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March 23, 2008

Tyrone Brazelton

Darrin Horn

Courtney Lee

Ty Rogers


COACH DARRIN HORN: Great college basketball game, like we knew it would be. I have so much respect for Bill and his team and the phenomenal job that he's done with them this year. Had a hard time putting them away. Even though we felt like the pace and the tempo of the game favored us really for about the first 25 or 26 minutes, they made some nice adjustments and just kept fighting and battling, like we knew a Bill Grier-coached team would.
Just really proud of these guys led by these three right here, to do what we had to do down the stretch to finish the game off. Couple of huge, huge shots by Tyrone and Courtney individually when we needed them, and some big stops. He's Mr. One Shining Moment right now. But for anybody that knows basketball, Ty Rogers can guard a little bit, too. He's pretty tough. I thought his defensive presence on Johnson for the entire game was a huge key to the game. Because we felt like as Johnson went, so did their team. And he had to work awful hard for what he did get tonight, and Ty had him most of the time.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes from Western Kentucky.

Q. You guys, I'm looking at three seniors, and how much did that senior leadership and experience help you when the game got tight down the stretch?
COURTNEY LEE: It definitely helped us a lot. In the huddle we had every senior speaking and being vocal out there leading the team along the way. The younger guys, they listened and just followed. So definitely having a big senior class definitely helped.

Q. Tyrone, your coach talked about the pace of the game early. You guys, obviously, have a deeper team than they have. They only have six or seven guys in their rotation. How much do you think that helped you get that lead and maintain it for the time that you did?
COURTNEY LEE: I think it's a huge factor. They only play like seven or eight guys. We've got depth, and we keep coming at them and just wear them down.

Q. Courtney, talk a little bit, when they came down and made the shot to take the lead, you came right back and answered. Were you concerned at all? What is that like when the other team takes momentum?
COURTNEY LEE: Not at all. Just like Friday's game, we just learn from it. It's been a number of games we've been close in that situation. So we just have great poise, and we just know we're going to come down and attack and do the things we need to do.

Q. I know this is a little quick, but Courtney, could you talk about what your impressions of UCLA are and what you know of them from just watching from a distance this year?
COURTNEY LEE: I understand that they're a pretty good team, but we're just enjoying the moment right now. We're not even going to focus on them right now. We're just here, enjoying the moment with our team.

Q. Courtney, could you describe the feeling as a senior, where every game could be your last, and kind of the sense of urgency that brings?
COURTNEY LEE: Well, it definitely brings a sense of urgency. But like I said, we just want to go out and prepare for each game and take it one game at a time. We've got a good group of guys. The younger guys and the seniors, I just want to tell them all I love them all. Because like you said any day can be our last game, and they're just going out there and fighting.

Q. Could you talk a little bit, I know you want to celebrate the moment, but what's it mean for a mid-major program to kind of take on a UCLA and the symbolism of that?
TY ROGERS: I just think it's good for our program in general. To be in the Sweet 16 and get to play a No. 1 seed. It's good for our school, good for our program. It will help with recruiting, I think.
And just back to the seniors. I can't say enough about how wonderful this feels to do this with such a wonderful group of guys.

Q. You guys seemed pretty composed after this kind of victory, do you feel like you're not surprised that this team has gotten this far?
COURTNEY LEE: Not at all. Coming in, one of our goals was to win the conference championship so we can position ourselves to come here and play games. We accomplished that, and we didn't want to stop with that. We wanted to come and make noise and win games. We have a great team. Everybody's experienced. Like five seniors, and the younger guys are following. It's just a good team, a good chemistry.

Q. Ty, just talk about the defensive assignment you had today, and what it was that you were focusing on primarily against him.
TY ROGERS: Well, Johnson's a great player. Something unusual about him is he can get to the hole, he's got a mid-range game, and he's a great three-point shooter. I knew I wasn't going to be able to stop him completely. I just wanted to pressure him, make things difficult for him. I didn't want to give him any open shots or open drives to the lane.
At the same time I think our bigs, especially Jeremy Evans gave me confidence. He gave me confidence to get up in him, so the few times he did drive, it forced him into bad shots around the bucket. So he's a great player, and I have a lot of respect for him.

Q. Tyrone, I wonder if you could address this: When you are guarding those guys on the perimeter, to have Jeremy back there and be such a shot-blocking force, what does that do for you in terms of just confidence and being able to know that somebody has your back like that?
TYRONE BRAZELTON: Oh, it definitely brings us confidence. It allows us to get up in them and make their job difficult. You know, we definitely don't want to give nobody too much space and let them get comfortable. So when we're allowed to get up in them and they go to the basket, Jeremy's there to clean it up, and it gives us all the confidence in the world.
THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, thank you very much. Questions for Coach Horn.

Q. The last time you guys were in the Sweet 16, you played, it was in Orlando, now you guys have come back here and are back in the Sweet 16 as a coach. Are you surprised at how this has all unfolded?
COACH DARRIN HORN: I'm not totally surprised that we're here. You know, we thought this was a special team coming into it. We spent years developing this style of play and putting together the kind of depth and athleticism and skill that gives you a chance to do this in tournament action. We've been telling these guys for two years at least, three years, really, if we get there we've got a real chance to make some noise.
That being said, it's a great thrill and it's a great thrill for me personally to watch our guys enjoy it. Because as a player that's been through it, it's one of the most special times in your life.

Q. What does it mean to you to come back to your alma mater and reach a level like this as a coach?
COACH DARRIN HORN: You know, it's a great feeling. I think because when you play at a place that you coach at, you feel like you've really put into the tradition and helped add to it. So there's a greater sense of pride with it.

