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March 20, 2010

Bryan Davis

Dash Harris

Donald Sloan

Mark Turgeon


THE MODERATOR: We'll go ahead and get started with questions for the Texas A&M student-athletes.

Q. For Mr. Davis and Mr. Sloan, you're a very good rebounding team, obviously. It's a big component of what you do. Could you talk about how this team has evolved into a better rebounding team and why you think you guys rebound so well?
BRYAN DAVIS: I think it's that we just don't give up on plays. I know earlier in the season we had problems with rebounding, we wasn't rebounding as well as we were supposed to and then we got back into the practice habits a couple times whenever we did have games back to back. We put a lot of emphasis on it and then I think during those practice times we became better in rebounding and then we went out and we showed it on the court.
DONALD SLOAN: I believe that earlier in the year guys had the mentality that if you hit a guy once, the ball will just kind of bounce your way. But now going through the long season we kind of realize that that's never the case. It's probably never going to happen often. Guys are fighting more. We got our bigs attempting to rebound one shot and more than once hit these guys.

Q. Bryan, how much are you looking forward to the defensive challenge? This game figures to be a defensive challenge. Both these teams can really guard. How much are you looking forward to that battle?
BRYAN DAVIS: I'm looking forward to that a lot. We go out here and play every day. I'm looking forward to a game like this coming up tomorrow and I think it's going to be a battle to the end of the game it's going to be a 40 minute game of defense and it's going to come down to the team who executes and rebounds the most.

Q. Guys, every team talks about defense especially this time of year. Defense is important in winning but you and Purdue are two teams that really personify defense. What do you do in practice? Will you describe the atmosphere that Coach Turgeon creates defensively and some of the details of the work you guys do on defense?
DASH HARRIS: We start every practice with defense. And our majority of practice is spent on defense. We think our defense creates our offense so we do a lot of box out drills like you guys just talked about, just real physical. So we do that. Just a lot of basic things. Making sure our principles are right, make sure we're always on help side making sure everybody is on the right spot on the floor. It's real intense every day. We really we get no days off from defense, defense comes first.
DONALD SLOAN: Piggyback what he said. I think we knew coming in the season that our identity wasn't going to be the fastest team, the team that shoots the ball the best, from three or anything, but we knew coming in that it was going to have to be defense because we're all fast, athletic, and had troubles a lot scoring last year so coming into the season we knew that if we were going to be successful we were going to have to hang our hats on our defense.

Q. Dash, how you feeling today with the wrist and just kind of give us an update after playing on it for the first time?
DASH HARRIS: It's getting better every day. I can't describe what the doctors are doing for me. It's incredible. I told my teammates if I'm going to be out there on the floor I'm not going to think about it. I'm not going to make any excuses when I make a turnover or if I miss a shot I'm not going to blame it on my wrist, if I'm going to play I'm going to play like I'm at a hundred percent. I'm not going to make any excuses but I'm doing better. I'm trying not to think about it and I'm trying to make sure that we get these wins any way we can. I'm going to do whatever it takes to win them.

Q. What percentage are you?
DASH HARRIS: Close to 90. These days off in between games are definitely giving me some time to rehab and get it better. So I'm getting closer to a hundred percent, which is great.

Q. Bryan, it would seem like you have a huge advantage with size and with rebounding. Is that something that you think you can exploit to maybe get them into some foul trouble?
BRYAN DAVIS: I think that we can come out and establish that from the beginning of the game and that we're going to take care of the boards and I'm quite sure that they're going to be trying to put a lot of emphasis on it too and boxing us out. That's what a lot of teams have been doing here in the past. But I think that with the guys we have, we have Nate, he's coming in working hard we have Ray coming in working hard and with me and Loubeau on the boards, I think we can really do some damage.

Q. Bryan, I assume you're going to be assigned Johnson. Have you watched him play and how do you figure you're going to handle that one?
BRYAN DAVIS: I was just watching some film just now before coming in here and just looking at some of the things he do and just watching some film on him just trying to get a good feel for him right now. I can't really say much or how I'll be guarding him or how we're going to guard him as a team. We got to put a game plan in first.

