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March 15, 2007
THE MODERATOR: We'll take questions for the student-athletes.
Q. For any of you, the only team in the nation not to allow 70 or more. Can you talk about your defensive style and kind of what you think has been the key to keeping everybody down this year.
DOUG PENNO: Well, I mean, it's obviously something that we focus on. It's not that 70 points was a certain total that we were shooting for, but it's just holding opponents to as little as possible.
It's just something that we're taught from day one walking on campus. I think Monty St. Clair was saying it best the other day, when he said that it's just the culture that we live. Obviously the head of that is Coach Coles.
NATHAN PEAVY: It's just something that Doug said, we work on it every day and focus on it as a team. From the beginning of the season, that's something that Coach Coles really teaches us is just basic defense. And that if we play defense, then we'll be able to win games.
TIM POLLITZ: I think they summed it up real well.
Q. What's life been like for you the last three, four days when you got back to Oxford and from there?
TIM POLLITZ: It's been a little crazy. Just basically on the campus before we even went to Spokane. You see Doug on Cold Pizza. It was like, what, Doug?
It's been different, but we try to keep it the same because we've got to come in here and be relaxed and just ready to play ball against Oregon.
Q. Doug, would you have a response then?
DOUG PENNO: It's been unlike every other three to four-day span of my life personally, as I know it has been for the rest of the team and the rest of the program. There's a lot of the same questions over and over, but that's to be expected, I suppose. It's been great. It's been the best three or four days of my life.
Obviously we are all looking to keep those days adding up, keep them going. Obviously that will start tomorrow.
Q. Would you like to comment, Nathan?
NATHAN PEAVY: Just like they said, it's been an unbelievable experience to win the championship like that. It's just crazy for us with all the media and stuff like that, and the way we won it. We still can't believe that shot went in and we are in this position right now.
Q. You talked about your emphasis on defense. Can you talk about going up against an offense like Oregon's and how much difficult that might be than any other team you face this year because of all their weapons.
DOUG PENNO: I think the team that they are most similar to that we have played thus far is Ohio. I guess it's not obvious, but it would be expected that they're more skilled playing at the level that they are. But it's a lot of the same. They're all scoring above 10 points as far as their starting line-up, and their starting five play most of the game.
It's not like it's a foreign team to us. We've seen at least one team like them. So we have a pretty good idea of how to prepare for them. It will be similar to those games that we had with OU.
NATHAN PEAVY: I just think going out there will be a big test for us. It will be a big test for our defense because they do have an explosive offense. And they can really knock down shots in a flurry.
We'll just have to go out there and just play and be on our defensive A-game. And hopefully that can cause an offensive boost for us, and we can play well.
TIM POLLITZ: I would also like to compare them to Toledo a little bit. That's what I would say. Toledo is very quick. They like to shoot a lot of shots. Obviously a different caliber, same type of style. They like to get up and down, fast break a lot.
We've just got to play our defense and what we've been playing this entire year basically, especially during tournament time and hopefully we can take that against Oregon.
Q. You talk about pretty much every game you have had against teams like that, you guys have been able to keep it to your style and keep it down low. What's the key when you look at Oregon to keeping them from getting the game to where you're running up and down and getting to the 80's and 90's? How do you control the tempo and try to do that against a team like Oregon?
DOUG PENNO: I would expect they haven't seen much pressure like we are going to show. I don't think they've seen a defense quite like ours. I think that will be the key, just making them feel pressured, very uncomfortable, because as soon as they're playing loose and playing their game, taking the shots that they want as opposed to shots that we want them to take, then we'll be out of luck.
But the plan is to impose our defense on them and not let the offense impose on us.
NATHAN PEAVY: I just think a big part of the game is probably -- one of our coaches was stressing yesterday at practice that our perimeter defense is going to be crucial because their guards are explosive scorers. So coming out there and putting pressure and contesting every shot that they take is going to be upon for tomorrow.
Q. Anything else to add, Tim?
TIM POLLITZ: Get your hands up. Working on that in practice. Get your hands up on their shots.
Q. Charlie has talked about how Oregon is the fastest team that you guys have played this year. Did you do anything different in practice this week to kind of simulate that?
TIM POLLITZ: Yeah. We do a lot of transition defense-type of drills. Basically just getting up and down the floor, especially on defense and making sure we get our hands up right from the start, from the get-go, like when they pass to the wing, hands are up flying, because obviously they like to shoot a lot of 3 balls. We've been working on that as these practices have been going.
Q. Doug, did you want to add to that?
DOUG PENNO: That being said, there's only so much that you can do to prepare for a team like that. Yes, we are doing certain things, but I don't know that anything will compare to what it will actually be like during the game.
Q. What do you think of the Ducks, Nathan?
NATHAN PEAVY: They just summed it up by saying it's hard to simulate their kind of speed. We have played teams that have similar speeds, such as Toledo or Ohio, but we realize that they're very skilled also. So just trying to practice different techniques during practice to try and simulate that speed and just get used to that so we'll be ready to play them.
Q. Charlie kind of comes across as kind of a grandfatherly guy, kind of a fun guy to be around. I assume he's not like that when you play for him, especially during practice. What's he like to play for, especially during the week? Does he get on you a lot?
TIM POLLITZ: Great question. I wouldn't really call him a grandfather once we're on the court. He's a coach. He'll get on us in many cases. Off-season, once the season is over, he's a real cool guy. He's a cool guy now, but he's always got -- there's times, especially on the defensive side, when he's really trying to take advantage and force us to do the right things, especially like right now he's really trying to push us hard on the defensive side of things to obviously go against Oregon.
Q. Does he yell a lot?
TIM POLLITZ: Yeah. You've got the assistant coaches there. That's what they're there for, too. You can't forget about that.
NATHAN PEAVY: I think he's a good coach. I don't think he's really on the grandfather side. He has a lot of energy to really be called like a grandfather. He really gets on us. He really pushes us and makes sure that, on the court, he's really into it and gives us a lot of energy and tries to make sure that our energy level is high. So he really gets on us about that and just makes sure that we're on top of our game. He tries to make sure that happens by any way.
DOUG PENNO: I would agree with everything that they've said. Just adding on that I think his passion and love for the game is unlike anyone I've ever met, let alone played for. So that alone makes him a great, great coach to play for.
Q. Doug, just curious, how much of Oregon had you guys seen before the bracket was announced? Like during the regular season, had you watched them at all on TV? How much have you seen of them since?
DOUG PENNO: No, we have not seen them really. We're on the west coast now. Being on the east coast, we did not see anything on them as far as full games. Just clips on Sportscenter and stuff like that. And since it's been announced that we're playing them, the coaches have sat us down and showed us some film, some of their strengths, a lot of things that we've talked about here. And we're really going to watch more. We're learning more and more every day.
Q. All three of you guys are from Ohio. Do you have memories of that '99 Wally Z Miami run, did you guys kind of follow that and watch that when they knocked off a couple teams to get deep into the tournament. Do you think back at all on that? Do you remember watching some of those? Is that motivating here?
TIM POLLITZ: I was at home probably sitting around eating some chips in my house watching that game. And knowing the fact that Miami Ohio, especially Wally hitting some key shots and going to make it to the Sweet 16. We actually use that as a motivation. Like they've done it, so now we have a chance to do it, too, because I was in some of our stuff way back this past regular season, just knowing the fact that there has been teams, it's been a long time since '99, but there was a team that made it to the Sweet 16.
DOUG PENNO: I guess I don't have too many specific memories about it other than, oh, Miami Ohio, that's just down the road from me, I'm only about 45 minutes away. Or -- that's all I remember about it. Being at Miami for four years, especially four years where the tournament is not a part of your season, you definitely hear a lot about the last time that they were there. And Wally is someone that we hear about, I don't want to say daily, but I think weekly it's safe to say. Because he wasn't just a great player at Miami, he was a great player, period. He's someone who kind of showed what this program is all about and was about at that time. We kind of see this opportunity as a chance to get Miami back to that.
