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March 17, 2010

Johnny Jones

Eric Tramiel

Josh White


THE MODERATOR: We're ready for questions for North Texas.

Q. Eric, seems like you guys -- particularly you have been playing with a purpose towards the end of the season. You played some of your best ball especially since you came back from the wrist injury. You're the only senior on this team. Has that really motivated you to make your last season a really special one in?
ERIC TRAMIEL: Yeah, because I have to provide the leadership as a senior, you know, and our goal is to go as far as we can, and I have to play with that purpose every game, every night in and night out.

Q. Josh, how familiar were you with there Kansas State team before this came out and what you learn about watching them on film that you didn't see before?
JOSH WHITE: I've been watching them a lot all year. They're always on TV. I was very familiar with them. We know they have a lot of grade guards. There are a lot of guys that are capable of putting up 20, 25 points a game. They're a very, very physical game.
One thing that stood out to us is they play real hard. They pressure the ball so it's going to be a pretty tough challenge for us.

Q. Josh, maybe a little different with the guard match-ups. It seems like you guys struggle against the bigger guards. How do you think you guys match up on the perimeter against Kansas State which also plays a lot of smaller guys center.
JOSH WHITE: I think we match really well with them. Even though they're not that big of guards, they are really good, you know. They take about 50 percent of their shots Denis Clemente and Jacob Pullen. They get up points and shots in a hurry. They can score at -- it's going to be tough on us. We have to defend well every possession. We can't take a possession off.

Q. For either of you guys, how important is it to get to the foul line? It seems like you guys shoot a bunch of free throws, make a bunch, too. How much is that a big part of your game?
ERIC TRAMIEL: It's very important. It shows us how aggressive we are during the game and getting to the line and is a very important stat in the game. This is what we want to get. This is our bread and butter, too.

Q. They're really good offensive rebounding team. What makes them so good on the offensive? What do you guys need to do?
JOSH WHITE: They play real hard. That's one of the things we're really harping on. They do rebound the ball well. We have to take them one possession at a time. We have to really, really box out. They get a lot of their points off second chances. We're going to have to limit their possessions to one chance points. Just going to have to really box out.

Q. Josh, in terms of the backcourt, Clemente is probably the fastest guard up and down the floor with the basketball. What kind of pressure do you feel like he be able to put on North Texas as defensive line, how big an impact can that have?
JOSH WHITE: You're talking about a great guard on Kansas State team. He's really fast to the ball. He can get to the rack anytime he wants to. He can really score. He can really shoot it. He puts a lot of pressure on us. We're going to have to get back defensively. Him and Pullen pushes it, so that puts even more pressure on us. We'll have to get back and just play great defense.
THE MODERATOR: Do we have more questions? Up front.

Q. Josh, with you guys' experience against other Big 12 teams this season, is there any common thread, any common denominator that's common with those teams you faced and what you've seen with Kansas State so far?
JOSH WHITE: Yeah. I mean, we play some Big 12 schools this year. We know how tough it's going to be. We know the challenge that we're there for. We just going -- we have to bring our A game, to be honest. We have to bring our A game tomorrow and just going to take them one possession at a time. We have to really execute on offense and let our defense get us going offensively. We have to do well on both ends when you're playing these types of teams.

Q. Eric, you got some veteran team this year. Despite the fact you're the only senior, pretty much everybody on this team played for a long time. Has that become key when you get into a one-and-done situation against a team like Kansas State?
ERIC TRAMIEL: Yes, that experience always helps. Being in a certain situation, even though this is our first time pretty much the whole team except Mangrum, but the experience is a great deal.
Us guys, we played together last year. We know how it felt to lose in a conference tournament, and this year we're trying to get to a better goal and that's winning the National Championship, just winning just like every other team here.
THE MODERATOR: Any final questions for North Texas as student athletes? Thanks, guys.
Now joined in the interview room by University of North Texas's head coach, Johnny Jones.
COACH JONES: We're extremely excited to be here among the teams of 64, 65 teams, or 64 now, and we look forward to a great challenge with the team in terms of Kansas State.
We've had an exciting year. It's been a great year for us, and I think our young men have done a tremendous job in bringing us to this point, and we look forward to a great outing tomorrow.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Coach.

Q. Coach, Kansas State obviously has got a couple of pretty good guards. I wanted to ask you about Jacob Pullen. What do you see that he brings to the table? He's a kid from Chicago, and Chicago point guards have kind of a reputation. What do you see in him?
COACH JONES: Great scorer. Can shoot the ball. Extremely deep. I think he's great in terms of creating opportunities for other guys on his basketball team, and I think he and his running mate are a great one, two punch and one of the best in college basketball.

Q. Coach, looks like your team put some emphasis on getting to the foul line and Kansas State does, too. Can you talk about how big a deal that might be in tomorrow's game?
COACH JONES: I think both of us are very fortunate to have great guard play. I think we're both done an excellent job in terms of spacing the floor, getting in the gaps of the defense, creating help situations, and we're trying to get to the basket and I think that allows us to get us some foul opportunities, to get to the foul where we're in the one and one pretty early. I think we're similar in style of play in that essence and I think that's why we're both really ranked there really high in terms of the number of foul shots made in terms of during games in the NCAA right now.

Q. I'm just going to throw there out here, but yesterday you may have seen President Obama selected K-State as one of his Final Four. If he were to select North Texas as one of his Final Four teams, would that put any extra pressure on you?
COACH JONES: No. We know that. I think there are a lot of brackets out there. I'm sure all season long, a lot of times other people may have looked at other folks as favorites, but our guys are really confident about the guys that circle up at half court prior to practice and at the end of practice and what they believe and they believe in each other. We really don't get caught up in what someone else says, but we've been extremely excited when he chose us and probably taped and showed it at the banquet at the end of the year. Since he didn't, we won't do that.

Q. Coach, you guys don't have a lot of players who have been to this venue, to this situation before. You have a lot of guys that have been around for a long time, Eric, Josh, Tristan. Does this give you a sense of security to have a veteran team even though you haven't been to the tournament?
COACH JONES: Yes. I think one of the best things for this basketball team is the success they've had after the initial onset of this year being picked to win the conference or picked to win the Conference Tournament, and what happens is I think with that pressure being there, I think we've had a target on our chest all year long.
It's a veteran basketball team. I think they were able to come through the regular season and the tournament in great fashion. So I think this is that next step, and I as a coach can look and see they're not satisfied by being in the NCAA Tournament. So I know that they'll go out and play. tomorrow with the sense of urgency and not being satisfied just to be here.

Q. In terms of motivation, obviously it's the NCAA Tournament, but do you use the David, Goliath, 15 beating a 2? What extra motivation have you provided?
COACH JONES: That it's happened before. There's obviously some 2s have beaten a 15. I think there's four out there, and we just have to hope that now we know that's a trivia question at times, who are those four teams, and we feel like we have a group of guys that look forward to hopefully being on that list.
We know we have a great challenge in front of us. We know what's out there, but the only thing we can ask of them is to go out and play as hard as they can, play their best and give it everything that they have and just see what happens, and I feel good about them.

Q. Ordinarily Kansas State, one of their big advantages is to get on the offensive glass. You have some good rebounders. Do you think you'll have a good chance?
COACH JONES: They're a tough team. They've been through the Big 12 schedule. They're very powerful players and very good and talented, but I think our young men know what's at stake. I think we'll have to obviously play a little bit more attention, attention to detail in terms of rebounding and striking guys, but they've done a tremendous job of getting to the offensive glass and getting second-chance opportunities. That's one of our missions is to try and make sure that we pay attention to detail tomorrow and try and keep them off the boards.

Q. You mentioned that your team had played this whole season or most of it with a target on your back. Is it tricky from a team like yours of being the hunted to being the huntees?
COACH JONES: Not really. I think what has happened over the course of time, it's become about basketball with them now. They know that it's more about us, how good are we, you know, offensively, are we taking care of the basketball, are we cutting on the offensive end defensively, are we getting in the gaps, good help defenders or rotating and boxing out?
When those things are there and they take pride in it, I think everything else has a tendency of taking care of itself. So we don't really get caught so much up in the opponent and the guys that are there. It's about us, and we've got to do the best that we can do at what our game plan is and stick to it.
I think what happens -- you said is that something that happened gradually over the season. When you have success and guys understand scouting reports and when you have success, when you ask them to do certain things and we need to do these things in order to have success and if we're good at them, we'll be able to look back at the end of the night, look at the stats and see what happens. We've had more success than not, so they've really bought in and it's a lot easier selling that point to them than not.

Q. Coach, it seems like I'm looking around here and everybody is rooting for you guys today wearing their green. Do you feel like a little extra special home court advantage with being Saint Patrick's Day and coincidence of Mean Green?
COACH JONES: We know the venue in which we're in. We're playing a great basketball team. We're excited about the opportunity, but we don't feel there's any advantage at all whatsoever, but I'm hopeful that a lot of people will be rooting for us tomorrow.
THE MODERATOR: Any more questions for Coach? Up front.

Q. K-State has the Big 12, Sixth Man of the year, Number 32. He comes off the bench after about five minutes every game. I want to get your thoughts on the kind of maybe burst that he gives that team when he comes out there.
COACH JONES: Well, he's one of those young men I think could possibly start for a lot of basketball teams and the amount of minutes that he's able to get a game, I think he's a great impact player for their basketball team, and I'm sure he's a part of everyone's scouting report, but he's one of those guys that make them go. I think he gives them a great deal of energy when he comes into the game.
So he's a special player for them as well.
THE MODERATOR: Last two questions. Anyone? Thank you, Coach.

End of FastScripts

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