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March 20, 2009
KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI
KEVIN KLINTWORTH: Ready to go with the questions for the Memphis student athletes.
Q. This is for an Tony and a Tyreke. How concerned are y'all about the -- besides Robert, the 1 for 13 3-point shooting yesterday. When you go back and look at the film, was it not enough ball movement to get open looks? What did you see, or was it just missing shots?
ANTONIO ANDERSON: It was just missing shots. You know, luckily Rob made the shots. But nobody else made any 3s, and that's how it is sometimes. You can't make the shots every game. We've been there before, and we know how to battle through that. We figure out ways to win, and that's what we had to do yesterday.
TYREKE EVANS: Pretty much the same thing. It wasn't our night, but one guy on our team had the hot hand. Pretty much got with him. He got us through the game the whole way through.
Q. This is for Roburt. Did you go back and watch ESPN and look at your shots and go "Man, I was really on. I was on fire"?
ROBURT SALLIE: No. Actually, you know, I've been shooting all season, I'm just a shooter. So it's not -- I mean, I was a bit surprised about the ten 3-pointers, but other than that, you know, I didn't really watch it or think about that.
Q. What was practice like today? Did the coach kind of switch things up or just as regular as normal?
ANTONIO ANDERSON: It's always regular. He didn't switch anything up. We went out there and went hard like we always do. He showed us a couple things to get us ready for tomorrow, and we'll do the same tomorrow at shoot-around. He was just, you know, throwing little things at us to get us prepared for the next game.
Q. Antonio, Vasquez is kind of a different kind of guy and different kind of player. How do you size him up, and what's the strategy against him?
ANTONIO ANDERSON: Can't size him up. He's a great player, great shots, can shoot the ball, can pass the ball, can dribble. He's very gifted, very skilled. There's no -- you can't just stop a player like that. It's going to take five guys and all of us helping one another and just got to be a team effort.
Q. Roburt, after what happened yesterday, do you think you're going to get a little extra attention tomorrow from the defense?
ROBURT SALLIE: Definitely. I know -- I normally get a lot more extra attention. Northridge, they were giving me extra attention towards the second half, but like I said, my teammates found ways to find me. I'm just going the play my role tomorrow. If I have an open shot, I'm going to shoot it. If not, then I'm not going to shoot it, look for my teammates.
Q. Antonio, follow-up to Vasquez, he plays to the crowd, fingers over his lips and does stuff. How do you guys take that? Is that a cool thing or -- how do you take that?
ANTONIO ANDERSON: We don't take it any way. Any way. He's an explosive player. We don't feed into that. You know, if that's what he likes to do, that's what he does. We don't talk trash or anything like that.
We're going to go out and play our game, and if that's the style he plays, that's how he plays. He's just being himself out there. He's not trying to be anybody else. That's how we look at it.
Q. Roburt, are you going to be in the starting lineup, or has the coach not said anything to you about that yet?
ROBURT SALLIE: I haven't been notified of any rotations, being switched or anything. I don't think that would be smart anyway at this point, you know. Might mess up team chemistry. We're just going to stick to what we've been doing all season and continue from there.
Q. Antonio, do you feel like if you guys can shut down Vasquez that you can control this Maryland team?
ANTONIO ANDERSON: Well, we don't shut anybody down. We're going to try to play our regular team defense and try to make their game as hard as possible. He's got some guys on his team that can also shoot the ball. The 5 man and 2 man and 3 and 4 can shoot it. You can't focus on one player.
He has a group of guys who can score. If that wasn't the case, you would have seen him have triple doubles throughout the season. You just have to credit everybody that their coach plays and they all play a significant role in what they try to do. We're going to go out and play our team defense and try to do what we've been doing all year.
Q. Antonio, what do you guys attribute to the slow start for everybody except Roburt yesterday?
ANTONIO ANDERSON: We just didn't come ready to play. There's no explanation. They came out and brought way more energy than we did. They beat us after the ball, and Roburt gave us that lift that we needed, and we just tried to pick it up from there.
Q. All three players, do you expect Maryland to play you a zone most of the day? Would you play your zone against y'all considering the way you shot yesterday?
