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March 21, 2007

Dane Bradshaw

Chris Lofton


Q. How much pride do you have? I understand you do it for the team, Dane, but as being a Memphis kid and looking over at Vanderbilt and seeing the Memphis kids, how much pride is there for what Memphis players have accomplished.
The second part, there's this idea that Memphis and Tennessee fans should wish each other well, and cheer for each other. You're a student of all these things, what's the likelihood all of that is going to happen?
DANE BRADSHAW: As far as the players are concerned, it excited me. Derrick Byars is one that -- when we were younger we played AU together, probably eight years straight. And Jeremy Hunt, played high school ball, obviously. But it speaks volumes for Memphis basketball and on a stage like this on national television where over and over again I think you'll here commentators say from Memphis, Tennessee, and that just does a lot for our respective high schools. And I've been cheering for them all throughout my career and glad that Jeremy has had another chance and he's really pleased with that opportunity. And Derrick Byars is a kid who transferred and who was probably looking for a new start. And you can see after having faced JR Reynolds and Derrick Byars, that they're both All American type players, but there just wasn't room enough for both of them. They really excelled at their respective areas.
As far as cheering for each other, I think the concept is true. We really need to represent the State of Tennessee and really cheer for each other. And of course if we both win we would go our separate ways for that one day. But other than that, I think it's just a great opportunity on this stage to represent Memphis basketball and the State of Tennessee, as well as cheering for Vanderbilt. Treat it like it's our own conference in Tennessee, I guess.

Q. Dane, I'd like you to discuss maybe your reaction when you found out that Coach Pearl was making a scholarship in your name. Why did the fans identify with you in particular?
DANE BRADSHAW: I was surprised to get it. Coach Pearl has been so generous throughout his career. And I said this answer over and over again, but when he came here, he was kind of taking over Knoxville and it's become almost "Pearl Country." But it's not about Bruce Pearl, it's about helping others out. He gets the greatest thrill out of changing people's lives, and seeing his team celebrate. We made it to the NCAA Tournament, guys who had no significance to their career. And bringing back Bernard King, and he does all these things for exposure to the program, but it's never been about him. And also he never asks us to do anything he wouldn't do. When they're at 6 a.m. weights he's right there with us. And when he asked donors for money and all that, donations, it shows that he's willing to do it himself. It's just a prime example and a great honor.
The fans relating to me? I don't really know why, but I think it's almost, not to be a racial thing, but I'm a six-three white kid who could look like your son or brother out there, rather than someone else. I think it's easier to relate to me. But at the same time they're cheering on everyone else on our team just as hard. And I was there through the struggle and I've been able to really celebrate with the fans. We've gone through this thing together. Hopefully we can keep going.

Q. I read in today's paper that your teammates are calling you Buckeye. If that's true and how much of that last game kind of sticks in your craw or whatever you want to say?
CHRIS LOFTON: They talk about that all the time. They call me Buckeye when I missed the free throws in the last game. It's a joke. And they tease me a lot. But it's just for my own good.

Q. Have you been thinking about this quite some time?
CHRIS LOFTON: Not really. Making it to the Sweet 16, a chance to go to the Elite 8, it really didn't matter who we played. This is the opportunity of a lifetime.

Q. Ohio State hasn't broken out yet, they say, are you looking at them as a vulnerable top seed or looking with a little apprehension that this could be the time they break out?
DANE BRADSHAW: We don't believe they're vulnerable, any team in the nation can get beaten on a given day. This time in the season it's all about that one day. If we had blown out by 20 we'd still come in with the same mindset that we can put it together on one day and beat them. Ohio State is talented, they have a number of players on the court. It's tough when you're on the post with Oden, and he kicks it out to a guy like Lewis. Everyone knows in the country that they're starting to play better as a team.

Q. Could you just talk about Jamar Butler, a guy who was on you a lot the first game, what you thought of him as a defensive player in terms of other guys who have guarded you this year.
CHRIS LOFTON: He was a great defender. He forced me into some tough shots and questionable shots. He had me a little frustrated because I couldn't really shoot like I wanted to. He has a great defense. I wish him well.

Q. Do you guys think you're a different team or a better team since you faced Ohio State?
DANE BRADSHAW: I think we are just because we're deeper. We didn't have Jordan Howell in the lineup which may not be your biggest name on the paper but he gives us another body and does a lot of things for us. The way we played the game up tempo to have nine guys in the rotation is huge for us. As close as we played Ohio State we had a number of guys that didn't play their best individual games. Hopefully we can put it all together and limit all their potential NBA players.

Q. The way that game played out, does that give you confidence that you came so close to beating them on their home court that you feel will translate into something tomorrow night? Were you looking forward to getting a second shot at them after that game?
CHRIS LOFTON: I guess you could say that. Playing a team once when you play them again you always have a feel for what they like to do. You get some of their play calls. And you get some of their tendencies on what they do and don't like to do. We're going to use that. The first game is to try to see what they ran on us, and what was successful. And we'll try to work it out.
DANE BRADSHAW: I think it's easy to be overwhelmed when you see all the hype that the media surrounds a program like Ohio State or North Carolina. It's comforting to know you played them before. It does give you confidence because you know you can compete. But at the same time we're not sitting here saying we should have had that one, because the bottom line is that they won the game.

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