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March 18, 2010

Mike Anderson

Keith Ramsey

Zaire Taylor

J.T. Tiller


THE MODERATOR: We're going to get started with Missouri student athletes. Keith Ramsey, Zaire Taylor and J.T. Tiller. I'm happy to have them here in Buffalo.
Same rules apply as our previous sessions. Go ahead and open it up to questions at this time.

Q. This is for any of you guys. A lot of times these games come down to contrasting styles. That's not going to happen on Friday. So if you guys can talk about how much you appreciate facing another team that runs like you guys do.
ZAIRE TAYLOR: Well, I think both teams like to run. That's a good thing. So it's not as much a battle of tempo, that we, both teams, probably have to deal with throughout the regular season all year. But I do think there's contrast in the styles of play. I don't think it's as similar as people say. I think the way we go about pressing and trying to play up-tempo game is different. I think both coaches like to play fast, but they do it differently.
J.T. TILLER: I want to say I think it's going to be -- I think the game is going to really just come down to who wants it more. The tempo is not going to be a factor. Just who feels more comfortable down the stretch. Those last ten minutes, that's going to make the game what it is.

Q. For Zaire, you said that you guys kind of do things a little bit differently. In what ways are these two teams different in terms of your tempo and what you try to do?
ZAIRE TAYLOR: Well, I was watching -- I haven't gotten to see them. Being in different conferences, you don't see them play throughout the whole year. I managed to catch some games, see them play Illinois and once I found out we were playing them I watched a couple of the tapes of them. I think that from the outside view, when you watch us play sometimes, it looks a little helter-skelter even though I think it's a little organized chaos going on. Whereas when I watch them, it seems a little more organized in appearance. But both styles I feel are effective when both teams are executing them right. And I think both teams -- it's not a matter of who controls the tempo, as much as who executes better.

Q. You guys have been here -- not here in Buffalo, but been in this before now. Can you talk about how the time between selection Sunday of last year and where you are now has either changed or is the same from last year? And how you're sharing that with younger kids like Mike Dixon?
KEITH RAMSEY: It's basically the same. We just come here and try to get some wins, play hard. We had two losses we didn't come to play. We are trying to get everybody else ready. Especially Mike Dixon, freshmen, and even Tyler Stone and John Underwood because they're so young and they have to help us on the floor situation. We have been preparing since we lost to Nebraska. I feel like everybody is ready.
J.T. TILLER: Since we have experience being here, it's just more of trying to calm the younger guys down and getting their anxiety levels down anyway so they can come out and play the game that we know and play the way we always play during the year.

Q. Zaire, you guys were all pretty down after the loss last week in Nebraska. Has the layoff been good?
ZAIRE TAYLOR: I don't think there's nothing -- anything wrong with being down after a loss. It's natural as a competitor. Sometimes -- usually after you lose, you can't wait to get back out there and then losing two in a row, I mean, there's just a lot of -- you just want to -- you want a chance to redeem yourself. So the layoff is good in some ways. It gives you a chance to clear your mind and get ready and get focused. But at the same time, you don't want to take that eagerness and desire to get a win.

Q. This question really is for Keith and for J.T. First, Keith, talk about the challenge of going against a guy like Trevor Booker? And secondly for J.T., how important is it for you and Zaire and the other back court guys to keep their guards frustrated so that they can't make those entry passes in to Booker.
KEITH RAMSEY: It's going to be tough. He's a good player. I watched a lot of tape on him. He's an athletic freak. We can stop him or we can just contain him. It's going to be one of each. It's going to be a tough challenge for all the four of us to handle him. One, from the guard's perspective, our job to help the bigs out definitely is to harass and pressure their guards so they can't make those easy entry passes. We just got to really pressure them and make them work to get up court so they can get fatigued and they can't make the moves they usually want to make and try to get the ball inside to them as they usually do.

Q. J.T., last year about this time you weren't letting anybody look at a wrist that needed work. Bowers has the same problem. What have you or what can you tell him about day-to-day getting through with something that hurts?
J.T. TILLER: Well, I think the mentality coming into this type of situation, coming into something as big as the NCAA tournament, you realize that you got to get your priorities, if you want to call it that, in order. I think Laurence knows that. He's not going to let that wrist bother or just anchor him to not play as good as he's been playing. With the injury or without the injury. I think Laurence is really going to come out and give us all he has and play as hard as he does. It's really not much you can tell him. If anything, I just tell him keep playing his game and don't let the wrist get in the way of doing what he usually does.

Q. Easier said than done. How do you manage it physically? When it hurts, it hurts.
J.T. TILLER: When your adrenaline gets going, the pain fades. Fades into the background.

Q. Close games, Zaire, I imagine that, you know, you wouldn't mind that, given your knack for knocking down shots at the buzzer. How much of a comfort level do you have in those situations that allow you to have so much success in those situations?
ZAIRE TAYLOR: I feel like everybody on the team has confidence at the end of the game. And I personally, I feel confident with the ball in my hand. I mean, I think that it's easy to feel confident when it's in your hand. I also feel confident when it's in J.T.'s hand or Keith's hand or Timmy's hand. I feel like we have players that are going to make plays. I think being the point guard, it's kind of natural to want to have the ball in your hand to make a decision. And sometimes it comes down to me taking the shot. And J.T. is a point guard as well. He's proven that he can make the play at the same time. He did it last year in the tournament against Marquette. So I mean we got guys on this team that are willing to make plays in pressure situations. We've been in a lot of pressure situations this season and prior seasons. So when it comes down to it, I feel like we have enough experience to be successful during the clutch parts of the game. God willing, we will be again.

Q. Keith, a lot has been made about the number of minutes you and Bowers had to play since Safford came down. You have had quite a while to rest since the last time you played. Just two games in any given week: Does that mean anything anymore? The number of minutes you have to play?
KEITH RAMSEY: No, it's tournament time. You have to suck it up. You can't be worried about your body, really. As coach always tells us. We have to go out there and play through it. I believe Coach sees Steve a little more and some of the freshmen, try them out a little bit because it is a tournament. Even two or three minutes there, that will help us a lot. So we're going to see when it comes to game time.

Q. Zaire, this is your chance to play as close to your home as you've had since you've played for Missouri. Talk about the experience for you personally and family and friends.
ZAIRE TAYLOR: Well, this is I guess the closest thing I have to a homecoming this far. God willing, Syracuse is a little closer. But I mean it's a good feeling. It's a great feeling to be able to come home. My mom gets to see me and coming down to the latter parts of your career. I mean, it's just a blessing to be able to get one more chance to play. Just to play one more game is a blessing. And to be able to do it in your home state and in front of some family and friends makes it that much more bigger and that much more memorable come years down the road. So it's going to be -- I'm excited to play the game. I don't know if being in New York can make me even more excited with how big the game already is. But it's still a good feeling.
THE MODERATOR: Appreciate it, guys. Appreciate your time, guys. Joined by Missouri Coach Mike Anderson. Welcome to Buffalo and go ahead and make your opening statement.
COACH ANDERSON: Well, first, it's certainly a great opportunity to be able to play in the NCAA tournament, the field started out 65. Now it's down to 64. We're one of 64 teams playing. With that being said, we are certainly excited, especially coming to Buffalo, an area we came two Labor Days ago. We spent some time in Niagara Falls, Canada; exhibition season with some young players and a young team. That team got to the league Elite Eight last year. So it's kind of ironic that we're back here in Buffalo where we flew in to to have an opportunity to hopefully survive and advance playing against an outstanding Clemson team coached by Oliver Purnell. When you talk about styles and tempo, it certainly will be an up-tempo game. It's going to come down, I guess, who can survive the longest. And hopefully our depth will be a key to this basketball game. But we're looking forward to it. It's a tremendous opportunity and a tremendous challenge at the same time.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.

Q. Coach, how concerned are you with your front court depth considering Justin Safford's injury and also the fact that Laurence Bowers is playing with wrist ligament tears. How much of a concern is that going against a guy like Booker?
COACH ANDERSON: We have had some problems going down the stretch with respect Justin going out one of our veteran players. But at the same time I think this team has had players play throughout the year. So hopefully some guys can step up and contribute in this particular tournament. A guy like Steve Moore. He will certainly warrant many more minutes.
John Underwood, you'll see him out there maybe one or two minutes at a time hopefully to give guys like Keith Ramsey and Laurence Bowers, who I really admire, a guy that's playing with some pain. We all know that. But if there's a word to describe him, that's toughness.
I will sit back and listen. I heard J.T. trying to explain, they asked him what advice should you give him? It comes down to toughness. I think this team and Laurence in particular, I think he has that. And hopefully that's the toughness we're going to need against a Clemson team. But when you talk about their front line, with Booker, who is an outstanding player, I had a chance to work with him at the USA games and in Colorado Springs. He's a warrior. He's elevated his game to another level. He's a leader of that basketball team. But Oliver has done a great job with them. They've done well in ACC. And I'm sure they're excited about being here in this tournament. I think it's going to be a key. We have to match I think their intensity. We have to match their aggressiveness on the boards. We have to make sure that we're -- don't allow those guys to really, Grant, Booker, Jennings, to keep them off the boards.

Q. Coach, you've been quoted as saying you don't want to be in the dance. You want to do some dancing. What have you seen in the last week that's sort of gives you some confidence there?
COACH ANDERSON: Well, I, you know, I think our last outing wasn't very good. Maybe that's the reason why. I think this time of year is all about the mental make-up and I think the energy. And hopefully we're a team that will play with some energy.
I like how we've been playing defense. I think we have had to make some adjustments with Justin going out of the lineup. But I like this basketball team. And hopefully they can bring the same feeling they have brought into this tournament last year. That's all they can. They can't think about -- they understand the first game is the most important game. But I want them to bring that feeling. We have enough guys that play that hopefully they can come out with that same mind-set.

Q. On that point, more specifically, what have the players that went through this run last year done to help impart some wisdom on the Mike Dixons and the John Underwoods and those who weren't here for that experience?
COACH ANDERSON: I think in practice every day they've really gotten after it. Since the Nebraska game we've had some pretty intense workouts. Again, it's just -- I think the mind-set you have to have when you go into tournament play. Officials tend to let you play little bit more. The sense of urgency, if anything else, it's just a sense of urgency. We have seniors that -- this could very well be their last game. So I think there's some urgency that's going to take place. But I tell you what, I try to keep things as simple as possible. That means we're going to continue to do the same things we've been doing all year long. I think that's when you get the tournament play. As a matter of fact, I want us to really turn up our defense intensity even more. We don't change a whole lot.

Q. Talking about intensity, Zaire and Keith and J.T. were talking about how you and Clemson play similar, but some differences in style. Can you talk a little bit about how you feel you do or don't play the same kind of tempo?
COACH ANDERSON: I mean I don't know exactly what they do to the T but I know what we do. It's very unorthodox. Not many people doing what we do, even in Oliver's situation when you talk about teams that are getting out there for 40 minutes. But it's something that I believe in, something that has worked for me. I get the comparison all the time about your team reminds us of the Nolan Richardson teams of the '90S in Arkansas. I take that as the ultimate compliment. In terms of Oliver, I'm sure they play with a lot of depth, they play balanced. They got balance with their team. If you look at their -- the score and the minutes spread, there's balance. And so I'm sure he's trusted his bench and it's something I want to do. I've always trusted my bench. And I think more so in tournament play. I think if you can somehow survive that first game, the way we play, I think it bodes well for us in tournament play. Most teams have to prepare for us. We prepare for everybody else every single day. Throughout the whole year. So I think the key is what kind of adjustments, solo adjustments you make as the game goes on.

Q. I'm not sure if there's an answer to this question, but you're playing against a (Oliver) Purnell Leonard Hamilton in this region. A lot of friends, a lot of people in this region you kind of came up through the ranks with. And I'm just wondering, it's kind of a coincidence, does it bring back memories just about you guys were assistants and now, you know, years later all in your 30s --
COACH ANDERSON: Thanks, Bill. I appreciate that.

Q. I mean, it's just sort of a coincidence. I guess it's something you like. You just kind of you're all here together. You're playing against each other, see somebody else play. I don't know what the answer is, but is it good to see each other and kind of remember how you guys really just come up through the ranks together?
COACH ANDERSON: It is. I was standing right there in my locker room and Todd Bozeman came by. Of course, I remember being out -- out on the assistant coach's circuit. Of course Todd was out there. Leonard, of course, Hamilton. So it happened we were at the same site last year in Boise, Idaho. We go from Boise and now Buffalo. We're actually staying at the same hotel. So it's just amazing how things go full circle. I think more than anything else, you talked about the people that you have seen out there. And ultimately I guess it means that guys are doing -- they're being successful. Doing something they enjoy doing. So I think from that standpoint, the tough part about it is as you continue to do that, you play against each other. That's the toughest thing. We're all trying to vie for the same thing. And that is to try to win a championship. But at the same time, I think there's good feeling about it. Those guys are doing well. And hopefully we're doing well.

Q. Without trying to make Clemson a carbon-copy of you -- they do press throughout the game -- can you recall the last time as a head coach you played a team with such a similar style to yours? Not trying to make it exactly the same, but roughly the same kind of approach. Does that happen very often?
COACH ANDERSON: No, it doesn't. It doesn't. As a matter of fact, I guess you always hear commentators say, hey, teams that press don't like to be pressed. Well, I beg to differ. Because that's something we work on every single day. But you hear guys saying it. Those guys probably have never played basketball before.
Now, to answer your question, we played at Loyola Marymount when I was at Arkansas. That's when Hank Gathers and Bo Kimble and that bunch. Of course theirs was more up-tempo. They want to get the ball down the floor in four seconds and let it fly. I tell you what, our guys went in at halftime. That's the most tired I've ever seen guys get. Even after the game we had some guys that had to have a drug test. They could not piss for -- I mean it took them to midnight before they took a leak. It was just -- so when you talk about up -- you all bleep that. I hope you bleep that.
THE MODERATOR: We'll edit that.
COACH ANDERSON: It was up-tempo at its finest. Paul Westhead's team. It was -- even as a coach sitting there watching it, it was taxing.
To get back to your point about teams pressing each other, you see teams press out there. But you don't see teams press for most of the game. That's why I think it's going to be an interesting, entertaining matchup.

Q. I was wondering if you talked to Nolan Richardson recently and what's up with him? I have some vague memory I read something about a documentary or something on him recently. Have you talked to him? What's up with him?
COACH ANDERSON: I talked to him. He's a movie star, book star, I guess. He's got a movie out called "40 Minutes of Hell." And so as a matter of fact, I got a copy of it and my daughter wants him to sign it.
Coach is doing well. He's getting ready to start training camp. He's coaching a WNBA team, the Tulsa Shock. He's excited about it. Of course, as always, he certainly is proud and excited for us to have an opportunity to be in the NCAA tournament. He keeps up with this team. He comes down every year and just watches us work out. He'll catch a game here and there. But I always tell our guys, he's like the grandfather of what we do. He's the grandfather of 40 Minutes of Hell; the fastest 40 minutes in basketball, most of the stuff I learned from him.

Q. Coach, a proud Missouri journalism alum so I'll give you a softball question.

Q. I won't go quite that far but close. When you came up here, and I apologize if you covered this first, when you came up here a couple of summers ago, you didn't know what you had. You had come off a .500 season. You had a lot of young freshmen, English and a lot of the kids, you didn't know what you had. Can you talk a little about how you saw kind of what you had develop up there in Canada as you came into Buffalo for that brief period of time?
COACH ANDERSON: Well, to me it all kind of basically started from the standpoint of having an understanding of what I had in terms of a team. I had a chance to see an option. I hadn't practiced with these guys much. You have to remember these guys were just coming to school where the freshmen were. We put them against and played one of the teams that had won Division 2 over in Canada. And I just saw -- we averaged like 132 points a game. I'm going like, whoa, okay. But can we play some defense? But it wasn't just basketball. We had an opportunity to bond.
We were over there for that weekend. Guys had a chance to go over some tours together. We made it to the Maid of the Mist. Put ponchos on and ride around in the boats. We did a lot of things together. I thought those guys formulated a tremendous bond, which I thought was very evident throughout the whole year. They trusted one another, and cared for one another. And hopefully it was something that they built that will continue to thrive in our program. I think that's why we're here this year. We had some adversity take place. I think some of the leadership, those guys that were here last year have really stepped up. You saw them on the podium. J.T., Zaire, Keith Ramsey. I think they were responsible for what was taking place here. Hopefully we can continue to play good basketball and advance in this tournament. But again, I have a fond memory of this area. As a matter of fact, I got some relatives up here. So hopefully we'll have a few Tiger fans in the crowd.

Q. You've got one New York native on your roster. Boise wouldn't strike most Tiger fans as a fertile recruiting ground. I'm wondering if you're looking at this as an exposure opportunity for your program and expanding the recruiting reach?
COACH ANDERSON: I tell you what, what took place versus when I got to Missouri to where we are, what took place last year, and this year, I think with this group here, I think it makes a statement in terms of our program and what it's going to be about and where it is. And hopefully the TV exposure, people get a chance to watch our basketball team play. We play an exciting brand of basketball. I think it excites a lot of young people.
I'm getting more and more calls from a lot of different people getting into a lot of doors. And you look at Zaire. He transferred here. His two years, he only knows the NCAA. And what would be a great, great story to continue that career in NCAA play. Has made some big, big plays for our basketball team. He's a glue guy. How well he is known in New York, I don't know. But he's known now, not only in New York, but Missouri and all across the country.
THE MODERATOR: All right, Coach. Wish you the best of luck.

End of FastScripts

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