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March 23, 2008

Jamont Gordon

Charles Rhodes

Rick Stansbury


THE MODERATOR: We'll open with some words from Rick, followed by a Q&A with the players and Q&A session with Rick.
COACH STANSBURY: Well, I'm awful proud of our basketball team, number one. Every team that plays except one is going to have the feeling we have right now. It's not going to be but one team that doesn't have this feeling. And, as we said, make sure when we leave this floor that we have no regrets. And we leave everything we had on the floor.
I think it's very obvious this team again fought with their hearts, and as a coach that's all you can ever ask. Anytime -- right now these guys can't see it because there's too much pain, but just awful proud of what they accomplished. And anytime they go in the championship and one of the best league in the SEC, that's something they'll look back on in years to come and reflect on it. They can't see that.
Just awful proud of what they accomplished, and Charles being a senior for us, lot of pain, but again with him, he should be very, very proud of the way he played his senior year and the way he helped lead this basketball team.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the players, please.

Q. Jamont, can you walk us through your -- the final play, final shot?
JAMONT GORDON: I kind of got it on the run to get like a good run out so they came and trapped me. I dribbled off my leg a little bit and didn't get a good shot at the rim.

Q. Charles, could you just take us through your emotions of playing your last game at State, and how well do you think you guys plays tonight against the second ranked team in the country?
CHARLES RHODES: I just, you know, feel let down, just a lot of emotion, you know. My last game as a senior, you know, I knew that I was going to Mississippi State, so I knew I had another shot. But my last one at Mississippi State, you know, I just got to look for a job now, you know. Nothing that I can look forward to. It's basically over right here at Mississippi State. And it wasn't the way I wanted to end it, but ending in the NCAA, I got to feel honored about that, the group of guys I played with.

Q. You guys, Joey Dorsey was at his best tonight. What were your thoughts on his play out there?
CHARLES RHODES: Who is the question for?

Q. Anybody.
COACH STANSBURY: Am I involved in this? Players?
COACH STANSBURY: Take it, Charles.
CHARLES RHODES: I guess Joey Dorsey dreamed about me last night. (Laughter.) He averaged 7 points, and he came out there tonight with a different, different mindset tonight. He played real hard. I got to give all the credit to him and the rest of those big guys because they beat us on the backboards, including myself. I gave up a lot of rebounds, and I think that's the way it ended up.
THE MODERATOR: Anymore questions for the players in down front here?

Q. What's it like at the end of the game to be watching them shoot free throws, hoping they're going to miss?
JAMONT GORDON: It's not good. Of course, you want to be ahead and have a chance to win. So when they're at the line and just shooting free throws, hoping they miss so they give you another chance.

Q. Jamont, I know it's right after the game, but what's your thought process going to be the next few weeks, maybe looking ahead to the next level? I know that's something you haven't been thinking about yet. What's your thought process going to be over the next few weeks?
JAMONT GORDON: I'm not sure yet. I'm looking to it and see -- look at everything and see how everything goes for me, and then I'll make my decision.
THE MODERATOR: Anymore questions for the players? Guys, we appreciate you very much. Congratulations on a great year. Have a safe trip back to Starkville.

Q. Rick, was the defensive strategy to play the zone in the first half and then come man in the second, or was that kind of a feel thing for you guys tonight?
COACH STANSBURY: Well, the first half was to play zone for sure. They probably made more 3s than we would like for them to make. I think at halftime they had five. Second half they make one.
We were down nine. We've been in that position last couple games, the SEC Tournament and against Oregon. If we're going to lose the game, we're going to lose on doing what we've been doing all year, playing man-to-man defense. I made that decision at halftime to go back and play man. I'm not so sure we could play man the whole game.
I think it worked out fine for us even though we got -- we couldn't guard them on the inside in foul trouble, but as it turned out, the man defense got us back in the game. They made one 3-pointer in the second half on a broken play.

Q. Rick, they had I think it was 23 second-chance points. How big was that?
COACH STANSBURY: That's the total difference in the game. If you want to point to one thing and you can break down stats and you can chop up things and look for reasons here or there, but one thing you can point to -- I can point to rebounding always as an effort thing. But I can point to this one as giving up offensive rebounds.
Again, 22 second-chance points and you lose by 3, it ain't very hard to figure that out, just how important a stat that was in this game.

Q. Coach, there was a report today that y'all had talked to some of the Tennessee coaches about scouting Memphis. What sort of advice did they give, and I guess what would you say to the teams that have to go up against Memphis for the rest of the tournament?
COACH STANSBURY: I don't think we talked to any Tennessee coaches. Wherever that rumor came from, that's not true. We've got the films. We can watch films on anything. There's nothing -- we don't do anything different than what we always do. If it was, you know, to my knowledge Tennessee didn't zone them one minute. So we sure didn't take anything from their page.
We went with our game plan, and again the first half they knocked down some 3s on us and got some separation the last three minutes of that first half.
If I remember correctly, I think we were up 26-22. Maybe I'm wrong. Then they went on like a 14-1 run to finish out the half to go up nine. That was a huge moment.
In the second half we had to fight from behind. I think we tied the game up. We had a huge -- huge plays everywhere but huge play, Jamont dribbled off his foot over on that side line and threw the ball in before we was even ready and got a dunk on it. Talk about a 5-point swing right there possibly, 4-point for sure when it was a 1-point game.
1-point game at that point. But, again, you can point to moments like that everywhere. Again, I'm very proud of this team. I think it's very obvious you saw they never gave up. We took supposedly one of the best teams in the country and you got the last shot to tie it in regulation again.
You know, again, only way you feel different is you make another play and win the game. Give Memphis some credit, too. They're not 35-1 or whatever they are without being an exceptional basketball team.

Q. Could you just talk about the last minute, Jamont almost trying to will you back to win the game.
COACH STANSBURY: Well, we were going to put Memphis on the line. I think we were down 5, 6, 7 at that time. We were going to lengthen the game. That strategy worked. They missed enough free throws for us. I think they were 15 for 32, whatever it was. 15 for 32. Gave us opportunities. If they make their free throws, you don't have the opportunities we had.
They were a little afraid to foul. We took 3s. He jumped up and made a huge 3 in transition. We took 2s instead of firing up 3s in that stretch just to lengthen out that game because they weren't going to foul us. Again, it worked well enough that we had the last shot to tie the game up, and that's all you can ask.

Q. Rick the -- I just forgot what I was going to ask.
COACH STANSBURY: Think about it. We've got all day, don't we?
THE MODERATOR: We'll come right back to you.
COACH STANSBURY: I didn't know you media guys ever have lapses.

Q. Rick, how much does the potential of next year's team hinge on what Jamont decides and what do you like about next year?
COACH STANSBURY: I mean, we'll put pieces together and whatever we have -- I think we've got a good basketball team coming back. You know, I mean, if Jamont can be a first-rounder I'll be first to endorse him to go. I've always said that. I always -- all. It's very obvious, you know -- I know nothing about those decisions. We'll let him go through the process. He has a pass again. He can go through the process, and again the people you got to listen to is the people at the NBA office.
Again, as a coach I've been in this situation many a time. I've learned a long time ago, you know, we'll steer him towards the NBA, get the advice. If you can be a first-rounder, it's best for you to take that jump. We just have to wait and see where he is.

Q. I'm going to try again, Rick. Willie Kemp, during that span in the first half, were you talking about where you had the lead and then he comes in there and knocks down three 3s. That was a big part of the game.
COACH STANSBURY: We knew this. In looking back on it, looking back on it, I wish we came out of man. But you're up 26-22 with it. They brought their best two shooters in that stretch, Willie Kemp and Mack. Those were two guys in a game.You know, they're 36, 39 percent shooters. Better shooters for them.
Again, looking back, I wish we would have went man in that possession, but again you're up 26-22, we had to the pace of the game just where we wanted it.
It's about four, four and a half minutes to go in the first half. They got 22, 24 points, and again they jumped up and made some huge shots. Second half we played man. They didn't play a lot because they don't like playing much against a man. Willie Kemp jumped up and made the only three of the second half.
If you want to point to one thing, I'll point back to it. Offensive rebounding was the difference in the basketball game. Those 22 second-chance points is the total difference in the basketball game.

Q. Rick, could you talk about the contributions you got from Hansbrough and Varnado, please?
COACH STANSBURY: Ben jumped, you know, and made some shots today, may three 3s. And again, we knew for us to have an opportunity to beat Memphis, we had to get something going on the outside. Ben stepped up and made some. Jamont made some. Stu didn't have one of his better days. We needed one or two shots here. When you're in a one possession game going either way, just one basket means so much. His breakaway, his breakaway layup that they blocked, they blocked was huge play in that basketball game, too.
Again, give Memphis some credit. They're 35-1 for a reason. No question. They have a legit opportunity to compete for a national championship. Like I told these guys again, everybody but one team is going to have this feeling, and I'm not going to take it away from anything this team accomplished this year.
Like I said, anytime you win a championship in the Southeastern Conference, you can be very proud of that, and you come out here and be very proud of the way you played these last two days. You took one of the best teams in the country right to the wire, and it's a play here or there, the difference between winning and losing.
THE MODERATOR: Anything else? Coach. Always good to have you and the Bulldogs in the state. Thank you very much.

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