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March 27, 2010
THE MODERATOR: We have Scott Drew, Tweety Carter, LaceDarius Dunn, Anthony Jones, Josh Lomers, and Ekpe Udoh. Coach, opening comments?
COACH DREW: It's a good day for Baylor basketball. Women won, and now we have both teams in the Elite Eight. As far as our team goes, excited and very appreciative, again, of the fan support yesterday and hopefully tomorrow we'll have a good turnout as well.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes.
Q. Tweety, your signing with Baylor seemed to launch this whole revival of Baylor basketball. Can you go back to the recruiting process a little bit and tell us who did you pick Baylor over and what did Drew tell you, the one thing that he told you that made the difference?
TWEETY CARTER: Well, I really -- there were guys before me: Aaron Bruce, Tim Bush, Curtis Jerrells, Kevin Dugat, Kevin Rogers, Mark Shepherd, all those guys came before me and really set the tone for this program.
You know, when I committed I really didn't get recruited by anybody else, really. I got recruited by other teams, but it wasn't as serious as Baylor. When I committed, I knew this is where I wanted to be. I didn't take any other visits. I did not talk to any other coaches. So I knew Baylor was the place that I wanted to be and play for a program like this.
Q. You were the highest scoring player in U.S. history. What was the knock on you?
COACH DREW: I think we just recruited him before everyone else did.
TWEETY CARTER: That's what it was. That's what it was.
Q. You guys obviously have gotten here by beating three double-digit seeds. Now you get to face a top-seeded Duke team. It's a team with similarities as far as the programs, small schools, private schools, academic excellence. Talk about the challenge of facing Duke and just a chance to prove yourself and show yourself against a team like that.
LACEDARIUS DUNN: Well, great team, first of all. Going up against a great team. Well coached, great coaching. And we're just looking forward to coming out and having a good game tomorrow and just preparing for these guys like we prepare for everybody else.
We know they're a great team, and we're going to have to come out and play for 40 minutes, and I think we're willing to do that.
EKPE UDOH: What he said. They're a great-coached team. They play well together. So nothing changes for us. Just stick to our game plan, come out aggressive and try to get the victory.
Q. Can you talk about the confidence level of this team, and I guess playing a team like Duke, it's probably the kind of team you pictured to try to get to the Final Four. The team you pictured you had to beat?
TWEETY CARTER: Well, gaining confidence, we've been having that all through the season. It started in the summer, and it just carried over towards the season. But like Lace and Ekpe just said, a great team, a well-coached team. They're going to come ready to play. So we've got to come out and with the same intensity that we had last night, but better. You know, we just have to prepare for them, you know, really know what they like to do and try to take away what they like to do.
Q. If you guys beat Duke to go to the Final Four, does that mean this program -- I don't want to say is back -- but it's arrived, and it's all been in the past, the legacy is restored and you guys are where you've been trying to get to?
TWEETY CARTER: It will be great to win tomorrow and go to the Final Four. But we didn't prepare as much as we prepared for this season to just make it to the Final Four. We know we've got to continue to take one game at a time. But our goal is to win a National Championship, and that's something we set in the summer, and something we're striving for.
You know, a win tomorrow is just a step closer to, you know, receiving our goal, and that is getting to the Final Four and hopefully just getting a National Championship. But we've got to take one game at a time and just focus on Duke right now.
LACEDARIUS DUNN: He really summed it up. To come out and get a victory tomorrow against Duke would be great to us and great to the program. Like I said, we've just got to take it one game at a time like Tweety Carter said. This will be one step closer to our final destination where we're trying to go.
Like I said, if we come out and take care of business tomorrow, hopefully we'll be one step closer.
Q. I believe last year going into the Big 12 Tournament is when you guys switched full-time to a zone defense, and obviously you guys have excelled at it this year. Did you buy into it right away? If so, what did you see and why did you think this team? And I know you had Ekpe waiting in the wings at that point. Why do you think you guys have been able to excel?
TWEETY CARTER: I don't compare our past teams to this team. Every year I've been here was different. But this team, we just want to play defense. Every year we had a different strategy.
Like you said, towards the end of conference, we won 11, and that's something we bought into. It's a tough defense. It's a tough defense to play, it's a tough defense to score on, and it's a tough defense to prepare for.
We know that's going to work, we've got to get better at it. We've got to continue to get better at it, and continue to keep striving for excellence on the defensive end.
Q. I hear that Coach has a no-cuss rule. Can you talk about what that was like when you first got here to hear about it and whether it was an adjustment at all?
LACEDARIUS DUNN: It wasn't an adjustment. I never did cuss anyway (laughing). It wasn't an adjustment to me.
But, just something that he laid down, and we did do a great job to try to go by it. And follow up on him being the coach and us being the players. Just doing what he asks, and I think we did a great job of that.
Q. Has there been any team you guys have played this year that you felt intimidated by? And Tweety answered this question, how much has playing in the Big 12 this year prepared you guys for the NCAA?
TWEETY CARTER: We're never intimidated by anybody no matter who we play. We know we come out and play for 40 minutes and play our style and how we like to play, we can compete with anybody. We've got the talent to do it and we've got the staff to do it and the program to do it.
We just want to continue to come out and just fight like we know how.
JOSH LOMERS: I have to agree. You're not intimidated by them. You've just got to get prepared. You go out and do your things.
Q. Coach K said when he was watching film he was surprised by how good you were offensively. What was the most important thing that you worked on when you were sitting out the year to get as good as you are offensively?
EKPE UDOH: Just being versatile. You know what I mean? Our last year and Coach Driscoll, along were some of the other staff members, just worked on my game to be versatile. Because I knew on the offense I was going to be able to be everywhere on the court. But we just hit that hard and it's worked for me and the team.
Q. Most big men can't handle the ball like Ekpe does. Can you talk about have you ever thought he's too tall to be dribbling that well? Can you talk about his versatility, too?
TWEETY CARTER: All our bigs can catch the ball very well. Something like he said, he worked on everything offensively about his game. You know, even defensively. Even he knows how good he was, he still worked on it.
Any time you've got a big and guys that are willing to get better and are never satisfied, you always want to continue to get them the ball. As much as you can give them the ball, that's as much confidence they're going to have.
We do a great job of getting Ekpe the ball, our bigs the ball, and they do a great job of catching and finishing. It's just his work ethic that he put in all through summer.
Q. A light-hearted question. LaceDarius, have you ever caught your coach cussing? Tell the truth.
LACEDARIUS DUNN: No. No, he's not that guy. He's not the guy that you're going to see cussing and just throw a temper tantrum like that. But even if you do something bad on the court or make a bonehead play, he's not that guy to do those type of things or say those type of things.
Q. Because everybody slips once in a while, right?
LACEDARIUS DUNN: Never seen him slip, not yet.
Q. LaceDarius, I commend you for not being the guy that ever cussed. Is there anybody else that did have to make an adjustment with that?
LACEDARIUS DUNN: I think the ones that are sitting with me here right now, we didn't have to adjust to that. We don't say those bad things like that, so it wasn't for us.
Q. Can you just talk about what it's like to be a part of this resurgence of Baylor basketball? Everybody looks at where the program was seven years ago and you're in the Elite Eight with a chance to go to the Final Four. What's it like to be part of that and the experience of that?
LACEDARIUS DUNN: It means a lot. Just like Tweety been preaching all year , he wanted to be a part of something special as long as me. That's why I came here. I wanted to be part of people that not only care about me on the court, but also off the court. I just made a great decision about choosing Baylor, and just coming and placing myself around a lot of positive people.
Q. You made references to last summer and all the work you did. Could you talk about what you did and the importance of it and how it's contributing to you getting this far?
TWEETY CARTER: We came out and we competed all through summer, before the coaches could get to us. We had managers that had come out and made us work hard and pick up. And we played games, we pushed each other. And you know, we got up at 5:00 in the morning at times and worked out, ran hills. Everything we did, we did it for a reason. It's showing now.
So we just want to continue stay focused and thank God for giving us this opportunity right here right now.
LACEDARIUS DUNN: He basically summed it up. It started in the summer. Just competing against each other, getting to know each other, you know, the newcomers that came in. But just getting better at doing something, doing little drills, basic little drills and trying to take the game to another level. That is something we strived on this summer and just got good at.
Q. Yesterday at times it got a little heated between you and Omar. But tomorrow you're going to be going up against what one guy described as big men by committee with Zoubek and the Plumlees. What have you and Ekpe talked about as far as how you guys are going to attack those guys?
JOSH LOMERS: We're just going to do the same thing we've done throughout the season. Stick with what got us here. They're good players and we're just going to do our thing.
EKPE UDOH: Exactly what he said.
Q. How much did Tweety recruit you when you were going through the recruiting process? What did he say that convinced you to go to Baylor?
LACEDARIUS DUNN: Well, we just talked, we just talked his freshmen year and my senior year in high school. We just talked to each other every now and then. And I used to ask him about the school and what was going on and how it was. He used to give me good tips and good points. He just always told me he would love to play with me, and that it's a good school to come to, to start a new basketball program.
So he did a great job of just talking to me and keeping me focused and giving me the things that I needed to know about the school. And just allowing me to make the decision to come play.
Q. From a point guard's point of view, what do you see as Duke's strengths both offensively and defensively?
TWEETY CARTER: They push the tempo, they pressure defensively, they rebound, you know, they're a great team. They're a great team. We've got to come ready to play. You know, I think we're ready to play.
We come out and we've been competing all year long. So we're just going to continue to come out and compete and try to take away what they like to do.
Q. This is for any of the big guys. Just, you know, you talked a little about them kind of being big guy by committee. But you guys have you all seen a lot of teams that can go four or five deep with the kind of size that they have?
EKPE UDOH: I mean, earlier in the conference we talked about the Big 12. I think the Big 12 has gotten us ready for this stage. I mean, Kansas State, Kansas, Texas. Everybody in the Big 12 had tough big men. So I think we're ready for this challenge.
JOSH LOMERS: I have to agree. We've been through the Big 12. They've got a bunch of teams with a lot of good big men. So it's prepared us some for this.
Q. Just talk about has it sunk in yet though that you're one game away from a Final Four? First time in 60 years in school history. Just all the things that are on the line tomorrow for you guys in this one game.
COACH DREW: Is he trying to put pressure on us (laughing)?
TWEETY CARTER: It's something that crosses your mind, but you can't allow it to. You have to go out there and compete. You still have a couple games left, so you have to come out and compete and take one game at a time. And right now our focus is not on the Final Four, it's on Duke. We've got to continue to get prepared for Duke and be ready tomorrow come 4:00.
EKPE UDOH: Yeah, Duke is the only thing on our minds right now. You know, 40 minutes, we've just got to go at it. It's going to be a physical, tough, ugly game tomorrow. So we've just got to come prepared and get ready for battle.
Q. When you first committed to Baylor, what kinds of things did you think were possible?
TWEETY CARTER: A turnaround. You know, with the guys that I was dealing with my freshman year, it was guys that were humble and did whatever it took to get better, despite losing games, you know. We always came to practice and we fought hard. And I thought, you know, if we can continue to do this, God is going to bless us. He's blessing us right now just by giving us opportunity to play.
But just allowing better and better and more and more guys to come to this program. I mean, you can see it now. More and more guys want to come to Baylor. As long as we can continue to do that and set stones like that, I think this program will continue to strive forward from what they've been through, we're going to continue to get better from that and just keep learning. Learning as men and growing.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Coach Drew.
Q. You have talked about Duke being one of the examples of what you'd like this program to be based on, the academics and small schools and all of that. Just talk about getting to the point now from what seemed like an unrealistic opportunity and vision when you took over seven years ago, to here you are facing the same team you looked at as an example.
COACH DREW: I think the first thing with that comes consistency, and the fact that this is our third straight 20-win season, and our third straight postseason. Last year having postseason success, making it to the championship game of the NIT. I think those are all building blocks and things that have put us in motion to become one of those talked about programs and one of those programs people consider one of the top in the nation.
I think a big key to that, besides the players and their characters, is the academic success as well. Because if you're not graduating players, we're Top 10 in the country in APR for a four-year rolling average, if it you're not graduating players and being successful academically, you're not keeping them around long enough to be successful.
So as long as we keep getting players with leadership like these, we'll be in good shape.
Q. Regarding the no-cuss rule, what is your strongest language? What word do you say when you're really blanked off?
COACH DREW: I think we all mess up at times, so let's put that out there. And the reason we do a no-cussing policy is simple. We know we have a lot of kids and people that come around us, and the right thing to do is not have that type of language. We don't want a 7-year-old coming to our practice and going home and telling mom and dad something they picked up. So we try to be good role models, good examples.
When you mess up, you've got push-ups. So you can probably tell the strongest guys on the team, they cuss the most -- no, just kidding. Anyway, that's one thing we try to do to be good role models.
Q. Are there any special origins to this zone? Looking at it last night for the first time, it seemed to remind me of the point zone that Dean Smith developed at North Carolina. Is there any similarity there?
COACH DREW: One thing about basketball, there is really no new inventions. Everything has been around, it's just recycled and kind of personnel-driven. You always put tweaks according to who you're playing.
So I think you can go back to UNLV and Tark's days, something like that. So, again, we adjust our zone every game to the team we're facing.
So it might look one way one night and it looks completely different the next night.
Q. Obviously your greatest coaching mentor is your dad. But also do you try to take any characteristics from watching a coach like Krzyzewski?
COACH DREW: Oh, absolutely. The best coaches are the ones that learn from everybody else, that way you can learn from their successes and failures rather than experiencing it all yourself. And Coach K's been phenomenal as far as being a great teacher and leader for all the coaches out there and the coaches across not only the United States, but the world.
Q. The first three years, what was the one low point, the one crystallized day or moment that you looked around and said: What have I gotten myself into? When was it? Do you remember anything in particular?
COACH DREW: The good thing is it's like a businessman opening a restaurant or starting a new business. You're so busy you really don't hit that point. And I was blessed to have a staff that worked extremely hard. Because head coaches are only as good as your staff, and staff are only as good as your players. So we've put the nose to the grindstone, and worked as hard as we could every day, and let God take care of the rest.
Q. Can you talk about what makes Ekpe unique as a player? And what will he have to do well tomorrow in order for you guys to win?
COACH DREW: I think Ekpe, people see his value on the court. He can handle it, he can pass it. Obviously defensively he changes the game. But I think off the court he's even a greater value from the standpoint, tremendously mature for a college player. Somebody that has been a great role model and leader and example for our younger front-line people. I think Quincy Acy has had a huge impact.
So from a coaching standpoint people like Ekpe make it very easy to coach a team because they do a great job taking care of all the things you'd want a leader on the team to take care of.
Q. What do you feel like are some of Duke's strengths? Do you see any similarities with them on your team?
COACH DREW: Well, yes, any team that is still alive has not only quality players, but they can hurt you a variety of ways. Very good defensively. Really pressure. They've got great size, we have good size. They rebound it well. We rebound it. We've been in the top 10, top 12 most of the year in rebounding margin. Then they have guards who can play. And if you don't have good guards, you're probably not around and probably didn't get in the tournament. And they have guards with experience, and we have guards with experience.
So to us, two good teams going at it, and we're hoping we have a great fan backing for the state of Texas, the Big 12 in Baylor.
Q. Why did you take the Baylor job at the time you did? What kinds of things did you see? And if you'd also talk about what influence did Butler have on your coaching career?
COACH DREW: First of all, whenever you do anything you pray about it, and I felt led to come down here. I saw Baylor as attractive because of the great leadership and vision they had for the school. The fact that it has a niche. It's the only private school in the Big 12. Largest Baptist school in the nation. Great facilities. So saw a lot of opportunity for growth.
Then as far as Butler when you're around people like Coach Collier, Coach Jay John, Coach Thad Matta , you learn a lot from those guys.
Q. A lot of times when players talk, coaches cringe. But I see you quite a bit as your players were talking nodding your head quite a bit. Talk about the people that you have, and the combination of the players that you have and how that has built the success?
COACH DREW: Well, I think a lot of programs have good players. Coaches try to obviously have not only good players, but high-character kids that do the right thing off the court. We've just been extremely blessed to have great people a part of this program. Part of the reason why we've been able to attract other good players is because when they come and visit and spend time, that is the best thing that we can sell to our school is spend time with our players and see what they're like. We've been very blessed to have quality young men that are going to be successful in life besides just basketball.
The maturity, and the answers, the way in which they carry themselves, there is a reason we've been successful this year, and it's because of them.
Q. Kyle Singler of Duke, 6'8" guy, can go out on the perimeter. Is he an X factor that you're really going to have to watch as far as where he can find spots in the zone. And have you played anybody this year that's that tall?
COACH DREW: I don't know if he's an X factor. He's probably an A, B, C, D, E, F, G factor. But I think, again, the Big 12 prepares you for anything you're going to face. Quite a few players in the Big 12. If you take a Damion James, similar size, athleticism, can go inside, outside. Singler is one of the best players in the nation for a reason. He's tremendous.
But the good thing at least with the Big 12, you have somebody you can compare him to or give your players a feel for what they might be able to do or be similar to doing.
So he's been playing great basketball, and he's a great player.
Q. Can you talk about when Baylor offered you the job, did your dad or anybody else you sought advice for say you don't really have to leave. You can stay and maybe wait for another program because this one had so many things on the horizon as far as violations and punishments. When you got there to Baylor, what was the environment like? Was it doom and gloom? What was the mood like after everything that happened?
COACH DREW: First of all, you always consult people you trust and respect. When I tell him I felt led to go there and we looked at everything, everyone was very supportive.
As far as Baylor, it is the oldest school in the state of Texas. When you spend any time on the campus, as you would with most of the schools in the state of Texas, people are great. Very outgoing, very warm. And for us it wasn't a situation where it was doom and gloom. But shoot, we had every student on the campus excited. Not only could they play on the team, but they had a chance to get minutes. So everybody was pretty fired up (laughing).
Q. Could you talk about Duke's offense? Defending that and how much more dangerous they are when Jon Scheyer is hitting his shots?
COACH DREW: Any time you have any of your players clicking or playing their best, it makes them better. But Jon Scheyer's one of those guys even if he misses shots, he does so much for their team. Penetrates, gets to the free-throw line, obviously everybody knows where he's at on the court at all times. He's so dangerous, a tremendous leader.
Duke's offense is very unselfish. They do a great job sharing the basketball, and they do a tremendous job crashing the boards.
Q. In 2004 you were wrapping up your first season and Duke was in the Final Four and widely recognized as the premier program in college basketball. I know you're eternally optimistic. But could you have ever imagined a scenario -- was it a realistic scenario to think that in 2010 you'd be playing them for the right to go to the Final Four?
COACH DREW: I think whenever you set out, you have goals. Sometimes you have timetables for them. Other times you don't. With us, that was definitely what we wanted to accomplish and where we wanted to get. We just didn't have a timetable on it. Our staff was smart enough to figure out once we got the players, and they had the leadership and experience, we'd have a chance to be at this place.
So, again, playing in the Elite Eight against a team like Duke, I think that is something that we hope not only happens this year but many years to come as well.
Q. Speaking of players, the senior class that just graduated last year, was the signing of that class kind of the start of the turn around?
COACH DREW: I think that class was the most widely recognized talent-wise and depth-wise. And they played so many minutes as freshmen for us. I think that was the class that kind of was -- I wouldn't want to say the players before that we signed didn't have a part, because if it wasn't for them some of those guys wouldn't have come to Baylor University.
But I think as a whole, that class was kind of the platform for everybody. At least we had experience and people playing minutes. I know I answered that poorly, but I don't want to discredit the people that came before them. But, obviously, that class had the most success: Two postseasons, left the winningest class in Baylor school history. And they did that with three and a half years, because one year we didn't have a non-conference. So tremendous success.
Q. Last night 45,000 fans came through to watch both games. Second highest in NCAA history?
COACH DREW: What was the highest, by the way?
Q. I couldn't tell you.
COACH DREW: Does anyone know that answer? That would be a good challenge question to put out there for all the people, so that's why I was asking.
Q. You guys had the home court advantage. Is that the loudest game you've ever coached in, but also how easy would it be for your players to get caught up in it and make it a distraction?
COACH DREW: I don't think it's a distraction from the standpoint when the players came out and saw all the green and gold and everyone cheering for Baylor, I think there was pride and I thought motivation to thank them for coming out and to give them something to cheer for.
Whenever you have the support and following like that, you want to please those people. So I think a lot of pride came to mind with our players.
Q. This is off topic a little bit, but I am from Raleigh so you'll understand why I'm asking the question. How close were you guys to getting John Wall? Have you kind of kept tabs on him what he's done this season? I guess it's tough not to he's always on on the highlight channels?
COACH DREW: I think you see him when you're if you're watching Sportscenter. We were one of the schools recruiting him. He visited. Like any player that we recruit, we keep in touch with him as far as watching him and hoping the best for him.
He's had a tremendous year, and very, very pleased for his production this year and wish him the best of luck, unless we play him, if we would be fortunate enough to.
Q. What is the thing you're most proud of that you've done in seven years? And the things that in your heart you feel the best about? Do you care one way or the other that some of the other coaches in the Big 12 just don't seem to like you? What I'm asking is, I'm not asking what they say, but do you care one way or the other?
COACH DREW: The first question: For any coach why you coach is because you want to help young men develop and reach goals on the court. But also to me academically and spiritually they're reaching their goals and growing as well and seeing them be successful. Seeing the past players come back, seeing them come to games, seeing them hang around the guys, that's kind of like for any parent having your sons and daughters come back after they're married and spend time. That's great.
The other thing is seeing all the fans like last night, and seeing all the Baylor people so excited and happy and fired up for this team. I mean to see them smile is something that you work hard to do.
As far as the other question, I've answered this question before. It's really true. I have the third longest tenure in the Big 12. And this is by far in my opinion the closest at any time the Big 12 coaches have all been. We've finished with the number one league in the country. Everybody's pulling their weight. Everybody's doing a good job. And I think everybody truly wants the best for each other.
I have received text messages from nearly every coach in the league wishing us good luck. I really think that maybe that was more in the past or more a couple statements in the past. I think, again, why we have the best league in the conference starts with the great coaches we have, and I think we all recognize that. We all know we have tough jobs to do. But I think we're all supportive as much as we can be as well.
Q. Some teams might just get a little intimidated when they see Duke on the jersey. But it seems like your guys maybe just going through the Big 12, playing some top teams. Do you think that's helped?
COACH DREW: Well, that's the Big 12. When you're playing the top conference in the country RPI-wise, I mean, that prepares you for whoever you're going to play and whenever you're going to play.
As far as why we've been successful, there is no secret about it. We've had not only great players, but we've had great leadership. I think our players and that leadership will continue to make sure we're focused on the task at hand and not get sidetracked.
Q. As much fun as you guys have had together in that setting, how much fun was it last night? I know you've still got more to do. But to have your dad and your brother here, what was the reaction after the game and how was it?
COACH DREW: Any time you have good moments, you always want to share them with family and friends, so I'm very fortunate to have them be able to be a part of what we're doing here. I know they were pretty excited. I know they get a little more nervous probably than most people during these games. So I know they were relieved after the game was over as well.
Q. Four years ago, how tired did your players get at practice?
COACH DREW: Is that when we didn't have the non-conference?
COACH DREW: Yeah, that was pretty challenging. We tried to mix things up. We tried to do more individual workouts. But at the end of the day, players play the game to play in games. So that was something that there's not enough practice drills out there to really keep their attention, so that was tough.
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