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March 17, 2010
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA
THE MODERATOR: We'll get started with Sam Houston State student-athletes: Ashton Mitchell, senior guard, who is actually from New Orleans; also senior guard Corey Allmond.
So questions for the student-athletes.
Q. I know you're happy to be home. Are you worried that all of this, though, about he's home and everyone wants tickets and so forth might be some kind of a distraction for you personally?
ASHTON MITCHELL: Not at all. For us the ticket situation, I pretty much got that dealt with yesterday. So these past two days has really been focusing on basketball. I'm just looking forward to it.
Q. What was your reaction when you saw the draw and you saw you were coming home?
ASHTON MITCHELL: I was very excited. I really didn't think I would ever get this opportunity again to play in front of my hometown after Katrina and everything.
So to see our name pop up in the south and New Orleans region, I was very excited about it.
Q. How many tickets would you need if you could take care of everybody that wants to go and hang out and come watch you play?
ASHTON MITCHELL: If I tried to take care of everybody, I would probably need about 70 or so tickets. I know that's kind of pushing it, and I know that cannot happen, so I'm not even going to try to do it.
Q. Can both of you talk about the kind of season you've had from start to finish and where you guys think you are right now?
COREY ALLMOND: It's just been amazing. I mean, with our fan support back at home and the group of guys in the locker room and the coaching staff. We're just excited to have this opportunity to play against a great Baylor basketball team.
We're just, I mean, living in the moment. It's a great deal us to go out the way we're going out in our senior year.
Just ready to play tomorrow.
ASHTON MITCHELL: I mean, this is what we've been working on all year for. We'll accomplish two of our goals, which is winning the Southland Conference and also winning our conference tournament.
We're just excited about this opportunity and we're just ready to go out tomorrow and possibly shock a lot of people and show them that we're a very good basketball team, because we have been looked over with the media and everything.
We're just excited and we're ready to go out there and show our talent.
Q. Can you talk about what's it like hitting 11 threes in Rupp Arena?
COREY ALLMOND: It was just one of them nights, you know. You feel like everything's going in. And as a shooter, a couple going in in a row, it seems like the basket just gets bigger.
But I can't take all that credit. That's just me hitting shots. But I need a point guard like Ashton, and Drae and the teammates I have and Josten, and for them to look for me, to have the confidence in me to knock that shot down, and Coach Marlin to call the play to give me a shot.
So I just knocked down shots that night, but they helped a lot.
Q. Were the -- did you feel, first of all, that you had them worried a little bit? And, secondly, were the fans appreciative of the effort you made that night?
COREY ALLMOND: Yes, I got a lot of claps and stuff when the game was over. And a lot of people were yelling. After that performance, we all went to Cancun, and we were all like in the same place. A lot of Kentucky fans asked for my autograph and stuff. It was just amazing, you know, that they gave me all that type of support for coming in there and playing like that.
Q. I know Tweety Carter is also a Louisiana kid. I wondered if you knew him in high school at all, and if you could talk about him in that match-up a little bit?
ASHTON MITCHELL: Yeah, I knew him in high school. But I didn't play against him in high school. I played against him a few times in AAU.
He's a very good point guard. And I have a tough defensive task on my hands. He was one of the guys who led the nation, and I think he still has that record in scoring and throughout high school. So I have a tough defensive task on hand, by I'm looking forward to the challenge.
Q. Wonder if you could expand on an earlier question about this being sort of a homecoming for you? Has it kind of felt like that? I thought I heard you had a picnic or something like that last night with family?
ASHTON MITCHELL: Yes, last time I was able to meet with the family. A few of my friends came out, former coaches. And my family really just fed our team. The coaches, they just talked about the experience for me. That probably was the only time I'm going to actually get with my family down here right now.
But, like I said, we're just going to concentrate on on this game. I'm happy to be home. I know my family's happy to be home. They know what I'm down here for. They're not really going to bother me too much.
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Sam Houston State Head Coach Bob Marlin. Coach?
COACH MARLIN: Thank you. We're excited to be playing in New Orleans and representing the Southland Conference, Sam Houston State University athletic program.
We've had a good week of preparation, and look forward to playing Baylor tomorrow afternoon.
Q. Can you just talk about Baylor's balance and just the challenge of facing a team that has both that inside-outside balance?
COACH MARLIN: They've got great guard play. Obviously Dunn is a tremendous shooter. He's got a great future in front of him. Tweety is a guy who can score the basketball. Also inside they've got great length. So, like us, we feel as though they have great versatility.
The length, our game earlier at Kentucky should help us, hopefully, with their shot-blocking ability, and certainly we know that that's one of their team's strengths. So we'll have to defensive rebound and we'll have to make shots in this basketball game.
Q. Question on on your on opponent, Baylor. The program and its image obviously has gone through some transition this decade and now this is their second year in the tournament at a 3. How do you see your opponent's and that program's image right now?
COACH MARLIN: They've come a long way. Coach Drew took over a tough situation. We played Baylor in the year 2000 when we won the league our second year at Sam Houston State. We were able to win in Waco. We haven't played them since. They've gone through some rough times. Not even to play non-conference schedule one season, which is obviously pretty difficult, and the only time I can remember that happening.
But they've worked hard, his staff, and gotten good players. This year they've turned a season -- a year ago they were 5-11, to 11-5, in an improved Big 12. So that says a lot about the job they've done.
Q. How far away from Sam Houston State is Baylor? What do you think about playing another Texas school? How does that impact the he motions or anything else?
COACH MARLIN: They're located about two hours away. Had a friend of mine that used to be a referee, a very good Division I referee, called me and said we should just play this game in Fairfield and save the NCAA some money.
But it's exciting to play another team from the state. We've got seven teams, I believe, in this tournament. And we're excited about this. It says a lot about the state of basketball in our great state of Texas. And we're excited to play in New Orleans as well. It's not a far trip for Baylor, and it's certainly not a far trip for us.
Q. How about the size factor tomorrow? How much of a factor do you think that might be? The difference between your team and Baylor?
COACH MARLIN: Well, it's certainly a problem in going 6'10 and 6'10, 7 feet across the front line. Baylor's got Acy coming on off the front bench with tremendous athleticism and size. We can use that to our advantage as well.
We were able to go to an SEC school in Auburn earlier. And our post player, Gilberto Clavell had 34 points in that ballgame and caused Auburn's inside guys some problems.
But the length, the shot blocking ability that those guys have in rebounding will be a concern for us.
Q. You mentioned Kentucky. How would you compare Baylor's front line in terms of size, ability, and so on with Kentucky?
COACH MARLIN: It's ironic you say that because when we watched the video for the first time, Lomers is about as big a guy as we've seen in person since Cousins. And until you see Cousins face-to-face, you don't realize what a large person he is and what a good basketball player and a force in the middle.
Maybe they have a little bit more size even at Kentucky, and a little bit different personnel, but we still remember Cousins and Patterson. And when we vote at the end of the season on our All Opponent Team, those guys will be up there at the top, I'm sure.
Udoh is a great player. He can put the ball on the floor and do some things off the bounce. He's got a bright future ahead of him as well.
Q. Can you just talk about how you guys were playing at the end of the year, in particular in the Southland Conference Tournament, how y'all got through that?
COACH MARLIN: We've played well. Since we lost a one-point game at Western Michigan January 3rd, David Kool, one of their All-Conference players, hit a shot with four seconds to go, beat us 1. And we're 17-2 since that ballgame. And the two losses were overtime losses on the road in our league. And if you look around, I think Kentucky went 14-2, and had two road losses. That's not a bad conference record.
We've got a good conference. It's well represented this year by some tough opponents. To get through that, we're very excited we actually won the regular season with four games to go, which hasn't happened in a couple of years in our league. It usually goes down to the last weekend and last game. First tournament game we got a great game from Nicholls State and an 8 seed who played, their coach said, their best basketball game they played all year and overcame a 40-point performance by Anatoly Bose, one of our All-Conference players.
Second night we played a very good Southeastern Louisiana team. Two teams ironically that are in this area. Southeastern was 14-1 at home. We beat those guys. We were the only loss that they had at their place. And they played a super game against us. Went 24-from-24 from the free-throw line to finish the game. 25-28 overall. And we're down 5 with two to go. And we're able to pull that game out. It was a survival game.
Then we kicked it in and played well in the finals. Didn't shoot the ball great, but played really good defense to beat a good Stephen F. Austin team. We're playing well. We're 14-2 in the league, 17-2 in our last 19 games, and that's something that we'll build on.
Q. Would you talk about Tweety Carter, what he seems to add to the overall mix for Baylor, please?
COACH MARLIN: He's a point guard that's averaging six assists a game. He's done a good job for them. He can shoot the basketball. He's a scoring point. Any time you have a guy that scores as many baskets as he has in high school and college today, he can score more than a facilitator with the ball.
But he's done a great job for them. Escapable of having a big game, and that's an area of concern. We've talked about their size and their length. But their two starting guards are outstanding. And the Walton, a freshman off the bench, is a good player also.
Q. Can you talk about Ashton's development over the last four years and if there is anything that's surprised you that he's done?
COACH MARLIN: He's done a super job. He's won a lot of basketball games for us. He obviously came to Texas because of Katrina. We were able to keep him there. I told his mother last night at dinner that I appreciate her letting us borrow her son, and we brought him back home and brought him here to practice today with a police escort. That's a pretty nice return.
But he's turned into a leader. He was a back-up point guard his first year on a team that won 21 ballgames. His second year, we started 10-0 when he started as a sophomore. And we're one of 8 unbeaten teams at Christmas that year. Got beaten in the conference tournament.
Then the next year went 12-4 in the league, got beaten again in the tournament. This year to come out and win a school record, 25 games at the Division I level, he's done a super job. He's developed into a great person and a great leader. Graduate in three years, which is the thing that we're most proud of.
Chris Thompson, our academic advisor, does a great job with our guys. We've had the Student-Athlete of the Year three years in a row academically in our league. So we're excited about what we do.
But Ashton, in particular, did a good job in the classroom. He's not as focused as much this year on his academics as he should be. I've had to stay on him a little bit in that area. Because his goal was to get to the NCAA Tournament and lead this team. Sometimes we play as he plays. Our coaching staff has told him that. You talked about Tweety earlier, it's going to be a big match-up those two guys. It will be interesting to see that match-up unfold tomorrow.
Q. You mentioned dinner last night and Ashton had said that you were there. I was just wondering -- it seems like somewhat of a unique thing that a team gets to do something like that going into the tournament. I wonder if you could talk about the scene? Did you talk about basketball or just life in general? Why was it nice to be able to do that?
COACH MARLIN: We went to Nicholson Playground. I don't know if he shared the whole story with you. But he called and asked me on Monday after practice, Coach, can we go? Some of my former coaches and family wanted to have dinner at Nicholson Playground. So I said sure, that would be great.
So we went over and they had food for us. And our guys go in. He had his 10-year-old, 11-year-old coaches there and throughout -- the guys that have coached him throughout his AAU career. And all his family was there. They were just there at graduation in August. Probably 25 members of his family were there. I've gotten to meet all those people.
They were just there for Senior Day a couple weeks ago at our place in a game we won against UT Arlington. And certainly last night it was great to have him there. And the local CBS affiliate came in and did a piece on it. It's just a story -- it's a feel-good story for him to return home to New Orleans.
We had talked, I brought him in the office earlier in the year and dangled that carrot in front of him. That the first and second round games in New Orleans, and there is a good chance we could go there or Oklahoma City just for geographical reasons. And if we are fortunate to get it done, it may happen.
Then the Saints won. Well, the Saints won Sunday, so we came to Nicholls State on Wednesday. So we came to Louisiana. We talked about, hey, it's the Saints' year. He got on to me he and told me I was jumping on the bandwagon. I said, no, I've been for the Saints.
But the passion that the people here from Louisiana and his family showed about the Saints was tremendous. We were able to get back and do it. Then to bring him home last night and have that dinner, that's what it's all about. Making a difference with young men and watching them grow and mature. It was a special evening.
The thing that was so neat is our players really got a kick out of it last night as well. We've gotten to do a lot of things when we travel. Chris and I talked about it last night whether it's Hawaii or Philadelphia for the preseason NIT. Wherever we go we get to do neat things with our guys, and last night was something that we've never experienced. It felt very gratifying as a coach to be in that situation.
End of FastScripts