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March 17, 2011

Kyle Fogg

Lamont Jones

Sean Miller

Derrick Williams


THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Kyle Fogg, Lamont Jones and Derrick Williams. Questions for the student-athletes.

Q. Your thoughts on the game, Kyle?
KYLE FOGG: We've got Memphis tomorrow. They're a really good team, coached by a former Arizona coach in Josh Pastner. It's going to be a good game tomorrow, and we're looking forward to it.
LAMONT JONES: Just want to go out and play hard. Memphis is a very good team, and we just want to try to go out and play harder than them and try to stop them in transition, and get a win and move on to the next round.
DERRICK WILLIAMS: They're a great team. They like to push the ball, so it's about defense this game. We like to push the ball as well, so we're going to put pressure on their defense too. So that's what it is. It's about match-ups as well.

Q. There were concerns earlier in the year from Coach Miller about how you guys would handle big games on the big stage. He said last week in L.A. was a valuable experience. How much did that help last week the Pac-10, three games in three days and playing in a big arena much like this?
DERRICK WILLIAMS: I think it helped a lot by the way we played. Even though we lost in the last game against Washington, that was the best we've played them. In other games we had a lot of turnovers and struggled a little bit on offense.
But the last game wasn't about the offense or the defense. We played great against Washington. It came down to a buzzer-beater shot.
Most of the time you can learn a lot more from a loss than you can from a win. So we took a lot more looking back at the film. We saw our mistakes that we made, especially down the stretch. So we just had to finish the game.

Q. For any of you, lot of people think success in the tournament hinges on if a team is peaking at the right time and kind of hitting your stride. I wonder where you guys feel you are on that curve?
LAMONT JONES: It's just about hard work. Right now we're playing great together as a team though we lost the last game in the tournament. But we're playing great as a team, playing great defense, and we're just playing great basketball. Hopefully that can translate over into the NCAA Tournament and it can help us get a win.

Q. Coach Pastner joked and said when you came to visit you had Memphis on your cell phone screen saver. Can you talk about that and how your visit was in Memphis?
DERRICK WILLIAMS: Memphis was a great place to me on my visit. I had a great time. I got along with all the players. But I had one more visit left. I was telling my mom I wasn't going to commit on my visit. I was going to come back and take my last and final visit as well.
I came to Arizona, had a great time. Most people say it was about the distance or whatever. But it wasn't anything about that. Arizona or Memphis, you couldn't go wrong either choice. I thought Arizona along with UCLA is one of the best basketball schools on the west coast. I'm a west coast guy, so I thought it was a great fit for me.
Nothing against Memphis. They're a great program. But Pastner is a great coach as well, and a lot of people commit to him because he's a great person. That's what I liked about him and their staff as well.

Q. How hard did Coach Pastner recruit you when you came to Memphis? Did he wine and dine you with some of that Memphis barbecue?
DERRICK WILLIAMS: Yeah, that's all I did is ate barbecue the whole time. It was a great time, a great experience for me. My whole family's from Mississippi. It's right next to Memphis and Tennessee. So that was a big edge right there. But it was a great time, a great experience.
Pastner did recruit me very hard. Like I said, I couldn't go wrong either way whether I chose Arizona or Memphis, but I'm glad I chose here.

Q. Talk about how tough it's going to be? Undoubtedly their entire game plan is probably focused around you. You must be used to that by now?
DERRICK WILLIAMS: Yeah, I'm used to it. A lot of defenses are thrown at me as well as my teammates. I've seen everything from box and one. I've never seen a box and one on a big man, and Cal did that to us, 2-3 zone, 1-3-1. We've seen every zone to slow our team down, but it just backfires on them.
If they focus on me too much, MoMo right here and Fogg are going to take over the game, especially against Kyle, I didn't play any of the three overtimes and still won the game. If they're going to take me out of the game, I just have to trust my teammates. Like they did in many of our other games. So it's just going to backfire on them if they try to do that.

Q. Kyle, I know you were hurt last weekend, and it seemed like your injury was getting better every day. Where are you right now?
KYLE FOGG: Yeah, I'm doing a lot of work with our trainer, Justin. But it's been hard. I'm feeling good right now. Got in a couple of practices this week, and I should be 90 to 100% tomorrow. I'm just excited to be back out there and be my old self again. Help the team get the win.

