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October 19, 2006

Mike Anderson


PETER IRWIN: We are ready to start with University of Missouri. We would like to welcome Coach Mike Anderson, not only to the podium, but also to the league. Welcome, coach.
COACH ANDERSON: Thank you. Thank you very much. It is an exciting time for Mike Anderson and his family and hopefully it is going to be an exciting time for our Missouri Tigers. Hopefully we are in the process of practice number 12 with our basketball team, and so you can see we are trying to get ready to open up the '06-'07 year.

Q. Coach, do you feel like your style of play is going to catch a couple of teams off guard this year because it is something the Big 12 hasn't seen?
COACH ANDERSON: Well, it is a brand of basketball. I played at Oklahoma State last year. I played Nebraska. You have some teams that are familiar with us at the same time, and probably have some teams that have not.
But it's a style of play we hope to play. Initially it might not be the full 40 minutes, but at the same time it will be a team that is going to compete and it is going to be a process, a team that's going to find its own identity.
I say right now, if you look at our basketball team, it will be like a box of Cracker Jacks. When you open the Cracker Jacks, you know there is a surprise and you don't know what the surprise is going to be. It is a team that will continue to work hard, and that's what I like about our guys. The attitude, they are really, really working hard and trying to get on the same page in terms of the coaching staff as well as with their teammates.

Q. Coach, is there any -- are you concerned about any height issues? I know your team is very fast break, but your team -- your tallest player on your team is 6' 9", and it reminds me a lot of the early teams at Arkansas when you had Oliver Miller as your tallest player?
COACH ANDERSON: Well, it is a concern. Size is a concern. You can't teach size. At the same time, you can't teach heart. And when you watch our basketball team, it is going to be a team that's going to leave its heart out on the floor. And you can't be concerned about what you don't have. I think you have to deal with what you have.
And so we have a complement of players that can hopefully complement each other and also learn a new system. When you look at our basketball team, you talk about -- you are talking about a team that was held over from last year. You are bringing in six new players and you got a new coaching staff. There is a lot of newness and so you are trying to get that newness and become familiar with one another. That's the huge -- the greatest challenge.
But, again, size is going to be a problem at times, but then again, hopefully we can get the tempo going the way we want to, that is not magnified.

Q. Coach, every coach we have talked to today, especially the new guys, have talked about what great coaching there is in this league. I mean, it is true, of course. Do you look around and maybe not feel intimidated, that's not the right word, but very challenged when you see you are going up again the Bob Huggins, the Bill Self, the Bob Knight?
COACH ANDERSON: I think when I first came into the league at UAB, there was some great coaches in that league. When you talk about Cincinnati, Louisville, Marquette, I was a new head coach. But at the same time, I think -- I draw on my experiences, I think, more than maybe other coaches do.
I was at Arkansas. I did a lot of things that head coaches do. So it was not a problem for me when we faced those teams. I think the most important thing is the players are going to be playing on the floor. The coaches, what we do is we manage people. You try to get the right combinations out there. So from that standpoint, I am one of those guys that, my attitude about work, you tell me if I got to get up at 6:00 a.m. in the morning to win five more games, we're there. So I take that analogy about myself.
I don't want to be like Nolan Richardson. I want to be better than Nolan Richardson. That's just me. If you see me in a fight with a bear, you better help the bear.
There is no intimidation. I don't think any coach should get up here and say they are. I hope they are not, anyway. I know I have a challenge in front of me. We are in a great league in the Big 12, and there are some great coaches in this league. At the same time, I am confident as we get our program to where I want it, we will be able to keep. I want to win a national championship. That's my quest.
Hopefully, the Big 12, the nonconference schedule, at some point in time will prepare us to do that.

Q. Coach, kind of following up on what you just said, do you see your players taking that kind of attitude and wanting to get up at 6:00 to win that extra game and things like that?
COACH ANDERSON: I think they have. I think if you ask our guys, it's been grueling. It's been grueling. They have worked extremely hard. It started when school started. We had individual workouts. You have two hours in the week that you can do individual workouts. We kind of spread ours up into 30-minute segments, four days a week. They didn't think I could get a lot done in 30 minutes. You can get a lot done in 30 minutes.
So we have just taken that mind-set each and every day that they come on the court. They will be on the floor. When people see our basketball team, they always ask, Why do they play so hard? That's all they know. So with the weight training, the same emphasis.
Of course, our practice, we have been practicing two a day. I don't like to get up at 6:00 in the morning all the time, I will tell you that. And I know our guys don't. In order to have a chance to be successful, you have to pay a price. I have always felt that way. And so if you tell me we are going to be there at 6:00, we are there, our team is there. For the most part, our guys have taken on that mind-set that they don't mind. Of course, they don't know, but they don't mind.
As they do it and they start seeing some of the results -- like right now, they are starting to see that some of the conditioning is paying off because now they can go a little longer in practice. And our practices are brutal.
When we get to the games, hopefully that's going to be fun. But our practices are brutal because of the preparation that we put into it. It is not easy. When people see us play, it is harder to play the way we play than it is to the A, the B, the C, the D. If you come to all of our practices, I think you will see that we put in a lot of time. We actually do.
Hopefully, in the end, we'll see if it will pay off. Of course, history has shown that it has paid off for the teams, whether it be at Tulsa when I played, whether it be at Arkansas where I coached, whether it be at UAB. It has paid off. Again, it has been the mind-set we have at Missouri and it will be a process, especially with this basketball team.
The guys are working, that's all I want them to do, continue to work.

Q. Coach, what are the challenges of teaching the guys that haven't played that style, to teach them how to play your style?
COACH ANDERSON: I think, number one, forget everything they already know - not everything, but I think basketball is still a game of fundamentals: passing, catching, defending, rebounding, screening, talking, communicating. Basketball is still the fundamentals.
I think those are some things that these guys have done and done extremely well. Now, we are talking about we are going to do it at a rapid pace. There is up-tempo, but we want to be up, up and away tempo.
So we have got to get these guys in the mind-set that the game is played -- the way I want to play is with instinct. You use your God-gifted abilities and it is instinctive. And it is unselfishness. You are going to play unselfish basketball, defensive. Because of our defensive pressure: the trapping, the rotating. I got to trust that my teammates have got my back if I go double up. I gotta trust that that's going to take place.
I think that's the hard part because every possession -- it is just like a kid coming from a high school. When they come to the collegiate level, they don't know that you got to play every possession like it is almost your last.
With us, you have to play every possession as hard as you can. And at the same time, you are going to make mistakes, and the best way to make mistakes is make up for our hustling. We will get it back on the other end.
It is attack basketball. Offensively and defensively. It is nonstop. It is like -- I call it controlled chaos. That's what it is, controlled chaos. People may call it running. It is not running. It is run and we execute. When you watch our team, hopefully that's what you will see.
Now, probably in the first month or so, if you are one of those guys, I don't know whether the media sits, but if you sit in the front row, you better wear helmets because some of the passes may be hitting you.
It is a process we will clean up and we will get better at it. We will get better at it.

Q. Your returning leading returning scorer is Marshall Brown and we have watched him for a couple years. He has never appeared to tap into his potential. Could you talk a little bit more about his abilities?
COACH ANDERSON: It is interesting that you say that. I was telling some guys earlier, Marshall probably had one of his better workouts yesterday. I think Marshall is a conditioned player. He is oozing with athletic ability. And I think confidence is big in anything you do, I think confidence.
And I think that's the thing I want these guys to do, when they play the game, they don't play it thinking. They play it just reacting and having confidence in their abilities.
He is a run-and-jump guy. I think with the way we are going to play, it is going to benefit him as long as he understands the things we were doing. And we started with our defense.
But I think you are going to see a guy that's going to be doing a lot more things. He will be up and down the floor. He will be getting some stick-backs. He will be getting some alley hoops. He'll be blocking guy's shots. He will be touching and deflecting balls. When you look at -- again, not only Marshall, but hopefully our whole basketball team, you will see a blue collar team. That's going to play -- they are going to play with their hearts. They are going to play together. Again, they are going to share.
People wonder right now where is the scoring going to come from? I have no idea. I think we will be a team that's hopefully going to be balanced. We got a lot of people. With the way we play, I think our bench is going to be huge. It is going to be huge in terms of what we do. We have probably one of the best bench, I thought, in the last four years at UAB. At times, they outscored the starters. So sometimes it is not all about starting, it is about those guys coming off the bench, what are they giving our basketball team.
And on any given night, there is not a whole lot, I think, difference in the talent level in our basketball team. So it is going to be a different guy every night giving us something, and so I think those are what you call true teams.

Q. Who do you think is going to have the biggest impact for you?
COACH ANDERSON: I think what has taken place, I think last year with Missouri, they probably have one or two guards and I think we have got some -- competition is great for a basketball team, and so when you talk about guys like Stefhon Hannah coming in, J.T. Tiller coming in, Keon Lawrence, those guys coming in. And we got some other guys that are kind of defining their roles, the Volkus kid, he's coming in and going to be a good player.
I think when you talk about guys that fit what we are doing, I think a guy like Stefhon. First and foremost, the guy has won where ever he has been. He won at Chipola Junior College. Quite naturally coming from junior college, you hope a guy like him can come in and give you something, give you more of an impact than let's say a freshman.
Guys like Keon and J.T., I think they are starting to find their way. As they find their way, they will help our basketball team. There are some pieces there as well as some guys that are there, that are already there. I think some of the guys right now I think are really picking up on some things. Two of them are here today.
I think Jason will be a different player than he has been in the past. He don't have to do everything now. He don't have to just -- because of how we play, that ball is going to be up the floor real quick. You will see him doing some other things in terms of scoring.
I think a guy like Matt Lawrence. I think Matt has tremendous basketball savvy and he can shoot the basketball. But I think he understands the game and I think the up-tempo would benefit a guy like Matt. You already talked about Marshall.
Kalen Grimes, I think he is in the best shape he has possibly been in. He has improved probably more than any guy since I've been there, from day one to where we are right now. I think Kalen Grimes has really improved. We will see. As we get closer to playing other people than ourselves, sometimes you can get -- you don't really see your basketball team because you are going against each other. We will get a chance to see somebody other than ourselves on November 3rd in an exhibition game, and then the real season opens on November 10th.
PETER IRWIN: Coach, welcome to the league and good luck.

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