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October 19, 2005

JamesOn Curry

Marcus Dove

Sean Sutton


COACH SUTTON: We are happy to be here. I brought our outstanding sophomore forward JamesOn Curry, who's been a real privilege to coach and to have in our program. He's thrust into a little bit after different role than maybe young players at his age are accustomed to in that losing 6 seniors from a year ago, he's the one player that we have coming back that has proved himself at this level. He's played in big games. Was probably the difference in us you know, winning 26 games, especially down the stretch, winning the Big 12 tournament and getting back to the Sweet 16. He's maybe as gifted as offensive player as we have had at Oklahoma State. He's one of those guys that unbelievable shooter, at the same time he's a great passer and plays with such a passion on the court. He makes guys around him better. This year with such a young team, so many new players, he's put in a position where he's going to have be a leader and our staff, you know, believes in him. We believe that he's more than capable of handling that role. One thing I would mention is my dad wanted to be here, had planned on coming in fact, but his back has started to bother him again so couldn't make the trip.

MODERATOR: Questions?

Q. Similar to Kansas in the fact that you have a very young team, have you been able to judge just where your team is, what they are able to do things of that nature?

COACH SUTTON: Well, we have had -- we have been practicing four, five days, we have had nine practices. We like the attitude of this team right now. They have been very enthusiastic on the practice court. They have picked things up, maybe better than we thought they might. They have listened. And that's one thing, especially early in practice, your players have got to become good listeners and they have got to go back and study their play book on their own. Right now, they are doing those things. The one thing that I think is going to be fun about this team is they are very talented group. We have got a lot of interchangeable parts. It is a very athletic team. They like one another. And with 8 new players you always worry about how the chemistry is going to be and we won't know that because when you start the season an guys maybe don't play as much as they'd hope to you don't know what their attitude is going to be like. But right now they have done very well and they have got along well, and it's going to take sometime. There's no question about that. But we like the attitude. We like the effort we have seen so far.

Q. Coached talked about all the new players. Do you and David and Aaron, do you all make those guys put on name tags? What is it been like for you to see all these new faces, try to learn what they do and get integrated with the team?

JAMESON CURRY: It's been fun so far all the players that want to be better we have got, that makes it a lot easier. From a basketball player point of view, you want to be around guys like that that want to get better. And get you better, get the whole team better. It's been fun so far.

Q. Sean talked about chemistry now and how you measure it differently once the games start. You started 15 games last year. Early on, how difficult was it to sit there and watch?

JAMESON CURRY: It was hard, but at the same time I wanted to come out and play my role. Instead of sitting on the bench and pouting and being a bad apple to the team, knowing that we had a great team and that one bad apple can mess the whole thing up. If you look at the game tapes from, I guess, Syracuse games back early in the season, you would see me -- someone hit a shot, I am the first one off the bench probably five feet off the ground cheering my lungs out just happy because I work with those guys and work with them every day and knowing that they work hard and they deserve every bit of shine they got. So I didn't take it from a jealous point of view. I took it as a teammate. I am a teammate, I am helping them get better and they are helping me get better. If I keep working hard the coaches will notice it and my time will come.

Q. Coach was talking about your leadership ability with the young guys. By the very nature of the position that you play, does it come easily to you?

JAMESON CURRY: I am not going to say it's easy, but it is a task at hand because being a leader and young you have some guys on the team, transfers and some of the returns that's older than you, it might be tougher to listen to a guy that's younger. But at the same time we have roles on this team and this is my role and have to play into the system that the coaches want to us play into. In order to be a good team, I think that's the right decision, to be the leader of this team and come out and show them the ropes because I have been there before. Do the best we can and listen.

COACH SUTTON: One thing, he has got unbelievable respect from his teammates. They know that he's a great player but they also see how hard he works at his game every day. And how positive he's about life in general and I think everybody should have what JamesOn has gone through. I think it's great admiration from the players seeing him every day with a smile on his face can't wait to get on the practice court. From that standpoint I think that he's going to be a great leader for this team and his teammates really look up to him.

Q. Sean, a little earlier today Coach Self was plugging JamesOn as a potential Player of the Year candidate. Do you see that as a possibility? Is he that good this quick?

COACH SUTTON: Well, I think there's a lot of great players in this league. You talk about Taj Gray, talk about Curtis from Ohio State, Daniel Gibson from Texas, Aldridge Topper (phonetic), but he's certainly one of the best players in the Big 12. If he has the type of year that we think that he could, if our team does well, he's capable of possibly being the Player of the Year because of the impact that he has on the game. Not only from an offensive standpoint, scoring, but the way that he passes the basketball and he's become a much improved defender. That will all play itself out.

