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March 20, 2008
RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA
THE MODERATOR: The student athletes here representing Davidson, we have Thomas Sander, Stephen Curry, Jason Richards and Boris Meno. We'll open the floor up for questions.
Q. How is it working with Jason your passing might help Stephen produce the point totals and Stephen, how your shooting might help Jason assist a little bit?
JASON RICHARDS: Yeah, he's a great player. We have a feel for each other when we're on the course, and that's something that's evolved over time. Two years playing with him has been a lot of fun and one thing that's great about him, we're a great team, it's not just the two of us, everybody is setting screens for him and guys are getting open, so even though he is our leading scorer, it is a team effort here at Davidson.
STEPHEN CURRY: Same thing. Jason is our leader. He gets up the court and find people and guys like Thomas and Boris definitely set screens and get you go open, too.
So it is a total team effort, and I think our talents gelled from that.
Q. Stephen, I was hoping you could kind of go through growing up in North Carolina, what it was like and who you rooted for and wanted to play for?
STEPHEN CURRY: Charlotte is ACC country. And so I was always around the ACC Tournament, and a big fan of the ACC as a whole. So I definitely wanted to go to Virginia Tech growing up but once high school and reality set in, I had to think about what was best for me, and Davidson was the spot for me.
But it was a privilege growing up around basketball all my life, especially my dad and ACC country.
Q. Stephen could you talk about the other team, playing with Matt, and do you think knowing his team will help at all in the game tomorrow?
STEPHEN CURRY: That whole experience was fun for both of us. He was actually my roommate. I think we had the closest bond out of anybody else in the team.
But his role on that team was I think different than at Gonzaga, so I can't really take what I saw from there and apply it now. I just think he's a lot better player I bet after this year. And his role is a lot different, so I think the scouting report that we have coming up will be a lot different than what I recollect.
But it was definitely fun playing with him, and that whole team, we had a lot of success. So it should be fun to actually play against him this year.
Q. Stephen, you said a while ago you wanted to go to Virginia Tech, and after high school reality set in; what do you mean by reality?
STEPHEN CURRY: Just of the teams that were recruiting me. Of course every person has dreams and hopes of where they want to go, but you have to look at what's on the table. And so Virginia Tech, they were not recruiting me heavily, and teams like Davidson and my final three were. So I guess I couldn't take an opportunity that wasn't there.
Q. When you first saw Stephen, or even before he got on campus, but when he first arrived, did you think you had lucked out?
JASON RICHARDS: Well, actually I saw him play in high school and I tell you, he looked the same as he did then, but he's got a lot stronger. When you look at him, everyone says he's so young but he's such a great basketball as he's showed the last two seasons. The things he does on the court is unbelievable. We knew he had something special when he came and played pick-up with us before his freshman year and he's just got tremendously better from there on out.
Q. You've got one of the most culturally diverse teams in the NCAA. How much fun is that?
JASON RICHARDS: It's fun, but it's different at times because they will be speaking different languages and we don't know what they are saying. They will say something French and us Americans don't know what they are saying.
It just says a lot about Davidson as a team and as a college, that we are really diverse and I think it helps us out.
BORIS MENO: It's great to play with people from overseas and myself. I guess it's great because it just shows that Davidson is a great place for students all other the world, and it's a great welcoming place. The so it's great to be an international student at Davidson.
Q. Do you think the academic teams pull for each other?
THOMAS SANDER: I look at teams like Cornell and the other so-called smart teams in the NCAA Tournament, and I feel like if you don't pull for them, you understand what the other school goes through and you feel for them because you go through the same thing academically and just going out to the court every day and having to worry about a test you have the next day. So you definitely are aware of the same things that they are going through.
Q. What recollections do you have of coming here last time, and does it seem like a long time ago since the last time you guys lost?
THOMAS SANDER: After the Maryland game last year, we are were all pretty upset and I feel like right then, that's when our season started.
So it's been a while, but at the same time, it's kind of been in the back of our mind. We definitely are a different team this year. We have been here before. You know, it's been our goal and we are definitely focused and know how to go about the process.
Oh, you're talking about Raleigh? Well, yeah, we've played here before, so you know, we are definitely familiar with the environment. So I feel like Coach, at the beginning of the season, he wanted to schedule some games in some arenas where the NCAA Tournament would be held, like Bobcat Arena in Anaheim and here, so that definitely helped us out.
Q. For any of you guys, can you take confidence of the non-Conference games you played against the big power teams, even though you did not come away with a win?
STEPHEN CURRY: I think the experience we had playing different styles of ball, and just close games that we had will definitely help in the tournament. I think there's going to be a lot of close games down to the wire, and the experience of getting stops down the stretch and rebounds and things like that, more athletic, stronger teams are going to help us a lot no matter who we play, but we are starting against Gonzaga so it will definitely be beneficial for us?
Q. Can you reflect on what Jason Richards does for you guys as far as leadership, on the floor?
THOMAS SANDER: I've said it all season long, Jason sees things before anybody else does.
Offensively, the play goes through his mind before it even happens, and it's just incredible how he puts the ball in the right places, whether it's to me and Boris down low, or just the little things. He gets in on some rebounds, and he's had eight or nine rebounds this year and games where he doesn't even score -- he had a game earlier where he had zero points but 11 assists. He does what needs to be done to win and that's why he's such a great leader for us?
Q. How excited are you guys when you saw you were going to get to play in North Carolina in the NCAA Tournament? And talk about how your dad taught you to shoot.
STEPHEN CURRY: Well we had a big selection show party and most of our fans were pulling for a closer location. Last year we were in Buffalo and it's a stretch to get fans out there, so only three and a half hours away now, so we are all excited and to play in an arena we've played in, we have experience here and that will help to have fans on our side.
I mean, I wouldn't say it was more one-on-one instruction with my dad. I always watched him play and just hanging around, and he would always be in the gym, so I would always have a ball in my hand. So I guess it was just me shooting by myself. I think maybe one year in high school, he helped me change my shot to more over my head instead of down on my hip.
But other than that, I would say it's just watching him play and being in the gym growing up all the time?
Q. The thing about your dad, can you beat him in Horse now? And when Virginia Tech didn't come after you as much as you would have hoped and maybe offered you a scholarship and fulfilled that dream, how disappointing was it and how much has something like that fueled the player that you are now?
STEPHEN CURRY: I think the guys, remember last year, when we played Horse I won, so right now I have the win streak going. He can still shoot, so competitions are pretty even.
I think it hurt for like a day or two, but once I committed to Davidson, I couldn't let that affect me. I had to look on the brighter side and say, hey, Davidson is a better place for me, better situation, and I have to just focus on taking the most of the opportunity that I have at Davidson and I think that's what I've done so far. Great teammates, great coaching staff, so it's all worked out for me in the end.
I wouldn't say I have a chip on my shoulder or anything, trying to play like, oh, ACC coaches, look what you missed out on or whatever. So I don't really have that kind of attitude. Just enjoy my teammates, enjoy my school and making the most of what I have here.
Q. Do you worry about him not being there if you stay the full four years --
STEPHEN CURRY: That's never come up. We are focused on the season right now and what we have going here, so any kind of outside influence or him going anywhere else, that thought I don't think never comes up. I don't really have anything to say about that.
Q. For Thomas and Boris, what is your role specifically on this team and what kind of a role will you play against Gonzaga tomorrow?
BORIS MENO: Well, I mean, we plan on keep doing what we've been doing all season long. Us big guys and down low, we do whatever it takes to win.
So I mean, whatever has been working so far, we've got to keep doing it so we don't need to change anything.
THOMAS SANDER: Like Boris said, just kind of been doing what we do all season long. You know, us big guys, it's kind of like a collective effort, four or five of us, and none of us average 25 points a game like Steph but we do the little things like set him and Jason up and rebound.
Q. Gonzaga has established itself -- they have almost taken the mid-major level off with as much success as they have had. What do you need to do to get yourselves up to that level to where you are not considered a mid-major anymore?
JASON RICHARDS: You are exactly right about Gonzaga. They are definitely accustomed to the NCAA Tournament and playing against some of the top teams in the nation. But as far as what we are trying to do, we are not looking at any of those titles. We are just trying to be Davidson basketball and just looking at Gonzaga and the NCAA Tournament. We are not looking at getting a title away from us but Gonzaga is going to be a good team and it's going to be a fun game tomorrow.
Q. Do you think the high-profile academic teams in the tournament sort of pull each other, identify with each other?
COACH McKILLOP: I think there's a sensitivity to the fact that academics does not take a back seat to athletics. So there is a sensitivity to it.
But the fact that there is challenges academically at a place like Davidson forces you to focus on yourself and handle your responsibilities. I don't think there's much concern about the other academic programs at the schools that are considered to be very strong academically in a tournament.
Q. The non-Conference schedule you played, extremely tough and you had a lot of close games, do you think that can build the team's confidence even though they do not have that signature win?
COACH McKILLOP: That was four months ago, and the purpose of that non-Conference schedule was to test us, to expose us, to maybe get us knocked to the Matt, and in getting knocked to the mat, it challenged what kind of ability we had to handle adversity.
I think we have handled it very well. We learned many, many lessons, and yet despite getting knocked to the mat, I think we got a taste of some confidence, because we were close. But just as we were close with Ohio State two years ago and Maryland last year, we needed some more affirmation that close isn't good enough and to do it in more approximate time frame of the particular season we were in. I think would reverberate a lot better for us as we went through the season and prepared for the NCAA Tournament.
Q. Can you describe the value Jason Richards brings to your team?
COACH McKILLOP: He's a quarterback, and the value of a quarterback to a football team, you just look at the Super Bowl. You look at any great college program when they have a great quarterback, he finds the time to get everyone set, everyone in their place. He has the ability to put the ball in the right player's hands in the right time. He's a steadying influence admist the chaos and the turmoil and the adversity of the helter-skelter play of Division I basketball.
Q. Stephen had such a fabulous freshman year, where did he improve between then and now?
COACH McKILLOP: Clearly his decision making has taken many steps forward. He has had the ball in his hands much more so with the dribble than he did as a freshman, and he's no longer just a shooter and a scorer. But he has the ability to be a play maker and is setting the table for himself to assume that role next year.
Q. Talk about first how pleased you might have been to see your team going to North Carolina in the first round; and how good the cultural diversity on your team and how is your French?
COACH McKILLOP: The ability to come here to Raleigh gives us less of a travel headache, puts us in familiar territory. But for me most importantly, it gives our fan base an opportunity to be up front and close to us. And that is of paramount importance to us because there's a tremendous sense of intimacy that exists between our following and our players. Our players reciprocate in the way we respond to them and our fans, it's a love affair of the heart, not because they have a lot of money and want to be seen. It's a very unique relationship that exists.
The cultural diversity of our team, is something I'm so proud of, and maybe it's a lesson for the world to understand that no matter what your color, no matter what your religion, no matter what your nationality, you can all come together for a purpose and the purpose is the team's effort to become the best they can become.
I have a sense that Davidson is reflecting that in a very small, microcosmic way as a basketball program; and that's not just been this year. That's been a dozen or so years in our program, and that strikes to me as one of the great lessons of college athletics and one of the great lessons of team sports. If you can do it in a competitive, highly-charged atmosphere, why don't you do it in the world.
Q. How does Stephen rank as a pure shooter?
COACH McKILLOP: When I first had him in individual instruction in his first year, in the aftermath, there was an alumni function in Charlotte and I stood up in front of this group of very engaged alums, a large number of them and told them, "Wait till you see Steph Curry, he is something special." That is something now that I feel very, very good that I said that, because I look like a prophet.
To do what he has done, more so than scoring the points, but being able to get the opportunities because his teammates willingly screen, get him the ball and offer him such great respect, gives you the complete picture of what Steph Curry is. Steph Curry, you can look at his face and features and his jumpshot and you can look at his statistics and you can see some glamorous statements about who he is; but what you don't see is his heart. And his heart is bigger than all of those stats.
Q. I'm sure you've had chances to go to more lucrative jobs in the past; what is it you've seen in Davidson that you've committed to and stayed the path there?
COACH McKILLOP: You know, you have an opportunity to have your family embrace your job. And to me, that's one of the most important things in my life.
How many coaches at the Division I level have been able to share their experience with their children and their wife and still be married? (Smiling).
Q. In terms of Gonzaga's inside game, can you talk about the challenges they present and what is your plan tomorrow afternoon for that?
COACH McKILLOP: What impresses me about Gonzaga is their versatility, their ability to get into the full court and halfcourt; their size, depth and their ability to jump off the page. They are a team that sets themselves apart from so many other teams in conferences that are not BCS conferences. It's no mistake that they are one of the great programs in college basketball, because of the continuity of their success, the consistency of their success. It's very, very difficult to have the target that they have had on them for the number of years and continue to be successful.
Q. Can you talk about the recruitment of Jason, when did you first see him, hear of him and what stood out to you?
COACH McKILLOP: We actually saw him at a camp in New Jersey, and he was okay. And then we saw him again in an open gym in September, and, in fact, one of my former players met me for dinner that night and actually met me at that gym to watch Jason play and that former player was Bill Winnington, who was the radio voice of the Bulls and did radio for the Chicago Bulls.
He was surprised we were recruiting Jason because every time I went to see him, he never made a shot and he seemed very nervous when I did come to see him play.
Jason has been a starter for two years. He has been mentored tremendously by our previous point guard, Kenny Grant, and as a result of that mentoring experience, he grew significantly as a freshman, a sophomore and as a junior, he was second in the country in assists and did not settle for second and advance to first.
So here is a guy who has an insatiable work ethic and continues to strive for perfection and in that quest for excellence has just made himself better and better.
Q. Does Gonzaga compare to anybody that you've played early in the season?
COACH McKILLOP: You know, they have some of the characteristics of Duke in which they spread the court. They use the dribble so well, they shoot the ball from three point land very well.
They have some of the characteristics of Carolina where they are explosive in the open court with a point guard that's a one-man fast break. They have some of the characteristics of UCLA where they are tenacious defensively and use their length very well and are interchangeable at two and three positions.
So I think there's a little bit of everything that we've seen in Gonzaga. And that, again, reflects back upon why we scheduled the way we scheduled, to get that kind of exposure to as many styles as possible.
Q. Correct me if I'm wrong, I read back in October at the season-opening scrimmage that you got very emotional and you talked about working with your players; that you nearly cried. Can you talk about this group and what is so significant to you?
COACH McKILLOP: If you want to be a successful coach, you have to understand that your players are somebody's son.
I have often been asked about coaching my son and now I have my second one playing for us, and it's a constant reminder to me that every guy on my team is somebody's son. And I think when you have that understanding in your relationship with your players, it fosters, it embraces a sense of love and care between player and coach that maybe you're not afforded when you get into an environment where the high stakes are high and the salaries are exorbitant and the CEO mentality about dealing with the people underneath exist. And that doesn't happen at our place.
And that's a reflection of Davidson college. The professors and students have that relationship and that sense of intimacy is a real foundation of how we have built our program and of which our college is structured along.
Q. Listening to what you were just saying, curious if you can go back to who were some of the guys who instilled that sort of stuff in you, and have you heard from any of them in these last couple of days or during the streak or as the season unfolded?
COACH McKILLOP: I have been fortunate to grow up in an environment filled with so many mentors. Louis Carnesecca did call me two days ago so wish me well and that's one of the legends.
Jack Curran, the Archbishop, another legend; Frank Morris, the deceased coach of St. Agnes, Billy Donovan's high school coach; and Paul Linner (ph), my coach at Hofstra University. Those were guys that were true teachers of the game. And as teachers of the game, they gave you the sense that it's a classroom environment in the gym. It's not a YMCA where you roll the balls out, run faster, jump higher, be quicker. No, you have to find ways to use the game of basketball and do it as a team.
Those guys are just embedded in my memory of being mentors. And of course your playing experience, you grow up with Kevin Joyce, the king. He was the greatest effort in the annals of New York basketball history. You grow up with a guy like Kevin Joyce and a guy like Tommy Ryker (ph) and Brian Mahoney, and I can remember names that I'm sure you're familiar with.
The playgrounds and the parks and the schoolyards in New York really hone your skills but more than anything, they make you competitive and force you to develop that stay-on mentality which you are going to stay on the court, because, hey, if you have to wait for winners an hour sitting on the sideline against a chain-link fence ain't fun.
End of FastScripts