ANTONIO ANDERSON: We don't know how they're going to play. That's up to their coach to decide on what they're going to play, and if were you to play us, I'm not a coach. You never know because Roburt can shoot and everyone. We've got guys who can get in the lane and make things happen. It's how their coach decides how they want the play us. They're a great team. Whatever their coach decides to do, we know that we'll give our best.
Q. For both Antonio and Roburt, I know you have -- you play who comes up, but your conference, USA, sometimes gets shortchanged. You know the criticism. Playing an ACC team, does that get you up a little more, and just talk about getting to play a team from one of the power conferences.
ANTONIO ANDERSON: It doesn't get us up any more. It's another game. All the conference stuff is thrown out the window, the records are thrown out the window. Two good teams going at it. The NCAA Tournament, we're trying to advance. We don't worry about what people say about our conference.
We played in the national championship last year and the Elite 8 the year before. We know what we're capable of as a team. We don't pay that any mind.
ROBURT SALLIE: Same as what he said.
KEVIN KLINTWORTH: Any more questions?
Q. Roburt, I was curious. Since you had that great game yesterday, have you heard from a lot of people, lot of text messages? Have you heard from your old high school pals or something like that?
ROBURT SALLIE: Oh, yeah, definitely. But, you know, I was due for a big shooting night. I've been in the gym working hard and putting up extra shots and stuff like that. It just happened to be my night. The game coming up, I could make no shots.
Doneal can make ten 3-pointers. Tyreke can hit ten 3-pointers. Any given time with this team, any given night this can be on. We're going to come ready to play Saturday and should be a great game.
Q. Tyreke, was your first tournament experience kind of what you expected?
TYREKE EVANS: Definitely. It was a lot of the crowd into it, going back and forth. The coach told us how the team was going to come out making every shot. We just came out, and we weren't prepared for it.
Q. Because of proximity, you and Oklahoma seem to have the crowd, more people here? Do you feel you guys are at a little more of an advantage being as close to home as you are compared to a Maryland or like what Michigan has to face?
ANTONIO ANDERSON: Well, honestly, it's a neutral site. Fortunately, enough it's close. That doesn't mean anything. The fans don't dribble the ball or shoot the ball, it's the players. It's good to have your fans here. You really -- you can feed off them a little bit but at the same time. I know Maryland is not worried about our fans. We can't worry about that as well.
KEVIN KLINTWORTH: Anyone else for the student athletes from Memphis?
Great, guys. Thank you.
Coach, if you wouldn't mind giving us a brief opening statement.
COACH JOHN CALIPARI: We're happy we're still playing. I watched the tape of last night's game and, wow, they deserved to win the game and -- but we made the plays down the stretch again that we've done for the last few years.
Proud of my team that we hung in there with foul trouble in the first half and we hung in there with, you know, with the other team just had more energy than we had. I think I said at halftime I talked about our swagger became arrogance, and hopefully we learned our lesson and understand every game in this tournament is a hard game.
I'm looking at scores with Marquette. I'm looking at scores with Kansas. 8-point game. Every game is a hard game in this tournament.
KEVIN KLINTWORTH: Questions for Coach.
Q. John, been a lot of years since you and Gary were in a NCAA Tournament game. Just off the top of your head, what kind of things have changed in this game, recruiting changes, things like that? What have you noticed most?
COACH JOHN CALIPARI: Biggest thing is players leaving early. That is the one thing that, you know, during my time at UMASS I had one player leave early, Marcus Camby in his junior year. Gary Williams had one, Joe Smith. He left in his junior year. He may have left as a sophomore. That was the beginning of kids leaving early.
You had a lot of teams where now the run we're on at Memphis is with three, four different teams because anybody that can really play, they left. They're not there anymore, and you had to do it with new guys.
I would tell you that that would be the biggest change. But we had great games. We played Gary probably three games that were not NCAA Tournament games, and then we played that game in Wichita against him. I said there's a big difference now.
My point guard then was Derek Kellogg, who is now the coach at UMASS. And that's why we lost. My point guard now is Tyreke Evans.
Q. How much more do you have to cultivate image as a coach? Seems like because of the 24-hour news cycle, how much more time do you have to put into that, let recruits know what the coach is about and reputation and those kind of things?
COACH JOHN CALIPARI: Well, you know, people -- there have been people that I have been close with for a lot of years, and if they call me to do something for them, I will.
Jim Rome called me today, Dan Patrick, guys I've known for 15 years, 20 years who have been good to me. If I did all the radio shows and television stuff that people ask me to do, I couldn't coach my team.
But there are certain people that have been really good to me that, you know, I've had a relationship with a long time that I would do stuff with.
It is important that kids see how you play. And I think our style has been one of those styles that kids wants to play. Even last night, Roburt Sallie. If you get it going for us, go, no one is holding you back. They're not subbing you. Until you start missing, keep shooting. If someone is hot, keep giving them the ball. That's how we've always played.
Q. When you went back and looked at the film, 1 of 13 3-point shooting. Were they good looks, did you get enough in and out, inside, outside for the zone?
COACH JOHN CALIPARI: No, we didn't. We didn't throw the ball in enough and get in the lane enough and driver, but the looks were still there. They were open.
I believe one of them plugged in there and stopped. Did it plug in between the backboard and the rim? I think one of them did that. I think a couple of them were air balls long, like he pulled up from 18 and the ball went 19. We had some of those.
Our team has done that before, and then we come back the next game and go 13 out of 20. That's what we are.
Q. John, what makes Vasquez such a good offensive player and talk about trying to keep him in check?
COACH JOHN CALIPARI: Two things. One, he's really crafty. So his feel for the game is as good as I've seen and he's also got size. You're not just going to put someone with size on him and have that affect him. Not happen.
He is so crafty. Gets everyone involved. In other words, he's trying to curl in the lane to catch balls. As much to pass as he is to score and now all of a sudden, he's getting a player a play he can make. He's getting the ball to a guy next to the rim where he's making that.
Second thing is people help so much on him when he does miss they offensive rebound because those guys aren't body to body with somebody. They do a great job of really bum rushing the rim. They've got arms on you and hands on you and that ball goes up, you're like fighting for your life. That's how they play.
Q. Coach, we asked Roburt this morning if he thought he would start, and he said he didn't know, that it was up to you. He wasn't even sure that would be smart because it might mess up team chemistry.
COACH JOHN CALIPARI: I'm not going to start him, but I can't wait to put him in (laughter). I'm not going to start him. The whole thing, not so much him as Doneal Mack. He's had a great year. The one thing that kind of surprised me that I hadn't prepared for was my team being a little skittish. I've been in this tournament a long time, and the one thing my teams usually aren't is that, and we were.
I started off by being really mean to shake them out of it, and that didn't work. I talked to them at halftime, it didn't work. With about five, six minutes to go, they kind of got it in gear, and we just talked about we've been in this before. We've been in these situations just make plays, but it wasn't like I walked in the game and said, "Well, if we're a little shaky, here is how I'll be." I never even thought about it.
A lot of it was to do with Northridge came out and punched us in the mouth. They came out and beat us to balls, they outran us, they made shots we didn't make, they ran their offense better. They obviously ran their defense better. They were shooting 50 percent on us until the last six, seven minutes.
So, I was a little bit on my heels like you have, "Oh-oh, I haven't coached this in a while."
That being said, that's why I want to keep things how they are and just keep doing what we're doing.
Q. Could you talk specifically about your memories of '94 and Wichita because Gary is still at Maryland, are there parallels between that team even then and the way this current Maryland team runs itself?
COACH JOHN CALIPARI: Just to give you an idea of my memory, I call my numbers -- my players by numbers because it's easier for me. So I remember it was in Wichita. I remember my point guard was Derek Kellogg. They threw -- some of the press -- some of the press bothered us and a kid, Mario Lucas, made a 3 or something -- was that his name that broke up the game? They had a terrific team. They finished with a winning record in the ACC that year, I believe, and they were really good.
