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March 21, 2008

Garrison Carr

Brian Gilmore

Jeff Jones

Derrick Mercer


THE MODERATOR: We'll go ahead and get started. We'll take an opening statement from the coach and then take questions for the student-athletes.
COACH JONES: Well, we're disappointed with the outcome, but I certainly couldn't be any more proud of the team, of a group of young men than I am of our guys.
As they have all year long, they battled. It wasn't pretty, but we scraped and I think we pushed Tennessee pretty hard, therefore, the most part of the game. Tennessee proved why they're such an outstanding team, that was over on the side there and I heard a couple of Bruce's comments, and I think he's right, I think ultimately they wore us down. And so certainly they're a great basketball team, it was a great challenge for our team. I thought our guys stepped up to the challenge, but unfortunately, we weren't quite up to it.
THE MODERATOR: We'll now take questions for the student-athletes.

Q. Garrison, take us down about six minutes left and you make another comeback, you're down by one. You're a 15 seed, you're going against a number two seed. What's the feeling, what's the mood, what's it like for you guys at that point?
GARRISON CARR: Well, at that moment, when we were making our run, I really felt like the crowd was behind us, because when we made a basket, to cut the lead, it really exploded in the gym.
At that moment, we had the opportunity to control the game, but we made a big play and Tennessee came right back down and knocked a three down, I think it was, and took the lead. And while we were making our run, just played like the number two seed and like a number one team in the nation and they made their runs right back and they didn't let us get a solid lead.

Q. Coach Jones and any players that would like to address this, defending Chris Lofton today, what was your game plan and how did it execute as the game played out?
GARRISON CARR: Well, we were obviously no help off Chris Lofton, because he's an excellent player and he deserves all the accolades that he gets. And all week we were simply continuing to use no help off him, we went through all the play that they have for him to get his shots. And basically, all we were just practicing getting through screens, anticipating when the screens would come and my teammates did a great job of helping me when he was off, when he came open on screens and hedging out, but for the most part it wasn't just an individual effort, it was a team effort to stop him.
DERRICK MERCER: Just like Garrison said, we tried to focus more on Lofton and we were using no help, if he set a back screen we were telling our bigs to get through the back screen and stay with him and because we know he's dangerous and he also can take it to the basket. So we put our attention on Lofton and we worked hard, we did breakdown drills, dribble handoffs, coming off screens and just trying to defend the best we can.

Q. I don't know if you heard Coach Jones just now talking about last night's game Duke and Belmont. Did you watch the game and did you take anything out of it? Obviously, you're here to win anyway, though.
BRIAN GILMORE: Sure, we watched it. We watched, got to see a little bit of the end of it when we got back from dinner last night. And that just reinforced our belief that a 15 seed beating a 2 seed is definitely possible. Coach mentioned it going into our meeting last night, just reinforced the fact that he believed in us as a team to come out here and play against Tennessee today and if we did the things that we knew we were capable of doing and controlled what we could control, that we would give ourselves an opportunity to be right there with them just as Belmont was.
GARRISON CARR: We watched the game and basically just reinforced what can happen when the ball's thrown in the air. Because the seedings are just numbers next to a name. But when the ball is thrown in the air, those go away and you still have to play and Belmont put it all on the line, which they were supposed to do, but Duke was able to pull away with the win. And it was just another example of many in the past of 15s playing 2s tough.

Q. Did you guys did you lose your legs there in the last five minutes? Was it a pretty grueling way to go?
GARRISON CARR: Towards the end of the game I did get a little bit tired. But when it's crunch time and adrenaline kicks in you forget about that, and you're just out there playing basketball. Because the atmosphere out there and how close the game was, I didn't have time to think about being tired and I was just out there playing.

Q. Did you guys get the sense that you were close to breaking Tennessee's sort of if you would have gotten through frequently getting the ball back that they would have panicked. Did you ever feel like you ever got sort of close to that breaking point with them?
BRIAN GILMORE: I think we did. We knew that even if we did get up, get a lead that they were leading in the second half that Tennessee was a great team and they would be able to sustain any efforts that we made to attempt to continue to get a lead. But we had our opportunities, we missed a couple layups, missed some open shots and Tennessee's a great team and they capitalized on the other end and hit a few threes in transition and broke us down off the dribble a couple times. But we had our chances and we just didn't capitalize on them.

Q. Garrison, did Tennessee defend you the way most people do? Anything different or unique that you saw today? Or was it just pretty much the same way most teams defend you?
GARRISON CARR: For the most part I would say it was just basically like everybody else. My teammates and coach did a great job of giving me opportunities to get open and shoot the ball. So it really wasn't Tennessee doing anything different, it was the team helping me get shots and the coaches drawing up great plays and that basically opened everything up for myself and the team.

Q. Garrison, you talk about making them play the whole 35 seconds of the clock, you guys made them play defense, and stay with you and then you would break them down a little bit.
GARRISON CARR: That's just basically how American plays basketball. If we have a good shot early in the shot clock we're obviously going to take it, but for the most part we're going to come down and run the offense we practice every day and get the best shot we can possible get. And whether that comes with 10 seconds on the shot clock or 35, we're going to seize the opportunity when it's there.

Q. Brian, can you talk a little bit about the offensive boards. You guys really controlled the offensive boards a lot and coach definitely mentioned you guys really were just going at it in the first half and they really couldn't do anything about it. Could you talk about that?
BRIAN GILMORE: Sure. I think coach mentioned before that we know when Garrison is going to get open shots. And especially knowing our offense we know with when Garrison is going to it get a shot off, so it creates an opportunity for us to get to the offensive boards and that's something that I know a couple of the guys on the team have really tried to do all year, Jordan and Cornelio and Travis and myself is really get us some offensive boards and get us some more possessions and if we don't have an opportunity to shoot, get it back out and make the defense work for 35 more seconds. I think it happened a couple times today where it was a scramble situation and we were able to get the ball to Garrison and he got a little bit more different looks.
THE MODERATOR: All right. We'll excuse the student-athletes and take questions for coach.

Q. Can you just reflect on the last couple weeks and what this has meant to the program and the university.
COACH JONES: I think it's been a great time. As I reflect back it's not just the last couple weeks though. I think that's when maybe folks started noticing and maybe some of the, we started reaping some of the rewards of the fruits of the players' labor. But as I told them in the locker room after the game, I'm disappointed that we lost the game, but I'm more disappointed that the journey for this particular team is ending.
They have been a joy to coach. They have worked so hard. And to see them as well as American University and the entire university community kind of get the our moment in the sun, is, really it's been a great time and a special time.

Q. I was asking your guys about your game plan on Lofton going in and you got to feel pretty good looking at his box score and he's 1-7?
COACH JONES: The fact that he only got seven shots up is pretty remarkable. I thought that Garrison did a good job of chasing him, but as he also mentioned, any of the down screens, we wanted to show very strongly on the screens, guard him with a man and a half, any ball screen or dribble hand off we wanted to show very, very, be very aggressive. Similar to the way Tennessee played Garrison. And try to take the ball out of his hands. We played him differently in those situations than we played any of their other players.
You saw the draw back, the down side of that, there were two or three times where -- and they utilize him very, very well -- but where he set back screens and Garrison was under instructions, he was supposed to call the screen out, but under no circumstances was he supposed to help. And their first two baskets of the game I think Cornelio got back screened by Lofton and they ended up with layups.
So we had to tighten that up, do a little bit better job of recognizing those situations, but that really was a byproduct of the fact that we just did not want to give Lofton any opening. And in preparing for Lofton, but preparing for Tennessee, obviously we talked to a lot of people, we watched a ton of film, and the thing that we kept hearing over and over from people that know them really, really well, is that they tease you with the three. And as well as they shoot the three and people remember those and maybe the biggest baskets of the game were the two threes that Chris hit, but they kill you five feet and in. And we kind of felt like coming in that we weren't going to be able to guard both, just from a physical standpoint.
So we wanted to take Lofton out as best we could and then try to guard the rest of them and keep them from getting layups and dunks.
THE MODERATOR: All right. Thank you, coach.
COACH JONES: Thank you.

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