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March 27, 2008

A.J. Abrams

D.J. Augustin

Rick Barnes

Justin Mason


Q. D.J., how much are you guys concerned about the way you struggle from the foul line at the end of the game last Sunday putting things away?
D.J. AUGUSTIN: We are not concerned. We know what we have to do, knock down those shots and go up there with confidence and finish the game. That's what it's going to come down to these last two games, just got to come out there with confidence and we are prepared to go out there and do it.

Q. Just wanted to ask you about coming back, playing in your backyard after going to high school here, is it all good, or are there some distractions, also?
D.J. AUGUSTIN: We're not distracted. We're happy to be back and be in Houston. A lot of the guys are from Texas. We're just happy to be back and play in front of a lot of Longhorn fans. We have not had that in the tournament so far. So it's going to be good to have that.

Q. How important is home field? Do you have an idea what it will be like tomorrow, and how much of an advantage do you think it is playing here?
A.J. ABRAMS: I think it will give us an advantage as far as we'll have support from the fans but at the same time we still have to go out there and concentrate on the game and not worry about it.

Q. You lost the prolific scorer in Grant last year; talk about the maturation of this year's team.
D.J. AUGUSTIN: Everybody stepped up and playing bigger roles this year and my teammates have done a great job in playing bigger roles and you're defense has been key to this point and we have to keep improving and getting better and that's what's going to win games for us.

Q. Obviously you guys have played in domed stadiums before, but this is a little bit different, it's a football configuration. Do you think that's going to have any difference as far as how you guys go out and shoot, the opportunity to go out and shoot in a facility like that?
A.J. ABRAMS: There's going to be an obvious depth perception just from the goals, but nothing you can't handle of the just go out and get a couple shots up and get the feel of it and that's what it's all about. We're going to go out there and have fun and just play basketball.
D.J. AUGUSTIN: Like A.J. said, we just have to go out there and confidence and just shoot the ball and don't worry about the outcome. Just play and play hard and keep playing.

Q. When you guys saw that you had this draw and you could land in this regional, was this like a best-case scenario for you guys, would you have rather had this or the number win seed?
JUSTIN MASON: It's good are to us to be able to come out to Houston where we have fans that support us but at the same time we know we have to come out and play and that he the fans won't win the game for us.
D.J. AUGUSTIN: Like he said, we played for a No. 1 seed but we're happy we got second seed. It's great playing in front of a lot of Texas fans and it's going to give us some kind of home-court advantage and we just have to play hard and play with intensity.

Q. D.J., you watch a lot of tape, study a lot of point guards; what impresses you about Mitch Johnson?
D.J. AUGUSTIN: How he plays under control, he doesn't take a lot of bad shots. He's always looking to get his teammates involved, and he plays under control. Like I said, you can't speed him up that much and just have to do a great job of containing him and controlling him. He's a big key to their game.

Q. D.J., for you and A.J., everybody is saying it's going to be your guards versus their big men. Is that how you see the matchup, too, and will it be a big key for you to push the tempo?
D.J. AUGUSTIN: It's got to be a team effort. We have to push each other on defense. They have a great post game and like I said, it's going to be a team effort, just go out there and play as a team on offense and defense and that's what it's going to come down to.
A.J. ABRAMS: Like D.J. said it's going to be a team effort as far as just containing the big men, but their guards are a big key to their game. On our end we have to make it a fast-paced game for us?

Q. You guys were playing against Miami right before the game, did you know the situation that you were in; that you could possibly be playing in Houston; what was going through your mind at that time, just about the opportunity of being able to come here and play in your own backyard.
D.J. AUGUSTIN: I think it may have crossed our mind, knowing that we may be able to come back and play in Houston. Like I said our team did a good job of not letting it get to us and we did a good job of focusing on Miami, and that's what allowed us to come down and play here?

Q. You played on a USA Basketball developmental team with Brook Lopez; is that right? Can you tell us what you remember about him, what kind of guy he was, any stories from back then?
D.J. AUGUSTIN: He's just a tough player. You know, can't really beat him up down low. He's going to fight back and he's going to play hard the whole time. He's a great listener. He pays attention and he's going to do his job. We've just got to try to help out our post men as a guard. The guards have to come down and help out our post men to try to contain him and his brother.

Q. D.J., if I could just follow-up on that, what's it like playing against two seven-footers?
D.J. AUGUSTIN: It's going to be tough, when we are go into the lane not to pull up because they are going to be looking to block shots. It's going to come down to defense, we just have to help our big men out low and get out of the post, and they have big men on defense, and it's going to be a tough job, but we can do it.

