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March 16, 2011
MODERATOR: We're now joined by the Missouri student-athletes, Marcus Denmon and Laurence Bower. At this point we'll open up the floor for questions for the Missouri student-athletes.
Q. Marcus, on Sunday after the selection, you said you're not coming here for a vacation. Can you expand on that feeling about what's in front of you, what's important?
MARCUS DENMON: Well, I mean, of course the first game is always the most important one because without winning it, you can't advance. We just want to try to come here with that focus and that mindset of coming here and taking care of business.
Of course we want to be excited. We get a chance to play post-season basketball, but we don't want to come here and have a vacation mindset because we came here with one goal and one goal in mind, was to take care of business.
Q. Everybody knows that you guys like to press. Cincinnati presses, too. What have you seen with the way they press and how concerned are you with that?
LAURENCE BOWERS: Well, yeah, we have seen that Cincinnati presses, and I think it's going to be an exciting game. Two teams who really get after it and like the up-tempo type game by using their press. They're very athletic from what we've seen, but Coach always said we just gotta worry about what we do. And what we gotta do is force our will on them. And I think if we do that, that the game will be entertaining, but it will favor us.
Q. You talked about imposing your will on Cincinnati, and that requires getting up and down the court. Talk about what it's like playing for Coach Anderson and playing the fastest 40 minutes of basketball and the kind of shape you need to be in to do so.
LAURENCE BOWERS: Well, I know individually, I think that it's very exciting to play for a guy who doesn't limit your game. Coach Anderson, he lets you play. And by us playing so fast and up tempo, I think that it wears down our other opponents and gives us chances for easy buckets in transition.
And as far as on the defensive side, I mean, you can't go wrong. Coach said you got seven and a half men, so you're just all over the place pretty much helping your teammate out. And I think it's a very fun way of playing basketball and I think it's kind of entertaining.
Q. What do you guys make of your struggles away from home? I think it's like eight of the last ten you've lost. Have you looked at that and figured out why?
MARCUS DENMON: We know the things that we need to do in order for us to win. I mean, it's not -- I wouldn't say that it's something that we don't understand. I just feel that if we just continue to work like we've been having and work on the things that we need to, no matter where we play, then we should be effective.
Q. Marcus, particularly, and Laurence, you guys have been here before. The Cincinnati players except for Thomas have not. Does experience in the NCAA, can you discuss that as opposed to just experience of having played college basketball?
MARCUS DENMON: I mean, it brings on a totally different level. I mean, every play is magnify. This is one of the biggest stages you can play on in college basketball, and just having that experience of being here and playing here does help you, but it doesn't do everything, but it does give you a little bit of advantage.
I know since we've been here before and me playing in my freshman year, it made it a lot easier for me in my sophomore year, so I just want to try to take that experience and take it to my junior year as well.
LAURENCE BOWERS: Pretty much piggybacking on what Marcus said, being that we have played here our previous two years, I think it has kind of eased the pressure off us a little bit. And we're confident and the newcomers, telling them how the atmosphere is going to be, and I think they're buying into what we're saying.
So Cincinnati not having the most experience in the NCAA Tournament, I don't believe that that's going to give us an edge because all teams in the tournament are really going to be getting after it because this could possibly be our last game, so we just gotta fight like it.
Q. I'm sure you guys hear on TV all the time how great the Big East is. Do you get tired of hearing that? Does it give you motivation because you're playing a Big East team? What do you think about all that talk?
MARCUS DENMON: Well, of course the Big East is a really good conference. Just like the Big 12. Obviously with them getting so many teams in, that they did have really strong conference.
But, I mean, this time of the year you really don't need any extra motivation from the TVs or the media. I mean, you know that if you don't win, you go home.
Q. Marcus, you guys were ranked I think as high as eighth at one point in the season and things have slid a little bit late. What do you need to get back to, to get back to where you were playing at the beginning of the season?
MARCUS DENMON: We just need to get back to where we're out there and executing the things offensively and defensively that we tried to and the mindset that we have going into each game.
Rankings can be important, but this time of the year, all that's thrown out the records is 0-0. It's just survive and advance one game at a time.
Ranking just depends on when you win games. So earlier in the year when we were eight, we had won 14 of our first 15, but, I mean, this time of the year, all that just is thrown out the window.
Q. I'm just curious with both of you, had you guys played a style in high school anywhere similar to the up-tempo and the pressing and how much of an adjustment it was?
LAURENCE BOWERS: Well, in high school, I played totally opposite of how we play at Missouri. I played in the offense where there was a lot of sets and we relied on certain players. As far as here at Missouri, we don't -- we rely on certain players, but everybody is capable. I think that's an advantage of our basketball team.
But as far as an adjustment, I thought it was a pretty big adjustment coming in as a freshman, trying to get your body in the right shape physically and then mentally tough because we have conditioning and practices that are obviously unlike many others, but once you transition into it and you get used to it, it's very exciting and you like playing that way.
MARCUS DENMON: Well, my team did play up tempo in high school and we did press and we did try to get after people. But high school and college is totally different. I mean, it's a whole different intensity and level of intensity that you play with once you get to the college level.
Since I've been in college, I've been back home to my high school and played and it's like it don't even seem like they're even playing hard just because at a level that you play at collegiately to high school, it's a really big difference.
Q. Marcus, can you talk about you're inside, you're very controlled, and with the shooting of your cousin and the whole thing at the funeral, you remain controlled. But is there a raging inside you that fuels you?
MARCUS DENMON: Well, I wouldn't say any of that has anything to do with it. I feel I'm pretty controlled just period, that's just the type of person that I am. I mean, I do have a really -- a really fire inside me that drives me, but I don't think any of that has anything to do with it. I think it was just God-given.
Q. I just want to follow up with Laurence. When you said it was totally different style, I wonder if there was a point, maybe freshman year or something, where you said: What have I gotten into with this kind of offense?
LAURENCE BOWERS: Well, definitely. I came into my freshman year kind of banged up a little bit from the AAU circuit in high school or whatever, so it was kind of a rough transition for me.
But when I got through conditioning, I was like, okay, I'm okay. So getting through conditioning was the worst part as far as me adjusting. But there are still times when we get out there so hard that you're just exhausted and just be, like, man.
But other than that, I think it's a great program. I think Coach Anderson does a great job with us, getting us in shape and stuff like that, so it's paid off. We're in the NCAA Tournament, so all of the 6:00 a.m. and stuff like that has paid off, so it was a good adjustment.
MODERATOR: Thanks, guys.
We're now joined by Missouri Head Coach Mike Anderson. Coach, an opening statement about the excitement of heading into the NCAA Tournament.
COACH MIKE ANDERSON: Our guys are excited about being here in Washington, D.C., having an opportunity to participate in one of the greatest sporting events the NCAA Tournament. We've had an opportunity to be in the last two years, and we have some guys that have hopefully gained some experience and hopefully use that experience as we get a chance to play against an outstanding Cincinnati team.
MODERATOR: Questions for Coach Anderson?
Q. You played or coached against Cincinnati when you were at UAB and they were in Conference USA. And a lot has changed in that program, but do you see any similarities in the way this Cincinnati team plays to back then the way they played?
COACH MIKE ANDERSON: I feel that they're still a good defensive team. They attack the glass, a very physical basketball team. And Mick has them really playing at a high level. Each year they've really improved and they did real well in the Big East this year.
But there are some similarities. They're going to be physical. They're going to get after you. I think they really get up and down the floor a lot more with this team. They've added depth, and, trust me, in tournament play, depth is very, very important.
Q. Coach, for a fan, this is going to be intriguing match-up of styles with your fast tempo and Cincinnati's defense that barely allows a basket a minute or so. How do you see this game playing out and is it important to make sure it's played to your liking style-wise?
COACH MIKE ANDERSON: Tell you what, much to everyone's dismay, Cincinnati likes to play up tempo. I think those kids look forward to having an opportunity it play up tempo. Maybe not quite as fast as we do. So at the same time, it's going to be who can force their will on which team, and hopefully we can do it for 40 minutes.
They're an outstanding defensive team. We're kind of the team that tends to score a lot more and like to play better defense. So with that being said, I feel it's one of the more intriguing match-ups for the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Q. Coach, you've talked often about how you're a team built for March. What have you heard from other coaches talking about how difficult it is to prepare for you guys on such short notice?
COACH MIKE ANDERSON: Well, you hear that a lot. And quite frankly, I think our teams normally play their best basketball late February into March, and they don't normally see this style. I think more than anything else, not many teams see this style throughout the year. And so when you get to this tournament format, you gotta prepare for it.
Q. Coach, talk to me about Kim English a little bit. It's been an up-and-down season for him at times, but as a leader on and off the court, he seems to have maintained a pretty high level.
COACH MIKE ANDERSON: Well, I think that's been the remarkable thing about Kimmy, and although it hasn't been one of his best seasons, he's very important in what we do. It hasn't shaken his confidence. He's still a guy that's going to be talking in the huddles. He's going to be there on the bench encouraging guys.
And from a coach, to have guys on your team like that, that's that unselfishness we talk about. And I think he is a guy that we can go back to his first year in the NCAA Tournament. That's when he came on the landscape of a guy that played well against Marquette, hit some big free-throws for us. So that's hopefully something that can take place.
He has an opportunity to play closer to home. He's from the Baltimore area, so he's real excited. I'm probably going to have to calm him down. I think he's super, super excited.
Q. I'm curious. Bowers said before about how he played an entirely different style in high school. And I'm wondering, in finding players, recruiting players, is it easy to spot who will be able to play in your style, or you just find basketball players and get them in shape?
COACH MIKE ANDERSON: No, I don't think any coach just finds a player and just gets them in shape. I think you're trying to find some uniqueness that fits what you're doing.
And Bowers' case, Bowers is very athletic. He's very instinctive. He has probably the best pair of hands of any player I've ever had. I mean, he could make -- when I say guys make bad passes, you're probably a bad passer. He could make you look good. He can catch it from the floor, up high. He just has a knack.
He was one of our leading shot blockers in the conference. Just a guy that just does a lot of little things. Great finisher.
So when you talk about players fit your style, you want guys that are instinctive. And not only that, I think he's a good kid, good character kid, and he's gotten better each and every year. The development. I think sometimes that's what gets lost with what we do. Our kids, they develop and they get better.
Q. So what do you look for? Distinctiveness, what kind of things?
COACH MIKE ANDERSON: I like instinct. I like toughness. I like aggressive guys. Obviously you want talented guys. Oh, the last part, I likes winners. That's very important. Probably the first thing, I look for guys that like to win.
Q. What do you make of your tough road record, and is there any specific thing you do to address that? And obviously you're going to be on the road for as long as you keep playing now.
COACH MIKE ANDERSON: Well, we've played games in neutral sites throughout the year. We did well. In our conference, we probably didn't do as well as I would have liked for us to do. But you look at people's home record, everyone did a good job of taking care of business at home. And we were in some games that we just didn't finish. I think that was just from an immaturity standpoint.
The most important thing when you play on the road is you gotta have some great guard play, good leadership from your guard play. And ours has been kind of inconsistent. With that being said, as we get to this part of the year, they've learned some things throughout the year and we'll see if it all comes together here in March. What a great time for it to come together. And I just feel we have a good run in us, and hopefully it will be at this point in time.
Q. Coach, of all the success you've had as a player, as an assistant, as a head coach, when you get to this time of year, what is important to you in getting ready and what you learned over the years to say if we do that, we're likely to have success?
COACH MIKE ANDERSON: I'll tell you, the key for our basketball team is to be consistent. To be consistent, I was talking to someone earlier, said, you know what, when you get to this time of the year, what do you do with your team? I said, you know what, we build our team to get to this point.
So throughout the year, we're actually getting prepared to get here. And so as you go throughout the season, you hopefully don't -- we don't change a whole lot. As a matter of fact, when we get to the -- I think to post-season play, I really want our guys to really turn up the intensity.
A lot of teams, they get a little bit more. I think they shorten their bench a lot more, they get a little bit more conservative. I guess I'm the opposite with what we do.
But I always say I go back to keeping it simple. And we don't change a whole lot once we get to this particular part of the year.
Q. Just wonder, what do you look for as coach that tells you that your style, your pressure, is it just a matter of turn the ball over? Do you look for teams that physically wear down? How do you know you're getting to them?
COACH MIKE ANDERSON: I think just disrupt them with what they want to do. I think that's a big key. Are we're disrupting offensively what they want to do and how efficient are we on the opposite end. But I think our defense, we can push people out of what they want to do, that's when I know we're doing good things. And I'll say it again, the thing that has been -- hasn't happened as much as I would like to is the consistency. We could play you for 35 minutes, especially on the road, and that last five minutes, which generally normally goes in our favor, for some reason it hasn't taken place where it does.
Q. Coach, how key are Bowers and Ratliffe in an ability to at least match what Gates brings Cincinnati on the inside?
COACH MIKE ANDERSON: I think it's key for not only Ricardo Ratliffe, and Bowers, I think for those guys, they're going to start out. For them to really establish that post presence, that post defensive presence, they're the back end of our pressure defense, especially a guy like Ratliffe, protecting the hole. Especially as we get teams getting up and down the floor.
I think they've got to give as the presence inside. You always want to start the game inside out. So it's important.
But I think guys like Justin Safford, Steve Moore, I think they really become critical in tournament play. And obviously your guard play is going to be key as well. Sometimes if you notice when those guys play well, our team really, really plays well.
Q. Also, your team has been here. This is the third year in a row. You talk a lot about experience, but is NCAA Tournament experience different from ordinary college basketball experience?
COACH MIKE ANDERSON: Oh, I think the thing it does, probably especially for some of the guys that have been here, you know, like Laurence and Marcus, Kimmy, Steve, this is Justin's third tournament. I don't think they come in with that wow look. Like, wow, we're in the NCAA Tournament. That's not -- I think you probability listened to Marcus. You can hear the word about focus. We come to do a job. That's the experience that you talk about guys having.
And you got some young guys, Phil Pressey, Ricardo Ratliffe, they've never been. Matt Pressey, Ricky Kreklow. And so what's gotta take place, they've got to draw on those guys' experience and see it through those guys' eyes.
I recall the first year we went to the tournament with our basketball team. None of those guys had any of the experience, and they listened and they saw it through my eyes. And so hopefully, that is something they learn that they can do with the guys that we have on our team this year.
MODERATOR: Thanks, Coach.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports