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March 18, 2009

Antonio Anderson

John Calipari

Robert Dozier

Tyreke Evans


KEVIN KLINTWORTH: The University of Memphis student athletes, Antonio Anderson, Robert Dozier and Tyreke Evans.

Q. For all three of you, just, what effect did last year's championship game, disappointment, how did it affect you guys going into this season? Did it put you on a mission? Just talk about the effect of the KU game today.
ANTONIO ANDERSON: It really has no effect on it at all this year. That was last year. Last year is last year. We're not worried about that. We're focused on this tournament and this year.
ROBERT DOZIER: Pretty much the same. New year, new team. We create our own identity. Last year is behind us. We just focused on this year.

Q. How did you get over it? Had to be a long summer.
ROBERT DOZIER: Yeah. Fortunately me and Antonio had another season to come back. Other guys left and pursued their careers. We had that extra hunger in us to come back and make it to another Final Four, if possible, a national championship game.

Q. How will you guys benefit from that experience as we go into this tournament? Is there some sort of, you know, mission that you're on?
ANTONIO ANDERSON: We're not on any mission. We're out here taking it one game at a time and just trying to play our best basketball. We can't come to this year thinking about last year. That's the case, you get knocked off.
We're worried about this year's team. Nobody is worried about last year, none of the players or coaches. That's all behind us. We're ready to play.

Q. But in crunch time, will the Kansas game be in the back of your head?
ROBERT DOZIER: No, it's absolutely behind us, man.

Q. Antonio, Robert, for you guys. What have you shared with Tyreke about this NCAA experience? This is going to be his first time.
ROBERT DOZIER: Just knowing that every possession counts. You got to be serious. You got to play hard. Even in practice, you just can't go through the motions. You've got to {practice} how you're going to play. That's the biggest thing.
ANTONIO ANDERSON: I just told him, "Keep playing the way you've been playing all year. I know it's your first NCAA Tournament, but the ball still the same, the hoop is still the same. Just go out there and play."

Q. For any of you guys, what did you know about Cal State Northridge, if anything, before you found out you guys were playing them, and do you go on the Internet and do research? What did you guys do individually?
ANTONIO ANDERSON: We don't do nothing.
ROBERT DOZIER: Leave that to the coaches. They give us the game plan of what we need to do, their weaknesses and strengths. We just go from there.

Q. For Robert and Tyreke, Antonio seems to be kind of the unsung hero of the team, the leader. What does he bring to the table that maybe a lot of people don't realize?
ROBERT DOZIER: Just that leadership, that tenacity on the court. Always have guys' backs and always have guys on their A game. He's been a tremendous leader since my freshman year here. Even when we had Rodney Carney, guys like that, he's been a leader.
TYREKE EVANS: It's big for me to see that because I'm working on the same thing, trying to be a leader. As I see him do it on the court, i just try to, you know, do the same thing, you know, talk more and be more vocal to my teammates.

Q. What about on the court? What are some of the little things he does on the court that people might not notice?
ROBERT DOZIER: Nothing. Everything he does, he's in your face. He gets on guys out there, but like I said, that's what our team needs. We still have some young guys who don't quite understand what it means to play hard all the time. He gets on them. He gets on me, too. It's what we need.

Q. You know, it was very clear from watching the broadcast of the field being announced that you guys were not all fired up about the No. 2 seed. You guys weren't jumping up and down. The Big East gets three number one seeds is there any part of you that feels like, okay, now let's see them prove it. You left us now, now let's see them prove it.
ANTONIO ANDERSON: Not really. We're just ready to play. Coach told us before Selection Sunday leading up to the conference tournament that we'll probably end up being a 2 seed. We knew what was at stake. Even if we win our conference tournament, those three teams are well deserving. Their resume shows it and record shows it.
Now the numbers are all thrown out, the rankings are out. Everybody has to play basketball. We wasn't affected by it. We knew it was coming. We do the best that we could to prove our point for the No. 1 seed, but they made the right selection and we just got to deal with that.
ROBERT DOZIER: I was personally happy to get it over with. I was tired of answering questions for a lot of the last month. Where do you think you're going to be seeded? You're the 2 seed? What happened? Let's throw the ball up in the air. We're ready to play now.

Q. Let me ask Randy's question a different way. For you guys, how did Coach Calipari help you guys get over last year? Did he just tell you forget it? I imagine it's pretty hard to forget.
ANTONIO ANDERSON: After the season, you know, it was heartbreaking while we was talking about it. You know, like Robert said, Joey who was with us, Chris and Derrick also left as well, and me and Robert came back. They're still thinking about it because I was -- that was their last college game. It wasn't ours. We had the chance to win the national championship. We didn't.
We lost to a great Kansas team who had 8 guys go to the NBA. You just have to suck it up and realize they're the better team. In that case, that was the situation.
So, we really didn't do too much talking with Coach about the game. We just continued to work out and work hard and try to make ourselves better so we can try to get back to where we were last year.
ROBERT DOZIER: Pretty much what he said. Wanted to keep working hard through the {summer} to be able to get back to that point.

Q. If you guys go back to that Tulsa game is a game on the road, how different would your season be, do you think, if Antonio doesn't make that last second shot?
ROBERT DOZIER: I don't know. That was big. That was huge for us because one conference loss I think probably would have shattered, maybe 2 seed, probably 3, 4. Not too much of a difference, I don't think.
We played for ourself because we went on at the end of the season and got two big road wins and Gonzaga and Tennessee. Hopefully that would have proved something, but, I mean, we'll take the win any way we can get it.

Q. Robert, what happened in the middle of the season? You and Shawn Taggart seemed to take your inside play to a different level, the rebounding advantage got a little bit better. Was there some particular moment or something that happened that you guys took it to the next level?
ROBERT DOZIER: Coach was on us earlier in the season, him, you know, like getting production and me and him just started coming in, working out early. We kind of just turned around from that point, you know, just came with the intensity everyday at practice. We wanted to work hard and get better, you know, just started to show on the court. We stayed with it.
KEVIN KLINTWORTH: Any other questions for the student athletes?

Q. Tyreke, where were you the night of the national championship game? Where were you watching it knowing - did you know you were going to Memphis then, and just tell me about your experience, feeling for them.
TYREKE EVANS: I didn't know I was going there yet, but I watched it at my mom's house. It was one of the schools that I was looking at. So, you know, it got close to worse to the end, and I had to leave the house because I wanted them to win, but, you know, I told my mom in the car, tell me who won the game. She told me. I said that's just a disappointment. I really wanted them to win. I didn't know I was going there then.

Q. When did you {make} the decision to go there?
TYREKE EVANS: You say why?

Q. No, when.
TYREKE EVANS: I was at a camp, me and brother sit down and talk. That's when I wanted to come here.

Q. You two veterans talk about the aftermath. I know you don't want to look back, but you're in Kansas City. Talk about the community and how the people, they reached out to you. I know everybody there took it hard, felt that you had it in the palm of your hands. Can you talk about how the fans and the students, just talk about how people came to your support.
ANTONIO ANDERSON: The same as winning the game, honestly. We got off the plane, there was 5,000 people at the airport waiting, clapping, yelling, screaming, signs and everything like that.
So our fans embraced us regardless of the win or the loss. We were just -- we were just -- we just fell short. But our fans, it didn't mean nothing to the fans or the students. They all felt like we won the championship. That was the best part.

Q. Do you have anything to add to that?
ROBERT DOZIER: No. I just say what he says. They cheer like we won, you know, so it wasn't a big difference.

Q. Antonio, how do you describe your game? What do you try to do on the court, and maybe how has it evolved over the years?
ANTONIO ANDERSON: I just try to do as much as I can to help my teammates. Just try to help Tyreke out as much as possible. He's a point guard. He gets tired. We need him in the game when he's tired. He'll give me the ball to bring it up sometimes. I try to give guys the shots they like to get.
I know all these guys like to score. I try get them in the ball in the right situation, and I just try to defend my butt off as much as I could to make the job easier for my teammates.

Q. What did you learn over the four years?
ANTONIO ANDERSON: I learned a lot. There's been games where I needed to score and I scored. There's been games where I don't laugh to score and I don't score. There's games where I rebound and have assists. I just feel like I could do everything and I just try to play a cool, calm, relaxed game and just lay low a little bit.

Q. This is for an Tony and Robert, both. You guys were sitting here last year with another freshman point guard took his game to a different level in the post-season and was pretty phenomenal. How do you compare where Tyreke is right now to where Derrick Rose was last year?
ROBERT DOZIER: They're just about the same, same pace. They have great years all around and I think come tournament, you know, {it's} do or die. I expect the same thing out of him, turn it up a notch. So I mean, you know, that's what I see happening as well as our whole team.
ANTONIO ANDERSON: I feel the same as Rob. He been playing extremely well all year. Derrick played well for us last year. There's really no comparison. They're both two totally different type of players both, you know, he's a kid who has tremendous heart and as tough as every so we know what we're going to get out ever him. We're not going to get anything less but everything. We just know. He'll perform.
KEVIN KLINTWORTH: Thanks, fellas.
Now up, Memphis coach John Calipari. He'll make a brief statement and then take questions.
COACH JOHN CALIPARI: We're excited. Probably in a different mode mentally. Because last year it was just put at us. If we didn't get to a Final Four, it would have been a total bust, which is crazy, but that's how it was thrown at us. And this year we're a little bit under the radar, not as much expected but excited. Means we're going to have our chances, and we just hopefully come out every game to try to play as well as we can play.

Q. You mentioned last year. Can you just talk about how your team got over the disappointment of last year? What did you have to do to move on, and has that team been able to carry that into this year, lessons learned that will help, et cetera?
COACH JOHN CALIPARI: Well, first of all, you have to understand it happened so quick and everything could have gone wrong or right for Kansas, if you're a Kansas fan. My first job was to make sure that no one felt responsible for what happened. I'm very happy anytime I see that it's all about a timeout or a foul earlier or -- and it's on me. I didn't want any player to think a turnover or missed free throw, a missed shot, foul cost us a national championship. They shouldn't have to live with that.
So that was my first thing. And then just try to make out of that situation what a positive it really was. I mean, I'm going to tell you, I must have told the officials, and they'll tell you, at least five, maybe ten times, you know, I'm loving this. That's exactly what I said during the game. I loved the whole game. When we were down 7. I said, you know, I'm {loving} this.
So I wanted my players to feel that, and we talked about the blessings that we had last season versus one shot, one overtime and I think you use all those experiences and what I've always tried to do is use them as a positive. That's what we've done.

Q. Would there be an occasion in this tournament do you think you'll be able to fall back on that during a timeout or during --
COACH JOHN CALIPARI: I don't call many timeouts so -- the only thing I can tell you is -- I was just in the back and I heard -- we have not -- this team has created their own identity, which is incredible in the face of a team like we had last year.
Their identity -- and even they've taken themselves to another level defensively that even last year's team didn't go to, which was incredible that no one is talking about last year except you guys. They're talking about now and this team and the opportunities we have.
Now, it's hard. I mean, our first game is hard. Our first game in this tournament has been hard every year. Oral Roberts, North Texas, Texas Arlington, they've all been hard. Northridge is going to be a hard game for us. We know it.

Q. John, since you brought it up, from two-minute mark to overtime, how much was your fault? I know you don't like to call timeouts.
COACH JOHN CALIPARI: You know what? Here is the greatest thing about coaching, one, I took responsibility and I do I'd do it again. But if he misses the 3, I would have been a genius for not calling the timeout, and wait a minute, he didn't foul. No, we were trying to foul, but we were going to foul at half court.
The other side of it is, if I called a timeout and we fouled too early and he misses -- makes one and misses the second and because Joey Dorsey is out of the game, our best rebounder, and they rebound the ball and they had won and we lose in regulation -- whatever I did was going to be looked at as he did wrong.
The talking heads, oh -- especially the guy that has never coached, oh, my goodness. The talking heads are going to jump. He should have done this, this. Have you ever been in that seat?
Then the other side of it is, I'm not one that calls a whole lot of timeouts. If I've done my job, I'll end the game with three, four timeouts. Now, if you want to go back on the stats of this year, you look how many games that we had three or four timeouts left and we went home.
I don't want to give them a break. We're trying to win. If I've done my job in practice, I can make a call in the huddle while they're free throw shooting. We went over 30, 40 times in practice. We called a chest.
But they were shooting free throws and I had talked to them. We knew what we were doing. At the end of the day, you're up 9 in a national championship game. You should win that game. I said it a year ago and I'll say it now. I take full responsibility even. And I'd rather it be on me than any one player did this, this or this. I can live with it. I'm fine with it. I am so happy we won 38 games.
You may not believe this, that's never been done in the history of college basketball. I'm going to make a statement. In our lifetime, it may not be done. so it's pretty good what happened.

Q. Just to follow up?
COACH JOHN CALIPARI: Oh, my gosh. Can we talk about this game?

Q. You know how hard it is to get that to championship game. Did your head ever hit the pillow and say am I ever going to get back?
COACH JOHN CALIPARI: We'll be back. I believed it at that time. A lot of this, you look at it as I hate to say fate. I look at it and say I really believe we'll be back.

Q. John, how do you compare where Tyreke is now to where Derrick Rose, another freshman point guard, was at this time last year-in?
COACH JOHN CALIPARI: They're different players but they're very similar in their growth into this offense and how we play defensively.
Both would bring different things to the table. Derrick brought an explosiveness which he has taken to the NBA. He almost blew out a knee last night if you saw the game. He did a crossover and the big guy almost fell. He's taken what he did with us to the NBA.
Tyreke is more of a physically tough, long point guard who can create for his teammates. He just gives you something. We can post him up, we can do different things. He gets steals, rebounds. He's one of our best rebounders. So he gives us something different.
But he's come -- I'm so proud of him. Here's a kid, I had him in the wrong position to start the year. I should have been fired. We're 6-3.
When I put him at the right position, point guard, this all changed. Now, I'm not saying I'm a genius. I told you, I should have been fired. But he never said one word to me about being in the wrong position.
And I said to him, "Why didn't you say something to me?"
He said, "I was doing what you asked me to do. I came here to be coached by you, and wherever you wanted to play me, I was going to play." That's the kind of kid he is.

Q. John, we've all talked a lot about the adversity that your team has faced overcoming last year. Your opponent, as I'm sure you know, they've had some terrible things happen this year, terrible car wrecks, off-the-court distractions. Would you say that it speaks to the character of those players that they were able to hold it together and get here?
COACH JOHN CALIPARI: I've had more people call me and say they cannot believe they lost their two leading scorers in the middle of season and still where they are. So the -- let me just say this: It doesn't matter what the score is. With 7, 8 minutes to go, if you think this team is going to go away, you're out of your mind. They're going to play because of what they've been through. They're well coached. If you watch them on tape, they're so active defensively in what they do. They play different kind of zones. They're man to man. They steal balls. They're an outstanding team.

Q. Coach, I asked the players this, also, but back to the Tulsa game on the road this season, if Antonio Anderson --
COACH JOHN CALIPARI: We're a 5 seed.

Q. But how different would your season be?
COACH JOHN CALIPARI: Am I right, though? We're a 5 seed. We're a 5 seed, and we got a tougher road to where we're trying to go.

Q. Coach, Antonio is kind of your unsung player?
COACH JOHN CALIPARI: I'll give it a 4 seed.

Q. Antonio is kind of your unsung player. When you recruited him, what did you envision and how has he evolved?
COACH JOHN CALIPARI: He and Chris Douglas came in similar players. And as we recruited them, everybody was telling whoever was recruiting the other, "Why would you go there when you're going to be playing against the same guy, the freshman, in the same year as you?"
And he trusted us enough to know that you're different, it doesn't matter. The way we play offensively, I can have four guys on the {floor} like you.
He trusted what we said. And all of a sudden, he's played more minutes in the last four years. Every year as a freshman he lead us in minutes.
As a sophomore, he's lead us in minutes. As a junior and senior, he's lead us in minutes. Because I trust him, one, to be on the court because he does everything.
I think he'll be a long-term NBA player, Raja Bell, style of player. A player I love, Bruce Bowan, was with us for a little bit in Philly. I love him. He's a little bigger than Antonio, but he's a lot like Bruce Bowan. When a coach gets him, the coach will keep him because he can play 1, 2, 3. He can play all those positions.
People may question his shooting. They never do that in the NBA. They just -- we know eventually he'll shoot it. He shoots it well enough, free throws and other things.

Q. Coach, Antonio Anderson, Robert Dozier were not playing particularly well to start the season and something seemed to switch. Was that part of Tyreke moving to point guard or a particular moment that you had a discussion?
COACH JOHN CALIPARI: I think part of it was that because now they became more comfortable in their position and they could move back into the position doing better than a year ago, but very similar to a year ago, and they became more confident. I think there just came a point in the season where this thing is on, let's step this up.
Shawn Taggart is probably, the last four weeks, I can't even believe it's the same guy. He's gained weight, more {confident}, better conditioned. You know, just has a swagger. My job is to make sure that swagger is not arrogance, because he'll also slip into that occasionally.
But he has been -- his swagger has been like, wow, and he's performing on the court.
KEVIN KLINTWORTH: Any other questions? Great. Thank you, Coach.

End of FastScripts

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