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March 18, 2010

Aubrey Coleman

Kelvin Lewis

Tom Penders


THE MODERATOR: We'll take questions for Houston student-athletes.

Q. Aubrey, can you talk about preparing to play Vasquez tomorrow, apparently he's going to be guarding you.
AUBREY COLEMAN: I'm not really even focusing on that matchup because it's going to be a team thing. Even if he hold me, we got a certain defense we're going to run. We're going to stick with the game plan. I'm not going to get caught up in trying to go back and forth with him. He's a great player. And the University of Maryland is a great team in the ACC. And we know everybody is going against us because we Conference USA, but that's why we play like we have been playing in the tournament. We don't have nothing to lose. And that allows us to play loose.

Q. For both of you, you mentioned you play like you have nothing to lose. Do you see this like a free money game in terms of how you played the last four games in the conference tournament and how have you kind of a chance right here tomorrow just to wipe basically that clean?
AUBREY COLEMAN: It's a great experience playing an ACC team. We are so glad that we were able to be here, we were fortunate to win our tournament and go on to the tournament. We made history. We didn't come in as a number one seed in our tournament. We were a number 13 seed in this tournament too, so it's like we don't have no high hopes up on a lot of people just thinking that we're going to win.
So with our fans, and hopefully the fans that is in this state come out and support us, you know, because it's a great state, hopefully that they will be behind us. But like I said, we're going to play loose and dead man walking again, you know.
KELVIN LEWIS: I think that this is a great opportunity. It's a great city to play in. I think the city of Spokane is a tremendous city. A great working class city. And we're a working class team. We fought here and got to the tournament the hard way. So we just hope that the city comes behind us and supports us because we're going to go out there and play and have some fun.

Q. I wonder if you taken in any of the stuff today, some of the upsets that happened early and whether that sort of gives you a real bit more thoughts being able to do the same thing tomorrow night.
AUBREY COLEMAN: I watched the games today. It was quite a bit of that. We had a lot of upsets. If it wasn't an upset it was like a two or three point game. It shows you how college basketball is. No matter what seed you come in you just go out and have fun. This is another game for me as seniors so, we don't have no choice but to play loose and have fun.
KELVIN LEWIS: I think the upsets today have been big. It seems like every game the underdog is playing, people think they're playing over their heads and I think that everybody is going for the underdog and I think that tomorrow people are going to be behind us because we're going to do some big things tomorrow.

Q. Aubrey are you from Houston originally then? Because that's what it lists as your hometown.

Q. And then you went to a community college.
AUBREY COLEMAN: Southwest Community College.

Q. And from there it's...
AUBREY COLEMAN: University of Houston.

Q. So was Houston a choice that you wanted to be at eventually or not?
AUBREY COLEMAN: No, I didn't really know I just liked their style of play. I came in and coach has been telling me if I was going to start or how many minutes I was going to play. I just told him to give me an opportunity and that's just what he did. But the reason I came back is because my mom she had an illness and I wanted to look over her and I didn't care what the coaches tried to sell me or tell me in order to come to the school, I just wanted to get back home and then I seen the style of play and I was like I fit right in.

Q. Have you always been a scoring machine then? Is that your forte?
AUBREY COLEMAN: I was always able to score, and going to junior college it helped me rather than going division one because I was supposed to go to Washington State if I would have got my SAT score but I'm glad I went the junior college route. But I always scored a lot. I was up on the radar. Nobody just really respected me and I just did it Division-I. They said okay, he did a two college, can he do a division one college?

Q. You guys were around 500 most of the season. You win the four games obviously in Tulsa. Who was that basketball team in Tulsa and where was it during the course of the middle of the season?
KELVIN LEWIS: I think that team you saw those four games was the real us. I think that the games in the past we were up-and-down. We were young guys still getting adjusted to each other. Four or five new commerce, and they coming in and they had to get adjusted to college basketball and how you can't take a night off and it's every game and the team you saw in those four games in four nights was the true us and what we work on every day.

Q. Aubrey you mentioned just your ability as a scorer and whatnot. How much of that is just it coming to you in the offense and how much of that is you kind of looking for yours over the course of a game?
AUBREY COLEMAN: I can't come in the game thinking about scoring. I never do. I just run the offense and I just take what the defense gives me. Because every school that we play this past season tried to run like different offenses, or defenses to try to stop me. And luckily I had a great team around me just like in the tournament and we had we played Memphis, they had Willy, he was just hugging me like the whole game, hugging me. So I had, you know, I got a great team and it showed in the tournament and I heard a comment about us during the season we had an up-and-down season, we were never able to get it going, it was just because we had a lot of new guys and they didn't get the concept of the detail that like on the scouting report that they just brushed it off. And but they came on when it really counted conference tournament we won four games in row and like last year won and went on a seven game winning streak. Hopefully it will go kind of like that and more.

Q. Stylistically they sort of like to play similar up-and-down games as you guys do. You won't have to try and make them play fast, I'm wondering do you think, is that an advantage? Does that work to an advantage to have not have to try and chase them or do you wish you were playing a team that wasn't used to running up-and-down the court? How do you think that sets up?
AUBREY COLEMAN: I like it because it's going to be a fun game to watch. We just have to get back on defense. And stop the ball penetration. We watched tape last night and we watched how the point guard pushes the ball. He's a great player, we just have to be on our toes as far as getting back though. That's something that we really got to focus on and rebounding.
KELVIN LEWIS: I think that as a team we feel more comfortable playing that way. We played the UTEP's and Memphises and teams like that and we had close games, we won some we might have lost a couple at the end, but that's our comfort zone, we get it up-and-down and we run and gun, we have to get back on D and I think if we do that it's going to be a great game.

Q. When the matchup was set some of the Maryland players mentioned that they saw you guys in the conference championship. I was just wondering if you guys had got a chance before you started the preparation to see Maryland throughout this season and what you thought of them toward the end of the season?
AUBREY COLEMAN: I always watch TV. I watch games. I study the game. I watch Duke and I watch Maryland play. And the point guard from Maryland, he just plays like an unbelievable player. He got swagger and it's just the way that he plays. So we always keep our eye on the team because you never know who your you're going to face and luckily we face Maryland it's just going to be a sight to see, I think.
KELVIN LEWIS: I'm always watching TV too and I seen Maryland play a couple times. They play with tremendous energy and they feed off of Greivis Vasquez and they have a great team and especially a better team when they play at home. So they're an exciting team to watch, I have seen them.

Q. Kelvin, talk to me about the turnover ratio. You guys have about half as many turnovers a game as your opponents. What's the reason for that and is it your defense taking away or is it just you guys's ability to protect the ball?
KELVIN LEWIS: One thing that coach preaches to us is the value of each possession. I think that each possession that we play we value it and we try to score as many times as we can and we try not to turn the ball over because if we turn the ball over then we can't score. So that's how we see it.

Q. Could both you guys just talk about how it's felt since you beat UTEP and knowing you're the first team in years from Houston to make this trip, just what are the emotions like?
AUBREY COLEMAN: It's been a great feeling. We have fans now that we haven't seen the whole season.
A lot of people on the bandwagon. But that's good. It's just, just know that we made history as seniors, know this is our last year and me Kelvin and Sean Coleman man it's just a great feeling. But you know, we won the conference championship and we got Maryland in front of us. We got to keep continuing to win and win because it just feels different. It's a different feeling, it's a different atmosphere. So that's all that it's over, we just got to focus on what we got in front of us.
KELVIN LEWIS: I think us winning the championship against UTEP, you know, it was a dream and everything, and everybody's happy to be here, since we have came here and we haven't seen it as like no we are just happy to be here, we are here for business and we're excited to play Maryland and we're ready for business.

Q. Have you guys had any sort of kind of wholly crap we are here moments since you've gotten in or since you got here? Anything that happened kind of unusual or something really brought home where you are, what you're doing now?
KELVIN LEWIS: Well one thing we had is we actually chartered a flight. And that was exciting. Because this whole year we have been flying commercial so that we if we would have flew commercial we have would have probably connected three or four times and that would have been brutal. But we flew straight the whole time here. So that's the only difference that I saw.
AUBREY COLEMAN: Oh, yeah, we had our own plane, baby. And then thanks to our athletic director he made sure it was comfortable. Everybody had their space. Normally it wouldn't be like that we would probably like last year when we went to the CBI we had to catch a small little jet from an airport that we never heard of and we had like it was one at night we got on there and we connected to another spot and then we connected to another spot it took us like we got home probably like 12, the next morning. It was brutal. It goes to show you if you win, you get anything you want.

Q. Aubrey you seem to be having a blast at this point. Is this basically how you are all the time or is this week this past week or so just made things even better for you?
AUBREY COLEMAN: No I'm always smiling no matter what happens. Even if I'm having a bad game even if we're down because I always look at it like God has blessed us to get to this point. Because whose to say that we go on a losing streak in our conference and we go and beat one of the best teams or two of the best teams in our conference, to win the conference championship. I didn't know what to do once the buzzer went off, I ran around in circles. I actually cried too. But, yeah, being a senior, and having the year that I had, it's just a great feeling. I'm so happy to play another game. I don't want it to stop. Hopefully we make it up to the championship game.
THE MODERATOR: All right thank you, gentlemen. We'll take questions for coach.

Q. Tom, the guys were chuckling in here, especially Aubrey, who just seems to be having the greatest time in the world. Is that an advantage for you or is it something that come game time you have to bring him down a little bit?
COACH PENDERS: Advantage, disadvantage, I think if you're having fun you have a better chance to play well than if you're uptight. I'm detecting that our players are having fun. And I've always believed that's the way you play. My dad was a baseball coach. And I was a pretty good hitter because my dad taught me at a very young age that if you're not relaxed and confident, you can't hit. So I feel the same way about shooting. If you're not relaxed, if you're not confident, and the object of this game now still is to put a little ball in this big cup. Let's not forget that. Prophetic, right?

Q. Talk about Greivis Vasquez. It seems to be a big story between your star player and Maryland's star player. What comparisons do you see between your player and Greivis as you've scouted him?
COACH PENDERS: None. I don't see any comparison. Greivis is a great point guard. Probably a lottery pick. Aubrey just a basketball player learning how to play what Greivis already knows. And I'm not demeaning Aubrey. He's going to have to become a point guard at some point to play at the next level where Vasquez is already there.
Having been a point guard and coached many point guards, you can't compare scorers, work horses, rebounders like Aubrey. What Aubrey does is he plays great defense, he rebounds, he's capable of assists as he showed with six in the second half the other night against UTEP, but he is not as advanced. He's only played really two years of basketball. He did not play in high school because of an illness and he went to a prep school for a year, not because of grades, he went junior college. No, no offers. Greivis is there. Super player.

Q. I asked Gary Williams this question, it's fairly unique or maybe unprecedented that two coaches with identical wins as many wins as you have playing each other, I'm just wondering what your thoughts are on breaking the tie this week and your comments on the significance of this.
COACH PENDERS: The tie will be broken.
But I've known Gary forever. And we tied for a long drive contest on the Big Break with Jim Boeheim and I told all three of them, that's the first time I had played with a group where I was the youngest guy except for an outing, a charity event for the home for the aged. And we tied with booming 217 yard drives, Boeheim choked and duck hooked, Gary and I are both scrappers, that's how we play the game of golf. I've known him forever, super guy, super coach, and I don't compare myself with any other coaches. And we have different styles, but we take both take great pride in how hard our teams play. And no teams play harder than Gary Williams's teams. I don't know if they set it up because of that at all. No idea. Curly headed guys against curly headed guys? I don't know.

Q. What is it about their motion offense that gives defenses so many problems?
COACH PENDERS: Well, it's like the wish bone in football or the option, because if you don't hit the quarterback on every play, he'll take it up the field. That's like Vasquez. And then if you don't hit the first pitch back hard every play, he'll turn it up the field. And if you don't stretch them out all the way to the sideline they're going to turn the corner and go up the field. It's a very disciplined offense, and that's Gary's all purpose offense, he's had an it for a long long time. But over the years he's gotten flexible with it and he's doing some nice stuff to counter it if you're cheating on him. And I've coached against it, and I know it, but the trick is to get your players to know it.
What you know is important, what your players know is important. And we have had to work hard against it. It's totally opposite what have we do. We run more of a pro style offense with a lot of pick and rolls and ball screens and certainly the fast break and it's a tough offense to cover.

Q. From watching film how much have you noticed that in their flex offense they get shorter, they get hoops on shorter shots than most teams do normally.
COACH PENDERS: Yeah, I like the longer ones more, they count for three. I forgot which coach, might have been Knight, Bob Knight, said, when they start giving you three for the dunks, I'll let my guys did you think dunk. I believe that and this is not opposite of Gary, because they play up tempo and they press and they will take shots and certainly Greivis has the green green light.
If you take ten passes to get a shot, it's probably seven or eight chances you're going to throw it away. I like one or two great passes to set up a shot. And I run an offense that's not the same as that when we need to get touches for people. It's more like the dribble kick and drive that John Calipari made famous. And there's a spread motion type thing with continuity we run. It's only to slow us down when we're struggling or shooting too quick. But Gary's done a great job with that offense, but he's also adjusted it to his talent. If he's got the Lonnie Baxter type and the this freshman kid Jordan type, they're going to kill you on the duck in if you don't cover. It's as simple as that.

Q. When the players were asked a little bit earlier about what's been different about the last week, one of the first things they mentioned was the getting a chartered flight out here. Just what has been different from your point of view over the last week?
COACH PENDERS: Well, it's actually been the whole last since August, having Mack Rhoades the new AD running things. I haven't had an e-mail in I don't know how many months, it's been since he got here. And he's one of those guys like, what do we need to do to get better? And I know there's been a lot of talk about our facilities and all that stuff, he's dealing with it. I've already got people calling me and e-mailing me about a new locker room or giving to it and stuff. A lot of positives are happening and helping, but Mack just working with him has been a fun thing.
I'm not doing anything differently. We just had our whole team come back as a whole. Kendrick Washington had two broken legs. He's a big fellow. He's got steel rods in there or titanium rods in his shins. And was totally immobile for four months. He was going to be our go to guy in the middle.
Instead of dwelling on that and talking about it all year I just told the kids, I said we're going to win the conference tournament if we don't do well in the regular season. I didn't go crazy when we lost a game. I treated it more like a pro season. If you go nuts over every loss, the kids stop listening to you. I stroked them more after losses than wins.
Our players became a family. They had a lot of fun. But we have had a lot of injuries. Zamal Nixon, with mono, really still affected. He lost 15 pounds. As it is he has to lie down to take a shower. He's only like 152 pounds, six-one, from Brooklyn, you know. We lost -- Mo McNeil's mom got really ill and had surgery in New York. We lost him for the last ten days of the season. And Aubrey Coleman has not practiced but a few times since he hurt his bruised thigh in El Paso.
So I just told the kids, nothing matters until the playoffs. And why put extra pressure on them now? But we knew coming in, when you beat Memphis by 17 points and up 25 most of the game, you're good enough to do that, when you beat UTEP and up 15 with a minute left, and should have beaten them out there, I told the kids, and I was being honest, we are the best team in conference USA. And if anybody can win four games in four days, we can do it. And we did.
THE MODERATOR: All right, thank you, coach.

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