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March 19, 2009

J'Nathan Bullock

Cedric Jackson

Chris Mooney

George Tandy

Gary Waters


LARRY WAHL: We welcome the eighth and final team here today, Cleveland State Vikings, the 13th seed in the Midwest region, champions of the Horizon League. We will open it up for questions.

Q. Are we making too much of the size differential between the two clubs? And do you guys feel, I don't want to use the word "intimidation," but do you feel uneasy about going up against a team that big? Can you compare it to any other team you've seen?
CEDRIC JACKSON: I would say we're not nervous because we've been prepared to play teams like this all season long. To compare them, they're pretty much like Kansas State. You know, we've played against big teams like Syracuse, Washington, so we know what we were facing early in the year, but it prepared us for Friday.

Q. Cedric, by my tabulation you were nine days old when Cleveland State beat Bobby Knight in 1986. What do you remember about that game?

Q. How much is that game a part of the legacy in your program, and how much awareness of it is there?
CEDRIC JACKSON: Well, when we accomplished our goal, you know, they brought it up a lot. Really just following in the footsteps they are. But we're trying to reach a further goal than what they did. It's a great honor to do what they did, but we're trying to exceed more.

Q. Is that a storybook run that the '86 team had? Is that something you can draw on in this situation since you're underdogs again?
CHRIS MOORE: Being a guy from Cleveland, that's something that's still talked about in the city all the time. It's definitely an honor to be compared to those guys, but kind of like Cedric said, we're trying to create our own legacy and step out of that shadow and be something else that's remembered in the city of Cleveland.

Q. J'Nathan and George, can you talk about never having seen Wake Forest before and maybe having to cram to prepare for a team, not just Wake Forest but for any team in this type of a setting, what that's like, trying to learn what they do in a short amount of time?
GEORGE TANDY: Well, we've been doing it all year, coming out and playing a game, then having to prepare again for another game. I think it's going to be a little difficult because it's a better team. But I don't think it's going to be any different than any other game we've played.
J'NATHAN BULLOCK: Yeah, just to piggyback off what George said, how our league conference is set up is we play on Thursday and Saturday, so you've only got a day turnaround to prepare for that Saturday game. So that kind of gives us a little edge in this setting.

Q. J'Nathan, not to give away your secrets, but what's the key to going up against guys this big for you?
J'NATHAN BULLOCK: Just pay attention to the little things like boxing out, don't lose a man on the offensive end because they're tall and athletic. So you've got to keep a body on guys, and just small things like that.

Q. Do you guys draw any help from the fact that Wake Forest, if they've been one thing that's not been good, they've been very inconsistent, so you don't really know what kind of team you're going to get here tomorrow. You might get a team that won 16 in a row and you might get a team that was 6-8 coming down the stretch. Does that make it a little bit harder to come to the arena tomorrow because you know how you guys are, how you think you're going to play, but you have no idea what you might get with these guys?
CEDRIC JACKSON: Well, we've heard about them a lot, and we say that they were the No. 1 team in the country for a reason, so you know, we're treating them that way. We know they're a great, explosive team, so we're not really worried about their statistics.
We're just going to come into this game ready, focused, really focused, and just preparing that it's going to be a really tough match tomorrow night.
CHRIS MOORE: Kind of going off what Cedric said, this is the tournament, and you've got to expect you're going to get every team's best on any given night. We're preparing for their best, and I know they're preparing to get our best. We've got to go out there and be ready to play, and I'm sure they feel the same way.

Q. This is for Cedric and for Chris: You know they like to run, you know they like to get the ball out. They're 17-1 when they've scored 80 or more. How do you keep them from scoring 80 or more tomorrow?
CEDRIC JACKSON: It's all about their defense, trying to take away the things that they do best. It's going to be a hard thing trying to do that. But you know, our makeup is defense, and that's going to be really key tomorrow, to try to keep them off the glass that leads them into transition because we know they're a really great transition team.
CHRIS MOORE: And also they have great individual scorers. They've got three or four guys that can go out and put up good numbers on any given night, and it's very important for us not only to focus on our individual assignments, but to also be there and help each other and make sure that as a team our defense is really on point tomorrow night.

Q. Cedric, you said your makeup is defense. How would you describe your defense?
CEDRIC JACKSON: I would say our defense is -- Coach always says we're one of the best defensive teams in the league, so you know we just want to do our best to get dirty. If we get cuts, we get cuts. If we bleed, we bleed, but our makeup is to play the best defense we can and go hard and take nothing easy.

Q. As a follow-up to that, are you guys strictly man-to-man? Do you play any zone?
CEDRIC JACKSON: For the most part I would say yes, we are man-to-man but sometimes we mix it up, but for the most part maybe 90 to 95 percent, I would say, yes, we are a man-to-man defense.

