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March 17, 2012

Jae Crowder

Darius Johnson-Odom

James Mays

Buzz Williams


Marquette テや 62
Murray State テや 53

THE MODERATOR:テつ We'll begin with an opening statement from Head Coach Buzz Williams and follow that with questions only directed at the student‑athletes.テつ Coach?
COACH WILLIAMS:テつ We're thankful.テつ I thought the physicality game was as much as we have seen in a long time.テつ Congratulations to Murray State and Coach Prohm.テつ It's an unbelievable year.
They're worthy of all the attention they've received.テつ Love what they're about, love how they play, and we're lucky and thankful to have played the way we did in the second half and finish the game.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Thanks, Coach.テつ Now we'll open questions to the media directed to the student‑athletes.

Q.テつ Todd, what's it like for you as a freshman playing in 30‑odd games, guarding a potential all‑American point guard?
TODD MAYO:テつ It was a little different.テつ He's a good player.テつ I watched his energy last night just to see what he does good and see his weaknesses. テつI just tried to keep him out of the channel and do what we do.

Q.テつ Jae, what were they doing to you on the first half, and what were you able to do differently in the second, particularly during the key run?
JAE CROWDER:テつ They just did a good job of finding out where I was at anywhere on the court and getting a body on me anywhere to keep me away from the offensive glass and stuff like that.
They just always knew where I was at and always aware.テつ It was part of their game plan.テつ I just tried to adjust in the second half.

Q.テつ D.J., one of the words Buzz used yesterday to describe you guys was resilient.テつ Does that apply today, do you think?
DARIUS JOHNSON‑ODOM:テつ Definitely.テつ When you're playing a team like Murray State, they're going to keep throwing punches and throwing punches, and you have to find a way to slow them down.テつ We did a great job of that today.
Davante gave us big minutes.テつ Todd did a great job on defense and offense.テつ Junior, he became an elite player today.

Q.テつ You just talked about how junior became an elite player today.テつ Could you expand on that, please.
DARIUS JOHNSON‑ODOM:テつ I think everybody was able to see Junior Cadougan as the point guard of our team nationally.テつ He's always been an elite player, but I think everybody who watches basketball was able to see it today.

Q.テつ D.J., last year you were with the Sweet 16 as an 11 seed not expected to do much.テつ Right now you're a 3 seed, and after Missouri loses yesterday, maybe the path has opened up a little bit easier for you.
Talk about the mindset of this team as compared to a year ago to what's out there for you.
DARIUS JOHNSON‑ODOM:テつ I think it's even harder.テつ I don't think those seeds really mean too much of anything for us.テつ We were an 11 seed, and we weren't expected to do anything last year.
I think for us we're going to just have to stay focused on what we want to do, what's the goal for our team, things that we've been doing to continue the success we've been having.

Q.テつ Jae, did four minutes left, you drew a charge on one end, hit a three on the other end.テつ Kind of a big sequence, did you think?
JAE CROWDER:テつ We were a couple plays from closing the game out, and I just wanted to make the next big play, whether it be on the defensive or offensive end and put our team in position to win the game.
I think I had a defensive mentality.テつ I really wanted to make that play defensively, and it worked out in my favor.テつ I just wanted to try to get a steal, a charge, a rebound, something.テつ I just wanted to make that play.
I knew at that time it was big in the game, and it was the next big stop that we needed.テつ I tried to make it.

Q.テつ You guys have had a series of comebacks this season.テつ When it got to be around the eight‑minute mark, and they were up, I think it was five.テつ Did you have any doubts you had another run in you?
DARIUS JOHNSON‑ODOM:テつ Eight minutes is like 30 minutes.テつ You've got to stay focused, stay poised, continue to do the things that got you to that point even if you're down five.
We have to change things as far as our strategy and things we want to do because we weren't playing like ourselves every time.テつ We did a great job just enforcing what we wanted to do.
With the guys continuing to step up, it's going to be hard for a lot of people to hang with us.

Q.テつ There was a lot of talk this week about Murray State and how they're going to bring a lot of fans.テつ Did that kind of factor into anything?テつ Did that motivate you guys a little bit more?
TODD MAYO:テつ No, I don't think it did, but we knew it was going to be a road game.テつ We pray all the time for God to stand on us.テつ He definitely did today.テつ And we just try to stay together and just try to come out with the win.

Q.テつ Guys, typical after a game like this, Buzz has no voice left.テつ How important is it for your game to listen to the instructions he's giving you during the game?
JAE CROWDER:テつ I think it was huge for us to really know where we were running.テつ We have a lot of hand signals and stuff like that, and it played a factor today as his voice went.
During the media time‑outs, the time‑outs and stuff like that, he just brought us closer because he couldn't talk very loud.テつ I think it was critical that we had those plays that he uses his hands and stuff like that.
We're ready for any situation, whether his voice goes out because he's going crazy on the sideline or the crowd goes crazy.テつ We're just ready for whatever's thrown at us.

Q.テつ You guys have played a bunch of games without Chris and Davante out there.テつ How important was it to have Davante back for the tournament time, and how does he open up things for you guys on the outside?
DARIUS JOHNSON‑ODOM:テつ I think Davante does a great job getting the ball in the post when we throw it down to him, making quick decisions with the ball.テつ He's an elite passer, and that opens a lot of things up for the guards, the perimeter, and the four men, Jamil Wilson and Jae Crowder.
When Davante catches the ball, you're either going to double him, or you're going to get a foul, or he's going to get a basket.
For him having that knee injury, us forcing him, make sure you get treatment, Davante.テつ Make sure you get treatment.テつ I think he finally understood why we really needed him.テつ You've got to give him hands up for even trying to get back with that injury he had.テつ I'm just glad he was able to play.

Q.テつ Jae, right before in the second half, Junior came over and said a little something to you.テつ Was it something significant?
JAE CROWDER:テつ He said, "now or never."テつ I knew exactly what he meant.テつ I knew exactly how he felt.テつ I knew he really wanted to win.
He just looked at me in my eyes and said, "now or never."テつ I just tried to really give him what he wanted, and what we all wanted was a win and making plays.テつ That's all he said, though.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Guys, thank you.テつ Now we'll open it up to questions for Coach Buzz Williams.

Q.テつ Buzz, I saw you get a little emotional there when Todd answered that last question.テつ What was that about?
COACH WILLIAMS:テつ It's got to be about more than winning and losing.テつ When you see kids grow and mature, especially when all the perspective of who they are is not really who they are.
So that's why I got in the business, and that's why I'm still in the business.テつ I think that's special.
Faith, hope, and love, and the greatest of these is love, and a lot of these kids have never been loved.テつ And when you've never been loved and you're 20 years old and somebody tries to love you for the first time, you don't know how to handle it.テつ And when you start talking about God for the first time and when you think about what those kids have been through in the previous 20 years, they're not sure there is a God.
So when you start talking about love and you start talking about God and you're with kids every single day and you do it for about 150 days and they get up here and speak, which is a lot harder than you think, to people that they don't know and they use the same words that you use, it means you're helping their life.テつ That's what it means.

Q.テつ Buzz, speaking of love, I noticed you went up in the stands after the game and hugged all your family and kind of kept TV waiting.テつ Can you talk about your feeling about doing that and just your emotions about having a team in the Sweet 16 for a second straight year?
COACH WILLIAMS:テつ I'm not worried about TV, not worried about the crowd, not worried about the pageantry or the ambience of what the tournament is about.テつ I'm humbled by it all.テつ Extremely grateful for my wife and the sacrifices that she makes and for our four children, growing up as sons and daughters of coaches is very volatile and extremely emotional.
A country kid that just hung in there.テつ Hang in there, hang in there, hang in there, throw a good pitch, throw a good pitch.テつ The butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker, show up and go to work and do it every day no matter what's surrounding you.テつ That's really hard, man.
You got to be a lion chaser to be married to me.テつ She's tougher than all them kids we play with.テつ It's really humbling, really humbling.

Q.テつ Buzz, 7:30 left, you took the time‑out down five, and then you guys turned it around.テつ Anything special in that time‑out that you guys discussed?
COACH WILLIAMS:テつ I don't know.テつ It was shot out of bounds, and I think‑‑ I think we ran a sideline out‑of‑bounds play, and then it went out of bounds again.

Q.テつ As far as the tone of the game or anything?
COACH WILLIAMS:テつ I think I coach the same.テつ I am frantic.テつ I am passionate.テつ I am emotional.
But there's a pace and there's a flow that our kids recognize because I coach that way every day in practice.テつ I don't just coach that way because we're on TV.テつ And I think that when you get to this time of the year, I think you have to be your team's biggest cheerleader because their emotion in large part is going to be based on your emotion.
I've been extremely positive with our guys.テつ I was extremely positive with them during that time‑out.テつ You've got to hang in there.テつ Every possession is monumental.テつ And it's not just offensively, it's defensively.
I don't know that I said anything during that time‑out that I, in essence, haven't said since we left to come here.

Q.テつ Buzz, Todd scores all those points at the beginning of the year and then falls off a little bit but maybe plays the best defense he's played all year, but people seem to forget about him.テつ Now he comes back and hits two big three‑pointers and guards it like an All‑American.テつ Can you just talk about the roller coaster of a season that he's had?
COACH WILLIAMS:テつ And what about D.J.'s answer about Junior, after all you guys are going we need a point guard?テつ You think those kids don't pay attention?テつ You think those kids don't want to fight?テつ That a senior who's a pro is talking about a junior who everybody jumped off the boat when we left New York.テつ Everybody jumped off the boat when Todd couldn't make a shot.
Faith, hope, and love, and the greatest of these is love.テつ That's an everyday deal.テつ That's a loyalty deal.テつ When everything's stacked against you, that's when your character is revealed, on the biggest stage.
A kid that all he was when he showed up was O.J. Mayo's little brother.テつ Wow, what a story.テつ What a story.テつ Double bye at the Garden, and we're kicking it over the gym like we're playing football.テつ Everybody jumps off. テつThere's two people clapping when our kids get on the bus in New York.テつ Two.
You're playing an NCAA Tournament road game.テつ That sucker ran the game, forced a turnover.テつ And Isaiah Canaan is an All‑American.テつ Vander's got to guard him.テつ Todd's got to guard him.テつ Junior's got to guard him.テつ We will guard him.
It's not about an individual for us.テつ You don't get free‑throw makes, you don't get assisted baskets, and all of those things, the way that we're built, if it's about an individual, it's not about me.テつ It's about us.テつ That's really, really, really hard on a daily basis for it to be about us.
And to cinch the circle so tight that, no matter what's going on, that you're protective of that circle.テつ Man, that's the hardest fight.テつ That's the greatest discipline needed to do it every day no matter the success, no matter the failure, no matter the roller coaster.テつ Just hang in there every day.テつ That's really, really hard to do.テつ It's the hardest thing in life to do.

Q.テつ You heard what D.J. said about Davante.テつ How key is he for you going forward?
COACH WILLIAMS:テつ Everybody's going crazy on the sideline.テつ We've got to get Davante in.テつ We've got to get Davante in.テつ And it's something when it's for all the marbles.
That's why you work, isn't it?テつ That's what you dream about.テつ And then when it gets right there, whatcha going to do?テつ Whatcha going to do?
I thought he was really key.テつ You know the thing that I was nervous, Tess, is percentage‑wise they set more ball screens than any team we've played since we've been here, and we've played against some teams that have set some ball screens.テつ Their perimeter does such a great job of forcing rotation.テつ And if that rotation comes off the initial ball screen, you just stay in a blender the entire possession.テつ And then what ends up happening is, because you're in rotation, now your rebounding responsibilities are skewed because everybody's in rotation.
And so now you're giving them potential extra possessions.テつ And for a team that's as efficient as they are offensively, when you give them extra possessions, it's extremely difficult to overcome.
I thought Davante's ball screen coverage in the possessions that he played was just as important as what he gave us offensively in the second half because you can't get into a let's trade baskets game with them.
The stat is field goal percentage defense in the second half for us.テつ The stat was free‑throw makes for us in the second half.テつ The stat was assisted baskets for us in the second half.テつ And I don't know how many offensive rebounds they got in the second half, but they got a couple of key ones.
That is one thing I said during that media time‑out.テつ You can't give them second shots.テつ I said that every media time‑out.テつ Because they put you in rotation.テつ Jamil and Jae, I've never coached two guys that are as good as they are at ball screen coverages.
And Darius was talking about how we changed some of the strategy.テつ We changed some strategy on both ends of the floor.テつ And defensively, most of the time, it was always ball screen coverage.テつ And the reason we can change the strategy is because Jamil and Jae can execute it.
With Davante, there's only one strategy relative to ball screen coverage because that's the only way he can guard one.テつ So it becomes a matchup issue in that, well, they can't guard Davante on one end.テつ I understand that.テつ But Davante can't necessarily guard them on the other.テつ So his ball screen coverage was just as important as what he gave us offensively.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Coach, appreciate your time.
COACH WILLIAMS:テつ Can I take a nap now?
THE MODERATOR:テつ Go for it.
COACH WILLIAMS:テつ Right here.

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