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March 9, 2006

Todd Abernethy

Rod Barnes

Dwayne Curtis


THE MODERATOR: Okay. We're ready to begin with Ole Miss. Couple refreshers. Be sure to turn your cell phones off, please. No flash photography.
We'll ask Coach Barnes for some opening remarks on the game, and then we'll go to the questions with the student athletes. Coach.
COACH ROD BARNES: Well, I really thought our guys came out today and played with a lot of effort and passion. I thought Kentucky hit some big shots. I think it was a defensive battle. I thought they made some key buckets, but I thought our kids hung in there. We've gotten better, and I'm excited for our kids coming here and playing the way they did after all the distractions, but we hope Kentucky the best in the tournament. I think they did a great job today, and unfortunately this is our last game. So we'll be heading home, but really a great job out there by both teams.
THE MODERATOR: Okay. We'll take questions only for the student athletes first, if you'll raise your hand. We have some field microphones. We'll get to you. Hands up if you have question for either of the student athletes. Okay. Let's go right back to the back there.
Q. Todd, could you take us through the first half and just the emotion you guys were playing with and then what went through in the locker room to come out in the second half?
TODD ABERNETHY: Well, just going into the game, as you know. We really didn't have anything to lose. We felt like we had pressure on them. You know, this is a big game for them, and we really didn't have any pressure. So we came out loose and free and we just came out fighting. That was our goal. That's been our goal these past couple games is just going out to fight, giving it our all, and I thought we played a great first half, got a lot of rebound, controlled the boards and made open shots and just attacked them.
So we were really confident going into the second half and, you know, they came out, played a great second half, went on a big run and played a great game.
THE MODERATOR: Hands up, other questions. Let's go down to the front.
Q. Dwayne, you missed the first game. You were looking forward to playing them you said on Monday when we came and saw you. Can you talk about your game and your chance to play. Do you think you showed them that this time around would have been different maybe the first time?
DWAYNE CURTIS: I definitely thought about that. I know I didn't get to play the first time, and I know that they missed my presence on the inside. So that's exactly what I brought today, the inside presence and my scoring abilities. I know we missed that the first time. So today I really tried to get in there and be strong.
THE MODERATOR: Hands up, other questions? Okay. Philip?
Q. Dwayne, first then also Todd, could you just talk about when it sort of hit you that it was over and this was going to be your last time with Coach Barnes?
DWAYNE CURTIS: I would say pretty much the last -- when the minute hit the clock, then the seconds started off the clock. I just realized we were down like nine and it just hit me then.
TODD ABERNETHY: Yeah. Same here. With a couple minutes left, two minutes, they had maybe a double-lead. Then those last 35 seconds when we got soaked out, it really sunk in.
THE MODERATOR: Other questions? Raise your hand. Okay. Go ahead.
Q. Todd, can you tell us what -- you and Coach Barnes had a pretty long embrace there at the 30 second mark. What did you say to him as you came off the floor?
TODD ABERNETHY: I don't really remember, truthfully, but I know he said -- he told -- we loved each other. I just said thanks for everything. That's about it.
THE MODERATOR: Hands up. Other questions? Okay. Let's go to the back.
Q. Could the two players, Dwayne and Todd, could you just talk about what kind of impact coach has had on your life?
THE MODERATOR: Todd, go first.
TODD ABERNETHY: Yeah, I'll take that.
Man, coach has had a huge impact on my life. Ever since recruiting -- a big thing for me is coach's faith and his love for the Lord, and that was one of the big attractions of coming to Ole Miss as well as the campus and just the great atmosphere, and coach has just been such an example to me, to what it looks like to serve God and live for Him daily and, you know, Coach's -- I think he's a great basketball coach, but more than that, I've learned life lessons just being with him and, you know, I'm going to miss him so much, but we know that the Lord has a plan right now and, you know, so we're staying strong.
THE MODERATOR: The same for Dwayne?
DWAYNE CURTIS: Yeah. He's like a father figure to me. He's hard on me on the court, and I also believe he's hard on me off the court, very hard. And I know Todd has been here longer than I have, but the two years I've been here has been great for me. I mean it's just a wonderful guy. I mean I love him.
THE MODERATOR: Okay. Any other -- got time for maybe one more. Let's take the last question for the student athletes right here. Go ahead.
Q. For both you guys, what did the last week mean to you to have one more week to spend with Coach Barnes, couple more games to play under him, what did it mean to you guys?
TODD ABERNETHY: It was an honor, you know? The thing I really respect about coach is he could have -- after he got fired with two games left, he could have packed it up and not even come with us, but it just shows his character. He came and, you know, he's studying film, he's putting everything he has into these past two games. So it's been a lot of fun just working for him, you know, practices, talking to him, everything has been fun.
