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March 19, 2008
THE MODERATOR: Welcome to Denver, Colorado, the Pepsi Center. We'll begin student-athlete press conference for Temple. We'll begin with questions.
Q. Can you just talk about what kind of differences coach brought when he came on board and what kind of adjustments you had to make? Obviously both offensively and defensively you had to do some different things. Where do you think you are in terms of adjusting and transitioning with him?
MARK TYNDALE: I think we just had to get used to playing man-to-man defense because all three of us was accustomed to playing zone defense. We had to learn to move without the ball a lot because a lot of the plays is move out the ball, cut and back door, stuff like that. Coach Chaney, one man, handling the ball, run screens and plays and stuff like that.
Coach Chaney and Coach Dunphy is similar in certain ways a lot.
CHRIS CLARK: Just communicating I think on the defensive end was a big part for us. Just helping each other out, learning each other, learning each other's strengths and weaknesses on both ends of the floor.
Basically I think that was it. He taught us a lot. I think the transition was real easy for us. I mean, he's a great coach. He brought great assistants in with him. I don't think the transition was that hard. I think just learning his expectations of us and what he wants from us was just the hard part.
DIONTE CHRISTMAS: Just like Chris and Mark said, just transition from playing zone to man and just knowing what he expected out of us, things like that. You know, he didn't expect a lot, he just wanted us to give him a hundred percent. I think that's what we did for him.
Everything just kind of fell in place with Coach Dunphy. He's a great coach. Brought great assistants. It wasn't that hard to adjust with Coach Dunphy.
Q. Coach is always talking about attention to detail. Can you talk about the details that maybe you wouldn't have thought of on your own.
MARK TYNDALE: I just think, well, we study film a lot, personnel. We do a lot of things, the strengths and weaknesses of certain teams that really, really help us out when it come time to play the game.
I think Coach Dunphy, he's just great at that. He's great at pointing out little things, showing us little stats that certain guys do well, some guys that don't do as well. I think he do a great job at that.
All the coaches, they do a great job at that. All the assistants, as well.
CHRIS CLARK: I mean, paying attention to detail is something you could look at not just on the court, but off the court. I think Coach Dunphy preached that a lot, paying attention to detail, in the classroom, out in your community, just as a human being.
But on a basketball court, just knowing where you were, knowing your opponents, just the little things that it takes to win games, I think he preached that a lot.
We learned that over the course of this year. I think that's helped us to where we are now.
DIONTE CHRISTMAS: Just like Chris said, man, just paying attention to detail. He's taught me a lot, man, just as being a better human being, paying attention to detail on the court as well as off the court.
I think he's preparing me for life and things like that. He's just taught us a lot since he's been here, over the two years he's been here.
Q. Could you talk about what Chris has brought to the equation this year both on and off the court.
DIONTE CHRISTMAS: He's brung a lot, man. Without Chris mark, I don't think we'd be sitting here right now. He's been the backbone of this team.
He's hit a lot of big shots. He's been the leader on and off the court. Any time somebody mess up, he's getting on 'em, from me, to Mark, to anybody, the freshmen.
The coaches value his opinion a lot. Whatever Chris said, the coach is going to listen to him. If the coach call one play, Chris think we should go to another play, the coach is going to respect that and go with Chris' opinion is.
Chris Clark has meant a lot to this team. Like I said before, without him, I don't think we'd be sitting here right now.
MARK TYNDALE: I think Chris is the captain of this team. I got the label alsolead, but Chris is really the leader of this team. What he's doing right now, don't surprise me. I think he was a very good high school player. He played good against guys in the NBA, like Kyle Lowery and Shawn Singletary, on his way to the NBA. Chris always had a great career outside of basketball, so he's a great human being, a great person. I think it just cross over to the basketball court.
Anything he do, I'm not surprised at all.
Q. Chris, can you talk about being a leader on the team in practice and in games when you're not a guy who is the leading scorer, high up in the statistical categories.
CHRIS CLARK: I mean, I know my role. My job I was not to score. My job is to be a leader on and off the court, get these guys the ball. I think Dionte is one of the best shooters in the country, my opinion. Mark Tyndale, can't nobody stay in front of him when he's going to the basket.
I think my job is a lot easier than what people think because when you got great scorers and shooters around you, it's easy to run an offense. But like I said, I know my role. I don't try to do too much. I take the open shots when I'm there. If I see my teammates struggling, I try to be aggressive at times.
But, I mean, I know my role. That's what I do, I try to play my role to the best of my ability, so... That's what I do.
Q. The transition a couple years ago. You're all Philadelphia guys. When the coaching change came down, was there any temptation to leave Temple? What did you know about Coach Dunphy? Did that help keep you there?
DIONTE CHRISTMAS: None at all. When the transition came, I've heard a lot about Coach Dunphy. He's a winner. He's done a great job. He did a great job at Penn. I just heard a lot about him. I heard he was a great person, a great coach. When he came here, he came in with open arms, man. He came in with a lot of confidence in us. We gave him the same respect back.
I had no intentions of leaving Temple when John Chaney left. Coach Dunphy was a great person. He came in and welcomed us with open arms. I had no intentions of leaving the school.