Q. With JamesOn being a sophomore, is that a lot of pressure to put on a guy to kind of carry this team and lead this team?

COACH SUTTON: Normally you would say yes, but he's not your average player. This guy is special and he has got great charisma on the court and he's played in big games and he's been a part of being at the Sweet 16. I think he understands what it takes at this level to be successful. So, no, go back to what I said we have got a lot of confidence, we think for sure, that he's more than capable of handling that job. There is some pressure, but I think he's ready for it.

Q. Sean, you returned three other players besides JamesOn, any of those guys have stepped forward as leaders also and have they made big strides as players?

COACH SUTTON: I think Marcus Dove and Aaron Pettway and the David Monds have all been a good example on the practice court. They have tried to help the younger players in drills when those guys are resting on the sidelines, they go over and visit with them about certain things and try to help them learn whatever we're working on that day. I think Aaron Pettway is playing very well right now. Now whether he can carry it over to the games is another story. But so far in practice he's played more at the level that we hoped he would when we recruited him. He's rebounding the basketball, he's blocked shots, he's read the court, he's dunked everything around the basket. He's not ever going to be a great offensive player, but he can be a big factor on this team because of how athletic he is and the type of plays that he makes off his athleticism. I think David Monds has gained confidence. He understands that he's a pivotal part of this team, both those guys are in position to start, if they do their jobs and Marcus probably is the best defender that we have coming back. He's worked hard to improve his shooting. He's still got to continue to work on his ball handling, but he's a guy that will certainly challenge for a starting position because he's been at the system two years, he understands how to play defense.

Q. When you all brought JamesOn in, you knew what the makeup of this year's team was going to be like losing all these guys. In your considerations for bringing him in did you look at that at all and know this would probably have to be a team that he would have to be a leader on and how he would handle that?

COACH SUTTON: No. You know, we weren't thinking that far ahead at the time. We felt like we had a team coming back at the time that legitimately had a chance to win the national Championship coming off the Final 4 team. We felt like if we could get a big guy, which we got in Aaron Pettway, and he never played to the level that we hoped he would and then we felt like if we could get a great guard to step in for Tony Allen that that might be the difference. And we knew that this year was going to be a little bit of a trick year to lose so many players but when we recruited him we weren't looking that far down the road at the time.

Q. Obviously with a young team defense comes last, but given the athleticism it appears you have got -- where do you see this team definitely January, February?

COACH SUTTON: Well, I think we got a chance to be a great defensive team and we have talked to our guys on several occasions about this. It's certainly been emphasized everyday in practice. We have spent a lot of time on defensive drills, on playing two-on-two, three-on-three, four-on-four, breaking things down from a defensive standpoint, and I think the players fully understand that if they are going to play they are going to have to play defense. And because of the quickness, because of the athleticism, this ought to be an outstanding defensive team. It could be like some of our teams in the past where we can really get after people, pressure the ball hard, get out and run through the passes and make it difficult for teams to get in their offense. And, you know, last year, that team was never the defensive team it should have been. You look back on maybe the last 8 seasons, that team probably did the worst job of any team that we have had night in, night out defending people. I think we gave up 43 percent field goal shooting in our goal, is 39 percent or below, 29 from the 3-point line or below. In big games you know, they did not get it done. They were and a very fun team to coach, a fun team to watch on the offensive end because they could score. We had guys that could shoot the basketball, we led the country in 3-point shooting. But ultimately the defense cost us a chance at getting back to the Final 4. Probably cost us a chance to repeat as Big 12 champions, and two of the biggest games last year I think Kansas shot seemed like they shot about 80 percent, I think it was like 66, 68 percent, then did the same thing in the Sweet 16. That shouldn't happen. When you score 76 or 78 points in an NCAA tournament you ought to win. Because normally our defense has been good enough that we could hold people under 70 points and the same thing with Kansas, I think they shot -- scored 81 points that night, so in order for this team to reach the goals that we have for them, they have got to be a great defensive team. I think they have got every opportunity to do that.

Q. Is it easier to win with a younger team now than it was, say, 10 or 15, 20 years ago?

COACH SUTTON: I think it is because of so many guys that are leaving early to go to the NBA. You don't see the teams that are stocked with seniors like maybe you have in the past and that was one of the luxuries we had the last two seasons is that we had a veteran team, guys that played a lot of games together. They were older. But you see teams all the time that get to the Final 4 with young players and a young team. I remember in 2000 we had 7 seniors on that team and we played Florida in the lead 8 and they had a very young team, the majority of their players were freshmen and sophomores and they won the game. And ended up going to play Michigan State for the National Championship. So with so many guys leaving early and then the impact that freshmen are having on the game today, I do, I think it is a little bit easier.

End of FastScripts...

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