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March 15, 2012

Ivan Aska

Isaiah Canaan

Steve Prohm


Murray State – 58
Colorado State – 41

THE MODERATOR:  I'd like to welcome Head Coach Steve Prohm, Isaiah Canaan, and Ivan Aska from the Murray State Racers.  Just like last time, we'll begin with an opening comment from Coach, and then we'll have questions directed at the student‑athletes, and then we'll follow that with questions for the head coach.
Coach, if you don't mind, opening comments, please.
COACH PROHM:  First, want to congratulate Colorado State and Coach Miles on a terrific season and on a terrific game.  He's done a great job in the last five years at Colorado State building the program and building the team the right way.  Congratulations to him and his program on a terrific season.
Then to follow up on that, just proud of our guys.  It wasn't a pretty first half both ways.  Both teams struggled to score.  I knew it was going to be the first thing‑‑ the first 15, 20 minutes in the game was going to be kind of a feeling‑out process.  We don't see them a lot during the year, just them being on the mountain time zone, coming from the Mountain West Conference.  But I had a lot of respect for their team with wins over San Diego State, UNLV, Colorado, New Mexico, that I knew they were a very, quality, quality opponent.
We just couldn't score.  The first half I struggled to score.  What I talked about at halftime, we were not playing the way defensively we had played all season long.  We had one steal and only nine deflections.  That's just not Murray State basketball.  That's not what our program has been built on and how we've been successful all season long.
I thought the difference in the game was we really tried to speed them up in the second half.  I thought we did a great job of that.  Really proud of the effort of our guys.  They've been resilient all season long.  Very fortunate to be moving on to the third round.
THE MODERATOR:  Coach, thank you.  Let's open it up to questions for the student‑athletes.

Q.  Isaiah, you guys completely took them apart defensively in the second half.  How did you do it?
ISAIAH CANAAN:  That's what our team is based around.  We try to turn our defense into offense.  Shots weren't falling.  We weren't getting the looks that we usually get.  So we had to rely on what we're built around.
We started doing that in the second half.  We started getting turnovers, started getting deflections, turning it into steals, and that was the outcome of the game.  We turned our defense into offense, and that's what we usually do.

Q.  Ivan, what about the lift that Donte gave you guys early when you guys couldn't buy a basket?
IVAN ASKA:  Donte did a tremendous job just by doubling in the post.  He was open every time.  Every time he was open, I was looking for him.  Donte, he did a good job just playing offense, playing defense.  That's what Donte do.  He scores a lot.  He gets steals.  But he did a good job.

Q.  Isaiah, at the start of the second half, you miss a three, and then Jewuan makes that play.  Was there a momentum switch right there, it seemed like, where you guys really took?
ISAIAH CANAAN:  We just wanted to come out and be more aggressive on both ends.  Like I said, we wanted to turn our defense into offense.  That's what we did in the second half.  We locked in, got more focused on the defensive side to the offensive side, and that was the outcome.
We started turning them over.  We started getting easy transition points, and that's what we like doing.  And that's what we did.

Q.  Isaiah, I've seen you play a lot of games, and I've seen you pull that 25‑foot transition three a lot of times.  I don't think I've ever seen you miss anything.  Was it just getting used to the idea of being in a tournament that led to something like that?
ISAIAH CANAAN:  It's a different feeling.  You're in a different gym.  Like you say, I used to make shots like that.  I went for it.  I didn't hit anything on the shot.
It was kind of an adrenaline rush.  I thought I could make it.  I usually make them.  It didn't turn out that way.  If I get open like that, I usually take them.  Hopefully, I can make it next time.

Q.  Isaiah, was it more what they were doing defensively in the first half, or was it just a new court?  What did you credit to the slow start?
ISAIAH CANAAN:  They did a tremendous job defensively.  They were trying to deny me, face guard me, trying to take me away when I came up on ball screens.  They had the big hedge real hard and tried to keep me from turning the corner.  You've got to give them credit also.
It's a different feeling in the gym.  So we've all got to adjust to shooting it in the gym.  Hopefully, it will be better the third round.  We're going to hope for the best, and we're going to keep staying and being aggressive.

Q.  Ivan, can you talk about what you and Ed discussed at halftime to come out and rebound and to really face off with Pierce Hornung?
IVAN ASKA:  Second half, I was missing some shots, and then the team was telling me they were going to need me.  I had picked it up.  I had to get adjusted.
Me and Ed did a good job trying to rebound, trying to keep them off the boards and stuff like that.  They did a good job rebounding and also going hard to the glass and also making shots.
But we had to adjust on my knee drive and so I did the best I can.  Also wanted the seniors and the leaders to go out there and just try to execute everything that they want me to do.

Q.  Ivan, what were you thinking at halftime?  Were you disappointed?  Were you worried?  And besides that, this is a game, it seemed like, not just the guys who were the high scorers made big contributions but everybody did.  How common is that for you guys?
IVAN ASKA:  It's very common to us.  Everybody make mistakes, but me, I didn't have a good first half.  And I told myself I've just got to get in the flow.  Just let the game come to me.
But everybody have picked it up, and our defense‑‑ because usually we don't play defense like that.  We turned it the second half, and like Coach Prohm was saying, we only had one steal and like nine deflections.  That's not us.  Usually we have about eight steals first half, stuff like that.
We just had to adjust and just play our game.

Q.  Isaiah or Ivan, either one, you guys were 13 of 26 from the foul line.  Was that just tournament nerves?
ISAIAH CANAAN:  I really don't know.  We've got to do a better job of making our free throws.  That's easy points.  We usually make them.  You could say it's a different feeling, but we ain't going to make no excuses.  Just got to make it whenever we get an opportunity to take them.

Q.  Isaiah, from the last time you walked off an NCAA Tournament court, just what's this feeling like?
ISAIAH CANAAN:  It always feels good to get a great win against a good opponent in an NCAA Tournament.  We got the same mind frame going into the next round, try to take one game at a time.
We came out victorious tonight, and we're going to go and get ready for the next opponent.  Coming in the game with the same mind frame, defending, doing everything Coach has asked us and just get ready and be ready for the next round.

Q.  Ivan, what was it like having Coach Kennedy here?
IVAN ASKA:  I was looking up in the crowd, and I seen him.  I was very happy to see him come down, support us.  But hopefully, I'll go catch him and talk to him.  But I was happy seeing him.
ISAIAH CANAAN:  It always feels good to see your former coach come down and support you.  We've been supporting him whenever he played all season long, and for him to come down and watch us compete in the NCAA Tournament is a great feeling.  I'm sure he's proud of us and been watching us from a distance.  We hope we can go out and play as hard as we can for him.
I'm sure he's looking down on Coach Prohm, who's been up under him for many years, and I'm sure he's proud of him also.  We're just going to go out and just try to play and finish the legacy that he started at Murray State and carry it on.
THE MODERATOR:  We're going to excuse our student‑athletes here.  We'll open it up to the floor for questions for Head Coach Steve Prohm.

Q.  Looking at the stats and the box score, you didn't really have a good game.  Shot 50 percent from the free‑throw line, 30‑something from the field.  You got out‑rebounded.  Should teams be scared of you now if you're actually playing a better game?
COACH PROHM:  I don't know if they should be scared of us.  We just try to play extremely hard.  We try to defend, rebound.  We try to play unselfish.  We just try to play the game the right way.
Share the basketball, defend and rebound, try to score off our defense, try to get easy baskets in transition, and then if we get into the half‑court, just try to make plays off ball screens and then share the basketball and make the extra pass.
It wasn't a pretty game in the first half.  We talked to the team about it in the second half, and we talked about it at halftime, that we had one steal, only had nine deflections.  That wasn't our style of basketball.  Isaiah got the dunk to start the half, took the lead by one, got up by three, got up by six, and that just kind of‑‑ the second half just kind of snowballed, and our lead just grew.

Q.  Donte's injury, how do you think that affected the outcome there?  How is he?  Did he have stitches or things like that afterward?
COACH PROHM:  They were working on his nose in the back.  It's got swelling and everything now.  He had gauze on it to finish the second half.
They're headed to get it x‑rayed right now.  It looks like it's probably broken because there's so much swelling.  I'm sure it's probably broken.  Eric, our trainer, and Dr. Blalock, our team doctor, they'll let me know in a couple of hours.
I don't think it dictated the game.  He was able to come back.  And Zay Jackson is such a spark plug off the bench for us.  Defensively at first and then offensively just in transition, making plays off the dribble.
But Donte, the first thing the guys said, is, man, he's a senior.  We need to pick it up.  Was happy to get him back on the floor, and I'm sure he'll be ready to go for Saturday.

Q.  You guys struggled, it seems like, making the plays in the paint.  You guys allowed 12 offensive rebounds, couldn't get a lot going in the paint.  Do you feel like you guys played physical enough tonight?
COACH PROHM:  Oh, yeah, I thought our toughness level the second half was tremendous, to hold them to 17 points, hold them to 41 points, 33 percent defensive field goal percentage, 21 percent from three.  Ivan was diving on loose balls.  I loved our toughness and energy.

Q.  Coach, you mentioned Zay Jackson, but can you elaborate on your bench players to come in there and play absolutely fearless basketball.
COACH PROHM:  I was proud.  Zay was terrific.  He's been great for us.  He's just grown and matured so much throughout the season from November, even back to August, because we played in August this year.  But from November to now, he's matured so much.  He's probably grown the most as a person and a player among the 14 players that we've had.
He was terrific off the bench for us again tonight.  Latreze was great.  Latreze got off to a slow start.  He missed some free throws.  I thought he was terrific.  Stacy Wilson.  I probably could have played him more minutes.  I was really pleased with Stacy's effort.  He made shots tonight, and I was really excited for him as well.

Q.  Coach, did the 11‑day layoff play any factor in the start earlier, or was it getting the feel of an NCAA game?
COACH PROHM:  A little bit getting the feel of an NCAA game, and part of it is how Colorado State plays.  They've got a unique style defensively.  They don't get out and pressure you.  They really pack it in.  They play 19, 20 feet in defensively.  Really just contain you.  They're more of a containment type defensive team.
We're more get out and attack you.  So with teams like that, we really have to get a feel.  We were able to do that in the second half, score off our defense.  We were able to speed the game up.  If we scored 35 points in both halves, that's 70 points.  If we're averaging right around 70, that's good for us.

Q.  Coach, were you pleased with the fan turnout today?
COACH PROHM:  It was great.  I'm glad you brought that up.  I was going to Tweet it later.  I want to appreciate Coach Calipari and his efforts to get Big Blue Nation supporting us today too.  They were great.
It was great to see the pride of the State of Kentucky and how much they appreciate good basketball.  For them to turn out‑‑ the crowd today was great.  I didn't see many empty seats.  This is an unbelievable facility.  Like I said earlier, we've been up here to practice before on our trip to Morehead State and to SIU Edwardsville.  It's a tremendous facility.  I didn't see many empty seats.
There was a ton of gold and blue, and then there was some royal blue, whatever they call the Kentucky blue.  What's the correct terminology, I'm not sure.
But the Kentucky fans were terrific, and I really appreciate Coach Cal doing that, and I appreciate Kentucky's fans.  But the Murray fans are the best.

Q.  Just having Coach Kennedy watching, your thoughts?
COACH PROHM:  I was a little nervous.  Man, if he comes and we lose, it's going to be really disappointing.  It's great to have him here.  It meant a lot for him and his family to be here.  But there is a little bit of nerves when he was here.  It is a little different.  You're like, man, you don't want to lose when he's here.
It was good.  I appreciate it.  If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't be in the position I am right now.  I've learned a lot about coaching from him.  I've learned mostly about how to be a man and how to teach young people.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you, Coach.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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