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March 24, 2004

Tony Allen

Joey Graham

John Lucas

Sean Sutton


THE MODERATOR: We have Oklahoma State student athletes, Joey Graham, John Lucas and Tony Allen.

Q. Coach Longstreet mentioned even in high school, you seemed to have this defensive instinct. When did you realize that was one of the strongest parts of your game?

TONY ALLEN: That ain't nothing I worked on. It's just something that I know I got to do, you know. I don't want to be trying to take advantage of me on the court. So I just got to step up and show them that I play both ends.

Q. Joey, just how physical do you expect this game to be?

JOEY GRAHAM: I expect this game to be one of the physicalest games we ever played. I compare them a lot to Texas. They got some big guys. You know, we're going to have our work cut out for us tomorrow.

Q. John, if you had known this is where you'd be a year ago, year and a half ago, would you have been surprised? Also, looking back on the year, what are your reflections on the changes that you've made with the transfer?

JOHN LUCAS: I just give all the thanks to God for putting me in the terrific situation, being surrounded by some of the greatest teammates I ever played with and a wonderful coaching staff. I'm just blessed to be in this situation. There have been a lot of changes in my game. Coach Sutton has really polished my game into a player, you know, me having another year underneath him, to make me get even better. He has me thinking more of a point guard (inaudible). At Baylor, I was known for scoring. Now, you know, I'm really known for a little bit of everything. But, you know, when I pass the ball to my teammates, I see them smile, it just makes my day. It makes me drive even more to make more plays like that.

Q. All three, people are fascinating with the football pads practice. Did you guys look forward to that? Has that helped develop the toughness at all or was it already there to begin with?

JOEY GRAHAM: Well, kind of in the beginning, we were excited about it. We were kind of making jokes. We thought it was going to be a fun experience, just trying something new. But it turned out that it was hard work. We was going to have to work and get better. But I think it polished us. We grew from that. We learned a lot from that. I think it turned our team into a team that a lot of teams we're going to play respect us for that, which is a rebounding and defensive team. Kind of polished from the kind of basketball team we are.

TONY ALLEN: Kind of like what Joey Graham said. It helped us be a better defense and rebounding team. We didn't want to do it, but we had to do it. Fortunately, it helps.

JOHN LUCAS: You know, I'm a little dude, so I wasn't looking forward to it, you know, taking all those charges and stuff (laughter). I played football for like two days in middle school and quit, so I wasn't looking forward to it. But, you know, it made us tougher as a team, I think tougher on the court and mentally tougher. We can go through two days of practice like that, we can go through a lot more on the court against other teams.

Q. Tony, do y'all ever, maybe not to his face, but talk -- joke about how old Coach Sutton is? He talks about how much he loves the players. Can you talk about the relationship between coach and the players?

TONY ALLEN: He's kind of like a father figure to us, you know, because he just keeps us like together. You know, he helps us -- he talks to us about a lot of stuff like not pertaining to basketball. A lot of coaches don't even have to do that. They don't have to talk to you about nothing but about running plays. He's a wonderful coach. Hall of Fame. I love him.

Q. Tony and Joey, how long did it take you to get over the Syracuse game last year with that horrible turnaround? How shattering was it?

TONY ALLEN: We been getting over that first of all. We try not to think about that as much as possible, considering the season we have now. But sometimes it pop up and we just got to take that as if, you know, we don't want it to happen no more. We got to prepare ourselves for games like that. We got big leagues.

JOEY GRAHAM: For me personally, it hurt me a lot. Me, my brother, Daniel, some of the managers, some of the walk-ons last year, we weren't able to go to the game, we had to stay in the locker room. We watched the game on TV. I saw a lot of the mistakes, a lot of things that I felt if I was out there playing, we could have corrected. When I was sitting there watching the game, I was saying to myself, you know, next year when we get this opportunity, we weren't going to let that happen to this team. Right now we're in a position where, you know, we can do a lot of things for this program, and we're going to keep it on the positive side of things right now.

Q. Joey, can you tell how important through your life has it been to play with your brother? Was that a big reason? Has it always been a big reason where you've gone to school? How tough is it on him?

