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March 21, 2009
THE MODERATOR: We'll get started and take questions for the Missouri student-athletes.
Q. J.T., every one of your games when we talk about tempo being important and all that, Marquette basically said we can't allow yourselves to be sucked into playing their pace for 40 minutes. How do you go about forcing a team to speed up the tempo and forcing them to play at your pace?
J.T. TILLER: Just on the defensive end we have to pressure the ball and try to get them out of their offensive groove. On the offensive end we got to push the ball at them and not let them set up their defense.
Q. Leo, you talked a lot about how much you've changed and how much you matured at Missouri. But I'm hoping you could talk more about this and about your relationship with coach and how it's grown over the time.
LEO LYONS: Just from the beginning when I got here my position on this team was totally different. Before I was trying to learn this offense and learn this system on defense and now I'm a leader and I'm a captain. So I mean, I can't slip up and I always have to be on top of my game to make sure the rest of the guys and the other captains are on top of their game too.
Q. J.T., building off the previous question, suppose you aren't able to necessarily speed the pace up against Marquette. How central is that idea of 40 fastest minutes of basketball to your guys' playing philosophy. Do you need to play at that speed to be successful?
J.T. TILLER: Not at all. We love to play up-tempo, but at the same time the way we practice we're just ready for any style of play that's thrown our way. So if they want to slow us down and play a high court game, we're ready for that. If they want to speed tempo up and play that type of game, we're definitely ready for that.
Q. J.T. and Leo, talk a little about the leadership that DeMarre has provided and how important he's been to this team this year.
LEO LYONS: As far as energy goes these two guys on the side of me is probably the heart of our team. DeMarre does it with his vocals. And J.T. goes out there and plays as hard as he can. They call DeMarre the Junkyard Dog for a reason. He works as hard as he can out there and J.T. does the same. So when you sit there and watch them doing that, all you want to do is follow.
Q. DeMarre, you guys always talk about defense and I know Coach likes that, but do you think you guys get enough credit for your offense?
DeMARRE CARROLL: To a certain point we do. But we're a defensive team. When people see us, we want to be recognized as a defensive team. Mostly, either our offense comes off of our defense, off steals and transition and easy put backs. So I think we get great credit for our offense, but we just want people to recognize us as a tenacious defensive team.
Q. For J.T. and DeMarre, have you seen tapes of the old Arkansas teams and I wonder if you had, how close you think your defense approximates theirs.
J.T. TILLER: Yeah, we watch couple of times on the Arkansas like at the beginning of the season, just to see that style of play that Coach wants us to get to. I believe that we're getting close to that style of play and the way they used to play back then. Just because of our intensity, our defensive hustle and way we go after the ball on defense.
DeMARRE CARROLL: Yeah, I seen tape, I was a ball boy, I was there, you know. But when I look at it I kind of compare it to, J.T. and Zaire, kind of to Clint McDaniel and Corey Bell, like a small version of Clint McDaniel and Corey, who was two tenacious defensive players. And whenever you had to go against them it was going to be a long night.
So you know if you got two guys at the front of your defense like J.T. and Zaire, it makes it easy for myself and Leo and the rest of the team to feed off their energy.
Q. J.T., particularly, I understand you guys have an altitude trainer, a machine that approximates 10,000 feet above sea level. Does it make a difference or do you even notice it?
J.T. TILLER: We just go out there and play our game. If there's altitude difference up here, we just take it with a grain of salt and try to get through it. That's where our depth comes in. So I'm happy with that because with all these people that we have, we really don't have to depend on any machine.
Q. But do you have the machine? You've had it for three years. I mean, did you notice a difference?
J.T. TILLER: I just go out there and play. You really can't ask me that because two minutes into the game I'm going to be tired anyway. I'm going out there and playing and getting tired like I usually do.
Q. For Leo and DeMarre, can you guys contrast your style of plays and how you guys complement each other.
LEO LYONS: We always pride ourselves on being a good tandem down there. And it seems like this whole year, you could probably stop one of us with a double team, but it's probably impossible to stop both of us. And we feed off each other a lot. We score off each other a lot.
I know if he's shooting, I can crash the glass and we get an opportunity, and we try to use our size and quickness to our advantage because we got a lot of bigger guys guarding us. So we try to attack more off the dribble and create for our teammates, if not for ourselves.
Q. DeMarre, can you give us a sense of what Coach is like during a timeout and especially during these extended timeouts, sort of run out of stuff to say during the NCAA tournament timeouts?
DeMARRE CARROLL: Not really. Coach, he can talk all day, but he just tries to -- he really tries to motivate us and try to keep us calm. Because he knew we were nervous -- most coaches, you know, we come out like we did the first half and they will be all hollering and all that. But he knew we were nervous, he knew we never been here before, and he approached it way different than he would have like in the Big-12 season. So give credit to him, he changed his coaching style and that just shows you how great of a coach he is.
Q. Leo and DeMarre, yesterday you're playing against a 7-footer and you talked about having the advantage in quickness. Can you talk about now going against a guy like Hayward who likes to play maybe a little bit more like both of you guys do.
LEO LYONS: I watched Hayward, he's a pretty good player. He's a great shooter. Right now I would say we would try to use our length instead of our quickness and try to use our length to get more rebounds and length to finish on the inside and to defend him as well so he doesn't get as many of his shots off. So length would be our strength tomorrow.
Q. All three of you have been around long enough, can you kind of take me through the process of sitting back and having to maybe bite your tongue when you weren't the leaders of this ball club and take me through the process of now that you have taken ownership of the team.
DeMARRE CARROLL: My approach when I first got here was sitting out a season and then coming and playing the next season, you already had guys like Stefhon Hannah and Jason Horton who was our leaders and I kind of took a step back because, one, I was scared how they were going to look at me like I'm the coach's nephew and I'm trying to step into a role already. So I kind of bit my tongue, me personally.
But this year, you know, the freshmen, they kind of told me, We need you to lead. You're a big part of our team. We need you to step up. And ever since then I just tried to step up verbally and I go out there and lead by example.
LEO LYONS: I think the reason we struggled back then was because of the leadership, not to blame those guys or anything like that, but now we have a better understanding. And a lot of those guys were fresh just like we was into the new system and they were still learning. But now we got guys that's been here for three years, that's been working this system and we know it like the back of our hand. So it's easy for us to go out and lead and be captains.
J.T. TILLER: I just think that being the youngest, I definitely had to take a step back and just see how the job should be done. The first two years kind of got a glimpse of it every now and then of how you should be a leader, but now this year definitely following Matt, Little Mike, Leo and DeMarre, you know what it takes to be that captain and what you got to do on and off the court. So I guess back then it was just taking a step back, but now I'm definitely learning from these guys.
Q. This one's for DeMarre. With all the success you guys have had running the full court press over the last few years, are you surprised at all that more teams don't use the same type of style?
DeMARRE CARROLL: Well, I'm not surprised because this style, it's a lot of freedom, and you got it takes a lot of dedication and a lot of 6 a.m.'s in the morning and all that. But I think that we just paid the price and I think that it was real great to be able to play this type of style, to be able to have this type of freedom to be able to just play to our basketball ability.
I'm not surprised that many teams -- many teams they just like to play a chess match, you score and you run your offense, and we run our offense. But we like to make it an organized chaos.
Q. For all three players, forgive an old question, but what is the learning curve like on the system, the defensive system, the playing that organized chaos? How tough is it to learn? What's the hardest part about it?
J.T. TILLER: The learning curve, you have to pick it up pretty quick. Coach says you can learn it in an hour, in a day, in a month, you know, and the faster you're able to pick it up, that's who is going to be on the court.
But the learning curve, it's fairly quick. The hardest part is just knowing where to be on the court in this organized chaos because you don't know what the other person is going to do. So you got to learn how to read your teammates and everything like that. So I think that's the hardest part.
LEO LYONS: The hardest part to me would be like those second and third efforts. You're used to seeing guys who make one hard effort on defense. But with us we feed off each other, you might have to make five efforts in one defensive play and we go all out. Some guys, you know, on the other teams and things like that can pace theirselves, can play the whole game, but we can't do that.
The learning is just going out there and playing as hard as you can and a lot of people don't know how to do that and it take a long time to learn how to do that.
DeMARRE CARROLL: I think the hardest part is to be able to read off each other. And I really think the two hardest people in the press is J.T. and Zaire because I'm at the point of -- and I just run and I jump and they have to read off me. So it just shows their intelligence to know basketball. So I just think the hardest part is to read off each other.
THE MODERATOR: All right. Thanks, gentlemen. We'll take questions for Coach Anderson.
Q. Coach, every game it seems like we talk about tempo and that being important to your team. But how do you force another team, what goes into making them play your style?
COACH ANDERSON: I think if any team comes into a game you want to play the way you're capable of playing. I think for us it's about our defense. And that's what we always talk about with our basketball team. If you talk to any of our players, they know we're going to hang our hats on defense, make our defense with the pressure that we try to apply and disrupting what other people want to do. We're going to attack you on defense, and not only that we're going to try to attack you on offense as well.
So it's kind of like a double-edged sword. We're going to take you on the offensive end and defensive end. We're going to make you work and -- but I think that more than anything else I think we can make adjustments and I think you saw that yesterday. A team that played us a zone, kind of slowed us down a little bit. And we didn't make shots and so we weren't able to really -- but I still thought our defense was pretty good.
Q. Can you talk about the challenges that DeMarre's had to overcome to become the player that he is and how that's sort of impacted the player that he has become?
COACH ANDERSON: I think when he came out of high school -- of course, he's been in winning programs in high school, he won a couple of state championships. And then I think when he went to Vanderbilt, I think that as a freshman you got to progress and you got to mature and grow and I thought they had him in a certain role that he was playing. And of course, I've been knowing him all my life, so I knew the player he wanted to be.
And so I think that probably after transferring, I think the biggest year for him was that year sitting out. I think he got a chance to really work out with us and just to see how up-tempo basketball, not only that, how he can have an impact on our program. I thought he was a proven player in the SEC. And so, coming into the Big-12 I just thought that year sitting out was going to be huge for him.
And obviously the last year was probably a downer for him because of the things that took place, some away from the court. But I think on the court he got injured, but I think that his true character showed even from that situation because him hurt, playing hurt and it just showed me what type of mentality, the toughness that he has and I thought that he helped our basketball team continue to compete.
So with that being said, DeMarre, I think, coming in this year, this summer, I thought he really, really worked extremely hard to expand his perimeter game, not forgetting who he was, which is always remind him, you're the Junkyard Dog, you got to do that. But I thought he expanded his game, putting in many, many nights shooting in the gym. And he's brought that confidence into this season.
Q. Mike, the Cornell coach said maybe that the thing about your team that's underappreciated is the way you play offense, the way you don't turn the ball over and are pretty efficient. Maybe just sort of generalize what your offensive philosophy is and why you think it's worked so much better this year than the last couple.
COACH ANDERSON: I think if you look at our team, we're a team that runs and executes. So we can push the ball down the floor and I want our guys to take good shots. And those are some shots this they take every single day in practice, the things that we work on. So I think with the way we play, it's a motion offense, where all five guys touch the basketball. I think versatility is a strength of ours. Our guards -- our forwards can become guards. Our guards can become forwards. And so when you got that, offensive scheme, and I think what you want to do is put guys in position where they can have success. And I think that's why you see Leo a lot of times, he's probably one of the, I think, leading guys getting to the free throw line, because he's a hard matchup and I think basketball to me is about advantage, disadvantage. But I think that we value the basketball. Meaning that we take good shots more than anything else.
But I think it's because we're an attacking team. So you'll see us with our defense, I think it spearheads all of it because you get a lot of easy opportunities. So that's why you start seeing the percentage go up. There have been some halves where we have shot probably almost 65 to 70 percent. And a lot of those are easy opportunities where we attack the basket, where fatigue has come in, because of our defense. I still think our defense is a big key to what we do. But I think that offensively we take pride in taking care of the basketball.
Q. Kind of following up on my last question, Coach Williams and Marquette's players said similar to what a lot of people have said before playing you, we can't allow yourselves to get sucked into playing that tempo the entire game. But it seems a lot easier said than done. It seems they know they're not, they can't do it going in, but you guys have been able to force other teams to do that. Why do you think that is?
COACH ANDERSON: Well I think when you work on playing against a pressure team you want to attack. I think you want to attack. And so there are going to be opportunities and even with us there's some give and take. There's a big risk in terms of pressuring and getting after people because you're going to give them some easy opportunities every now and then they're going to have some open shots.
But I think as the game goes on those shots that you were making or shooting early on, you're going to continue to take them, and they're not going. And why is that? I think that's where the affect of our defense has come in. Your legs. I mean those shots are open, but they're not open.
Q. The full court press is kind of what you grew up with and what you use and you used it successfully, but not many other people use it. Why do you think that is?
COACH ANDERSON: Well, I think that you know, we give our guys a lot of freedom to make decisions. I think that's what our defense is all about is putting guys in position to make decisions.
And I don't know why other guys don't do it. I think you see teams playing more up-tempo basketball, but in terms of pressing and getting after it, a lot of people think pressing is maybe putting a guy on the ball and trapping one time, they throw it out and you're going down the floor.
I think we probably take it another level. We may trap another time and we may trap three or more times before you get to across half court. But that's what we do. And I put guys in position to make decisions. And with that being said, that's letting them take control. I think most coaches want to be in total control. But I let our guys make decisions.
Q. The other day you were talking a lot about character and responsibility on your team and I wanted to go back to last season when you suspended the players. Did you see any possible downside to that in your own situation given that the record wasn't that great and things just weren't going that wonderfully for the program.
COACH ANDERSON: No, I never gave that even a thought. I thought what I was -- when I made that decision I made that decision without even having to question myself. And the reason I say that is because of who I am. And I was hired to do a job. I was hired to come in and win ball games, I know that. I also was hired to, I guess, to clean a culture or to have a brand of basketball to get kids educated, get kids to become productive citizens once they leave. Graduate kids. So no, it was never in my mind a -- I knew I was doing the right thing. There's no question about it.
Q. What's the maybe the biggest misconception about the organized chaos that you use defensively?
COACH ANDERSON: Well people think we're just hully gully, whatever you want to call it, I don't know. I mean, you guys probably got all the acronyms. You got all the things of what it is.
I think it's a thing of beauty. I think the uglier the game, the better it is for us. But I think if you look at what is taking place with our basketball team, and it was just like that in the '90s with Arkansas it was like that with my teams at UAB. We're probably one of the more efficient, most efficient teams. Especially offensively as he alluded to. Because we just want to disrupt what you want to do.
It's easy to back up half court and just let you do what you want to do and then we come and do the same thing. Well, that's not what I want to do. I want to play, make you make plays. Not only that, I want you to play other guys that you -- most guys are going to play six, seven guys, that's what they're going to play.
So I, you know, I enjoy it. I'm one of the few I guess that do and hopefully we can continue to have some success doing it. But I think that we're not just a feast or famine and I think that's what people sometimes don't forget. And what I mean by that, we don't just feast and famine on just turning people over, we play good defense. Our defense is probably the best in the half court. And I thought that you could, you saw that last night. It wasn't about stealing the basketball, and I think that's the hardest thing is to get our guys to understand, it's just not about stealing the basketball.
And I think we have come a long ways this year to the point where we can make adjustments as the game goes on. And I think that we're probably one of the most disciplined teams you're going to see. Especially offensively.
Q. You talked about your team still making progress with the system. Have they reached the old standard of 40 minutes of hell and how close does this system approximate what you used to see at Arkansas?
COACH ANDERSON: Well, I tell what you, we're doing it a lot better. We're progressing in the right direction, we're not totally where I would like to be, but, and understandably, we got seven new guys that never played at this level. So you're trying to implement them and just trying to put all that together. But I can't say that I think that the seniors, Tiller, Zaire Taylor, whose come in and been a tremendous impact, guys like Keith Ramsey, they were recruited to play this way and I think they have helped us progress a lot quicker.
And with freshmen they're going to be up-and-down and our freshmen have had moments. Yesterday Kim English had some great moment, I thought Marcus Denmon played well yesterday, so we have got more pieces that are really starting to step up for us and what better time than right now.
Q. I wanted to ask you about your scheduling policy. How do you go about filling your non-conference schedule? Are you looking for home and homes games against higher opponents, is there anyone you will or won't play, just talk about that a little bit?
COACH ANDERSON: We'll play anybody home and home. We certainly will. And of course we have got the Pac-10, Big-12 Challenge. I think that's been helpful in scheduling. We play some SEC teams. And we have got some people that want to play, some don't want to play, but it's been a chore to schedule. But hopefully with the success we have had, TV can come in and help us because I think our team is an entertaining team. I think people enjoy watching our team play.
Q. Does your philosophy change at all with as your program gets better? When you first maybe took over at Missouri did you have the same philosophy or now are you trying to schedule better games to get better seeds and that kind of thing?
COACH ANDERSON: Well, I thought our schedule this year, I thought it was pretty good. I think that the biggest key about when you schedule, you got to win games. I mean, you hear a lot of guys complaining that, hey, my schedule's this or the schedule is that, it's tough and RPI and all that. I don't care, you got to win games. I think that's the bottom line.
And so I think we got to, we had a very competitive schedule and as time goes on and it will get more even more competitive. I thought our league was really good and I think people are seeing that. It was really really good. It was not just a clearcut favorite in our league. And I think that as tournament play continues and unfold, I think the nation will get a chance to see the Big-12 was not as down as everyone thought it was.
THE MODERATOR: All right, thank you coach.
COACH ANDERSON: All right. Thanks.
End of FastScripts