Q. Two part question. First part is, this run of Sweet 16s, Elite 8 that you've been on, what does it do for a program to get on that kind run? And the flip side of it is, when that becomes the standard, what does that do for you as a coach?
COACH JOHN CALIPARI: The standard in Memphis right now is 30 wins and if you don't get to 30, something is wrong, putting For Sale signs in my front yard.
The other thing is that two, three players will be drafted. One might go 1, one will go 7, but you're going to have players drafted. That's what the standard becomes, and I call it rarefied air.
Some of the stuff we're doing the last four years has never been done in college basketball history. Our people, our fans think, well, this is how it's supposed to be now.
So it's hard. But, Larry Brown keeps texting me and saying, "It's hard when they're expected to win every game. Keep loving them." That's Larry Brown. He's texted me ten times. "Love them." It's hard when they're supposed to win every game.
And, folks, the guys that have followed us know that we're saying. We have to win every game in Memphis. We lose a game, we're like a 9 seed. That's why we've won so many games. We have no choice.
Q. Coach, does it make it easier at all in terms of the recruiting and all the stuff you're trying to do?
COACH JOHN CALIPARI: What's happened in recruiting a lot of it is style of play, lot of it is player development. I don't go in promising any player I will do a better job of getting you do the pros than any other coach. I don't do it.
They watch and see how we play. They know we let guys go. They know that it's going to be a hard place to play. And I tell them all, "If you want to go to an easy play, this is not it. You're going to go to class." We graduated 19 of our last 22 this May. "You're going to go to class, do what you're supposed to do. You're going to train and be in the best shape of your life. You're going to go and practice, and there's other guys that can play. If you want to be the only guy that can play, don't come here, because you're going to have a bunch of other players that can play here. Yet, if you can play, I'll let you go. If you can't play, don't come here. I can't hide you."
This offense, you can't -- we're not setting screens. You've got to be able to play basketball. If you want that, that's it.
That's basically what we're saying. We're not saying the pot of the gold is here. It's hard what these kids are trying to do. It's hard.
Q. John, lot of people criticize Conference USA, saying you guys are the better team. The fact that every game you guys have won, when you go to play somebody, you got the target on your back. How much does that prepare you guys for the NCAA Tournament and the end of game situations? Is that a legacy that maybe gets passed down from team to team, the toughness?
COACH JOHN CALIPARI: I hope so. The other thing is, one of the things we always try to do and what I try to do -- and again from being with Coach Brown and I don't want to call timeouts. Sometimes I want them to work through it themselves. I don't want them to have to rely on me for everything.
Most games I'm going to end with two, three or four timeouts. Late game, we're walk -- we're working on stuff everyday in practice. Our people that walk in our gym with six seconds to go, we're not calling a timeout. If they're shooting free throws, we'll know whether they'll be up. We're not. They end up taking it on themselves, and they understand that that's how we play here.
We're running a play. I don't need to call a timeout and tell them the play. We've done it in practice a hundred times. I call the play and they go do their thing. What happened at Tulsa, Antonio Anderson came up to me and said -- for the people that don't know, we were down one with four seconds to go. Get me the ball. There was some other words he threw in there.
I just said, "Guess what? We're going to get him the ball." We ran a play and moved him to a position within what we had always done so he would get the ball.
He scored. Anytime a player asks me, "Get me the ball," I'll look at him, "Where?" I'm going to get him the ball because now he owns it. Instead of me owning it, instead of it -- I want the players to own it. I want them to be empowered. I don't want them to have to look at me every play and have me come up with a genius play. If I've done my job in practice, they'll know what they're supposed to do.
Q. Conference USA?
COACH JOHN CALIPARI: Greatly.
Q. The fact that you guys have -- I'm sorry. The fact you guys kind of have a target on your back.
COACH JOHN CALIPARI: Yeah, it's hard because every game is a Super Bowl. We go to UAB. If UAB is so easy a place to play, everybody in the country have at it. They've lost two games in the last two years in that building, both to us.
They have tents outside and students have tents for four, five days, waiting for us to come. It doesn't matter if it's there. UTEP was a crazy place to play. Tulsa. They're not easy places to play.
I'm not begrudging anybody else's league. Our league is a hard league to do it, especially when we're up against it every game we play. Any slip-up -- if we don't show to play, we're losing. We have to show to play. That gives us a chance.
Q. How comforting is it to know that you have Antonio Anderson to throw out there tomorrow on Vasquez, and how did he come to be the defensive player that he has become?
COACH JOHN CALIPARI: He's a multidimensional. He's scoring for us, he'll defend when he has to. He's probably got as many assists as Tyreke has at point guard 4s. We also have Doneal Mack who I can put on Vasquez. If I want to do that, we can. I can also put Roburt Sallie on him. We can also switch and put Robert Dozier on him.
So we got a lot of guys we can play him with. But Antonio, the biggest thing is he made the baskets down the stretch of this last game, he made three shots that really broke their back, and that's after he had six turnovers. They had six turnovers. Yet with six minutes to go, we stepped it up and played.
Q. How is Shawn Taggart?
COACH JOHN CALIPARI: He's been the new steady Eddie. He's come every game. He's somebody we need to play through more and more. Great foul shooter. He can shoot 3s, in his mind, anyway, and he loves shooting 3s. We can put him at pick and rolls and pop him out.
Yet, he's able to score in the post. Last year we couldn't throw to the post as much unless we threw a lob because we were afraid of free throw shooting. Now, it's throw in it then let he and Robert Dozier get fouled because they both can make free throws.
KEVIN KLINTWORTH: Last couple questions.
Q. To go back to this idea of putting this run of Sweet 16s together, Elite 8s, is that a Duke becomes a Duke, the great programs, or is there more to it than what you do in the tournament year-in and year out?
COACH JOHN CALIPARI: I think part of it is the tournament. I think part of it is what we've done. I think that, you know, we're bumping up the stuff. You've got to do it -- right now we've done it over nine years now and I'd say really over four, five years. Now you got to do it over 15 years and you just got to keep the thing rolling.
Hard. Because, see, if you're in a BCS and you have a bad year, you can go on a win streak at the end of your season, win three games and get in the NCAA Tournament.
If you struggle in a non-BCS team. The BCS will not play you in your court. They will not play. You have no chance to recover from a slow start. So it's somewhat different.
And so I tell all the BCS, non-BCS, I feel for them because it's hard. I'm in there. We're in a non-BCS. We got to try to win every game. Everybody in our league is trying to win every game. So it makes it hard.
But I think we're started down that path. The biggest thing what you're finding out is young players -- and here is the greatest thing: They don't remember but three years. A kid that's 16, he don't remember when he was 11 or 12, who was in the NCAA Tournament, how they played, what they did. Does not remember.
He remembers the last three years, and the last three years, we've been that team. And so what's happened is you see in recruiting now, 14, 15 of those young kids are looking at Memphis. Why would they - because we've been hot. We've been hot during that time.
Doesn't take away anything from Kentucky or Duke or North Carolina or anybody else. Just that that's how these kids are. They're 13 years old. They remember those next three years.
Q. Vasquez seems like a guy who plays with a ton of emotion and seems to sort of drive him. Have you coached guys like that before, and is there times when you sort of have to channel, get -- find a way to channel that emotion?
COACH JOHN CALIPARI: You don't want rage. Rage is not good. You also don't want players to hate another team. Hate became -- becomes anxiety. We try to approach every game where we respect the other team, we treat no team different than any other. We will not treat Maryland any different than we treated Northridge.
They'll be treated the same as Tulsa, Tulane, Gonzaga, Tennessee, whoever we play, and I think that's part of it, how we methodically go about what we're trying to do.
The other side of it is we've had some guys with rage that you try to say, "Hey, this is not good, it's not healthy and it's not right." If you're obsessed with somebody else, you lose every time. If you're obsessed with another program or another coach or another person, you lose every single time.
So you try to tell guys that yeah, I want that emotion and passion. I coach with it. That's why I've aged very fast. But I coach with that emotion and that intensity, so I want it, but it's also got to be kept in check including with me.
KEVIN KLINTWORTH: Thank you, Coach.
End of FastScripts