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March 15, 2012

Fran Dunphy

Michael Eric

Juan Fernandez

Ramone Moore


THE MODERATOR:  Questions for athletes, please.

Q.  I want to ask all you guys just about the tradition of Temple going to Elite 8s over the years and just how bad you guys want to be part of that.  And I know you're taking it one game at a time, but there is that tradition and that history of Chaney and all those great teams and what it would mean to kind of add your group to that legacy.
RAMONE MOORE:  I think it would be great, all three of us, this is our last go-round.  So however far we can make it, it would be great.  I think the Elite 8, you know, says a lot about the teams that we had in the past, how great of a tradition Temple basketball has had through the years.  And, like I said, it would just be great, but, I mean, we don't want to try to look too far ahead.
JUAN FERNANDEZ:  Yes, same thing.  I think it would be awesome for us three, being our last year here, and for Temple, for the coaching staff and for our teammates coming into next year, too.  But it takes a lot of hard work and a lot of playing good basketball.
To get here and to get through, you got to beat the best teams in the country and that's what we're going to try to do starting tomorrow.
MICHEAL ERIC:  I think it's going to be, you know, going to be an awesome feeling if we can actually be in that same situation with those teams.  But like Juan said, we have to be the best team and we have to be the hardest working team, come together to try and accomplish that goal.

Q.  What does South Florida do to make it tough for teams to score against them and how do you guys go about scoring against South Florida?
JUAN FERNANDEZ:  Well, from what we've seen, personally I was able to watch the game that they played against Villanova in the Big East tournament and obviously watched the game yesterday.
They're really good defending the one an one.  They got big guards and, you know, athletic players that cover a lot of room, lot of space, and they contest every shot, and it's hard for teams to, you know, try to score as they would against any other team.  So, we're going to have to move the ball, be patient and move without the ball, too, and play as a team more than ever on offense if we want to break them down.

Q.  Micheal, question for you, also about USF.  Do they remind you've anybody when you look at them that you might have played this year that you can compare them with?  Of course, they got great size as well as decent mobility.
MICHEAL ERIC:  I think they remind me of Wichita State, with the guards and also the scoring ability from the wings and the big man is a good scorer, shoots outside shots and also in the paint.  They remind me of Wichita State.  It's going to be an interesting battling against this team.

Q.  Just continue on that.  Ramone, when you watched USF, they seem to try to get teams out of their rhythm offensively and try to play ugly and physical.  You guys are so much a rhythm team offensively.  How do you kind of stay that way and against a team like that?
RAMONE MOORE:  I think we have to come out aggressive.  They do a great be job defensively.  I mean, they held California to 13 points yesterday in the first half, which is great, but, I mean, we the got to come out and play our basketball, got to make the extra pass, hit the open shots, and, you know, they don't let you speed them up as well.  They do a great job of getting their shots and slowing the game down.
So, I mean, we can't try to speed the game up too much.  I'm sure that's what they want, but we just got to go out there and make shots at the end of the day.

Q.  Can you guys talk about Anthony Collins a little bit.  He seems like the guy who drives them offensively.
JUAN FERNANDEZ:  Yeah.  To start, it's going to be my job to guard him, obviously, and I think he goes perfect with the type of game they want the play, especially on offense.  On defense he keeps everybody in front.  He steals the ball pretty well, but on offense, I think everything runs through him.
If they go for something and they don't have it and the ball goes back to him and then they try to do something else, then that's how they manage the game.  They play long possessions.
We're going to try to be smart and know when -- probably when to deny the ball from him or how to play the pick and rolls smart so he doesn't hurt us.  There's a lot of things that we're going to have to pay attention to tomorrow, not only to stop him but from keep him from making everybody else better on that team.

Q.  Micheal, if you watched last night's game, South Florida and California, particularly in the first half, what caught your eye?  Did you see some things you hadn't been before particularly offensively?
MICHEAL ERIC:  Yeah.  They made sure they scored the ball from turnovers and stuff like that.  It's not really -- didn't really catch my eye, but seeing them score the ball effectively.
You know, when you watch USF, they score the ball every possession last night.  I think that kind of like was something to see, because it was -- they were just scoring the ball.  The Collins guy played a lot.  The big guy got in the lane and he scored a lot.

Q.  Any of you guys, I wanted to ask about Hollis-Jefferson.  He does a little bit of everything for you guys defensively, he scores when he has to.  Seems like he means a lot to you guys, but nobody really talks about him much.  Anybody who cares to answer, what his role is and how well he does it.  Seems like a real unselfish guy.
JUAN FERNANDEZ:  Yeah.  I mean, he's a big part of our team.  Probably many things that he does are not reflected on the stats or the numbers, but he's very important for us.  He's probably our undersized big man that we have to play with, but he's working on his mid-range shot, which is huge for us, and he's such a great guy and we love him as a teammate, you know, and never complains, always works hard, and those are things that we only know as his teammates and they're not shown in the stats.  That's a really big attribute for a player.

Q.  Micheal, you saw some steady improvement in the last few years with your production offensively and just in general rebounding, that sort of thing.  What's been the key for you to make that steady improvement, any adjustments you've made with your game the last couple of years?
MICHEAL ERIC:  Just learn from my mistakes from the years before.  Like a lot of things I didn't do right the first couple seasons, like catching the ball, being in the right position, and also Coach Dunphy reminds me have a feel for the game of basketball.  Just constantly being in the gym, you know, hanging out with his guys, and they tell me what to do, how to stay low on defense and all this stuff.  Just improving on this stuff actually has helped me gradually get a steady progression for the team, and I'm just lucky to be in the situation where I can learn everyday and learn from my teammates as well as learn from Coach Dunphy.
THE MODERATOR:  Any other questions?

Q.  Ramone, what do you guys need to do differently than maybe you have in the past few games to pick up a win against South Florida?
RAMONE MOORE:  I think we have to play smart.  Can't, you know, have too many turnovers which will lead to fast break points for those guys.  Got to cover the athletes on the team.  Pretty sure like to get out and get in the open floor.  We control the basketball and not turn it over as much, make open shots and convert in the paint, I think we'll be good, you know, hold our end on the defensive end.
We haven't been playing defense.  We haven't been playing defense that great as of late.  We have to try and do a good job on that as well.
THE MODERATOR:  Thanks, Guys.
All right.  We have Coach Fran Dunphy here from Temple.  Go ahead and raise your hand.  We'll open the floor for questions.

Q.  Fran, obviously first question, your impressions of your opponent having watched them last night.  I know you were a little bit of a follower of them this year.  If you could recount how that began and what you thought of them that year and what do you think of them after watching last night?
COACH DUNPHY:  Well, I thought they were a really terrific defensive basketball team who took care of the ball in pretty good fashion and got great control of games.  Most teams played at their pace.  Then last night obviously they defended very well, but they also made shots and made a ton of them early and got that sizeable gap between they and California.
I just thought they were on their game last night.  They had great commitment at both ends of the floor, and if I didn't have to play against them tomorrow, I would have enjoyed very much watching the game, really celebrated what they had done.  Now obviously worried.
THE MODERATOR:  Other questions.  Back left.

Q.  Could you talk about your impressions of their freshman point guard, Anthony Collins, how he affected the game.
COACH DUNPHY:  I've really been impressed with Anthony Collins over the last couple weeks.  Obviously, we see when South Florida plays Villanova and watched a lot of the game at the garden last week, whenever that took place.  But I think he's really terrific, has great feel for the game, great poise, terrific with the runner in the lane and affects the game.  Very, very impressed with him and was talking to John Beilein about him today, because John coached his brother at West Virginia and really, again, for a freshman, the poise is extraordinary.
THE MODERATOR:  Other questions.

Q.  Fran, what have been some of the problems the way your team has played in the past few games and what do you need to do differently against South Florida?
COACH DUNPHY:  I think our most recent game against UMass, I thought we played fairly well in the first half.  We had a horrible first five minutes of the seconds half.  I don't know if we were up 4 or 5 at the end of the half and then we go down 10, and then I thought we battled as good -- we can't play any better than that to go back up 4 and with two times we had the possessions and we -- up 4 and we just took a bad shot and made a turnover and just didn't finish out the game as well as we could have, but couple -- again, when we played UMass and played La Salle in our previous games where we found a way to win, we didn't manage the game very well the last couple of minutes of the game.  We had sizeable leads and didn't manage the game as well as we possibly could have, but, you know, we're a team that I think is a pretty good offensive team.  I think we need to do better defensively and I think our commitment to defense has to be great tomorrow night.

