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March 18, 2007
THE MODERATOR: We'll go ahead and get started with an opening statement by Coach Floyd and then take questions for the student-athletes. Coach?
TIM FLOYD: We're obviously real pleased with the way our guys played today. I thought Gabe Pruitt did a terrific job out front on Augustin and we felt like he was the guy that dominated the ball and really relied on his penetration. And I thought that Nick and Keith Wilkinson and Taj Gibson behind him really provided the help to keep Augustin out of the lane. Which was really important. I thought that our two freshmen Hackett and Lewis did as good a job as you can do on Durant. He's a special player.
But I loved our unselfishness today, I loved the way our guys switched screens and were into each other on the defensive end, the way we defensive rebounded and we tried to make a big deal about not fouling Texas. We felt like that was their fourth scorer, and I thought our guys were really aware of playing without their hands and playing without, and playing with their feet today. And I thought that that was as important as anything that happened.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes.
Q. Daniel, just talk about defending Durant and what was your reaction when you were told you were going to be chasing him.
DANIEL HACKETT: I just tried to go out there and play my best. He's a great player. The job that I did was nothing if it wasn't for other guys helping me and screen and rolls and switching, so it was a team deal.
Q. Nick, can you talk about going to the Sweet 16. You guys were kind of dismissed early on this season and now here you beat Texas by 19 points. Going to the Sweet 16. Just kind of your emotions and what that feels like.
NICK YOUNG: Just we're all very excited. We haven't been in a situation like this. And we're just playing great team ball right now. It's something we need to do going down the stretch in the NCAA tournament. Hopefully we keep it up for the next game.
Q. For Daniel, it seems like two of your better games have been the last two. Did you have any nerves coming into this tournament or was it just something you had waited to do for so long?
DANIEL HACKETT: Well, no, I just came in here focused. Ready to win games. And ready to sacrifice and do whatever it takes to win.
Q. Nick and Lodrick, did you feel like it was a big advantage for y'all that Texas really only has three really reliable scorers?
LODRICK STEWART: No, they're an all around great team. Its just not those three. They're a great team all the way around. They get up and down the court and they rebound the ball well and they take great shots. I think what really helped us is our defense of keeping them from the free throw line because we knew last game they shot 41. So we kept them from the free throw line and that gave us an advantage right there.
NICK YOUNG: Those three can play against anybody in the country. They got one of the best players they're saying right now in the country. So we just went out there and tried our best against those three and fortunately we came out tonight and hopefully we just try our best against North Carolina.
Q. Daniel, you came here a year early are, were you thinking at all today about maybe you might not even have been here today if things had broken differently.
DANIEL HACKETT: Being it's been a learning process for me since day one. Guys like Lodrick and Nick embraced me and did a great job of explaining the situation.
I'm just playing hard.
Q. Nick, what did you tell Durant after the game and I guess give us are thoughts on going up against North Carolina.
Nick YOUNG: I told him just stay focused and keep his head up. And make the right choice. Whichever way he goes, decide to go. North Carolina, they're just a great team. All five of them could play even their bench. So we're going to go out there like we did tonight and give it our all and win or lost we're going to keep our heads up.
Q. For Lod and Nick, you got two teams coming out of here from the Pac-10. Can you say what that says about the strength of the conference that you guys play in?
LODRICK STEWART: It speaks a lot about how tough the Pac-10 is. It's a great conference. One of the best in the country, if not the best. So that just speaks a lot for us and it's going to just carry this program to the next level. Well actually Tim Floyd will carry this program to the next level.
TIM FLOYD: I didn't make a basket tonight.
LODRICK STEWART: But it's him. It's his system and we just listen to what he say and go out there and execute tan he just put us in a situation to win.
Nick YOUNG: Yeah, it's a we'll be here for a long time. We got players in the Pac-10 like Brooks, Taj Gibson, that play great tonight. Even though he got hurt. He couldn't talk really out there he still went out there and gave it his all. So the Pac-10 looking to the future is going to be a great conference.
Q. Nick, was there ever a time way in the back here, at your time at USC where you said, boy, I don't know if a moment like this is ever going to happen?
Nick YOUNG: Oh, yeah, definitely my first year. We were second to last in the Pac-10 there. And we only won 12 games I think. So it was very hard for us, very tough for Gabe and Lod and me being here and then all of a sudden we just got some great freshmen that came in and helped lifted us and now we're playing great. Like I said, I hope we just keep it up. It's a great feeling right now.
Q. Nick, to continue on that theme, we know that your team's been getting better over the last couple years, but still when people think of L.A. basketball they think of a different school. Are you still coming in under the radar or do you think you're a national power?
Nick YOUNG: We're still the underdogs and that's great for us right now. No, later on down in the future SC will be one of those UCLA's, those North Carolina's, those teams they mention in the top five because we got a great recruiting class coming in and for the future we're just looking, it's looking bright right now.
Q. Can you guys all talk about the role coach played today with the defensive game plan and just get getting you guys ready?
TIM FLOYD: I would like to answer that. It wasn't my plan it was Phil Johnson's plan and Phil's been doing 16, 18 hours of film work on every team that we have prepared for all year long. And 95 percent of every plan is his.
We have been together three different jobs now, and he's the best I've seen at that type of thing. And I think these guys would concur.
Nick YOUNG: Oh, yeah. Early this morning we were watching film at breakfast time so we have been watching film all week and every day just going through each team's plays and he's been ready, he's been one of the main coaches out there just guiding us through everything.
LODRICK STEWART: I'm satisfied how we played out there on defense. Not about our offense. Just how we get down the stands, talk hands off, and keep teams from the free throw line and we have players like Daniel that stepped up big, played one of the best players you'll ever see at the college level great, but it took a team effort. People behind him just everybody working together. But we have to give credit to the coaches because their game plan, they put us in this situation and got us this far. So hopefully he just keep going on, play North Carolina, we're happy about the win, but we got to go back to L.A. and get back in the gym and work hard, because that's a great team.
Nick YOUNG: New Jersey, New Jersey, never been there. Excited about that.
DANIEL HACKETT: Well, we just came in with a game plan and followed our scouting report. Coach Johnson, like Coach Floyd said, was incredible. And it just made the game easier for us. And the second part is on us. For making plays and running back on defense.
Q. What would you say are the keys to this game and why you won?
LODRICK STEWART: Defense.
Nick YOUNG: Rebounding.
DANIEL HACKETT: Defense.
Nick YOUNG: Defensive transition. Like coach said.
Q. You guys keep referencing defense. Of the 68 points Texas scored 50 of them were from two guys, from Durant and Abrams, the defensive scheme that you were playing, was that kind of what the coaches had set up, hey, kind of keep a lid on Durant and defensively we're going to shut everybody else out?
Nick YOUNG: It's basically nothing you could really do against Durant. We just focus on the or two guys like D.J. Augustin and A.J. Abrams, and we just, you know, tried our best to contain them to, there's nothing really you can do about a six-nine guard who can put it on the floor and shoot the three at the same time.
Q. For Nick or Lodrick, did you get any kind of a boost or a lift from having Ryan Francis's mother here this week?
LODRICK STEWART: Oh, yeah, this is a very difficult time for her, Paulette and our team, and we just got behind her and tried to help her get through yesterday. It was her son's birthday and it was a tough day for us because we just think about the times we had with him, the good times and he could easily be here with us. Enjoying this. But we know he's here with us, because his spirit is going to live on. In all of us. He will never be forgot to know. So we just have to keep playing and keep doing this for him, because the beginning of the season we said we're going to do this for Ryan Francis.
Nick YOUNG: Oh, yeah, he's been winning all these games for us, he's been our guardian angel up there just keeping eyes on us, so, no, we didn't win this game, he helped us.
THE MODERATOR: Okay. Thank you, gentlemen. Take questions for Coach Floyd.
Q. Kevin Durant scored 30 points, yet you guys are pleased with the defense you played on him. Can you explain that dynamic and what you did like about what you did against him?
TIM FLOYD: Well, I thought the first ten minutes were critical. And that's where we did our best job on him. Those 10 minutes. We were able to get a little confidence, we still have a new group that's trying to figure out if they really belong here or not.
I think that getting started with him and getting it in their minds that he was defendable gave them a little confidence in what they were doing defensively. Now had he gotten out of the box and had 12 early, and they made that run on us at the end of the half and the beginning of the second half, I think it could have been a different story.
But I think the real key was Augustin and the job Gabe Pruitt did on Augustin. And the help that he had behind him on Augustin. And you know we have been able to score all year long. We don't try to hold it, we're trying to push it. I don't know how many we had against Arkansas but 87 again today and our kids are just real unselfish and we have got great shot makers. But they have got a belief system right now at this point in the season on the other end and I think the Oregon game may be helping us. Because I know the difference in how we're playing now and how we played against them.
Q. Talk about the decision to go with a smaller guy on Durant.
TIM FLOYD: Phil Johnson wanted to, so I did it. That's about the decision. We felt like we were going to have to score the ball against them as well. And that's one of our better scoring lineups. We felt like we had opportunities to double with the smaller lineup and get there quicker.
We felt like they were an offensive transition team. That that was, that is still their biggest focus is getting it from off the defensive board and getting it down and laying it up. And it enabled us to get three guards back on defense and instead of two.
So for the majority of the game they were having to walk the ball up the floor. And I think that was a result of the small lineup. Had we not gone small then they probably would have been more transition baskets.
Q. Same question I asked the players about the Pac-10 and what having you guys and Oregon coming out of here says for the conference?
TIM FLOYD: Well, you think what's important about our league right now is that we are so positioned I think for dominance in the future because 16 of the Top-20 scorers in our league are being back. 15 of the Top-20 rebounders are back. You have Davon Jefferson and O.J. Mayo coming into our place. Bayliss, who I think is, you know, certainly a top three or four players in the country going to Arizona. Everybody's back. You look at the honorable mention team, those are the guys this our league that everybody is talking about being pros out of our league. It's a special league and we have referred to that all season long that if we can survive our league, going against the people that we have to go against every night, that we are going to have all the confidence in the world going into the NCAA tournament. And we have referred to going to Kansas early and playing them on the road, we played them fairly well. Without Pruitt early in the season, so I think our guys have a belief that they can play against everybody. Believing it and doing it are two different things when you're playing North Carolina.
Q. How do you construct a defense that can help out on both Durant and Augustin?
TIM FLOYD: Well, you know, we had help from Nick Young and help from Taj Gibson all night long. The fours and the fives. Just they were just there. But the key thing you have to do is you have to stay between him and the basket. And that's what Pruitt did. And Pruitt used his length to keep him off the foul line. D.J.'s special at getting into the lane and throwing his body into you and drawing the foul and getting the and one's. And Gabe understood that. And I think he played him with the proper space and I think that doubling the screen and rolls really helped us because it put him going north versus south. Coming off the screen and rolls and allowed us to build in some help behind him.
Q. It looked like Taj had to leave after he got hit in the mouth. What is the injury and what's his status at this point?
TIM FLOYD: Well, they may have to X-ray it and look at it. It was a problem with his jaw. I hope that it's not broken. But he can't speak right now. He tried to talk to me in a time out and I didn't understand a word he said. I had to ask him about eight times and finally he got frustrated telling me and he just shut up. But he couldn't talk. He was just slurring his words. So I'm fearful that he might have broken it. But we're going to have to look at it and see. But I thought he was just absolutely outstanding tonight on the glass. And he's got a great ability when teams try to press us to handle the ball in the back court and get us, get the ball into play safely as another guard.
He's a very versatile player.
Q. Did you ever think with the injury that of not going into him, but you kept going to him?
TIM FLOYD: No, we wanted to keep throwing it to him. We wanted to keep throwing to him because good things were happening when it went inside.
Q. You've been in the NBA, could you size up Kevin Durant's impact if he decides to go and would you be surprised if he came back?
TIM FLOYD: You know, I don't know. It's really not for me to say. It's obvious that he's going to play in that league when he chooses to play in that league. And when he does, he will be a guy that people are going to compare other players with. He's going to be a standard in that league. I really believe that.
He's going to get stronger, he's going to get better. He may decide he wants another year of getting stronger, I don't know. The thing that impresses me about him is his approach to how he's gotten to this level of greatness. I wish that more players in our country understood that this kid wasn't out playing street ball, and wasn't playing pick up games, that he was locked in a gym in DC for seven years working on individual skills. He's not great because he's six-ten, he's great because he knows how to play the game and he has a skill package that allows him to play.
And I told hum after the game that I don't want him to change because I've been reading his quotes for three years and the best thing that anybody can ever say about him ten years from now is that he never changed. Because he's a wonderful wonderful kid that gets it. Now I had a dinner with a man last night from Chicago that was telling me about his son's a manager on the Texas team, and his son plays intermural ball, and in Austin, and Kevin goes over there and keeps the score during the intermural games and is there and everybody's there to see Kevin so their intermural games have more people at them than a lot of the schools in the southwest conference because Kevin is hanging around. But he's a humble kid and I love his quotes. They're always about team. But he has built himself because it appears to me that he's just got a tremendous skill package and he wasn't out playing street ball game, he's developing like the kids in Europe are developing and how Jordan and Baylor and how all those guys developed years ago. He gets it.
Q. Can you talk about your feelings, I mean this is a team that had huge question marks and now here you are, you beat a great Texas team by 19 points, you're going to the Sweet 16. You got feel good about that.
TIM FLOYD: Well, we're obviously pleased and then you know we talked about it going into the year that we weren't going to sell this team short. That we had some players that could obviously play for anybody in the country. And the questions were the back court. Now I think Gabe Pruitt and Daniel Hackett deserve the bulk of the credit for their adjustment to a new position, their ability to get us into play, Gabe's unselfishness his willingness to give up his scoring, Gabe's a guy that can score 30 on anybody in the country any night. But he's been willing to defer in order to keep Lod and Taj and Dwight Lewis and Nick Young involved. And now he's become a defender at that spot. And he's just getting better and better.
Q. You talked about the Oregon game helping you there you this week, does this game is that something you build on with North Carolina? Do you know, have you taken a look at the next game and?
TIM FLOYD: Yeah, we'll go back and just watch film on these guys. Give our guys tomorrow off. We'll try to have a plan in place for Tuesday. Against one of the best front lines in the country.
They're outstanding. They got one of the better point guards in the country, they got one of the better two guards in the country. They're outstanding. They're young but they're very, very talented. And they're very deep. But we'll try to get on the phone and talk to a few people, but I've seen them and we know that they want to run it and they want to push it. But so did Arkansas and so does Texas and we're just going to have great awareness like we did getting back defensively like we did in this game.
Q. One of the players mentioned that yesterday was Ryan Francis' birthday did you do anything special to mark that and did you have his mom talk to the team again today before the game?
TIM FLOYD: Well, we wanted his mom here. Because of that. And all of our guys were able to see Paulette, visit with Paulette, and just be around here her. We just wanted to be around here. We didn't want her to have a lot of time on her hands by herself. And she's been involved with the wives in the athletic department, my secretary, Vanessa, has been unbelievable with her all week long. The coach's wives, my wife included have been around her all week long. They enjoy her. And this isn't something that's going to go an Iowa. She will be around us as long as I'm here.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks coach, good luck.
TIM FLOYD: All right. Thank you.
End of FastScripts