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March 22, 2008
THE MODERATOR: From Western Kentucky we have Tyrone Brazelton, Courtney Lee and Ty Rogers and we open it up to your questions.
Q. Tyrone, I wonder if you could maybe give us an athlete's perspective on what took place in this building yesterday. The enormous upsets. One after the other. And as a player, is it easier to understand that than maybe the public can do?
TYRONE BRAZELTON: Yeah, it's definitely easier for the players to understand because it was basically four teams battling it out. I really don't think there were any upsets. I mean, it's tourney time, and every team is equal.
Q. Ty, can you tell me how often was your phone going yesterday? And how late? And can you give us a sense of who all maybe you heard from?
TY ROGERS: Well, it's been going off pretty much since the game ended until now even. Most people from back home, people back at the university in Bowling Green. Just a lot of friends and family giving a lot of support.
Q. Governor or Senator?
TY ROGERS: No, nobody like that.
Q. What did your text message total top out at, and what is your plan like?
TY ROGERS: I don't know what it ended up being. When I got back to the game it was 172, but I don't know what it ended up being.
Q. How much do you guys work on a scenario when you have that last possession, last-second shot and when you're making a play and things don't go exactly as it is drawn up as is often the case? How do you improvise? Can you just talk about that situation and how much you practice that?
TYRONE BRAZELTON: Actually, we work on it often. Coach Horn always draws up a different play to get us a last shot with time winding down. But our main focus will usually be just making sure we get the shot off.
TY ROGERS: I would say we at least work on situation-type things like that down the stretch once a week, probably. Couple of times every couple of weeks at least.
Q. Ty, how many times have you watched the replay of that shot? Is there anything in it or about it that stands out just in the last 24 hours?
TY ROGERS: I've seen replayed several times now. The main thing that just stands out is just the amazing pass Tyrone, the play he made. It was just a very heads up play. Unselfish play, and I can't say enough about that.
Q. Courtney, can you take us back to right at the eve of the conference tournament, and whether Coach Horn talked about what you needed to do or whether the players talked among themselves about your tournament chances. I know your focus was on winning the conference title. But in terms of at large or being in a position to make the tournament, did you talk about that at all?
COURTNEY LEE: Definitely, as players we did. That was one of our early goals in the season is to come out and just win games and go to our conference tournament and win games there. But we didn't want to get an at-large bid. We just wanted to win our conference tournament and make sure we got into the tournament.
But like I said, we just wanted to make sure we take it one game at a time.
Q. How much contact have you had with people back in Bowling Green just about the scene that was on campus? Sounded like pretty much chaos from what we're hearing. How much have you heard about that?
COURTNEY LEE: We heard a little bit about it. We just heard a lot of people didn't go to class. And if they were in class they turned on the TVs and were watching the game and supporting us.
Q. Did you guys even have a sense for what that moment, what that shot, what that's going to mean? Are you going to be talking about it for the rest of your lives? Every year when the tournament starts, that's going to come up. Do you even have a sense for what it's going to mean or how big a shot it's going to be in the legacy of forever?
TYRONE BRAZELTON: Well, I mean, it's going to be history for the school. It's just one game. It really hasn't sunk in yet because we're not done doing damage in the tournament. But I think we pretty much made our school proud. We just know that everybody back in the community are proud of us, so we know we're going to have a long-lasting effect on the community.
COURTNEY LEE: I agree with everything that Tyrone said. It really hasn't sunk in yet, but we know it was a tremendous shot by Ty Rogers to come down and hit like a 30-foot three pointer.
I kind of joked around with the teammates early. During the season before the tournament you see the Pontiac commercials. I told him he's going to be on the Pontiac commercial.
TY ROGERS: I really don't think it will truly sink in until at least this season's over, and maybe months after that. Because it was a big thing for our program. I think more than anything, I think WKU deserves to have its name out there. I think it will help with recruiting and things like that, and that means a lot as well.
Q. For a program like Western, the pressure is always to get into the NCAA Tournament. Now that you guys are in a position where you could get to the Sweet 16, since you've been here, that's been the main drive to get to the tournament. What would it mean for you guys to get to the Sweet 16?
COURTNEY LEE: Like you said, that's been our goal since this group of seniors has been here is to get to the tournament. Now that we're here, we just want to enjoy it, have fun and keep playing for each other. To get to the Sweet 16 would mean a lot. We have a good group of guys that worked hard from day one to get in this position. We just want to enjoy it.
Q. Your bench was vastly superior yesterday to Drake's, and it looks like from the stance that San Diego didn't get a whole lot of scoring anyway from their bench. What about your bench, and what it's meant to you guys and what it meant to you yesterday?
TYRONE BRAZELTON: That's one thing we pride ourselves on is having a deep bench. We have a lot of guys that come off the bench and do a lot of different things. They can come in and we won't miss a beat. So we pretty much pride ourselves on that.
We feel like most of our bench players can be stars. So we just take pride in it.
Q. Any of the players could answer this: Did the team watch the San Diego game together or individually? Where was it, and how did the result filter in to know who you were going to be playing?
TY ROGERS: When the game was being played live, we didn't see it, but the coaching staff made edits for us last night and we met as a team last night and went over the game and their personnel, things like that.
Q. Along those same lines, has there been a point where you've kind of blocked out yesterday and tried to focus on Sunday? Just kind of let that go knowing there's time in the future to relish that?
TY ROGERS: I think that happened this morning. We kind of enjoyed yesterday throughout the day and last night. But we woke up this morning knowing that we had to focus in on San Diego and start preparing.
Q. Tyrone, is there a different feeling now going into this game when you're not perceived as an underdog, so to speak?
TYRONE BRAZELTON: Like I said, I feel like both teams are evenly matched. It's the same feeling. We want to come out and play hard and attack them like we try to attack every other team.
Q. If we went back to late February when your team started the incredible win streak that it's on, and San Diego went on its streak that it's on, what was your awareness of USD at that point? And could you sort of compare yourself to Brandon Johnson and how that match-up is going to go tomorrow?
TYRONE BRAZELTON: Well, I really didn't even know they were on a winning streak. But I actually got a chance to see a couple of their games at midnight our time. I really don't compare myself to him. I think he's a really good player. He does a lot of great things for his team. But I really don't compare us. I never really sat down and thought about it.
Q. Courtney, a lot of boards for you the last two games. Like 17 combined over the last two games. Is that something you've been emphasizing in particular lately here, a 9 yesterday, an 8 in the championship game?
COURTNEY LEE: Definitely. Any time we're playing a team that has two big guys and we play a little bit of match-up zone. So definitely have to come from the top and help rebound. Just got a big group of guys, group of seniors that are out there just doing everything it takes to win, and rebounding is one of those things. So I wanted to make sure I got that done for our team.
Q. You said what happened yesterday as a player didn't feel like upsets. But if someone had told you before the start of the season that Western would be playing San Diego for the right to go to the Sweet 16, how would you have thought about something like that, that kind of scenario?
TYRONE BRAZELTON: I probably wouldn't have thought that would happen, but it is what it is. They're well deserving of being here as well as we are.
Q. D.J. and Jeremy both avoided foul trouble pretty well in the conference tournament and yesterday both fouled out. Did you make adjustments today to maybe avoid that situation? And if they were doing something that they were in the conference tournament, maybe go back to that?
COURTNEY LEE: I think both of them are playing tremendous for us. They're both stepped up in the conference tournament. I think they had a little bit of nerves because they wanted to come out and play hard. But we don't change nothing at all. We just want to go out there and do the same things we're doing and playing aggressive.
Q. From one guy who hit a pretty big shot, what did you think of San Diego's winning shot? I assume that was in the cuts that you got.
TY ROGERS: Right. It was a great play. He hit a big step-back jumper. And it was just a clutch, clutch shot.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, gentlemen. Questions for Coach Horn.
Q. This is as not likely a match-up for the right to go to the Sweet 16 as we've seen in the tournament for quite a while. If someone had told you before the start of the season that Western would be facing San Diego, what would you have thought?
COACH DARRIN HORN: Same thing I think now: Great. We're playing. Unlikely to you guys, I don't think so us. I think anybody that's seen this team play knows that they're extremely well coached. Bill and his staff do a great job, and they're a good basketball team. You don't get to the tournament in the manner that they got to the tournament, go into Kentucky and win on the road and not be a good basketball team.
So, I think in terms of the seeding, you know, sure, there is some surprise to that. But that really comes true for what happened in this building all day yesterday. Now that is amazing. But for one particular match-up with two teams that are pretty good basketball teams not shocking.
Q. What did you think? You mentioned yesterday what happened here. What did you think about the insanity that played out in this building yesterday? You even said yourself you've got to love March Madness. There were three more pretty crazy games that happened over the course. Did you watch them, and what did you think of them overall, just the whole pod in general?
COACH DARRIN HORN: Didn't watch any of them except for the following game for scouting purposes. Again, we said it yesterday, that's what makes it March. That's why this is the best event in all of sports and why it garners so much attention. I think a lot of it has to do with what you see in the follow-up to our game, with a kid like Ty Rogers. You'd have to be emotionless not to have that tug on you a little bit. A kid that's that great of a kid, from a small town, really been a role player his whole career for us, to hit that kind of shot and, you know, enjoy that kind of moment. I think that's what this tournament is all about. We're glad we're on the good side of it.
Q. Could you kind of just take us through your observations or thought processes yesterday as you're watching the San Diego game, and you see that unfold? What you thought as it played out the way it did?
COACH DARRIN HORN: Well, I think when they started the second half the way they did, it was obvious that it was not going to be a situation where UCONN just turned it up and was going to use their talent to win the game and run away with it. We didn't think that that would happen from the get-go. They were more impressive live to me than they were on film. They've got terrific guard play, and they're much more physical in person than you could tell from watching on the film. I just think they're a really good basketball team.
Q. Given what happened yesterday, who can we look at and label the favorites and underdogs tomorrow? Both games?
COACH DARRIN HORN: There aren't any or we both are. I just think that they're going to be good college basketball games. We said yesterday or in the first day here, you know, if you get to the tournament, you're good. That's just how it is and there are a lot of guys that can play. We've got a potential first round draft pick and a point guard that needs to be considered at that level on our team, and we're coming from a non-BCS conference, and San Diego's got a few on their team that are awful good, too, in terms of individual talents.
I just think everybody's good. They're good at what they do this time of year. Though it's fun to watch the seeding and call things underdogs and that type of thing. I just think there's a lot of good basketball.
Q. Can you talk about the buzzer-beating scenario. How much you work on that situation? And yesterday, in particular, probably varies whether you need a two or a three, and what your options are and those kind of things?
COACH DARRIN HORN: We try to spend time on late-game situations. How much or how often kind of depends on where we are in the season and what we have going on. In general last night it was more of a situation where we wanted to go with a philosophy of how we wanted to attack it versus a set play. The idea was to get Tyrone the basketball. He's a young man that can get up and down the floor in a real hurry. Six seconds is an awful lot of time. Let him get as close to the rim as he could. And if he could, that meant somebody was open to kick it out. That aspect of it we work on it quite a bit. One of the reasons I believe so strongly in our style of play is because I think when you get in that situation, Tyrone flipping back to Ty for a shot. He was pretty far out and obviously it was a special shot.
But that's not unique to how we play or how those guys shoot either. Nice for them to feel the freedom to do that. We want them to have the freedom to do that because in a situation like that, I think it comes in really handy.
Q. Ty said he had 172 text messages just from the time he got back to his phone after the game. Do you think he's got even a sense for how big this is going to be over the next, you know, rest of his life?
COACH DARRIN HORN: 50 years?
Q. Right, exactly.
COACH DARRIN HORN: No. I don't think that you can when you're 22 years old and you're in that situation. I'm probably head coach today because of him being a part of something. Like Ty was a role player, but a part of winning bigger than our school's ever won over a period of three years. I think that you don't know that until you move forward.
So I think the magnitude of what we're going through now, yes. But the magnitude of how it's going to impact them long-term, there is no way to know that until you go through it.
Q. Just out of curiosity, it's such a quick turnaround in these tournaments in terms of preparing for your next opponent. Do you come into this and give any thought to who your potential opponents will be and maybe looking at some film? Do you go there at all as a coach?
COACH DARRIN HORN: What we try to do is prepare the way we have all year long in terms of our preparation. So the focus was on Drake coming into the tournament. Couple of assistants took San Diego and UCONN and did the preliminary work on them for whoever would win. But in general we're going to try to do what we do really well.
The thing about March is you can't change a whole lot. You want to do what you do good. So the scouting is extremely important, but I think being good at what you do is even more important.
Q. I don't know if you saw some of the ESPN coverage and Coach Knight's comments about Tyrone's play.
COACH DARRIN HORN: I did see that.
Q. 999 out of 1,000 times the guard in that position's going to keep the ball. Getting back to that late-game situation, is that just improvisation? How much is that him? And how much is that just practice and preparation to know that this is the time to kick it out?
COACH DARRIN HORN: I think it's mostly Tyrone. I think we told our guys in the huddle that yes, there is a play, but players make plays and that's what we need right now. He's a special player. Not to be dramatic, but at the same time we've tried to build our program with a foundation of character and building trust and helping these guys understand what it really means to be a team and having faith in each other and what you do. It took an awful lot of faith for Tyrone to flip that shot back to his teammate. I think what it showed also was a lot of trust. Not only a great play and a great read on Tyrone's part by a really good player, but I think it showed a lot of trust in his teammates to make the right play, to pass that back. A lot of guys wouldn't do that. Not just because they might want to be the hero, but because they want to do it themselves because they don't trust their teammates. I think it shows that as much as anything.
But there is no question that part's gotten a little overlooked except for Coach Knight pointing it out. It was a phenomenal pass and a great decision.
Q. I wonder if you could maybe drill down a little deeper into the idea of the upsets yesterday. Is there a common thread? Does it have to do with lack of familiarity with opponents or specific match-ups? Or do you have your own theory as to what happened here yesterday?
COACH DARRIN HORN: Can I just say yes (smiling).
I think it's all of those things. If you take our game, for example, you watch us play, yeah, they're athletic. They get after you a little bit. We can do this to handle it. You know, you get in the game, we're a little more athletic and flying around and pressuring you a little more than you think.
You watch Drake play, and yeah, they shoot it pretty good, but we can do this to them. You get in the game and well, boy, they can really shoot it. I just think some of it is teams are really good at what they do. You're unfamiliar with them, so the things that you gain from league play where you get really familiar with an opponent and individuals and some of that, you haven't actually played them which is different than just scouting them on film. I think that's a part of it.
I obviously, think great guard play is a big key and all the teams that won had great guard play. I think the other part is players aren't in awe of names anymore. They're just not. We could sit here for a long time and talk about what the reasons for that are. But I'm quite sure nobody on my team was worried about what league anybody that we play comes from or what name is on their jersey this year. We're just not. I think players are more like that in general today.
Q. For a program that's not from one of the big conferences, the pressure is always to get to the NCAA Tournament. What would it mean given that perspective for you guys to get to the Sweet 16?
COACH DARRIN HORN: I think that's a great question. I think it helps. I think what it means is for that individual year, you've got a really good basketball team. But I hope what it means for us is that we've laid a foundation with the other talent that we have in the program to put ourselves in position to be good enough to get in the tournament and maybe have another chance to win. I think the misnomer nowadays is George Mason goes to the Final Four, well, everybody can be a Final Four team. Now they're a Final Four program. Not so much. That's just not how this deal works.
But it doesn't mean that it can't help elevate your program and perception. Some of those things go without question.
Q. Coach Bill Grier said he counts you as a friend going back to his days at Gonzaga and yours at Marquette. I wonder if you could expand on the relationship between you two and what you think of the job he's done at San Diego this year.
COACH DARRIN HORN: Bill and I did get to know each other when we were assistants, first at the Great Alaska Shootout back in fall of '01, November of '01. Just through being on the road, recruiting and running into each other. Not a pick up the phone and going on vacation kind of relationship, but I think a mutual respect and coaching friendship.
I have so much respect for Bill and where he comes from with Gonzaga because those guys are great at what they do. I mean, they are really, really good at what they do. I think maybe more important than that, they're really good people that are doing right by the kids and doing it the right way. The job that he's done with his team has been phenomenal. The hardest thing to do is to do well in your first year, simply because everything is new. You've got to get kids to buy in, and sometimes you have young kids, but everything is brand new.
You know, what he's done in a league that has been much improved, and especially at the top as we all know this year, was very, very strong. I think it's been nothing short of phenomenal, and as good a coaching job as there has been in the country this year.
Q. Did you worry on the eve of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament that if you didn't win you wouldn't have a chance to show how good it was?
COACH DARRIN HORN: What do you think?
COACH DARRIN HORN: Yeah. You know, again, I think whether we won or loss yesterday, we proved we belong and we're one of the 65 best teams in the country, but that is not how the system works. That's why I answered the previous question the way I did.
The system is the system. Did we deserve to? Yes. But in a court of law, we didn't have the marquee top 50 wins to put us in that position, that when it goes time to look for reasons to get people in or maybe more importantly get people out, we probably would have been one of the first ones to go, I think.
Q. Your bench was vastly superior yesterday to Drake's. It didn't look like from the box score that San Diego got a lot of help from their bench. But it looks like that you have built a real strong bench, and that's been a key point for you this year. How do you assess your bench and what they contribute?
COACH DARRIN HORN: I think our bench is huge. I think it's one of the biggest reasons for our success this year. Simply because our team has developed a confidence in each other that they don't feel like there's a lot of drop-off. We've played important stretches without Tyrone, we've played important stretches without Courtney. We finished the game and won in overtime yesterday without Jeremy Evans. We don't have anybody that can do what he can do athletically on the interior. So I think that's been a big part of our success.
That being said, that's what makes us good and what we do well. No, San Diego doesn't play as many people as we do, but they're in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, too. They're awful good at what they do. So I don't know if that's our bench versus their bench is as important as that our bench does help us.
Q. Did you take an elbow to the nose during practice or celebration or something?
COACH DARRIN HORN: I took a -- you know, you talk about, how many did Ty have?
COACH DARRIN HORN: In my mind, I didn't look at mine, but it was a high number. And I was checking them and there was a low door. I wish I could say I hit it on the rim trying to dunk in practice today. I did try to dunk. I didn't get one down today. No, I just ran into a door, which was a little bit goofy.
Q. While you were checking your text messages?
COACH DARRIN HORN: Yeah, the four people in our group, the three in front of me were about 5' 9", and they walked right under the door. I kept walking and nailed it.
Q. How many text messages did you get yesterday? And any stick out?
COACH DARRIN HORN: I didn't count them. It was a bunch. I think the ones that stick out are probably from the people that are in our business or that you have walked through with some of this stuff because they know not only what you've been through to get here, but that they've helped you do it. Hearing from guys like Ralph Willard, and Tom Crean, and D.J. Stevens who I worked with at Marquette, and Jim Christian, and I think people in the business, coaches in our league. I think those in a lot of ways mean as much as anything because those guys know the price that you pay is what you're going through.
Q. If you'll indulge a question kind of looking ahead but touching on some of the comments you made about the program. Does yesterday and maybe what can happen in the days to come help/hurt with scheduling? Non-conference scheduling?
COACH DARRIN HORN: That's a great question, and you should probably call me in a couple of months and see how that works out. We would hope, we would hope that it helps. We would hope that it would make people say, man, those guys are really good. It's okay to go to their building and lose to them. There's no shame in that. But people will not come to our building. They just won't. It is the biggest nightmare we have. Coaching is easy, recruiting is easy compared to scheduling. Scheduling is an absolute nightmare. I think locally people get tired of hearing us talk about that, but it's just a reality of where we are.
I would hope that it would help us. Probably what would help us more than anything is that we're losing Tyrone and Courtney. People think they're going to get us on a down year, which we don't think is going to be true. But it hasn't worked like that before, I'll say that. I think maybe if you can do it for a period of five or six years, be here every year, maybe win some games, then maybe it could help. Like Gonzaga's been able to do. But over a period of 30 years people just haven't been that willing to come to Diddle Arena.
Q. You have three seniors, San Diego has none, what is the experience factor? How's that going to play out tomorrow would you think?
COACH DARRIN HORN: You know, again, they're in the second round in the NCAA Tournament. They beat a No.4 seed that has pro talent on it. Those guys didn't look too worried to me. Maybe I don't know much about basketball, but they sure don't look like they're too worried. I didn't even know they had four freshmen playing because I was looking at the players and breaking down film. It wasn't until I checked the roster after I had done a lot of film work late last night that I realized that they were young. So that's not a real factor to me. It's not progressive math class where they haven't one math and move on to the next. They're players. They're in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
End of FastScripts