Q. Seems like if he gets the ball he can get off the shot, is that going to be part of it, just denying him the ball?
BRYAN DAVIS: Well that's always a part of our defense is making it hard for him to catch the ball first. He has to do all the work early and make him catch the ball out as far as he can and then once we do that it will be more of a team defense than it is more than it is one individual.

Q. What have you seen have Lewis Jackson, a guy who is basically playing on a broken foot, but went out there and had nine assists and one turnover. Talk about him. It looks like you might be going up against him.
DASH HARRIS: He's just told me somebody I didn't even know. So I finally have to take advantage of that, but I know defensively he's kind of a player like I am that likes to pick up 94 feet, try to wear the opposing guard down or whatnot and I seen the stats yesterday and I seen part of the game. He had a great game. I had to compliment him on that. He filled up the stat sheet there. But I'm just going to play the same way I've been playing. He's just another guard, I'll pick him up full court, pressure the ball and try to get them out of their offense and disrupt their sets and whatnot. But he's a good guard. A sophomore just like I am, so it should be a good matchup.

Q. All three of you guys, are you able to enjoy the rest of the tournament when you're in it or are you still focused on yourselves? Do you see other games, do you get to enjoy watching other players and other regions and things like that?
DONALD SLOAN: Yeah I would have to say. So it's almost like you become a fan of so many different teams while this tournament is going on. Because you play guys throughout the year, well you play teams throughout year, a lot of guys from other teams and you kind of want to see them do well. Kind of advance. So yeah that's in the off time, you know, while you're just relaxing you kind of become a fan of a lot of other guys and it just kind of helps you I guess relax more and just kind of just chill and mellow out.
DASH HARRIS: It's real relaxing. Not everything is so up uptight and always focused. We do have down time and we watch the games together and we do have teams, you want teams to win that's in our conference and you want our conference to look good or you know guys on the other team so you want them to succeed also. But when it comes down to it, it is about us. But we definitely take time to watch the games because basketball is just a bunch of situations and we may be caught in the same situation and we never want to be on the losing end. So we learn from other teams mistakes and then try to implement things into our game plan and whatnot.
BRYAN DAVIS: Same thing they said. Sometimes we watch games but me personally I don't watch a whole lot of the games because winning or whoever wins or loses those games if we're going to have to play them or not, it doesn't make us any different. So I just try to watch other things, just take my mind off of basketball pretty much.

Q. Donald, would you agree with the Utah State coach that there are no knuckle heads on this team? Or is that wrong?
DONALD SLOAN: I would agree with that.

Q. How so? For you Bryan as well. What did you mean by that?
BRYAN DAVIS: Not sure exactly what he meant. I mean we're a real humble team. I think that no one really cares who gets credit right now. You don't see anybody getting mad at each other. It's some teams you see playing fighting with each other, and that's one thing we all are a family on this team. We all get along and I guess that's what he could be saying.

Q. Stew Morrill go up there and said some things after the game about team defense. Does that motivate you guys even further to come out and play even better when have you an opponent come out after the game and say hey, their defense was the best we have seen all year?
BRYAN DAVIS: That motivates us a lot. Even though he said that, that was probably the best defense they seen all year. I think that there's a lot of things that we did out there that we could do a lot better coming into tomorrow's game. So that motivates us to put a little bit more focus into some of the things we're doing and Friday apply defensive principles a lot more.

Q. Is there a team in particular that you guys have kind of latched on to in this tournament and pulling for?
DONALD SLOAN: No one in particular. Like I said, we know a lot of guys and we want them I guess to do well. But when it comes to us, you know, we're always thinking of ways that we can get better and we can advance and play our best basketball. If it comes to us playing one of those teams, I hope the guy individually does well but of course that we come out with the win. That's pretty much it.
DASH HARRIS: Just us. I watch those teams and like Donald said, we hope they do well, but it's about Texas A&M with us, you know. And it's about us getting better every day and watching these teams just in case we do matchup with one of them, we don't want to look too far ahead but anything's a possibility, so we want to know what they like to do, what they don't like to do and how we can apply our game plan to that team. So that's it.

Q. To follow-up on that, so when Wake Forest and Texas are playing, you guys don't have any kind of investment in that emotionally, you're not rooting one way or the other, Big-12 or your arch rival or anything?
BRYAN DAVIS: I wanted Texas to win that game. I was fighting for them to win. I thought they were going to pull it out but unfortunately you always want to root for a Big-12 team though.

Q. Anyone else?
DASH HARRIS: That game that was kind of up in the air, didn't matter. I have two former high school teammates that played on Wake Forest's team so it was either roll with them or roll with the Big-12, so whichever one it really didn't matter.
DONALD SLOAN: I was pretty much going for Texas. I thought they had it. They let it slip away in the end, but I was pulling for them, so...
THE MODERATOR: We'll have questions now for Coach Turgeon.

Q. Coach Painter's talked about how he's watched your team evolve into a better rebounding team and your guys even said earlier in the year they just kind of sometimes felt the ball was going to fall in their hand but they have gotten better. Can you talk about the process of how this has become a better rebounding team?
COACH TURGEON: We talk about it every day. You get tired of the coach telling you it's the worst rebounding team he's ever coached and I probably said that 50 times early in the season. Because we were just getting whipped on the boards. But I think it came down to this: When D Ro got hurt, we had to change our lineup. Khris Middleton was a four. You insert Dave Loubeau into the lineup and he's a better rebounder and then our guards just started to rebound more for us and that's really helped us. What's crazy is we have changed our transition defensive rules and we have become a better rebounding team. And that don't mean nothing to you guys, but I was just talking about it and calling it in practice if they don't box out in practice it they get on the line and run a sprint. It's that simple. And it creates habits that way.

Q. What stands out whether you look at this Purdue team, especially since the Hummel injury and where are they right now?
COACH TURGEON: Just toughness. Defensively, the ball pressure and the shot blocker in the back, Johnson, so just defensively and toughness. I think that's what this team's about.
I see a team yesterday with a little bit of chip on their shoulder, everybody telling them they're no good any more without Robbie and they're going to lose to Siena and they kind of stepped up and played pretty well. I saw a different team than I saw in the Big-10 tournament. I thought they played really well. But defensively and toughness.

Q. From with just one year you coached against each other in the Valley as head coaches but Matt has a lot of admiration for you. I mean he just -- you're a guy he likes and it sounds like it's mutual. Can you talk about what you appreciate one about his coaching and two about the person that he is?
COACH TURGEON: He's number one a family man, which I appreciate in this business and he's always put family first. I appreciate that. He's just a good person and when he was an assistant at Southern I got to know him when I was the head coach. Whether he was working for Bruce or just spent time with him and heck we could never beat them. Southern Illinois was really good back then. I think we beat him three times or four times in my seven years, maybe five. And Matt -- I think they were 17-1 in the league and beat us at our place in a great game. So he does it the right way, he recruits good character kids, he makes them better, they play as a team, they play with toughness, and him and I would do anything just to stay in man and not play zone. And so we're a lot alike that way.
Then I think offensively we believe in teamwork and sharing the ball and everything. So I just think he's a great guy that does it the right way and works extremely hard and I appreciate that about him.

Q. If you had to pick three keys to victory, what would those be?
COACH TURGEON: I won't give away my game plan, no, we have to guard their motion, and guard screens, that's going to be real important with that transition defense because they have been scoring in transition especially against Siena. So transition, guarding screens would be big for us. Rebounding's always a big part of what have we do. And then just offensively being able to handle their pressure, execute well, that's going to be important for us. We talked about that. And maybe last thing is, I know it's more than three, I think you asked for three, but it's just who is going to be tougher? Because you got two tough teams, who is going to be tougher tomorrow at 2 o'clock? That's what it to me is going to come down to. And it should be a real physical, low scoring game tomorrow.

Q. You've seen some zones lately and you said that you don't think Purdue would play a zone, but with their size now do you think you might see some zones against them at all?
COACH TURGEON: No. I think one possession against Minnesota -- I think that might have been a mistake, but they just, they're not going to do it. How come all them Texas A&M guys are in the back?

Q. What about Chris Kramer, just how unique of an athlete is he, especially defensively and then talk about that game within the game that battle with Loubeau the great size and great moves against him defensively?
COACH TURGEON: Yeah, we'll see who they put him on, but, yeah, he's a special kid. He's had a great career. Not many guys like to play defense as much as he likes to play it and takes pride in it. He can guard a one through a four. He's smart. He's smart when he's giving up size. He plays with his feet and tries to get around front and then he gets stuck behind and then he tries to take a charge or whatever. So he is a unique player, a special player and he gives them toughness. You look at all the hustle plays yesterday he was right in the middle of it. So he's good. He rubs off on the rest of the guys.

Q. What makes Sloan special offensively?
COACH TURGEON: Well, he just has the whole package. He can shoot the three, he can share, he has a mid range game, he can get all the way to the bucket, he's very clever with the basketball.
He's deceptive. Looks like he's going to pull up and then he goes and he's just really good with the ball and then he's really strong too. He can figure out ways to get to the basket and figure out ways to get to the foul line and so he can score in a lot of ways and our guys understand that and we try to get him the ball, put him into positions to be successful. So he's just really having a good year. We didn't need him much yesterday, and he just deferred all day, which is nice. It's nice to be more balanced. It makes it easier on him, easier on everybody.

Q. Do you have a theory as to why we have had so many upsets and near upsets here in the first week more than I can ever remember? I don't know about you.
COACH TURGEON: Yeah, I don't have a theory. I thought it was the 8-5 rule a few years back when they limited the scholarships I thought that really balanced it out for awhile. But my other theory would just be that there's just so many darn good basketball players any more. And with 13 scholarships instead of 15, it allows more schools to get better players. And basketball's big in the United States and kids grow up and this tournament here gets everybody excited and to play in it and there's just a lot of really good basketball players and I think the coaching across, there's, I don't know, I don't ever want to say coaching's ever been bad, but if you're not a very good coach you don't keep your job very long. So I just think the coaching's just gotten better and better across the country. That would be my theory. That help you?

Q. Could I follow that up real quick. As somebody who cut his teeth with a mid major, do you derive some joy from seeing the way those teams are playing in this tournament?
COACH TURGEON: Yeah, yes and no. I wasn't feeling too good before my game yesterday knowing how good Utah State was and all the upsets and sitting around watching those scores and like, oh, boy. But no, yeah, it's great. I know how hard it is at that level to get involved with good players, and then to just to get into the tournament, how hard it is to get into the tournament. But I will say this: Once you're in, you're much more relaxed at that level than you are with a BCS team. Because you're supposed to win. And I just remember just being so relaxed and so calm when I was with Wichita State and how much fun it was to play in those games. And it was just, yeah, all right, we can do this, you guys are doing great. And you try to coach that way at this level too. I think I've done a good job, I think it's helped me when I got here. A lot less pressure on those schools when they get into these tournament games.

Q. You touched on it a little bit ago, with Sloan, is that something that a lot of people don't see the fact that he can defer to the rest of the team? Like yesterday he let the play go in the first half especially in the second half he just had that three or four minutes when the team started to struggle. It was like, okay, I got to take over now. Is that maybe one of the better characteristics of Donald?
COACH TURGEON: Yeah, he's gotten a lot better at that. Recognizing when he's got be two or three people on him and to pass the ball. And I think that as the season's gone on he's gained more confidence in his teammates. And that's helped too. I think as coaches when it got tight yesterday we started going to Sloan. We try to go to him right before half also and we made some plays right before half for him. But I thought that Utah State did a good job of double teaming him and making him give it up. But we were just, we got good players around him so if teams are going to do that, we'll make them pay. But he understood that they, most of the time he had two guys off him when he came off a screen and he had to defer to someone.

Q. I wanted to follow-up about the question about Matt. Just you obviously coached against him way back when he was at Southern Illinois do you see him as the same coach now or has the experience at Purdue changed him from what you've seen?
COACH TURGEON: I think he's a better coach because you get better with experience. And he was pretty good as coach of the year in the Valley that year in his first year. But I think he's a better coach. You just get better with age and you experience things and he's very calm over there. But no, same philosophy, get after it defensively, he does what he believes in. And he gets his players to believe in it. And it's amazing, think about where the program was when he took over. I'm not trying to slight Purdue or anybody that he took over for, but it wasn't in great shape and for him to do what he's done this quickly is pretty amazing. Their one injury away from being a number one seed this year. I think we all know that. And they still have a chance. They know that, everybody knows that to be a part of the Final Four in Indianapolis, that's what's driving them right now.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much.

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