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SOUTHEASTERN CONFERENCE MEN'S TOURNAMENT


March 12, 2014


Mike Anderson

Coty Clarke

Fred Gulley, III

Michael Qualls


ATLANTA, GEORGIA

THE MODERATOR:テつ We'll go ahead and get started with an opening statement from coach and then take questions for the student‑athletes.
COACH ANDERSON:テつ We enter a new season, and that is the SEC tournament.テつ It's a tremendous opportunity for our basketball team to hopefully get a spot into the NCAA tournament.テつ The automatic qualifier comes from this tournament and that's our goal coming in.
We felt like we have been playing some pretty good basketball.テつ I think our last game out we got a little bad taste in our mouth going on the road at Alabama, but this is a new season and that's all we talked about with our guys.
Obviously our focus is on the next game.テつ One game at a time.テつ The first game is so important in tournament play because you can't go anywhere without winning that first game.テつ So we play Thursday against the winner of Auburn and South Carolina, two teams we have faced.テつ Knowing that it's going to be a challenge, but it's a great opportunity to play in the SEC tournament.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Take questions for the student‑athletes, please.

Q.テつ For all three players, I know you guys haven't played that many games here, but Arkansas haven't won a tournament game in five straight opening losses.テつ Just talk about and how important it is to break that streak.
MICHAEL QUALLS:テつ Well, it's very important.テつ That's why we are here, to get wins.テつ Coach said take it one game at a time, so we're going to come out and focus on the winner of Auburn and South Carolina and be mentally focused.
We had a team meeting and we weren't mentally focused against Alabama, but that's good.テつ Like I said, it humbled us and it made us focus on the process.テつ So we're going to come out and we're going to play Arkansas basketball.
FRED GULLEY, III:テつ We try not to focus too much on the streaks or the past, because we're a different team.テつ We're playing a new brand of basketball and we're ready to come out here and play our style of play and get into the next game.
COTY CLARKE:テつ Like Fred said, that's the past.テつ We're going to focus on moving forward mentally, and physically ready for our next opponent, which is Thursday.テつ And we'll find out today who it is.

Q.テつ Michael, you mentioned the team meeting, was that like a players only thing?テつ When did you guys do that?
MICHAEL QUALLS:テつ Yeah, it was just the players only thing, after practice before we got on the plane to come here.テつ Basically it was just between us, where do we want to go, what do we want to do.テつ Basically just a brotherhood meeting.テつ Because that's what we're going to need on the court to help us prevail is brotherhood.

Q.テつ Coty, as team captain could you talk about the meeting, what you thought of that.
COTY CLARKE:テつ Yeah, I called it just to touch base with everybody and let them know that we move forward from that game.テつ Like he said, it humbled us.
It's a new season, like coach said.テつ I just wanted to get everybody on the same page and in the same mindset, that we need to win these games and take it one game at a time.

Q.テつ Do y'all think that when you went down to Alabama you hit so many 3‑pointers against Ole Miss that you kind of fell into that trap and weren't aggressive down at Alabama?
COTY CLARKE:テつ Not at all.テつ I think that when we don't get ball movement and it doesn't go inside out, we tend to settle for jumpers, and I think we did a couple games, like in the past.テつ So that's just something that we have to stop doing and go inside out.
The fast breaking is part of our offense, so we didn't get a lot of fast break points, and so we were stagnant in the half court.テつ But that's changed.テつ We're playing attack basketball, so that shouldn't matter.

Q.テつ For all three guys.テつ You look at the different brackets and most of them have you in there, some don't, I guess.テつ What do you guys feel like you got to do here to make sure you get in the NCAA?
MICHAEL QUALLS:テつ Win.テつ That's pretty simple.テつ Everybody wants to winner.テつ You don't want a bracket full of losers, so we're taking it one game at a time to win games.テつ That's the emphasis I feel like to any, every team, to win games.テつ We're not focused on that, we can only control what we can control, and we control whether we win or lose a game.テつ But that's what it's all about to me.テつ That's just how I see it.
FRED GULLEY, III:テつ The only guaranteed tournament bid is the team that wins the SEC tournament.テつ So we're just going to come in here and control what we can control and try to win some games.
COTY CLARKE:テつ Just play one game at a time and the winner is the automatic bid of this tournament, so one game at a time.
THE MODERATOR:テつ We're going to excuse the players.テつ You can return to the locker room.テつ We'll continue on with questions for coach.

Q.テつ I know you've been here this whole time, but it's hard to believe you haven't won a tournament game here in five years.テつ You know the history of success you guys have had in the tournaments most years, just talk about that streak and trying to trying to put that to rest.
COACH ANDERSON:テつ Well, to me the focus is on this basketball team.テつ It's a different year, different season.テつ It's amazing that as we played this year, as a lot of that comes up, Coach, y'all haven't done this, y'all haven't done this.テつ Well, this is a different team.テつ This is a different year.
So that being said, it's a different mindset.テつ So our goal is like any team that's coming in here, it's to come in and win this tournament.テつ But our main focus is on the individual games.テつ But what took place in the past, that took place.
Of course I've been a part of teams that have come in here and won four games in a row, and in 2000, been in championship games in the SEC tournament.テつ I really feel our team is made for the tournament.テつ I think this particular team is certainly primed for the tournament.
But the biggest and most important thing is that first game.テつ You got to get past that first game.テつ So unfortunately, I guess through the years, Arkansas hasn't been able to get past those games, and even in my first two years.テつ So let's turn the trend.

Q.テつ How confident do you feel that the team that played those previous nine games is the one that will show up here tomorrow instead of the one that played at Alabama?
COACH ANDERSON:テつ Well, our guys will be ready to play.テつ I think that Coty said it best, Mike said it, 'humbled.'テつ We got humbled.テつ Sometimes a pat on your back can set you back.
I think for the most part our guys have been playing some pretty good basketball.テつ And I think this kind of went into kind of a hornets nest really to tell you the truth and we were primed.テつ It was kind of like one of those trap games for the most part.
We played Alabama early in the year, and if you recall, Bobby had to have a tremendous game in order for us to beat them.テつ And so the mindset going into that, knowing it's going to be a war going down there.
We had a tremendous senior night where we made 173‑point shots, man, shot it unbelievable.テつ So you start believing that.テつ And with this team and it's a young team, I think that was part of the makeup.テつ That's why they talk about we weren't mentally focused in, you know.
So as a coach, you try to get them prepared each and every game you are going into battle.テつ You got to be prepared.テつ Teams are going to be good.テつ Alabama is a very good basketball team.
When you got Trevor Releford‑‑ and it was senior night...
But going back to your statement, we'll be ready to play, our guys will be ready.テつ They will be ready to leave it on the floor.

Q.テつ You guys don't play in the first round, so you don't know who you're going to be playing tomorrow.テつ Do you think that's maybe a benefit for you guys to just focus on yourselves since you played both these teams already so far this year?
COACH ANDERSON:テつ Well, I think that's a great point.テつ One of the things we always do, we worry about ourselves, we don't worry about other teams.テつ Obviously we faced these guys and both games were pretty good games.テつ We played them at home.テつ So now you're playing on a neutral site.テつ So everybody, every game is a neutral site.テつ They will have the advantage.テつ They played a game.
For us, we just want to play somebody.テつ We got a bad taste in our mouth from the Alabama game and after having played so well.テつ So we want to make sure that that was one of those deals that don't occur all the time, the Alabama game.
So to your point in terms of is it an advantage?テつ I guess in tournament play that just getting into the feel of playing, playing a game and playing an opponent, I think that's very, very important.テつ So the first game is going to be a critical game no matter who we play.テつ Everybody in this tournament is good.テつ I think that you don't look past no one.テつ We found that out the hard way throughout the whole season.

Q.テつ They talked about that team meeting, how did you feel about that?テつ You occasionally can have too many team meeting, but I don't think they have had that many, have they?
COACH ANDERSON:テつ No, it's part of guys taking ownership.テつ They felt bad about that Alabama game.テつ They really did.テつ You can imagine Coty, he's going home and playing at home and I don't think he played very well.テつ So he's one of the leaders of your team.
So for them to do that, that maybe that tells me that they're growing up a little bit.テつ We'll find out.テつ We'll find out if it worked.
No, but seriously, I just think that's taking ownership of your team.テつ And he said it best, we want to get on the same page.テつ And when you get to this time of year, you want to be all on the same page.テつ Mentally focused.テつ Physically, they're ready to play.テつ I have no problem with that.テつ But I think the mental aspect is, you got to be on the same page as well.

Q.テつ Building seems pretty nice to me.テつ I guess they're going to blow it up in a couple years and build a new stadium.テつ This is going to be the last tournament they play here.テつ You alluded to the 2000 run you guys had.テつ Just talk about the memories that you have of playing games in here.
COACH ANDERSON:テつ Oh, a lot of great memories.テつ I was walking down there and it was just like it was yesterday.テつ When you look back on those years, there, of course, basketball was, I mean you come in here and it's like 38,000 people watching basketball, in the SEC country.
Of course Kentucky, when we first came to the league, Arkansas did, no one rivaled their fan support.テつ Until the Razorbacks got in there.
So when you come in here and you see a sea of red and blue and all the other schools, I mean that's pretty special.テつ It's been a great venue to play in.テつ And of course now they're going more to the 15, 16,000‑seat stadium.テつ But a lot of great memories, a lot of great games, a lot of great players, a lot of great coaches.
And so to see all that not happening any more, it's kind of on a bitter note.テつ But at the same time, Nashville I guess is going to be the primary home of the SEC tournament, and I think that's important that we do have a place.テつ We got a brand, we got a place where it's going to be at, and that way we can sell it and market it and continue to build on it.

Q.テつ You said your team is made for the tournament format.テつ What qualities does your team have?
COACH ANDERSON:テつ Well, I just think with the depth that we create throughout the whole year.テつ I always talk about having eight to nine starters, and we play a lot of players.テつ And I think as we get to this point in the season, a lot of teams have played six and seven guys, they can hit that wall, man.テつ And when you got a tournament format, back to back to back to back, I think for the way we play and how we want to play, I think all our teams have had success wherever I've been.テつ With Coach Richardson at Arkansas.テつ I was at UAB, at Missouri.
But the key is to get going in this tournament.テつ Getting past that first game.テつ But I just think the depth becomes an issue, especially let's say four games in four nights, you better have some depth because guys are going to be running on fumes.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Thank you very much.
COACH ANDERSON:テつ Okay.テつ Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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