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March 18, 2011

Antonio Barton

Will Coleman

Josh Pastner


Arizona – 77
Memphis - 75

THE MODERATOR: We have Coach Pastner, Antonio Barton, and Will Coleman. An opening statement, coach and then questions for the student-athletes.
COACH PASTNER: Yeah, that was a very good basketball game. I was proud of the way our guys battled and competed. They gave tremendous effort. You've got to give Arizona a lot of credit. They hit free throws and Derrick Williams hit a big three late. So they earned the right to win that game.
But I thought it was a terrific basketball game. We had some chances. Obviously we missed some free throws. We missed some short shots, but that's the way the game goes. I thought it was a well-played game by both teams. In the end, Derrick hit that big three. There is a reason why I voted for him National Player of the Year, and they hit their free throws late, which you've got to give them a lot of credit for.
MoMo Jones hit a big three late, Derrick Williams and then MoMo Jones and Jamelle Horne hit big free throws. So you have to give them a lot of credit for stepping up and hitting big shots.

Q. Antonio, this is your first experience in the NCAA Tournament. Will, obviously you as well, but you being a freshman, Antonio, the team mostly made up of young players, it seemed the nerves weren't the problem there. Early in the game you got out to a great start. Talk about the whole atmosphere.
ANTONIO BARTON: We just came in ready to play. We were very well prepared. I want to thank coaches for giving us a good scouting report. We jumped out on them early, and we came back in the second half, but I just want to commend Arizona for pulling it out.

Q. Just if you can give me your perspective on what happened with the missed free throw and the tip to Witherspoon and the miss there?
ANTONIO BARTON: About that play, Joe missed the free throw, but he was able to tip it back to Wesley. I guess Wesley thought it was a foul, but Williams came up with a nice block, and that kind of sealed the game.

Q. From what you could tell, was Joe trying to miss that free throw at the end? Was it just a situation where it did miss and there was an opportunity there? Did you tell him to? Did Joe miss it on purpose?
ANTONIO BARTON: I don't think he missed it on purpose. It just kind of rimmed off. Like I said, he followed his shot up and had a good tap in, and we had a good look at the rim afterwards, but Williams came up with the block.
COACH PASTNER: I want to say one thing, Mr. Cunningham back there, the AD at Tulsa, I want to say everything was first-class the entire tournament and your entire crew was -- first-class, so I wanted to say thank you for that. And I just had to throw that in.

Q. Can you sum it up, Will? First off, the way you battled, but then the season too was a battle. You had the ups, you had the downs, but you had gotten here and accomplished that goal. Talk about how tough this is the way it's going out? It must feel like to you a successful of season?
WILL COLEMAN: I feel like the Tiger program, Tiger Nation period, we overcame a lot by winning a conference tournament. It took a lot. There were a lot of doubters. A lot of people thought we couldn't make it.
Me, personally, I wasn't happy just being here. I wanted to win, but we made it, and I'm glad I got to experience this with this group of guys that I decided to stay with and Coach Pastner.

Q. If you could comment on the play of Derrick Williams of Arizona, and what type of player he was in the match-up?
WILL COLEMAN: He was good. I mean, we did what we could, and coach gave us a very thorough scouting report. We just missed some assignments. He was tough, and he did his thing. That's why he's nominated for Player of the Year. That's why he's up for it. He's a very good player, and he's not a lottery pick for no reason. We did what we could. We just missed some assignments.

Q. Along those lines with Williams trying to guard him, what was the game plan going in? You started off with Carmouche who gives up four inches guarding man-to-man, but you went zone and mixed it up. So what was the game plan going in to try to defend a player like Derrick Williams?
WILL COLEMAN: It all comes down to personnel, 33, we came in, we read in the scouting report that he wasn't a very good shooter. So the original plan was to play off of him and double on Williams.
But, again, just like some missed assignments, the guy was good, but he just used his body and the way he just played, he's a good guy. He's good.

Q. Can you talk about the future of the Memphis program? You see so much youth on this team. I guess just project what good things they have ahead of them.
WILL COLEMAN: I feel like this program is going nowhere but up. Coach Pastner did a heck of a job. When I stayed here last year we did amazing things. People didn't even think we were going to do what we did last year, and this year coach took us to the conference and we won the conference. He got us to the dance and we did what we could here. But the road stops here for me anyways.
I feel like Coach Pastner's a very good guy, and this program is headed straight to the top.

Q. The way you battled down the stretch, it looked like you didn't believe you were going to lose that game. That you were going to make the plays. Talk about all the close games. Being 13-1 in five or less, you seemed like a team that believed they were going to pull it out.
ANTONIO BARTON: We've been in this situation plenty of times this year. We've been down in the last second and we pulled through. When we get down we're not panicking. We always have hope that we're going to pull the game out.

Q. I wondered if you had a good look at the block, and if you thought there was contact or a foul on that; and if you had any problem with Jim Burr what happened in the Big East reffing this game?
COACH PASTNER: No, a couple of things. First of all, the shot was up. I did not tell Joe to miss it. I wanted him to make the shot and we were going to get in our press and foul immediately or try to get a steal since Arizona had a timeout. But he did miss it. He tipped it to Wesley. I thought Wesley had a good look. I thought Wesley was going to score it. But I didn't get a good view if it was a foul or not. But that wasn't the reason we didn't get the win.
We missed some free throws and we missed some lay-ups. And Arizona hit some big shots and that is the bottom line. I thought Jim Burr refed a good game. I have no problems with Jim Burr. I thought the crew was good. Any time you take an L you're always going to -- it's just part of it.
But I thought the crew was good. I had no problems with Jim Burr reffing our game, and the bottom line is Arizona hit some shots late and they deserved to win. They made some big shots and you have to give them credit for making shots.

Q. You touched on it a little bit ago, but how much did Derrick's performance validate your Player of the Year vote?
COACH PASTNER: Derrick's really good. We tried to start on him with smaller guard and get up underneath him due to the quickness that we had. We went a box and one, we went 2-3 zone, we went a triangle and two, and three or four different defenses.
Derrick's pretty good. I thought we did a good job for the most part. And on that big three, I always tell our team it's the second shot that beats you.
They missed a shot and we were in a box and one at the time. It got rimmed out. They missed it and kicked it back, and Derrick was open. We scrambled off there, he was open and knocked off a big shot, you have to give him credit. And on the next possession or two, MoMo Jones came off the on ball, we were switching the on ball. And Tarik Black was a tad bit off, and we ended up switching it.
The hand wasn't up enough, and the kid hit a good shot. Derrick's really good. As I said, I voted for him as National Player of the Year, and my vote doesn't change after today's performance because he's really good.

Q. Can you talk about what it means to battle the way you guys did all the way to the final moments of this game and what it will mean now translating into next year and years to come for this program?
COACH PASTNER: A few things. We were going into this game 16-2 in single-digit games and 13-1 in five points or less, and actually we were 7-1 when the game came down to the last possession. So we're 7-2 now. So players have a tough team. We have a hard-nosed team.
I think the experience was great for the future for next year. But like I told our guys, we came into this season, preseason ranked whatever. As I told everybody last summer, we hadn't earned that. People were, all these rankings were based on recruiting expectations. 98% of our team had never scored a point, grabbed a rebound or thrown an assist.
I told our guys in the locker room afterwards. I don't want to hear any predictions, I don't want to hear about what we can do next year, because talk is cheap. Actions speak louder than words. It will start with the work in the off-season, summer and preseason and the way we come out on the floor next year.
If we do that job, we have a chance to have a really good season next year because we'll have the majority of the of team back. But, again, it's talking about it or expectations, it's about actions. It's about earning the right, and you earn the right by doing the work on the floor and preparing and having proper preparation. That's a big key. So that's what I told the guys.
Let me tell you this, and I said it earlier. It was a great experience for our guys. This is one of the great events in all of sport. It was a first-class event. You have great staff here, great people. It's a national event, and for us to come and experience it is terrific.
But, again, as I told our team in the locker room, we're not some Cinderella story. I don't want to be a Cinderella story. My vision as I told our Athletic Director R.C. Johnson, our vision is to compete for National Championships. We're not there yet, but we're going to get there. It's going to take multiple recruiting classes and that's just going to take some time, but that's the vision. In Memphis, that's what we want to do.
So, again, the experience was terrific, but again, our aspirations are bigger than coming in and being in the first round. But there is no doubt the experience was phenomenal. I think Conference USA, I'm just telling you, the league, I know Courtney's back there, and the league's really, really good.
I think it's an underrated league. I know it didn't show real well in post-season tournaments, but the league is good, and I think it will be good again next year without question.
And I've got to say Arizona's a good basketball team too. They're good. They hit shots. They hit some big shots, and you've got to give them credit. Sean does a good job offensively. He ran some good stuff.

Q. Is there ever a time with everything the team went through, can you talk about the journey?
COACH PASTNER: Well, you know. When you're in Memphis, Pat probably knows, Chris, it's like the Yankees in the city. That's what it is. You're under constant scrutiny 24-7, 365. Those are the facts. You go out in public. You go sit down for dinner. Dinner will take three hours because of the amount of people that want to come talk about Tiger basketball. You do radio shows. Radio shows off-season all they want to talk about is Tiger basketball. So you're under a microscope.
When you take a loss in Memphis, it's constant heat. That's just part of it, but you know what, that's the great part about the job because 98% of jobs around the country if you win or lose it's on page 9-C of the sports section, and no one cares.
In Memphis they care. They're invested. They're emotionally invested and emotionally connected. There is no place like it. I'm just telling you. It's different than Kentucky. No one can compare it. It's like the Yankees within the city. It's like the Packers, the way they care about their team.
As I said yesterday, the Tigers have been so good for so long, before I was born and they're going to be great when I leave this beautiful earth. So just being part of sitting in that chair right now is something that I want to make sure Tiger Nation remains proud of their program at both ends on and off the floor. It's my responsibility to make sure that happens.

Q. From 48-40, Arizona's lead early in the second half until Williams hits his three, he doesn't handle the ball very much on the offensive end. Did they go away from him or did you all take him out of the game?
COACH PASTNER: I thought we did some good things defensively. They got up 48-40. But we got some stops and we hit some shots. So, again, we didn't cave in. We just kept staying the course. We weathered the storm as we've done all year long and we found a way. We had some chances.
We were up 65-61, 63-58. We had a couple of turnovers and that's just the way things go. Again, Arizona made some shots late that was key. They made free throws and big three-point shots which earned them the right to get the victory. So you have to give Coach Miller, his staff and that team credit.

Q. I was wondering more about your particular play?
COACH PASTNER: Well, yeah, during that time we were switching defenses. We went to a box and one. We were doing triangle and two. We did some different zones. We were just trying to not let them get into a rhythm. That was our whole focus.

Q. I know it's early, Coach, but do you expect to have most of these guys back next year?
COACH PASTNER: I expect it. I expect that everyone will be back, but you never know. Those are just the facts in the world that we live in. We've signed Adonis Thomas who is a good basketball player, a good young man. Ferrakhan Hall is sitting out. He'll be eligible next year, a transfer. Besides Will Coleman, everyone should be returning.
But again in the age that we live in, you never know. If a guy or two leaves we'll have to go out and recruit somebody else to replace if somebody leaves on us.

Q. Can you just talk about what that locker room was like and what you said to them when you got in there?
COACH PASTNER: Obviously when you lose, it's no fun. Losing stinks. Winning is fun. But what are you going to say? The guys battled. As I told our guys, I don't feel sick to my stomach because all can you ask for is a chance to win the game. We played hard enough and competed hard enough that we gave ourselves an opportunity to to win the game.
We had a chance to win the game, and that's all you can ask for. At that point you have balls go your way, a ball bounces or two, and those are the facts. Arizona made some shots, and that's why they won the game.
So all you can ask for is a chance to win the game when it's that late. So I have no regrets. I told the guys to keep their heads up.
I told them going into next season little things like a missed lay-up or two, missed free throws, those are big things, important things. We've got to keep remembering about that. But overall I was very proud of our young men the way they competed and battled because we had a shot, and that's all you can ask for.

Q. Given your background and history with the team on the other end of the court, does this one sting a little more, a little less?
COACH PASTNER: We've lost 20 times in my career, and every one of those 20 I've been sick to my stomach. It's probably not been fair to my family because I won't sleep for days. I don't handle losing well, and that's something that I need to do better in as a young man and a young coach. I need to do better to balance handling a loss.
So whether the name across the jersey is Arizona or anybody else, I take losing that hard because I want to win so bad for these young men. I want to win so bad for our city and for our university. It's important to me. I take it personal.
It doesn't sting any more or less, it's. It's a lot. But it won't sting as bad because I was proud of our young men. All you can ask for is a shot to win the game, and we had a shot. That's all you can ask for.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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