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March 17, 2010
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA
THE MODERATOR: We'll get started with the Baylor student-athlete news conference. We've been joined by three Baylor student-athletes: Tweety Carter, LaceDarius Dunn, and Ekpe Udoh.
Q. For Lace and Ekpe, would you talk about Tweety's personality and how that permeates through the team atmosphere? How important it is to the whole make-up of the team?
LACEDARIUS DUNN: Tweety Carter (laughing).
Q. Be nice.
LACEDARIUS DUNN: I'm going to try to be. Good dude. Like a brother to me. We played against each other in high school. So we've been talking for a while now. So to coming to this next level and having him in front of me, he's really been teaching me the ups and downs, and the do's and the don'ts.
So off the court just like a brother, you know. Keep in touch, you know. We stay together most of the time. So it's just really just hang out keeping it going. It's just great to have him as a leader to this team. He brings a lot to this team, you know. They keep everything in place where they need to be.
EKPE UDOH: It's Tweety Carter. I mean, he's that man, he's that guy on our team. We go as he goes. If he's not here this year, we wouldn't have the success that we've had. He does a great job with his energy. He's been here the longest.
When he talks to you, you have to listen because he's been through it.
Q. First, in your final season to be able to play here, what does that mean to you? And have you guys looked back -- and I'm sure you know when the last time Baylor won an NCAA Tournament game, and what it would mean to the program to nail down another one 60 years later?
TWEETY CARTER: For me it's a blessing. Especially to be back home. I haven't played at home in about four years. Played one time at Southern. But it's great to be back home and to play in front of my home fans.
But we've also got to know that we came up here to take care of business. Step one is the game tomorrow. So we've just got to take one game at a time. But a first win for Baylor would be huge for this program. We didn't come up here just to win one game. We've come up here to win games. And that's what we've worked to do all season long. So we're going to continue to do that.
Q. When did you guys become aware of the last Baylor tournament win? Who told you that?
TWEETY CARTER: I mean, it's around campus. I don't know exactly when, but I know it's been a long time. Any time you get an opportunity to make history, you want to do that, and you want to do it by winning games.
So we've got to continue to just strive for that.
Q. Can you talk about your route from Louisiana to going to Baylor as opposed to Louisiana schools? Did you ever really entertain going to LSU? Why did you guys choose Baylor?
LACEDARIUS DUNN: Well, for me, I just wanted to go do something different at a different program. Baylor was a Christian school, and I came from a Christian school in high school.
So I just wanted to go do something and be a part of something that is special, you know. LSU, you know, they were one of my top, but I never went there, and I never visited there or anything like that. But I visited Mississippi State and I came to Baylor, and Baylor was my final option.
I just wanted to place myself around a lot of positive people that not only care about you on the court but off the court as well. I just think the staff did a great job of recruiting me and making me feel comfortable.
TWEETY CARTER: Same thing almost. Any time you've got in-state schools, you always want to be a part of it. Especially if it's major like LSU. You think about things like that. But you've also got to think about how far are you away from home? So I would have been home all day. I wanted to get away and really focus on basketball.
But Baylor was a perfect opportunity for me to be a part of something special and change a program like I was at Reserve Christian.
It's been a great ride and fun, fun to be there, and it's a great city and town.
Q. If LSU had showed more interest, do you think you might have thought more about going there?
LACEDARIUS DUNN: Well, not really. Like Tweety said, I really wanted to not get too far from home, but I really wanted to get out and just become my own man in a different area, because coming to Baylor, being away from home, I really had to refocus and regather myself. No friends, no family there. So I really knew I had to do that.
But, like I said, I wanted to go close to home. And Baylor's like two hours.
Q. Are there a lot of people from Monroe going to be at the games for you guys this weekend?
LACEDARIUS DUNN: They better (smiling).
Q. How many? Do you know?
LACEDARIUS DUNN: Right now probably about -- I've probably got about 50 trying to get into the game tomorrow. So I think that's enough.
Q. Where did you visit and think about going?
TWEETY CARTER: Baylor. You know, I didn't take any other visits. You know, I was recruited by a lot of other schools, but I committed to Baylor beginning of my junior year. The way they recruited me and the way, you know, I felt about them as a person and as a staff just really made me just focus on them and not take any other visits.
Q. You guys have been here I guess a little over a day. Have you seen a lot of family yet? Have you managed to not get too distracted and focus on basketball?
TWEETY CARTER: You know, when you love this game, nothing makes you lose focus, especially when you want to win and especially when you've got a team and a group of guys like we have.
Yeah, I've seen a lot of family members. They're going to continue to call and come see me, and that's something you always want especially when you're at home. But we also know as a leader of this team, we also know we came up here to take care of business.
You know, it's not about -- I mean, it's a fun experience to play in front of your home fans, but it's not about me; it's about this team, you know, coming up here to take care of business on this trip.
LACEDARIUS DUNN: He summed it up for me (smiling).
Q. Can you talk about what these four years have been like for you in terms of just being a part of probably one of the most successful periods in Baylor's history?
TWEETY CARTER: This was the reason why I came here. You know, like I said, I committed beginning of my junior year. I gave everything to them, they gave everything to me. I said to come here to be a part of something special and be a part of a changing program. I think it's happened. Every year we improve from our freshman year to my senior year.
You know, as long as we continue to fight together and stay together, you know, success will take care of itself.
Q. How does a guy who once scored 74 points in a game find happiness in passing out six assists every night?
TWEETY CARTER: Doing whatever it takes for your team to win. You know, we've got great scores. As you can see, Lace, second leader in the conference. And Ekpe, one of the top scorers in our conference.
So any time you have guys like that, you want to play through them. Everything else will open for you. In order to find success, sometimes you have to give things up. Scoring, if they need me to score, I'll score. If they need me to facilitate, I'll do that.
That's the great thing about this team. No matter what, any given night any one of our guys can step up and knock down 20 points. So when you've got players like that, it just makes it easy for you as a point guard.
Q. I think I read or you had a quote the other day you have a cousin that plays for Sam Houston State?
TWEETY CARTER: No, no, it's just a friend. I knew him.
Q. Oh, just a friend?
TWEETY CARTER: Yeah. They probably misworded me.
Q. Who is that?
TWEETY CARTER: Ashton Mitchell.
Q. What have you found out about the Bearkats?
TWEETY CARTER: They're a good team. You know, we're going to continue to prepare for them. We can't come out and take anybody lightly. It's NCAA time. So you want to continue to just come out and fight and take every game -- not take one game for granted. You know, come out here and just play every night. I know he's going to come to play. He's back home, so it's going to be a fun experience tomorrow.
Q. Did you and Tweety ever play against each other in high school?
LACEDARIUS DUNN: Uh-huh.
Q. What happened?
LACEDARIUS DUNN: Yes, we did. We played one year against each other in the semifinal; my junior year, his senior year.
Came up a little short. A little short. Yeah. Came up a little short. They won and went on to win the championship.
Turned around and played them my senior year. He was gone, freshman at Baylor. Came up short again (laughing).
But we always bring up the old memories and talk about it and laugh about it. But at that point it really wasn't as funny to me as it is now. It's all good (laughing).
Q. How did you get the name? Was there a time when you didn't like it or do you like it now?
TWEETY CARTER: No, I came up with it. So I always had it. My godmother gave me a name when I was younger. I used to love watching the show, so that's how I kind of got that. But I always came up with it. I don't even remember when they started calling me that. That's how long I had it.
Q. The show?
TWEETY CARTER: Tweety Bird (laughing).
Q. Had a couple of questions. When when LaceDarius says "came up short," what does he mean by "came up short"? What is your recollection of it?
TWEETY CARTER: We he won the game. Both years. But, you know, it wasn't an easy game. We were used to winning games by 20 and 30. And especially in district in playoff time.
But when it came time to play them, we only won by a couple of points. I mean, they came out and they took the lead, a big lead. We just had to refocus and come back out at halftime, and fortunately we got the win.
Q. To expand on something earlier, Ashton Mitchell was at St. Aug and you're at Reserve Christian. Talk about how you guys got to know each other and your background playing against each other?
TWEETY CARTER: I've been knowing little Ashton since Biddy Basketball. He came up a year under me. I was always watching him play. He played against a lot of my friends. So he's a good kid and a good player. We look forward to playing each other tomorrow.
Q. Could you expand on your friendship with Ashton, if you'd like to add?
TWEETY CARTER: Yeah, he's a good kid. We exchanged numbers. I've known him. And I'm just looking forward to competing against him tomorrow.
Q. What Biddy Playground?
TWEETY CARTER: Just out of this area. Out of the area.
THE MODERATOR: We'll start with Baylor Head Coach Scott Drew.
Coach, a few thoughts on coming to New Orleans, how preparations have gone, and then we'll take some questions.
COACH DREW: I know our team's been extremely excited since hearing the selection, especially from the standpoint that New Orleans is close to home for a lot of our players. Tweety hasn't stopped smiling since he heard we were coming home, and Lace. And I know last night we got a good meal. And they're excited that they had their good Cajun food. So we're ready to go.
As far as basketball, it's the NCAA Tournament. We know each game is a war. You try to survive and advance. We have a tremendous amount of respect for Sam Houston State. Being in the state of Texas, we know a lot about them and know what a great program they are and excited about the game tomorrow.
Q. There's been a lot of talk about maybe Final Four and all of that. How do you kind of throw the brakes on that or handle that kind of publicity and the compliments and stuff you've gotten?
COACH DREW: I think why we've been successful this year is we have great leadership. And I think each one of the players realized from those upperclassmen that if you don't bring your A-game and you're not ready to play, you're going to lose any given night.
I think we're focused and determined to hopefully stay around a little bit longer than we did two years ago. But, again, everyone knows it's a single-elimination tournament.
Right now I know the coach has been so busy breaking down film, we haven't had a chance to hear any of that stuff. But I know our players, again, are pretty focused as far as knowing what's at stake each and every game.
Q. Particularly with Tweety, but also maybe LaceDarius, how do you walk the line between letting them enjoy coming home and staying focused?
COACH DREW: Well, what we do is one coach has outside their door from 12:00 to 2:00, another one from 2:00 to 4:00 (laughing). The 4:00 to 6:00 shift is tough. But anyway, the good thing is both of them are upperclassmen. They've had distractions from the standpoint they've played games. We played in Louisiana before, so they know what it's like to be in big games and have family ask friends come around.
So last night was a great opportunity for them to see some of their friends and relatives. But today is pretty much all business and focused.
Q. I believe there are seven teams from the state of Texas in this tournament this year. What does that say about Texas basketball and how do you explain that?
COACH DREW: Thanks for asking that question, because I think it just shows what great athletes we have in the state of Texas, and what great high school coaches we've been able to or we have in Texas, and what great athletes they've produced.
You look at the last few years especially, most of the state schools have been able to keep kids in the state. Because of that, you have a lot of successful college programs.
So Texas is known for having great football, but, I'll tell you, basketball isn't far behind.
Q. What brought you to Louisiana to recruit those two kids, Lace and Tweety? Will you continue recruiting in this state?
COACH DREW: Well, the great thing about our location, Baylor University, is, first of all, we have a national niche being a great academic private school, also the largest Baptist school in the nation. So we recruit worldwide.
But as far as Louisiana, it's close, our coaching staff is familiar with the state. My dad coached at LSU from '72 to '76. We come down here just to eat. So recruiting makes it easy. But as far as there's a lot of great talent in this state, and we'll continue to recruit here most definitely.
Q. As a coach in Texas, you probably are aware of the job Bob Marlin's been doing for a long time at Sam Houston. He's been at Sam Houston for a while now having success. Can you talk a little about what you've seen from him over the years?
COACH DREW: Well, I think everyone that's familiar with the job he's done and his program realizes whenever you play one of his teams what a fight you're in for. I think a lot of Big 12 schools have lost to Sam Houston State because of his coaching job. He gets a good talent, but he gets them to play as a team. They play extremely hard. They play good defense.
This year's team is very talented offensively. Any time you can score 92 points at Rupp, any time you can score 107 at Auburn. So I think everyone recognizes, especially in the state of Texas that is a little more familiar with them, what a great job and program he has there.
Q. Texas is going to be here later today, and I know you've faced them a couple times. Any insight to kind of what's led to the skid that they've hit in the second half of the season?
COACH DREW: I think, first of all, they've had injuries. And any time you have injuries, that changes your season and makes it more difficult.
I think the other thing is let's compliment the Big 12 Conference from a standpoint it is the No. 1 rated conference in the country with the RPI. And playing on the road in the Big 12 is so difficult. You look at the non-conference records, 106-1. Non-conference record with Big 12 teams. I think Texas is a very good team, just lost some close games on the road, which a lot of teams would do.
So we fully expect them to have a good run in the postseason. We'll be cheering for them.
Q. You were really young when your dad was at LSU. Do you have some memories of Baton Rouge and do you remember any conversations with Coach Brown as you grew up?
COACH DREW: Most definitely. Coach Brown has been a great family friend, great mentor. One of my mentors. In fact, I talked to him yesterday and he'll be at the game Saturday, hopefully, if we're able to be around. He has a prior engagement today.
But a lot of fond memories of the state of Louisiana. My first hard food was down here, so that's why I love Cajun food, I guess. As far as -- I remember fishing in the bayous with my dad, and just a lot of fond memories down here.
Q. I was wondering if you could talk a little about just what landing a player of the caliber of Tweety meant for your program when you signed him a few years ago, and what he's meant to the program since then and what he's been able to accomplish?
COACH DREW: Well, Tweety's somebody that first McDonald's All-American school was able to sign. He's somebody that was a national name being the leading scorer unofficially of high school basketball. Obviously what a great career he had here in the state.
But Tweety's one of those people that basketball players all identify with because he's such a good kid. Everybody seems to know him, gravitate to him. Every time we're playing an opposing team, Tweety is the guy that knows everybody else on the other team. They all want to talk to him. He wants to talk to them. I think he's just one of those people that you just gravitate to.
