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March 15, 2011
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by the University of Texas at San Antonio. We're joined by players Jeromie Hill, Melvin Johnson and Devin Gibson. Questions.
Q. What have the last 24, 48 hours been for you guys, if you could each address that?
DEVIN GIBSON: Last 24 hours, pretty much just been on high. Every kid dreams about playing in the NCAA Tournament. And it's kind of pretty cool to be the first to play in I guess the First Four, what you guys are starting to call it. It's pretty amazing.
MELVIN JOHNSON: It's been pretty hectic, I mean, coming out, doing something we've never done before, UTSA has never done before and having a chance to do some things that a lot of people never get to experience. And I just think it's a good opportunity that we should all just take it and live in the moment for right now.
JEROMIE HILL: Devin already touched on it, it's a wonderful experience to be involved in it, especially in my first year at UTSA. We're very humbled to be here and enjoy the experience, and the last 24, 48 hours have been pretty exciting.
Q. Devin, you're the only senior on your team. Could you just talk about what this year's been like? Has the leadership role been what you thought it would be with the young guys?
DEVIN GIBSON: It's been great. The leadership role is pretty much everything I thought it would be, coming from a high school where I was the only senior that actually played in a high school game going into my senior year, and going into my senior year in college and being the only guy to actually get a lot of minutes. Last year I really had to step up to the plate and lead. But it wasn't all me. These guys were ready to step up to the plate and make things happen on and off the court. And it's been great.
Q. Is there a feeling at all that you have to more or less prove that you belong in here? I mean, I realize you're in here, but nonetheless do you feel like you have to go a little bit beyond to show the world that UTSA belongs?
DEVIN GIBSON: No, not really. I mean, we've done what we set out to do. I mean, we're going to come in tomorrow, going to compete with Alabama State and hopefully we win that one and compete with the big boys.
We're not really just playing with a chip on our shoulder. We're going to enjoy this moment and compete, and that's what we've done all year and that's what got us here.
MELVIN JOHNSON: I think we do have something to prove. I mean, coming from a smaller conference, I mean, I think a lot of people don't really respect us, like our RPI isn't very high or whatever. But I do think we have something to prove. We have to let everybody know that we deserve to be here just as much as anybody else, just as much as anybody else, like all the other schools and stuff like that.
So I do think we have a little chip on our shoulder. We should come out, be a little upset and ready to upset some people.
JEROMIE HILL: I think we've earned our spot here in the NCAA Tournament. We've gone through our path to get here. Everyone has a different path. Now we're here.
We've got the first round coming up tomorrow. We're just going to come in and play basketball and start with them and then move up.
We've got some big teams coming up. So as UTSA we're going to show that we belong here and prove that we're not just one of those small schools.
Q. Melvin and Jeromie, could you talk about Devin being the only senior, just the role that he plays on your team and do you guys tease him much or anything like that?
MELVIN JOHNSON: I got a chance to play with Devin last year my freshman year and first year in college, whatever. Devin has been my roommate for the last few years, and I really like Devin. He's taken on the role of playing with people, having freshmen come in, playing with people that never played divisional basketball before. And to help us to get to the NCAA Tournament, and to get to the tournament his first year, like, it's really big, like he really played his part and he really helped us out this year, him and Coach Thompson. So I appreciate Devin.
JEROMIE HILL: Devin's not just a pretty face. Off the court he's also a leader. He strives to be the best person he can be. He's always on time to things, early. Making sure everybody's ready to go at practice. His marks are unbelievable. He's got a double degree.
What he does off the court you can see on the court. He's a good leader. And as the only one senior, he's done an excellent job. Couldn't be happier to play with somebody like Devin.
Q. It's one thing to make the tournament, but another to actually win a game. What would it mean back in San Antonio and for your program if you were to win your first NCAA game of all time?
DEVIN GIBSON: It would mean everything. UTSA has never won a tournament game in I think any other sports that we have at the school. It's not only about us as a basketball team, it's about us as a university. And it would be just a huge accomplishment to put us on the map.
MELVIN JOHNSON: I agree with Devin, this will be a huge accomplishment for our school, San Antonio as well, to do something we've never done before.
And we get to go down in history as one of the first teams to potentially win a postseason game at the conference tournament. It would be a big thing to do.
JEROMIE HILL: I agree with both these guys here. UTSA's moving up in the world I guess you can say. And this is just the beginning, I think, and as we move up to bigger conferences and play higher level teams. This probably won't be our first appearance. Definitely won't be our last.
Q. Devin, you guys were -- I guess you had to win your last regular season game just to get into your conference tournament. You were down 10 at halftime, came back and won, down 14 in the quarterfinals, your conference tournament late, came back and won. Can you talk about the resiliency and the fight that your team shows?
DEVIN GIBSON: I think all the resiliency and the fight all comes from summertimes playing with each other, not calling fouls, from the meetings we had prior to the University of Texas at Arlington game. It all kind of just showed up on the court.
When we got down at halftime, nobody hung their head. Everybody was pretty much trying to pump the next guy up. We weren't just going to let them come in and beat us like that. It all just comes from just team chemistry.
MELVIN JOHNSON: Can you repeat the question again, please?
Q. Just about the resiliency coming back, the season games and tournament.
MELVIN JOHNSON: We've been through ups and down in the season and nobody wanted to see the season end, especially being Devin's senior year. I would have felt bad as well as the other 13 players. We would have felt if we didn't make it to the conference tournament for the first time in Devin's four years at UTSA, it would have been a huge letdown to alumni and Devin and his family and the freshmen coming in their freshman year not make it to the tournament. All in all it was just a little bit of a letdown.
We had to be resilient because we had our backs against the wall having to win a game just to get into the conference tournament and having to beat be down 14 and coming back and winning by 1 to a 2 seed and we're a 7 seed. Our backs were against the wall. We didn't have a choice but to fight and come out victorious.
Q. Your first-round opponent is a team that had to win 11 of its last 12 just to get to 500 to get into the tournament, and they were 1 and 7 at one point. Could you talk a little-- we were talking about resiliency -- about what they've had to go through?
DEVIN GIBSON: It's crazy. You look at what we did, we think we did something, but they had to win 11 out of their last 12. I was actually unaware of that.
Again, that just shows the fight. There's nothing like NCAA basketball tournament. Every kid dreams about it. They probably felt that their backs were against the wall and they came out swinging just like us, so I commend them on doing their job to get here.
MELVIN JOHNSON: That was big time for them to be able to win 11 out of 12 games just to get to 500 and to get to the tournament and whatever. And their conference tournament their games weren't even close. They had a mission in mind. And they went out and got their goal. And now they're here.
JEROMIE HILL: It's not how you start off the season; it's how you finish it. Same in our case. We didn't start too well, but we just kept believing in the coaches, what they had to say. And I'm sure Alabama State did the same thing and they just kept working towards the goal and that final goal is to be here.
Q. You guys might as well just stay in Ohio, I guess. If you win, you would end up playing Ohio State up in Cleveland. What's it like for a team -- I don't know whether you've had an opportunity to see the No. 1 team, Ohio State, but they're on TV a lot, they get a lot of acclaim and everything, and to think that you guys might soon be playing them?
DEVIN GIBSON: It's great. You already -- again, you dream about -- I've dreamed about all these years being a 16 seed knocking off the No. 1 seed. It's never been done before. It would be a huge accomplishment if we were able to do that. But just being out on the floor with those guys is going to be good, just to compete against top-level opponents.
MELVIN JOHNSON: I think it will be great coming out to play those guys. Like you say, we see them on TV all the time. And everybody wants to play the best people. Like NBA, everybody brings their best against the Heat, Lakers and the Celtics. And I do feel like we are the underdog. Like we have to beat Alabama State first. So hopefully we'll get that win and maybe we'll see what happens on Friday.
Q. You didn't mention the Spurs.
MELVIN JOHNSON: I'm not going to lie: I'm not a Spurs fan. I'm from Dallas. I'm not a Spurs fan. But you know...
JEROMIE HILL: I think these two guys said it all.
DEVIN GIBSON: I like the Spurs, though.
Q. Devin, how are you feeling, just health-wise? I can't tell from here. Are you starting to come back into shape a little bit?
DEVIN GIBSON: The bump on my side of the head that I took in the championship game, it's still there. If you get up close, you'll be able to see my head looks a little lopsided. I'm trying to keep the camera on this side. But I'm feeling good. My health is all right.
Q. And, Jeromie, you've just been really shooting the ball very well lately. Just as a shooter, is that something you never know how long that's going to last? So just how have you been feeling lately and how do you hope to continue that?
JEROMIE HILL: Coach has just basically said if you see daylight and you're feeling good, you shoot it. You hit one early in the game and you feel good about it and you just keep shooting them and they keep falling.
When you've got the mindset that rim is the ocean and everything that you shoot is going in, it's a good feeling. And you just can't break habit and just gotta keep going into the gym each day and shooting. And when it comes game time, you've got money in the bank and you're ready to shoot.
Q. Is there anything you can attribute it to? It just kind of comes and goes and you have to just put your work in regardless?
JEROMIE HILL: Just gotta keep getting in the gym and shooting as many as you can. It really is down to just confidence, confidence in yourself, getting on a roll. You do have those games where you can't make anything, then you have games where you can't miss.
Luckily, the second half of the season they've all been going in.
Q. I was talking to Iggie down on the floor. He had saucer eyes. It's a really nice arena, but it's only a mid-level arena. How does this compare to some of the venues you've played back home?
JEROMIE HILL: My home gym back in Australia holds about 50 people. The one at UTSA holds about 5,000. I'm not sure how many this one holds, but it's probably the biggest ones I've played in since LSU. It's a different level, but I couldn't be happier to play at this level.
Q. This is a really cool -- I was back here in '04 for the game and they packed it. It was a really cool environment. So how much are you guys looking forward to playing in front of that? Because we've all been there at the Convo. Sometimes there's a good crowd, sometimes there isn't. But there should be a good one here on Wednesday.
DEVIN GIBSON: It's going to be pretty nice. I've played in a fair share of nice arenas. I played at Texas, played at Oklahoma State. I'm not really looking at the venue. It's more of looking at the game and trying to get that first win under that belt.
MELVIN JOHNSON: It will be a pretty good experience to play in a gym like this, with a crowd like we're going to have tomorrow. I've always -- I've played in nice gyms as well. Like I said, I'm not really worried about the crowd. My team, we're going to come, we're going to play, we're going to be ready to play in front of whoever. So it's going to be a packed gym, but we're going to come out and play to our best abilities.
JEROMIE HILL: I think the crowd helps the vibe of the game. Everyone's going to be playing with high energy. Everyone's going to be excited to be out there. You're playing some of your best basketball in front of the bigger crowd. So I'm excited to be here and play in front of that crowd.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you. Now we are joined by UTSA head coach Brooks Thompson. Coach, an opening statement.
COACH THOMPSON: Obviously we're excited to be here. We're looking forward to a great trip. Everything's been great. And we're sure enjoying being here in Dayton. Excited about the game tomorrow. Excited to get on that floor here in a few minutes.
But I think our guys are excited. I think they feel like they deserve to be here, and now it's just time that we kind of get them to reality and get back to practice mode and game mode. But we're part of 68. We're excited to be here and we're ready to get the show on the road.
Q. Do you have any fear that they'll be a little bit skittish?
COACH THOMPSON: I do, but I'm an overreactor. I don't know if skittish is the right word. To be honest with you, I think the last week has been a whirlwind for them. There's no doubt about that.
They've played their best basketball the last two weeks. We've got a young, inexperienced basketball team that it's kind of been a roller coaster ride all year long.
But they won 19 games. They understand how to win games. I think it took some time for our young guys to learn that. But if I have any fear, have any fear of kind of getting back to reality, as I said.
I don't think skittish. They're a young, resilient group. They're not going to go out there with any fear. It's just making sure that they're prepared and they understand why they're here.
Q. We've talked a lot about Devin in the last week or so. Just couple of details. I remember talking with somebody, I can't remember who, but he was leaning pretty strong towards Corpus Christi at one point in recruiting. Does that sound accurate? And if not, maybe you can just talk about what it was like to kind of finish him off and get him in. You knew he was going to be a good player, but did you think he was going to be this good?
COACH THOMPSON: I knew he was going to be good, but I didn't think that he would be special. And I call him a special player. You know, obviously I call him a special person, to be honest with you. He's everything that we've expected out of him. Whether it's on the floor or off the floor, he's been a great leader and been a great ambassador to our basketball program.
But as every good player, you're going to lean certain places and you're going to finally come down to picking the right place to play. And obviously in my opinion he picked the right place.
But did I think he was going to be this good? No. I knew he was a very talented young man, but when you're recruiting you try to watch how hard people play and what type of people they are and what type of character they have.
But I had no idea his motor was going to be this high and he was going to be that tough of a competitor. And obviously we can go through every accolade that he's had since he's been here, starting Freshman of the Year.
But the last couple of weeks he's been as special a basketball player as you could ask to coach. He's just willed us through what we've gone through the last two weeks and just put this team on his back, and I expect him to do that again tomorrow.
Q. There's always good stories in March, but Alabama State that you play in the first round at one point was 1 and 7 and they end up in the NCAA Tournament. They had to win 11 of 12 just to get to 500 and get in here. Could you talk a little bit about what -- as a coach what it takes to get a team to come from 1 and 7 to where they are now?
COACH THOMPSON: I can tell you, I that wish we were playing them right now when they were 1 and 7, because they're playing very good basketball right now, and that's a testament to their head basketball coach.
And obviously they're playing good basketball. And obviously they've got to have some decent character on that basketball team, because if you start out at 1 and 7 at one point and you can win 11 of your last 12 basketball games, something's going right.
I think the eligibility of No. 2, I'm drawing a blank on his name, sorry (Tramayne Moorer), you know with him getting in and starting to play, it's obviously bolstered up their confidence in how they attack teams.
But obviously it's a great coaching job. But I think it's a testament not only to the coaches but the players, because at 1 and 7 you never know, if you don't have that character, you never know what you're going to get out of it. And they should be proud of what they've done.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports