in Memphis. I left a message back on his phone, I need you to go feed my dog, water, while I'm out of town. I'll talk to him.
I've made some great friends in the league and relationships. I enjoy what I'm doing. I enjoy these young people. Seeing them grow, having an impact on their lives. You don't do that in the NBA. In the NBA, it was fun, I enjoyed the challenge. We went to the playoffs, we did some fun things. I got fired - fired (smiling), which most people do in that league. There's a few that survive. Right now, what a fun thing I'm going through right now. It does make it as though this is as big as anything, this tournament.
THE MODERATOR: Coach, thanks.
End of FastScripts...