When he came to Baylor that opened a lot more recruiting doors for us. A lot of the players on the team today are there because when they came on their visit, they spent time with Tweety, he they liked him and wanted to play with him. So he's meant a tremendous amount to our team.
As far as basketball-wise, if you look at this year, he's led the Big 12 in assists. He scores for us. He defends for us. He does a lot for us.
But most of all probably his leadership and the intangibles about what a great individual he is are things that you can't put down on paper. But I know our players would run through a wall for him.
Q. Do you have a particular philosophy or strategy at the end of a tight game? Say the game's tied, one- or two-point game, the other team has the ball. Do you like to guard the guy that's he throwing the ball inbounds or would you rather put your guys back out on the floor?
COACH DREW: We have a strategy, but if I told you everybody else would know that, so we'll save it in case we need it.
But we do have strategies for each of the situations. If you're up 3 with three seconds left or five seconds or if you're going to foul or not foul, if you're going to put a man over the ball, not put a man over the ball.
So, anyway, we're ready and prepared for any of those situations.
Q. Can you talk a little about Sam Houston's three-point shooting and what kind of match-up problems?
COACH DREW: Well, any time you can score and knock down 18 threes at Kentucky and 15 at Auburn, that tells you he can really shoot it.
The big thing with us is just making sure that they're difficult shots and trying to make sure they're not open looks. They're going to get shots because they're a good team and they're well coached. But we just want to make sure we can make them as tough as possible.
Q. You mentioned the away tournament. You guys were one and done. How much motivation is that particularly for Josh, Tweety and Lace?
COACH DREW: I think just being in this environment before will hopefully pay big dividends for our team from the standpoint that the first time we went to the tournament we were pretty excited to be there. I think now it's a situation where we've seen just how impressive and in awe you are of things.
But the upperclassmen and people that have been there before have told their freshmen, the way they carry themselves, the way they act, I think they provide that leadership to, okay, we're here about business. It's a business trip. It's not a fun trip.
Q. I know you're obviously supremely proud of the season up to this point. But Baylor hasn't won a tourney game in a long time. What would it mean for the program not just to get here with the season you've had, but actually win and maybe win more than once?
COACH DREW: Well, I think last year being able to get our first postseason win since 1950 was a great accomplishment going into the championship game of the NIT. And I think that excited a lot of people. Now after we've done so well in the NIT last year, I think it's a situation for our players.
They've played now in tournament games, so he they understand the importance and the pressure and how to handle that. Hopefully we'll be able to be successful, what it would mean to win in the NCAA Tournament.
Any time anybody -- no matter how many games you have or haven't won in the NCAA Tournament, any time you win, those are great memories, and something that a school remembers and cherishes.
Q. I think there's a tendency just maybe for casual fans or a lot of fans to still view Baylor in the context of some of the image problems from earlier this decade. I don't know. Do you feel like you still deal with that? Does it bother you? How do you deal with that given that you're a winning program now?
COACH DREW: The good thing is I feel we've moved beyond that especially with the success we've had. This is our third straight 20-win season, third straight postseason. And last year we were on TV so many times. We were on 18 times on ESPN. People got a chance to see what great players we have and what kind of program we have.
From there, it's a situation now I think we're more viewed for the academic and athletic successes we've had in recent history.
If you look at since 2003 or 2004, we're second or third in the Big 12 in athletic titles. If you look at our basketball team right now we've been Top 10 in the APR. So four-year Academic Progress Report, which is an outstanding statistic and something to be proud of.
I think that we're more known for that than we are the incident in the past.
Q. You've talked about what an important part of this team Tweety is on the court. Talk about his personality and how that permeates the program atmosphere?
COACH DREW: With just the way he interacts with the team, keeps them loose or gets them focused. I think especially A.J. Walton, who has come in and backed him up, just seeing how he handles himself in the professional manner he approaches basketball. The seriousness that he works at his game has really been a great leader for him.
But I think the big thing is in college as a coach we're supposed to help our players develop athletically, obviously, but also spiritually and socially. I think Tweety's really helped the team as far as how he carries himself socially and how to act and how to respond to questions, how do to do things. And you can't put a price tag on that.
Q. You got to know John Wall pretty well during the recruiting process. How does what he's done at Kentucky this year compare with what you thought he might be able to do as a freshman?
COACH DREW: He's definitely had a tremendous year. Any time you're being considered as top two players for Player of the Year, it says you're doing something all right.
But there is no doubt in our mind when we were recruiting him he was going to be a successful player from the standpoint a lot of people have talent, but he had had the mental make-up necessary to be successful as well, extremely driven, very competitive, very serious about the game. He plays so hard.
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