Q. Nathan, we'll just get your quick response.
NATHAN PEAVY: I really don't remember when it actually happened when Wally was in the Sweet 16. I'm only an hour away, I really didn't follow it like that. I do remember hearing some stuff about it. Like Doug said, going to school here four years, you hear a lot about our history. And the coaches really remind us of the history and how Miami had a winning tradition, and in the '90s how they had great teams come through Miami.
So they really try to use that to motivate us to become that next team to make great things happen. Now that we're in the tournament, we want to be one of those teams.
Q. Doug, just from what you have seen of the Pac-10, how do you think the Pac-10 compares to the MAC?
DOUG PENNO: My first impression is that they are polar opposites, just because the Pac-10 seems more about skill, offense, scoring I guess, with the exception of maybe Washington State. Then again I may be just showing my ignorance of the Pac-10. I'm not claiming to know a lot about the Pac-10 because just like I said, being on the east coast, I'm more of a Big-10 kind of guy. That's what I grew up with. The MAC is more defense, defensive struggles and anyone can beat anyone at any given point. That's true for across conferences.
Just the fact that the Pac-10 to me seems more run and gun offense, whereas the MAC is more of a grinddown offense.
THE MODERATOR: We now have Coach Coles.
COACH CHARLIE COLES: Like a lot of people, very very happy and feel very very fortunate to be in the NCAA tournament.
It's been a while for us. The last time we were in the tournament, we had quite a good time and had a great player who led us. It was a phenomenal experience for our team, our school, and for southwest Ohio.
We're happy to be back. Don't know how long we're going to stay, but I guess that's the fun of playing on Friday. We don't have to leave today.
That's about it. We fought up hill all year, and we kind of knew we would. We lost a great point guard last year, William Hatcher. So we've kind of struggled at that position this year, but by the same -- well, even though we've struggled, we've had some guys fill in and do the best they could and did a decent job for us to help get us here. Questions?
Q. Can you just talk about the match-up with Oregon? How fast they are and what did you think when you first saw them?
COACH CHARLIE COLES: Let me ask you this: Have you ever seen us play?
COACH CHARLIE COLES: What did you think? Because you've seen them. And then when you've seen us, what did you think?
Q. I thought you were in trouble.
COACH CHARLIE COLES: Yeah. Okay. That's what I thought. It's amazing how some questions are asked and you feel like, uh-oh, they're leading me into this.
Right. Absolutely right. They're very quick, probably hard to guard because they can use Hariston on the perimeter. I hate to number people, but as a 4-man. And any time you do that in college basketball, when you play four out, five out, that's not traditional. And if you've got a good ball club, that makes teams guard you all over the floor. So you become very very dangerous off the dribble which sets up the outside shot. A lot of people when they look at Oregon, they see a bunch of outside shooting, but on further investigation, their outside shooting becomes very very dangerous because they use a dribble penetration to set that up. So you've got to guard them going to the basket and then stop them from that kind of penetration and then guard the outside.
It's a tough match-up for us. We know that because we've got to guard about seven guys, seven guys on that team can score. It's a challenge that a team like ours, we've had those challenges -- never in this -- never this big, but we've had challenges like that this year. I would say Xavier almost is what Oregon is. Xavier can really shoot it, probably got a little bit better inside game. But it would be like defending Xavier University.
Q. People talk about guard play dominating the NCAA tournament sometimes. Do you see Oregon as an especially dangerous team in a tournament because of the reasons you outlined as far as them playing four out, five out, that kind of thing?
COACH CHARLIE COLES: I think they're very dangerous against us because of that. And I think they would be very dangerous against most teams. I would have to think -- I don't think teams like Ohio State, I think you need a little bit more than that if you're playing against a team like Ohio State because of the great Greg Oden.
But against most teams, yeah, I would say Oregon presents a huge problem for them. And the only way a team could overcome that would have such a good inside presence that it would make a difference. But I think of one team, Ohio State, with that. And I'd like to see them -- no, I wouldn't like to see them play. What am I talking about? I was getting ready to say I would like to see them play Wisconsin, but no, I wouldn't. That would mean immediate dismissal of the RedHawks tomorrow.
But a team like Wisconsin, that would be interesting to see how they would guard them. But I definitely think they're on to something. They've got something good going. Those guys are not only quick, but they're good players. They're very good players. Taylor, Hariston, Porter, Brooks -- Brooks may be the best of all of them. I really like him. I got a chance to see Oregon play a lot this year on Fox 41 out of Ohio. We picked that up. And a lot of times I found myself watching on Thursday night or on a Saturday or even on a Sunday night watching the west coast teams play. And Oregon was on maybe four or five times I tuned in.
So I really enjoyed their style of play. So I'm sure that the fans have enjoyed it, and I'm sure that -- they're very entertaining.
Q. The key then for you guys to -- it looks like you have to got to control tempo against them tomorrow. How do you try to get the tempo against them tomorrow and not get that entertaining game going.
COACH CHARLIE COLES: When you talk about control tempo, we're just kind of slow, you know. It sounds good, when people say, boy, Miami can control tempo, and I kind of nod and agree -- I don't agree, but I kind of, like, yeah, you're right, because it sounds so good, and it sounds like, boy, they're being coached.
But I don't think we try to control tempo as much as we try to get a good shot. And sometimes it takes us forever. Sometimes we don't get one, which sometimes works for us. Because the other team thinks, uh-oh, here we go, they're trying to control tempo.
But good shots are important for us tomorrow, good shot attempts. Whether we get them 10 seconds into the shot clock, 30 seconds, good shot attempts for us by our good players is a big key. And because we did, as the season went on, shoot a very high percentage. Our best players did shoot a very high percentage this season. And so if we can get some of that going, then that's the best thing we can do because on the defensive end, we're kind of at their mercy a little bit.
We're going to have some strange goals tomorrow. Rebound every missed shot, make them score against five guys, all that. Because we know we can't keep them from scoring. But on our end if we can get some good shots and some shots that we're capable of making, then I think that's where our game begins. And not turning the ball over a lot.
Q. You talk about what it meant to southwest Ohio the last time Miami was in this tournament. What does it mean to you to be back here? Earlier in the year you told me you might only coach another year or two. Is it special for you to be able to have this chance? Do you look at it like it's your last chance?
COACH CHARLIE COLES: I don't look at it like it's my last chance, but I do look at it like it's very very special. Because in our league, much has been said about the fact that we're primarily a one bid league. Even now we agree with that.
We should have had some teams in the past. In fact, the last time we got in, we were an at large. I think Akron is as good as some of the teams in the field this year. Their RPI just wasn't supposedly good enough, but it means a lot.
It means a lot because it's the school I went to. My wife is from that town. It's where I've always -- that's all I know. I don't know the other stuff. I just know Miami and the Mid American Conference. I played in the league. So any time we get a chance to go to the tournament, it's a real big deal. It's a real big deal.
And I was looking the other day at some of those teams and some of those coaches who go every year. I think it's still a big deal for them.
So it's a big deal for us. We think that's about the best we can do is go to the NCAA tournament and play well.
Q. How much have you played up the underdog role with your team?
COACH CHARLIE COLES: None. It don't work with these guys this year. It don't work. If you told Wally he was an underdog, he would -- I mean he would be so upset because he thought he could capture the world. And some nights he did. But with our guys, the more we've made it like, it's us against them, and, our manhood's at stake, we've failed miserably when we've done that. And I really mean it.
This team responds when we make basketball the focal point. One of the things we've told them all year, let's get better. We try to point out good things that we've done on the court. You should be in our time-outs. Even against Akron, one of the last time-outs we had in that game, I was telling them how much they improved the last four minutes of the game. Boy, you guys really are improving, keep doing it, that cut you made over there was great. And the last time we were on defense we didn't get in the help side enough.
Our team responds to that. They don't respond to the underdog. I don't know why. Early in the year we tried that. Early in the year we wanted to do this. Every game we made a personal-type game, we didn't play well.
But then when we began to say to our guys, boy, if we could just -- if we could just shoot 46 percent tonight. If we could just -- boy, that pass, showing them good plays and stuff like that. I'm not even so sure focusing on the opponent has helped us much this year. I know that seems out of order, but that's true. These guys, one of the few teams I've ever had, that if we just keep it with ourselves, it seems like we get a little bit better. That's what we'll be trying to do tomorrow. That's what I'll tell them tomorrow. I'll just say, hey, guys, at the end of eight minutes, boy, it would be nice if we were within four, wouldn't it? Or something like that. But nothing heavy with these guys.
Q. So maybe you tell them you're favored.
COACH CHARLIE COLES: Well, they know better than that now.
Q. I asked your players, you're a nice guy and kind of funny and kind of a grandfatherly image. You're not like that when you coach, are you? Do you get on these guys when you practice? Are you a yeller? What's your persona when you practice?
COACH CHARLIE COLES: We get on them pretty good because that's the way I've always done it. We always tell our guys, even when we recruit them, what it's going to be like playing in Miami. There's no shortcuts at our place. Nobody is leaving early and going to the NBA. Everybody is probably going to have a professor that doesn't understand sports. We've got the full thing in our place.
Our guys, I give them credit because we're not by any means the Ivy League. But I'll tell you what, we've got a very tough academic environment. So those guys get really -- they get really challenged. So what we try to do is we try to keep it consistent. And we were -- I don't think there's any game this year where somebody hasn't felt my wrath or one of my assistants' wrath because we tell them that's our style, that's the way we want to conduct business. It's not personal. But, by the same token, we cry a lot of tears together and we have a lot of laughs together, and -- the full thing, just like you would have in your family.
That's what I think coaching is. It's whatever those kids experience in their family, I think coaching is an extension of that. And sometimes in your family it's a tough time. Other times it's a beautiful time.
And I think coaching, my coaching, I want it to reflect that. I want it to reflect whatever things that we can give them that will help them grow later on. Because most of our guys are going to have to grow if they're going to be successful in life. They're going to have to keep growing. And I don't mean up there, and I don't mean out there. They're going to have to grow here.
Q. That doesn't seem your personality to yell at kids, to get on them. Is it hard for you to do that, or does it come naturally?
COACH CHARLIE COLES: No. It's fun. See, when I played, I had a coach that ended up one of my real good friends, but he was so tough. So like most of us, think about it. I wanted to be a parent for a long while only so I could be a bully like my father was.
And so as a coach, my college coach was -- oh, God, was this guy rugged. And it seemed like fun. It seemed like fun to have like 12 guys scared of you.
So I enjoy it. I enjoy getting on these guys. Until I go home. And then sometimes you're like, why did I do that. Herb Sendek when I was his assistant. I'll say this and then I know we've got to go. But when Herb Sendek, when I first became his assistant, he was 33 years old, and I was 21 years older than Herb. But one of the things Herb used to do, he's a high-strung coach, when practice was over, I'd go home, you know, and the phone would ring, and I'd know exactly who it was. It would be Herb. And Herb would say, coach -- I'd say, hey, Herb, how are you doing. He'd say, you seen what I did tonight in practice. I'd say yeah. Have you ever done that before? I'd say yeah. He'd say, God, I feel so bad. I'd say, don't worry about it, one of these days it will become automatic and you won't have to worry about it anymore.
But I think with us coaches, we try to have discipline. Sometimes we go over the edge a little bit, and that's when we feel bad. But most of the time we realize that it's for the guys. You want them to be better people.
End of FastScripts