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March 25, 2009
THE MODERATOR: We have been joined by Missouri head coach Mike Anderson. I will ask Coach for a few opening comments and then we'll go to questions. Coach?
COACH ANDERSON: We are certainly excited the Missouri Tigers could be part of the Sweet 16 and having one of the tougher challenges; to play against a Tiger team -- a Memphis Tiger team that is playing awful good basketball.
I think it is something our guys are looking forward to. And this tournament is all about survive and advance. We certainly survived to this point and so to me this is a fun year. This is a fun time of year with basketball and to be playing out of 16 teams in the country, we are certainly looking forward to tomorrow night's matchup.
Q. Just talk about the influence over the years of Nolan on you, the way you play him, even the way you dress, you address from the sidelines. Just talk about the influence?
COACH ANDERSON: I think I dress better than Coach Richardson. I tell you what, Ron, you know Coach Richardson is real dear to my heart. He is like a father figure. He is a mentor. He is a hall of fame coach.
I had the opportunity to meet Coach Richardson in the junior college national championship game. I was a player and he was the coach of a team that went 37-0. Needless to say, my Jeff State Junior College team was a victim of that particular team. That was my first meeting of Coach Richardson.
From then on, it has been a truly, truly blessing to have an opportunity to be a part of what he started there at Tulsa University. I have had an opportunity not only to play against Coach Richardson but to play for him at the University of Tulsa and play in a system very similar to what we're doing this day and time. I think that's probably the influence in terms of playing it and understanding it. I worked with him at Arkansas for 17 years.
So no one knows the 40 minutes of hell, as most people call it, better than Coach Richardson and probably better than him is me because I played it. So I have played it and I guess incorporated into how we are playing at the University of Missouri.
But he has certainly been a father figure. I talked to him probably twice a week. It is funny because we don't just talk about basketball. I think mostly we talk about family things that are going on and certainly he is a proud papa right now.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about what it has been like at Missouri. Do they recognize the fact that you were the last coach to beat Memphis when you were in Conference USA and do you still get any gratification out of that?
COACH ANDERSON: Well, I think that's -- that was three years ago -- that was many, many years ago. So from the standpoint of gratification, that has nothing to do with this particular game. Memphis is playing the University of Missouri. Coach Cal still happens to be the coach at Memphis, and I have the fortune of being the head coach at Missouri. We get a chance to meet of all places the Sweet 16.
But going back to that particular game, I thought it was played at UAB and I thought it was a fantastic played game by both teams. We were fortunate enough to pull the game off. I guess they kind of run the table since then. That just tells you the type of program that Memphis has. It is not only conference use. They were on a 26-game winning streak right now. But in terms of getting gratification, no, I don't.
It is going to be a big challenge for our basketball team. But I think it is one our guys are looking forward to.
Q. Memphis is pretty long and athletic. Is it safe to say this is one of the toughest tests you have had to face since you have been at Missouri with their athleticism that they bring to the table?
COACH ANDERSON: Certainly they play a brand of basketball that is very similar to what we do. I think that's -- to me, that's probably the fun part about it. They are just a little bit bigger than we are and longer. But I think to me it's -- it is a great challenge. I think you are in this tournament. The challenges are going to get tougher and tougher each and every game. Hopefully your team comes with the right mind-set.
We are going to do the things we have been doing all year long. That is we are going to hang our hats on our defense. We have created tempo and I'm sure they want to play up-tempo. We will see what takes place. I like our bench. I like how they are playing. I like how our team is playing right now.
We are probably one of the better passing teams, I think, in the country. That makes a big difference when you get to this time of the year. I think we're still doing that and hopefully defensively we can continue to trust one another on defense. I think a big key in this game will be we got to somehow stay in the ballpark with them on the glass. I think the time that we played them at UAB, it was a Memphis team that had big Robert Dozier, Antonio Anderson, some of the guys that are still on this team here. I think one of the things they do is crush people on the boards. Their best offense was to throw it up there and go get it. We can't afford to let that happen.
Q. Can you compare a little bit this team to those Arkansas teams of the mid '90s. Do these teams remind you of those teams? How similar are they, and how different are they?
COACH ANDERSON: I think -- I have heard from a lot of people that say that's what it remind them of. I think in our third year at Arkansas we were able to bring in guys such as Lee Mayberry Todd Day, and Oliver Miller and those guys were first-round draft choices. I don't know if I got some first round draft choices. Our kids play hard. They play together. They share the ball. Our benches -- I think our bench was deep at Arkansas.
And year three is when we really made the move. I see a lot of similarities with our basketball team to what took place at Arkansas. But when people say they remind you of those teams in the '90s at Arkansas, to me that's a great compliment.
Q. You mentioned Anderson and Dozier from Memphis. Those guys have had four straight Sweet 16s. Mack and guys like that have had three straight runs into the Elite Eight and Final Four. A lot of NCAA tournament experience. You have some but your guys don't have any compared to Memphis. What impact will that have?
COACH ANDERSON: That's the remarkable thing about our guys being here right now. No one is talking about our basketball team, for obvious reasons. The only one that had NCAA tournament was my son, which is Michael Jr. So here we are with seven guys that never played at this level. You talk about that and the six guys that are coming back, it's -- it is amazing they have done what they have done to this point. Hopefully they can continue to do what we have been doing all year long. That is see it through my eyes. That's the only way. I'm trying to show them the way. All they got to do is come out.
Have kept things simple for these guys. It is a one-game approach. A one-day approach, one-day-at-a-time approach. I know it sounds cliche-ish to you guys, but for our guys, that's how they have to be. It is just a brand-new basketball team.
But they are having fun. I think that's the most important thing. They are playing basketball. They are having fun. And they are going to have an opportunity to play against a very talented and experienced Memphis team that has been -- they were in the championship game last year. You got some guys with that kind of experience. I'm sure it helps in these kinds of situations.
We're here. They're here and we are going to play hopefully a great ball game.
Q. Have you ever shown any Arkansas game films here to your current team like the national championship team, did you ever show any film to this team to say "this is how you do it"?
COACH ANDERSON: You would be amazed. I have probably shown them more clips of the UAB teams I've had. They may have come in and looked at some of the tapes, but I've not shown any of that. This team here is a different type of team. I would say there is a similarity, but we are not at Arkansas. This is Missouri. To me, these guys are painting their own little path. They are creating their own image of who they are and what they are about. Like I said, I like this basketball team. It has been very refreshing this year.
I enjoyed going to the practice court with these guys because I know one thing they are going to do, they are going to leave it on the floor. So win, lose or draw I know they will leave it on the floor. The key is they will give themselves a chance.
Q. Do you feel that if you can slow down Tyreke Evans, you can severely slow down Memphis' offense?
COACH ANDERSON: I think a lot of what they do goes through Tyreke, but they have have some other weapons. You have Antonio Anderson. I think he is the unsung hero. He is one of those guys that kind of gets in the trenches and does all the little things that you look up and you win. Shawn Taggart, he is a guy that's capable of pulling off some big numbers.
So I think a lot of things go through him. But there is more to that team than just Tyreke Evans.
Q. Based on your experience against John Calipari's team, what do you have to do when you are playing against them to get a win?
COACH ANDERSON: I think you got to match their intensity. You got to match their energy. I think you got to match them especially on the glass. They are a tremendous defensive team. We pride ourselves on defense as well.
So it is going to be -- you throw the ball up and you just go play. But I think he has depth with his basketball team. As we said, with Tyreke, you have a very, very talented kid. He has probably three or four guys that are going to the NBA. I got some guys that are hoping they get into the NBA.
With that being said, when you play the game, that's where it sells out on the floor. Our guys are looking forward to the challenges I'm sure as well as the Memphis guys are.
Q. For the fans around the country, what kind of game are they going to see with these two styles going at each other like this?
COACH ANDERSON: I think you are going to see two teams that pride themselves on defense. And I think they play up-tempo. They utilize the athletic ability of the players. I think you will see some highlights that -- energy plays. You will see some things that you will marvel at. You will probably see some things like "wow, did he do that?"
I think it is going to be an exciting -- not necessarily just a half-court game. They want to get up-tempo and we want to get up-tempo. It is something that I think both teams are looking forward to.
Q. When you left Arkansas, they never really ever seriously considered you as their Coach. Did that bother you at the time and how quickly did you put that away?
COACH ANDERSON: I guess the minute that I left there, I left that behind. I had moved on. And I think it is amazing how some things take place in your life. That gave me an opportunity to go back home and be a head coach at UAB.
And I had the opportunity to spend some time with my mother before -- she got a chance to see me as head coach. Not only that, we got to the Sweet 16 in '04 and she passed away in October of that year. So for me it was a blessing to have an opportunity to get back home and spend some time with my mother, my family. We did some great things there at UAB.
I think things happen for a reason, and I understand that. But I have turned a page on that and I have moved on. And I'm excited what has taken place at us at the University of Missouri. I think there are some great things and I think there are some great days ahead.
Q. Have you had time to reflect on where this program has been and the fact that your senior class features two family members, two players that were with the previous coaching regime, one of which was a walk-on in, where you are today?
COACH ANDERSON: I have scratched my head and marvel at it, but I don't have time to reflect on it. Everything is in a whirlwind right now. We have an opportunity to win a national championship. We are here at the Sweet 16. And so I guess my thoughts and my mind-set is really in tune to what is taking place and trying to get our team prepared to play the best basketball they can play. Maybe after the season or even later on I will have a chance to reflect.
Right now, we are in the hunt. We are in the hunt for something. I don't know what it is. We are in the hunt.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.
We have been joined by the Missouri student-athletes. Let's start with Matt and work our way down and ask you for a couple general comments. And then we will open the floor for comments. Matt?
MATT LAWRENCE: Hi, everyone. We are happy to be here in Arizona. Man, this is probably the biggest stadium I have ever been in. I can speak for these guys too. It is a joy to be here in the Sweet 16. We have put in a lot of hard work and we are looking forward to tomorrow.
LEO LYONS: We have a great practice today. We had a chance to get used to the gym and the big backdrop. Seeing the court just reminds you of the major goal that we have to win a championship to show you that it is not that far. We are ready to win.
DEMARRE CARROLL: This is a great opportunity for our basketball program to be in this position. We are playing a great Memphis team tomorrow. Hopefully we can go in there and pick up a win. It is going to be the fastest 40 minutes. And I hope everybody enjoys.
J.T. TILLER: We are just glad to be here. The work is not done. We are excited to play this game tomorrow. We can't wait to actually get on the floor and get under the lights.
Q. DeMarre, did you ever get a chance to watch the UAB-Memphis games back when Coach Anderson was coaching them?
DEMARRE CARROLL: Yeah, I seen mostly all of them. The recent one I seen was in Bartow Arena when UAB won. It was a great game, great atmosphere.
Hopefully Coach being in this position before, the coach against the Memphis coach, hopefully we can follow his lead and pick up a big win.
Q. How much do you guys play on that? Coach had said he has shown you some UAB tape. Did you show you tape of the UAB-Memphis game when he was coaching? And do you feel you are similar to this program because there were a lot of athletic guys that liked to play in that time?
LEO LYONS: Before we started when Coach first got here, he showed us that exact game and where he wanted us to be. And we watched that UAB tape, watched how they played defense and watched how they pushed the ball. We had a major goal watching that trying to come from where we was not knowing anything about his system to where we are now.
I think we are pretty close to where he wants us to be. We are still trying to get better every single day. Hopefully we can get better tomorrow.
Q. How hard was it to get into his system, to play the intensity the way he wants you to play and the pace he wants you to play? How hard was it for you to make that transition?
MATT LAWRENCE: Personally for me it was definitely a challenge. I know he likes to get up and down the floor and play defense, two things I'm not too good at. But he said he always needs room for a shooter. That's what I am, and I try to be that for this basketball team.
I think Coach Anderson did a great job coming in with the guys he had and taking kind of a program that was down on its luck a little bit and in three years turning it around. I think it is unbelievable. And he recruits guys for his system, and he has brought in a lot of guys for that. And I think Missouri is going to be good into the future as well.
Q. DeMarre, it looked like you went down in practice. Was it your ankle? How serious is it? Do you think it will affect you at all?
DEMARRE CARROLL: I'm 100 percent. I'm 100 percent.
Q. Have any of you guys played in a dome before? Matt, maybe you are the guy that will be shooting the most from outside. What was that backdrop like for you? DeMarre, can you say at least what happened? You went down, right?
DEMARRE CARROLL: I went down, you know. Trying to make a move and I tweaked my ankle a little bit. But at this point, it is the Sweet 16. I'm 100 percent.
MATT LAWRENCE: I have never played personally in a dome before. I don't know about any of these guys.
But I think it was a little intimidating walking out there to begin with. Once you got up and down the floor and got a couple shots in, we got a ton of shots in today. You saw when we got up and down there during a scrimmage, a lot of guys were knocking down shots. I expect that tomorrow as well.
Q. Memphis the last four years has played in venues like this. Is that an advantage for them? Or does it really matter once they tip it off?
J.T. TILLER: They might be used to it, but at the same time, it is a basketball game, something we have been playing all year long. I don't think neither one of us have an advantage. It is just who can do the best in that 40 minutes we get to play the game.
Q. How similar is your style and Memphis' style?
LEO LYONS: I think from watching a lot of tape, they're very aggressive on offense. They play a fast-paced game and I think they control that with their offense. Of course they press like we do, but I see a lot more control in their offense.
I think with us it is more we try to control the game with our defense, control the pace with our defense. I think that's the tale. It will be our defense against their offense and try to keep them off the glass.
Q. DeMarre, you say you have watched Memphis. What did you see as some of the trademarks of Coach Calipari's team?
DEMARRE CARROLL: He always had them long, lengthy, athletic guys who attacks the offensive boards. His team is always well coached. He always had a great point guard. He got Tyreke Evans this year. He had Derrick Rose last year.
You have to start from the head of the team and work your way down. Hopefully if we can control Tyreke Evans, that will affect a lot of how the game -- the outcome of the game.
Q. The people in Memphis -- in the University of Memphis say they have been getting a lot of respect lately. As it has gone on, as the tournament has gone on, their rank has gone up. Missouri, do you feel like you are getting the respect here? You are the Big 12 conference tournament champion and you have made it in here with the rest of the team.
MATT LAWRENCE: I don't know if we have earned the respect that we want yet to this point. That's why we're still battling. We're still thinking we have to prove ourselves out there. Obviously Memphis has earned it going undefeated in their conference however many years they had and win 27 in a row this year. That obviously automatically earns respect.
We kind of like that, that people really don't give us a chance in games and people don't respect us. We kind of use that to our motivation. And we are still trying to earn that and we are still hungry. That's why we are still going after it right now.
Q. You guys touched on it before, but do you think rebounding will be the biggest key in this game?
DEMARRE CARROLL: Yeah, rebounding is going to be a very big key, keeping their guys off the glass. Our post-guys we have to key in and keep their guys off the glass because that's where they get most of their points from. They shoot it and they go get it if they miss it.
Hopefully we will keep the rebounds at the same margin that we can win the turnover margin.
Q. J.T. and Leo, before you guys were up there, but you have nine or ten players that average ten minutes a game. How important with the system you play up and down is the depth and how big has the bench been for you guys this year?
J.T. TILLER: Our depth is very important to us. That's one of our weapons that we use against other teams. The starting five will go out there and give it all they got and get tired and we know we have backups and another five that will go out there and give the same amount and do a great amount of energy -- give it a great amount of energy and do what we were doing and give us a rest. So it is very important.
LEO LYONS: We pride ourselves on having one of the best benches in the country just because of what he said. Our bench goes in there and they maintain or they bring it up. It is never a fall-off with our bench. I think that's why we have a tough bench, because when they get in the game, we have the confidence to go down and play as hard as we can and come out whether it is a minute and a half or three minutes. We know they will be here for us.
Q. Obviously you have seen all the UAB films with Coach Anderson. Have you ever seen any of the Arkansas films when he was Nolan's assistant? Have you seen any Arkansas tape at all?
MATT LAWRENCE: We've watched some highlights definitely. The correct way to press, the correct way to trap, some half-court -- just a lot of defensive things and seen the way they get out and run on offense as well and how their defense leads to a lot of their offense.
He also showed us one other team, how quickly they got the ball up and down the floor to put pressure on their defense. You could just see this constant pressure, how much it affects the other team and how they kind of wear down towards the end of the game.
I think we have gotten to that point where we are doing that well and getting into the second half and that's how we have won a lot of games in the second half.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you for your time.
End of FastScripts