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March 21, 2013

Rodrigo De Souza

Travis Fulton

Tony Gill

Lorenzo McCloud

Bob Thomason


THE MODERATOR:  We'll go ahead and get started with the student‑athletes from Pacific.  Questions, please?

Q.  For Lorenzo and anyone else, could you just talk about what you know about Miami, and particularly, for Lorenzo, going up against Shane Larkin?
LORENZO MCCLOUD:  First, I want to thank God, just for giving me this opportunity, but I've been watching them over the year because they have been one of the like surprise teams of the year in the NCAA.  But I think they got ‑‑ they're real good.  They run a lot of ball screens and stuff like that.
Shane Larkin, he's a great guard.  He can shoot the ball, basically, he's their main person who distributes the ball and gets their team going.

Q.  Travis and Lorenzo, talk about coach and just what you are able to give him as the last, his last season.  Just the opportunity to send him out with something even bigger.
TRAVIS FULTON:  It's a great thing to get coach to the tournament his last year.  That was definitely one of our main motivations this year.
It's also a great opportunity for all of us, and even our assistant coaches and stuff.  It means a lot for us to get coach in the tournament here at the end.
LORENZO MCCLOUD:  For me, that was one of my personal goals in the beginning of the year, is to make sure that coach will be able it leave on a great note.
For him, just giving the opportunity that he gave me.  He offered me a scholarship.  So, I thought that was the best thing that we could do.  And we are here now.  So I guess it's a great opportunity for all of us.  And I'm thankful that he can retire in a good way.

Q.  What do you think of Miami's size down low?
TONY GILL:  We know that actually they're pretty big across the board.  Along with their size, they're pretty versatile.  Especially Kenny Kadji, being 6‑11, being able to go out to the perimeter and shoot three, go inside, go outside.
They're big and strong.  They can go four deep on the front line.  We just have to match their toughness and be able to hopefully cause some sort of problems down low.
RODRIGO DE SOUZA:  I think especially this game, we got to have everybody trying for the rebounds.  If we win the rebound war, I think we're going to have a great shot to win the game.

Q.  Talk about, obviously, a 15 seed, some people would argue maybe Miami should be a No. 1 seed.  You guys saw what 15 seeds did in last year's tournament.  Does that give you something to look at?
LORENZO MCCLOUD:  It does, to a certain extent.  But then again, we are here.  We weren't one of the teams last year, so we are here on our own thing.  We come here to win.  It's not like we just come here to play the game, we are here to win.
We come here to have fun, and then another thing is, that a lot of them teams look like‑‑ there was a team orientated teams as far as like passing the ball and things like that.  Being a team effort all the way around.  And that's what kind of team we are.
And any one of us can get hot, as you've seen from the status, anyone can go off for a great game.  You never know who is going to do it.
TONY GILL:  I think come tournament time, anything can really happen.  Whether it's 15 over a 2, or whatever you want to call it.
But I think it's just all about what team gets hot.  Which ones are able to play the whole 40 minutes from start to finish.  I think teams that are coach‑able at this point in the year and have positive attitudes and play collectively with one another definitely have the best shot.

Q.  Lorenzo, everyone talks about Shane Larkin, but what do you know about Durand Scott and his ability to make it happen?
LORENZO MCCLOUD:  Oh, yeah I know he's actually he had 32 I think against North Carolina State, so he's actually, he's one of their main guards and he's a senior, so he's one of their leaders on the team.  He's very aggressive.  He's a strong ball handler and he's going to attack the rim hard.  He could get hot too and get on a shooting streak also.

Q.  Wondering, Tony, have you been watching UM all year or is it just in the last couple weeks?  When did you first sort of become aware that they're kind of a hot team and when did you start following them?
TONY GILL:  I would have to saying when they got really hot in the ACC, when they started off I think 10‑0 and they started getting a lot of attention.  Not just for me, but I think Nationwide everybody kind of got, became aware, of who they really are and how good they really are.
And they definitely didn't disappoint the rest of the year, winning the ACC tournament along with the regular season out right.  So everyone knows how good they are, so it's no surprise.

Q.  This is, not just Coach Thomason as last year, but your guys' last year in the Big West you walked off with the Big West title.  You haven't been here to this tournament in seven years and this is a real upperclassman driven team.  How much are you guys sort of taking in the moment and then how do you translate that to getting focused and preparing for such a tough opponent?
LORENZO MCCLOUD:  As far as right now, I'm still like this right here the interview and everything, I'm soaking all this in.  But as soon as I step on the court I'm focused.  I've been focused since the media room.  We had film today and things like that, so it's going in and out, but once we step on the court, I think I'm focused from there on.
TONY GILL:  We're definitely taking a little bit of time to soak everything in.  As fun as this process is, we can't get too caught up in the emotions, because we're still here for a purpose and to play a ball game.  So once the time comes to start preparing, and getting on to the court, we should be focused.

Q.  Obviously you guys played Gonzaga this year, Cal, some other big teams.  Does any of that kind of stuff help when you're preparing for a team that's physically superior?  Can you recall back to some of those games or is it just kind of an entirely new situation, depending upon the opponent?
LORENZO MCCLOUD:  I believe so, because mostly every team we played against hasn't been bigger than us.  And they have had a better opportunity on the rebounding end.  So, yeah, it helps a lot.  Experience always helps.
So you're going against anybody, you learn a lot of things.  So, yes, it helps a lot.

Q.  Any of you, what kinds of things would you say you do best as a team and are you looking for any particular tempo in this game?
TRAVIS FULTON:  I think the big thing about our team is that a lot of us can score and shoot the ball well.  When we're moving the ball and getting open shots for our teammates, we're really tough to guard.
Because any one of our positions at times, can shoot the ball really well, and that causes some miss matches for teams.  I would say that's one of our biggest strengths definitely.
TONY GILL:  I think that, offensively, we did a really good job of moving the ball, getting guys shots, in certain spots that they can be successful from.
I think our big guys do a good job of spreading the court and taking other bigs on, kind of out of their comfort zone, making them guard on the perimeter.  Our guards do a great job of coming off of ball screens and getting into the lane and finishing when the time's right.
Defensively, I think we play really hard with one another and try to communicate really well.  That's kind of been one of our strengths being the top defensive team in the Big West conference this year.
But in terms of tempo, we just, I don't think we got to get into that, we got to worry about what we do best and hopefully throw the first punch.
LORENZO MCCLOUD:  Another strength of ours is that we're a family.  That's been our motto the whole year.  Us being a family.  Things like that.  It's like a pool of brothers.  And that helps motivate each and everyone of us.  We can talk to each other really talk to each other.  And that helps a lot too.
RODRIGO DE SOUZA:  Being a family, being like supporting each other was a big strength for us.  If we take care of the ball on a high level, and rebound the ball on a high level, I think we're going to be fine.

Q.  Obviously, you guys have been asking a lot of questions about Miami, how good they are, that sort of thing.  Does that creep into the psyche?  Is there an I know temptation factor that you might have to kind of go through at the beginning of the game, or are you guys so experienced this late in the year that that kind of thing doesn't matter?
RODRIGO DE SOUZA:  Miami's a great team.  But we played a great team at the beginning of the year, and the whole year too.  We played Gonzaga, we played St. Mary's.  It has a lot of distractions going on.
But we are lucky, and we know what we have to do.  We trust each other.  We believe that if we play well, if we do what we're supposed to do, we will be fine.  It's just another basketball game.  If we do what we're supposed to, we'll be fine.
TONY GILL:  I think as long as we understand that we still have to stay within ourselves, try to do what we do best.  And as far as the intimidation factor, we just have to treat it just like any other game.  Because at the end of the day they still put their shorts on just like we do.
But there's the No. 1 ranking, number two arranging, whatever it is.  It's still a basketball game that comes down to X's and O's and coach‑ability and see who comes out on top.
THE MODERATOR:  Okay.  Gentlemen, we're going to let you go.  Thank you for your time.  We'll take questions for Coach Thomason now we'll start with an opening statement and then we'll take questions from the room.
COACH THOMASON:  We're sure happy to be here in the NCAA tournament.  It's always been a great experience, the times we have come here and played.  Obviously, playing Miami is a great challenge, they're a great team.  Probably one of the teams that can win a national championship.
I have a lot of respect for Jim.  I think they're well coached and we got our hands full.  We know that.
We got in here a little late last night, but we're trying to enjoy Austin.  I did walk down sixth street last night and I didn't realize how many bars they had.  But I didn't see any of my guys there, so we're off to a good start.
THE MODERATOR:  Questions for coach?

Q.  Obviously a tough matchup, but could you have scripted a better way to go out?
COACH THOMASON:  Ask me about four o'clock Friday.  We're trying to make a better script.  This turned out really well.  The school did a great job our last home game.  I had a lot of former players comeback.  We played Long Beach, the first place team, and beat them by 20.
Had a great reception afterwards.  Got to catch up with, not only ex‑UOP guys, but some of my high school guys were there.  It was a great evening.  To top it off and go win the Big West tournament, pretty special.  We're enjoying it.  I think our guys are pretty happy about going to the NCAA tournament.  And now we got to refocus on making sure that we are locked into Miami.  Because if you don't get locked into the team you're playing, if you play a NCAA game, you have no chance.

Q.  Did you get in late on purpose or were you delayed?
COACH THOMASON:  We were a little delayed.  We wanted to practice at home.  Four out of the last five weeks we have been on the road.  The one week we were at home we were on spring break and that doesn't help academics too much.  So we wanted to get to class, we wanted to practice at home.  We had a scheduled 3 o'clock flight that I think left at five.  So there was a two hour delay.  But we're still ‑‑ a couple of our guys are still on California time, so that was okay.  Had a great day to go through today and we'll be well rested tomorrow.  So no problems.

Q.  I wanted to ask about Shane Larkin, but what about Durand Scott?  What does he bring?
COACH THOMASON:  They all bring something.  When you design a team ‑‑ a guy asked me, design a team that you want.  I said, I want a quick point guard that can shoot, penetrate and pass that's got speed.  I want two wings that are 6‑5 and strong.  One can really drive and score outside and one can shoot.  Then you want a 6‑10 four man that can go outside and drive.  And you want a couple big guys inside.  I think I might be describing Miami.
So a couple people told me, Scott, he only shots 31 percent from the three and then I'm watching the North Carolina State game, he had 32, he hit five threes, he looked pretty good to me.  So what a tremendous athlete, to be a defensive player and to drive like he does, he's aggressive.  But they have a good patience about them, they understand each other, and one of the strengths of a basketball team sometimes is letting players have great nights.  And their team does that.  They don't try to say, well, he's having a great night, I got to go get mine.  They just let those guys have great nights.

Q.  What's the biggest thing you're stressing with the team in terms of preparation for both not only the game but handling the moment?
COACH THOMASON:  Handling the moment is you got to do that every night.  We had to handle the moment our last two road games in the league.  We hadn't done well and we had to go in there and we got up 20, got up 15.  We probably lead the country in points given up after getting leads.  But we seem to win the games though.
We had pressure all three nights in the Big West tournament.  So we have played pressure games.  This will be another pressure game.  We want to play basketball, No. 1.  I think you should worry with winning with four minutes to go in the game, we call that winning time.  You got to get after loose balls, take charges.  And these guys don't have a lot of weaknesses to them and we have got to either create some weaknesses or just hope that maybe a couple guys have that bad night.  If they have a bad night and we have a great night, you never know what can happen.

Q.  You talk about Miami having good patience.  Obviously they have five seniors that play along with Larkin and make up the brunt of their minutes.  How evident is that as far as their experience, how much does that translate on the court, and in this era of so many one and did done freshman stars, how unique is that for them?
COACH THOMASON:  Well it's unique.  Miami hasn't been a powerhouse in basketball over the years.  So maybe that's the chance to have more five year guys.
As they become more of a powerhouse they might be recruiting guys that might be one and done also.  So you can't blame a guy for going to college and if the NBA wants to draft him in the top, for him to go.  I mean you can't blame people for that.  That's their livelihood, it's their future.  They make a lot of money.
But I think Miami having the seniors really gives them a strength.  Jim being the type of coach he is, they stress defense, they play smart, they're not real complicated.  But they really do things well together.  I think he has the patience that allows them to do the things they have to do.

Q.  Your personal thoughts on matching up with Coach Larranaga.  I know we talked about your respect for him as a fellow Mid Major kind of guy and then what you kind of, I know it's a busy day and a lot going on, what kind of your game plan is for this day and what you kind of hope to accomplish with it with your team.
COACH THOMASON:  Well, Jim has changed college basketball when he took his George Mason team to the Final Four.  It opened up the door for Mid Majors saying they can go to the Final Four.  Now if you look at the scope of basketball, there are Mid Majors that are becoming Mid Major, major teams.  Teams that charter flights and spend a lot of money.  They don't want to go to the NCAA, they want to win a national championship now.  And that's why Butler went twice.  And I still think Butler going twice is the most amazing thing in basketball since John Wooden went and won all those national championships at UCLA.
So there's people now that have changed the game.  I think Jim's done that.  I really like guys that paid their way in coaching and now they get a chance to play at a large school and see his coaching take over.  There's probably some coaches that I would rather not end my career losing to, you know, what I mean.  There's a few out there, but Jim's not one of them.
Now me compared to him, if I could go out and play 18 holes right now, me against him, and the winner advances, I would take my chances on that.  But I don't know how good a golfer he is.
What makes me nervous is when I look at his ‑‑ I think they talked about all to these goals he sets in all these areas and I said, I need to get out of the game, he just is so well prepared and does such a great job.  So, but I think it's going to come down to players.  I'm not going to be worrying about Jim when that game starts.  I'm going to be worrying about Larkin and Scott and those guys.

Q.  Two questions.  One, can you, from the opposing stand point, can you describe Shane Larkin, what makes him so good and then also did you watch Miami all year or was there a point at which you really started paying attention to them and said, whoa, this team is really doing something special this year?
COACH THOMASON:  Well, I watched them during the year once in a while.  I don't watch a lot of college basketball because you're watching five, six seven films on the team you're playing next.  But I do watch some.  I've seen them.  But I didn't really pay attention to them.
When I was driving back from the Big West tournament on Sunday morning I called my son and he's a high school coach and does a great job and I said, hey, I think they're on at 10 o'clock Miami against North Carolina, could you scout them for me.  Because that might be some matchup we have.
So he said, dad, they're really good.  I mean, so that doesn't make me feel any better.  So I watched them, I watched the Wake Forest game, the Georgia Tech game, because I wanted to watch them lose a little too.  But I also watched them win games.  But I'm not watching the Duke game at Miami, I'm not watching that game.

Q.  What about Shane?
COACH THOMASON:  Shane's just, you know what he does?  He's so fast.  He doesn't even look that fast.  He just kind of hesitates.  I think the hesitation, I always say players should use hesitation.  And then when the fast guys hesitate, what they do is they set you up to kind of relax and then they go.  He can drive both ways.  He can pull up a 15 foot shot, but what's really good is he can shoot a three.
So it causes you a lot of problems.  And they run so many on ball screens and double on ball screens and I like to tell Lorenzo and Rodrigo, just keep him out of the paint.  Wouldn't that be good coaching to say, keep him out of the paint.  But he's pretty darn good.  I'm not for sure if we can really stop him too much.  We got to just contain him as much as possible.

Q.  Unlike the other seven host sites, here at this in Austin there's no team of regional interest and most all the tickets have been bought by local fans or Texas fans.  What reasons would you give the people here to root for you guys tomorrow?
COACH THOMASON:  Well, we were in Salt Lake the last one I was in against Boston College when they were in the ACC.  And they got off to a pretty good start, but we hung in there.  And the second half the whole stadium was cheering for us because they like the underdog, they like the major upset.  And I think if there's going to be a home court advantage is, if we play really well and have a chance, that people will get involved with our team.  Because we'll be a scrappy team and we'll be an underdog team and I think people like that.
And with the matchup, that was one of the things I was concerned about is playing somebody that it's in their backyard.  You go play Ohio State the second seed, they're playing in Dayton, Ohio.  So them coming here, that helps.  Them not really being in the NCAA's, that helps too, because it's their first NCAA game.  So all that stuff kind of helps a little.  The thing that doesn't help is just watching them play.

Q.  When did you first meet Jim and how well do you know him?  You obviously respect him.  Do you know him?
COACH THOMASON:  No, I never met him.  I never met Jim.  Sound like we're buddies, huh.  No, I always admired him as a coach.  I was very happy when he got that job.  Now for what reason, I don't know.  But I like guys that kind of do a good job and move up the coaching ladder and what a great job he's done.  But to watch some of the films about all of his goals and everything, I mean how do you not admire that?  A guy that is that organized and does all those things.  My assistants say, hey, tomorrow, if we win, what's the plan?  If we lose, what's the plan.  I say you know after the game's over we'll get a plan.  I don't want to be thinking about losing, I don't want to be anticipating winning, I just want to make sure our guys, we all are prepared.  When I go to the game, every game with this team especially I have a clear mind.  I just coach the game.  There will be guys that have played, maybe don't play, maybe guys play more than they have, whatever can somewhat make it work.  And if I can just trust myself, then maybe the players can trust themselves and we'll see how it works out.

Q.  Last year we saw two 15 seeds win and I think Lorenzo was in here talking about what he sees the similarities is those were team oriented teams.  They played together.  And that your team has a lot of that.  Talk about that aspect and is that what it takes?
COACH THOMASON:  Well, before when I've come to the NCAA tournament we have had some players that are still playing overseas.  We have had guys like Christian Marker and that, guys that are really good basketball players and really good size and we played Pitt, I thought we should have won, we did.  Providence, I thought we could have won, we did.  Boston College we lost a tough double overtime game.
But this team doesn't have those players.  So we have to do it as a team.  And I really believe if you get your teammates to be better, and you're looking out to help them all the time, the team could be really successful.  And we have to have a great team effort.
Our team has to bother Miami.  I don't think our individuals are going to bother Miami too much.  They played against Duke, North Carolina, all these teams that have great players, great guys they know about.  They're used to all that.  But we got to get our team to bother them somehow.

Q.  Talking about the previous times you've done this.  Any plan for today?  Try to keep the team focused, anything you want to try to get out of this warm up day?
COACH THOMASON:  We're going to spend 40 minutes working, shooting and shooting free throws and getting used to the arena.  Then we'll go over to the practice facility and we'll get through our walk throughs.  Today's a double walk through because we play 10 players and we have to make sure they're all going through everything because the shoot around time at 8 o'clock for 20 minutes is, that will probably be optional for our players tomorrow if they want to come over and shoot, they can.  For 20 minutes, that early, I don't know if it make that is much sense since we practice and we get on the first game anyway.
And then our guys will have a good lunch and take a nap and we'll have a great barbecue dinner tonight in Austin and enjoy it.  They will do the regular routine, have a meeting tonight and then the night before meetings, I don't attend, my assistants kind of go over the film again, going over the scouting report, handling any issues that's up.
One of the things about players is when you are nervous or you have fears, the more you admit them and talk about them to me the better it is.  So if there is any, our guys ‑‑ I don't like these guys that say, nothing's bothering me, I'm not scared, you know they're not going to play very well.  So you have an opportunity to get that out and play.
I remember one of our players, Mike Webb, when we were playing at Kansas he says, coach, I've only played in front of 500 guys in junior college, they got 16,500, I'm kind of nervous about that.  Then all the other guys started talking about how much fun it is and this and Mike went out the next day and played great against Kansas.  But I think if he didn't admit that, he had no chance.  So I don't know if there's any fears or anxiety, but you want to be excited.  If I have to do a Knute Rockne tomorrow to get my guys ready to play, we got a problem anyway, don't we?
THE MODERATOR:  All right.  Thank you, coach.

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