CHRIS CLARK: I had no intentions either. My first three years, I didn't play as much. I knew when Coach Dunphy got the job, being a Philadelphia guy, you hear so much about Coach Dunphy and his success at Penn. So, I mean, of course you would think he would bring that same success here at Temple. And he has.
He's just been a great help to us all, a great coach, a great human being also.
MARK TYNDALE: Yes, I heard a lot of good things about Coach Dunphy coming in. Knew he was a winner. Always used to see him at the Palestra when I would watch games. He always used to speak to me.
When he came in he talked all about us. He's here just to ride on the ship with us. I really appreciated with that. Coach Dunphy, he don't like no limelight. It's all about us. I really like that and really appreciate that in him.
Q. Now that you've had a chance to see some film of Michigan State, what are your thoughts about the matchups, about how they play?
DIONTE CHRISTMAS: Michigan State is a very aggressive team. Tom Izzo is a great coach. I think we can match up well against those guys. They're very aggressive. They got a great leader in Drew Neitzel. He's a great player. Raymar Morgan is a great player. Our two leaders, I think they can match up good with those guys.
CHRIS CLARK: What can you say? They're a great team, great program. Got great players over there. I mean, it's going to be tough. It's going to be a tough game. They play hard, physical. We just got to match their intensity and energy. I think if we can do that, I think we have a chance to win the game.
Q. A lot of teams that come into Denver talk about the difference of playing in elevation. Denver is a mile high. Did you discuss that at all coming in here?
CHRIS CLARK: I mean, yeah, we discussed it. But we can't worry about things like that. We got to go out there, play the game, play as hard as we can, try to win a game.
When you think about those things like that, I think those are distractions 'cause when you're out there playing, only thing should be on your mind is focusing and, like you said, paying attention to details out there.
We don't pay too much attention to that. I mean, we discussed it. But we're not really focusing on that. We focusing on Michigan State and trying to win this game.
Q. Your thoughts on being up there right now since this almost didn't happen?
MARK TYNDALE: Yeah, I think it's a great feeling, best feeling in the world. This feeling right now, I won't trade this in for anything in the world.
I just think that getting a chance to be here my senior year, I couldn't ask for a senior year, a better way to go out.
I just got to give all the confidence and credit to my teammates. We did a great job just working hard in the summertime. We was asking for a chance to get here. All we were screaming all year was Atlantic-10 champions. It turned out to be true. They counted us out.
But we managed to pull it through, weather the storm.
Q. Was there a specific game or moment this season when you felt like it turned around and you started on this path toward being here?
MARK TYNDALE: They said the second half against Duke we made a good run in the second half. A lot of people said we got some confidence against Duke in the second half. We played very well. We didn't win the game. But I think our team just built a lot of confidence. We had a lot of big shots. We just fought to the end. Our defense picked up.
Then we got into conference play, we played pretty well in conference. We beat Xavier, so we knew we could play with some of the best teams in the country. I think that's what gave us the push late in the season to make our run.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you. We'll let the student-athletes go. Coach Dunphy will be coming up shortly.
We'll begin with questions for Coach Dunphy.
Q. You've been here many times. Does it feel different this time? If so, how?
COACH DUNPHY: Yeah, a little bit different I would say. But I would say that after the last couple times I've had the privilege to be in the NCAA tournament, you just get a little more comfortable with all of the surroundings that go on.
It's no less thrilling though. I will tell you that. When you look at the faces of the student-athletes, if you have an opportunity to be associated with, that makes it even more thrilling as a basketball coach.
This is a group of kids, and you met three of them already, they're just good guys. I'm so happy that they're having this chance to be playing in the NCAA tournament.
That's always I think the great thing about what we do. We can all meet our goal, and these kids have done that. Now we have a new goal out there.
Q. Can you talk about the progression of Chris Clark.
COACH DUNPHY: I think you've asked me that question many times. I'm going to tell you one more time.
I think he's a terrific young man, number one. It's been a pleasure to hang around with him for the last couple of years. I will miss him greatly next year. Not only what he's brought to the basketball court, but more importantly what he brings off the court and the kind of quality and character this kid is all about.
He's really starting to play well. I'd say mid-season, in particular it showed itself in the Fordham game at Fordham, he just knocked it out from the outside, knocked out a number of jump shots. He's kind of progressed from then on. He knows when his minutes are going to come. He gives you great energy, great enthusiasm. He's making shots.
I'm not sure where we would be without him. If you said there's a single catalyst that has brought Temple along late in the season, I would probably have to say he would be one and maybe Mark Tyndale's improved IA. I'm so happy it's happening for seniors at that point.
Q. You've talked how you like this team can play two styles of ball. They can play a slower game or up-tempo. Having now seen tape on Michigan State, they're 8-7 where they score under 70 points, are you going to try to impose that slower-paced game?
COACH DUNPHY: I don't think we're one of those teams that imposes the will on the games. I think we make adjustments as to the speed and style of the game. I think that's what we do.
I'd like to think we can play at any pace. We'll see how the game does unfold. I'm sure there are games against rivals that go on, and some games are fast-paced, others are grind-it-out kind of games. We'll see what develops tomorrow.
