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March 20, 2008
LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS
THE MODERATOR: We have with us from the University of Miami, James Dews, Jack McClinton and Anthony King.
Q. I wonder if each of the players would talk about what qualities in Coach Haith they admire the most and what's the secret to your team's success has been this year.
JACK McCLINTON: First of all, I'll talk about his qualities. He's kind of a father figure for us. He's not just our coach. He's a father figure with us off and on the court. We always talk to him, he's always there for us.
THE MODERATOR: Don't be bashful, guys.
JAMES DEWS: Qualities, he's a great leader. You know, Jack said anything we need, we can go to him for on and off the court. We're never shy to say how -- ask him for anything because he's always there for us.
ANTHONY KING: Pretty much the same as what Jack and Dews said. He's a great leader, and his ability to pull us together has really -- says a lot about him. I think the secret to our team has been our ability to just buy into what Coach Haith is saying and preaching to us and the coaching staff and just play hard. That's what we hang our hat on is really play hard.
Q. Jack, you've had an interesting road to get to this point in your career. Did you ever think you would make it to this point or doubt yourself, and at what point did you realize that you could play at a high Division I level?
JACK McCLINTON: I never doubted myself because I always try to work hard. Whenever I do, in practice how to work hard. Try to come before practice, stay after practice. I know just continue to work hard, good things will happen. Didn't know where I would end up. God always has a plan for everybody. His plan was for me to play for the University of Miami Hurricanes. Now we're in the NCAA Tournament.
Q. Any of you guys, can you kind of describe Frank Haith as a coach, maybe something we don't know about Frank as a head coach?
JACK McCLINTON: He's a faith-based coach. Very religious coach. I think he really brings that on us as a team. He always puts God first, always pray before the games and after games, and I think that has a lot to do with some of our success this year, also.
Q. Jack, what do you know about Saint Mary's from seeing them on film? They seem like a very similar team to you guys. What do you guys have to do to compete with them tomorrow?
JACK McCLINTON: We know Saint Mary's is a great team. They come from a great conference. We know we have great wins under their belt this year.
We need to go out there and just play hard and play together as a team.
Q. What kind of game would you like to play tomorrow?
JACK McCLINTON: What did you say?
Q. What kind of game would be successful for Miami? What kind of style do you want to play?
JACK McCLINTON: I guess the same we've been playing all year. Putting the ball inside, working it each side and playing inside out.
Q. I'm not sure if you've been asked this, but y'all were picked to finish last in the ACC at the start of the year. When y'all saw that, was that something you took at motivation, say "Who cares about this?" or was that kind of a motivating factor for you when you saw the predictions at the beginning of the year?
ANTHONY KING: It was kind of motivation for us. I mean, you want to prove your doubters wrong, and not too many people knew about our team, and last year, you know, we had a lot of injuries, and everyone was back healthy, and we kind of -- you know, we had that chip on our shoulders going into the league.
Q. Jack and James, can you guys talk about the matchups at guard -- Jack probably be guarded by Tron Smith a lot and James maybe going against Patty Mills. Can you talk about those matchups maybe?
JAMES DEWS: I mean, it's going to be a good matchup, but I think we're going to stick to what we do, and that's going inside out, attacking the basket and playing aggressive offense and defensively and let it take care of itself.
JACK McCLINTON: Like James said, stick to what we do, help side defense, 50/50. We know they have great guards. They're a great team. We have to definitely respect Saint Mary's as a team, and need to go out there and play hard.
Q. Jack, what did that win over Duke mean to you guys confidence-wise in the program?
JACK McCLINTON: Oh, man, did a lot for us. We always stayed confident when we're going in there. We knew we had lost a game at Duke, and we put that game behind us. Not one time did we look back on the past. We looked at playing you Duke at home as another game for to us try to get a victory. That was a huge win for us as a team an the University of Miami.
Q. I was just wondering if all three of you can put into words for everybody what you were feeling, the emotions were you feeling on selection Sunday when you saw Miami Hurricanes flash on the screen and you guys were in the tournament?
ANTHONY KING: Nervous at first, not knowing where we were going to fall and excited. Just anxious, you know, to play in the NCAA, something we always talked about from the very beginning of the season and just excited to be here.
JACK McCLINTON: Same thing as king. Count it as a blessing from God and thank him first, and we worked hard for it, and all the work is starting to pay off.
JAMES DEWS: It was real exciting. Also not knowing where we're going to fall at. That kind made us nervous, but after we saw our name, it was really exciting.
Q. As as far as pacing goes, are you guys looking to play a fast-paced game, or what kind pace are you looking for?
ANTHONY KING: We looking to do what we've been doing all year, just pretty much given the opportunity to run, we're going to run. If it's a half court game, we're going to play that game, but pretty much sticking to the game plan, inside out and just taking what the defense gives us.
Q. The Miami basketball program has been done. You know, you guys kind of caught in a professional city. What's Frank been telling you about what he wants to do with this program and tell us how that program is coming around.
JAMES DEWS: I think he just wants us to, you know, keep doing what we're doing, and, you know, I feel like we're making Miami basketball bigger name right now. We're competing with everybody, and I think that's what he wants us to do. Just keep doing what we're doing, and that's what he wants us to do.
JACK McCLINTON: Like you said, like Miami is a professional town and there's so many others there to do in Miami and we had a pretty successful season this year. I believe we keep doing that, I think Miami basketball will be on the rise.
Q. This question is for James. When you guys saw the matchup with Saint Mary's, did you know that they were in the Top 25 for the latter part of the season? What did you know about the team coming into it? And could you just touch on that a little bit, and maybe Jack, too.
JAMES DEWS: We knew they were a great team. We knew that they were in the top 25 the majority of the season, and we know how they have great guards, come from a great conference. So we know you had to go out and just play Miami basketball. Play hard, play together. We know it's a very good team.
JACK McCLINTON: Same thing. I knew they were ranked Top 25 for a lot of the season. I caught a couple of their games. They come on late night when we're at midnight, but I caught a couple of them. They're a great team. They had some great wins, Oregon, beat Gonzaga. It's not going to be a walk in the park at all. They're definitely a great team.
THE MODERATOR: Any other questions? Gentlemen, appreciate you very much. Congratulations on being here. Enjoy your stay here, and we're excited to have you here.
We have with us, Coach Frank Haith from the University of Miami. Coach, if you would, some opening comments, and then we'll open it up for questions and answers.
COACH HAITH: Well, obviously we're excited about being in the tournament. Four years we took over the job, join a new league, leaving the big east, joining the ACC, it's very gratifying to finally get our program to the point where we're playing in the NCAA Tournament.
Q. I was going to ask a question about Jack. As his dad tells us, his dad sent you a videotape of him playing from Siena. Do you remember receiving that videotape, and what has Jack meant for the program as a whole for Miami?
COACH HAITH: When you get a videotape, which it was actually a highlight tape and Jack didn't miss a shot. (Laughter).
Based on what I saw in the highlight tape, I thought he was good enough. He was a hundred percent. I think he's about 50 out of 50. There was no question I thought he could make it, play at our level, but he's meant a lot to us. The guy, he's a leader. You know, he's a hard worker. It's a great story. You talk about a kid that in high school his high school coach told him that he would probably be a Division II player. So he didn't believe in that. He went to prep school, and he had marginal recruiting at best. Obviously he goes to Siena. He wasn't playing early on at Siena. People don't remember this. There was some injuries on his team, so he finally got a chance to play.
Then we were -- I saw Jack play in prep school. I thought he was going to be a really good player. Then, you know, I cannot tell you that I thought that he would be as good as he's been. But he has been a solid player. He's exceeded my expectations.
Q. Frank, when the preseason poll came out, what did you know that the other coaches didn't? And has the season more or less played out like you thought? If it hasn't, has there been anything about your team that has surprised you?
COACH HAITH: I will tell you that three out of four years I've been at Miami, we've been picked last. We finished in the upper -- top six, seven I think two out of the three years. This past year we obviously finished fifth. I always felt like this team was capable of being in the top half of the league because of what we went through last season.
We had a team that went through a lot of injuries. We had to suspend a lot of guys, but the thing that I really was encouraged by is how we played and how we finished.
You know, it was very easy for that team last season to just mail it in, but we were very competitive. We had four wins over Top 25 teams. Went into the ACC Tournament, beat a Maryland team, one of the hottest teams in the country at that time. We took BC down to the wire. We had two overtime games right before that. Actually we weren't playing for anything.
That was encouraging to me because we did that with seven scholarship players. We had all those guys back and had Anthony King coming back for a fifth year. I thought this team could finish in the upper half in the league, and I never wavered on that even when we started two and six in the ACC play.
Q. Frank, you get that tape and you see a guy make every shot. How do you check out the rest? Do you go look for other tape?
COACH HAITH: No. I was joking. It was a highlight tape. No question.
Obviously I saw some things that I really liked about Jack; his release, his quickness on his release of his shot. I like guys who can shoot the basketball. There's no question he could shoot the ball. Learn a little bit about his background. Rob Lanier had recruited him at Siena and talking to Rob about his, the kid's toughness and his ability to work on his game. I felt like having that kid in your program for a year, he was only going to get better because he had the right make-up.
So there's no question all those things were important to me as we decided to take Jack.
Q. Frank, I know on Tuesday you said some of the kids had been sick and missed practice. How are you health-wise and expect everybody to be there tomorrow?
COACH HAITH: I expect everybody to play. We still -- today was the first day we had everybody back. We practiced already and our guys were a little winded. You look at -- one guy, Jimmy Graham has been out since last Friday in the ACC Tournament. He hasn't done anything since then. Their conditioning wasn't where it needs to be, but they all will play tomorrow.
THE MODERATOR: Anybody else?
Q. Frank, the challenges you have with building a better program at Miami, can you talk about that. On the recruiting trail when you veer far away from Miami, do people know it's in the ACC?
COACH HAITH: When we first got the job, there's no question that transition from the Big East to the ACC took some time. We would go out and say we're playing in the Atlantic Coast Conference, which we think is the best basketball league in America, but people had to see you play in that league for a little bit. I think now that people seen us being competitive and winning in that league, it's really helped in recruiting.
It was just a matter of us sort of like we went to Texas, you know, getting Texas players, and I felt like once we won, it was going to be easier to recruit those Texas players. I feel the same way about Miami. We're involved with a lot better players than we were when we first got there. I like the guys we got in our program. We've recruited well in terms of the guys that fit us, the way we want to play, and, you know, I think we're deep enough so we've got enough solid players.
All this does is help your recruiting in make the NCAA Tournament shows you can win in a league like the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Q. Frank, what habits as a coach did you have to break after leaving Rick Barnes, all those bad habits you learned at Texas?
COACH HAITH: That's such a broad statement.
Q. What kind of style do you want to establish at Miami?
COACH HAITH: We wanted to -- you know, I knew right away we weren't going to get the elite players, and I thought we had to recruit a certain type of kid, and toughness was a big criteria in terms of wanty what we needed to recruit.
You know, we felt like if we were able to get guys who had that competitive spirit about themselves, we would give ourselves a chance to be competitive in the league.
In terms of talent, you know, we wanted our post guys to be big and strong, have the ability to get up and down the court, and I like guys who can shoot the basketball.
So, we kind of, you know, put together that kind of -- that type of team. I think our perimeter guys can all shot. I think our post guys are very physical and got good size.
Q. Want to know if you can talk about what you knew about the Saint Mary's before Sunday, what you know about them now, and just some general things about what you expect out of the game tomorrow.
COACH HAITH: You know, I actually saw -- watched Saint Mary's play a couple times during the year but obviously not watching them to breakdown their team.
Just during the year I knew they were a good basketball team. They're well-coached, and now after watching them on tape extensively, they're a really good basketball team.
They have really good shooters. I compare them a lot to say a Duke team that play in our league in terms of that they spread you out so their offense has good spacing.
They do a great job attacking you off the dribble and squeezing the defense and looking for open shooters. I think all five guys they put on court can pass the basketball, which makes your offense run better when you got guys with really pass the basketball. They're difficult to guard because of how they run their offense, and, you know, I think we're going -- we're going to have to play our best basketball. I look at, you know, they've been in the top 25 most of the year. They've experienced a lot of winning, and they know how to win.
Q. Frank, beating Duke, getting into the NCAA Tournament, what kind of a bounce do you see there in both in recruiting and in your own home town?
COACH HAITH: Well, you know, quote-unquote, that signature win. I know that definitely helped us get in the NCAA Tournament. At that time I think Duke was ranked two or three in the country. We had some really good wins. I think that, you know, after that, beating Maryland at home, then we -- prior to that we won two tough ballgames at Georgia Tech, at Virginia Tech. There's no question when you have a win like at beating Duke -- or two years ago when we won at North Carolina, it definitely helps your recruiting and definitely helps as you're trying to build.
We took the job over and what I envisioned us being able to do, this is the thing I remember about Duke is walking off that court, you know, the basketball tradition we took over at Miami was not where, say, other ACC teams are, but that night after we beat Duke and we're walking off that floor, it was a tremendous feeling in that gym, and that was something I envisioned us being able to do and hopefully something we can build on as we continue with the program.
Q. Saint Mary's is a very fast moving, paced offense. What kind of game are you looking to play against them in?
COACH HAITH: Well, we want to -- want me to give you a scouting report? (Laughter).
No. We're hoping that we play the way we play, I mean, which has been very aggressive. We want to get up and down, too, so I think that it should be a fun game.
I know they like to get up and down, they like to space and shoot a lot of 3's. I don't think we'll shoot as many 3's as they shoot, but I think we'll be -- we've got to establish our post game. I think that's what we've done all year, and there's no question we've got to continue to do that.
THE MODERATOR: Anything else? Coach, thanks for your time. Appreciate you very much. Congratulations on a great year and getting here.
COACH HAITH: Thank you.
End of FastScripts