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March 8, 2006
THE MODERATOR: We're ready to continue on with Vanderbilt. Couple of reminders, cell phones off, please. No flash photography.
Okay. We'll begin and ask Coach if he will give us some opening remarks, comments on his team's first game coming up tomorrow, and then we'll take your questions for the players and excuse them and then finish up with coach.
So Coach, if you would begin.
COACH KEVIN STALLINGS: Well, we -- we're excited about the opportunity to play in the conference tournament. I think that one of the great things about conference tournament play is it gives teams like ours a chance to do some things that otherwise might not have been done during the regular season.
So we have to embrace this opportunity and look at it as -- as an opportunity for us to be a team that gets on a run and make some things happen. With our first round opponent, Auburn, we played them the first game of the conference season.
I think both teams have changed dramatically since then. Not only in terms of, you know, maybe personnel and who's playing and who's not playing and that sort of thing, but also just in terms of, you know, confidence levels and experiences and things like that.
So, we played them in the first round last year. Had a very similar situation to where we had beaten them during the regular season. It was a game that our guys were not prepared to play mentally, and it cost us because they beat us.
So our focus obviously is to make sure that we're -- we're ready both mentally and physically to play the game and to play it to the best of our ability.
If we get -- if we get outplayed, then that's one thing, but it's another thing to get outprepared and beaten because you're not ready to compete at your highest level.
So, we have a lot of respect for how they play. They're a young team, but they're an aggressive team and athletic team, and it will be a very difficult contest. It will be a very hard-fought contest because they're a team that competes very hard.
THE MODERATOR: Okay. We'll take questions for the two student athletes, first. If you have a question for, either raise your hand and we'll get a microphone to you. Okay. Let's start right here on the left. Go ahead.
Q. Shan, can you just talk about being named first team all SEC and what that kind of means to you.
SHAN FOSTER: It's a great honor. It speaks to -- it kind of alludes to the work that I put in over the summer. My teammates did a great job of staying confident in me and giving me confidence throughout the year and help me improve my game, and it's a great honor. I appreciate it.
THE MODERATOR: I think I saw a hand over there. Alright. Go ahead.
Q. This is for both Shan and Julian. How much is there because they've not knocked you guys out last year unexpected, is there sort of a revenge-type motivating, extra motivation to play them and to take them out this year?
THE MODERATOR: Julian, you'll take that first.
JULIAN TERRELL: There is sort of a revenge thought about it but, at the same time, you know, they're a different team. We are, too, and I think we just have to settle down within ourselves and concentrate on what we want to do against them.
Obviously, we all have last year in the back of our minds. This year is a different year. I think we have to just go into the game prepared with what the coaches give to us, take care of our business.
SHAN FOSTER: One of the things Coach likes to say is, "Those who fail to remember the past are condemned to repeat it", and that's one of the things that sticks in our mind right now, just to make sure that the same thing that happened last year doesn't happen again.
We have to make sure that we prepare ourselves mentally for a tough and hard-fought game.
THE MODERATOR: Okay. There was a question in the middle. Yeah. Go ahead.
Q. Julian, you've been through other tournaments. Talk about the routine factor being home. You don't have travel or hotels. How does that help when you guys are in a situation like this?
JULIAN TERRELL: It helps us because we're at home in our own gym and guys can go in on their time and get a little bit extra work in with small things. We don't have the business of, you know, I guess planning a big time itinerary just to travel and go places. You know, as long as I think we stay away from distractions from being in our hometown, I think we'll be alright.
THE MODERATOR: Okay. Other question for either? Alright. In the middle. Go ahead.
Q. Shan, do you guys see this as a good opportunity this weekend, knowing that you pretty much have to win out to get to the NCAA Tournament? Does it look like a huge mountain or opportunity? What way are you kind of leaning with that?
SHAN FOSTER: I think it's a great opportunity for us to be able to go on a run, run the table a little bit.
I think if we make the most of these small situations and small opportunities that we'll be able to make the most of the big opportunities when they present themselves.
THE MODERATOR: Okay. Got time for maybe one more for either. Hands up. Okay. We'll take the last one right there.
Q. This is for both you guys. Can you just kind of talk about the mind frame. I know everyone was really bummed after the Tennessee game. Julian, you talked about, you know, you have to just go forward, and can you talk about kind of mentally where the team is after that loss and this week of practice?
