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March 15, 2012

Jordan Hamilton

Gabe Knutson

C.J. McCollum

Brett Reed


THE MODERATOR:¬† We'll take questions for the student‑athletes.

Q.  Talk about when Adams was inserted into the starting lineup, how things kind of just kept on going.  Things have gone really well since he's been in there and now how Holden is back healthy.
GABE KNUTSON:  John's been playing a really big role for us.  He's a defensive minded player and I think we have been rolling ever since that American game.  He's been really contributing and I think everybody responds to his defensive energy for us.
C.J. MCCOLLUM:  I think that's been huge for us because early in the year we struggled on the defensive end in terms of the perimeter, getting perimeter stops, and securing rebounds on defense.  So I think that's been huge for us.  And then Holden's a great spark off the bench and even if he starts, we know what to expect from him, because he's a great perimeter player.
JORDAN HAMILTON:  I think John's intensity and really devotion to getting stops has really contributed to our success and sort of the culture of defense we have tried to instill.  And I think that now that Holden is healthy again, it really adds to our depth which will help us in this next game.

Q.  Talk about playing Duke and it's a team that has done pretty well, obviously, in the first round.  I think they have won 14 out of the last 15 in the first round.  They won by a large margin, average of 27 points a game.  Just talk about facing a team like that with the tradition of Duke and your approach going in.
JORDAN HAMILTON:  We are well aware of Duke's history and the prestige that follows their program, but we try to look at them as just another team and look at this as another game.
From that perspective, we kind of remove all the hype surrounding it and I think that we're able to approach it from a more sort of organic perspective and which we're able to prepare for them and approach it as just any or game.
GABE KNUTSON:  Just going along with what he said.  We just take it one game at a time.  Obviously they're a well respected opponent.  And yeah, we're just going to focus on ourselves, try and get stops and share the ball on offense and see what happens.  You have to play the games for a reason and we're obviously well aware that they're a strong team, but we think we have done some good things this year as well.
C.J. MCCOLLUM:  We're aware that they're a great program.  They have a great history and arguably one of the greatest coaches to ever coach college basketball.  So it's definitely harder to be playing against them and harder to be in the tournament, but at the same time we won our conference tournament outright and so we deserve to be here as well.  So we definitely look forward to the opportunity.

Q.  Could you each explain what kind of reaction you've gotten on campus?  What do you think this means at Lehigh and then in the town there?
C.J. MCCOLLUM:  I think the students and professors and everybody back on campus are definitely excited about this opportunity.  We made it to the tournament our freshman year and I think it was kind of more unexpected because we hadn't made it in a while.  But now that we're playing better and having a nice junior class, I think people respect us more around campus and there's definitely a lot of people that plan on driving out.  I'm sure that we won't have as many fans as Duke, but at the same time we should have a decent showing.
GABE KNUTSON:  I think it's great.  We have a great showing here.  Our roommates coming out, we got plenty of people driving down, flying down, just it's just great to have our hard work recognized.  And yeah, I think professors, students, are just walking around campus, have been great and their support's been great the whole year.
JORDAN HAMILTON:  Being a senior I've been able to see the support of all over my four years as the success of the program has, and I'm really just appreciative for all the support we're getting back on campus from the students to the our community.  It's really great.  And for all the work that these guys put in, its just great to be recognized and to get that support and sort of also give back to the community in that way.

Q.  Has your coach mentioned anything about his history down in North Carolina with High Point and Greensboro, and if that's any sort of motivation that he's mentioned, hey, it's kind of good to be back or anything?
GABE KNUTSON:  I'm not aware of that, sorry.
JORDAN HAMILTON:  I haven't heard any mention of it.
C.J. MCCOLLUM:¬† I think he's keeping it to himself.¬† I don't really know the history, but he's‑‑ he probably doesn't want to put any extra pressure on us or something like that.

