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March 21, 2013
KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI
JOE DALFONSO: We have student‑athletes from Ole Miss. Let's start with questions for the student‑athletes.
Q. I didn't want to be the first one to ask this type of question, but I will. A lot is made of Marshall, his antics, carrying on. What do you think of that? Does it affect you? Is it counterproductive?
NICK WILLIAMS: Well, yeah, it affects us in a positive way. He gives us a lot of energy with all the things he does.
Once he hits that one big three, we feel a jolt of energy. It's great for us, man. He's a great guy. He brings a lot of things to the table. We're happy to have him.
MURPHY HOLLOWAY: Same thing Nick said. He's a great guy, man. That's just how he is. He's very competitive. Like I say, we play whiffle ball sometimes. He don't want to lose in whiffle ball, so he's just very competitive.
Q. Can it have some negative connotations, particularly the crowds who get on him? Does he maybe antagonize your opponents?
NICK WILLIAMS: I mean, it can be like that, you know, with anything.
But we haven't seen, you know, any negative part of it at any time this year. Every time he does anything, it helps us out.
He usually doesn't do it to the other team. It's usually to the crowd or something like that.
What people don't realize, when we talk to him, you know what I'm saying, say bad things to him, it helps him out.
I'm happy the other team's fans come over and say things to him. Might go for 40. Please, come on, keep doing it.
MURPHY HOLLOWAY: I didn't see any negatives for it. Sometimes it boosts the other team up. When he beats you, we playing Tennessee. He say, Don't leave, I'm going for 30. Next time they play, they have a chip on their shoulder.
But so far this year, it's been helpful.
Q. There seems to be quite a contrast in styles between your team and Wisconsin. Is that something you have thought about? Have you played a team this year that plays that style and how did you do?
NICK WILLIAMS: Uhm, I can't remember, like, another team playing that way.
We've thought about it. But, I mean, they still have to play our style, too. I feel like it's overblown a little bit. They play a great brand of basketball. You can't be too anxious on defense because they'll pick you apart.
We just got to play our basketball. Styles make fights and hopefully our style is going to win the game.
MURPHY HOLLOWAY: I don't think so. The closest team would have to be Alabama as far as the way they play great defense. We played Alabama, they scored almost 80, just like we did.
Q. For them on the offensive side, there's not one go‑to guy. Does that make it harder to play where you don't know where the ball is going to be focused?
MURPHY HOLLOWAY: I mean, we played a few teams like that, I think Missouri being the most noticeable team that doesn't have one guy that overwhelms you with the points they score. It's definitely more difficult to scout because anybody can go for 20 to 15 any night.
NICK WILLIAMS: Well, yeah, like he say, Missouri. But I feel like our team is the same way. Marshall scores a lot. But we have so many guys on this team that have gone for 15 or 16.
So I feel like at any time anybody on our team can go off also. I mean, they have to play us, too. That's the way we feel.
Q. Nick, you're the one guy that has experience playing Wisconsin. What have you told your teammates about what they should expect?
NICK WILLIAMS: Coach has already told us what we can expect.
I think I had, like, one good game against them. Played them twice. I think I had 17 or something like that.
They're big, tough, physical guys. They're not going to overwhelm you with speed or anything like that. They rebound very well. They play pack‑line defense. When we have open shots, we gonna have to make 'em.
Be tough with the ball and when we have open shots, we just got to make 'em.
JOE DALFONSO: Gentlemen, thank you.
We're joined by Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy. We'll ask Coach Kennedy to make an opening statement, then we'll go to questions.
COACH KENNEDY: Thank you.
Excited about the opportunity. Obviously a goal of ours as we started the season was to participate in the NCAA tournament. Really proud of the way our guys have played down the stretch, culminating in an SEC Championship on Sunday.
I think you could tell our young guys are looking forward to the challenge that Wisconsin presents.
JOE DALFONSO: Questions for Coach Kennedy.
Q. When you scout them, they don't have a focal point of the offense. What kind of challenges does that present for you?
COACH KENNEDY: There's a number of challenges that they present. Number one, I've got great respect for Bo Ryan and his program. I've known him for a number of years. To me it's an honor to have an opportunity to go against him on this stage.
Wisconsin doesn't really have any flaws, as you said. They're a team that prides itself on ball movement. They've got a number of different guys that can hurt you in a lot of different areas.
To me, they're similar in their abilities to stretch you at four positions than the team we played on Sunday in Florida. Our post guys are going to have to get out on the perimeter. We're going to have to be very engaged in the action to make sure they don't have stand‑still shots. We want to move them off of stand‑still shots.
Offensively, we have to be proficient because they play a possessions game. We average around 72 possessions a game, which is in the top 10 in the country, and they're at around 62, which is in the lower end of the country. It's obviously going to be a battle of wills as it relates to style of play.
We're going to do what we do. They're going to do what they do. Our hope is we can be a little bit better at what we do. That's where our focus is going in.
Q. You said a battle of wills. What do you mean by that?
COACH KENNEDY: I think it's a tempo match. We obviously want to try to get out on the open floor as much as possible. We've got to be patient. We've been known to take quick shots. One of the reasons we have so many possessions, we typically don't turn it over much, is because we shoot it fast.
I think a bad shot is better than a turnover every day. Marshall Henderson takes that literally.
For us, it's about trying to maximize our offensive possessions, and defensively we've got to be solid.
For the SEC tournament, coming off three thrilling victories for our program, we did not score over 64 points in any one of the three games. We were really locked in defensively. That's got to be the same mindset going forward. We certainly weren't as efficient as we should have been defensively. Defensively we kept ourselves in the game because we didn't give our opponents easy opportunities.
We can't give Wisconsin anything easy because I'm pretty sure they're not going to give us anything easy.
Q. You obviously have NCAA tournament experience as an assistant. None of your players do. Does that matter?
COACH KENNEDY: I think at this stage, it's a game. I know a lot has been made of the fact that we're coming off an emotional high on Sunday, and how quickly can we regroup? Are we going to be satisfied by being here? Do we want to continue to play?
My hope is I have three seniors that when that final game is over, it's over, this team, their run here is over. I think that will certainly contribute to them playing with an edge.
I just want us to play well. For us, again, having success on a neutral site in Nashville a few days ago, I hope we can carry that moving forward and understand that it's just basketball. What we've got to do is we've got to do the things that have allowed us to be here. Having won 26 games throughout the course of the regular season, we have to play the basketball that has allowed us to be here.
Q. You mentioned Marshall. Are you concerned, he's a guy that likes to shoot, is a flamboyant player. Are you concerned that Wisconsin's defense might frustrate him to the point where he might get off his game?
COACH KENNEDY: Marshall is a unique character in a lot of ways. The one thing that he really has an ability to do is he's very good off screening actions, he's got a very, very quick release.
Since our SEC opener when he had 32 at Tennessee, he's been a marked man for the last 20‑some‑odd games. He's still been able to get it done. That's what makes him a special player.
I think sometimes a lot of the other stuff takes away from the fact that he's a very, very good basketball player. He's the SEC tournament MVP. He was very efficient in taking what the defense gives him.
I hope he does that tomorrow. A lot of times out of the gate he gets a little bit anxious. That's why we're typically better in the second half when we calm down a little bit.
It's my job to try to put him in a position to be successful. Our guys understand the identity that we have offensively. We led the SEC in scoring in around 79 a game. Huge contrast in styles. We get around 78, they're giving up about 56, so something's got to give.
Q. Both you and your players have talked about the contrast in styles ad nauseam. How do you speed the game up against them?
COACH KENNEDY: We don't really do anything other than what we do. I was listening to Nick and Murph talk. You typically control offensive possessions with your offense. There's not anything that Wisconsin can do‑‑ obviously they're going to defend us, and they do it very well, but there's not going to be anything they can do defensively that's going to change what we do offensively. We just have to be better at it than they are defending it.
The difference is offensively, they're going to be score early, score late. That's the way we term it. You guys have obviously covered them. I think it's a misnomer to think they're not going to push in the open floor. They will. If they don't have something initially, they're very good at getting a better shot. They're going to be very patient. You cannot lose focus defensively because you have to play throughout the entirety of the shot clock.
If we were to give them second‑chance opportunities off the offensive glass, sometimes you can look up and spend 60 to 90 seconds on the defensive end and before you know it, your possessions have gone down which put a premium on you being efficient. I know that's a long answer.
Ultimately we have to do what we do. I'm sure Bo is not going to do anything different. I'm not going to do anything different. We do things placed on scouting and matchups. Ultimately, when it comes down to this time of the season, it comes down to matchups. I think it's going to be intriguing to see how it plays out.
Q. You mentioned the other stuff with Marshall. How do you keep that from being a distraction? I've read where you said it's true, it's not fake, it's just him.
COACH KENNEDY: Well, again, it's something we live with every day. I know for many of you it will be the first time you've ever seen him in person. It's like you watch him, it's like watching NASCAR, waiting for the wreck. He's going real fast, oops, he didn't wreck there, another turn.
For us, it's every day, man. It's normal. His teammates accept it for what it is because they know that it's genuine. It comes from a real place. It comes from a love of the game. This is the guy that grew up the son of a coach, been in the gym since he was five or six years old. He respects the game.
For me it's about focus. If you're close enough to me tomorrow you'll hear me yell that word a thousand times, Stay focused, stay focused, because sometimes he'll get caught up in other things.
He's a tremendous player, a tremendous teammate. It's 11:20 in the morning when we walk in that locker room. I'm trying to prepare the guys. We have to do the media stuff, X‑number of minutes on the floor, Let's make sure we get loose somewhat, move around. He's doing calisthenics in the back.
He's got great energy. It's my job to help put him in a place to be successful and stay focused.
JOE DALFONSO: Thank you very much, coach. Best of luck.
COACH KENNEDY: Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports