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March 19, 2010
SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA
ROGER ROSS: We're now greeted by the University of New Mexico student athletes. We have Roman Martinez, Darington Hobson and Dairese Gary available for your questions.
Q. Darington, how's the wrist? Do you think it will affect you at all tomorrow?
DARINGTON HOBSON: It's sore. It's Tournament time. It's not going to affect me, and I'll be ready to go tomorrow.
Q. Romar said there are so many things that you can do on the court that he doesn't think it will have any impact at all.
DARINGTON HOBSON: Say that again?
Q. The Washington coach said that there are so many things that you can do on the court. He doesn't think a sore wrist is going to hamper your play at all.
DARINGTON HOBSON: I'm versatile. I try to make plays for my teammates, make plays on the defensive end, do things that don't show up on the stat sheet so if I'm not scoring it doesn't affect the way I'm capable of impacting the game.
Q. Darington, you came into this Tournament with confidence and high expectations for your team. What went through your mind when you went down and hurt the wrist?
DARINGTON HOBSON: I just thought I wasn't going to be able to finish the game because it hurt every time I dribbled or tried to shoot or make a pass, but I got some tape and I knew that a lot of team. This is something I dreamed about playing at this level at this stage and not a lot of people get the opportunity to do this, so I wasn't going to let an injury keep me from playing.
Q. Just in your travels through AAU High School, you guys know anybody on the Washington team, played against any of them?
DARINGTON HOBSON: I know the coaching staff, they recruited me, Coach Romar, good people and I know Isaiah Thomas, good scorer, and Isaiah and the coaching staff are the only people I know.
Q. Dairese you and Darington, both of you, talk about how you're feeling heading into the game, leaving the game banged up after the game was over.
DAIRESE GARY: Feeling good. We get to play another game. The banged up and the injuries doesn't mean that's a priority. You've got to be ready to deal with that. We're going to get treatment. Our trainer has been on it constantly, icing and heatin', all that type of stuff, so you can't use no excuses at this point in time in a game. You've got to come out and perform no matter what. So I think we're going to be good tomorrow.
DARINGTON HOBSON: The reason I've been going through the injuries after games, and Ro, also, going through injuries after games having to do it the next day all year so like he said it's no excuse. We'll be ready to go. We've been getting treatment all night and all this morning, so we'll be ready to go tomorrow.
Q. Coach was saying last night he thought you hurt your back when you fell. Was that the case? If so, how are you feeling?
DARINGTON HOBSON: It was my butt, actually, I fell on that, and my left hand. It's just sore, and they've been stretching me out and trying to rub some of the soreness out, it's kind of weird but -- (Chuckles.) They've rubbed my butt a little bit and get some of the soreness out, and there are no excuses. We'll be ready to go tomorrow. I should be fine.
Q. Darington who was the deciding factor in New Mexico over Washington when you were being recruited?
DARINGTON HOBSON: It was kind of mutual we both kind of went different ways. They wanted me to give my ACT or SAT score before they offered me and a lot of schools did that after I didn't take the test, and the main reason I'm here is the loyalty and commitment that Coach Steve Alford and them showed me throughout the recruiting process.
Q. Throughout the season it seems like the national pundits have been talking about the teams on the East and there is nobody out West. Do you guys feel like you have to prove something in that regard?
DARINGTON HOBSON: Yeah, every time we step on the floor we have something to prove. We're a good team. It's hard to beat us. We didn't play well in the first half, and we still found a way to win, and that's been the story all season as we refuse to loose and find ways to win.
Tomorrow is another day we get to prove ourselves nationally and just to ourselves as a team that we're a very good team and we belong in this Tournament.
Q. Ro, last night when you went to bed did you play a lot of parts over in your head in the game and wake up thinking that was almost it and what were your feelings today when you got up that your career is continuing?
ROMAN MARTINEZ: It's crazy. Each game you step on the floor you have a chance of, me being a senior, your career ending. You've got to take advantage of every day and I think this is a special moment, you know, unbelievable times that we're going through right here, you know, unbelievable experiences.
Just go 110 each game and that's what I've done so far my senior year, so trying to extend it as long as possible.
Q. Ro, one of the Washington guards commented that they -- three-point was their priority against Marquette. He said Marquette was a great three-point shooting team. He said you guys were a good three-point shooting team. So complimentary, but not as much as Marquette. How much is your three-point shot going to be a factor in tomorrow's game?
ROMAN MARTINEZ: Washington is a good team. They are they can, they do well on transition, we've got good three-point shooters, but we have a lot of guys that can attack the rim, and that's what we've done all year. I think we're going to be fine with that.
Q. Dairese, yesterday Washington's pressure really affected Marquette. Can you talk about the importance of taking care of the ball tomorrow?
DAIRESE GARY: It's going to be important. Just watching a little bit of film on them they are a pressure team that can get up in you but we've been pressured all year. It's not anything different. Our turn overs are one of the reasons why we've been doing.
So good this year because we don't turn the ball over that much so we're going to be ready for their pressure, ready for anything they're going to throw at us. We have to be. Like I always say, it's either win or go home. So I think we're going to be ready for that pressure.
Q. Roman, have you been getting text messages, calls from back home, El Paso?
ROMAN MARTINEZ: Definitely, a lot of my friends got to experience what I'm experiencing now. I think it's great. Like I said, it's unbelievable and I'm living in the moment right now, got a lot of family and friends texting me after the game.
Q. When you guys found out that you were going to have Darington tomorrow what went through your mind?
ROMAN MARTINEZ: Very happy. It's great to have Darington Hobson on the floor. He does everything for us, defense, rebounding, steals. He's an all-around player and we're glad to have him on the floor and not hurt. I think he's great on our team.
DAIRESE GARY: I knew he was comin' back, he gets hurt a lot and rolls around and gets back up. I wasn't too much worried about it. It's good to have a player like Darington on the court. He makes the game easier for his teammates. Especially me, you know, get tired sometimes trying to get the ball up court, and he can relieve me of that and he's a great defensive player. He's a complete player that can do a lot of things that makes the game easier on everybody else.
Q. Just with a quick turn around, late game last night and today to get ready and a little bit tomorrow. How much prep do you get for a team like Washington and going into the next game or are you focusing on what you guys are going to do?
DAIRESE GARY: Can you ask that question again?
Q. How much time do you guys really get to prepare for a team like Washington, quick turn around, how much do you get to see?
DAIRESE GARY: We watched some film on them, but in games like this I don't think it's where you're much trying to prepare for the other team it's doing what we've been doing all year, just putting' our rules into affect, either if it's defense or executing our offense. But, I mean, you have to look at them a little bit and see what their tendencies are but we pretty much focus on us.
Q. Guys, obviously the talk this season has been a lot about the Mountain West Conference and how it's come up, and I was curious about your perception of the Pac 10, in the Mountain West there might be players that have gotten overlooked by the Pac 10, and I was curious about your thoughts.
ROMAN MARTINEZ: Could you repeat that, please?
Q. Just your overall perception about the Pac 10, especially in the Mountain West where players might have been overlooked by the Conference and recruiting.
ROMAN MARTINEZ: Pac 10 is tough. We got four in the Mountain West, and they're tough every year. But we're going to go out there and compete and try to make this Tournament last.
Q. Darington, can you comment on Roman Martinez and just what an impact he is from a leadership role and just on the court itself?
DARINGTON HOBSON: Ro is a great guy. You know without him and Dairese, actually we definitely don't win 30 games. Just the stuff that he does for me off court has helped me grow as a person, on and off court. He sacrifices his body every game. He plays 110% every game and in practice and he does a lot of things that don't show up in the stat sheets.
So Ro has been the face of our program and the face of our team this year, and we've been following his lead all year.
Q. Dairese, Isaiah Thomas seems like a similar guard to you, stocky, attacks the rim. Do you feel like you're playing against yourself, and what do you have to do to stop him?
DAIRESE GARY: Yeah, watching a little bit of film on him today, he attacks the rim very hard and he's a left-handed player. He's a great offensive player. Pretty much just try to stay out of foul trouble. He looks like he likes a lot of contact. So I'm going to give him a little bit, but just see how the refs play it. If they're calling a tight game or if they're letting us play -- it should be a fun match-up.
ROGER ROSS: Thank you, gentlemen, for your time. We appreciate it. We would like to welcome Coach Steve Alford to the table. We'll open it up for questions, please.
Q. Steve, Lorenzo said you are one funny dude. Why haven't we seen that in three years, man?
COACH ALFORD: Yeah.
Q. He talked a little bit about your relationship with him.
COACH ALFORD: Well, obviously, he's a former player, I'm a former player, so we've known each other a while. We're on the NABC ministry team together, and we've been able to spend time on Nike trips together. I think that's been the neat thing about the Nike trips is you get to know coaches a little bit with those five-day trips they send you on, and we haven't been able to go in a while because our kids are of such an age it hasn't worked out.
But we've spent time together and he's one of those guys and programs that I follow and check scores on and those type of things. As I said last night, extremely classy guy, does it the right way, one of those guys in the profession that you root for because he and his staff work well and they do it the right way and you always appreciate that.
Q. Coach, briefly you talked about how difficult it was for Montana's players to try to adjust their roles when their leading scorer was struggling, how relieved are you to know that you'll have Darington tomorrow and you won't have to have guys stepping in the role?
COACH ALFORD: Well, with your bench full of freshmen and sophomores that's a big piece for us, Darington leads us in points, rebounds, assists, second in steals. So it's not a guy you want to go without, just his presence on the floor demands attention and that makes everybody else better.
We're glad the x-rays came back and everything is fine. He seems to be better today. So hopefully by tomorrow he'll be as near 100% as possible.
Q. Is he going to practice today?
COACH ALFORD: Yeah, we don't do much. This time of year we haven't been doing much. We've tried to keep it to three hard workouts a week, and obviously last night was a hard workout, Saturday is a hard workout and we worked out hard on Monday. That's what we've done the last month. So we'll keep that status quo, a lot of shooting today, and a walk through.
Q. Steve, as a former player who knows what it's like to play deep into the Tournament at Indiana, how much do you relay that experience to this group considering they don't have a lot of experience?
COACH ALFORD: I think there is a fine balance there because you don't want to overwhelm them for one, sometimes it's better and we've taken that approach this year is don't feed 'em too much information because I know we're at the point where we've won a lot of games. We've done special things this year with a very inexperienced group, and some of it's been, I think, just don't over coach, don't give 'em too much information because it might be overload for them because they don't know any better. We're making some good plays in games and doing some things that we don't have experience to go back and look on.
So we touch on it, not so much my playing career because anymore half these guys weren't even born when I played. So I don't think it's so much about what I did as a player as much as we tell them it's your one shining moment. That song has captivated March Madness since 1987. It's for a reason.
In the blink of an eye it's here or gone and you've got that one shining moment to make good use out of it. That's what we've talked about a loose ball here, a rebound here, a defensive stop here, the shot selection you get here and it all adds up to that one moment where you make it happen or you don't.
Q. What is your biggest concern about Washington?
COACH ALFORD: They're a very good transition team. We're really trying to parallel last week. Last week we played Air Force San Diego State in back-to-back games. Air Force, very ball controlled, wanted the game in the 50's. San Diego State is going to run with you. They're physical, big, good guard play. They want the game up-tempo so we're trying to parallel this week. Montana wants the game in the 50's, ball control.
Now here comes Washington, one of the better transition teams in the country, they want the game in the 80's, average 80 a game, big-time offensive rebounding team just like San Diego State. So trying to make those parallels and get our team ready that you're going to play a team that knows how to rebound, run in transition, very good off the dribble you're going to have to defend the dribble and a very good defensive pressure team.
Q. Their inside game is not similar to Montana's, but still got the big guy in the middle is that a concern after last night?
COACH ALFORD: I think it's a lot like San Diego State, Mark. You've got tall, lanky kids that can score inside. Pondexter is terrific, and he does most of his work from 15 feet and in. That's a lot like we had to guard against San Diego State.
So you try to make parallels of teams and individuals that you've already played. Billy White got away from us at San Diego State. Quincy Pondexter is not as big as Billy is, but kind of the same position, kind of the same match-up, same kinda deal. We know how difficult that was.
We've only lost to three basketball teams this year, only lost four games on the season and two of them, 50% of them have come from San Diego State. So we know what kind of a match-up this is for us, and we've got to do the best we can. I thought our defense was really good last night, much better than what it was in the Conference Tournament and hopefully we'll be solid again on Saturday.
Q. Coach, Dairese made a comment that he saw Darington fall to the ground and roll around enough this season that he never doubted he would come back. Did you ever doubt that he would play?
COACH ALFORD: After he fell?
COACH ALFORD: No, but I'm that way. I'm wired that way. I think every time you fall you get up anyway. So I think Darington maybe three months ago, it might have been hard for him to get up after that fall, and I think that's where he's grown, he's matured, he's played through his body not being 100%. I don't think that's something that he was probably versed at being able to do three months ago, and that's part of maturing as a player.
I thought he did a really good job in that game last night of taking an injury, taking -- getting banged pretty good and finishing the game and doing the things that we needed him to do to help us win.
Q. You said three months ago he maybe doesn't get up from that. What role did you have in that maturing process for him? I imagine there were conversations you maybe had with him about that?
COACH ALFORD: Yeah, I might have had a small role in that. I think that's just your job in coaching. Our staff -- I'm blessed I've got an outstanding staff and I think when you look at our staff, we're all former players, so there is nothing these guys can throw at us that they're tricking us or pulling one over on us. We've been there, done that. So whether it's you get banged up and your body is at 70%, okay, it's at 70%, big deal, play!
Nobody's body in March is going to be 100% going through college basketball, five-month grind, 30 plus games, 100 practices, nobody is at 100%. So it becomes about a toughness mentally, and Coach Knight used to say the mental is to the physical as 4 is to 1 and that's really present when you get in March because everybody's physical standpoint, you're beat up, wore down, you're tired, your tired of walk-throughs, you're tired of film sessions, you're tired of shootarounds. So that becomes a mental thing, can you handle mentally and the teams that advance are tougher mentally.
Q. Darington mentioned earlier about having some familiarity with Coach Romar, being recruited by him. Anybody on the Washington team that you crossed paths with a little more intimately and recruited?
COACH ALFORD: Maybe Isaiah Thomas. We watched him a lot and in the recruiting process and were really on him from a recruiting standpoint until Lorenzo had to get involved. If we could have kept him out of the picture, we might have had a better opportunity with Isaiah. But we watched him a lot in AAU basketball. He's terrific. He's one of the best I've seen in the summer circuit, and I love his passion, his personality for the game.
Obviously, Isaiah made a great choice of going to University of Washington and playing for Lorenzo, and he's having a tremendous career. But probably of all the players on their team if there is one guy that I'm at least familiar with from a personal standpoint it would be Isaiah.
Q. Steve, obviously the Mountain West gets four teams in, the Pac 10 gets two teams in, has the Mountain West closed the gap? And why do you think it's happened that way this year?
COACH ALFORD: I thought our league last year was really good. It was ten years old last year as a league and arguably the best league we've had in ten years and we only got 10 in the Tournament, Utah and BYU. This year was going to be a young -- of our 15-all-conference selections, 13 of them were underclassmen.
So this year was supposed to be the rebuilding year and yet those four teams, UNLV, San Diego State, BYU and ourselves had tremendous years, both out of league, in league. Sometimes you get in league and you beat each other up and one of those teams falls off because you get a lot of losses and that didn't really happen.
Those four teams separated themselves from the rest of the league and those four teams played consistently all year long. What that means in reference to other leagues, that's hard. I don't know how to rank that. I just thank our league is progressively getting better year in, year out. I've been impressed with the teams and the coaches in our league, tremendous fan basis. Great places to play, environments to play in. I think our league is making great strides.
Q. Coach, you can watch film and get a feel for a team, there are set things they run, but you got a chance to see Washington in person. Anything that jumped out at you seeing them with the eye test versus seeing them on film?
COACH ALFORD: My eye test, the staff got some, mine was just passin' them in the hall and they look good walking up and down the hall. But the staff got to watch the Marquette game and they're a talented group and I think they're playing well. You always want to be playing your best basketball in March. I think they're doing that. They've won 8 games in a row, kind of like their start. They started the season well, they're ranked, had a couple of losses, got unranked, now they're healthy, they're deep, guys know their rolls, have accepted their roles late in the season and have played well. You go through a BCS league and win 7 games in a row to finish the season, I don't care what league you're in, you're doing that, you're doing some good things.
That's what I've told our guys. We won our last 15 of the 16 games. We played in the league. We won, so I know we're pretty good. I know we did a lot of good things so you've got two teams playing really well.
Since Jan 10th, we've lost one game, so we're doing good things and Washington has won their last 8 games. So I think you've got two teams playing well, at a high level, both teams like to get up and down the floor, both doing a good job at the defensive end so it makes for a tremendous match-up.
ROGER ROSS: Coach, thank you for your time. We appreciate it.
End of FastScripts