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March 18, 2009
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Texas A&M student-athletes. We'll open it up for questions, please.
Q. Josh, what are you expecting different this year from BYU?
JOSH CARTER: I mean, we've watched some film. Pretty much, they run the same stuff. They have great players in Cummard, Tavernari and Fredette. Expect them to do a lot of stuff, but just do it better. They were a good team last year. Expect them to be the same.
Q. Do you expect them to guard you differently? Are you coming into this game thinking they're going to focus on you?
JOSH CARTER: Yeah, I figure they'll stay closer with me. Last year they were leaving me a little bit more.
I don't expect them to do that.
Q. Josh, I haven't seen you play a lot the last couple of years. Tell me the difference in your style between now and under your previous coach.
JOSH CARTER: Our previous coach, I guess we were full court, man-to-man, denial. This year we're more solid, just try to keep our defensive front from making mistakes, not so much pressure, but just containment.
This year, as far as offense, we move around a lot more. With the other coach, was high-low. This year it's a lot of motion stuff.
Q. Donald, is there any advantage or disadvantage facing the same team one year later and in the same atmosphere?
DONALD SLOAN: Well, you know, I guess we get a year start on them because we played them the year before. You know what type of players they have. You know their abilities.
Have they gotten better? Yes, from what we've seen on film, other games we've seen them play all year. It kind of gives you a head start knowing some of the players real well from last year. Last year you had a couple slip-ups because we didn't think this guy could do this, maybe this guy couldn't do this, ended up doing it. You kind of get ahead a little bit.
It's a good situation, I guess you could say. No surprises. No, we'll be ready.
Q. Donald, you went on quite a run there at the end of the year. What was the difference later in the year versus the beginning of the season?
DONALD SLOAN: I think our intensity and focus went to a whole 'nother level. You got guys around you that just don't give up; feeds on the other players, our bench, even our managers. Everybody seems to be more in tune than our first five or six games. Later on down the stretch, our execution was better. Our poise was better; rebounding. We just played at a more higher level than we did all year those last six games, so...
Q. What was your reaction when you saw you were playing the same team, the brackets were announced? Does it matter you're playing the same team? Were you surprised to see that come up?
DERRICK ROLAND: We were pretty surprised. They called BYU first, then we saw our name pop up. We were all like, Again (smiling)?
Like you said, it's no surprises. We know what to expect. They're a good team. We'll be ready.
Q. How different is it when you're playing a team in the league another times as opposed to this tournament? What's the difference, other than the stakes?
DERRICK ROLAND: Later on in the year, teams get sharper. I know they executing better than they did in the beginning of the year. Maybe just got to be focused.
I know at the end of the year teams key better. That's all we got to focus on, is execution.
Q. What are you doing now that you weren't doing earlier? What's the difference?
DERRICK ROLAND: I think we're just sharper. We knew we had to win games to get in the tournament. We just played like our backs were against the wall. Just been playing better, sharper.
DONALD SLOAN: Just prove a lot of people wrong. After we went on our losing-game streak, where we wasn't playing well, just wasn't making plays, closing the end of the game. The thought of pre-season, people saying we were maybe second or third in, that started creeping in, gave us pretty much fuel, pretty much momentum for our game, those last six games.
Kind of just picked it up, so...
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, gentlemen.
We have Texas A&M Coach Turgeon. We'll ask you to make an opening statement.
COACH TURGEON: We're happy to be here. A month ago we didn't know if we were going to be a part of this tournament. Obviously we finished strong and won a few games in a row, down the stretch.
With that said, we're excited. We've been playing really well. We lost our last game, of course, but we've been playing well. Looking forward to playing BYU again. It's kind of strange, but it's made scouting just a little bit easier. They got some new players obviously playing, and so do we.
They're a heck of a team. It was a great game last year, back and forth. I think 10 or 11 lead changes. We were lucky enough to win by five. So it should be another great game this year.
THE MODERATOR: We'll go ahead with questions.
Q. What do you think was the key to that season-ending binge that you went on that propelled you into the tournament?
COACH TURGEON: Well, right before we started to win, we were losing close games, but playing really well. Our schedule was tough. So I knew it was going to turn around. We just kept talking about doing four things: defensive rebounding a little better, our defense got a little bit better, then we started to execute better and we played with poise down the stretch. We won a lot of close games down the stretch. Then we just had a lot of determination. We were down 18 to Nebraska with, you know, 15 to go. We were down 8 at Colorado with 6 to go. We were up 8 with 2. We had a big around. A lot of determination.
We became a dominant home team. Texas down 19, 20. We had Missouri down 26. We had Iowa State down about 26. We just became a very dominant home team down that stretch and played with more confidence.
Q. Talk about handling BYU. They got a lot of guys that can score. How do you handle all three of them?
COACH TURGEON: Well, there's three that can really score, then a bunch of 'em that can really shoot it.
We did a nice job on them last year. We held them to 62, if we can do that again, it will give us a chance. They're scoring close to 78 a game. You know, tough matchups for us at the 4 position. Tavernari is a tough matchup for us, chasing him around, staying close. To me it's all about transition defense and finding shooters in transition. If you can slow that down a little bit, you have a chance. If you don't do that, you have no chance against them.
Taking care of the basketball, getting good shots on the offensive end so you can set your defense and have balance on defense will really help us.
It's a tough matchup. They're hard to guard. Those three scorers will make tough shots, closely guarded shots. You just have to accept that, go the other way, do the best you can.
It's a challenge for us. We're worked hard the last couple days preparing for them and what they do. We have to do a good job or it will be a short tournament for us.
Q. This team has won three straight games in the first round. What are the challenges of getting a team ready to play?
COACH TURGEON: Well, you know, the one year I can talk about we played well. We really played well to beat BYU last year. We have some experience. We didn't have it the first year, but now we've got experience. We've got guys that have played two, some guys three NCAA tournaments now. I think that experience helps.
We just go in, prepare like it's any other game. You come to a press conference. A few more people there. That's the only thing that's really different, you know. But once you throw it up, it's just another game. I think we've done a nice job of just preparing like it's another game.
What we try to do is we try to seize the moment. It's a great time in their life. I tell them all the time, "This is the best time of your life." College is the best time of your life. You've got to enjoy this time.
We've really talked about enjoying this time, being together, having fun. It was nice to get to Philly last night, get here, just get away from College Station, start soaking all this in, try and have a great time.
Q. Coach, last two games you played there were 97 fouls called. Last year in the tournament against BYU, only 15 fouls apiece. Do you have a feel for how tournament games are called, especially getting to the free-throw line?
COACH TURGEON: Yeah, I thought last year, going back over the film, it was a pretty physical game. Especially on the post, when our guys caught it on the post, they were allowed to put a couple hands on our back.
We'll see. Normally, early in the tournament, they try to call a little bit tighter. But didn't seem that way last year. We don't care either way. We don't care either way. We've done a good job of getting to the foul line. Hopefully, we continue to do that. It's part of our offense, things we do within our offense. We know that's an important part to beat BYU. That's probably why you asked that question.
We'll see. We'll adjust. BYU will adjust, however they're calling it. I don't think either team is as deep as we were last year, especially inside. We were much deeper. I think BYU was much deeper inside. Calling it loose might help both of us keep our better players in the game.
Q. You're playing the first game of a quadruple header a couple thousand miles from both locations. There's not going to be a lot of energy in the building. How do you deal with that?
COACH TURGEON: Well, hopefully there will be. Maybe not at the start. But hopefully Philly fans will show up. They love their sports. Knowing Philly fans, they're going to choose a side at some point.
But, no, we're not concerned about that. We played some games late in the year, quite honestly, at Colorado, even our Big 12 tournament game, everybody left at halftime. It was a late game. Obviously we didn't play great in the second half. But we'll be okay with that.
Actually last year, the start of our game, when we went out to warm up by BYU, they cleared the building, there was no one in the building. It was kind of a weird thing. But we won't talk a lot about that. We've seen all different types of crowds. I think by the end of the game or halftime, there will be some energy in the building, which will help down the stretch.
Q. You talked a little bit about it earlier, about the rematch of the first round. How unusual is it and have you ever been through anything like this?
COACH TURGEON: Well, I don't know. You have to ask the NCAA. I haven't been through it. I know there's some repeat games because teams win games and they play each other back to back seasons, or every other. Especially the mainstay guys that come every year.
It's unusual. I was shocked. I think we all were. Our name came up first. I said, "We're not playing that game." Then our name popped up.
After the initial shock, you're just so happy to be in it. Philadelphia is a great city. I spent a year here. I'm really excited about being back, being in this building. Just a little bit easier to scout. It's easier for both of us.
Q. Your year here under Larry Brown, what was that like, memories of Philadelphia?
COACH TURGEON: Well, my wife wanted to divorce me when we left because we left Philadelphia for Jacksonville, Alabama. Thought I was crazy.
No, the year here, it was a great year for me because I was with Coach Brown as a player, but it was a player/coach relationship. Then I was able to have a personal relationship with him, which meant a lot to me, which we still have today. Then to get back and doing what I really believed in, being around a guy that I believed in what he was doing, it just gave me energy to continue coaching and try to be successful.
Our relationship is strong today because of it. But it was a great experience. To me the NBA is the best coaches in the world. I learned a lot in a short time. I was only here seven months. I actually left before the season ended. Wasn't very important to the staff, so I could get out on the job.
But it was just a great experience. We loved Philadelphia. My wife and I loved it here. Just was great being back with Coach Brown.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, coach.
COACH TURGEON: Thank you.
End of FastScripts