Q. You guys have won a lot of games when D.J. wasn't necessarily hot shooting. Can you explain the value that maybe people don't notice? Rick talks about it a lot, but from your view, what he does, even when he's not scoring.
A.J. ABRAMS: I think that's the good thing about our team is we don't have to just rely on one person to score like every night. When he's not hitting, I think he does a lot of things as far as getting in the paint and kicking the ball out and finding an open man, and he always finds the free throw line and puts the fouls on other teams, and that goes a long way in the game.

Q. For D.J., excuse me if you've been asked this before, but as a guy who likes to penetrate, get into the lane and make things happen, the fact that there are two seven-foot guys there waiting on you, does that cause you to have any second thoughts?
D.J. AUGUSTIN: It's going to cause some problems but I'm still going to go in there and drive and try to get fouls on them and look to kick out to my teammates. They are always looking to block shots, so that's going to be good for us to get in the lane and kick out to my teammates and knock down open shots.

Q. For A.J., have you had a chance to look at the court yet, shooting background, gauge how that will be on that elevated stage?
A.J. ABRAMS: No, we haven't been out there yet. We're going to go out there and get some shots up. Like I said before, just got to go get a couple shots up there and look at the depth perception and we'll be fine.

Q. For Justin, the Lopez twins, they collect Disney figurines, they were kids in southern California, grew up around Disneyland. Do you collect anything or what do you make of that?
JUSTIN MASON: I don't collect anything. I think that's their thing and if that's what they want to do, then more power to them.
As for me, I don't collect any kind of action figures or anything like that.

Q. What kind of game do you feel like this would be, halfcourt game, versus an up-speed sort of tempo like you guys run, or what are you looking for? What do you think the types of problems that Stanford will present for you and the type of game that you play?
JUSTIN MASON: Obviously they present a side of the post games with their two seven-footers starting. We've shown that we can play a halfcourt game and up and down game also. I think as the game starts to go, we'll adjust according to the game. .

COACH BARNES: I think like the other teams here we are obviously looking forward to the weekend and hoping that we can play well.

Q. You were almost offended the other day when somebody asked to you pick between Hansbrough and Beasley; can you talk about your guy, the value of having a great point guard and him in particular, and we had the good fortune to live with D.J. and we know how much he means to us and we've watched as we've gone through this year with the schedule we've played and we see how he's handled so many things so well and I'm not sure he's ever had a bad game this year. People look at the fact that maybe he's not shooting well and there's not a game this year that he has not been effective in a very strong way. And I think that when you're able to affect games, night-in and night-out, I think it speaks volumes about you as a player.

Q. How much of a factor do you think playing here is and what kind of atmosphere do you think playing here is?
COACH BARNES: I guess other players have been playing in what would be considered rode situations and they have all won in those conditions and just like this past weekend up in Little Rock, we know this tournament, when it starts out that you're a higher-seed team and you're going to have to deal with the building pulling against you and now we're here and we're going to have a lot of people in the building, and the last time we were in the situation in San Antonio we had to play Connecticut and Michigan State, and I can only tell you how hard those games were, and I don't remember so much about the crowds during that time but I do remember how hard our players had to play and how hard they had to compete.

Q. Can you just give us a sense of what the Lopez twins looked like on film and what you expect?
COACH BARNES: Well, they are long, they are athletic. They play within a system to where their teammates understand and they want to play through them. They do a great job of -- I don't think they force a lot. Their willing to pass out of it.
On the defensive end, they try to alternate and change the game that way, but they create problems because of their length. I think that they run the floor. They are not just going to take their time walking up-and-down the floor. They are going to try to play the game the way it's supposed to be played, and they are obviously long, talented and they have improved a lot from a year ago, and so when you get ready to play that, you realize that you are going to have to compete every possession because they are in there together and you know one block, you've got someone that has the ability to score and then on the other block, you've got a person that can really hurt you on the offensive boards, and what you can't do is give them both of them. You have to hope that -- and if they miss a shot, you don't give them a second attempt.

Q. When you watch them on film, is it visually jarring or strange to see two seven-foot centers in college; and not only that, but the fact that they look alike, too? Is that odd at all?
COACH BARNES: No, I don't think so. Again, I think when you look at when you're a coach and you're trying to put together your game plan, you're just looking at the schemes and their personal tendencies and what they do. But having two guys out there, one with short hair, one with long hair, I don't think you look at it any different.

Q. James is averaging 13 rebounds this tournament. Do you think that will ultimately be the key to your success tomorrow?
COACH BARNES: We'll need Damion and everyone else. We'll need Damion to play well, but it's going to have to be a team effort rebounding-wise, because that's where most games are probably decided anyway, and tomorrow will be no different. And so we are going to have to make sure that not just Damion but everybody is down in there trying to help and there's going to be a lot of balls bounding around, and we have to come up with our shares of the loose ones.

Q. When the season was starting, did you have any notion of how good this team could be, or were you just wait and see, and has this team surprised where you thought they could be?
COACH BARNES: I know we didn't place any limitations on this team. We believe and our philosophy has always been, we are going to try to get better every single day. We always tell our team that we would, at the end of every game, if we lose it, we'll show you how we could have won it or should have won it. When you win, you have to show them how they could easily have lost it.
So there's not an opponent that we play that we don't think that we can win. But we also realize that if we don't do the things that go into winning, that won't happen because of the level that we play at. I think that's pretty obvious through the Big 12 this year, our winning margin was five points. So they understood the fine line between winning and losing, and for a young team, that's important.
But we have never ever, will put limitations on what we can do at the start of the season. We have had to adjust throughout the year from some of the things that happened right prior to the start of basketball season and our guys have come through it pretty good.

Q. How important was it to have Gary get on the floor and get some minutes in the second round game since he only played two minutes in Kansas City not many into the second rounds?
COACH BARNES: I think is probably is important to him, the fact that he was able to play -- I think he played six, seven minutes, and I do think that was important. He is still young in terms of experience in this tournament. We are going to need him as we are going to need the other post players, but I would like to think that that experience is going to help him a little bit.

Q. With such a young team, is there concern with being in Texas and the crowd is going to be overwhelmingly Longhorn that they will feel extra pressure? How will you diffuse that?
COACH BARNES: Not changing a lot in terms of changing our preparation and going about our business as we always have. We understand where we are and this is what we have worked for. We are not going to make it bigger than what it is because they know what it is and what it's about.
We have to stick with our preparation and do those things, and just, again, effort, concentration, and not do a lot of things that would disrupt the rhythm that we have been in.

Q. Given the challenge you are going to face in the post, how deep do you plan on going to your bench given the fact that you have so many post players on your bench?
COACH BARNES: We'll go as deep as we have to go. I don't have any idea tomorrow how this game is going to start out in terms of who is going to get fouled, who will do. What they will have different lineups on the floor, too. They will not always have the Lopez twins out there in the game. There are a lot of different things that will happen throughout the game and we'll just coach the game as it unfolds but we'll go as deep as we have to go at any position.

Q. They are good at knowing what to do and how they have to do it; how does Mitch Johnson fit into that?
COACH BARNES I think he's very underrated, a player that, again, they look to really control things for them. He does a really good job of getting them into their offense. He does's really good job of when he's open, he's going to get ready to take his shots, really good passer. He does a great job of putting the ball in a position of hitting the target. They do a great job in the low post of establishing position and getting a hand up where he can put it there. So he does a great job of that.
Defensively, he's solid. He's like any point guard on any team, he's extremely valuable to them.

Q. You beat UCLA early in the season. Will you take the same blueprint from that and apply it for tomorrow?
COACH BARNES: I think we are different than we were earlier in the season and we were very conscious in the post play at UCLA as we were in our league, whether it was Kansas or any other open. We realize that we have got to try to defend. Pivot defense is really, really important. I think at this point you are taking a lot from a lot of different games, not just the UCLA game. I think there are so many different games that we have been in this year that we'll try to take from.

Q. Coach Izzo talks about you quite frequently and you do have a good friendship. When you are in a regional with your friends, is there any more enjoyment?
COACH BARNES: Tommy and I have known each other for, I guess, the year I spent at Ohio State as an assistant, I can remember as one of his assistant coaches watching Ohio, and then Michigan. It's been neat watching Tom and along with John Calipary who I met in 1978. We have all grown up together in it and it is neat, because you understand the work and you understand where they are from and you appreciate that and how hard they have worked to put themselves in position. It is neat, and the fact it is, they are all friends. We are all here to move on and we are all chasing the big trophy. The fact is that there is a lot of respect because of the fact that we know each other so well.

Q. Did Calipary accept the job offer he made to him today?

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