I don't think you can name the pace. The kids will do that. They'll decide the pace of the game.
Q. A couple years ago we see some coaches when they come in and take over a program, they almost blow the whole thing up, bring a lot of freshmen, upperclassmen will leave. You've had a nicer transition. Can you talk a little bit about the transition, being able to have some of the guys you inherited lead this team.
COACH DUNPHY: Sure. I think, first of all, it's really a terrific group of kids. I've enjoyed my two years at Temple immensely. They're just good people, number one, to start with. They want to win. They want to do the best that they can, they want to please you as a coach. They understood the changes that we were going to make. Some would be a little bit different than they have done in the past. Some would be almost following in the same footsteps that coach Chaney had.
They're just good people. I've been blessed to have that. Now we have a a couple of young guys who have joined us who have helped us as well. After a couple years, it will be just guys that we recruited.
But I've been blessed to follow a guy like John Chaney, who really has been a great mentor and somebody who has guided me well in my years as a basketball coach. I would be foolish not to use those same guys and the same philosophies in many ways, not necessarily on the basketball court, but certainly off the court I think John Chaney is one of the great human beings of all times. I've learned a lot from him. It's been an easy transition that way. And I would give a lot of that credit to John Chaney.
Q. Having seen the tape, what type of game are you expecting? What are you expecting to do with Raymar Morgan?
COACH DUNPHY: Raymar Morgan is a terrific player, a great athlete, somebody who we're hoping to limit at some point during the course of the game.
But I don't know how the game's going to go. I wish I knew. We'd be practicing a little bit different today. We're going to have to practice a fast-paced game. They are sometimes one of the best teams in the country just blowing it up the court. One and two pass, they're at the rim.
It's a great style of play. There are other times when they grind it out. We both can do that, I think. Again, I don't think it will be the coaches that will determine that. I think it will be the players on the court. You know what? That's fine by me.
Q. You talked about having similar philosophies off the court as coach Chaney. On the court you have somewhat different philosophies. Were there hard parts about that transition? Did you anticipate two years later some of those same players would bring you to this point?
COACH DUNPHY: Yeah, I mean, I think you always hope that your guys are going to learn the best they can about how to play. My style, yeah, is a little bit different, certainly on the offensive end, we push it up the court a little bit more than coach Chaney. On the defensive end, his was more zone, and ours is certainly more man-to-man.
Am I surprised? No. I'm not surprised about anything this group does. Again, I think you saw an example of what these three guys are all about. They're just good people. They just want to do the right thing. If there's any philosophy that any coach has, it's always just do the right thing out there. If it's on the court, just make good decisions. Off the court, make good decisions.
Q. You and Coach Izzo were both on the USA basketball committee together. Can you elaborate about the relationship you've had over the years?
COACH DUNPHY: I've certainly followed Coach Izzo's teams over the years. He's done a remarkable job, a remarkable job. His NCAA record is as good as anybody's out there.
Then I got a chance to coach against him a couple years ago when there was kind of a Final Four reunion at Michigan State with Indiana State and DePaul. We had a great time out there. We didn't play very well against Coach Izzo's team. But they had a great time.
He was great to me. It was a great tournament. Then we've worked together the last couple years on this USA basketball committee. We sit down, talk about coaches, talk about players. He's just a good man. I'm thrilled to be competing against him again. I know it will be a great challenge. But that's what we all want. We want the challenge. That's why we do what we do.
Q. How much does tournament experience play into a game?
COACH DUNPHY: I think it gives the advantage a little bit to the Michigan State guys. But there's nothing we can do about that right now. We have to play, play our very best, play as hard as we can. I think I heard one of the guys say we had to match their intensity. I think that's important. Maybe match their physicality, as well.
But we're hoping to just play the best basketball we can. And if we make good decisions on offense and we're in the right spot on defense, then we'll feel pretty good about how we can approach the game.
Q. I asked the players when they thought the season turned on this path. They mentioned the second half of the Duke game. Is that what you feel, as well?
COACH DUNPHY: Yeah, I think that was the start of it. I think if you're going to do what we did and get better as the year went on, there's probably a number of times that that happens to you.
But I think the initial time was probably the second half of the Duke game because we were not very good in the first half, but we found a way to hold them scoreless seven or eight minutes in the second half. We didn't knock it out and come all the way back, but at least we got it back to respectability.
I think they saw something within themselves that said, If we do this all the time, we can be a pretty good team. Then beating Xavier at home was a real good win for us. Even losing to Saint Joe's at the buzzer at home was an important milestone for us I think as we went along this road. Then beating Saint Joe's at the Palestra in the last shot by Mark Tyndale. I think there's just steps that teams take. Then there's another part of this that I don't think there's any explanation for, and that's a chemistry thing that teams get. I would give a lot of that credit, the chemistry part, to Chris Clark. Just what he has meant to this team. Again, some of it is on the court because he's played very well, but a lot of it is off the court because he's jump a good human being.
THE MODERATOR: Coach, thanks very much.
COACH DUNPHY: Thank you.
End of FastScripts