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March 17, 2010
SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA
ROGER ROSS: Hello, I would like to start by thanking our student athletes. We have Roman Martinez, Darington Hobson and Dairese Gary. Coach Steve Alford will be joining us shortly. We'll open it up for questions.
Q. Seeing your numbers similar to Evan Turner's, and better than a lot of the elite players in the country, why do you think you're not nationally known? Why are you not being talked about as some of the other players are?
DARINGTON HOBSON: I don't know. I can't answer that question. It's not even about me or me being known. It's about the team and how well we've been doing this year, so we can only control the things that we can control. What you're talking about as far as the national attention, I can't control any of that.
I'm just coming out and doing what the coaches and the teammates are asking me to do.
Q. What is the best way to describe your game?
DARINGTON HOBSON: Versatile. I'm a versatile player, unselfish, and I'm very competitive, love to win.
Q. Dairese, you've seen plenty of video on Johnson now. What maybe did you pick up that you might be able to use in tomorrow night's game?
DAIRESE GARY: Probably just trying to be physical with him, you know. Like I said, trusting in my teammates, know that go they're going to help me. He is a great player. Just have to know that he is going to score points he's not going to miss every shot so just going in there confident, just trying to do my best on him, trying to guard his dribble pull-up, and trying to stay out of foul trouble.
Q. Darington, how do you feel like you guys need to represent? Because you've had this big media following and you're just now getting into the national limelight. As far as showing up for the game, how do you feel like you need to represent the school?
DARINGTON HOBSON: You know, we need to represent it well, you know, we need to come out and be aggressive. We can't be uptight. It's our first tournament game in a while. This is our first tournament game. Everyone playing at New Mexico, so we need to come out and play strong, be unselfish, do the things that we're capable of doing, nothing else out of our box, and when we do that we're fine.
Q. Darington, you predicted an Elite Eight appearance. Was that kinda to give you guys a little more confidence and keep the nerves down in some of the younger guys?
DARINGTON HOBSON: I was just talkin', but I have a lot of confidence in my coaches and teammates. Like I said, as long as we're playing together and playing unselfishly and doing the things that we're capable of doing, I don't think -- it's hard to beat us.
When I said that it was how I was feeling at the time, and I still feel that way and as long as we've been playing the way we're capable of playing it's going to be tough for teams to beat us.
Q. Roman and Dairese, how are you guys handling things as the two leaders out here? What do you feel the younger guys are going through and what are you doing to keep their nerves settled?
ROMAN MARTINEZ: We're trying to stay focused. We're playing a real good team in Montana, and they have the ability to score a lot of points. So we need to focus on little things, whether it's off court and on court, get our mind on basketball.
Q. Roman, what did you pick up in watching film that maybe you didn't know about Montana a few days ago after the selection show.
ROMAN MARTINEZ: I think they've got a lot of size. Johnson is a great scorer, but if you're going to make the Tournament you have to have a good team, and I think they have good size. They can put the ball in the basket from outside and good penetrating guards. Their two front guards are real good against the basket. So we have to defensively prepare right and do what we do, like Darington said, and we'll be fine.
Q. Darington, you made a comment to me the other day that you guys don't have to worry about Johnson, they have to worry about you. Was that in line with Mark's question, to take pressure off your teammates, and do the most you can do in this situation?
DARINGTON HOBSON: Johnson had 42, or 40-some points in the Conference Championship game, and 30-something the second half. So we definitely have to worry about Johnson. He's a capable player, and he is capable of scoring in bunches, and at the same time they have to play us, you don't get a number 3 seed for no reason.
When I said that it's to kind of take our minds off of you know we have to stop one person. We don't have to stop Anthony Johnson, we have to beat Montana as a team. Like Ro said, they're a good team. I didn't know they had that much size. They're all capable of shooting the ball well, and they're well coached so it's going to be a tough match-up for us.
Q. Dairese does Johnson remind you of anybody in the Mountain West, and does Montana remind you of any team?
DAIRESE GARY: Probably last year Colorado State they had Marcus Walker, that's who he reminds me of. He's quick. He dribbles the ball a lot. He always has the ball in his hands making plays. So if I were going to say anybody it would probably be him.
They're a weird team, a big team, big guys can shoot, they have a big post man, really don't know anybody in our Conference like them. But we played a lot of good teams this year. So I think we're prepared for anything right now.
Q. Ro, you've been through a lot in the four years here, saw a last-place team as a freshman all the way to this, just give me a little bit about what you're feeling right now.
ROMAN MARTINEZ: Excited. All our guys are excited. We can't wait to get on the floor. We can't wait to first get our first shots up and legs under us. I think the nerves are coming in, so it's exciting. We're trying to live in the moment, take advantage of every moment in the Tournament and confident going into the first game.
Q. Dairese, Anthony Johnson was making a comment he thought they were going to play a Big East power, and he said they were getting pumped up for that instead of somebody like you guys, somebody off the west coast, is that bulletin board material, or do you guys not pay attention to stuff like that?
DAIRESE GARY: You have to pay attention to stuff like that, that's -- I mean, to me, a slap in the face. I mean, a Big East school, they're good, a lot of good teams in there. But we have a good record. We've been proving all year that we can beat good teams that we are a good team. So we thinking about it. I'm sure he didn't mean anything about it, but at the same time that's the kind of momentum to stay focused and go out and play hard.
Q. Roman, being in El Paso native, how nice is it to know you're contributing bringing more fans to your game with UTEP being in town?
ROMAN MARTINEZ: A lot, coming from El Paso, not a lot of kids get the opportunity to play in the NCAA, and UTEP is in it and New Mexico State, so the Rio Grande rivalry is in it. It's the first time it's happened in history, and I think it's big for the west coast.
Q. Roman, what do you tell the guys, you being the lone senior?
ROMAN MARTINEZ: Like I said before, we're trying to stay focused, a lot of attention. We have the cops following us around making sure we get places safely. So we have to stay focused and prepare right, and I think we'll be all right. When it comes down to game time, we need to execute our plays and play defense because any team that makes it to the Tournament -- Montana is a dangerous team. They can get hot anytime, so we have to stay focused throughout the game and make sure we execute our plays and play defense.
Q. Any one of you three, all year long you guys were flying under the radar, picked fifth in the Conference, kinda came out of nowhere, you are obviously the highest seed here, the three seed. Do you guys get the sense that people don't expect you to make it out of here this weekend and that you are being overlooked by a lot of people with the Big East comments?
ROMAN MARTINEZ: I think us being a three seed is huge for us, we're excited and confident but at the same time we're excited to be here, none of us having through this experience and us being a 3 seed is great and all but we have to prove that we're a Tournament-bound team and we can win a Tournament game, and we're excited to be here and trying to make a run at the Sweet 16.
Q. Darington have you had a chance to meet Danny Granger at all? And if so, any advice he's given you?
DARINGTON HOBSON: Yeah, we met him for the first time after we played UNLV, and I talked to him a little bit after the game and the main thing he told me was to stay focused and enjoy this moment, enjoy every moment of it because at the next level it's nothing like this. You're not going to be with your teammates like this. You're not going to have the bond that we have.
Basically, he told me to enjoy living in the moment and stay focused on what we're trying to accomplish and don't listen to any of the outside rumors as far as NBA and agents and stuff like that. He told me to focus on what we're trying to do here and listen to Coach because Coach has been very successful on both levels.
ROGER ROSS: Thank you, gentlemen. We appreciate your time.
We have New Mexico Coach Steve Alford up here. We'll open it up for questions.
Q. What's been the feel of how the guys are responding to everything out here now? We've talked about the inexperience all year. Where you worried about that at all?
COACH ALFORD: I think we've been worried about that all year, and yet they continue to amaze. So I don't think it's about worrying about it anymore. It's just the experience isn't going to go away, or the lack of isn't going to go away. We don't have any experience on this team and yet we've had a very successful season. I haven't seen anything different. These guys have treated it like any other road trip as we've talked, it's obviously a little different because the travel party has been greatly enhanced and you have more media attention and more press conferences and a little not typical going into a 40-minute practice where it's open to the public and those types of things.
But they're demeanor and their attitude, I don't think they know any different, and I'm not going to pinch them because they're not wearing green and make them wake up and realize they shouldn't be doing the things they're doing, we want to keep them mesmerized as long as we can.
Q. I want to get your impressions on the Weber State game that Anthony Johnson had, and did you happen to see that live?
COACH ALFORD: I didn't see it live. I saw it on tape. But obviously, at this level, you score 34 points in a 20-minute frame at the Division 1 level, that's a heck of a game. He's obviously a very talented individual. He's somebody that can take over a basketball game, and anytime you get in a Tournament as such, I think good guard play is always a big key. I think it has been over the years in this Tournament, and Montana has that.
Just in Johnson alone they've got that. So they've got somebody that can take over a game when things aren't going well. You get stagnant a little bit or you need a basket, he can get you not just a basket, but he can get you a lot in a hurry. That was a special night for him, a special game for him, and obviously a big concern for us trying to set up a defense that can contain him somewhat.
Q. What are some of the things that you can do to neutralize. I mean that last possession, everybody in the building knew who was getting the ball and they couldn't stop him.
COACH ALFORD: We just had our meeting so we thought we would put up detour signs around San Jose, and maybe he won't get to the gym tomorrow. That might be the only way you can contain somebody like him.
We'll run different people at him, different bodies at him. We're a pretty big, physical team defensively. So we've got some guys that I think are pretty good defenders, but that's why you play the game. Sometimes good defense beats good offense and sometimes it doesn't. This is going to be a game tomorrow that it starts with Johnson.
I don't think it all ends there. I think they've got some good complimentary players that help their team in a lot of difference ways. Anytime you get in a Tournament like this I think you have to shoot the ball well, you've got to make shots, and you've got to be able to defend. If we do those two things, I like our chances. If one of those two things don't happen, then we know we're going to be in for a fight.
Q. Coach, talk about Darington and you see this kind of as a "coming out party" for him? What makes him special?
COACH ALFORD: I don't think it's a coming out party. He's already been in every major publication, and we've got "Sports Illustrated" deal that came out today. So he's gotten a lot of attention, which has our program nationally which is something you work toward and enjoy.
To be honest we've had one of those kind of years, we've only lost to three basketball teams this year and you play the schedule we've played, if you look at the teams that have played ranked opponents we're the only team that hasn't lost to a ranked opponent this year. So we've done special things.
Anytime that happens, the guy that's leading you in points and rebounds and assists comes to the forefront and Darington is a special talent. I've had the opportunity to coach a lot of good players and he's right near the top, he has basketball IQ. His best attribute is the way he passes the ball. he makes everybody around him better. He's unselfish. He can score the ball when he needs to, like at BYU he can come up with a defensive play when he needs to, and be our best rebounder. So he's a big key tore what we do.
Q. Do you see a specific position for him or just as a basketball player?
COACH ALFORD: I think he likes to refer to himself as the point forward, I think today's kid likes the fancy term so I'll buy into that, I told him I bought the butter a long time ago. If he wants to be a point forward we'll call him a point forward and there is a lot of truth to that, he's 6'7", he's long, he's athletic. He can bring the ball up. I think we're a difficult team to press because we have so many point guards on the floor at the same time.
We have usually two or three on the floor at the same time. I think that's one of the reasons why we've taken good care of the ball this year. We give our teams a chance to be successful. A lot of that has been because of Darington's versatility, we can play him at the 4 spot, the 2, the 1, so he's an extremely versatile basketball player.
Q. Coach, Anthony Johnson made a comment about they were kind of expecting a Big East kind of school. Darington this week made an Elite Eight predictions. What's your take on the board of the NCAA Tournament? Do we make too much of it, and do you bring it up when another player says something?
COACH ALFORD: The bulletin board stuff is fun. We used it earlier in the year when we went do you come or North Carolina, and now we're in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
We're not the Big East. We are New Mexico, and for 33 games, 29 of those times have been pretty good. We've had a very good year where we've won a Championship and had a special year, and now we get to the first round of the Tournament. Regardless of what this player says or that player says it's about the forty minutes that's going to be played between the lines.
I think you've got a very good team in Montana and I think we've got a very good team ourselves. So I think Johnson is their leader, Hobson is our leader and both of them are very confident. Both of them are confident in what their team can do and I think that makes for an interesting match-up.
Q. Steve, I'm wondering about Roman Martinez, a great honor when the governor named him today in his honor, and in your career you had a similar achievement like that?
COACH ALFORD: I don't know if I did or not, I think it speaks volumes of who Roman Martinez is. You get that not just because of what you do on the basketball for, but he is an honor student one of only 15 players in the entire country named to Academic All American. He's had a special career. Two, you don't have big governors that are that supportive of men's basketball, and he's probably doing the politically correct thing, now that I've been in that state for three years, because that state loves basketball.
So I don't know if you could be governor of our state and not like basketball. So there are parallels to that and we've got a governor that is in support of our program and what we're doing but nobody deserved that any more than Ro. He's been an incredible ambassador. He represents our institution exactly the way we want it represented, and we're proud that he's on our team.
ROGER ROSS: Thank you, Coach. We appreciate the time.
End of FastScripts