JOEY GRAHAM: It's been a blessing to play with both my brothers. My older brother Brian, he's always been playing the Big Brother role. He's always pushed us. My twin brother, you know, we're always competing with each other, we're always competitive. I think that's kind of what made me so competitive right now. You know, we always used to play each other, just try to beat each other into the ground when we played out there on the courts. I think that's formed me into the player I am today. I think I'm very blessed to have brothers like that that I have.

Q. John, Carl Krauser, how hard is it going to be to guard him? Also defensively, how is he going to be matched up against you?

JOHN LUCAS: He's a good player. I mean, I respect go against. I'm not losing. Whatever I got to do to stop him, I'm going to do it. That just my attitude right now. I mean, I like his game. I seen him play. I've been watching him all year. I mean, it's going to be a good game. That's really all I can say about that, though.

Q. John, as the events were unfolding at Baylor during the off-season, what was your reaction as you were hearing this, watching this? Were you surprised you were able to fit in and adjust as quickly as you did to a new program?

JOHN LUCAS: You know, it was a rough summer for me, you know, losing a teammate, finding out one of my other teammates, that he did it. You know, that's hard on somebody. I just got away from it staying in the gym, working on my game, being surrounded by my father, other people who were giving me good advice. No, I didn't think I was going to have any problems adjusting with a new team because, you know, I've been moving my whole life. I may be in one school for like eight weeks, then I have to end up moving, you know, wherever my dad goes. I know how to adjust to certain situations.

Q. John, can you talk about how your dad worked on your game with you and how that helped? What areas did he particularly point out?

JOHN LUCAS: He pointed out a lot, you know. I always could score the ball. I always had a knack for putting the ball in the hole. This summer he just had me really work on my all-around game. He surrounded me around some of the best, you know, college players and also best pro players to help me out. I just took leads from everybody, A.B. Johnson, Steve Francis, Mobley, Damon Stoudemire. They all worked out with me this summer. I also worked for with Brandon Knight, who played with Pittsburgh, a player in the east last year. You know, they were helping me out in a lot of ways, just polish my game. Instead of me being more of a scorer, just thinking more about what's going on, like thinking what I'm going to do before I even do it. That's how I was working on this summer.

Q. John, first of all, what made you choose Oklahoma State? If you could describe what your relationship with your dad means to you, how much he's helped you.

JOHN LUCAS: You know, me choosing Oklahoma State, you know, two years playing against Oklahoma State, coming here, seeing how much the fans supported them, the style of ball they play, you know, our coaches were the winning coaches in college basketball. He makes you play defense. He make you do things that you may not want to do, like take charge, lock up on D. But I chose them because of the campus. It's not too far away from home. I mean, it's not too close like Baylor, because I used to go home every other day when I was at Baylor. I'm not too far, but I'm just far enough where I can stay focused, know what I have to do, get stuff accomplished. My relationship with my father is great. I love him. He's my best friend. I can talk about anything, not even basketball, even if it's good stuff or bad stuff. That's the only person I go to, him and my mom.

Q. John, can you talk about the game, like Joey exploded for the first half in the game against Memphis, what you see in his game, how he gives the team a lift like that, when he plays that way?

JOHN LUCAS: When Joey plays that way, you never know what's going to happen, you know. He brings a lot to the table, just like a lot of our teammates do. When Joey gets going, it's hard for somebody to stop him, to me it is. He's multi-talented. I mean, he can beat you out the perimeter, post up. That make him tougher, most big man have to hold only people that stay in the block. Joey goes inside and out, and that's what makes him more dangerous.

Q. Tony, did you think that you guys would fit together so well when John came in? Can you talk about not only John, but all the other transfers who came in and helped this team?

TONY ALLEN: Well, I'm going to start with the second question. You know, the transfers that we had, like Joey Graham, Stevie Graham, Bobik, those guys were registered last year, so they like practiced with us. They was like the team that we had to face. You know, we played against those guys. It just made us better. They was getting better as they was registered. So they already knew all the plays. When the summertime came around, we all stayed, took classes, got to know each other well on and off the court. We were looking for a point guard. It was unfortunate that the tragedy happened over there at Baylor. John was just our missing piece to our puzzle. I wouldn't trade him for no point guard in the world. .

Q. John, do you have any memory of your dad as a player? Do you think you're similar to him in any way? He was a little bigger.

JOHN LUCAS: Yeah, there's a lot. I sometimes watch ESPN Classic, they show his Maryland games. I think I look much better than he does, though, on the court (laughter). No, our games are alike in some ways. He's left-handed, I'm right-handed. My jump shot's way better than his. He's off the dribble, pull-up, just the way he sees the court, I'm still trying to get like that. But how we run the team, it's the same way. We bring a lot of energy, a lot of positive. We never put nobody down. We always try to lift our teammates up. That's what I see between us.

Q. John, when you were looking around for schools, did you want to stay in the Big-12 or was there ever any thought about going to Maryland like your dad?

JOHN LUCAS: That's the first thing my tad taught me. He didn't want me to go to Maryland. He wanted me to have a name for myself. If I would have went to Maryland, he would think it would be too much pressure, trying to fulfill all the accomplishments he done there. I wanted to stay in the Big-12. I like the atmosphere. It's a battle every game, you know. Just traveling, going to different Big-12 schools, the fans getting on you, then they got to get on you, your fans getting on them. You meet friends like that. After the game, y'all back friends. But during the game, you just trying -- your team's trying to win, so you're not really goofing off or anything.

Q. John, especially coming from Baylor, what about the opportunity that you have here? You're obviously two games away from going to the Final Four. Can you talk about having that opportunity.

JOHN LUCAS: You know, it's a blessing, like I said, an opportunity that come to me. Kind of sad how I got the opportunity, by the situation that was going on at Baylor. You know, all I can do is just keep thanking God for giving me this situation that I'm in. You know, that's all I really can say. I mean, I feel like it worked out for me for the best, though.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, gentlemen. Coach Sutton will be up next. Coach, if you could give us a quick overview of your points on your match-up with Pitt, then we'll entertain questions from the floor.

COACH SUTTON: I've looked at a lot of film on the University of Pittsburgh. I certainly am impressed with their ballclub. I think I'm always impressed with teams that play such good defense as they play. They actually play a lot like I played when I was in college. Good tough defense, take care of the basketball, make sure your shot selection is good, make sure that you handle the ball until you get that good shot. But they're a very impressive ballclub. I think the other thing that I admire about their team is the toughness. I think they're really a tough-minded basketball team. That certainly shows up in their defense and in their rebounding. The one statistic, when I look at the stat sheet that's so impressive to me is the number of free-throws they've shot in comparison to their opponents. We certainly have great respect for the University of Pittsburgh. Somebody asked me in Kansas City, there's always wanting me to compare teams we might have played. I don't think there's anybody in the Big-12 that plays like Pitt plays.

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. What has it been like having John Lucas come to your team as a player and also personally knowing what he went through last year?

COACH SUTTON: Well, he's been -- it's been a wonderful experience for our coaching staff to have John, and for his teammates. I had a little bit of concern when he first came in that I wasn't sure how he would blend in with our other ball players. But they embraced him. John has just been a real asset and a real joy to have the opportunity to coach.

Q. This tournament always generates a lot of upsets. Does it surprise you any that the Top 4 seeds in this region have held up?

COACH SUTTON: I made a comment when the field was announced. I thought there was probably at least 20 teams could win the national championship. You know, we've seen some upsets, but I really don't think after the first round there's such a thing as an upset. I think after you get by the first round, anybody's capable of beating you. But it's a little unusual. It just so happens in this regional the four seeds all made it here. But I think all four teams that are here are certainly capable of winning a national title.

Q. The job that Jamie Dixon has done as a first-year head coach. I think you're tired with Roy Williams for the most NCAA victories without winning a national championship. Does that burn in you like Roy talks about it burns for him?

COACH SUTTON: Roy will have a lot more opportunities. He'll win a national title, for sure, because he's one of the great coaches we have in college basketball. No, you know, we've been to the NCAA 25 times. I think in order to win a national title, you have to have a few lucky bounces or some friendly calls along the way. If I never win a national championship, it's not going to be that hurtful to me. I've had too much fun and too many great players, great assistant coaches. We've had a real Cinderella experience all the times we go to the NCAA. Yes, it would be nice to win. But if it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen.

Q. Kind of in the coaching realm. A lot of presidents and ADs are getting ready to hire coaches. A lot of them are going to be looking for the big names. There are a lot of assistants. Do you have any thoughts on that, from the time you started coaching till now, about maybe the fragmentation, looking at assistants rather than immediately looking for sort of names? Do you think that maybe you have to go with experience in certain situations, maybe assistants have to work their way into the ultimate job?

COACH SUTTON: You know, I've never been an assistant coach. I coached seven years of high school basketball, Creighton, Arkansas, Kentucky. I have a rule. I've had 13 guys going to be Division I coaches. I've had too often head coaches given too much credit, assistants not enough. I have probably the best coaching staff I've ever had. I've had great assistant coaches. When I hire a young man, I always make sure that I feel like he has the ability to someday be a Division I head coach. And I tell him, "I'll teach you everything I know. When the time comes, if you're interested in a job, I'll do everything I can to help you get the job." I think there's some great assistant coaches out there who have been under good head coaches that will be successful. I think that Jamie was under and outstanding coach. Whatever he gained there certainly has allowed him to do the great job he did this year. Sometimes athletic directors or presidents are a little concerned about the perception that their alums will say, "Why didn't you get this head coach? He was interested in the job." Well, as has happened so many times, there have been some assistant coaches do a great job. Anderson at UAP, that guy's done a heck after job. You had two schools in our area that passed on him, didn't even interview him. He played at Tulsa. He didn't even get an interview. Arkansas really didn't give him much time when Stan got the job. There's some outstanding assistant coaches. If an AD has the guts to check him out and talk to the head coach and talk to all the people at that University, what kind of a person is he, is he honest, does he have good work habits, all of that, there's a lot of assistant coaches that can step in and do a great job.

Q. Where are you personally, and where is the program now as time passes on years after the plane crash?

COACH SUTTON: Well, I don't think there's a day goes by that something doesn't remind me of that plane crash because we lost 10 wonderful people. But we only have two players remaining that were a part of that ballclub; coaches were. But I think that this team will always be a special team to me. I think any coach, what he wants is for the team to represent the institution in a class manner, and a coach wants a team to maximize their God-given talent. This team has done that. We were picked fifth in pre-season in the Big-12, and I thought it was really an accurate -- that's where I would have picked us. Yet this ballclub has surpassed everything that I thought they could achieve. I just didn't think we could be this good. But in answer to your question, I really believe that, you know, we'll never be completely past it. The fact there's only a few of us left that were there, I think it's something that we don't dwell on. You know, in our arena we have maybe one of the most beautiful settings that one could ever ask as a reminder. I walk by that thing every day. There's a picture of all the kids that went down, a marvelous piece of work. It's right by our academic center. The academic center is right in the arena. Every day I go by there and see that. When we beat Texas to clinch the Big-12 championship, Terrance Crawford, who was on that ballclub, I asked the players if they wanted to say something, and he did. He said, "Coach, I want to say something. Don't you think those 10 guys are up there smiling down?" I said, "Yes, I do Terrance." So, I mean, we still think about it. But I think that it's not something we dwell on every day.

Q. How much of John's personality has helped him and also the team get to this point? Obviously, he's a great player, but it often takes more than that being a point guard.

COACH SUTTON: Well, I think he's a throw-back to what a lot of coaches call gym rats. I don't think you have as many of those as you used to. He loves to play the game. He's been around basketball. His dad certainly has helped him. I think any coach's son has an extra sense on how the game should be played. He's made a lot of progress, though, as a player. I didn't think he was very disciplined at Baylor. Shot selection wasn't good. I didn't think he played very good defense. My son and Coach Dick have helped him more than anything. He's a great student, will listen to coaches. He's turned into a pretty good defensive player. But his shot selection has improved so much, and he understands that don't be afraid to share the ball as a point guard. And I think before he got there, he didn't always think about his other teammates as much as he should. But his personality is one that there's not a person that doesn't like him, and they all admire the fact that he plays so hard. You take him out of the game, he just begs me to put him back in. I said, "John, you need to rest a little bit. We can't expect you to play 40 minutes." But terrific youngster. His mommy and daddy have done an unbelievable job of raising him. One thing we had in common with the horrible experience he had at Baylor was the fact that we had had a horrible experience. We tried as best we could to embrace him, tell him some of the things we had to go through. But he is a real joy to coach. It was like Christmas came early. We would not be here today if it wasn't for John Lucas.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, coach.

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