Q. You asked yesterday about just the scheduling and getting the opportunity to play the teams, and UCLA wasn't mentioned at the time. But talk about what it means to have a chance to play this kind of team on this kind of stage, being a so-called mid-major?
COACH DARRIN HORN: I think it's a great opportunity for our program. You know, UCLA is obviously an outstanding team right now, it is the No. 1 seed. It is recognized as one of the five or six best programs in the country in college basketball traditionally. For us to be not only playing against them but being one of 16 that's left on a national stage is a great opportunity for our program. Really something that gets very difficult to do out of a conference that traditionally may get one or two bids. But what we've tried to build is a program that has an opportunity to win our championship every year. When we get there that's good enough to have an opportunity to do this. So from that standpoint, it's not only satisfying, but something that we're really proud of.

Q. Both of these teams today, you and San Diego seem to be alike in pressure situations. Did you feel you had an advantage of being able to push the ball today and play at that pace whereas they probably could not sustain that throughout? Was that somewhere you saw a huge advantage?
COACH DARRIN HORN: We just felt like the difference could be for us that we've got four seniors. As great as they've been, they're playing with freshman and are pressuring our depth. We really felt like over a 40-minute period that that could be the difference for us. You know, outside of a five- or six-minute stretch when we struggled to score the basketball when they went to match-up zone, I think we did that and that really was the difference in the game.

Q. How different is the tournament now than it was when you were competing as a player?
COACH DARRIN HORN: I think there's a lot of differences. I think the magnitude of it is almost exponential, 13 years later. Just because of the coverage, and the internet, and all those things.
Somebody told me on the way in, did Davidson win? Yes. I think you see even more teams that aren't so-called BCS schools that play really good basketball. A lot of people forget Western Kentucky ranks nationally in a lot of categories for 21 seasons and overall wins, and winning percentage and all of those things. I think this national stage helps remind people that we've got a pretty good program in our own right.

Q. Courtney talked about the seniors taking over and showing leadership in the huddle. How easing or how comforting is that for you to know that you've got guys that have been in tough situations over a four-year college career? And to follow up on that, just how unusual is that throughout college basketball today, do you think, to see that level of seniors stick around?
COACH DARRIN HORN: I don't think you see it as much with kids going pro early. Courtney's a young man that maybe could have last year and chose not to for various reasons. But I think the greatest feeling a coach can have for comfort is to have talent. Because seniors that aren't good enough can't get it done.
But the second thing is the talented guys that are seniors that have great toughness and great character. That's what we've tried to build this program on.
Our senior class is the absolute prototype for a coach. I've been very fortunate and blessed to be able to coach these guys because they epitomize what it means to have a work ethic and to show character and to put team first and to show great toughness. There is no question it was the difference today.

Q. Can you talk about your stay here in Tampa. What do you think about Tampa as a host city and your experience here in the Tampa Bay area?
COACH DARRIN HORN: Man, we're winning. Everything's great. We like Tampa. I actually, honestly, I like Tampa a lot. I've been down here a lot recruiting in the last two and a half years. I think it's a great town. People are nice. Obviously, the weather is good. This facility is first class and has been run in a first-class manner. I think it's a great place to host.

Q. What do you think this means to Courtney considering all he has kind of been through to get this team to the tournament and how well he's played for you? What kind of feelings do you have for him in particular?
COACH DARRIN HORN: Unbelievably proud for him. Just happy for him. As a coach, especially when you experience it as a player, you know what they're going through, that is my greatest joy is watching them enjoy it. Maybe now all of you all can stop talking about has Courtney stepped up? Did he have his A-game? The kid won for us whether he scored 15 or 30. What about the block he had against Drake late in the game? What about the steal he had tonight? The kid's a tremendous player, he's got a great heart, and we would not be here without him, period.

Q. On a related note, are you happy a guy like him will get a chance to play on such a big stage next weekend? You're happy for all your guys, obviously, but he's a player that can possibly showcase himself on a stage like that, is that something you think about, maybe?
COACH DARRIN HORN: Yeah, no question. Individually and as a program. The best thing about winning is you get to showcase your team, and your program, and your individuals. You know, they're going to see Courtney Lee, and Tyrone Brazelton, and Jeremy Evans some of our more talented guys on an individual basis. They're going to get to see our team and our program. I hope what people have taken away besides the fact that we've won is this is a team that plays really hard and we've got an entertaining style of play that we're committed to. You know, being able to showcase that at the NCAA Tournament is the best recognition you can get.

Q. Now that you're at this point, do you have the feeling of playing with house money, so to speak, going to the Sweet 16 or do you try to avoid that kind of attitude?
COACH DARRIN HORN: I think we're going to try to keep doing what we've been doing all year. It's given us 29 wins against some pretty good competition. We've been taking it one game at a time, and preparing for each team individually and trying to stay committed to our style of play. We'll continue to do that.
My main goal coming into this week was to make sure that our guys were loose and relaxed, and we played the way we were capable of playing win or lose. And I think that will be our focus heading into the game on Thursday as well.

Q. Can you speak about Tyrone Brazelton's play down the stretch. He hit the three that gave you back the lead, and another three when they cut it to three. And just his overall importance to your team?
COACH DARRIN HORN: Well, I think he set the pace for us on both ends of the floor all year long. Nobody's hit more big shots than he has for us this year. Tonight was just another great example of that. He's the smallest guy on the floor with the biggest heart every single night that we play. He's another guy we wouldn't be here without.

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