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March 17, 2011

Will Barton

Tarik Black

Will Coleman

Josh Pastner


THE MODERATOR: We have student-athletes from Memphis, Will Barton, Will Coleman, Tarik Black, and questions for our student-athletes.

Q. Will Barton, do you feel you got a good draw as far as location for being a 12 seed? I mean you've been to Tulsa before, and Memphis isn't that far away.
WILL BARTON: Yes, I do think we got a good draw as far as location. Our fans can drive here. It's only about a five or six-hour drive, so I think that's really good for us. A really good location.

Q. Will, let's get your feelings about the game tomorrow.
WILL COLEMAN: I think it's going to be a real good atmosphere. Just to piggy back on what Will Barton said, I think it's going to be real good as far as location goes because the guys from Memphis and all the fans and stuff can drive up. It's not that long of a drive.
It possibly could feel like a home game. I'm not too sure of how the seating goes or tickets go, or whatever the case may be, but we'll definitely have our share of Memphis fans at the game tomorrow.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about getting Memphis back to the NCAA Tournament, for you, Will, after last year's NIT, appearance, and you, Tarik as a first year player?
WILL BARTON: Well, I'm just excited to be here. We were so close last year, so close. But we came up short. But this year we made it a mission to get it done and make sure we get to the tournament.
At the same time we're not just happy to be here. We're not setting our standards on just getting to the tournament. We plan on staying here and doing damage and getting these two games and trying to make it to Anaheim.
TARIK BLACK: It's a great experience me being a freshman, you know, coming in. We actually made it to the tournament. But like Will said, it's not satisfying. Even though I'm a freshman, I have high goals and I want to achieve a lot while I'm in college.
So for this first year it shows our potential that we can be a good team, and coming down here and playing as hard as we can and winning.

Q. So much is made of this team understandably about how young they are. What ways do you see these guys, in particular, as freshmen or young players on or off the court? Are there things you do sometimes that you think they are really freshmen?
WILL COLEMAN: In my eyes I don't see any of the guys as freshmen anymore. They're well-coached and well-behaved basketball players that are sophomores now. I don't feel like they're freshmen anymore. They've shown a lot this year and they've matured a lot, and I think it showed a lot and took a lot for all of them to come in, for everyone to come in and win the conference championship, and we plan on doing damage in the NCAA Tournament.

Q. Do they seem young off the court to you sometimes?
WILL COLEMAN: Everybody, everybody's young off the court. We're all goofy. We're a goofy bunch of guys that just like to have fun, and there is nothing wrong with that. But when we get on the court, we know what time it is. We have the business mindset, and we all just get our coachable hats on and just go to work.

Q. How much did last week in El Paso help you guys as a team and your psyche in terms of confidence?
WILL BARTON: I really think it made us grow up. Guys were out there. We were talking to each other, a lot of communication. We were playing hard. And I think the one thing is we came together because we were telling each other no one cares about how much time they've really got, how many points they scored, everyone just cared about winning.
Around this time of the year in the tournament, that's what you're going to need to win. So I think we all just pulled together and playing the best defense since we've been playing all this season. And I think we're ready to go.
TARIK BLACK: Out there in the conference tournament, what I recognize about this team is when our backs are against the wall or when it's do-or-die times in situations we pull through. I believe that we're going to have that same mindset going into this tournament. It's do or die. If you lose, you're out. And we knew that back in El Paso, so we did what it took to win.

Q. Do you guys feel like you need to move on and carry the banner for Conference USA at all given the UAB early exit, UTEP, and the NIT one and done? You guys are it for those two tournaments.
WILL COLEMAN: I definitely tip my hat to those guys, because those are two very, very good teams. UAB took the conference -- well not the conference, but the regular season. And UTEP, they, man, it was awful when we went down there the first time in El Paso.
But when we came back in the conference tournament, we took care of business. But I definitely feel like we're representing Memphis and Conference USA by doing what we need to do in this NCAA Tournament.

Q. Coach told a story about totaling the number of points you guys scored in high school and putting it on the board. It was some big number, telling you guys you're going to have to sacrifice. Do you remember that in the beginning of the season, and how that conversation went and what it meant to you?
WILL COLEMAN: I remember. He didn't exactly put all the numbers up, but it was just basically he was telling us that we have to sacrifice everything. Not to say that everything that everyone did in high school didn't matter. It goes out the window. You're starting over. It's a clean slate, and you need to start tallying you up your numbers for a whole new record because you're not in high school anymore.
I'm not going to say it's the big leagues, but it's Memphis basketball and we're all in this together. So all the accolades and stuff you got in high school, you can't do anything with those in the NCAA. So it's time to start getting new plaques and banners on the wall.
TARIK BLACK: I don't remember that story exactly, but our coach does a lot of things of that nature. As far as bringing up high school accolades like Will said, or he might bring up this year and say we took these losses, this is our RPI, this is how many minutes we have left in the season, because he's done that, he's put down the minutes and the amount of practices we have left, and the amount of games.
He breaks everything down so there is no gray area. We understand exactly where we stand in the NCAA and in our conference. So doing that for a young team like ours, we don't know how to think yet. How to think about the whole season as a whole from the beginning, because we didn't know what to expect.
So he broke it down for us so we had an understanding of what we were getting ourselves into, and obviously it helped because we're here now.
WILL BARTON: I remember him saying that a lot, especially in practice when the freshmen would mess up, he would say, "You're not in high school no more. No one really cares what you did." Especially talking to guys like me and Chris Crawford, you know, because we got down on ourselves.
He always tells us this isn't high school. No one feels sorry for you anymore. No one cares if you scored a lot of points or what you were ranked in high school.
I think he said that because he knows we have a lot of talent and he doesn't want us to get complacent. In high school you can pretty much wake up and you're the best player on the court most of the time when you step on the court.
But in college that's not the case. And if you don't bring it every night, someone's there to take your spot. So I think that's the message he was trying to send. Don't get complacent. Come out and work hard every day.

Q. Can you talk about the challenges of facing this Arizona team tomorrow and also of an All-American candidate and possible NBA draft lottery pick?
WILL BARTON: I watched Arizona a lot this year. They're a very good team, they're very talented. They like to get up and down and get after it. They're well-coached; and like you said, they have a really good player in Derrick Williams, probably one of the best players in the country, a Player of the Year candidate. I watched him and broke a lot of film down on him and he's really good too.
I think coming into the game we can't be scared coming in. Put a lot of pressure on those guys and play hard and see what happens at the end.
TARIK BLACK: To go off what he said, they are a very talented team. I haven't watched -- I don't really watch basketball that often. But when we do have to face teams, I do get film broken up on the team, and I watch film on them. They're a very good team. I think they're shooting 40% from three as a team, and that's wonderful. For one player to shoot like that, that's amazing. But for a whole team to shoot 40% behind the line, that's really good.
And Derrick Williams, he's a good player. He gets after it and gets to the free-throw line a lot, so we're going to have to watch our fouls.
But to say that we made it here, we're both a talented team. So whichever team outworks the other one, that's the team that's going to win.
THE MODERATOR: An opening statement from Coach Josh Pastner with Memphis.
COACH PASTNER: This is my 14th time I've been part of the NCAA Tournament, and I used to always come in the back to watch the coaches speak to the media. When Lute Olson and John Calipari would be in the media it would be packed. With me there's only a few people. So I recognize the difference between being a Hall of Famer and not. There you go (smiling).
Let me just say on this, with Arizona, it's obviously, Arizona's a tremendous basketball team. You don't win 27 games and win the Pac-10 Championship without being really good.
Sean Miller has done a great job. I think he's one of the best coaches in the business. He's won everywhere he's been whether at Xavier has an assistant coach at N.C. State, as a player at Pittsburgh. The guy's won everywhere he's been.
I voted for Derrick Williams as my vote for National Player of the Year. And they've got really good guys around them. They shoot 40% from three-point range, and they're as good as anybody in the country that we'll face offensively. They've got great offensive fire power.
We'll have to play a great game. We'll be ready to go, but we know we're playing a great basketball team in Arizona. Just since everyone's been asking about me being my alma mater, I love Arizona. I was there for 12 years. Loved every second being there. I loved my time there. Got a bachelor's and masters from there. Was part of great wins there. And some of my best friends are there in Tucson.
But the facts are I bleed blue and gray. I love where I'm at. I'm all about Memphis. I do stay up late at night and watch the Arizona games on TV, and I root for Arizona when they're playing in the Pac-10. This will be the one time I'm not rooting for them. Other than that, that's where we're at.

Q. Talk about how good of a draw you got as far as location in Tulsa. You've obviously played here, and it's not too far of a drive.
COACH PASTNER: No, we were fortunate to have this draw, obviously, to be in Tulsa. It's a six-hour car ride for us and for the fans. The fan base in Memphis, unless you're there, you probably don't understand it. But it's one of the great fan bases in all of sports. I would say there is no difference between us and the Green Bay Packers in the fan base.
The fans there are so emotionally invested and connected to their program. This is not my program, because Memphis was good before I was born, and Memphis is going to be good when I leave this beautiful earth. I'm just right now sitting in the chair making sure that everyone's proud of their program on and off the floor, and that's my responsibility.
The fan base is one thing in the city that brings everybody together is Tiger basketball. That's the facts. There's nothing more to it.
Last year in a transition year we averaged 17,400 people. This year when we were starting from ground zero, we averaged 17,700. Those are the facts. I mean, people absolutely love it.
You have talk shows all day where people talk about it. It's their whole focus. When we won the conference tournament championship, I had more people send me emails about them crying after the win. It's just like the reception we had when we landed. It was like we just went to the Final Four.
So for our fan base, I think we'll have great fans here. It gives them an opportunity to be here, and it's a quick drive over for them, like I said, six hours; and Tulsa's being in the league is a good thing too.

Q. When do these players seem the youngest to you either on the court or off the court? When do you really feel or sense their age?
COACH PASTNER: I would say these guys -- we're the youngest team in the NCAA Tournament. We're the third youngest team in the country. We've had some growing pains. Those are part of it. And I kept telling everyone at the beginning of the year that it was going to take some times.
There were going to be some ups and downs because we signed eight new players. We were brand-new. We were starting over. And the expectation coming into the season was based on recruiting expectations. I mean, 98% of our guys had never scored a point, grabbed a rebound or thrown an assist in Division I basketball.
What I did at the beginning of the year is took everyone in the room and took everyone's scoring average like they did in high school and totaled it to 256 points. I said, guys we're not scoring 256 this year. There is going to be sacrifice. You're going to have to give some things up. It's taken some time.
I'll tell you in the conference tournament, I believe the reason we won, besides hitting shots and everything, it was -- because I kept telling our guys that we are not going to reach the level we need to reach until you all take responsibility and ownership of your team because this is a player's game. This isn't a coaching game. This is a player's game. Players make plays. I said we're only going to hit a certain level until you take responsibility and ownership of your team.
I felt in the conference tournament it was the first time all year that they finally got it, because whether you were a starter or a walk-on or anybody in between, if you were on the bench whether it's during timeouts or anything else, it was like a NASCAR pit stop where it was like a refueling station. Every time we went there, whether we were down or not, guys were positive with each other, hugging each other, patting each other, just high fiving. What it did was allowed me instead of having to motivate in the huddle, I got to just coach. I got to folk us on X's and O's.
I felt what it allowed us to do, even when we were down in certain situations, due to the positive nature of the entire team, we were able to recover from our mistakes that much quicker. That much quicker. That is one of the great things when you talk about chemistry, to have great chemistry is the ability to recover from mistakes quickly. You look at some of the great teams around the country, the ones that are able to recover from mistakes quicker than others are the one that's win games.
During that week when we were down 12 points with 6:13 to go, we were able to recover. A lot of it had to do with the positive atmosphere from everyone on the bench.

Q. Coach Cal took it upon himself to try to help the league get more respect because Memphis kind of sits on an island in Conference USA. You seem to be separated from the conference even when you weren't in first or second place, people were placing you in the NCAA Tournament already. And here are the first two teams that played in postseason are already out. So here we go again with Conference USA and this idea around the country that maybe the conference isn't very good. Do you take that same kind of flag that Coach Cal did to try to help this league get more national respect?
COACH PASTNER: Yeah, the only difference between Coach Cal and I is he has 585 more wins than I do, so that helps, one.
But the second thing is, when I had one year with Calipari and people used to tell me what's it like working for Coach Cal? And I used to say the guy that follows him is crazy. How are you going to follow this guy? The guy had the four year window that was the greatest run in the NCAA period. So I'm the guy that follows the guy.
You've got to remember during the time that four-year run, Memphis won 64 straight games, and I was fortunate to be part of some of those as an assistant. But the league wasn't as good at the start of that 64-win streak. It just wasn't.
The league is so much better today than it's ever been because of the success that Memphis has had early on, it's forced other teams to have to be better, to recruit better.
Unfortunately, the perception of the league is what it was three, four years ago. It's not the reality. And that won't probably catch up for a couple more years. The only thing that I can do is constantly talk about Conference USA and how much better the league has gotten.
I mean, you look at our numbers, we had nine or ten teams or nine teams in the top 100 of the RPI. I think six were in the top 66. And the only other two conferences that could say that was the Big East and the Big Ten.
So you have a lot of good players, coaches and good teams in the league, but the perception of the league from media and fans -- including some of our own in Memphis -- is that what it was three, four years ago when Memphis was beating everyone by 50 points. The league wasn't real good then. The league is so much better now because of the success of Memphis.
It's forced everybody to raise their level of game, and the league is better than it's ever been. So all we can do is continue to educate, promote. With all that being said, the best thing you can do is win games. If you can win games, then it can speak for itself.

Q. Because you're perceived as such a nice guy, what was the process of establishing yourself as the last line of discipline as the head coach?
COACH PASTNER: Well, let me tell you this: I believe in -- I don't believe in motivating through fear. I believe in respect. I believe in being positive, and I believe in being honest.
But if you look at my track record, I believe in discipline. I believe in structure. If you look at how things have gone, there will be consequences for behaviors. Some of the consequences could be as short as running or to not starting or to dismissal. And if some consequences don't alter the behavior, then it's my responsibility to change consequences. Those are the facts.
I will not change on those. I will not compromise on those. I believe to win at the highest level you have to have discipline. Again, discipline isn't about screaming and yelling. This is one of my personal beliefs. It doesn't mean it's right or wrong or there's any success to it. This is what I believe. I don't believe discipline screaming and yelling and motivating through fear. My personal belief is actions. So if you screw up, there are consequences.
It's like with my own family, if my stepson screws you up and I just get on him and I don't take anything away from him, what's the real penalty? So the thing that people need to understand, the one thing these young men love is basketball. So the thing sometimes you have to take away is sometimes by sitting them or whatever it may be. But we are fortunate that we have good young men in our program. We have good guys. We have good people. Best GPA we had in the last 15 years at Memphis. We have high-character kids, and that is something that's important to us.
Again, like I said in the beginning part, the emotional investment that this city has and the chair that I'm in, they want us to go 40-0. I want to go 40-0.
But it's also important that they're proud of their team off the court as well too.

Q. From the time you won the conference tournament to right this second as you're texting now, how many texts and phone calls have you made to fans and recruits from then till now?
COACH PASTNER: I had hundreds. Hundreds and hundreds of text messages from people in Tucson. And the one thing I'll pat myself on the back, as you know, I'm good at time management. So I was able to call everybody back, which I do, or return everyone's texts. Then also make sure that we're prepared on what needs to be done.
I had tons of people obviously congratulate us or look forward to the game. But my thing is once the ball's tipped, I know people tried to make the story line of Memphis-Arizona, or me against Arizona. It would be different if Coach Olson is still coaching. But once the ball's tipped, it's about the team that wins advances and the other one's done.
Like I said earlier, I've had great respect for Coach Miller for a long time. At night on FOX Sports there I'm watching Arizona play and rooting for them. I think offensively what Sean does is as good as anybody in the country. There is no doubt about that. You don't win the Pac-10 Championship and 27 games without being really good.
The other thing with Derrick Williams, I voted for him for National Player of the Year. On my All-American ballot I put him as National Player of the Year. I really believe that. And they've got good players. So I've returned everybody's text messages. I'm still the same guy on that.

Q. Your dad is quoted in the newspaper today saying this moment is the culmination of your life long dream. So you've been driven to get here. At age 33, what is that moment like for you?
COACH PASTNER: I'll tell you this: There are two things in my life that are a feeling that I can't describe. One of them was when my wife went to the doctor, and at whatever weeks it was we could hear our baby's heartbeat. There was nothing greater than that.
The second thing is, after we won the Conference USA championship, from that point to the time on Sunday when our name was called, those 40 hours, it was probably the greatest 40 hours of just adrenaline, of emotion, of just being happy that you can experience.
If somebody came to me today and wanted to give me 100 million dollars to trade for that, I wouldn't. I mean that.
As I told our guys, we're not here -- we're Memphis. We're not a Cinderella story. We want to win games. We are an elite-level program, and our job is to have that vision.
But if I walked off this stage and something happened to me and that was it and the good lord took me away, I wouldn't trade a second for it for this experience. I really mean that.
So I want our guys to enjoy the journey and the process. I want us to go in, because I don't want us to go thinking that this game that you have to put all the marbles in it, because we've still got to play.
It comes down to defensive rebounding. But for me, personally, it's an experience I wouldn't trade.

Q. Can you tell us the first NCAA Tournament game you actually watched in person?
COACH PASTNER: Yeah, the first one I watched in person was with Arizona as my first round game here in Memphis. We played South Alabama, down 10 with 5:00 to go, and we found a way to win the game. It was actually at Memphis. It was in the pyramid at the time. And we went on to play college of Charleston, won that game.
Then we went to Birmingham, and won both games there against Kansas, overtime versus Providence, and then Carolina and Kentucky in the finals.
Those are my first times I've been part or actually was in an NCAA Tournament, whether I was there as a player or fan whatever.
I remember after that tournament, I told my father, man, this is easy. We're going to do this every single year. And I sure am fortunate that the longer you go you realize how hard that was and what a special thing to do.
Also, I mentioned before, because you said about the experience, I want to give a shout out to our athletic director R.C. Johnson, because taking over for John Calipari. The guy was the winningest coach in the history of the NCAA -- the winningest. Not like one of the winningest.
John Wooden didn't do it. Coach K didn't do it. Lute Olson didn't do it, and what he had accomplished was amazing. And like I said, the guy that followed him was crazy. You're a fool. And I was the guy that was crazy and a fool to follow him.
But it wouldn't have happened if it weren't for our athletic director to take a leap of faith, blind faith giving me an opportunity. So he deserves all the credit too.

Q. You talked about watching Arizona late at night. What do you see from MoMo? To me it's interesting MoMo and Joe going up against each other. They both seem like pretty hard core guys?
COACH PASTNER: Yeah, they're hard core guys. MoMo Jones is obviously a terrific athlete. He's helped them win a lot of games. I remember watching the Stanford game. I think it all runs together. But last year he hit that shot. He hit some big shots against Cal in that triple overtime.
He's a good basketball player. Again, he's their starting guard. You don't win 27 games in a Pac-10 Championship without being pretty good. Those are the facts. I don't think he shoots it as good as Matt Muehlebach in the back there and Steve Kerr. Did you know Steve Kerr's doing our game, and Craig Sager. So that means it's big time. He doesn't shoot as good as Steve Kerr or Matt Muehlebach, but he's pretty good.
To win a Pac-10 Championship as a starting guard at Arizona, you're pretty good. You're pretty darn good.
When he got out of USC we tried to recruit him. We tried to recruit him and Derrick Williams. So MoMo's a very good basketball player. And he's a good defender. A very good defensive player too.

Q. How far did you get with MoMo on the recruiting front?
COACH PASTNER: We didn't get a visit. Derrick Williams, we got a visit. It came between us and Arizona. But MoMo we just talked via the phone.

Q. Your name has been thrown out for some jobs in the rumor mill including one at OU. Have you been contacted by the sooners or are you a candidate at all?
COACH PASTNER: I have not been contacted by anybody. And again, my focus is Memphis. And let me tell you this, Memphis basketball like I said in the beginning, it's not about me. Memphis basketball was good before I was born, and it's going to be great when I leave this beautiful earth.
So I hope to be here for a long time. That's my goal. I love it here, I love being part of Memphis. I love the fans, I love our team. But I also recognize that I'll not bigger than the program. Nobody's bigger than the program. So that keeps me humble and I don't get involved in all the other stuff.

Q. Do those rumors distract the players at all or have any effect on them?
COACH PASTNER: No, because I'm pretty honest with the guys. I wouldn't let it affect anything. It's not even really discussed or talked about.

Q. For such a young team, how do you explain how you've done in close games? The stats are pretty impressive. Secondly, your players talked about how you've broken down the season into practices left, games, can you talk about that a little bit?
COACH PASTNER: Yeah, we're 16-2 in single digit games, and 13-1 in games decided by 5 or less. I'd like to say it's coaching, but it has nothing to do with coaching. It's strictly players, because players had to get stops and player his to make shots and players made plays. That is the bottom line.
So one thing about us in close situations, we found ways to win. That is a sign of toughness. That's a sign of toughness. Guys have found ways to win, and that's a skill to know how to win in those situations.
A second thing with our season. I've tried to break it down, because of our youth, I wanted to make sure they understood that valuing every possession and how important everything is, I don't think understood because 98% of our team was brand-new. I tried to break it down as a practice by practice game, I tried to educate them about the RPI, about league, about road wins, road losses, home wins, and home losses.
I tried to educate them so they had an understanding, and that's how we did it. Even as we went deep into the year I talked about this is how many practices we have until conference championship, until the conference tournament. These are how many games we have left. How many wins it would take if we don't go to overtime to do this, this, and this. So I tried to make sure they understood who we were.

Q. Can you talk a little more about Derrick Williams? You've talked about how highly you think of him, but what about his game specific?
COACH PASTNER: Derrick Williams, like I said, I voted for him for National Player of the Year. First of all, you've got to give Tim Floyd and his staff a lot of credit because Derrick Williams wasn't highly ranked or rated, and they signed him in the early signing period.
Once the coaching change happened and he was released, everybody tried to get involved and everybody realized how good he was. So you've got to give those guys credit for being able to recognize that talent.
Then you've got to give the second credit to Sean Miller for the job he's done in developing Derrick. I thought Derrick was going to be very good, but not to this level. And that's a credit to Sean for what he's done in developing him. The guy can score all over the place, he can shoot the three. You look at his numbers, he can score in the paint. He can pass. He's a lottery pick.
I mean, heck, again, I've never been in the NBA. But the guy could maybe even be the number one pick in the draft.
That is the type of player. Craig Sager would be better answering that than I would. He's seen those guys up close, but he's as talented as anybody in the country.

Q. Just checking the 1996 Arizona media guide. I noticed your favorite TV show was "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air." I wondered if you wanted to update that at all?
COACH PASTNER: That's been updated. That's definitely been updated. I've moved now into the Discovery Channel, and actually my favorite show which is just fascinating to me, and I talked to our guys about this. As you know I'm a big law enforcement fan and military fan. I watch the Military Channel. But one of the things I don't know if anyone's seen is I Survived. Have you ever seen those things, it's fascinating. The will to want to live in dire needs and dire situations. Again, one of the things we talk about with our team is the preciousness and the gift of life.
But that's one of my favorite shows, and I will watch that late at night. "I Survive" believe it or not. But I watch the Military Channel, I watched Cops. I've moved from "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air." I've grown out of that though. I have longer hair too now from that picture and that time.

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