Q.¬† You guys opened the season playing some pretty big time teams Michigan State, you were competitive in those games.¬† Is that any help at all when you step up and face a Duke that's been a Top‑10 team all season that you've played teams that are at that level and have been in the game?
JORDAN HAMILTON:  I think it is.  Especially the Michigan State game, we came out and we approached them just like it was any other game and really we came out with an attack mentality.  And I think a lot of these big schools, they don't really expect the smaller guys to come out and come out swinging.  So that's an advantage we have.  That also built confidence that we can really play.  We feel we can play with anyone in the country.
GABE KNUTSON:  I think we have confidence in our abilities and definitely going into hostile environments such as Michigan State, Iowa State, St. John's.  We've been there before, obviously it's a whole another animal playing Duke here basically a home game for them, so, yeah, we're prepared and, yeah, we're going to come out swinging and give our best effort and try and focus on what we can control.
C.J. MCCOLLUM:¬† I think it definitely helps us from the mental aspect.¬† We were here when we made it to the tournament last time, but a lot of younger guys weren't.¬† Our point guard, Mackey wasn't here, and so I think the non‑conference schedule has definitely helped him out along with some other guys that didn't get enough experience.¬† And if they have any doubts like that they can just refer back to those memories and I think that will help us.

Q.  How much more confident are you guys in this tournament as opposed to when you were here two years ago maybe as freshmen.  And obviously you were older Jordan, sorry.
C.J. MCCOLLUM:  We're definitely a lot more confident.  I remember hearing about how a 16 seed has never beaten a 1 seed, so that's pretty discouraging when you hear that going into a tournament.  So we don't have to worry about that this time because there's been past upsets with 15s beating 2 seeds.  But we're just more mature; we understand the game a lot more.  We have been through a lot, and we kind of know what to expect, what we're getting ourselves into.  It's going to be hostile.  They're going to be a terrific team.  They're well coached.  So we know what we're getting ourselves into.
GABE KNUTSON:  I think that just making it to the tournament my freshman year was kind of the accomplishment.  I still remember Coach Reed saying in the locker room after the game that he wanted to come back and win a few games in the tournament.  Yeah, I think that my freshman year we were just excited to be there.  And yeah, it's great we get to do all this extra stuff, all the extra media attention and everything, but now we understand it's like a business trip and obviously it's a strong opponent, but we're going to step up to the challenge.
JORDAN HAMILTON:  I agree with what these guys both said.  Coming down here the first year, it was we were real excited to be here.  And now we're excited to be here to compete and hopefully win games.  I think there's a difference in mentality in the approach to the game and we're taking it seriously.
THE MODERATOR:  We'll take questions for Coach Reed.

Q.  Grievance about your is now Greensboro okay.  Thank you.
COACH REED:  Our team is very excited to have a chance to be here as a participant in the NCAA tournament, but I think our goals go far beyond just participation.  Really our goal is to be a competitor in this tournament.  We have young men who have a great deal of confidence in themselves, have a great deal of confidence in each other, and a great deal of confidence in our system, and ultimately the things that we're trying to accomplish here.
I think that confidence really can translate into something that makes this tournament as special as it is and the reason it has the monicker of March Madness because upsets happen and anything can happen.¬† Ultimately, it's a 40‑minute contest with two teams that are going to compete very competitively against each other.

Q.  Talk about when John Adams was inserted into the lineup about ten games ago when Holden got hurt, how you guys have been able to get on this run and have the chemistry not disrupted.
COACH REED:¬† Chemistry is really an important factor for any team and I think Holden had provided such a positive spark for us in the beginning of the year and through our non‑conference play.¬† However, our consistency particularly on the defensive end of the floor was lacking at times.
John Adams had always brought kind of a lunch pail mentality, somebody that we could always count on for a great deal of energy, physical play, rebounding.  And the way he was shooting the basketball made it very difficult to keep him from getting minutes.
We were hoping that obviously we would have John Adams continue to play at a high level and Holden continue to play at a high level, but with Holden's inconsistency that started to surface and ultimately to some degree dealing with an ankle injury, it made for a natural progression to John who had made so many positive contributions to our team.

Q.¬† Going back to what you said at the beginning, March Madness anything can happen, but what do you say to your guys when it's Duke with ‑‑ I think everybody knows their history in the tournament and what they have done to some other teams in the first round particularly.¬† What do you say to your guys so they don't get intimidated?
COACH REED:  Well, I think it's important to be able to recognize and respect the amount of history that Duke has had; their program is excellent their coaching staff is phenomenal, I also think it's important to respect the accomplishments that they have had this year.
However, the interesting thing is we're not playing against Christian Laettner.  We're not playing against Grant Hill.  We're not playing against any of those other players, that's not who they have out there now.  So the history becomes less important.  Obviously we have a great deal of respect and you can insert new names into that for their team that they have currently, some very talented players who obviously are very well coached.
But at the end of the day, I think we're a pretty good team.¬† I know that they're a good team.¬† And you have to pretty much move beyond all those other things and just focus in the moment at hand.¬† Because when two teams face each other that have never faced each other before, because ultimately I don't care how‑‑ what the history series of the series is, there's never been their team against this team.¬† It might be their program against our program, but these two teams in essence have never matched up.
I think that one of the most important things that we need to do is continue to have that trust, confidence and belief in our self, despite what everybody else might think and overall general consensus and opinions from people who are paid to prognosticate and predict and do all those other type of things.  Really the only people who matter that really have a say and an outcome in this thing are the 14 players who are on our team, the coaches, and those who are immediately associated and involved with our program.

Q.  When you were here at High Point and Greensboro, did you interact with Coach K at all?  Did you have any opportunity to do that?  And back then at the start of your career, did you imagine coaching against him?  Did you study him at all?
COACH REED:  Well, having my father be a coach growing up, as the son of a coach, there was always the appreciation of different people in the profession.  Because I remember watching just general games on television with my father and being able to appreciate some of the great programs that are out there.
My father was a tremendous coach, won a national championship.  But never really had the limelight or the opportunity to play really in front of national audiences.
But as a kid, particularly growing up in the Midwest, you just get so involved watching whether it's Big‑10 basketball or other national programs, and national powerhouses, where it's easy to respect those programs and certainly the things that they have been able to accomplish.
Specifically to the number of interactions that I've had with Coach Krzyzewski, they have been very limited.  I don't have a personal relationship with him, I do have a great deal of respect for him from a far as I think many other people do in our profession.  And it would be very hard not to, especially considering the amount of on the court success that he's had.
The interactions that we have had have probably been limited to brief interactions through recruiting and also at telephone conversations about somebody ultimately who we were talking about potentially for a position on our staff.

Q.  You mentioned in your opening remarks that "I think our goals go far beyond participation."  Do you think that was the case two years ago?
COACH REED:  I think because the way we competed it became evident that it was.  We were facing a very good Kansas team that particular year.  A team that many had predicted to go to the Final Four, if not potentially win a National Championship.
But immediately I could tell from the spirit that our players had and their competitive nature and their level of urgency out there on the floor that they really wanted to embrace the moment.  They wanted to go beyond just showing up and saying, hey, Lehigh won a Patriot League championship.  But they actually wanted to earn the respect of their opponent on the national stage and in that type of environment.  I think a good thing about that was we had a number of seniors on that particular team that had seen a lot of different things, the ups and the downs of their journey.  So there was a great deal of appreciation for the moment.  And I know in even dealing with this team this year, seniors have just a heightened sense of urgency.  They have had the experiences to draw from an ultimately that can make a big difference.  Somebody like Isaiah Carrington, somebody like a Marquis Hall, even somebody with a steal will determination a Dave Buchberger and a Matt Shamis at that point.  Those young men had to put forward a great deal of will to win and I think there's a lot of experiences that we can draw on from that, because having had two starters in the last NCAA tournament, the fact that this is our second time in three years, and then we have a solid nucleus of players who actually experience this had type of environment can certainly only help us.  And hopefully we have that same type of mentality, that same type of belief and that same type of competitive fire to earn the respect of our opponent and hopefully do something very special.

Q.  You mentioned drawing on experiences from that tournament.  You guys played Michigan State, Iowa state, St. John's early this season, how can you draw on the experiences from playing teams like that at this stage?
COACH REED:¬† I think our schedule to date has prepared us in a couple different ways.¬† You mentioned some key matchups against some very good teams.¬† But I'll also harken back to the very beginning of our year, because we have to be mindful and assess where we're at right now.¬† We're in North Carolina.¬† We're facing a Duke team that isn't very far from their campus.¬† But ultimately at the beginning of the year, we set out on a journey that had 12 of our first 15 games away from home.¬† And we played in competitive environments.¬† We played in pressure situations.¬† And we learned that the unity and trust that we have within ourselves, especially in environments that aren't pro‑Lehigh really critical.¬† So I think being able to draw from our success on the road a coupled withdrawing from the experiences against playing against what we consider very good teams in the ones that you had mentioned and others even as well, where we have been able to compete in a positive way on the road.¬† I think that's really important.¬† I think that if we look at those specific games, we know that runs can happen in a hurry.¬† I think you start getting back down to the fundamentals of basketball, when you start looking at matchups like this, you need to make sure that you're defense is solid and hopefully set in transition where you don't give out easy run out opportunities and high percentage shots.¬† I always think, especially in these type of environments interior play becomes very important from rebounding and trying to hold a team to a single possession, to being able to patrol the interior enough to try to limit high percentage shots even though we might be outsized, out‑muscled to some degree, out‑massed, I think it's really something that our team has to buy in together.¬† But the collective will of five sometimes can overcome a size advantage of one or two.

Q.  Can you talk about the difference between maybe the first five to ten minutes last year in comparison to what you expect your team to play in the first five to ten minutes tomorrow?
COACH REED:  That's really hard to say because if we try to go with predictions and understanding and project what it's going to be, I think we're missing some of the points of the luster of this type of environment.  Because the script hasn't been written and for me to be able to say that I have a set idea of the way we're going to come out of the gate and how it's going to work and everything, our players adjust.  We want to go in with the right mindset and te right mentality, but there has been no script written.  If it was then there would be no sense going through these tournaments.  Everyone would just pick their favorite seed and continue to advance through their bracket.  The joy is anything can happen.  But now what I do hope for is the exact same type of mentality that we had going into that last game, the same type of will and determination going into that last game where confidence seemed to be put forth to the forefront immediately, where we weren't waiting for another team to throw the first blow and react.  We were actually the people who set the tone, set the tempo.  And I think that was really an important step for our success to be competitive in that last game and also it was going to be a very critical component hopefully in this game, where we can establish ourselves early.  If we fail to establish ourselves early, I still think the game's 40 minutes and I learned that through multiple years, that it's not the first five minutes that sets the tone of the game, but it's the full 40 minutes.  However, I think establishing a good start and being able to draw from positive energy that ultimately we continue to grow as that belief gross in what we're trying to accomplish can be something that only helps our journey.

Q.  Talk about the importance of having two of your most prominent players in Gabe and C.J. having NCAA experience specifically from what they could have learned and could bring to the other guys.
COACH REED:  I think it's a really important factor.  Because you're talking about two young men who actually have been in this type of atmosphere before.  I know Gabe Knutson scored I believe our first basket in the NCAA tournament two years ago.  CJ McCollum was our leading scorer.  Both young men have continued to evolve throughout the course of their career and it's hard to believe, especially with someone like C.J. who was not only Rookie of the Year in our league but also Player of the Year in our league as a freshman.  But we have seen them evolve with consistency, evolve with his leadership, we have also seen him evolve with his trust of other people in being able to share the ball and make other people better.  Gabe Knutson has been a very productive player for us surpassing 1000 points already in his junior year, providing an anchor for our offense to compliment CJ McCollum so much.  But I really believe because those individuals have had some success, have been here before, I think they can really help start to set the tone especially with the high level of confidence and poise in this type of moment that we'll be able to draw from.
THE MODERATOR:  All right, thank you, coach.
COACH REED:  Thank you.

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