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March 10, 2010
THE MODERATOR: We're ready to continue on with Alabama. We'll ask Coach Grant for his thoughts on the Alabama team headed into the Tournament, and then we'll take your questions just for the two student-athletes. Coach, if you'd begin.
COACH GRANT: On behalf of our team, we're very excited to be here. Obviously looking forward to opening the Tournament tomorrow with the first game at noon against South Carolina.
Our team right now is coming off two great wins for us, one with our opening opponent in the tournament, South Carolina at their place. Very good win for us.
And then we came back with a good win at home on our senior night against our rival Auburn. So I think right now as a basketball team we're pretty much hitting on all cylinders.
I think we've got a lot of guys that are doing a lot of good things for our team right now on both ends of the floor. A lot of things that go into building a season and trying to prepare to win, and I think our guys are starting to understand what allows us to win on a consistent basis.
So we're in a good place. I'm looking forward to the game tomorrow.
THE MODERATOR: Take your questions for either of the two student-athletes.
Q. This question is for Anthony Brock. I just wanted to ask you about what your career's been like at Alabama. I guess you played for three different coaches in just two seasons. Just some of what your career has been like there.
ANTHONY BROCK: It's been pretty good. Thankful that Coach Grant came in and gave me the opportunity to do what I love. For us to have the season we're having and to come here and try to continue it.
Q. Mikhail, I thought I read somewhere where you said you thought you guys could be a scary team for other teams to deal with in the postseason. What did you mean by that?
MIKHAIL TORRANCE: We've got two big wins coming into the SEC Tournament. We had a great chance to win the couple games we did lose. So I just think we have a great chance on a neutral court to do a great job.
Q. Mikhail, could you just talk about what Anthony -- it may be hard with him sitting right next to you. But just talk about what kind of teammate he is and what he brings to the team.
MIKHAIL TORRANCE: He's a great teammate. He's a good point guard, great defender. He does anything Coach asks us to do, you know, which is just play hard.
He's an effort guy. You never had to get onto him about anything like that.
Q. Mikhail, can you also talk about how important point guard play is at the Tournament. On that same note.
MIKHAIL TORRANCE: I think it's very important for me and Brock. I feel like both of us are seniors, so I think the coaching staff and our team is going to look for us to be the leaders on the court.
I think we got to go out there and set the tempo.
Q. Coach said that he thinks you guys are understanding what it takes to win consistently. What do you think he means? What does it take?
MIKHAIL TORRANCE: Just hanging out on defense and closing games. These last two games we've really been closing out games and just playing defense.
You know, finishing our defensive rebounds. That's very important. So I think we're doing a great job of that right now.
ANTHONY BROCK: And also coming together, just coming together as a team and helping each other. And really just staying together out there on the court.
Q. Mikhail, in the first game against South Carolina, you guys fell behind 11-0. You were a team that had been struggling up to that point. Just talk about how you were able to stay together and sort of what happened for you in that game.
MIKHAIL TORRANCE: We knew coming in there was going to be a lot of emotion. It was our senior night. Coaches kept reminding us during the game.
When things settled down, we continued to stay focused and just continued to go with the game plan. We just had to fight back. They threw the first punch, and we just had to continue to stay steady.
Q. Anthony, I was just wondering what your plans are after this year. Are you close to getting your degree, or what do you hope to do after this year?
ANTHONY BROCK: I'll be graduating in May, but I don't have any plans yet. We're just trying to stay focused on the Tournament and this game tomorrow.
THE MODERATOR: We'll excuse you. Thank you very much. We'll continue on with questions for Coach Grant.
Q. Anthony, can you talk about what you see in this league in terms of talent in the teams now versus when you left the SEC after '06.
COACH GRANT: Well, it's a different league really. When I look back on my last year, obviously my last year at Florida we won the National Championship. You had LSU out of the league that was in the Final Four as well. Several teams I thought that had the capability of advancing deep in the Tournament.
I think with this year, the way it's played out, I think you're looking at the East being the stronger of the two sides right now. I think you've got a lot of teams right now that are really trying to play themselves in position for postseason.
It's a different look. I do think the league right now is probably -- has a lot more parity than it had maybe four years ago, just with the way the season's played out.
I think, at least for us, you know, we've had opportunities in games where we've been right there, and different things have stepped up where we haven't been able to close out games. We've had opportunities. I think that's probably the same thing across the league all year long. So probably a lot more parity this year than maybe years past.
Q. Was that really a defining sort of moment for you guys in Columbia? To be down like that without JaMychal, to come back and win? What has that done for you guys' confidence in the last week?
COACH GRANT: I don't know if I'd say it was a defining moment. It was a very good win for our basketball team. I thought it showed great character for our guys. With everything, the distractions, the adversity that we had going into that game, with the emotion of it being senior night on the road, for our guys to stay together and fight, I thought it showed great character.
You know, it was a great win. It's one win. Obviously, that game last week will have nothing to do with the 40 minutes that we've got to play tomorrow. Obviously, both teams will make adjustments and be very well-prepared.
And obviously they're coming off a great win at Vanderbilt as well. So we'll look at that and try to learn what we could from it and then be prepared for tomorrow.
Q. Coach, JaMychal did come back on Saturday and played, I think, about 14 minutes in that game. What's his status right now? Are there still some ongoing things that you're monitoring with him? His starting possibility.
COACH GRANT: His status is the same as all our other guys. Everybody on our team has a level of responsibility and expectations that they've got to meet for our program.
You know, I'm not a guy that has a dog house or any of that stuff. We dealt with the situation that we needed to deal with, and we've moved on. JaMychal has moved on, and he's preparing like the rest of our guys to do our job here on the court, to put ourselves in position where we can be successful, and to take care of the things that we're supposed to take care of off the floor.
Q. Coach, I just wanted you to talk about Anthony Brock, what kind of season he's had, what kind of kid he is to coach.
COACH GRANT: Anthony has been an integral part of our team this year. I've asked him to play a variety of roles, off the ball at the two guard spot, at the point guard spot, to being a guy that's guarded the best player on the perimeter on the other team at the one and two position.
And to me, he's done a phenomenal job. He's been a guy that, as a coach, you kind of gauge guys by, do you want to have them on the floor or off the floor? And he's been a guy to me that I've needed to have on the floor.
Just because of his toughness, his understanding, his willingness to do whatever needs to be done to put his team in position to win.
He's the ultimate team guy, and he's been a pleasure to coach.
Q. Anthony, you talked about the importance of defense, and I'm wondering about the challenge that Downey presents. Is a guy like Downey, who I would consider like an X-factor, a guy that can sort of create out of whatever's going on, how difficult is it to deal with a guy like that?
COACH GRANT: He's very difficult to deal with. I think he's one of the more dynamic players in the country, not just our league. For him to be able to do what he's done with the attention that he gets every game, I think it's really incredible.
You know, he's got the ability to score but also allow other guys to be more effective than maybe they could be had he not been able to do some of the things that he can do. So I think he's definitely a difference maker.
You just look at the game the other day that they had against Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt seems to be in control of the game, and then he stepped up and within a minute or two, you know, the whole complexion, the feel of the game changed. And that's what he's capable of doing. That's not the first time he's done it.
So from a game-plan standpoint, yeah, he does require a lot of attention, and I think it's a respect level that I know we have, and I think everybody in this league has for what he's capable of doing.
Q. Coach, I don't know if it's a cliche or not that junior college players sometimes take a year before they really adjust to major college, but it does seem that at the end of the season that your two junior college players, Charvez and Chris Hines, have started to grow. Is there some reason that's contributed to that, or have they sort of stepped it up toward the end of the season?
COACH GRANT: I do think I've seen growth. We've talked about this before, just for Chris Hines, his ability to understand what his role is and what's needed and what's required, and he's really embraced that. He's become a very integral part of our team, and I think a big reason why we've been able to have a little bit of success here of late, because of the things that he brings to the table.
And I think for Charvez, just an understanding and probably -- maybe it's not the right word, but I think confidence. He's a guy that is capable of really shooting the basketball at a good clip when he's going.
I think his teammates and everybody understands that he brings that element to our team which is sorely needed.
He started off where his percentage wasn't great, and I think his confidence wasn't where it needed to be. But, again, just the understanding of what his role is and what we're asking him to do on both ends of the floor, I think it's added a level of confidence for him.
I know our team, if we have a lot of confidence, we can get him looks and what he's capable of doing. He's had the ability to step up in some games and provide scoring and some different things.
When you have success, that certainly, I think, breeds a level of confidence for you.
Q. Coach, you guys both Arkansas this year. They had a five game winning streak. They've got a five game losing streak now. What's your take on them, and could they be a dangerous team in the tournament?
COACH GRANT: I think they definitely could be. I think it speaks to what I talked about earlier, just the parity in the league.
On a given night, a lot of people are capable of beating anybody in this league. And Arkansas, I think, had a stretch there where they were very hot, one of the hottest teams in the league.
They've had some tough losses here. I think may have had maybe an injury or maybe a setback with a player or two that may have cost them the game during that stretch.
But I think, yeah, more than capable of winning and advancing in this tournament.
I mean, you look at what their players have done, Courtney Fortson and Marshawn Powell and Rotnei Clark and Michael Washington. They've got a very good team.
I think they've caused a lot of problems with the way they've defended and gotten after people and the tempo that they try to create. So, yeah, I think they're a very dangerous team.
Q. Anthony, I'm just kind of curious. How would you feel if no western division team got a bid to the NCAA Tournament?
COACH GRANT: I don't know how to answer that question. You know, that's out of my control. I really don't -- I don't have anything to do with who gets the bids.
I think right now, you know, you're in a situation where, as a league, we think we have a very competitive league, as we spoke about. There's a lot of parity in the league. I think, obviously, the committee has a very tough decision in terms of who gets selected. I don't know what the whole scope of it is.
When you look at all of the conferences and all of the leagues across the country, but I do feel like our league is deserving of multiple bids.
I think last year was a very rare situation where maybe the league wasn't as good or deep enough to get four, five, six bids. But I think this year, I think you've had some teams in the league that have done a pretty good job with nonconference scheduling and the wins that they've gotten nonconference.
Then obviously, once you get in the league, it's very competitive. So for me to sit here and say I would feel one way or another, I really -- I think the committee's got a tough job, and obviously we all -- every team here has a chance to compete and play, and I think that's what makes this time of year so exciting.
I know for each team and the fans to see what really happens.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much.
End of FastScripts