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March 16, 2011

Talor Battle

Jeff Brooks

Ed DeChellis

Andrew Jones


THE MODERATOR: We have Penn State. We're going to open it up for questions to the student-athletes.

Q. Drew and Jeff, what have you seen in the Allen tape, especially if you saw him play the last seven games that is any different than what you have seen from him before and try to detail the challenges regarding him?
ANDREW JONES: Well, we've seen that he is very aggressive. He, you know, when he has his mind set, you know, making moves, you know, he is a good player. And you got to move your feet. You got to be ready to, you know, guard the ball screen whether he is popping or slipping, and just really be on your toes defensively and keep him off the glass.
JEFF BROOKS: Something that me and D. J. Jackson, David Jackson, been working on is just making sure that we have Drew's help, you know, regarding other guys on the perimeter or in the post. You know, making sure that we're there for Drew when he is guarding on the blocks and also when he is setting ball screens, we know that Lavoy Allen loves to set a ball screen so he'll be able to run into me and David. So we'll be there to give Drew that time to get back so we can keep our defense solid.

Q. Talor, these two teams seem to be very familiar with each other. I know these are two different teams now than maybe the last couple times we played in the regular season. Can you tell us what transpired when the two teams scrimmaged against each other earlier this year and how different these teams are now at this point in the season?
TALOR BATTLE: The scrimmage, I have to say, they beat us up pretty good. They were more physical.
But that was a long time ago. Totally two different teams. Especially for us, You know, just coming off the Big Ten tournament where we played really well on the defensive end. They are the same way. They like to guard you, play physical and play a grind game.
So it's an interesting match-up. We played each other three years straight, including the scrimmage. You know, so we know each other. There has been some tough games.
We went down there last year and I think we had a shot, then we fouled and I think we had a shot to tie it. So it's been good basketball games. We're just looking forward to playing them.

Q. Talor, can you talk about, and the rest of you guys, you guys seem to have embraced the underdog role recently. You know, advancing through the Big Ten the way you did. You are still the underdog. Just talk about the mentality it takes to play that role.
TALOR BATTLE: Just got to be focused. You know, pretty much for the last ten games our back has been against the wall. But we stayed positive. We stayed the course and we trusted and believed in one another. You know, we kept fighting.
Now we get here, you know, it's whole new season. None of our losses matter, or our wins for that matter, either. Just a one-game season.
Like I said, we want to come out and defend and give ourselves the opportunity to win the game.
JEFF BROOKS: Coach, he's prepared us pretty well for that role as well. You know, we've been the underdog a lot this season. You know, a lot of people have doubted us coming off the season that we had last year and I think he prepared us to step up to the plate for the season as seniors. You know, to lead the team, you know, and get us to the situation that we are in now.
So, um, if we are the underdog on Thursday, I think we're going to take that and be prepared and come out focused, like Talor said, and be ready to play.

Q. Talor, can you talk about trying to reach this point in your career, and now having reached it, what it means to you personally?
TALOR BATTLE: It's definitely been an uphill climb. You know, as we've had some tough breaks. You know, I remember standing and watching and this year we did enough work to get in. Now today we're here, it's different. This is all new to us.
But the end of the day it's still all basketball. Still got to put the ball in the hoop that's ten feet high. You are playing between 94 feet. That doesn't change. Like I told the guys, I said tomorrow when we come out, you know, this is an exciting moment. But we can't get caught in it. We still got to play the game of basketball and do the things it takes to win the game.

Q. Were you surprised to see you would come across the continent to play a team that is just down the highway from you?
JEFF BROOKS: Yeah, I think we were. You know, especially when we heard we were going to be all the way in Arizona. I am not the only one, this is my first trip here. But it makes it that much special. Coming here to play the NCAA tournament and being able to play a game that we all love. And playing Temple, you know, all the way out here, this is a neutral site, so no one has advantage or anything. So it really comes down to being a basketball game. It's going to take 40 minutes and we'll see what happens.

Q. I know you guys always talk about the pre-season scrimmage is over with. But how do you use that as motivation going into this game?
TALOR BATTLE: We use everything as motivation. For the two times we played in our sophomore and junior years and in this scrimmage that we're speaking about, you know, they just beat us up in every three games. Simple as that. They outmanned us, they out-toughed us. Now we have an opportunity to prove to people that as the season's gone along we've got better as a team. We're defending better.
Heading into this tournament I like where we're at. Obviously we lost in the Big Ten championship, but for the most part I think we've been playing really well and are looking forward to tomorrow.

Q. Talor, you mentioned these last ten games which you guys have played pretty well. Was there anything on the court that changed, anything that may have sparked this momentum to get you guys to this point?
TALOR BATTLE: No. I don't think anything's changed. I think we've been really resilient. Throw in a couple of losses, you know, some bad losses, you know, and, you know, we get beat up pretty good to Ohio State. And, you know, we just come back the next day and go on the road and win -- the next game I mean.
So we just showed our resilience, you know, the fight in us. After that game at Ohio State we had no shot of getting into the tournament, you know, sitting at 15-13. But what did we do? We just get hot and I think went four straight and put ourselves in the Big Ten championship.
That's how we've been. Like you guys asked, backs against the wall, we actually like that feeling. We've been the underdog our whole career. So we're looking forward to going out tomorrow and trying to prove everyone wrong.

Q. Talor, you said you had no shot, you thought you had no shot after losing to Ohio State?
TALOR BATTLE: We obviously believed we had a shot. But to the world, I meant being 15-13, you are not getting nowhere, into any kind of tournament.
Obviously, like I said, we continued to believe. It was just everything around -- we weren't on no bubbles. No last four in. We weren't even close. But we continued to fight. We stayed the course, like I mentioned before, and look where we are now with the opportunity to play in the NCAA tournament.

Q. All season long your guys' goal has been to make the NCAA tournament. Have you been able to refocus your goals and kind of set something new?
JEFF BROOKS: Yeah, definitely. You know, me and Talor's been getting that question a lot lately. Basically what it comes down to is now we come this far, we didn't just come here to make it and lose one game. You know, we came out here to win games and things like that.
So right now the focus is just take every game one at a time that we have. And our first opportunity is Thursday. That's where it all starts.

Q. There was a lot of media attention in the Wisconsin game, 36-33. You held them to nothing basically. Really you have been holding teams to 50 or less. I know you said there hasn't been a huge shift or difference. But have you noticed a difference in the defense in the last month or so?
TALOR BATTLE: In the Big Ten tournament I think we definitely played defense a lot better. You know, holding Minnesota, I think -- I mean, Wisconsin to, I think it was 29 percent, you know, we've just been digging down of late.
But all season long, any game that we've -- where we've played well, we've defended great and rebound the basketball, that's one of our staples.
You know, coach always talks about if we do those two things we have the opportunity to beat anyone, we believe. That's where it starts for us. When we don't defend we find ourselves in trouble. Because we're not going to go out and score 80 points a game. So we got to keep the game low in the 60s is what we shoot for.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much. Good luck tomorrow.
We'll let coach Ed DeChellis give us a brief opening statement, then open it up for questions.
COACH DeCHELLIS: Very, very proud of our kids. Really, really proud of our kids. They've done everything I've asked of them. Not only this past weekend in the Big Ten tournament, but throughout the season.
You know, we've had, as these guys mentioned, we've had our backs against the wall several times and they've been able to -- they've been able to fight through it. Very, very proud of their efforts and their energy and their focus. And it's been great to see the fruits of their labor, you know, be rewarded with an invitation to play in this tournament.
But, like they mentioned, I think that's over, that's gone. I think they're excited to play. They want to play. And they want to prove that, you know, we're a very good basketball team, and we can advance within this tournament.

Q. Coach, could you just talk about what this team has been through on the defensive end of the court in relation to Temple? I know you faced them earlier in that scrimmage, how different, in your estimation, with the two teams and do you expect an all-out slug fest tomorrow based on the type of defense these two teams have been playing lately?
COACH DeCHELLIS: Well, the games we've had with them have been pretty close, pretty tough. Both defensive battles the last couple years. And they've beaten us. I would hope to expect to be a good defensive game for both teams.
You know, the scrimmage was so long ago, my staff watched it, I did not even watch the tape. My staff watched it. We're just a different basketball team and they're a different basketball team.
I've got enough tapes to watch on them last four, five, six games they've played. But you think both teams for them, coach Dunphy has done an unbelievable job with the Temple program. I think their philosophy is they're going to defend you and get into you and rebound the basketball. And they're very, very efficient offensively. They get the ball to guys that can score.
So we're hoping for a good defensive battle. We can -- you know hopefully we play that way as well. We have in our league. We've had to really defend and rebound to be successful in our league?

Q. Could you describe Talor a little bit in terms of both as a player and maybe some of the intangibles that he possesses?
COACH DeCHELLIS: I think, you know, his numbers speak for themselves. You know, he's our all-time leading scorer in the school's history; 600 rebounds, 500 assists. I think there's only three guys that have done that.
He is a very competitive kid. He really wants to do well. He always wants to do well. Sometimes, you know, I always say to him, you got to, you know, gear down a little bit, go from third to second gear here now. Use your speed, use your separation.
Off the floor I think that everybody, you know, talks about what he does on the floor. He is a great basketball player. He's been great for our program. But off the floor he's a tremendous kid. He's got a great personality. He's got a great smile. He's got a great spirit about him. And those are the things when said and done I think that I'll remember most about him. He's been a great ambassador I think to our university, to our student body. Carries himself extremely well. But the end of the day he is a competitive, competitive guy. He hates to lose.

Q. I believe this is your eighth year at Penn State and first time breaking through. So I was just kind of curious how it feels, obviously, and what's different with this year's team than the ones you have had in the past?
COACH DeCHELLIS: Well, I think, you know, I'm glad for my kids. I'm glad for the players. The seniors have put in four hard years, some of them five. Two kids red shirted, Drew Jones and David Jackson, both with injuries. So very, very happy for them.
They've worked extremely hard. They've wanted this for a long time. And it's a just all came together for them. The light bulb came on.
Jeff Brooks has been a talented kid for three years and somewhere along the way, mid-December, you know, somehow the light bulb just came in. We've been telling him he's good for three years but he always would, you know, he would make a mistake and would really get down on himself. He got down on himself more than I got down on him. He was able to fight through that, and really blossomed as a player. He's been fun to watch. It's been fun to be part of.
You see guys come in they're 18 and now they're sitting up here with me and they're 21. I think that's why we coach. It's a special time. It's not the, you know, it's not the baskets. It's not the rebounds. Its this joy when we were sitting in that room in Indianapolis when those kids popped off that coach when we got announced. This is the special, special time for me.

Q. What do you think this the factors were in preventing this break through for as long as it was?
COACH DeCHELLIS: Well, we've had a lot of injuries. We took program over that really needed to be rebuilt. Every time we thought we got there it was something devastation happened to us. I thought two years ago we were really talented and had a chance and ended up wining the NIT championship which was a tremendous run. Beating George Mason, Rhode Island, on the road at Florida and Notre Dame and Baylor. I mean, two really good teams that we made a run through.
We just, our non-conference, things happened non-conference we just didn't anticipate. Teams didn't play as well as we hoped they were going to play for us. That sort of got us.
But, you know, every time we got close, something happened bad to us. And it usually was an injury. Then one year it was a schedule issue.
But these kids, as I said to them, just keep fighting, just keep staying the course and good things can happen to you.

Q. Coach, you mentioned the NIT championship that you guys won a couple of years ago. How much, if any, impact did that have on this group of now seniors and upper-classmen in terms of giving them the confidence now? They've been through a tournament, this type of situation?
COACH DeCHELLIS: I think it helps. Any time you go to post-season play, whatever tournament it is, I think it helps. You know we were looking at scores this morning of the other tournaments, you know, that teams are playing in. Not the NIT but CB, CBI, CIT, all these other tournaments. And I think it's a tremendous opportunity for kids.
Because when you got in a tournament atmosphere and you play and you lose, you're done. There's no more games. I think just that pressure that kids have to play under helps them and helps your program.
The NIT run was very good to us. Because if you lose, they ask you to go home. You don't get to play anymore. So hopefully we'll take that experience and we've talked about that a little bit. Hopefully our kids -- our kids understand that. We want to be here. We want to stay. And, you know, so hopefully, you know, they've experienced that.

Q. Does the fact you worked so hard to get here and had to persevere and do all that do you appreciate it more you think maybe than people that just sit up there year after year?
COACH DeCHELLIS: You know, we talked at the staff meeting last night, how special it is to play in the tournament. Because maybe some teams that, you know, go every year, maybe it's kind of like second nature, hey, we're going to the tournament. And we talked about some teams this year that didn't get into the tournament. Teams that three weeks ago were in and all of a sudden they aren't here.
We laughed last night in our coach's meeting. Last week the so-called "experts" had us in the NIT against Vermont at home and at Marshall. I said here we are in Tucson playing Temple. I mean, what a difference a week makes.
Ernie Nestor, my director of basketball operations, who has been in the business forever said, you know, he kept saying to us and our team, you know, March is for memories. And, you know, there's a lot of basketball to be played. We went to play, we got beat by Ohio State as Bubby's talked about, we went to Minnesota had to win, won, came home, then got ready for the confidence tournament. There was just so many more games to be played, to build your resume. And we just embraced that and just took them one at a time.
THE MODERATOR: Okay, coach, thank you very much. Good luck tomorrow.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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