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March 22, 2008
LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS
THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon. We have with us today from the University of Miami, Lance hurdle, James Dews, and Jack McClinton. Your questions, please, ladies and gentlemen.
Q. Jack, have you watched tape of Texas and Mason, who we assume would guard you, and can you talk about the kind of defense he plays?
JACK McCLINTON: He's a great defender. He works hard on both ends of the floor and has great size.
Q. For whichever one of you guys is likely to draw A.J. Abrams initially as a defensive assignment, could you just concentrate on what he does for Texas and what you've seen of him?
JACK McCLINTON: We don't really know the matchups yet. We've been watching film and talk about that usually coming closer to the game. We know any three of us could be on him. We all know what he's capable of doing on the offensive end. He's a great shooter, great penetrator, great all around player.
Q. Jack, you said you had been feeling under the weather a little a couple days before the game yesterday, that you were feeling a little better yesterday. How do you feel right now and just the health status of everybody? Is the illness over, Jack?
JACK McCLINTON: I'm on the meds. I'm feeling real good right now. Thanks for asking.
Q. Wonder if any ever you guys could talk about what you've done this year after being picked to finish last in the ACC? Did y'all kind of take that personally?
LANCE HURDLE: We just kind of play with a chip on our shoulder. Just went out there and, you know, played humble and hungry, you know, just try to work hard every chance we got.
JAMES DEWS: We kept that in the back of our minds that, you know, where we were picked, and every time we stepped out on the court, we want to keep that in the back of our minds and go out there and play hard. Play as a team. We had our goals ahead of us. That's what we want to do. Go out and play as a team.
Q. I don't know if you guys had a chance to look at the film of your game yesterday, but do you think that kind effort is going to be good enough against Texas, and if not, what are you going to have to do more?
JACK McCLINTON: We watched film. We saw things we did well, and we also saw the bad things that we didn't do as well and as far as we work on our transition defense. We had a couple breakdowns there, and it's good because those are all things that you can do that one day, you can fix those things. So I mean, you can always correct the bad things. Always make the good things better.
Q. Lance, would you talk about what you get from your bigs, usually night in and night out, how much they contribute to the overall scheme of things?
LANCE HURDLE: Well, they're a big part of this team, you know, they bring big presence inside. They play hard. They play with a lot of heart, you know. Sometimes the stats don't show how much they really do on the court, so they're very valuable to this team.
Q. Coach ever talk to you guys at all, or do you guys have any sense of his history with the University of Texas, and, if so, do you have any comments on that?
JACK McCLINTON: James?
JAMES DEWS: Yes. I mean, we know that he's really close to Coach Barnes and we know, you know, he was there before he came here, and I mean --
JACK McCLINTON: We know Coach Barnes was kind of his mentor when he first got there. We know Coach Haith was one of the recruiters at Texas and some of the players there Coach Haith recruited. We know his history. He's our coach. It's a good thing. It's going to be a great game.
Q. For all you guys, why is Frank a good coach?
JACK McCLINTON: Like I always say, first, he's a faith-based coach. He's also like a father figure to us. He's not just our basketball coach. If we have some other problems going on with school or anything like that, we can always go to Coach Haith and ask him for help. He's always there no matter what time of night it is. Early in the morning, late night, doesn't matter, he always answers the call -- answer our call.
JAMES DEWS: It's not always about basketball. Like Jack said, anything you need he's always there for you, on and off the court. That's very important to have a father figure, especially being away from home.
LANCE HURDLE: The most important thing he also does, he also believes in us. You know, like he told us yesterday, some of us were struggling, but, you know, he always have the belief in us, and that's good to have, along with what Jack and James said. He does very well.
Q. Lance or James, talk about Jack's obviously leading scorer for you guys. Talk about his contributions. Is he the floor leader and sort of a team leader off the court for you guys? What's his role that way?
JAMES DEWS: Yeah, he's definitely our leader. When Jack gets going, kind of helps us get going, too. And you know, on the floor, we start missing a lot of shots, we're down a little bit, Jack is always there pumping us up. That's good to have him on the court with us like that.