THE MODERATOR: Julian.
JULIAN TERRELL: Right now I would say our team is pretty prepared for our game tomorrow. You know, as everybody knows, we've been through a couple things this week, but I just think that, you know, like I said, we have to settle down and take one thing at a time.
After the game Saturday, guys were disappointed but, you know, it's a brand-new season for us starting tomorrow. So we've got to just, you know, as Shan said, take one game at a time.
SHAN FOSTER: I think our mindset right now, we're excited to play. We're excited to just have something to still play for. We realize that we have an opportunity to still get our goals done, and that's our mindset.
We have a team chemistry that is great, and for the most part, we just have a "never give up" attitude, and that's the thing that's helped us throughout the year.
THE MODERATOR: Okay. Did you have one more, real quick right there.
Q. Shan, can you stay on that. As a player, do you like -- you know what you have to do if you want to play in the NCAA Tournament. Do you like having that situation in your hands, no bubble, you know what you have to do, it's in your hands as a player, do you like that situation?
SHAN FOSTER: I wouldn't say I just like it, but when we realize that your destiny is in your own hands, kind of gives you extra motivation to go out there and give it your all. Just appreciate just being able to play another day because there's some people out there that don't get that opportunity.
THE MODERATOR: Okay. We'll excuse the players.
Fellas, y'all can go to the locker room or wait in the holding area.
Questions for Coach Stallings. Hands up. Questions for coach. We'll start right here.
Q. Coach, let's say you're here Sunday afternoon after a victorious tournament. We are looking at the box scores from the four games you've won. What will we see different from the average box score from the regular season?
COACH KEVIN STALLINGS: Well, we will have rebounded more consistently. You'll see that our guards have low number of turnovers and a good number of assists. I don't know that this would be different, but I think the box score would reflect that we shot the ball well, and I think those would be the things that you would see if we were to make a run, some kind run-in in this tournament.
THE MODERATOR: Hands up. Other questions? Okay. To the middle. Go ahead.
Q. Coach, you talked earlier about how when you played Auburn before the first game of the season, these are two very different teams. How much can you look at that game tape and take away from it?
COACH KEVIN STALLINGS: I think you can look at it and -- I mean there are some things that both teams are still doing very similarly to what they were doing the first time around, and I know there are some things that both teams are doing differently. So I think both teams are playing a little bit smaller. They've gone to a little smaller lineup as we have.
So, I think that there are some things on kind of on both sides that are -- that have changed and -- but I also think that we are who we are. I mean, you know, their strengths the first time around are still their strengths now, and so are ours. I think although some things have changed, there are some things are obviously still the same.
THE MODERATOR: Other questions, raise your hand. Alright. Go back, go ahead.
Q. Kevin, I know every game is different and you have to look at them differently, but can you just comment on when you look down and think it's 0 and 6 against Auburn in the SEC Tournament. I don't think people equate them as a big rival with you guys. You look at the stat. It's almost kind of surprising.
COACH KEVIN STALLINGS: I was unaware of that, and I'm only the proud owner of one of those, if I'm not mistaken. So it's kind of like that 30-year string that we had at Rupp Arena.
I only owned about six of those, so don't ask me about the other 24 and -- but I don't -- I have no explanation for that. I didn't even -- I wasn't even aware of it, to be honest with you.
I was aware of last year's game, though. I do remember that, and I do remember them playing very well and us not playing so well. So, I think that important thing for us is that we understand that we're a team that seemingly is capable of both beating and losing to anyone in our league, and, unfortunately, this season, if we don't do something fairly spectacular here this weekend, we'll be remembered as a season that we just didn't finish.
We didn't finish games, which is really unfortunate because we've put ourselves in a position in at least four games, if not more, just in the league season to where we had an opportunity to kind of close the door and close it out and we didn't do it. And I got a call earlier in the week from one of our league -- one of my league contemporaries and coaches -- coaches, and he said that it's amazing that if one play here and this play there had gone differently we would be talking about -- I mean, one play in this game and one play in that game, not a series of plays but one play there and one play there. And these were his comments, that the discussion would be, okay, what kind of seeding do you think -- where do you think you'll be seeded. That's how fine the line is between winning and losing.
Unfortunately for us, we've not closed the doors on those games that we've had a chance to in some cases. So now we're left with a fairly big task here of, like I said, doing something rather spectacular in order to have a chance to get in the tournament.
THE MODERATOR: Question in the back. Go ahead.
Q. Coach, what is your thinking? Do you have to win this tournament, or do you have to get to the championship? Do you have any sense?
COACH KEVIN STALLINGS: No, I don't, and the only thing that I can say is, is we haven't even talked in terms of trying to win four games. We've got to try to beat Auburn.
It would be absolutely lovely if we would win one game four times. We can't think in terms of winning four games. We'll be fortunate to win one, and that's what we have to do. We have to try to beat Auburn.
We have to try to play well and play well enough to beat them, and my hope is that our team is able to get focused on tomorrow night because we've had an extremely difficult and trying week. It's been a very unusual, very unusual week and a very difficult week.
So, we're just hopeful of getting to the game tomorrow night at 6:30 and really being focused on what the job is.
THE MODERATOR: Okay. Hands up. Got time for a couple more. Alright. Go ahead right there.
Q. Kevin, is Davis still in the hospital, or has he been released yet? How is he feeling right now?
COACH KEVIN STALLINGS: Well, he's still in the hospital, and my expectation is that he'll be released from the hospital either tomorrow or Friday. And I think he's feeling okay especially under the circumstances, but I think he's feeling alright.
I think he's a little tired of hospital food and some of those things, but I think he's feeling okay. But I know he had some tests done and a procedure done today and so you know, again, I don't know how he's feeling after those things were done, but the last time I talked -- spoke to him he was feeling alright.
THE MODERATOR: Okay. Hand up over there. Couple of them. Okay. Go ahead.
Q. Coach, does Shan have to light it up for you in order for you to really have a legitimate chance to win?
COACH KEVIN STALLINGS: Okay. I think our team has to shoot the ball well. I think not only Shan. I think our team has to shoot the ball well for us to have a chance to stay for very long in weekend. But that's who we are. That's what we do is -- you know, maybe our best strength is our ability to shoot the ball. And if that's what brought you, then you better do it well because what we do now is that we're -- we're not going to get 27 offensive rebounds and convert those into points.
So, what we need to be able -- what we need to be able to make some shots. We'll have to do that.
THE MODERATOR: Let's take one right there. Go ahead.
Q. With that in mind, Coach, the rims at the GEC seem to be pretty tight. Have you noticed that? Can you respond to that?
COACH KEVIN STALLINGS: Actually, I went out and shot a little bit after my team left. I made a whole bunch of shots, so they didn't seem that tight to me, and fortunately I've got a few guys that when they shoot it, they end up going in the middle a lot, and if you don't hit the rim, then you don't have to -- how tight they are, but I'm not worried. As a matter of fact, I think tighter rims help the better shooting team because it becomes more difficult for people that don't have pure shooters to make them. When Shan shoots it or Dan Cage shoots it, I mean, lot of times it doesn't -- rim doesn't become a factor. I would think that the tight rims would actually be an advantage to us, although I didn't find those rims out there that tight.
THE MODERATOR: Okay. Got time for one more. Anybody? Go ahead. Last one right there.
Q. Kevin, you talked about how tough this week was out of the ordinary with Davis. Is there a school of thought of whether you'd like to have guys go away for a tournament, having guys home for a tournament, added distraction having them here? Is there any significance to it at all?
COACH KEVIN STALLINGS: You know, I don't know. I guess my own personal biases get in the way, and I get to sleep in my bed and see my kids. So I'd rather have the tournament here every year.
As a matter of fact, I think they should have it here every year. It's a great venue, very well attended and supported and -- but I think that, you know, there is potential for more distractions, I think, when you have them in town, more people can get to them and things like that and -- but hopefully our guys will be able to deal with that.
We're on Spring Break so that probably eliminates some of the distractions and -- but I hope our guys are mature enough to be able to deal with that and handle everything appropriately, and I have a pretty good feeling that tomorrow night at 6:30 our guys will be focused on the task at hand and really at that time, that's all that's going to matter.
THE MODERATOR: Okay. Thank you very much.
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