Q. Do you feel you'll have to deal with a frustration level if you can't do the things going in that you want to do? Have you talked about that, like a plan B?
J'NATHAN BULLOCK: I wouldn't necessarily say a plan B, but you try to execute the game plan as perfectly as you can. Of course they're long, lanky, it's going to stop a lot of things we're trying to do. But if we stick to the plan, it should succeed.
LARRY WAHL: Thank you, guys. Appreciate it.
Coach, Gary Waters, Cleveland State Vikings, if you want to open it up with some remarks about your team, your play this season, making the tournament and your time in Miami.
COACH GARY WATERS: Well, you know, obviously we're excited on being here. You know, you don't get an opportunity in three years to get to a place that quickly. These young men, I think, worked extremely hard to get to this point. All these young men, they're different in different phases, but they come out and play the same. So when you see a team go out and play hard and defend the way we do, you know they all play together, and that's what we do.
We're playing a very difficult foe. I'll be honest with you there. This team has a lot of strengths that we'll have to negate. If we don't do that we're going to be in trouble. We've got to go out and take away some of the things that they do and try to accentuate some of the things that we do.

Q. You were pretty emotional in the Conseco Fieldhouse after you guys won. What was kind of going through your mind at that point?
COACH GARY WATERS: Well, we had fought to get to that point. We had played Butler twice, and it was two-point games each time and it came down to the last shot, and if you go back even a year ago, we played -- we were the second place team, and we played them the last game of the season and could have beat them at the end there and then we go to the tournament and lose to them there. For us it was an excitement to go on that court and beat that team, but also an excitement for me to see these guys for when I got there didn't understand what it took to win. When I got there we had lost 60 and 80 games. Whatever I did there wasn't going to make a difference there. Just to give them that opportunity, and I know they would really enjoy that experience.

Q. Do you draw back to any of the Kent State days in terms of preparing, because you know what it takes to prepare a lower-seed team to beat a higher-seed team. What sort of tips would you give a coach in your situation?
COACH GARY WATERS: Well, this is a big stage, and you have to come here and don't let the stage overwhelm you, and when I say that, I don't mean the coaches. The coaches are going to do what they do, but it's the players. They're going to come out here starry-eyed and see what's going on. So we have to make sure that they understand the terrain. If they come out here and are just excited to be here, that's how fast they'll leave, just excited to be here.
The other thing I think is you've got to control the tempo. As a mid-level team if you don't control the tempo, you let the high-major team play their tempo, the game is over. This team wants to score 81 points a game and they want to get out and have highlight reels. If we allow that to happen, we'll enjoy some of them highlight reels, too. So we've got to shed some of that stuff now.

Q. To sort of follow up on that, do you think when a mid-level team keeps the game closer, do you think the pressure goes more to a major conference team the longer it goes into the game?
COACH GARY WATERS: I would think so because they're expected to win and they're expected to do what they've supposed to do, and when a team is close now, the lower pressure goes, and people think, hey, there's a possibility, then in essence the crowd swings over, and that's where the problem comes. Now everyone is rooting against you.
So you know, it's a tough thing. I know for them. But this is a team that has gone through the ACC. You go through the ACC, if you ain't ready to play in this, you're in deep trouble. I think they're not going to take us for granted. They're coming in and they're going to play, but we've got to do our thing. We have to go out and control the tempo of this game.

Q. They have a lot of things that they do well, but have you broken it down where you can't stop everything, but if there's five things you try to stop three of them?
COACH GARY WATERS: Do you want me to tell you that and then they write it down and then all of a sudden they've got it on the board? What's going on?

Q. Is there a level or frustration level that you're going to have to tell your guys you can't win every aspect of the game?
COACH GARY WATERS: For us to stay with this team at all, we can't let them dominate transition. If they get in transition, that means they're getting up and down the court and scoring points. So we have to allow that.
The second thing is we have to keep them off the glass. They have good size and they're going to attack the glass, so we have to make sure we put somebody on them and keep them off the glass. And then we're going to have to hit some baskets. That's another thing mid-level teams struggle with playing the high majors. When I used to coach at Kent I used to love going up against them, but one of the things I've always seen is that when we hit the high majors, the size factor becomes an issue. We've got guys that can run and jump but they've got guys four inches taller that can run and jump. That makes a big difference. We've got to make sure that we do what we do but do it a little harder.

Q. Do you draw any comfort at all from the fact that Wake Forest is a very young team, and they have shown signs in the fading part of the season to be, I think a good word would be "inconsistent"?
COACH GARY WATERS: Well, at one point I thought they were a very young team. They just have a few young players out there on the floor. But after you take those three guys off, everybody else is juniors and seniors. You know, what I have learned in coaching is that if you have some depth that has experience, it really helps the younger guys. You know, they're not as young as you think, and I'm going to tell you another reason why they're not as young. You go through a whole year of the ACC, you grow old going through that. I think they're matured. You know how you say when freshmen come in, by the time they leave they're sophomores in that first year. That's what happened with these guys. They're sophomores. I think they may have put that all aside because now for many of us, it's a new season, and everybody is getting excited about making this run. They think that, hey, they've got a chance to make a run.
LARRY WAHL: Thank you, Coach.

End of FastScripts

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