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March 19, 2011
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes.
Q. Jordan, where would Texas be if not for the contributions two of the freshmen Tristan and Cory?
JORDAN HAMILTON: Where would we be? Who knows. I think these guys are great contributors to our team, and they really work hard. Tristan's a great defender, and Cory, he shoots the ball really well, so that's why I think our team's really good.
Q. Derrick mentioned that he's been on some kind of team of yours since 9th or 10th grade. Could you tell me what that team was, and describe your relationship and what you've seen out of him?
JORDAN HAMILTON: Yeah, Team Odom. We played AAU ball together. Every summer, you know, we'll hang out all the time. He'll come over my house and spend the night, do things like that. We're really good friends. That's why it was kind of ironic for us both to be seeded in Tulsa and then playing against each other tomorrow.
Q. How has Derrick's game developed? He said that he was a 6-foot ninth grader who thought he was going to be a guard, and to get to where he is now, can you kind of walk me through that a little bit.
JORDAN HAMILTON: He definitely hit a growth spurt. I remember him sitting on the bench having to ice his knees because he was growing too fast. That was crazy. He's gotten a lot bigger. He looks like he's gotten a lot stronger also, I think he's been doing a great job this year.
Q. Can you talk about Toronto and how these guys started going into Texas, and where everybody's from in Toronto, are they the same general vicinity and how you all got together?
TRISTAN THOMPSON: Yeah, me Cory, and the incoming freshmen coming in next year, Myck Kabongo, we're all from Toronto. I guess it's just Coach Barnes, the type of relationship we've built with him. The whole program of Texas has drawn Canadians from up north to the south, and they probably want to avoid the cold weather too.
Q. More on Derrick, I believe y'all played against each other in high school too, didn't you?
JORDAN HAMILTON: Yeah, my junior year of high school we played against each other.
Q. Could you see how he's progressed? And were you all roommates on the road, AAU some?
JORDAN HAMILTON: Yeah, we were.
Q. Any interesting stories from that?
JORDAN HAMILTON: Derrick was kind of shy, kind of really quiet type. But he's always around, and he's a really good kid though. As far as high school, I played against him my junior year, and it was a really close game. I think we ended up winning by three or four points to go to the state championship. He's really gotten a lot better also, and he's definitely hit a growth spurt.
Q. What's within the biggest adjustment to college basketball for you? And did you think you could have the kind of impact you've had as a freshman?
TRISTAN THOMPSON: To answer the first question, probably the biggest adjustment is the physicality. Compared to high school, can you actually take plays off and just use your God-given abilities to use your will to win.
But in college, you've got to play 40 minutes. Every possession counts. When you look at the tournament, some games are won by two or three points.
For me, the impact, to be honest, I thought I was going to come in and just rebound, set screens and do whatever it takes to win. I'm just real surprised the kind of impact I'm having this year.
Q. Can you compare your game with Derrick Williams? You're both about the same size, and he likes to shoot some threes more than you. But can you compare your games?
TRISTAN THOMPSON: Yeah, he can do almost everything. He can shoot threes. He gets in the paint and gets down and dirty with it. My game's more inside, sticking to my bread and butter, but he has a lot of tools to his game. So he's going to be a good match-up for me.
Q. Do you take the time to enjoy match-ups like this when you go against Williams and Benson in the first round? Do you have any sense that have? Also, have you asked Jordan for any tips as far as guarding Derrick?
TRISTAN THOMPSON: It's always fun, me being a freshman playing against older guys. Benson was a fifth year senior. Williams is a sophomore. So whenever I have the opportunity to play against guys that are older that have been through the college game for a year or have years ahead of me, it's always fun. But in terms of tips, I'm going to have to ask him tonight for some cheat sheets.
JORDAN HAMILTON: I've got some tips for him. I've definitely got some tips for him (laughing).
Q. Scouting report on you guys, do you think it gives other teams reason to pause because you've got four guys who can score, and they can't just concentrate on one or two?
JORDAN HAMILTON: I think it opens up the floor. Especially it opens up the lane. I think if we can continue to play inside out by giving Tristan the ball, and once a double comes to him I know he'll kick it out and find the right read. So that being said, it's kind of hard to guard.
And J'Covan's been doing a really good job. If he gets fouled, he's definitely going to make his free throws; and Cory knocks down shots, knocking down jump shots also. And Dogus can definitely get to the basket, so I think that really opens up our team offense.
