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March 18, 2010

Alex Franklin

Fran McCaffery

Ronald Moore

Edwin Ubiles


THE MODERATOR: We'll go ahead and take questions for student-athletes.

Q. For Alex and Ronald, each of the last two years you guys have knocked off a BCS conference team in the first round with Vanderbilt and Ohio State. Two very, very good teams. Did you gain confidence facing a team like Purdue that was ranked as high as fourth in the nation? That's got to be a huge momentum factor for you doesn't it, that you have done this before?
ALEX FRANKLIN: I think that the experience of being in the tournament and winning two first round games really helps out a lot with us being experienced players, we know what to expect. We know what the atmosphere is going to be like. We know what it takes to win a first round game. So I think the experience really is the biggest thing.
RONALD MOORE: The experience is definitely key. Vanderbilt like you said, being an SEC school, they had a great season and a great team this year. We feel confident going into tomorrow's game and we know what to expect having a lot of veteran guys.

Q. Ronald, it seems assistant coach Mitch Buonaguro has been by your side throughout practices all week, both back home and here. What has been the emphasis imparted to you regarding how to deal with Purdue's defense?
RONALD MOORE: They play very aggressive in the passing lanes. They don't let you run your offense very smooth and having talked to Mitch, me being the point guard and running the show, what to do to counteract what they do on defense for us to still run our offense so we're ready and well prepared going into tomorrow morning's game.

Q. Could you talk about how this experience is different that you're a senior now and the fact that your next loss will be your last loss and what's the thought process different this time around being a senior as opposed to the past two appearances here?
EDWIN UBILES: I think it's a little bit more pressure being that it is our senior year and we want to do as well as we can and go as far as possible. Being a senior, you just got to go out there and leave it all on the floor and play every possession like it is your last time. That's going to be key to tomorrow's game.

Q. For those of us who haven't been able to see you play very much, can you each describe the style defensively and offensively what you guys do?
ALEX FRANKLIN: Offensively we're a quick up team. We like to get out on the fast break and create opportunities on transition. Defensively we like to apply pressure, pressure other teams, create turnovers and get run outs from that.
RONALD MOORE: Defensively we like to pressure up full court and try to turn teams inside and out, get them to turn the ball over, don't let them run their sets smoothly. Try to limit it to one shot and get out on the break. We have a big man who can run the floor and finish in transition and get right back in our press. So that's definitely when we're at our best.
EDWIN UBILES: We definitely are a quick team. We like the fast-pace game. That's how we've always played. We like to get up-and-down. We change defense, give teams different looks. Offensively we got a lot of offensive weapons. And especially with our starting five and even some key weapons off the bench, a lot of us can create for ourselves. I think that's what's very unique about our team.

Q. Ronald, I notice everybody averages about the same on your team except for you. But you made the big shot last year in the tournament. Do you feel like you have a guy that you go to at key times or is that you?
RONALD MOORE: Well, in the past I guess you could say it's somehow ended up in my hands to make a big shot. Lord willing I was able to. But I have a lot of great guys around me. That's why I was able to lead the country in assists all year. You got these guys that can finish here. You got guys who create off the dribble and me being a point guard definitely pass first. Especially with so much talent around me. So it makes my job that much easier.

Q. Ronald, you talked about being aware of Purdue's pressure defense, especially led by Chris Kramer, Big-10 defensive Player of the Year. In watching them on film what has impressed you about the way Purdue plays defense?
RONALD MOORE: They rotate guys in and out and to be able to sustain pressure like that for 40 minutes is definitely a tremendous style of play. And they really do a great job of it. That's why they have been ranked so high all year. Unfortunately they lost Hummel, who also is a great player, which makes them a different team.
But they definitely have great leadership in Kramer like you said and gets them going defensively and still managed to win some games. We know what to expect definitely, what we expect is they're going to be aggressive and they're going to try to throw the first punch and we got to sustain it for us to be in this game.

Q. How do you handle the fact that it seems a lot of the experts were picking you guys to win this game and President Obama did as well?
ALEX FRANKLIN: We try not to read into that. We know we got to go out there and prove ourself on the court. The game is not going to be handed to us even though experts have picked us t0 win this game. We know we have to go out there and really execute and really focus to win this game.

Q. No matter what happens here your three seniors have obviously accomplished a lot. Can you talk about or assess the kind of stamp that you've put on the program and where do you think it will go from here?
RONALD MOORE: We definitely realize we accomplished a lot at Siena. Having coming back to this tournament three years in a row, winning three MAC championships, that really puts Siena and our city on the map. And people are well aware of our capabilities and as she said, people picking us to win in the first round, that's just due to the fact that winning so much in our careers since we have been here, people believe our experience is enough for to us win.
We're just very grateful that we came together and we played as a team with so much great talent and we hope that Siena continues to win. We got a lot of players coming in here year after year with them knowing how great Siena has become. People want to be a part of that. And that's definitely a great thing.

Q. Alex, you lead a balanced team in scoring, what's been key to your success individually this year?
ALEX FRANKLIN: Oh, man, I got the top assist man in the country, that's been the real key of my success this year. Just working hard and trying to contribute anyway I can to the team. It's easier when you have a point guard like I have to distribute the ball and find me when I get open. But I just think just working hard and just trying to contribute as much as I can. That's been the real success.

Q. Each of the past two years you've gotten significant NCAA tournaments wins. Any win is significant. But to beat Vanderbilt and then an Ohio State team, I asked your guys this question, but just from a confidence standpoint facing a team like Purdue, how much of an asset is that, knowing you've been there, done that, so to speak?
COACH MCCAFFERY: I think two things. Number one, just being in the tournament itself is so different. Everything about preparation, travel, and the media coverage for a team from our conference is different. So having been through that and I think more importantly having been in situations where when we got to Tampa we stayed for awhile. When we got to Dayton we stayed for awhile. I think that's important. Having beaten a terrific SEC team and a terrific Big-10 team gives us the confidence to know that we can play well when we get on this stage.
I think the difference with this particular game is how they play defense. Ohio State: Matchup, zone team. So we struggled a little bit early in that game with their length. Not necessarily because they were up on us and we couldn't get back to where we wanted to get to. We weren't making shots because they were a little bit closer to us.
But this team is going to defend us probably with more aggressiveness and consistency than anybody else that we faced all year long. So it will help that we have been here and done well, but we're going to have to play an even different and better kind of game to beat Purdue.

Q. Talking about the aggressiveness of Purdue's defense, what's been the emphasis to your team this week in terms of how do you combat that, how do you deal with that?
COACH MCCAFFERY: There's a couple things that we have to do. First and foremost you got to know what's coming. And you can't get sideways. You can't be looking to the officials to bail you out. You got to make cuts, you got to catch turn and face, and you've got to make aggressive moves. You can't be lazy with the basketball. Because if you are, some teams will prevent you from scoring. They take it from you and score at the other end. Two different things.
One of the best teams I've ever seen on film at taking your mistakes and turning them into baskets. Some of their best fast break opportunities are off of steals. You watch the Michigan State game they turned it over 26 times. Michigan State just doesn't turn the ball over 26 times. They were forced into doing that.
So I think it's a mindset that you have to have when you're playing a team of this caliber defensively, because they just keep coming. They're not going to go away, if we have a lead they aren't going away, and I think it's the reason they have got 27 wins. And obviously had Hummel not gotten hurt they would have been a number one seed, maybe the number one seed. So we know what we're facing and I think it's going to be tough but we're going to have to match that intensity level.

Q. Have you talked to your guys about everybody's picking them, even the President picked them to win this game. How do you kind of keep that out of their minds and get them just to focus on Purdue?
COACH MCCAFFERY: It's interesting because I have addressed that with them. I think that's a good point. I didn't want them to develop any level of complacency with regard to what other people thought. I knew that once I showed them film they would immediately get their attention. And when you show players film of the team they're getting ready to play, they can comprehend relatively quickly, okay, this is a different kind of team. This is not a team that backed into this tournament. This is a team that for most of the season was arguably the number one team in the country.
Had Hummel not gotten hurt they would have probably been sitting here at 32-3. And I think I've been more impressed with how they responded after he got hurt, because they had to really work that much harder to earn a share of the Big-10 championship regular season. I think that says a lot about Matt Painter, a lot about the character of his team.
So I did address it, and obviously I said all the things about putting it out of your mind, understand that -- we didn't catch any breaks, it wasn't like we got a fourth seed and then they lost their best player. This would have been a team that we would never even have thought about seeing because they would have been on the number one seed, but the reason they're a four and still one of the top teams in the country is because they happened to lose a good player.
But they have had some time to adjust to his departure, Kramer has obviously shown he can play more than one position. He's used his bench even more. And others have stepped up. Moore and Johnson are two of the best players in the country and they both present significant problems for us defensively. So they still got plenty of offense, they still got plenty of bodies, and their style of play is problematic for anybody.

Q. How did Clarence Jackson do in practice yesterday? Do we have status update?
COACH MCCAFFERY: He didn't do very well yesterday. We'll see what he can do today. It's still questionable I would say. Bordering on doubtful.

Q. Your scheduling, I know Utah State gets hit once in a while by how they can schedule. Stew doesn't want to play anybody who won't play them home and home. I notice your scheduling you seem to take road games against big teams. Are they money games for your program to help you? Talk a little bit about your scheduling philosophy that would get you into the Top-10 schedule strength a lot of times.
COACH MCCAFFERY: Two years ago what was helpful for us we were in the Old Spice Classic. The strongest field they have probably ever had. That helped. We will always play at least one guarantee game. We will always play a bracket buster game. I don't know if Utah State's a bracket buster or not, but we're a bracket buster. So this year our Butler game was one of those games and our Northern Iowa game was a bracket buster game return from the year before. The Temple game was part of the Philly Classic, so that was an event.
So essentially what we will typically do is play in events, play in bracket busters, play a guaranteed game, and then play a home and home series. Our Georgia Tech series was a two for one. We don't do a lot of two for ones, but we did that this year. We wanted to bring Georgia Tech into our building, Paul Hewitt coached at Siena very successfully and that was a great opportunity for to us fill our building. So he wanted to come back. He's got a player from our area, so there's oftentimes other factors that enter into it.
But we're not afraid to go on the road and I can understand Stew's point because you look at this year for example, it seemed like every time we were on television they would say well they missed on all of these opportunities, but every one of them was on the road. Temple, Georgia Tech, Northern Iowa, Butler, St. John's was a neutral site game in Philadelphia. So we don't typically have those opportunities. So I understand Stew's philosophy.
A lot of coaches at our level have gotten their teams to the point where they say, Look if you're not going to come here, we're not going to go there. And sometimes it's hard to finish your schedule doing it that way. But I felt like we had a team the last couple of years that had a chance to be considered for an at large bid. And our athletic director and myself sat down and said, let's try to at least put ourselves in position where we're in a discussion if we fall short in the conference tournament.
I haven't looked at it closely but I don't know how many teams have been to the conference tournament and championship four years in a row and won it three years in a row, very few. And I think that says a lot about our team and I think that our aggressive scheduling clearly helped us this year in particular.

Q. You talked about Purdue's defensive style but obviously you guys have had some success on offense this year. With the balanced attack that's got to help you guys, right, and the guys were saying you really like to push the ball in transition also.
COACH MCCAFFERY: Well obviously transition is a part, is a big part of our offense we run, on all makes and misses but it's a lot better to run on misses. So we have to limit their second shot opportunities which is an incredible strength for them. We are a balanced team. We're a driving team. We're a team that's very comfortable playing in the 90s. Purdue doesn't typically play that way, so it could be a contrast in styles. And sometimes we're forced to play slower when a team's playing slower. So that remains to be seen. Often times games in this tournament there's a little bit of nerves and a little bit of tightness and the shooting isn't sometimes as good as it was during the regular season. So it will be interesting to see where the game is score wise. But we have played enough in the 50s and 60s and in the 80s and 90s, we can play either way.

Q. As you look at the three seniors does this feel somewhat that it's closing a chapter, not saying it's the end of an era, but is it sort of a closing of a chapter in Siena basketball and that something new will be beginning next year? Or do you just look at it as a continuum?
COACH MCCAFFERY: I try to look at it as a continuum. But I could understand why you would ask that question. When you're talking about senior class that's accomplished what this senior class has accomplished, it's never been done before in the history of Siena basketball. So they have Eddie and Ronald have essentially been starters from day one. Alex was my sixth starter as a freshman and started every game after that. There's no question that the team will have a different feel to it, a different style, a different character. I think that's what's fun about college basketball coaching, to try to move on with the next group. We're going to have some young players next year. We'll still have some good juniors and seniors, but we'll have some good young players to mix in and see if we can continue to be the premier team in our conference, because other people are coming after us primarily Fairfield and Iona in particular.

Q. Alex obviously leads a balanced team. Could you talk about his season and perhaps the mark that's left on your program individually?
COACH MCCAFFERY: Interesting thing about Alexander Franklin, very under recruited player, comes in and has a great freshman year. I don't start him, I started David Ryan who was a terrific player for us. Alexander, you know, probably a better player than David Ryan, but I went with the senior and brought the freshman off the bench. His attitude and how he handled that was phenomenal. Conference championship game his freshman year he goes for 27-11. Kind of a fore-showing of what was to come. And he was in many ways the guy that nobody ever talked about. It was at that point it was Kenny Hasbrook and Edwin Ubiles, and Ronald Moore. And he just kind of got his job done and put numbers up and I remember talking with my assistant Mitch, and said he's kind of got Player of the Year numbers. This is when he was a sophomore. He could be a Player of the Year candidate. He just stayed so consistent that when his senior year came and we had some injuries early, and then we had one of our guys in a shooting slump, he was just every night putting up numbers and putting up W's for our team. And to see him get recognized by our league coaches as the Player of the Year it was a great feeling for me because I saw how hard he worked and how he prepared and I know his character. And those are the guys you always root for.
THE MODERATOR: All right. Thank you, coach.

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