home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


March 16, 2012

Steve Alford

Drew Gordon

Kendall Williams


Q.   Both of you guys said the other day that going to New Mexico was the best decision you've ever made.  Could you both elaborate on that a little bit?
DREW GORDON:  Yeah.  I chose UCLA and it didn't obviously work out for me.  So I was really discouraged about basketball and my future and whatnot with sports.  And coach gave me a second chance and was able to pick my spirits up and basically turn around my life.  So I'm thankful for that and happy that the season is going so well.
KENDALL WILLIAMS:  You know, I have a similar story to Drew in terms of our tie with UCLA.  Luckily I was able to get recruited to New Mexico before I made a decision to go to UCLA.  And he had to transfer, but I went to UNM right away as a freshman.
I was very discouraged after what had happened with my situation, as well.  And Coach Alford and the coaching staff accepted me, accepted my abilities and my personality and I've just grown in the two years I've been.  There's a lot more basketball, a lot my time there.  But so far it's just been a great experience.

Q.  I was wondering for both of you guys, did Wyking Jones play a role in getting you to New Mexico, and could you elaborate on the relationship?
KENDALL WILLIAMS:  I knew in Drew's case, he had a relationship with Coach Jones for a very long time, since he was in middle school.  And myself, New Mexico came to my life a little later in my high school career.  And Wyking was the first one to really show interest and then Coach Neal from there.
But he's a great guy, great coach.  And we were very happy he was able to go to Louisville and be an impact on their staff.  And it's going to be a great challenge and a great opportunity to see him on the other bench.
DREW GORDON:  Wyking has been a part of my life for quite some time now.  Playing on the Nike Invitational tournaments and games and stuff like that with Wyking's tie to Nike was a huge impact on me going to New Mexico.  You only get a do‑over once in college basketball, really.  You've got to make the most of it.
So Wyking was someone I trusted and someone who was a good friend of mine and my family.  So it made it a lot easier.  And still to this day we maintain a good relationship and a good friendship.  So it's nice to see him succeed.
It's going to be bittersweet seeing him out there on the court tomorrow.  But I'm sure we'll have some back and forth and regardless of who comes out on top, I'm happy for both sides.

Q.  You were matched up against Casper Ware and it seemed like you would be matched up in this game against Peyton Siva.  Is that the case and could you talk about playing against him?
KENDALL WILLIAMS:  Like I said against Cas, you're going to see a lot of different looks, a lot of different match‑ups.  So like I said, I was fortunate enough to start on Casper and finish on Casper.
If that's the case for Peyton, then that will be that.  He's a great player, just like Casper is.  We have a lot of film to do until tomorrow's tip‑off at 6:40.  I'm going to try to watch as much as I can and get a good grasp on him.  But at the end of the day you have to roll the ball out and see what happens, but I think it's going to be fun.

Q.  I was wondering for you guys, do you think about this as another game or do you allow yourself an opportunity to think what it would be like to get to the Sweet 16?
KENDALL WILLIAMS:  You know, Drew and I were just talking, we're always roommates, so we're always just talking life, talking basketball.  And we were talking that it's funny that the season seems like it's this late and it's coming to an end.
The relationship that he and I have and the relationship that our teammates have, we don't want it to end.  We think of it as another opportunity to get a win for each other.  And another opportunity to play basketball for another week.  We're ready to get after it.  No pressure.  We haven't had pressure all year.  The coaches have done a great job of taking that off our shoulders.  We're ready to go out tomorrow and really show what we're about.

Q.  You're from Southern California, right?

Q.  Two questions.  One is:  How did you end up at New Mexico?  What other schools were recruiting you?  And also, were you relieved not to be a part of the Pac‑12 mess this year?
KENDALL WILLIAMS:  Yes.  I'm relieved.  It's still a very good conference, I have a lot of good friends in the Pac‑12.  But in terms of the conference as a whole and UCLA specifically, who I was committed to for two years, I'm very glad not to be a part of that because they're in a situation right now that might be looked ‑‑ might be frowned upon.  It's just not a good light.
I think what UNM is doing right now on a national stage is very positive in the Albuquerque community, as well as the whole Southwest community.  I'm very happy to be a Lobo.

Q.  Could you elaborate a little bit on your commitment to UCLA and what happened for you to end up at New Mexico?
KENDALL WILLIAMS:  Long story short, I was committed to them after my freshman year in high school and had a commitment to them for a few years.  And we decided that it wouldn't be good to further that commitment and hold that verbal contract.  And so luckily that didn't work out and now I'm a Lobo and we're in the Big Dance.  So it's exciting.

Q.  On a night before a big game like the one you guys are going to have tomorrow what do you do to keep the team loose or is it a matter of keeping focus?
COACH ALFORD:  We've had a lot of big games.  When you're in the league that we're in, our last up until Long Beach State, we had 17 games, top five, tough league in the country.  When you play against Mountain West conference teams, you're playing big games all the time.  This is nothing new to our guys.
Obviously the magnitude of the NCAA tournament.  You're in season 4 where if you lose you don't get another one.  So there's pressures of that magnitude.
But I think players have to deal with it.  That's part of going through it.  We've got that one game under our belt, so hopefully they can relax a little bit.  We don't really change things.  Everything we do on any typical road game is pretty consistent throughout the year.

Q.  Does Peyton Siva remind you at all of Casper Ware and would you take a similar approach in defending him?
COACH ALFORD:  Well, there's a lot of, I guess, irony or whatever you want to call it, but we're a league that's pretty much all man‑to‑man with no pressing.  And we get in two games here where we're playing against teams that zone and now teams that press in Louisville.  And then two really good point guards, scoring point guards.
And Ware was terrific.  I knew he was good by watching him all year because I'm good friends with Dan.  And watching him on tape we knew how special he was.  He's more of a big‑time scorer.  Where Siva is somebody that's very creative with the balls.  He dribbles teams.  You can defend things ‑‑ he dribbles into good offense.  And usually you don't see that.
But he'll come off multiple ball screens, he'll make multiple drives in the same possession.  Him getting in the paint creates a lot of problems for a lot of defenses.  And we really like watching him on tape as far as how he creates offense, not just for himself, but for his teammates.

Q.  Would you put Kendall on him?
COACH ALFORD:  Well, I've said it for the last two weeks, Kendall Williams is one of the best defenders in our conference.  He got no credit for that, which was a shame.  Our team is a very good defensive team and he heads that up.
So Kendall, if you look at what's happened to our defense in the last three months, Kendall Williams always gets the top assignment.  If he's the top assignment, Kendall will get that assignment.

Q.  How important is it for bigs in foul trouble?  Louisville has had some in the past and it's affected them big time.  Is that a big key to this game?
COACH ALFORD:  Well, they do a lot of pressing, a lot of zoning.  We do no pressing, no zoning, so you've got a contrast of styles.  So anytime you go into a game like that and kind of a one‑game series.  Neither one of us get another game unless you win.  So foul trouble can become an issue.  It can be something of importance.
We've got Cameron on the bench that can come in to give us another big.  We've been rotating those three bigs.  Sometimes we put Chad Adams in that rotation.  But foul trouble can do things to the way you want to play.  And hopefully our bigs can stay out of foul trouble.

Q.  Tomorrow there's a chance for UNM to go somewhere it's never been before, Sweet 16.  How big a milestone would that be to you guys?
COACH ALFORD:  Well, we haven't really thought about that end of it as much as this has been a great year for us.  28‑6 and have championships under our belt, have a win in the NCAA tournament.  This team just wants to continue to do some things.  And that's kind of the next step.
If they can get to the round of 16, that's unchartered waters for UNM, and we've had a lot of fun this year, and it's a team that doesn't want the season to en.  Very much like Louisville, you'll see two teams beating like crazy and fighting to keep our season alive.
We've had a lot of fun with this group.  It's been a group that's fun to coach and I think they keep learning and playing better.  We haven't lost a game in March.  You wake up tomorrow with 17 days in the month and we haven't lost.  Hopefully we keep that going.

Q.  I know the fans couldn't get here by the numbers that they could in Las Vegas or would in Phoenix next week if you guys get there.  Can you still feel all the energy and the passion?  I'm sure your phone has been buzzing off the hook and you're getting a lot of them.  What does it mean to you?
COACH ALFORD:  Well, it's just a special feeling.  We talk about it all the time that we have a terrific fan base.  One of the best fan bases in the entire country.  Our guys know that.
I thought we had a great number for as far away as Portland is, we had a great number for us.  I thought we represented extremely well yesterday.  We're appreciative of our fans.  I think that's why we play so hard and work so hard because our players have a great appreciation for the fan base we have.  It's their way of showing and saying thanks by just how hard they play.  And hopefully we can continue to be successful.

Q.  You're a former NBA player, you've had success at multiple programs.  There's a head coaching vacancy with the Trail Blazers.  How long before we see you make Portland your permanent home?
COACH ALFORD:  That one came out of left field (laughter).  I've just been watching tape on Louisville, I didn't know anything had even happened with the Trail Blazers.

Q.  Kendall is an LA area kid who had a commitment for awhile to UCLA.  How did you get involved and get him to come to New Mexico?
COACH ALFORD:  Well, basically got a phone call from him and his family.  And he made a verbal commitment, apparently wanted out of that.  And he was one of the first ‑‑ we were one of the first schools that he called.  So we went down that line obviously as quick as we could because we knew of the talent that he had.  Anytime you can get something a little bit special in your back‑court or your front court, you become very interested in that.
And with Kendall, the two traits that he has, he's extremely fast.  You can't teach speed.  So you're getting a guard that has great speed.  You're also getting a guard that just has a knack of making shot after shot after shot in big moments.  He's only been with us for two years, but I can't tell you the number of huge shots he's already made for us, and difficult shots, in the last two years.
And what he's learning in his sophomore year, he's become one of our best defenders.  He wasn't that way two years ago.  And that's a credit to him of really concentrating at that other end and trying to become a complete player.

Q.  Coach Pitino has described his front two guards as mosquitoes, they get after you, they annoy you, they try to speed you up.  Is your team susceptible to that or how to do you prevent getting sped up so you turn the ball over?
COACH ALFORD:  That's obviously something they want to do.  We don't mind playing fast.  We like that style.  I think it's about what kind of shot you get and where is your turnovers coming from.  If your turnovers are coming from your baseline and next to your basket, that's harder to run on.  You can still set our defense.
So I think there is merit to having turnovers as long as they're aggressive and the right spot on the floor.  If you're turning it over around mid court or in your back‑court, that leads to a lot of transition play.  And we've got a very good half court defense.  We need to make them go against that half court defense.
If we're in a situation where they're three on ones and four on twos all night, that's obviously going to benefit Louisville.  Taking care of the ball, being aggressive and handling that press is going to be something that's obviously very important to us.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297