LANCE HURDLE: Yeah. Jack is always watching tape. It's good to have your leading scorer in there watching tape and working on his game all the time. He always had these metaphors before the game. It gets us pumped up. He's a real student athlete of the game. That's what makes it real special about him.
Q. For any of you guys, can you ever see the day where Miami reaches a point where it's competing with Duke and North Carolina for the top of the ACC? What areas does the program have to improve?
JACK McCLINTON: We definitely made a big jump with making the NCAA Tournament, which I think will help us with recruiting now. And we know it wasn't going to happen over night, we just come in and next season we make it to the tournament. We make gradual steps. We made big steps, and now we're here playing in the NCAA Tournament.
JAMES DEWS: Yeah. I mean, we knew it would take time, but, you know, putting in hard work in, each season, during the off-season, during the season, we knew if we just kept believing, we would make the NCAA Tournament and hard work paid off.
LANCE HURDLE: Yeah. Just like what James said, having confidence within each other and believing that we can succeed and believe we're not just putting all this hard work in for nothing.
Q. First, if you can share some of those metaphors that Jack uses; and second, Jack, since do you watch tape, did you get to watch yesterday's game and what were your thoughts? Do you remember being in that quote-unquote zone?
JACK McCLINTON: I watched the game. I don't like watch it for myself. I try to watch it so I can like maybe run to Lance, James, you should have held your follow through on this shot, anything that I can do to make my teammates better, and that's when I said -- I try to see the defense kind of lacked on some parts of the game. We saw that, and we're going to definitely work on that tomorrow.
JACK McCLINTON: Top secret information. I don't want any other teams using my metaphors to get pumped for a game.
Q. Any of you guys can comment about a lighter side of Coach Haith? Anything you can share as far as anecdotes or anything?
JACK McCLINTON: Definitely a family guy. When his daughter comes around, he's all smiles. We can be having a bad practice, something could be going on, and when he sees his daughter walks in, he's all smiles, daughter or son. Definitely a family guy.
LANCE HURDLE: Big time family man. He welcomed me with open arms when I came on my visit, and, you know, being here just a blessing. So he's definitely a family man, and he's a great family addition to our family as well.
JAMES DEWS: Yeah. Like Lance said, on my visit, you know, having his wife around, Mrs. Haith, and my parents came around, you know, you can tell it's like a whole big family. So that makes us all feel comfortable.
Q. Jack, I think a lot of people around the country going to be pointing at you and D.J. Augustin as a key matchup for this game. Do you look at that as the key matchup? If not, what is?
JACK McCLINTON: The whole game is going to be a key matchup, 1 through 5. I try to approach every game as a new game, and just we need to keep doing what we do, go inside out, and just play like we've been playing. We can't change up because we're playing a different team. Stay the same. And I mean, during the game you might have to change some things up, that's -- that's what great teams do.
Q. Do you look forward to playing against an All-American can like D.J. Augustin? When you see his name, does that excite you?
JACK McCLINTON: You live, you play basketball your whole life just to play against the best players in the country, and tomorrow we'll have a chance to play against Top-10 ranked team in the country.
Q. For Lance or James, how confident are you guys, and how confident should you be or can you be like going against a Top-10 team in the country?
JAMES DEWS: We're going to play ball. We're not worried about anything else. We're going to go out there and play Miami basketball. That's playing hard, playing team ball, playing together, and let the rest take care of itself. That's all we're doing, going out there and play.
LANCE HURDLE: You know, at this time of the season, you've got to play, leave it all on the line each and every game, because you never know when it could be your last. You got to play every game like it's your last.
Q. How would you describe the character or I guess the mental toughness of your team to people who haven't seen you all year?
JACK McCLINTON: We're a very tough team. I mean, like I said, I think the fact that a lot of people count us out at the beginning of the year really made us even that much more mentally tough, knowing that we're always the underdog and knowing every time out, we have a chance to do something special. That's how we approached every game and every practice.
LANCE HURDLE: When we were 2-6, that shows you the mental toughness of our team. A lot of people would have thought we were out. We stayed humble and hungry. We turned it around.
JAMES DEWS: That's the strength of our team, we never get down. We're down at halftime or, you know, anything like that, we always find a way to bounce back. Like last season we were down with injuries, we found a way in the ACC Tournament to bounce back. That's what helps us, you know -- helped us get where we are right now.
THE MODERATOR: Any other questions? Jack, Lance, James, appreciate you guys' time. Have a great rest of the day. Look forward to a tremendous game tomorrow.
With us is Miami Coach, Frank Haith. Your questions, please.
Q. Frank, when you watched the tape, impresses you about Mason as a defender as far as his technique or anything else?
COACH HAITH: Well, I think the biggest thing with Mason is just his toughness, his desire. He plays with tremendous, you know, desire and passion, and you can tell that he's accepted that role as being the defender and understanding that he's got to be a stopper for their team and you can tell that the coach has made that something that, hey, you need to do this for us, and he's accepted that.
Q. Frank, you won at North Carolina, you beat Duke this year. Are you kind of putting those two ACC powerhouses on notice?
COACH HAITH: I don't think you can ever put those guys on notice. They're such great programs. We've been very fortunate to have some success. You know, this year obviously the win versus Duke was a great win for us, and we had not beat Duke since I had been at Miami. And we had won at North Carolina, as you mentioned.
So we're just trying to build, and there's no question that, you know, I think we're in the right -- we're headed in the right direction. Obviously we're -- we made the NCAA Tournament this year. But we're still growing as a program.
Q. Frank, you remember A.J. from when he was a high school kid. Could you talk about the player you saw then and the player that you see today?
COACH HAITH: Well, it's interesting. Obviously A.J. grew up in the neighborhood that I lived in when I was in Austin, and I remember going to see A.J. when he was a sophomore, I think, and, I mean, I loved him. Thought he was going to be a terrific player. He's a little guy. He's still little. I'm sure -- but he's got a great toughness. And it's amazing, his dad is a big guy.
But I always thought that A.J. was going to be really good because he had that toughness about him, even though he was small, and he had a quick release. His jump shot -- he gets his shot off so quick, and, you know, he's got ice water in his veins. He takes big shots.
But he's grown even more in terms of a player than when I saw him as a young kid, and he committed to us early at Texas, and right before -- right before I left. And I always thought A.J. was going to have a good future.
Q. Do you know who's going to guard him?
COACH HAITH: We don't talk about those things yet. We're all going to guard him.
Q. Frank, can you take us back to the courting process when Rick hired you, why you wanted to work for him, and maybe first impressions of once you got there?
COACH HAITH: Well, when you start from the end, my first impression was he was crazy. I mean really, really crazy. I mean, the guy will say anything. You guys know that. (Laughter).
No. Rick and I -- I knew Rick when I was at -- actually, I think I met him when I was at Texas A and M. He was at Clemson. Then I went to Wake Forest and we obviously, you know, in the ACC we recruited against each other and got to know each other a little bit on the trails and had tremendous respect for him.
His teams at Clemson played so hard. You know, when he first went to Texas, actually we talked about me going to Texas initially, and I just couldn't make the trip at that time, just wasn't the right time for me. Then the second time he asked me, I thought I needed to do it because I had so much respect for him.
A lot of it has to do with, you know, Rick's background. I know his story. You guys know his story in items of how he got started in the business. He went to Elon (phonetic) College. He begged for a job at Davidson and hung around the doorsteps with Eddie Debedenboc (phonetic) and finally got an opportunity. I was very much the same way with my background in getting into the business. We had some things in common.
I found out that even more once I worked with him that we had a lot in common. You know, just the way he was and, you know, he -- in terms of what he's meant to me as a mentor, I don't know that there's anybody has had as much influence on what I've been able to accomplish than Rick Barnes.
Q. Staying on that theme, I want to know, obviously you're thrilled to be in the second round NCAA Tournament. What are the emotions? How would you describe your emotions of going up against Rick? And would you rather be going up against him than, say, John Calipari at this stage of the tournament? Just talk about your emotions about coaching against him specifically.
COACH HAITH: I don't know exactly the way they're going to be until tomorrow. You know, on the front end of it, obviously, you know, just thinking about the opportunity to play, continue to play is exciting.
In the tournament setting if we weren't winning, I would be pulling for Texas. So that obviously makes it very difficult because both of us can't win tomorrow afternoon.
But, you know, it's almost like, you know, your dad. You're trying to please your dad, too. So I think it will be a little bit like that.
But Rick likes to look at us as brothers. I still look up to Rick.
Q. If I can veer you off course real quickly. You were one of the first teams to beat Mississippi State. Can you talk about talk about why they are such a tough matchup and what it takes to beat State?
COACH HAITH: Those two big guys are really good. I think Jamont when he plays and he's on top of his game, he's as good as there is because he's so big as a point guard. They have good athleticism. They've got good shooters. I think Rick is a really good basketball coach.
That will be a great basketball game. That's a tremendous matchup because I think Mississippi State has the athletes to compete with Memphis.
Q. Frank, I know you've told us many times that you talk to Rick Barnes a lot, but leading up this week, to this weekend, have you gotten away from that a little bit because of the possibility of facing him?
COACH HAITH: We talked the night of the selection show he called me right before he got on the plane to head back from Kansas City, and all that conversation was just, you know, giving me compliments about what we've accomplished and nothing more than that.
We spoke yesterday -- day before yesterday at the meetings we had, but very briefly and so not a lot. You know, Rick and I can go three weeks and not talk and then we can talk maybe two, three times in a week.
So, it varies, you know. I'm probably a little disappointed he and I have talked a lot of basketball this year. Anytime I decide to do something, I talk to him about it, and when he decides to change some things, he talks to me about it. He'll know my team just as well as we'll know his team.
Q. Kind of along those lines, is there one quality from Rick you think you have taken and apply either recruiting practices or games?
COACH HAITH: The one thing that impressed me the most with Coach was the fact that I think he's willing to adjust, even on the fly. He's not afraid to take chances.
I equate this to his time at Clemson, the tile that they played at Clemson. He had those big physical post players, and they ran this motion offense and they worked clock. And then when we got to Texas, I was there with him we had T.J. Ford. It was a totally different style. Now they got D.J. Augustin. It's a totally different style. I think good coaches are able to adjust based on your personnel, and Rick was terrific at that.
His first year at Clemson, this was the year they thought they wouldn't win a game. He didn't have any post players. I remember talking to him about some things they did. They used to run -- they ran clock and motion, did it with a heavy ball for 35 seconds and, you know, to create toughness within his team so he was -- he's that kind of coach. He's able to adjust to his personnel, and he's very good at that.
Q. Coach, your players talked about Jack giving metaphors before the game to kind of motivate them. Would you be able to share any of those with us and also just a little bit on Jack's leadership.
COACH HAITH: That's a big word for my team to say, "metaphor" (laughter). No. There's a lot of things I think we do within a team that we really try to create a family atmosphere, and there's some things that we try to keep within the family, and Jack is very good.
He's good with his teammates. I think he's a leader by nature. I think the kid works his tail off. He's a product of -- what you see with Jack is all because he's a hard worker and he puts in a lot of time. I think he not only does that, lead the team by how he plays, but now he's become more vocal, and we're seeing that a lot with this team, and it's definitely helped this ball club.
Q. Frank, could you describe the similarities and differences between your two teams, you and Rick?
COACH HAITH: Between us and Texas? Well, I think we do a lot of things a like. You know, I think that they probably play a little bit more out of transition than we do. Because of their point guard play with D.J, I think D.J. has the ball in his hands quite a bit, and we don't do that as much, but a lot of things we do are very similar. And, as a matter of fact, a lot of the calls are very similar. Defensively we're very similar, too, in some of the things that we do.
Q. Frank, two questions. Would you talk about the things you learned from Rick, the things that you are now as a coach that you got from him, and just talk about why he's crazy and how he makes you laugh or whatever.
COACH HAITH: Well, that's a good one. Let me think about some of those things as we talk about things I've learned from Rick.