DWAYNE CURTIS: The same for me. His character is great. He has a great character. I mean if you just sit there and look, you wouldn't even notice that this happened. I mean hard practice, I mean everything is the same, really. I mean it was great.
Even the last week, I mean I've been trying to practice as hard as we can, I mean, knowing it's going to be our last week and go into the game with more even tenacity than we ever had. Played our hearts out.
THE MODERATOR: We'll excuse the players. You can return to the locker room. Thank you. We'll continue on with questions for Coach Barnes. If you have a question, please raise your hand. Let's start in the back there.
Q. Coach Barnes, congratulations on your run at Ole Miss.What would you say were just a couple of your most memorable people and places that you encountered in your run at Ole Miss?
COACH ROD BARNES: I have so many. Probably 2001 when Jason Flanigan gave his life to the Lord. probably seeing the growth of "Roheen" Loncart from a kid I thought was on his way to the wrong places. Probably this year seeing Londrick Nolan commit himself to academics, and he'll be graduating in May. So probably be the three.
THE MODERATOR: If you have a question in the middle here. Go ahead.
Q. Rod, Todd used the verb that we've kind of been looking for, fired, resigned. Mentioned that you could have packed it in. Now that it is over, could you just talk about what happened and your perspective after --
COACH ROD BARNES: No, I'm not going take those questions today. We're going to talk about the tournament. We're going to talk about our kids, we're going to talk about how great the SEC is, and we'll talk about Rod Barnes and things that are dealing with Rod Barnes and Ole Miss later. We won't do that today.
THE MODERATOR: Got a question in the front right here. Go ahead.
Q. Rod, this kind of relates to the tournament in a way, but how much has this experience -- how much is it going to make you a better coach down the line?
COACH ROD BARNES: Oh, man, I'll tell you, adversity challenges our character, and whenever that happens, there's growth. So I'm so much a better coach, a better person, grateful.
So, man, this has been a growing time with me, and I think I'm better than what I was two weeks ago in every aspect of my life.
THE MODERATOR: Hands up, other questions? Any other questions for coach? Raise your hand. Okay. Way in the back.
Q. Coach, the game specifically, just talk about Dwayne picking up his second foul early and having foul trouble the second half and how much that limited you offensively in the game.
COACH ROD BARNES: Well, it did. First of all, we run a lot of things through Dwayne Curtis. He does a great job of sealing and taking up space in there. And when he's been out, we've had doubts and, you know, the thing that we can't forget about this team is we're real young.
Jermey Parnell, just over the last couple of weeks, is just starting to play. And when you have both of those guys out there, and I think it's been shown in the last two, three games, they're pretty good together.
So, having a young basketball team, we're just finding our way and figuring out how we need to play and how hard you need to play and intensity and understanding how to play every position, and I think that's why we play well the last couple of games.
THE MODERATOR: Okay. Other questions? Got time for one or two more. Right here, Philip.
Q. Coach, would you just talk about how different your emotions were as the clock ran down and when you took your starters out and you knew it was almost over?
COACH ROD BARNES: Not much different than most situations. As I said on yesterday, I really believe that I'm a focused person. I had a job to do. I wanted to honor those guys and let them know how much I love them, but also wanted to give those guys that wanted on the bench an opportunity to get out there. As the clock ran down, my thoughts went to when I get to the dressing room, what I needed to say to the kids, how I needed to say it in a tone which I needed to say.
So, you know, I'm not trying to be anybody special or different, but I'm last in this whole deal. You know, these kids are so important to me and their well-being, you know, how they feel, what they think, psychologically how they are.
So when I got -- when that clock ran down, I got to say, you know, what I need to say to them and that's basically it. As far as me, obviously you don't like losing, difficult, disappointing loss again, but again it's not about me. It's about these kids.
THE MODERATOR: Last question. Anybody. Let's take it right here. Go ahead.
Q. Rod, just what did you tell the guys in the locker room?
COACH ROD BARNES: Just life, you know. I think I'm a teacher, life skills and how you deal with life. I told them that. I'm grateful and thankful of the effort that they've played with, the way they've handled themselves through a tough situation. I knew they were winners even though it may not show right now on paper, but it's going to show in life and I need for them to prove me right.
So, that's basically the gist of it. Obviously I said some things personal to them about how much I love them but -- and, you know, that we're family and nobody will ever separate that and that, you know, I told them, my word is my bond. If I don't have my word, I don't have anything and my word to them when they made a commitment to play for Coach Barnes regardless of whether it's raining or snowing or sleeting or whatever it was, that I would always be there for them and would always give them my best and that's not going to change.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much.

End of FastScripts...

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