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March 9, 2006

Jeff Lebo

Ronny Lemelle

Quantez Robertson

Kelvin Torbert


THE MODERATOR: We're ready to begin with Auburn. We'll ask Coach if he'll give us some opening remarks on the game, and then we'll go to questions for the three student athletes. Coach.
COACH JEFF LEBO: Well, again, I thought we played extremely hard and tooth and nail to the end, and I'm proud of my group but, you know, our thought was we had to make the 3s tonight and really Vanderbilt had to miss them and they made them, and we were still in the game. And that's a tribute to our kids and really how hard we played in this game and just didn't have enough fire power in the end, and we've had that happen a lot to us this year, but I'm awfully proud of the guys that I got beside me and their effort that they had the entire season.
THE MODERATOR: Okay. We'll take your questions for any of the three student athletes. Raise your hand if you have a question for any of them. Hands up, please.
Q. This is for Ronny. Earlier in the week before the game, you said that you were liking the way the team finally jelled, came together, you guys had down the offensively but with defensively came together. Not the way you wanted to end your senior season.
RONNY LEMELLE: Didn't want to end the season on a loss. We played hard. You can't take nothing away from Vanderbilt. They knocked down shots tonight and hit all their free throws in crunch time. I mean they played a great game. You can't take nothing away from them.
THE MODERATOR: Hands up if you have a question. You have one over here? Go ahead.
Q. Quantez, the first half you guys looked like you played really in-your-face defense. Was that why you guys were ahead at halftime?
QUANTEZ ROBERTSON: We tried to establish good game on defense, trying to stop the two star shooters from getting open looks and trying to pressure the ball inside and outside. They made some good shots over hands so - THE MODERATOR: Hands up.
QUANTEZ ROBERTSON: That's about it.
THE MODERATOR: Okay. Other questions? Philip.
Q. Frank, having gone through the first two seasons with Coach Lebo, do you feel like that progress is being made and you guys are, quote, close to getting ready where you can turn the corner?
FRANK TOLBERT: Yeah. What we got this year, we had some big men. Last year we had all guards. We couldn't pound it inside as much, but this year we had big men. We could pound it inside, and we got perimeter players coming back with me, Ted and Rasheem. We're going to be alright, plus we have a great coach.
THE MODERATOR: Hands up. Other questions, please? Any other questions? Okay. Let's go right here, right in the middle to Joe, and then we'll get you.
Q. Ronnie and Quantez, how discouraging was it when they started hitting the flurry of 3s there about 10-minute mark, 8-minute mark in the second half there?
THE MODERATOR: Ronny, you go first, please.
RONNY LEMELLE: It was tough but basketball is a game of runs, and it was up to us to try to respond to their run. We were playing defense, but they had all conference player in Foster, and what's the other, Byars. Byars, he's not no slouch, either. They knocked down big shots. He could have been all conference, as well.
THE MODERATOR: Same for Quantez.
QUANTEZ ROBERTSON: I mean they knocked down some good open shots. They knocked down tough shots overhand and they got second chance shots. That kind of killed us, and they went on a little run. We went on ours, but it wasn't big enough run to get us back into the game for the win.
THE MODERATOR: Okay. Did you have another question over here? Go ahead.
Q. This is - talk about what you guys you looked like were you changing defenses a lot. What did they do to adjust to that?
THE MODERATOR: We're trying to get the athletes done first. Let's hold that question.
Do we have any more for the student athletes? Okay. We'll excuse you fellas back to the locker room. Thank you.
Coach, you can go ahead with that question.
COACH JEFF LEBO: Well, I mean we did change a lot of defensively and really a team that for us, we don't want to play them man-to-man. They can cave you up in man-to-man. So we wanted to play against some different changing defenses, and first half it was effective, but the second half they made shots. Our thought was we were hoping they shot in the 30s, in the high 30s in this game, and they didn't.
I mean they have terrific -- they have terrific perimeter players. Foster is tricky. Byars I love who does a little bit of everything and, you know, when the ball is going -- they go beat anybody when the ball is going in the basket for them. I'll just tell you that.
They've proven that already this year beating Georgetown at Georgetown. They've -- this is I think -- Kevin was really hoping that this would be an NCAA Tournament team. They've lost some games at home that's been unexpected for them this year, but they played much better on the road because they're a much more experienced basketball team, and I think that showed. They didn't panic.
We thought if we could stay around with them, you know, deep into the second half that being here in Nashville that they may fold. That didn't happen tonight. That's a credit to their team and to Kevin.
THE MODERATOR: Other questions for Coach, raise your hand. Okay. Let's go right down to the front.
Q. Jeff, you said Monday that you wanted your team to protect the ball and execute and look like a basketball team tonight. Do you feel like you got that?
COACH JEFF LEBO: We did that. I mean 6 turnovers in a game for us, that's terrific. That may be our season low. We were outsized again in every game. We've been through some adversity this year, and especially towards the end of the season, our kids actually lead around that adversity and won some games. We could have won a couple more games, but I think we were playing our best basketball at the end despite all that and just weren't good enough.
Our youth, we're scoring 54 percent of our points coming from true freshmen this year. It would be more had we had Dollard the last couple of games and, you know, I'm -- you know, I'm proud of the way that the kids have grown up and proud of the way that they played. You saw a team that didn't look like an SEC team in weight and in size but looked like one in heart and that gave us a chance.
THE MODERATOR: Other questions. Raise your hand. Let's go down the aisle right there.
Q. Hey, Coach, is the emotions of this season ending any different than a typical season in the past?
COACH JEFF LEBO: No, not really. I mean there's still -- I'm awfully proud of my senior, Ronny LeMelle. If you could have heard him in the locker room after I was done talking. He wanted to talk to the team. It's a private conversation what he said during about ten minutes. It was probably one of the most amazing ten minutes I've had as a coach, listening to a young man who has grown to be a leader of this team who wouldn't even say a word when I first got here, to be a leader, to step out and say the things he did and stand up in front of that team for ten minutes, and that's not really his nature to do that, and I wish I had it on tape.
It was probably one of the most amazing ten minutes speech that I've heard, and it was very emotional. It's a private thing with the team, but you know, I hate it for him more than anything else.
Ronny was a guy who could have left and come -- try to come back and play last year and go out with his teammates that he came in with, decided to stay and play with a whole new team, which is very difficult, and we wish we would have gotten more wins for him, but I think he really set a tone for this team as far as leadership for the future and what he said those ten minutes, I'll never forget as long as I live.
THE MODERATOR: Okay. Did you have a question down here? Go ahead.
Q. Coach, over the past two seasons your team has had labels. They were the smallest team. Now they're the youngest team. Knowing what you have coming back, knowing the players, the core group that's there with the exception of Ronny, what kind of label do you see this team with next year?
COACH JEFF LEBO: Hopefully a better team. You know, I don't know. It constantly changes. But, you know, we'll be more experienced next year. We've got to add some pieces to the puzzle, we hope. Obviously we've got to get bigger and stronger.
The freshmen got to get better in the off-season, which I know they will and, you know, it's -- we knew -- Year Two is going to be tougher than Year One. But I'm -- I think we made progress this year, and that's what we hoped for as coaches, and I thought we would be a team that year that would play the best at the end, and that's kind of what happened. Just weren't good enough in this league.
THE MODERATOR: Okay. Got time for one or two more. Hands up, anybody? Okay. Thank you.

End of FastScripts...

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