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March 23, 2013

Steve Fisher

Jamaal Franklin

DeShawn Stephens

Chase Tapley


Q.テつ Maybe if each of you could start by talking about what do you know about Florida Gulf Coast?テつ Do you even know where it is?テつ How much have you had to learn in the last 24 hours?
JAMAAL FRANKLIN:テつ It's in Florida.
DESHAWN STEPHENS:テつ We know enough.テつ I mean, we watched film.テつ We've gone over the things that we need to do, and we're going to practice and get everything executed and stuff like that.テつ We pretty much just know what we've seen.
JAMAAL FRANKLIN:テつ We know that they're real fast in transition.テつ They're a team that likes to get up and down.テつ They score fairly good in half court, but obviously in full court they're one of the best fast break teams that we've probably seen in the country.テつ They push the ball, have full speed and they're always looking to score, and tip dunk it or rebound the ball offensively.
CHASE TAPLEY:テつ Just to go off what these two said, with the fast breaking, like the BYU used to be in our league, how they get up the floor.テつ They just know they're playing with high confidence right now, like they can beat anybody in the country.テつ We've just got to match their intensity and make plays.

Q.テつ Pretty sure the whole country outside of maybe a small pocket in San Diego is rooting against you guys tomorrow just because of the Cinderella story.テつ You guys are the villains now.テつ How does it feel to be in that villain role?
CHASE TAPLEY:テつ I mean, I like it.テつ Underdogs is always good to be the underdog.テつ I mean, we've been‑‑ it seems like we've been playing the villain this whole year, so it's nothing new.テつ Just got to come out, and they're an underdog, too.テつ They beat a good team in Georgetown.テつ They're probably feeling the same way.テつ But it's just two good teams just going at it, and we're going to see what the outcome is.
JAMAAL FRANKLIN:テつ I would say what Chase said, we've always been the villain, especially me, myself, I always go to every arena and everybody hates me, so I'm used to it.テつ I just can't wait to play come tomorrow.テつ It's going to be two good teams battling it out.テつ I know these people right here next to me and my teammates in the locker room can't wait for it, either.
DESHAWN STEPHENS:テつ My two teammates pretty much covered it all.テつ Like you said, the little part of San Diego is all we need to support us, so we're just going to go out and play hard for them.

Q.テつ DeShawn, what did you see last night?テつ What was enabling you to be so effective on the boards, particularly the offensive boards?
DESHAWN STEPHENS: テつThis man right now (indicating Jamaal) came up to me and we had a little talk at halftime, and he got my mind right pretty much and came back in the game, and I just tried to play as hard as I could, leave it all out on the floor.テつ It was either do that or go home, so I knew it had to be done.
CHASE TAPLEY:テつ Like I said in the press conference and interviews yesterday, DeShawn, when I came out in that second half and was getting those offensive rebounds he really sparked us and we fed off that and just kept on rolling, and that's what we're going to need from him from now on out.

Q.テつ What did you tell him, Jamaal?
JAMAAL FRANKLIN:テつ Confidential.

Q.テつ You guys basically are the dominant program in Southern California right now.テつ Jamaal, you actually will be up there as the best player.テつ Is that something that's crossed your mind during the course of this season?テつ Is it something that's crossed your mind since the tournament began?テつ And is it something that's crossed your mind since UCLA lost yesterday?
DESHAWN STEPHENS:テつ I don't know, I don't really think too much about it.テつ I just try to think about next game and keep moving on to what we've got to do.テつ I don't try to think about who's the best and where we are.テつ I just try to think about us getting better as a team.
JAMAAL FRANKLIN:テつ I don't want to think about it, either.テつ If you just take it one game at a time and worry about winning, everything falls into place.テつ Just us winning, it makes us the best team, so if we just continue to win, everything works out the way like it's playing.
CHASE TAPLEY:テつ For being one of the best programs in Southern Cal, I fell like we were, my freshman year, we just kept building and building and building each year.テつ And for Jamaal being one of the best players coming out of Southern Cal, just me watching him with his work ethic and everything we work hard to be in the position that we're at, and that's why we're successful.テつ All this hard work and all the work ethic and the gym and stuff is just paying off.
We've just got to just keep on doing that in the future and everybody else who goes to San Diego State.