Q. There's a lot of young players that are going to be playing in this game. How valuable do you think experience is in the NCAA Tournament?
KYLE FOGG: I think it's really valuable. This is just a great place to be this time of year. This is what everyone's been working for since last year. It shows that out there on the court that our team has been working really hard this past year on the court and individually and as a team. I think it's finally showing.
Like a previous question, in the Pac-10 Tournament we just had, I think it was huge for us. That's the closest thing to a tournament atmosphere that most of these guys on the team have had in college. We went out there and played really great ball. I think we're playing some of our best basketball right now, and I think that's going to translate into these tournament games.

Q. Your dunks have become somewhat legendary this year at least in the Arizona area. Anything special planned for this site this weekend?
DERRICK WILLIAMS: Whenever I play basketball I'm always trying to do something spectacular or something. Whoever watches me for the first time is going to remember. That's what I try to do is to have something for the fan. Whether it's a dunk, a crossover, doesn't matter.
But hopefully I do get one of those Top 10 dunks or buzzer-beater or long with my teammates. But it doesn't matter. It's not really about me, so either way I'm going to try to get this win.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Coach Miller.
COACH MILLER: We're very excited to be part of the NCAA Tournament. We're not the group or team that takes this for granted. I think the experience that we had a year ago of not being a part of it really fuels your fire when you return. We know that we're playing against a very talented, well-coached team in Memphis.
Watching them watching them in their own conference tournament, you could make the argument that they're playing their best basketball of the year. Tomorrow afternoon, like all teams in this tournament, for us to advance, we'll have to play extremely well.

Q. A lot of young players on the court. How valuable, in your experience, is experience at this time of the year?
COACH MILLER: It's obviously important if you have that to your advantage if you have upperclassmen. But in particular upperclassmen who have been a part of the tournament who have experienced winning in and success, I do think that's to your team's advantage. That's not something we have a lot of.
Kyle Fogg and Jamelle Horne were two players a year ago that played a role in our programs last tournament. But generally most of the players that will be playing for us tomorrow, this is it. This is their first experience.
I know on the other end of it, Memphis is very similar to us. So it will be interesting. I think one of the keys is to do the things that have allowed you to get to the tournament. Do them very well. Don't deviate. Don't let the stage of being a part of this tournament affect what we do as a team. We've talked a lot about that, and that's up to us to carry out.

Q. You've voiced a lot of concern after the loss at BYU and you questioned whether some guys were ready for a big game, a big moment, a big stage. How much has the team grown since then? Specifically, how much have they grown from the trip to Los Angeles?
COACH MILLER: Well, our team's grown a lot. That's part of when you have a number of younger players and players in first time roles which we do. We're very proud of what we've accomplished. You think about we're a team that's won 27 wins, had 27 wins. We've won the Pac-10 regular season championship. We're a conference that's put six of our ten teams in postseason. It's a round Robin conference.
If in the end, like we are, you're the No. 1 team, I think you have a lot to be proud of. Our non-conference season seems like two years ago. Like every team in this tournament, we've had our bumps in the road which we've learned from, and I do believe that this past weekend in L.A. we played a great game against a very good Washington team. Could have easily been the tournament champion as well.
Those three games in three days to me will prepare us for what's to come here tomorrow. Playing under pressure, I thought that was a great experience for our team. We're a team that doesn't have a lot of NCAA Tournament experience. Last weekend, I believe, is invaluable for us.

Q. How fascinated are you by the dynamics attached to this game? The endless story lines. The fact that Josh was at Arizona, and he replaces John Calipari who recruited you at Pitt. It goes on and on and on. How fascinating is that to you?
COACH MILLER: I wish we weren't playing Josh's team because he's meant so much to Arizona's program. His hard work as an assistant coach and his recruiting efforts have placed our program among the elite. Him being part of a National Championship team, there isn't many more magical moments in a career than that.
But that's the game we're playing. My previous experience in this tournament, I've played against a great friend of mine in Thad Matta, who I replaced at Xavier. Two years ago I played against the University of Pittsburgh where I happened to play and went to school. It's not about the coaches. It's about the teams and the players. And both teams enter this tournament really desperate to advance.
The story line is more about players like Derrick Williams. To me, our program going from 16 wins a year ago to right now 27 is something we're very proud of. The other thing is always on the periphery.

Q. Does Memphis remind you of anybody that you've played or seen? How does that affect your preparation?
COACH MILLER: Well, I think Memphis thrives in open court. They have a number of players that really can make plays in transition. Sometimes it's off their own defense, but they had played at a fast pace. To me the more transition opportunities, open shots, drives to the basket that they create with their transition game, the harder they are to beat. To me that's where it starts with us.
Oregon and Washington are two teams in our conference that played a very fast pace. Oregon is smaller, similar to Memphis. Washington really pushes the ball with the great point guard. And just watching Joe Jackson this past weekend in his conference tournament, he was outstanding. I'm sure on Memphis' end, they feel in large part they're in this tournament because of his great play. He's really a heck of a player for a freshman point guard.

Q. Coach Pastner was saying his team is 16-2 in games decided by single digits. With the number of freshmen that he starts, how impressive is that to you that they can close out tight games the way they have?
COACH MILLER: Very impressive. That's why they're in the tournament.

Q. When Coach Pastner was in here, he talked about how it would take a crazy person to try to replace Calipari. Could you talk about the advantages and challenges that come with taking over a program associated with Lute for so many years?
COACH MILLER: Well, it's an honor for me to be the coach at Arizona. Coach Olson and his legacy as a Hall of Fame coach, the great teams, the team that's did so well in this very tournament, the players, the family atmosphere that he created is something that our charge is to continue to restore in some regards, but to continue. Embracing everything that's gone on here in the past is the starting point for our program moving forward. That tradition is something that's never ending.
You turn on an NBA game and the chances are you have not only one Arizona player, but most of the time you have one playing against each other. You watch the Mavericks and the spurs you've got Jason Terry against Richard Jefferson, and it's endless.
To be the coach in our program, that's something that we're very, very proud of. I'm proud of. To honor the past is something that's very easy to do, and as the coach the way you do the best job you can moving forward, is to be yourself. What are the things that you believe in and make sure that's a part of the identity of our teams from this point on.

Q. When Coach Pastner was in here, he said he voted for Derrick Williams for Player of the Year. Wondered if you already knew that, and who got your vote?
COACH MILLER: Derrick Williams (laughing). No, I don't know if we're allowed to vote for our own player. I forget who I voted for. But that's nice of him to do that.
Derrick, if you look at the start of our season, all the way through this past weekend in Los Angeles for our team, I would be hard pressed to believe that there are any more consistent players than Derrick has been for our team at Arizona. The greatest compliment for an individual player is that he's led his team to a championship. The fact that in the conference that we're in with the talent and the coaching, you look like we talked about four teams in the NCAA Tournament this year, and we have a 10-team league, not a 25-team league or 20-team league like some of these conferences have become.
So to be the Player of the Year and lead our team to the championship is the greatest compliment you can pay Derrick. But looking at his percentages, shooting the three, the number of free throw attempts, his rebounding, being at his best in big games, he's had a sensational sophomore year and deserves to be considered among the nation's elite, no question.

Q. When you came into the program you offered very little promises because of the uphill battle. Are you ahead of schedule in your mind in the second year coming to an NCAA Tournament?
COACH MILLER: You know, I don't know if we're ahead or behind. I don't think we're behind, that's for sure. We've experienced great, tremendous growth from our first year. To keep in mind the 16-win season a year ago is something that I was and our staff very proud of. We were so much closer a year ago to winning 12 or 13 games than we would have been 20.
Nic Wise as a senior had a lot to do with that, but we played a lot of young players. The byproduct of playing that many young players is they now return to their sophomore year, each of them returned a lot further along and better.
Also being the fourth coach in four years at Arizona, I don't think people completely understand how hard that is. It's in particularly hard on the players. That consistency and continuity that they've experienced over the last 24 months has helped them grow and helped our team grow.
But Derrick having the great sophomore year has been a part of our rise, but I would like to think from this moment forward that we're positioned to be who we are today and then some. That's who this program has been and that remains to be our goal to be a team that each and every year can compete for championships and be a part of this tournament and eventually advance.
Obviously the season isn't over yet, so we'll see how it goes tomorrow.

Q. How close to 100% will Kyle Fogg be for this tournament?
COACH MILLER: Kyle's really gotten a lot better. We were as smart as we could be last week. But I look for him to be as close to 100% in our game tomorrow as he was prior to his injury. We're almost at the two-week mark, and we didn't play him a lot in the conference tournament, and I think that's to his advantage in this tournament.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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