Q.  Earlier in the week, you said you didn't know how your team would compete in this game.  How has practice been and do you sense that they're going to come out motivated, fired up, and ready to play?
COACH DUNPHY:  Yeah.  I'm not so sure I said I didn't know how they were going to compete.  I hope that they're going to compete.  They've won 24 games this year.  They must have done some sort of competing.  I hope -- again, I don't know how we're going to play.  I wish I had that crystal ball, but I don't.  I hope we play as intelligently as we can, as tough-minded as we can, and as committed to the defensive end as we possibly can, because all of those ingredients are what it takes to win this game against a team like South Florida, who seemingly is playing, very, very good basketball at the end of this year.

Q.  Fran, when you go into a game like this against a team that not just plays good defensively but has great length, do you have to balance the idea of getting the ball inside but risking with those passing lanes being narrow the turnovers as opposed to coaching for a perimeter jump shooting game?  How do you balance those two ideas?
COACH DUNPHY:  Well, I think it's a terrific question and really what we always talk about -- we always try to go inside.  I think most coaches will put on the blackboard before the game, let's go inside and out and if the defense collapses, we're going to kick it back out and you're going to repost and maybe we'll get some decent looks.  We'll try to do that and we'll see how successful we are.  Are we turning it over?  That's not a good formula.  If we have to settle for open jump shots and that's what it takes, then we hope we make our share of them.
We have to limit our turnovers.  In the last game that we played against University of Massachusetts, we had 22 of them and a bulk of those were at the start of the second half.  We cannot let teams go on runs and get that momentum.  If you're asking me, the formula that we would like to pursue here is let's get good shots.  Sometimes they're going to be on the perimeter, sometimes they're going to be inside, but if we get good shots, we'll be okay.

Q.  Coach, I just wondered what you think of the ever-changing landscape ever colleges with the conferences and some of the irony of you playing this team that you'll count as a conference foe in a few years.
COACH DUNPHY:  It's very interesting, obviously.  This is all predicated on football.  It's been football driven.  Obviously we would like to have all of your sports under one roof and we're going to do that in another year.  It's what has happened to college athletics.  My opinion is, is it going to be good?  I don't know that.  Again, I don't have that crystal ball, but I hope it's good for Temple University, and the Big East certainly has a terrific brand.
There is some bittersweet in it for us that we've been members of a terrific conference, the Atlantic 10, for all of these years, loved every minute of it, and now we're going into another conference and building new relationships, new rivalries, those kinds of things.
It's not easy, but it is what colleges and universities are doing these days, and Temple is very much a part of it.  So we're excited about our new opportunity but very grateful for where we have been for the last 30 years.
THE MODERATOR:  Anyone else?

Q.  Last one, I promise.  Micheal Eric asked to draw a comparison of USF with another club he may have played.  He came up with Wichita State in terms of decent defensively but also has length.  Do you ascribe to that comparison or do you have a better one, and how did you attack that sort of challenge before?
COACH DUNPHY:  Well, there are some similarities in athleticism and strength and length.  I think they play different games, though.  Wichita State is a little faster paced game.  That doesn't mean south Florida can't play fast, but South Florida has not chosen to do.  Although in the first half last night, I had a number of possessions and shot it great.  When those things are happening, then I'm sure Stan would like them to continue to shoot it rather quickly, if they're getting good slots and making them.
Again, the similarities are there athletically, just in terms of different styles of play, and they've been very successful with taking care of the basketball and really winning.  I've heard somebody say it was like going to get a root canal.  But you know what?  They figured out what they needed to do to win.  I think all of -- the thing that impresses me most is -- when you can be tough physically or tough mentally, you have a chance to be a really good team.
I think at this point and especially this point in the year, I think South Florida is both.  So that's a tough task for us.
THE MODERATOR:  Any more?  All right.  Thanks, Coach.
COACH DUNPHY:  Thank you.

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