Q.テつ Obviously last night you were preparing for Oklahoma, but at the same time there was a huge upset happening on the court, and not just any upset, it was going to be the team that you would play if you won.テつ There had to be some kind of reaction in the locker room, you guys watching, paying attention.テつ Can you describe what was going on with you guys while that was happening?
CHASE TAPLEY:テつ I mean, you're sitting there‑‑ we went out there and were sitting there and watching the game, it's exciting.テつ You're seeing an upset happen before your eyes.テつ You try not to jump up, try not to celebrate, but man, just part of the madness.テつ We watched it in the locker room, we were just tuned to the TV until the very last second, and when we saw the upset, we were like, we've got to focus.テつ Jamaal said let's worry about us right now, we've will focus on Oklahoma and tomorrow we've got Florida Gulf Coast.テつ So that was everything.
JAMAAL FRANKLIN:テつ What we had going into the locker room we was watching Florida Gulf Coast with Georgetown, I think a lot of people thought Georgetown was going to win but we always said March Madness, anybody can win.テつ That's why we came here with our high horse and ready to play.テつ So after we seen Florida Gulf Coast win we made sure we had to focus on Oklahoma, and now we've got to get ready for Florida Gulf Coast.テつ It's going to be two good teams battling it outcome Sunday because we're fast, they're fast, they're a good team and we're a good team and it's March Madness and we're ready to play and I know they're ready to play.
DESHAWN STEPHENS:テつ Pretty much to feed off of what they said, at the same time we were watching that game, I felt like a fan at the time.テつ It was exciting.テつ I was just watching it and I didn't really think about that's who we would play next, I was just watching two great teams play.テつ Like Jamaal said, I would think in March Madness seeds are kind of irrelevant because anybody can beat anybody.テつ You've just got to go out and play hard every night.

Q.テつ UCLA, they've been kind of, I guess, the beasts of the West Coast so to speak.テつ But when it comes down to it, talent‑wise it doesn't really matter, the name of the school, just the players, whether they go to a mid major like a Florida Gulf Coast or they go to a San Diego State.テつ You all see each other in AAU ball and stuff like that?
CHASE TAPLEY:テつ Yeah, I mean, we all seen each other, played against each other all through high school and AAU and everything, but people think about the big schools with the names, the UCLAs, the Arizonas and all that.テつ But San Diego State is being in the conversation, and we take pride in that.

Q.テつ Jamaal, I'd love to know if you think you've been short changed but not getting a lot of publicity for the dunk off the back of the rim yesterday.テつ But also I was wondering what all three of you guys, what did it really mean for the program and for each of you individually for you guys to have made the leap that you did a couple years ago to get into the Sweet 16 and getting to close to getting into the final eight?
DESHAWN STEPHENS:テつ I think that season opened up everything for San Diego State and made it just that much bigger as a program.テつ The program actually grew every year, so I just think it just gave it more publicity worldwide and we're continuing to build.
CHASE TAPLEY:テつ That season like DeShawn said really put San Diego State on the map where people started talking about it, and from then on, every year it's just been building.テつ Just want to make it a powerhouse.テつ You've got to thank Coach Fish for that and the coaching staff for bringing the right players in, the right players with the right attitudes, and really putting everything together.テつ So it just had to happen with chemistry and work ethic and just made the program what it is today.
JAMAAL FRANKLIN:テつ I'd say that we keep rebuilding.テつ The best thing about San Diego State is we rebuild.テつ We never had a rebuilding year.テつ We always go out to win and do whatever it takes to win.テつ That's one thing we do.テつ We lost plenty of games but you can't say that we never gave 110 percent, and that's one thing we do every day, and that's going to make us a great team every day.

Q. テつJamaal and Chase, from two years ago when you guys were in the Sweet 16 and had a really good shot at beating UConn, a lot of people looked at that as a great opportunity, UConn went out and won the national championship and I'm sure in the back of your mind you kind of wondered what would have happened if you had held on against UConn.テつ Do you look upon this tournament right now the way things are shaking out in your bracket as just this other incredible opportunity?テつ Did you learn anything from two years ago about grasping opportunity and taking advantage of it?
CHASE TAPLEY:テつ Just two years ago, just made it seem like, man, we were that close.テつ You've got to master every opportunity because you don't know when you're going to be back, when you're going to get another chance to crack at it.テつ Now last year we lost in the first round, but this year we learned from that experience, and we've just got to keep learning and learning, get to the Sweet 16, and when we get to the Sweet 16 just go back to that UConn experience, how we felt in the locker room and how close we were and just go back and just think like, man, we can do this and get to the lead out in the Final Four.
JAMAAL FRANKLIN:テつ Relating to what Chase said, you've just got to take it one game at a time.テつ We can't get ahead to the Elite 8 or the Sweet 16.テつ Tomorrow is Sunday and that brings Florida Gulf Coast in our path and we've got to worry about playing a good team and we've got to worry about getting that win.
COACH FISHER:テつ I'll piggyback a little bit what I said before we played Oklahoma.テつ I've been around long enough to know that having the opportunity to be here in the tournament is special, and it should be viewed that way, as a privilege that you've earned, and often times in the blink of an eye, it's gone.
We have only won two NCAA Tournament games in the history of our school until we beat Oklahoma last night.テつ So the excitement is there for us and our fans as well as it is for any program that has not had major league success in the tournament.
That being said, if you get too caught up in the euphoria of winning a game, I don't think you prepare yourself for the next game.
So we've tried to make sure that we knew that you must have genuine excitement, but then also the reality of you'd better get ready in a short turnaround for another game against a very, very good basketball team.テつ So that's what we've tried to do.テつ I like how we played last night.テつ We made some shots, which is always helpful, and our staple, which has been our ability to guard, I do believe showed through, especially in the second half.

Q.テつ What did you know about Florida Gulf Coast before yesterday, and what do you know about them now?
COACH FISHER:テつ I probably knew more than any coach in America because I've got a condo that I've had from my days in the Midwest in Fort Myers Beach, a stone's throw from Florida Gulf Coast.テつ I read all about the starting sports.テつ I went over to the campus.テつ I've been on the campus.テつ I've toured it.テつ I don't know if they still play in germane arena on interstate 75‑‑ no, they don't play there any longer?テつ But I do know that it's a program now that everybody knows.テつ And there's a great deal of excitement.
They're good.テつ I think it's legitimate.
If we were playing a shirts and skins game with all 64 teams and you brought all the teams out there and watched them warm up, you'd be hard pressed to say, well, this is a team that's not supposed to win.テつ They're good.テつ They're talented.テつ They're well‑coached.テつ And they played terrific last night.

Q.テつ There's a rumor going around kind of down there that you were once offered a coaching position there.テつ Any truth to that?
COACH FISHER:テつ Rumor from who?

Q.テつ Well, we're not exactly sure, one of our old writers is in contact with their old AD, who I guess is an old friend of yours from Michigan, Marilyn Dean Baker.テつ We were just curious if you were offered the position there.
COACH FISHER:テつ When I was between jobs we had a conversation, and she talked about she was involved in the search committee, but we just talked about it.テつ So no, I was never offered a job.テつ I was there, though, as I said when they were starting the program and wanting to transition into a Division II program, and she was very excited about the potential, and now I know all of those that are affiliated with Florida Gulf Coast are beaming with pride about the reality of what they've done.テつ It's been terrific.

Q.テつ What's it like, and maybe more importantly, what's it going to be like when you take the court tomorrow, knowing that pretty much the whole country is rooting against you?
COACH FISHER:テつ Well, I beg to differ on that.テつ We were met with a rousing group of Aztec fans when we got back to the hotel last night, and I don't know how many we'll have, but San Diego is a pretty big city, and our county and our state, and I would bet that most folks in southern California will be cheering like crazy for the Aztecs.
I was a high school teacher in Chicago.テつ I'm going to have half of the south side of Chicago cheering for San Diego State, and I was born and raised in Illinois and I've got the State of Illinois that's voting for us.テつ So we're not going to have everybody.テつ It may seem like it tomorrow, but we'll have a few people cheering for us.

Q.テつ The coach before Andy Enfield, Dave Balza, one of your former assistants, the only coach they had before him, is that one of the reasons you kept up on FGCU?
A.That was one of the reasons, yes, Dave Balza, who transitioned from Division II to Division I, was a former student manager, then helped‑‑ grad assistant at Michigan, then that was a reason I did continue to follow the program from a distance.テつ True.

Q.テつ Kind of a little off the beaten track, but obviously you've been at this for a long time.テつ When you had your teams at Michigan 20 years ago, great on defense, high scoring on offense, two‑part question:テつ How much do you think the game has changed in the last 20 years?テつ And do you think offense maybe has suffered a little bit from then until now on a national level?
COACH FISHER:テつ The scores probably are not what they were before, and I don't have the answer for that.テつ I'm right in the mix of it.テつ I was asked that same question before, and I thought it was probably two‑fold.テつ One, I do think the game has become more physical, and that's impacted it.テつ What used to be a for sure foul now is not always a foul.テつ So I think when you go to the rim, those baskets are no longer a guarantee.
And two, I think that the way people now scout, with all the latest technology, you can punch a button and know everybody's favorite move, where he takes his shots from, how many dribbles he takes and all that.テつ So you prepare a little bit better than you did 20 years ago.

Q.テつ With that in mind, is it a better game, worse game or the same as far as just the overall esthetic level for the fans and players?
COACH FISHER:テつ I'm speaking more from wearing the coach hat.テつ Even when I watch a game that I'm not directly involved in or I'm not going to play them, I watch it with great interest to see strategy and how people do different things and learn stuff and pick up ideas, set plays that we tweak a little bit and bring to our team.
It continues to be a phenomenal, phenomenal sport to watch, and I think it's grown in terms of the worldwide appeal to that effect.テつ With now what you can do, you can watch every game.テつ You don't have to watch a game and then have a cut to see a little bit of this and that.テつ You can flip channels and you can see almost every game that's being played, which adds to the excitement.
So I don't think it's been diminished in terms of fan appeal.テつ Low scoring games can be tremendously exciting, even for the fans.テつ So I think it's growing, continuing to grow in terms of excitement, attendance and appeal.

Q.テつ Earlier I asked Andy Enfield if he was in fact the most interesting man in the world, and he denied it, but I thought I'd get a second opinion.
COACH FISHER:テつ Next question.テつ He probably answered it.テつ He can answer it better than I can answer it.

Q.テつ He's a fascinating guy, though, isn't he?
COACH FISHER:テつ Without question he is.テつ Without question he is.テつ A bit atypical from a coaching standpoint, but very typical of every successful coach in terms of how he prepares a team, builds a team, grows a program.テつ I am immensely impressed with the job that he's done.テつ I am an admirer, and if we weren't playing them, I'd probably be a fan.

Q.テつ They have a very up tempo style of play.テつ Will you do anything different to prepare for that?テつ Will you make an effort to try to slow them down to a different pace?テつ What are your thoughts on their style of play?
COACH FISHER:テつ I caught myself several times last night in the Oklahoma game yelling, get back, get back, get back.テつ So we've got to get back.テつ We can't give them an inordinate number of run‑outs where I'm looking up and they're 3 on 2 or 4 on 2 or 4 on 3 and they have those trail guys running in from mid court to tip dunk one in or get a lob for a basket.テつ They run.テつ They run very effective.テつ You can tell that they work at that.テつ This doesn't just happen.テつ This is not just pickup game on the street.
[This] is a well‑coached, well‑defined style of play that they're good at.テつ They like to play that way, and they are successful at it.テつ I'm impressed. テつWe have to do a good job of getting back.テつ They probably one better than any team we will have played all year.

Q.テつ I was curious about the condo in Fort Myers Beach.テつ Why did you buy it, have you been there recently, and when was the first time you visited FGCU's campus?
COACH FISHER:テつ I bought it as soon as I had enough money to get one, which is right after I became a head coach.テつ So I've had one since 1990.テつ And in a complex where it's filled with Midwesterners.テつ The person Les Witky (phonetic), who hired me for my first high school job, he hired me for my first college job, he had a condo in the same complex which was the reason that we bought it.
Many of us jokingly refer to it as a poor man's Naples, but it's got a gorgeous view of the Gulf, and we love going there.テつ We will be going down sometime after the Final Four.

Q.テつ For all the people who might not be all that familiar with Jamaal, is there a reason that comes to mind for you at all why maybe he's not as familiar all across the country as he is within obviously basketball circles?
COACH FISHER:テつ Jamaal Franklin was not a McDonald's All‑American coming out of high school and a top 100 player coming out of high school.テつ He was the traditional from way back, three‑sport star.テつ He was a great football player who could have played major college football.テつ He went from that to basketball.テつ As soon as basketball ended, he went out on the track and was a seven‑foot high jumper in track, and he played for fun in the summer with AAU ball.
So until he said, hey, I think I could be pretty good, and that was probably between his junior and senior year of high school did he start to say, if I want to be good I have to work at this game.テつ So he's worked at his game, and I think to his credit, every year he's gotten better.テつ He went from a guy that I tried to talk into red shirting as a freshman who willed his way into the rotation of that 34‑3 team by the end of the year to the Player of the Year in the conference last year to a better player this year, an all‑around better player.
I think the people that follow basketball know, and maybe because we're West Coast, and even those that like to watch it's hard to stay up to watch a game starting at midnight here when we're playing.テつ So I think that might have a little bit to do with it.
But if you watch him, you remember probably a handful of things that he did, even as a casual fan.テつ They say, fan, remember what Franklin did there or there or there?テつ He's a talented player who should receive credit for how hard he's worked at becoming a really good basketball player.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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