Rick was -- you know, as an assistant coach you want to work for someone that's going to give you an opportunity to become a head coach in terms of put you in positions where you're going to do head coach like things.
While I was with him, I did a lot of those things. I mean, obviously you have your scouting, you have your recruiting, but Rick would let me do radio. I would do TV. I would do all kinds of things that would prepare you to be a head coach.
Those type things as a head coach that Rick was showing me, I took those things, too, for my assistants in terms of letting them express themselves. Rick is a great recruiter. Lot of people don't know this. When he gets honed in with a kid one-on-one, he's terrific with a kid. He has -- that trusting comes across, he's really trusting. And the thing that I also learned from him, he's great with players.
He knows how to motivate kids. He knows how to get the most out of his players. It's different -- in terms of him being able to read kids, because it's not always the same with every kid. He's very good at adjusting and adapting to the personalities of the kids.
So those types of things in terms of being able to communicate, being able to get the most out of your players, I learned that from him.
COACH HAITH: I mean people that know Rick, obviously, you liked the comment he talked about Arkansas. He'll say anything, you know, and when he comes up here, I'm sure he's going to say anything.
I can tell you a great story. We were getting -- we were playing in the Final Four. And this is how relaxed he is. This is a unique quality. Not many, many coaches have this quality, because I've been with a lot of different coaches.
Biggest game of his career, getting ready to play in the Final Four. I used to stay in the locker room with him to talk with him. Obviously make fun. You got to have your -- your gear has got to be tight with him. Can't have a bad looking tie with a suit. So you got to make sure the gear is right. He likes to joke around.
We're sitting there, and I'm talking to him. All of a sudden he is dead asleep, knocked out.
Q. Game day?
COACH HAITH: This is 20 minutes before the tip off. (Laughter). I'm talking, he's out. He's done. Then our athletic director walks in and all of sudden he wakes up. Team walks in, he turns it on just like that (indicating) with the guys in terms of getting ready. We played Syracuse that day. Just that right there. The guy can turn it on and off real quick.
He and I are a lot alike. We don't sleep much. That was a time to catch up on his snooze. He would always call me -- Rick didn't like meetings, so we didn't meet a lot. Our meetings were when he would call me at night, 12:00, and talk about what we're going to do the next day at practice.
I'm the one that's usually always awake. He would always call me, and we talk about the team and practice and -- but he wouldn't like to meet. That's something unique, too, about a coach. We'd meet. It would be on the phone at midnight.
Q. Frank, now you're getting a new practice facility. I know you recruit nationally. Are there other areas or steps you're taking to make Miami become one of those elite programs?
COACH HAITH: Well, our fan base is getting better. We're trying to create that -- in the ACC you have a tremendous -- in terms of tradition in our conference and basketball tradition, and we're creating that. Our arena is not very big, but we're trying to improve our fan base, and that has gotten better this year. And obviously that would get better if your product is better, as we play better.
That's the next step for us, getting that consistency. As our program grows, our fan base gets consistent along with the practice facilities, a step in the right direction.
You know, just -- I think the president, President Shalala and Paul Dee who hired me, have done a tremendous job to try to improve our basketball program, and you talk about a young program. There's 15 years we didn't have basketball at Miami. It was just brought back, and I think we've done a good job in putting it back in position where it can be successful in the ACC.
THE MODERATOR: One more question.
Q. Do you do any impressions?
COACH HAITH: No Rick Barnes impressions.
Q. It can be a strategic disadvantage that you know each other's calls, for you or Texas. Is there anything you guys have had to change the calls or sets possibly to hide that?
COACH HAITH: Well, you know, not really. We're going to tweak some things, as we do all year, in items of how, you know, there's some -- like they've got some things they do in their offense and defense that I'm sure they've added, but not really. I think we got to do what we do. We got to go out and play the game. We can't make drastic changes at this point in time in the year. We got to go play.
THE MODERATOR: Coach, we appreciate it very much. Best of luck to you. Should be a heck of a march up tomorrow. Have a nice evening.
End of FastScripts