Q. What has Coach Barnes focused on once you got to the Big 12 Tournament and now to the NCAA Tournament as far as your preparation mentally?
JORDAN HAMILTON: As far as Coach telling us what to do, he's just been telling us that now we have to really play hard, and we have to really watch out for the things that we do out there and not waste energy, like cut hard, but make smart cuts, things like that, screen for guys.
As far as the NCAA Tournament goes, it's one game and you're done. So guys definitely don't want to finish our season out on a bad note, so we're going to do anything in our willpower to get wins.
TRISTAN THOMPSON: Coach Barnes really just kept us in the routine since the beginning of the season, especially now winning the Big 12 and entering the NCAA Tournament. He's cut it back, saying we're going to go short and sweet and try to keep us fresh.
What Jordan said, it's one game at a time. If you try to look ahead of time, you might slip up and lose a game and your season's over.
Q. Back to Derrick real quick. Is your relationship tight enough that you're talking and texting throughout the year? Did you talk before the tournament when you saw the brackets and have you talked since last night since you knew you'd be playing each other?
JORDAN HAMILTON: I talked to him when they were doing the brackets. Even before they were doing the brackets and before they did the seeding, I was talking to him right then. And yeah, I've been talking to him during the season and things like that because we're really good friends. It was just crazy, like I said, how they put us in Tulsa together. And now that we're playing against each other it's going to be like a reunion.
But there are no friends out there on the court until afterwards. So as of right now he's not my friend. I didn't talk to him last night. Not last night, no.
Q. The first time you saw Tristan play, I don't know when he first showed up on campus and you guys were first out playing, can you kind of take me back to when you remember or your first impression of him? When did you think this guy could be the beast that he's become as far as a player?
JORDAN HAMILTON: I knew he was really good. I had a chance to play against him at the Elite 24 game out in New York. I knew then this kid's the real deal. This year as a freshman he's definitely been doing the things that Coach wants him to do and even more. Seven blocks in one game, that's really good. If he can continue to do that, I think he'll be all right.
Q. Do you plan on guarding Derrick Williams? And Jordan, I wonder if you'd critique Derrick's three-point shooting?
TRISTAN THOMPSON: In the game, match-ups are going to happen. I'm probably going to guard him a couple possessions. He may end up guarding me. I'll probably guard the other big guy, Perry so if I have to guard him, I'm going to be ready.
JORDAN HAMILTON: I think Coach will put Tristan on me in practice, so I think Tristan will be ready for that match-up.
Q. And his three-point shooting?
JORDAN HAMILTON: He's a very good three-point shooter. So I think if we run him off the line and not let him get the shot, I think he'll stay in front of him also.
Q. You went through that little hiccup where you lost three out of four. Since then you've only lost to Kansas. Can you talk about how close are you to being that team that we saw early in the Big 12 season and getting back to where you guys want to be?
JORDAN HAMILTON: As far as that being said, I think we've been doing a lot of great things out there. We can get better at a lot of other things. So I think if we can continue to play hard and do all the little things that coach tells us to do, I think that will be good. Once we continue to play inside out, we'll be good.
TRISTAN THOMPSON: I think we're still the same team even when we had the hiccups. That's good for us. It shows maturity in our team to show let's see if this team really good grow up and test our character. Since then we've still been doing the same thing. Playing defense, playing hard, and knowing that every possession counts.
Q. Would you talk about the evolution of your game from the end of last season to now? You were not hesitating taking that smaller guy off to the block yesterday?
JORDAN HAMILTON: Well, from last year to this year we switched up our offense. This year I put on some weight, and Coach lets me do a lot more posting up smaller guys in the post. And I know that we can benefit from that, because like Tristan, if he gets some time in the post, he'll kick it out. And Coach has the same confidence in me where if I get it down on the block, I'll find open guys for wide open shots.
Q. When you got J'Covan and Cory and Jordan out on the perimeter hitting shots, that must mean a lot of space for you down low. Can you talk about the spacing that gives you and how that helps your game?
TRISTAN THOMPSON: Yeah, it definitely makes my job easier. Having four shooters around you, the defense has to guard them. They can't sink in or even try to double team you. So like you said, it opens up the paint for me to do my deal and try to make something happen.
Q. Do you feel like you guys have an edge on Arizona in the way you all played defense?
JORDAN HAMILTON: I don't really think like any game's really an edge because it's NCAA Tournament time. It's anybody's game. So it's the team that's going to go out there and defend, I think. Once we do that, I think it will be a pretty interesting game tomorrow.
TRISTAN THOMPSON: Like what Jordan said, anything can happen. It doesn't matter the 4, 5 seed or people say our defensive pressure is better than theirs or whatnot. It's whoever comes out to play when the ball gets tipped. Whoever comes to play will have the advantage and win, so just got to play.
Q. Coach Barnes spent some time with the Utah Jazz staff. What has he told you about that and what has he implemented from those visits specifically?
JORDAN HAMILTON: With our offense what some college teams do is they dribble the ball a lot. For us, Coach says it's either one or two dribbles to get your shot off. So what we do now is more screening action. And guys, what do you call it, the slice cuts. When guys come over the top on the post when he's setting the screen for us and things like that. I think that that really helped us and our guards to really get open shots.
Q. You guys kind of struggled playing a complete 40-minute ballgame throughout the season. What could be done to stop that trend?
JORDAN HAMILTON: It was just knowing how important the game is. It's just as important in the first half as it is in the second half even when we have the lead. And coach says we just have to keep our foot on the pedal and just keep pushing it rather than coming out lackadaisical in the second half.
THE MODERATOR: Questions an opening statement from Coach Barnes.
COACH BARNES: We're excited about being here. Certainly know in Arizona that we're playing against a team that has a terrific player in Derrick Williams. You think about the year he had as a freshman. Came back this year being Player of the Year in the Pac-10.
What I really like about them too is the fact that as a team they really understand their roles as a team. That's what certainly has made them the team they are.
When you really watch them and see them play you have to appreciate the team work that they play with. So we know that like everybody this time of year we've got to be ready to really play great basketball.
Q. Coming into the season did you realistically expect to get as much out of your two freshmen Thompson and Joseph as you have?
COACH BARNES: Realistically and honestly speaking I'm not sure what we expected, other than the fact that we knew they were going to be a big part of it, we knew that. But again, once we start, i don't know at any point in time this year once you start if you ever really think about guys being freshmen, sophomores or juniors.
I've always said in recruiting that you never really know what you're going to get until you get on the floor with it every day. I would say that those guys far exceeded -- I wouldn't say far exceeded -- but they're the two hardest working guys on our team. They're the last ones to leave the gym every day. They are very mature. Both of them really understand the game. Both of them have a really good basketball IQ.
But they came in and what I thought they did best of all, they came in with no sense of entitlement. They really took the lead of the older guys. They came in with their eyes open and just listened and watched. Then they quickly earned the respect of their teammates because of the way they went about their business.
Q. Would you talk about how Jordan's game has evolved in the last year? What you've done to help him, and what he's done to help himself?
COACH BARNES: Well, at the end of last year, you have to really respect Jordan for the fact that I thought he really honestly sat down and had a real good evaluation of himself. He realized there was a lot that he needed to learn. I think he realized that coming in he made some mistakes, not doing it on purpose, but just being young and a little naive, probably, to the game.
The fact that he went around and told each one of his teammates that he was sorry with the way things went, but he wanted a new start. He was going to prove to them that he was going to be a great teammate. He's done that. He's worked hard. He's really tried to work hard at the game. And personally I've enjoyed watching him grow more so away from basketball than anything, because he's a wonderful person. He really cares. He's got a great personality.
I've told him before that basketball can be important, but it can't be the most important thing in his life. He has to make sure that when he's on the court he's doing things the way they should be, and he's worked at it. Everything that's happened for him this year and our team is the fact that they've been very unselfish. They've played together, and they've continued to work.
Q. Do you expect the match-up between Tristan and Derrick Williams to happen like it did the other day between Tristan and Keith Benson? Also, how do you think he'll handle it again being thrown into the fire his first two tournament games against another quality big man?
COACH BARNES: We've never looked at going into a game like even yesterday as a one-on-one match-up. We've never done that, and we won't do that tomorrow. We've always gone in thinking that we're playing against a guy that's a post player. Every one of our post players had to be ready to defend that. If it's a perimeter player, we've got to have all of our perimeter players ready to defend that. So we won't go into it thinking like that.
We know when we're playing our best basketball our team defense is great. It's everybody, again, being on the same page and knowing what we need to do to execute our game plan. But in terms of him going into another game, Tristan and our guys, we've been in a lot of different situations this year and there hasn't been anything that he hasn't handled well.
So I would expect him to come out and continue to try to work and do things that we need to get done as a team.
Q. How did this Toronto to Texas pipeline of sorts develop?
COACH BARNES: Well, one, I've got a great group of assistant coaches. Our philosophy has always been that we're going to start recruiting always from Texas first. But if we don't feel like we have -- the state has what we need, having the University of Texas to recruit to opens doors around the world. All you have to do is look at our roster, you know.
One of my assistants, Rodney Terry, started recruiting a young man back years ago. And actually the player committed to us, ended up not coming. But at that time he developed a relationship and Tristan and those guys were young. He started recruiting them for a long time. Then we were lucky that Tristan committed to us early, and right after that, not far after that, Myck Kabongo who will be coming next year committed to us.
To be quite honest, Cory, we wanted to recruit, but their AAU coach was concerned that everybody would think that he's sending players to Texas.
I was talking to Myck the other night and asking him that same question you asked me. He said Tristan and I have always talked about playing together. And they have such great respect for Cory that they were the ones that kept telling us Cory wants to be recruited by Texas. So we started recruiting him. So those guys did a great job with that.
We're the ones that are fortunate for it because they're wonderful people, wonderful families. Again, like I said, the one thing you have to love about them is there is absolutely no sense of entitlement there. They've come in with great work ethic. But my assistant coaches deserve the credit for it because they're the ones out there getting after it and going after it real hard.
Q. I don't think Arizona's going to have Derrick Williams out there shooting threes all night long. But he can get out on the perimeter and shoot. What kind of problems in general does that cause for a team when they've got a big that's good in the low post that can also step out and shoot threes?
COACH BARNES: Well, he's a great player. Great players can give it to you a lot of different ways, whether it's inside, outside, somewhere in between, what they can do on the defensive end. And, again, he's a player that's Player of the Year. Yeah, he creates problems. You've got to be able to step out there and be close enough to him because he shoots I think the highest percentage on our team from the three and they move him around. I think they do a nice job on their offense running some motion, coming back to them, and trying to get your defense a little discombobulated.
But he's a terrific player. There is no doubt you've got to know where he is at all times.
Q. You started out terrifically at the start of the Big 12 Conference. You had that losing streak. What made you feel that this team was on its way back? Do you feel that they are on all cylinders right now?
COACH BARNES: I actually still think that we can play better. I think all coaches are like that. We're all searching for excellence. We want to see our teams do it on both ends and don't want to waste possessions on any end of the floor.
I think it goes back to from the beginning. I've said that where we are, we've had great senior leadership. I could count on one hand this year how many days where I felt like we didn't get anything done in practice. We've really gone through our routine in terms of getting ready to play.
Again, even when we lost games, at the end I just saw our guys continue to stay with what we'd done all year long. Sometimes, I mean, you've got to give credit to your opponent. We've played against some teams at that point in time that were playing really, really well. And we've had some guys that weren't playing as well as they could, but it wasn't because of lack of effort. Again, you just feel like the chemistry's been really good, but the work ethic has been good too.
Q. Seems like your offense and defense have to work together when you're really at a high level. When you started 11-0 your offense was shooting 50% a lot of games, getting out to big leads. That's probably helped your defense. When the offense struggled you're forcing bad shots and weren't having guys covering people the right way. Is the offense kind of a hidden thing for this team as far as people concentrating on how good you are defensively, but offensively is when you get things going?
COACH BARNES: I think, again, there are nights when you can get shots and have shots, but you don't make them. That's where you have to always hang your hat on the defensive end. But there is no doubt. You're right the way you assessed it. There were night when we were battling offense. We were taking quick shots. We allowed too many run outs and transition, which obviously affected the defense where turnovers led to easy baskets.
Again, when you're taking care of the ball, there is no doubt that helps your defense. Even when you're not making shots you're in position to make offensive rebounds. Or the floor's balanced where guys can't get out and run on you.
But there is no doubt at that one point in time we had gotten away from our offense. Just broke out of it, being impatient. I don't think we were ever selfish, I just think we were impatient. Then it did affect our defense at times, there is no question about that.
Q. On Daniel Bejarano and the Arizona roster. I've heard different stories of who dropped who? I was curious what happened in his recruitment and where did you anticipate him if you had kept him?
COACH BARNES: Again, I don't know how I can answer that. It just worked out that he ended up staying at home and going to Arizona, and that's all I can tell you. I can't talk about how we'd play him. I don't know. Like I said, until you're with someone every day -- he's a good kid.
I know there's not a more classy coach than Sean Miller. I met Sean back in my first year in coaching. I was just getting started. It was probably the summer of 1977. I met a friend at the Davidson College camp, and he got me hired at the University of Pittsburgh camp, and I went up there and was in charge of the ball handling station. And I had a group of guys come through and these guys are like wizards that came through. And I'm thinking I'm a pretty good coach here and these guys were picking it up real quick, and it was Sean. And you know when he was on the Johnny Carson show and all that.
But Sean must have been 7 or 8 years old. Even with that situation with Daniel, the way he called us and said, look, there's rumors that he might stay at home, and we would never, ever talk to a player without -- and he hadn't signed, obviously.
He said there are these rumors and we just wanted to know what's going on. If it's a situation that he's not going to come to Texas, we'd like to be able to recruit him, and I will tell you very few coaches will do that.
Believe me, there is a lot that goes on for recruiting. I've told my coaches I've always had great respect for him. But the way he handled that situation just shows you how classy he is, and his integrity.
Q. To stay on the even keel theme throughout the season. When you beat Kansas in Lawrence, was this the kind of team that you had to say, "Hey, we're not that great?" Or was that a significant time when you say, "Hey, we are pretty good?" Or did they just go through that with an even keel as well?
COACH BARNES: You know, this team has really been a pretty even keeled team. I think if you go back even when we started the year out in New York, and I told i wasn't sure what the expectations would be because I wasn't sure about a lot of things.
But even after we went up there and won a really tough game against Illinois that could have gone either way, lose to Pitt, that could have gone either way. Go to North Carolina and won a game that really could have gone either way. They never really got too excited or too down either way.
Even the Kansas game, if you watch their reaction after the game, I think it's a team that they really believe they played well enough and do their thing that we've got a chance to beat anybody. But it's not what I would call a real emotional team at times. Like anybody, we can get excited. But I think the seniors have been critical in terms of the way we've tried to go about it, the image that we want of our program.
University of Texas you know, we've had some success and we don't take it for granted. But there is a way that we do want to carry ourselves. I don't think we've ever gone into a game where we don't think that we can win.
Q. When you were recruiting Jordan in high school, since he and Derrick played on the same AAU team, I'm curious if you saw Derrick Williams play on that AAU team, and if you recruited him? And if so, how you saw his game develop?
COACH BARNES: I think everybody wanted to recruit Derrick. But we saw Jordan very early. I remember watching Jordan play oh, I guess he was going into his junior year over in Houston. Real early in the morning, and their team started a game where Jordan hit three threes in the first three possessions of the game.
And I told Russell Springmann who was really the person involved and the lead down there, yeah, we should probably recruit this guy.
So, again, my assistants have done a great job. But, yeah, I think everybody looked at Derrick and knew that he was a terrific player. Like I said, he's continued to work and improve his game. I think like Jordan. I think those guys are just getting started in how good of basketball players they're going to be.
Q. Talk about Gary's versatility as a defensive player and how he always seems to hold up his hand to cover the toughest guy?
COACH BARNES: Well, as a guy that's worked into that. When he first got to Texas he had always been more of an inside kind of player through high school and was very strong, almost like a bull in a China shop kind of offensive guy. Really kind of defensively, too.
But he's worked really hard at developing his perimeter skills defensively. He gets into a great stance, spreads out. He's got good feet. But he's competitive, and he's not afraid to really try to guard anybody.
We need he along with our post players and perimeter players to do a job on Derrick, there is no doubt about that.
Q. Without making it a one-on-one thing, in the game versus USC, Jordan really struggled because of Simmons and how good of a defender Simmons is, and he'll bring some of the similar qualities for Solomon Hill for Arizona. Can you talk about how Jordan's approaching the match-up? Are you going to use him as a facilitator as well as a scorer for that?
COACH BARNES: Well, you're right, Jordan did struggle when we went there. But there were a lot of thing that's we didn't do right that night, and I was to blame for a lot of it. But him going back home, again, he wanted to play well being that close to home.
But he's learned a lot from it. I think he's learned how to use his teammates, help get him open. I think he's had to learn a lot like Tristan this year where teams game plan for him. He's had to be patient and kind of wait.
You go back and look and he's our leading rebounder. I think that people are very concerned and I think that every opponent that we've played this year, and I don't think Arizona will be any different, one of their main concerns will be keeping us off the glass, because, again, he's a guy that can go down with his size. And he's stronger, much stronger than people think.
But Jordan's learned a lot through the way he's been played all year. But I think he's just getting started in terms of how good a player he can be.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports