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March 22, 2013
THE MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. Thank you for coming. This is will be the Butler day-in-between news conference. First portion will be about 15 minutes will be the student-athletes. We have to my immediate left, Rotnei Clarke, and to his left, Andrew Smith.
We will open it up for questions.
Q. Rotnei and Andrew, your game against Maui -- against Marquette in Maui was such a lot time ago, in what ways do you think your team has changed the most during that time?
ANDREW SMITH: Well, I think the biggest thing is just defensively as the year progressed, guys got more comfortable in the system, especially guys that are new like Kellen and Rotnei. So, they're more comfortable in the system, and, I mean, you really don't quite understand the Butler defensive system until you're about a junior when you kind of get all the details, and so guys like Roosevelt and Cameron Khyle, they're -- all progressing as well. We improve each game with it.
ROTNEI CLARKE: Pretty much the same things. We definitely matured a lot in certain areas, just little things that go out through games, whether it be, you know, just -- I think one thing we've done better at is we didn't do well that game, we got riled early. I think we matured in that area is we're going into these last couple of games, we've turned the ball over less, and I think that's going to be important going into tomorrow's game.
Q. How much mileage have you got out of that shot from Maui, your notoriety, that sort of thing?
ROTNEI CLARKE: You know, there's a lot of attention put on it during the tournament, but since then, you know, it's really just -- we've been -- moved past it definitely just because it seemed so long ago that we played in the Maui Invitational. It feels like forever. We've played in a lot of games since then. It's definitely not going to have any impact on the game tomorrow.
Q. Andrew, I was just wondering if missing the tournament last year heightened your appreciation for what you guys did before that and your appreciation for being in it this year?
ANDREW SMITH: Yeah. Last year you kind of understand it's hard to get to the NCAA Tournament and there's a reason that not everybody makes it. And, I mean, didn't have a very good year last year in comparison to the other years I've been here. We didn't play awful and we made it to the CBI. So it's just a testament to all the teams that make this tournament. Yeah, you appreciate it every time you're able to play in a game like this.
Q. This is for both of you. You guys talked about when Bucknell put that big run on you and Brad, Coach Stevens called timeout, how calm he was. I was curious about the other side of him. When he's really upset, when he is mad, when something is really under his skin, what does that look like?
ROTNEI CLARKE: You know, I think it's different seeing him upset. When he's upset, you know he's upset because it's definitely different from what he normally is. He's usually calm and he really holds his composure well. When he's upset, you'll know, and as we've known, you know, certain times throughout the year in the locker room.
I think that's just a testament to him. Even watching film and seeing even game winning shots like we've hit this year, he never -- you never see him rattled. It's just like it's another game to him. He just cares about how hard we're competing, and if he thinks we played well, we played hard and played well defensively, I think the outcome is sometimes irrelevant if, you know, he thinks we played as well as we possibly would. That's a testament to him. He's calm out there, like I said yesterday, it carries over other to us.
ANDREW SMITH: Yeah. It also helps that when -- you know, when Coach Stevens is mad that we're really not playing well. It doesn't happen a whole lot. So, he's able to get our attention when he's upset and that really helps, I think.
Q. Both you guys, Coach Stevens mentioned yesterday some of the event stats that he looks at in games and that sort of thing. I'm wondering if he talks to you guys about that at all and if it's anything that y'all pay attention to?
ANDREW SMITH: The majority of it he does not tell us. I didn't even know about 90 percent what the article said before it came out. I knew Drew was a very smart dry and guy and they were behind the scenes doing a lot of stuff. Typically, before a game he'll kind of give us three to five statistics that are important for us to know. Other than that, they pretty much keep it to themselves.
Q. You were saying that y'all played a lot of games since Maui, so has Marquette. What did you see yesterday that was different from that first time you saw them and how are you preparing for that?
ROTNEI CLARKE: They've definitely -- obviously they've really improved in a lot of areas. You know, both teams have. They have a -- they have some guys like Wilson who has really stepped up their game since Maui and they're really clicking on all cylinders right now. They're big, physical, fast, athletic. They do a great job rebounding and they get a lot of points in the paints, too. You know, definitely improved since we played them, and I think, like I said, I think both teams have, we have, and they've made big strides in their season.
THE MODERATOR: Andrew, anything to add?
ANDREW SMITH: In our first game, they drove it a lot and they kind of pound it inside, and I think that they even started to do that more and that's really -- that's really their bread and butter. They're big and physical, as Rotnei said. We're going to have to be good in the paint tomorrow.
Q. Andrew, just to follow-up on that stat question. How does it relate to you guys? How does it come down to you guys, your Coach's intense level of preparation? Can you give us other examples? Like yesterday he was telling us that he knew exactly how many possessions Bucknell had played triangle and 2. What example can you give of the intense preparation that he puts in?
ANDREW SMITH: Well, I think probably the best example I can give is that when we were watching Selection Sunday and we figured out we were paired up with Bucknell, we probably did about 15 minutes of media and walked into our locker room for our team meeting and Coach came out and said, well, I've already watched 20 clips of Bucknell's defense. We all just started laughing. I don't even know where he gets that information so quickly.
Yeah, he's always working hard. As you read in the article, Drew Cannon gives him a lots of help. The assistant coaches are big for him. They tirelessly are in there working out their minds and making sure that we're the best prepared we can be for this game.
Q. As you guys mentioned, Maui was a long time ago, but how much does it help in a situation like this when you were playing that tournament three games in three days?
ROTNEI CLARKE: I mean, it helps. We also, you know, went through the at Atlantic 10 and we're going to have to do the same thing. I think when you prepare yourselves like we did at Maui to play three games in three days, it obviously helps you in certain situations like we have here, you know, throughout the season if you go through them.
So, you have to do a lot of preparation, you have to rehab a lot after each game, and our training staff does a good job with that.
THE MODERATOR: Anything to add, Andrew?
ANDREW SMITH: No.
Q. Khyle Marshall seems like he's pretty tough on himself. He said he doesn't even realize when he goes back to the bench, sometimes he's got his head down. But he says he's kind of a perfectionist. Do you sense that in Khyle, or do you have to, I don't know, encourage him from time to time to go onto the next play and not be at all concerned with what happened ten seconds before?
ANDREW SMITH: Yeah. I think that's kind of typical -- not typical, but pretty much every player has that to a point. And yeah, I mean, the biggest thing that can help you in a situation like that is having your teammates come and encourage you and tell you to move on.
Khyle is obviously a huge part of our team and he's been playing very well, so we need him to keep playing well and keep playing hard. And when he plays well, we're pretty hard to beat. So we just always encourage him to keep his head up, and obviously he gets frustrated, like we all do, but we know that he's capable and we just want to make sure he knows that.
Q. Andrew, in that game in Maui, you were in foul trouble for the majority of it. How much does it help to have played against both Chris Otule and Davante Gardner already, because it's rare you come across two big men that are that capable?
ANDREW SMITH: They're big and they're good and they're tough and physical. Yeah, we're going to have to play well, and it's not just going to be me, it's going to be a variety of guys in there guarding. I'm going to have to stay out of foul trouble. It's tough with them. They're just so big and good around the basket and, yeah, it will be a challenge.
Q. You both spoke very well yesterday about how players before you put Butler on the map and you guys now are extending that. You've played this game with Marquette earlier this year. You're going to play them tomorrow for the right to go to the Sweet 16. Can you guys appreciate that ten years down the road, with both Butler and Marquette being in the same conference, that you will have helped start new rivalries?
ROTNEI CLARKE: Like we were talking about yesterday, like you said, it just starts with the players in the past. They've led us up to these opportunities that we have now. Playing in the Horizon League, playing in the at Atlantic 10, and these guys coming up behind us are going to have a chance to play in the Big East. I think it's a tribute to all the players and everybody that's a part of Butler. You know, you know, the administration, the coaches, everyone before us has set us up for what we have now. And I think that's a tribute to the guys that we've had on the team, the seniors last year like Ron and Butch and those guys, and, you know, they've set us up for what we're enjoying right now. We hope to do that for the guys that are going to be able to get a good experience in the Big East.
THE MODERATOR: Andrew?
ANDREW SMITH: No.
Q. Andrew, again, the Marquette Coach yesterday called Coach Stevens a genius. Earlier in your career, knowing that he's so good, did you ever have fear that you were going to lose him to some great program or the pros or something?
ANDREW SMITH: I always thought he was going to stay, because I knew Coach Stevens pretty well and he definitely enjoys being at Butler and he enjoys the people around him. I mean, obviously he's had opportunities to go elsewhere and he's passed on those. Butler has done a great job of being able to keep him.
But, yeah, he's a pretty special coach and in my opinion the best coach in America, and I think he's proved it year in and year out and, yeah, hopefully we can keep him forever.
Q. Yesterday's game did y'all -- were y'all kind of concerned about that lull that -- the 19-2 run that they went on? Y'all overcame it, but was that one of those things that you said, okay, we know we can't do this again, and what did you kind of learn from that, I guess, you know, kind of looking back?
ROTNEI CLARKE: I think, you know, when you're going through every game, each team is going to make a run. Basketball is a game of runs, and we knew they were going to make a run like they did. It was pretty strong. They came at us and punched us in the mouth the second half, and, you know, they're hitting shots. They were hard to guard for awhile at that point.
It was a tribute to us because, like you say, we did respond from it, we came back with a run of our own, and I think that's big when a team like, you know, going through the tournament -- going to the tournament like we are right now, you're going to hit adversity. It's how you respond to that. If the team makes the run on you, you got to be able to come back and hit back and make a run for yourself, and we were able to do that.
THE MODERATOR: All right. Next question, anyone. All right. Well, thank you very much Rotnei and Andrew. Good luck to you. Thank you.
Okay. Same protocol.
Q. I know you're pretty good as keeping things in perspective. I wonder if missing the tournament last year made your appreciation for what you guys did before it and for getting back to it this year?
COACH STEVENS: I don't know that it heightened it. You know, when I was an assistant in my first, I guess I was '01 to '07, so, seven years, we made the tournament three times. We made two NITs and we didn't play in post season twice. I already had a pretty good appreciation for how hard it was to make the tournament and how almost perfect you felt like you had to play. We were on a 25-5 team in '01, '02 that didn't make it. Life in that bubble or on that bubble is no fun. We've been fortunate that, you know, six out of the last seven now we have.
So, you know, last year was coming, to be honest, and I thought our guys did a great job of getting better through the season and giving ourselves a chance to ultimately win 20 games and play in post season but maybe more importantly build for this season. And I credit our seniors, Ronald Norad and Garret Butcher of leading, regardless of our record and leading regarding of our circumstance, for helping this team to understand the right way to go about things.
And the Roosevelt Joneses, the Kam Woods, those guys have an idea, but not a complete understanding of just how much Butch and Ron did for them. And so that's all part of the process, right, and, you know, if you're going to claim that the journey is more important than the prize, you have to understand that there's going to be moments and years like that. And I'm proud of the way we handled it. If 22-15 is a down year, it's probably a pretty good thing.
Q. Brad, the game in Maui was a great game. Now you're playing against Marquette and the Sweet 16 is on the line, it's a big tournament game. Do you think that maybe what's happened during this season is that the seeds of a great rivalry are being sown because you guys will be in the same conference?
COACH STEVENS: First of all, the most important thing to a rivalry is great respect between the institutions, and I don't think there's any doubt that that would be the case, certainly from our end. You know, obviously Marquette is a great school and, you know, I've got a great deal of respect for A, their team this year, and B, their program and the tradition of their program. Buzz is a great coach. He's done a very good job, obviously Big East coach and all that they've accomplished.
That being said, i think you need a few more years of games before you really delve into the rivalry question. But, you know, I don't think either team is going to play any less hard because we haven't played as much in the past. Certainly it's one of those deals where you got a great deal of respect and you're going to lay it all out on the line. If that's the beginning of a rivalry, that would be great.
Q. Brad, how much has your team changed and how much do you think Marquette has changed since that Maui tournament?
COACH STEVENS: Marquette is a better basketball team after watching them on film, and they were a good basketball team then. I told Buzz at our coach's meeting two days ago that I learned as much about Marquette in Maui as I did about Butler. To lose on a shot that should have never gone in and to respond with two blowout victories on back-to-back days is a remarkable achievement.
Nobody knows, nobody understands, unless you've been in the locker room, how hard that is to reconvene, go back out and compete and do what they did and then go on to do what they did throughout the course of the season. I told him it's amazing what happened in Maui from their perspective. And, you know, it's easy to hit that shot and then feel good and play well the next day.
We're different from the standpoint Kam Woods and Alex Barlow played a total of three minutes and now they're two of our top seven guys and, you know, that's what kind of happens throughout the course of a season, your lineups and your players change. Mayo didn't play for them. Obviously, that's a huge addition to their team. I just think they've gotten better all the way around.
Q. You mentioned yesterday that you consulted your numbers guy before deciding whether to start Alex Barlow. Why do you think it's important to have a numbers guy, and what are some of the stats that you think are the most important to look at in advance?
COACH STEVENS: I think I am a numbers guy, so I guess I look at it from that lens and I appreciate having other people on our staff that look at it both the same way and differently so that you have a lot of different opinions and you can throw things off of each other.
He's done a great job for us, as has the rest of our staff, and so just like anything else, I throw everything by our staff. I want them to feel engaged, want them to put their signature on things, and I want them to have the thought of being head coaches, because they will be.
You know, from my standpoint and ultimately whether it's important to have a numbers guy or not, you know, I think the bottom line is you coach the way you feel most comfortable and you prioritize what's important to you. From the advanced stats standpoint, I don't know where to start, whatever there is, I'll take. Whatever I can get my hands on to learn about our team, to learn about the opponent, to learn about how we can be better, then we'll use whatever we can find.
Q. There are some coaches who flatout sandbag and they say stuff like, you're a genius, you're brilliant or whatever. I got the sense from the Bucknell coach that he was very sincere when he said that watching your tape is a clinic. And I'm curious about when you look at other teams, what are the subtle ways that you decide or see that that is a well-coached team and how much do you enjoy getting with other coaches and sort of trading trade secrets, if you will?
COACH STEVENS: First part is, I've never prepared for a game where I didn't ultimately want to steal something from that team. So, you know, I don't think I've ever prepared for what I would consider to be a poorly-coached team. Certainly people can argue that and call coaching what it is, but from the technical basketball standpoint of things, I've learned from every tape and every team we've played.
Then that on top of that, I absolutely love getting together with other coaches. I think that's one of the great benefits of our job, and, you know, especially in that August timeframe, whether you go to -- I've been to retreats at the University of Florida this year. I spent two days at Kansas when they were getting ready for their trip to Italy. You just -- you go and you pick the brains of others and you see what they do and you just -- how can you integrate a thought, a concept, a drill of they do into what you do to make your team just a little bit better or just keep them fresh. You know, even if it's as simple as getting one drill that can emphasize what you want emphasized and you can throw in in January that just keeps their minds fresh, then that's a positive trip and positive experience for you.
I love that part of this business. It's a very competitive industry with regard to we're judged based on winning and losing, but it's also an interesting thing, because we all get together and talk about the game, and that's one of the things I relish most about my 13 years in coaching.
Q. If I can just follow that, I might be putting you on the spot a little. If it's unfair, please say so. Is there one coach or one program that you've gotten the most from, taken the most from?
COACH STEVENS: You know, I would say no, because I've tried to take as much from any program that I can get from them. Obviously you learn a lot from the teams you play in your league when you've spent a lot of time playing against them, but, you know, I could say -- we've gotten a chance the play such an unbelievable schedule and have unbelievable schedules, we've got to study teams. It's a mishmash. The one coach that I clearly took the most from was Todd Lickliter, but that was at Butler.
Q. Brad, how has the game gotten to the point where so many teams are competitive on a yearly basis and coaches will want to stay at Butler, VCU, and Davidson?
COACH STEVENS: Well, you know, I think obviously having a chance to be competitive and the fact that our sport allows everybody to compete for a national championship is a positive in all of that.
As far as the parity goes, I don't know if it's really all that much different or if it's just being talked about more. I do think that with all of the increased media attention and scrutiny, as that continues to rise, which it certainly will, it's risen greatly even in my 13 years in coaching, then that's going to put more pressure on the teams that are, quote, supposed to win, and so it's going to be harder for those teams to win because human nature will play its role in winning and losing.
I think that's one of the things that certainly Gonzaga played the way they did at the end of the game, I didn't see much it, I saw the last 3 minutes. For those kids to hit those shots, they've got a real team, because there's some heat on them to hit those shots when they're the 1 seed playing against the 16 seed. That shows a lot of about what they're about to make those plays.
So, I think that adds to it. As far as staying at schools, I just think it's probably always been that way, just people are paying more attention to it. People are finding the coaching carousel to be more of a game than true life stuff. That bothers me a little bit because as I've -- I've been around coaches that have moved on, have had good friends fired and I know this: It's very stressful when people move, and so, you know, I think it's certainly more real than sometimes it's made out to be.
Q. You said yesterday that there aren't many teams in this tournament that could make a 16-point swing and make a run of their own. Rotnei was talking about fighting adversity earlier. Is there something in particular about your team that kind of sets you apart that allows you to continue to do that?
COACH STEVENS: I think it allows this particular team to be here and be in this moment. This particular team needs to have those kind of intangibles to have a chance to play at this level, and, you know, it's probably not dissimilar from our other teams. But we're playing against extremely talented guys, and in a lot of cases we're playing against bigger, stronger guys, and in some cases you're playing against guys certainly with more accolades coming out of high school.
And I think it just -- you know, you've got to have those kind of intangibles. There is a lot that goes into being able to move on to the next play, being able to forget what happened last and manage the good and manage the bad and understand that, you know, as long as you still have season left, you can always take advantage of what's next.
Q. Just general perception, if people say "football," they think physical sport. They think basketball may be more finesse sport. I watched the four teams here yesterday that won and each one of them had in common an incredibly physical intense level of play. How much more intense and physical is basketball now than let's say ten years ago and why has it resolved that way?
COACH STEVENS: You know, I don't know -- I'm thinking back to our early runs in the NCAA Tournament, '01, '02 excuse me, in 2001 we got to the second round, got beat by an Arizona team that was absolutely ridiculous. Then in 2003 we made it to the Sweet 16 and got beat Oklahoma who was extremely physical. I don't know that it is much more, Lenn, except for every year there's an increased focused on strength and conditioning and every time you walk into a facility like this, where you have unlimited resources and you know that with nutrition, strength, conditioning, people assigned to kids, the just focus on the summer now being accessible to kids to work with them, just -- there's going to be bigger, stronger bodies.
Kids out of high school are even more ready than before because they're now even stronger when they get to college, and so I think that's part of it. I think that's part of it. I think the other part is, I think this has contributed quite a bit to maybe a lack of scoring at times is that I can go watch every clip of every game anybody in the country has played on a software, on the software Synergy. I can go put it up on my computer right now. You can scout and try to figure out how to take tendencies and those types of things. Certainly where people start with their focus is on that end of the floor, the defensive end. If you want to be a good basketball team in this tournament and at this level, you do have to have a level of physicality.
Q. You've had loss, you've had games where you've been behind, but how much was yesterday, how much of a wake-up call was yesterday for this team that you said, okay, you're at this point now, you can't afford to have those kind of things? Did that kind of stick with them a little bit more after you won it and --
COACH STEVENS: You know, I don't think it was a wake-up call. Our guys were ready to play. You know, if there is a program and a team that is going to be focused and ready for that Bucknell team, it's going to be our team. We -- in our earlier stages, that was a similar transition. I think Bucknell has got a great set-up. They've got really good coaching, a good young core that's going to back up those seniors now that are leaving. They've got -- they've got a setup to really make some continued -- continue to make noise.
And we've been the 11 seed, we've been the team that, you know, everybody picks as a trendy upset pick. We've been all that and, shoot, we've been in three leagues in 14 months. So, we don't get too caught up in who we're playing but how we have to play and we're going to respect the game and respect the opponent. I don't think it was a shock to us. I don't think it was a wake-up call to us. I just think it was, here what is we have to do to win and in a 40-minute basketball game, it's hard to be really good in relation to the other team for, you know, the amount of time that you need to be to be successful.
Q. Andrew, when he was in here earlier, said that basically it takes until your junior year to get the Butler defensive concept. I understand it's complex. Why? What is it about it that makes it that complex?
COACH STEVENS: I think it's -- Coach Lickliter used to say and I thought this was really good. I know he read it somewhere, so I don't mean to not cite it, but he used to say that you get really good when you start at stage 1 of 4 where you're unconsciously incompetent, you have no idea of what's going on and you don't know that you don't know anything. You end at the unconsciously competent stage where I just can play by the experience plus understanding what you need to do, and I truly believe that. It doesn't take everybody the same amount of time.
There are certain players in our group that have -- that are unbelievably quick in picking things up on that end of the floor and it's usually, Pat, guys that have kind of made their way to college by being versatile players anyways. The Ron Norad was always a defender first. Roosevelt Jones picked up system in a heartbeat. Willie Beesley picked up our system in a heartbeat.
Lot of times it takes a little bit longer for other guys. The one thing I will say is, if you're a big, you know, we ask a lot of our bigs because we ask them to guard ball screens so many different ways and that's probably where the complexity begins, but I don't think we're any more complex than anybody else. I just think that that's the wow moment for all these kids when they get to college, and I think it probably takes another step when they go on to the next level if they're lucky enough to do that.
THE MODERATOR: Time for a couple more questions.
Q. Yesterday after the game you mentioned that I think it was Willman had some open shots and got them, right? You said that that's what you're going to give up, right, every coach knows you're going to take away, there's something you're going to give up. When you get beat by a team that exposes what you're giving up, how do you reconcile that and how do you learn from that?
COACH STEVENS: Usually you adjust to it to take it away towards the end and you end up getting beat another way. Right when you -- right when you take -- right when you start switching those screens with Willman or right when you start soft hedging those screens with Willman, now Ayers and Johnson start going off. You've got three guys going off. We can manage one and we can adjust and get to one, but I don't know that we could have managed three plus having Muscala in the middle, and so we really didn't tweak. We just said every time we got back to the huddle, we have to be better in our rotation, get there quicker.
I thought when Kam Woods came in, we got there the quickest towards the end of that game, and that's where -- the guy that has really taken a jump for our team in the past two months is Kameron Woods and I think will continue because he's not going to take little steps, he's going to take leaps because he's just the way he is.
But I think that that's -- as a coach, I don't have any problem if a guy that hasn't made a 3 all year goes out and hits four 3s against us and we get beat because of it, we'll win more games than not by following that plan.
Q. Talking to several of your players and they say because you are so calm normally that when you do raise your voice, it has a big impact. Is your coaching demeanor just your personality or modeled on mentors or that kind of thing?
COACH STEVENS: I would love to model it on some people who I have a lot of respect for. I've quickly realized I can't. I've always admired and thought that the ultimate coach was Tony Dungy, but he's way better than I am and way more calm and poised than I am.
I think the best piece of advice I got right when I got the head coaching job at Butler, I was talking to a friend who had taken over another school similar, and he said, you know, that first year he always thought about what his successful predecessors have done to get the team to get the most out of them.
He said, you know what, what I learned was you have to be yourself. So I can tell you anything, just be yourself and if it works, it works. If it doesn't, it doesn't. At least that way you have no regrets with it.
THE MODERATOR: Over here and maybe one more after that.
Q. As a college basketball fan, what do you think when you see a Harvard play like it played last night?
COACH STEVENS: I didn't watch very much of it because I was watching Marquette and wanted to get a little bit of sleep. I think New Mexico is a great team, Harvard is a great team, and I said all year, you can throw 2 through 14 in a blender and mix it up and, you know, everybody is pretty close to the same.
There may not be true at 2, but certainly the 1s have elevated themselves. The 2s are probably at a little bit different level. I think that a lot of us have really good basketball teams that could play against anybody on a given day and, you know, if we were playing Harvard, then I would think as I'm watching film, wow, Harvard can expose us in this area, this area and this area. We better be pretty good.
So it doesn't surprise me at all. I think that's -- again, that's the hard part about what we were talking about earlier. Everybody just assumes New Mexico is going win, if they're not educated, and, you know, New Mexico has to play really well to win that game just like Harvard had to play really well to win that game.
THE MODERATOR: All right. Anything else? Thank you, Coach Stevens. Good luck tomorrow.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports