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March 18, 2010
THE MODERATOR: We'll take questions for the Texas A&M student-athletes.
Q. Donald, you guys being seniors and making the four straight trips, how important is that experience and kind of approaching this like a business trip?
BRYAN DAVIS: It's very important to approach it as a business trip because in previous years we have lost games and had to come out and play well from the start so we got to get across to our young guys that this is a business trip. We're not here for no fun and games we are here to just win it.
DONALD SLOAN: Same thing. Come out kind of set the tone for all the young guys. And not just us, guys that are have been to previous NCAA tournaments, like B.J., Nate, they know exactly how it feels. We're just going to come out and set it and I think that we're capable of doing it. And our guys will follow us as well.
Q. Derrick and Donald the last time you guys came to Washington State in December, well Derrick I know that your day didn't end so well with the broken leg. First off how is the leg coming along and Donald, after that injury how did your role change? Did you have to increase your scoring output at all? Did you have to put a little more on your shoulders afterwards?
DERRICK ROLAND: The leg is great. I've been rehabbing it. It's great. As much as possible I've been rehabbing it to try to get back as soon as I can and help my teammates.
DONALD SLOAN: After the injury I didn't really too much think about scoring. I just think it's the fact that I just felt like I would have to do a little bit more whether it was getting B.J. open shots or penetrate a little bit more, get Bryan Davis more touches, help rebounding, I just knew I would have to do a little bit more. Luckily a few shots have been falling as of late. And it just seems that it's just been the way it's been ever since the injury. So I really don't think I had in my mind that I would have to score more I just figured that I would have to do more, assert myself more offensively, defensively, and it's worked, so.
Q. Donald, we saw on TV that when players almost had to be helped out off the court themselves, when Derrick got hurt I know it was an emotional time. Can you talk about the psychological blow that was in addition to losing points and rebounds?
DONALD SLOAN: It was a big blow. I guess witnessing it firsthand being on the court with him made it even worse. I can honestly say I don't think any of our players really wanted to go on playing that game after having that happen to us. But I guess we had to finish the game out. At that point it really didn't matter whether we won or lost. We just wanted to get through the game and get back and see how he was doing. And we had a lot of guys wanting to stay behind with him, but unfortunately we couldn't because the costs of tickets and stuff like that so I was lucky enough to stay behind and stay with him and he's doing good. He's rehabbing well, he's thinking about playing maybe next week if we're able to advance, so it's all good right now.
Q. How soon were you able to get over that psychological blow and did his rehab kind of facilitate that?
DONALD SLOAN: Actually I think that day two, after he got out of surgery and everything, he was back to his old self. Being I guess sarcastic with the nurses and that, being funny, saying jokes and I kind of think that helped me. I thought he might be down and have nothing to say or do anything. But he was his same self. It was just a bump in the road and he said I'll be all right and I think I kind of fed off that. That helped me I guess get through it.
Q. Talk about just your specific assignments defensively against Utah State, what you have seen in film, what guys you'll go against and your feelings on that.
BRYAN DAVIS: I think we're going to have to be very aggressive on defense and pretty much have to be solid. We have to play as a team. The way they play you have to play every shot that they're shooting.
B.J. HOLMES: As a guard they shoot the ball really good from three and we're going to have to go out and make them score over our bigs and that was one of our keys and our defensive assignments to play the 2-point line and make them drive a little bit more.
DONALD SLOAN: I think that they're very good and sound offensively and it's going to take our best defensive effort to try to get them out of rhythm and out of their offensive sets and we can play 40 minutes of great team basketball, especially on defensive end, I think we'll come out great.
Q. Follow-up too for the guys, anybody in the conference you play in the Big-12 regularly that plays as much offensive rhythm and sets like Utah State does?
BRYAN DAVIS: Only team would be like a team like Nebraska who makes you guard them for a long time, but other than that, I don't think so.
B.J. HOLMES: Texas Tech a little bit. Maybe.
DONALD SLOAN: I would say probably those teams, but this team is shooting far more greater than either of those teams that we just named. So it's a really hard matchup.
Q. B.J., a lot of times the people pick the upsets in the 5-12 game that. Do you think about that at all?
B.J. HOLMES: No, we just get ready ourselves for Utah State and hopefully go out there and execute our game plan and try and get a win.
Q. Bryan, after Kansas City were you frustrated at all? I know you had the one field goal and everybody talked about attacking the zone has that been an emphasis in practice this week?
BRYAN DAVIS: Yes, pretty much it's been like making sure like if you have one bad possession against the zone to make sure that our next possession we get a great shot, a great look even. But I wouldn't say I was frustrated, because I was just pretty much out there doing anything I could help the team do to win and just we just fell short the second game. But I don't know, as a whole, the team, I felt like we did pretty good, just came up a little short.
Q. Donald, I listened to your guys' press conference on Tuesday and you talked a lot about Dash and how much he adds defensively to your team. First of all, what percentage is he health-wise and how much does he help you offensively get into your sets and get to a rhythm? How much does he benefit you guys offensively?
DONALD SLOAN: Well, he's about 80, 90 percent. He's good to go. Past few days he's had some pretty good practices and looking forward to him to give it all tomorrow. And he helps us out so much offensively. He's the guy that makes sure we're running our stuff. He sees the court better than anybody on the team. He's the guy that creates, makes plays, also able to knock down the jumper.
He can bother the zone a lot by taking gaps and not only that, but -- so that's pretty much what we were missing in the Big-12 tournament we were missing the one guy to set us up. Another guy that's going to attack the zone and create an opportunity for other people. And having him back, thinking that we're going to see some zone tomorrow, having him back is going to be a major plus for us.
Q. Derrick, what were you telling them are, your teammates after the injury on how they can move along and be successful without you?
DERRICK ROLAND: I just didn't want nobody to focus on me getting healthy because I was going to do that on my own. I just wanted them to move forward because we had so much season left I wasn't going to be selfish and have everybody worry about me getting healthy and things lake that. I think that ever since I been hurt they have been doing a great job of having good practices and executing everything during games and everybody on this table has stepped up and been a leader. So ever since I've been hurt these guys have been great.
Q. For Bryan, you guys have a nice run four straight tournaments, four straight wins in the first round. That's fairly good. Can you talk about how it is that you guys play so well in the first round?
BRYAN DAVIS: I think we're just kind of fortunate. My first year we were a good team and were able to win and in the because two years we played against a very good BYU team and we were able to come out from the beginning of the game to establish that we were definitely going to win the game. So it's just the fact that -- and also in those games we had a lot off other guys on the team who were able to help lead us through those games and that played a big part into it too. So we're looking forward to doing the same thing tomorrow.
Q. For Donald and Bryan, you guys were around for the coaching change. I wonder if you could sort of in hindsight talk about how that turned out and talk a little bit about playing for Coach Turgeon.
DONALD SLOAN: As you can see it turned out pretty great. We continued to get to the NCAA tournament. We continue to have 20 plus win seasons. We continue to bring in high caliber players. So it's really nothing more that can you ask for especially going through a coaching change. We have done everything that we needed to do in order to be successful with Coach Turgeon.
Coach Turgeon came in and done a great job. And we have been successful with him. So I really don't think that maybe coaching staffs, that probably was the only change or difference with the change. But overall we have still been able to be successful, I think.
BRYAN DAVIS: Same thing he said, we were able to be successful through the coaching change. I think a lot of guys didn't kind of get down when he, when the last coach left and when Coach Turgeon came in we didn't take him the wrong way or everybody just listened what he was saying and he led us here right now.
Q. For Donald or B.J., Utah State's one of the top outside shooting teams in the country. What can you do just to disrupt things for them?
B.J. HOLMES: Yeah, I think that they're number one in the country in field goal percentage from three. We talk a lot about playing shots high and I think that has a big role in making teams miss shots during the end of the game. At the beginning of the game you got fresh legs you got a lot of air under the ball and as the game goes on, it starts to get a little, arms starts get tight, legs get tight if we keep continuing to play the shots hopefully that they will start missing some.
DONALD SLOAN: He said it all.
Q. For any of the seniors, I mean, because of the battles you guys have been through, what you endured with the injuries do you feel like this team is maybe as battle tested and ready for this run as any one that you've been a part of since at least the freshman year?
DONALD SLOAN: Of course. This team in particular especially this year has been through a lot. Especially even going back to June, month of June when Lu declared and stayed in the NBA draft, just losing him. D Ro getting hurt, Dash getting hurt, just everything. The games that we have had to play in and win and how we won those games, so there's no doubt in my mind that we're as strong as we need to be mentally. And if the game is this close tomorrow, we're prepared to win. Hopefully that's not the case, but I think we're a pretty mentally strong team as far as having to grit out games. We have done it all year and as I said, if that's the case, then our team's prepared.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, gentlemen. Take questions now for Coach Turgeon.
Q. As I was looking at your resume, as an assistant and now as a head coach, does the NCAA tournament, is it old hat by now or is it a new experience for you every year?
COACH TURGEON: Well, I wouldn't say it's old hat. I was obviously very fortunate to be a part of NCAA tournaments and Final Fours as a player. And as a young assistant I was at Kansas for nine years. But then the tournament went away from my life for awhile. One year at Oregon there and then only one year at Wichita state but it was a good year. But, no, ever since I can remember I've always loved the NCAA tournament. So I get get real excited this time of year.
I feel very fortunate to be a part of it. But also try to have a great time and make sure my team's ready to play. And hopefully the experience has helped. But I have been very fortunate in my life to be a part of a lot of tournaments.
Q. Is Utah State a hard team to get ready for in a short am of time like some coaches say?
COACH TURGEON: Yeah, they are. We just had practice today and they run a ton of sets, obviously, and they run them very well. They have counters to counters to counters. And you got to pick and choose what you show and how much you show and I have a couple of my seniors and I say is this a lot and they say, yeah, this is a lot, coach. So we went through a lot of stuff. And they have good players. Really good players. They have a perfect team. They have an inside game, they have a great perimeter shooting team, so they're going to be very difficult to guard and then defensively Stew's been around a long time, they will have a great defensive game plan, you know that. So, yeah they are hard to prepare for.
We had an extra day which was nice, Friday game, we'll be prepared. We'll be prepared for them. We won't know all of what's coming at us, but they won't know what all the things that we're going to do also.
Q. Quickly on their personnel the guys that stand out to you?
COACH TURGEON: Wesley and Quayle, obviously. They stand out. I think that their top seven guys play the most minutes, I think all of them are very dangerous. They're all capable of making shots, they're all capable of scoring. They got toughness about them, they have experience and I don't want to slight the guys that might be eight, nine and ten but I know the seven guys that play the majority of minutes and will play the majority of the minutes tomorrow are all quality basketball players. But I think Quayle makes them go, you know, and they're all just really good.
Q. Besides the points and the rebounds when you lost Derrick Roland, was there a psychological hurdle to overcome? I know the team won a few right away, but long-term?
COACH TURGEON: Yeah, you know, it was -- we were fortunate. I said this many times, we were fortunate the night he got hurt was December 22 and then we were going on a six day Christmas break. And Sloan stuck around and a couple coaches stuck around but by the time they saw D Ro again, you know, he was smiling, he was happy, he was positive. He was at practice the first day we came back. And I think that was really good for us. Because his attitude was so positive we stayed positive.
Now that said we had to move some positions and move some people around and we had the Big-12 starting in about one week and it was pretty tough. But I think it's been for inspiration than it has been anything else for us. A lot of it is because of how positive he's been through the whole thing.
Q. Been researching you guys a lot the last couple of days, noticed that you already have three of the top winning percentages in the history of the program, like your counterpart, Coach Morrill, he's had a lot of successful seasons. You've really stabled yourself these last couple years, I just wanted to ask you how satisfying it's been to be part of the resurgence of this program?
COACH TURGEON: I jumped on board after we had a couple good years and I'm happy with what we have done. We want to do more, obviously. We perform better in the Big-12 this year. We tied for second and it was a heck of a league. So we're proud of that. Recruiting is going well, we have good kids, it's been fun. Winning is fun. It beats the alternative. So it's been a great group to be around and you know coaches it's never enough, just like fans, you know, you win 23, they want 25. As a coach you win 25, you want 26. So you go, oh, we let that one get away. But it's been a great experience. Texas A&M's a great job and I think we're going to be very successful and hopefully we can continue to do that.
Q. I guess you could empathize with Coach Painter about losing a great player at the end. One what kind of advice, have you talked and can you imagine what he's going through?
COACH TURGEON: I can imagine what he's going through. I think that I coached against Matt in the Missouri Valley so I did text him the day it happened. I did not speak to him. Probably should have called a few days after and didn't. I might have left a message, I can't remember. So much goes on. But the difference between their injury and our injury is the timing of it. We have had a lot of time to recover from it. They didn't have as much time. It happened late in the season. So that make it's tough.
But they have had a week to regroup since the Big-10 tournament, so I think you'll see a pretty determined Purdue team here this weekend and it's tough. I feel so, I feel, it's all -- you feel so sorry for the kids like D Ro, the guys that it happens to. Unfortunately for them and because it's such a big part of what they're trying to accomplish in their life. So it's just it for Robbie it was just terrible timing. Because they were probably going to be a number one seed with him and I know their goal was to get to I understand Indianapolis, I'm sure it still is, but it's tough.
Q. Sometimes they say the first game is the toughest to win in the NCAA tournament. Texas A&M's won the first game four years in a row. What's the secret to your success?
COACH TURGEON: Well I've only been a part of two, but I don't know. My first year we beat a really good BYU team that it came down to the wire and Sloan made a few plays late in the game and beat them by four and last year we just played at another level for the first 30 minutes of the game and it was really hard on them. I don't think that we could have -- I think we would have beat a lot of team that is day.
So timing, luck, coincidence, I don't know. But we just try to prepare for every game in the NCAA tournament like we do for every game in the season and maybe by us keeping it the same has helped us. Now we have been here a few years in a row, we have some experience and I think that helps also.
Q. Can you you've had to face a couple injuries obviously, can you talk about Donald and he seems like a real levelheaded guy, a good natured guy, but he's also a guy who can fill the bucket. Can you talk about that as a stabilizing force just his personality and then his ability on the court?
COACH TURGEON: He's really matured. He's a quiet person and leads more by example. I didn't think he had a very good junior year. I thought the end of his sophomore year was tremendous. He played through some injuries last year and ever since D Ro went down he just stepped his game up and he's playing at a high level for us. Can score in a variety of ways, become a better defender, but he's been a better leader off the court, not really vocal on the court, but in the locker room, dinner, wherever, he's become a better leader. And I think both our seniors have, Bryan Davis and Sloan, but he's just had a great year. He was first team all Big-12 and at times he's carried us. Late in games he's made some big plays for us.
Q. Last time I saw you were a little sleepy in a hospital room in Seattle.
COACH TURGEON: That's right.
Q. That morning I know didn't have any sleep but you really were wondering how you were going to replace Derrick or how you would even get at his position and get the defense and the production. What happened after that that got you back here?
COACH TURGEON: Oh, I have really good kids with great character. And good leadership. And we kind of changed our approach. We were a pressure team, we were fast, we were really fast, we could really pressure. Now we have got a lot younger team. We start a freshman instead of a senior. You get a lot younger pretty quick. And we just changed our philosophy defensively. We changed our philosophy offensively a little bit. Moved some guys around.
I think it just comes down to just having really good character kids and having good leadership. And then we just, this was a team that because D Ro went down we started playing a lot of young guys. We added a guy that plays his first game that night, Ray Turner, who was another freshman. So when you're starting three men or not starting you're playing three freshmen you're starting two sophomores, that teams's going to get better, because they're so young and this team has just continued to get better every week.
And we have battled through some injuries. Dash has been in and out of injuries all week, but I would say it's character and then we're really tough. We got some tough guys. And we might lose tomorrow, to Utah State, but that won't change how I know our guys are really tough. Physically and mentally.
Q. In retrospect coach, did it almost help that it was Christmas break right after that that you didn't have to play again right away or even go right into the Big-12 season?
COACH TURGEON: Yeah, it helped. That was, I said that many times. It was huge. We had six days off. We just wanted to get D Ro home for Christmas. He was a little afraid, I met him at College Station on Christmas day. And I think the way we handled that as a staff and as a family really brought our, brought us closer together. I think our players realized that although I want to win games, because ultimately that's what keeps my job, that I care more about them as people and I think that they saw that and I think it really brought us closer together, parents, D Ro's family and other parents saw how he handled it, so time off helped, Derrick's great attitude really helped also.
Q. Is there a team you faced this year that screens and cuts as effectively as Utah State does?
COACH TURGEON: We have played teams that probably don't run quite as many plays, but will grind you that way. But don't have the balance that Utah State has. Utah State has great balance.
They're very good screeners. A lot of them look illegal to me but we'll see tomorrow.
(Laughter.) In person, but they're great screeners, they move, they have got really smart intelligent basketball players and a smart coach. So but we play a lot of good teams in the 12, so we have seen it all. And we have, we'll prepare, we're prepared and hopefully we'll be able to guard them tomorrow.
THE MODERATOR: All right, thanks, coach.
COACH TURGEON: Thanks, guys.
End of FastScripts