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March 19, 2014

Jamie Dixon

Lamar Patterson

Cameron Wright

Talib Zanna


Q.  Talib and Lamar, can you talk, please, about what it means for you as seniors to have brought your team to the NCAA Tournament in your senior years?
TALIB ZANNA:  Yeah, this really means a lot.  Just being here, me and Lamar came together, and being a leader, we just want to lead by example, just set a tone for the younger guys coming up.  Just to keep the tradition going, how we learn from Nas, Gil, Brad and the other guys who led before.  We just want to keep the tradition going and just lead by example.
LAMAR PATTERSON:  This is the expectation, coming into the season we wanted to make sure we won games and got here, and it gave us an opportunity to be in the NCAA Tournament.  We did it.  That was a goal.  We worked hard for it.  Us both being seniors, right now this is it, so we're playing our last couple games, so we just want to win, go out on a W.

Q.  Cameron, can you talk about what you guys have seen from Colorado, what impressions you have from them as far as their style and how you guys match up with them?
CAMERON WRIGHT:  Well, they're a really good team.  Pretty similar to us, they have good guard play, they like to rebound the ball, take pride in their defense.  We look forward to breaking down more film tonight and seeing what else they like to do or whatnot.  But they seem pretty similar to our style of play in terms of taking pride in our defense.

Q.  You guys were obviously involved in the transition of conferences.  What was the difference between playing in the Big East and now playing in the ACC for a season?
LAMAR PATTERSON:  The biggest difference to me really was just the name of the conference.  ACC did get up and down a little bit more, but at the end you've just got to play basketball, and that's how both conferences were real similar.  Great challenges across the board, and they bring it every day.
CAMERON WRIGHT:  You know, I agree with Lamar.  It was still great play from a lot of teams.  I feel like the ACC Conference is a really great conference as well as the Big East.  I felt like in terms of our style of play, there wasn't too many changes or whatnot.  I feel like it had a lot of similarities to it.
TALIB ZANNA:¬† I don't think it's a big difference.¬† ACC, it's just an up‑tempo game, and the Big East is kind of big guys, physical, and just get dirty down low.¬† It's not much difference.

Q.  I want to ask you from what you've seen of Colorado, is there a team you've faced that reminds you of Colorado?
LAMAR PATTERSON:¬† I can't really pick a specific team that it reminds me of, but they're a good team, they're solid, have big guys and good guard play.¬† It's definitely a good match‑up, so we'll be ready, and I'm sure they will, also.

Q.  Talib, what do you see from Josh Scott at Colorado and how he might compare to some of the big men you've faced this year?
TALIB ZANNA:¬† He has a 17‑foot range.¬† He shoots threes from the film we watched last night.¬† I just have to play him by the scouting report and play him the way Dixon wants me to play him.

Q.¬† Lamar, looks like you guys depend on your defense a lot and like to play low‑scoring games.¬† Do you feel like it benefits you to keep the score lower?
LAMAR PATTERSON:  If you say so.  I mean, as long as we're getting stops, it's pretty hard for teams to win if we're stopping them on defense.  If we do that and our offense is clicking, then I think we're a deadly team.
JAMIE DIXON:  Okay, ready to go here.  Actually we were here for the summer league.  I don't remember quite this setting, though.  This looks familiar in some ways.  We came out here and watched Steve Adams play his first game down here in the summer league, so been here before, and excited about the trip and excited about playing against a good Colorado team.  Obviously we know a lot about them now in two days and we've watched a lot of film, but very impressed with their rebounding, their defense and the way they play, and obviously got to keep Booker under control.
Looking forward to the opportunity.¬† We got down here late last night, had some travel challenges, as does occur on a short notice, but we made it down here, got in here a bit late, and we're looking forward to it.¬† Talib didn't practice today.¬† He didn't feel well, stomach flu, stomach virus, I guess.¬† We'll see how he feels later on.¬† Everybody else was out there ready to go and we had a great practice this morning and then we'll do a little bit of light shooting today on the court.¬† An opportunity for us to get some shots in the facility and then we'll go back and watch some film and do some more scouting report as we do a walk‑through.¬† We have a good feeling about what we're doing against Colorado in these next 24 hours.

Q.  Now that you're here in the NCAA Tournament, can you look back at the contributions that both of your seniors have made because they had to get it done, didn't they?
JAMIE DIXON:  Yeah.  Well, with Durand going down everything obviously changed, there's no question about that.  We've been put in a situation where Lamar has probably played more minutes, scored more points than we anticipated based on Durand going down, probably scored more than we anticipated before Durand went down.  That's the situation that we're in, and we've battled through it.
I thought Talib was going to put up big numbers, I really did.  I had predicted he would lead the league in rebounding, so I thought that was a possibility for him.
That transition, moving a 4 to the 5, I've never seen it not work.¬† It always works out better than the outsiders, the fans, the media, I think, as far as coaches, just going and giving a guy that opportunity and those minutes and playing against somewhat maybe‑‑ using his quickness to his advantage.¬† So I anticipated that, and I think, like I said, Lamar scored a little bit more.¬† But they've worked hard, and that's the best thing.¬† They're hard workers and they compete hard in practice every day, and you saw it yesterday in practice, as well, practice No.99, and today was practice No.100.¬† They complete every day in practice, they play very hard, and that's what's helped them get better over their careers.
You saw each one of those guys gradually improve as their careers went on, and I think that says a lot.  They graduated already, they both did well academically.  I mean, when you talk about what you want to get out of seniors, we got that, and you saw a progression, you saw improvement, you saw kids graduating, you saw guys working on second degrees, and you hear so much about college basketball and different things, but there's two guys that did everything right for their careers and great representatives of our university.

Q.¬† What are a couple of player match‑ups that you're going to be watching closely?
JAMIE DIXON:¬† I think Johnson is a concern.¬† He goes to‑‑ they play him 3, we play him at the 4, inside out, but we've faced a few of those guys, and we've got to be prepared for him, similar to McDaniel, maybe Clemson in a recent game that we played again, he's a guy that made that transition over to the 4, moved him over to the 4.
That's something we've got to be aware of, and then Scott, obviously the leading scorer, a big that plays inside‑out, faces, that's a concern.¬† And then Booker is kind of a guy that creates shots on his own and then you can play good defense and he can still get a shot up.¬† Those are concerns for us.¬† They're the three leading scorers obviously.
The rebounding is a big thing for us.  We've got to out rebound them.  They take great pride in their rebounding, and I believe we do, too.

Q.  You mentioned keeping Booker under control is a key for you guys.  He's had some big games but there's been some games where teams have kept him under control.  What do you feel like is the key to doing that?
JAMIE DIXON:¬† I think transition, not letting him going there.¬† He's a guy that really wants to go, wants to get in the lane.¬† He'll pull‑up two, as well.¬† So transition, which is interesting, you say that, but that usually reflects on your offense.¬† You've got to get good shots offensively and not give him many opportunities in the transition, on the push.¬† So keeping him in front, knowing that he's the guy, knowing he's their transition option, and that's where he gets most of his stuff, that's what we've got to keep away.¬† If he makes tough shots in the half court against our team defense and we're doing things right, we don't believe guys can do that for 40 minutes, make tough shots against our team defense.¬† We can't give him transition baskets, we can't give him lay‑ups, can't let him get to the foul line, and that's something he tries to do.¬† He'll look for contact, he'll try to bring contact upon himself, maybe gets in a crowd, maybe gets in trouble, but at the same time he's trying to get to the foul line, and we're made that clear to our guys.
He's a good free‑throw shooter.¬† He wants to get fouled and will go out of his way to get fouled.

Q.¬† Your program has always taken pride in the rebounding.¬† What's your teaching method‑‑
JAMIE DIXON:  We have some drills, but I think the most important thing is recruit guys that rebound.  Got to have a knack for the ball, play good defense.  I mentioned earlier that your offense and those things kind of go hand in hand, so if you play good defense, they're going to miss more shots, you should get the rebounds.  That's a factor.
We've always kind of been in position‑‑ this year, we're getting more steals, more transition baskets than last year as well.¬† I think in some ways we've gotten more possessions because of the steals but maybe not as much rebounding margin as in the past.¬† But it's something that when we've lost, we've lost the rebounding margin.¬† You can look at the numbers.¬† I hope I'm not giving you a secret here that no one knows about, but that's the fact.¬† That's always been the case with us, and we need to out‑rebound opponents.

Q.  You've had a lot of success with guys who have taken a red shirt year and matured in that way.  How do you approach that with guys in an era when people want to play right away typically coming into college, and what do you want them to get out of that year?  What's the plan as they're doing it?
JAMIE DIXON:¬† Right.¬† I mean, every situation is unique, and usually it's an injury or something occurs, they get behind you.¬† We've been pretty solid all the way through, so if a guy misses some preseason, misses a month or two‑‑ I can remember a couple guys that we had‑‑ Gilbert Brown, we were going into our first regular‑season game and he had missed all of practice, and I said‑‑ we might have to look at red shirting you, and he was in shock by that.¬† But I was like, if you miss 35, 40 practices probably you're a little bit behind.¬† So we've had a few of those.¬† Lamar had some injury concerns that first year, and that was it.¬† And then Talib, we brought in a couple different big guys that year and we red shirted him.
Cameron, we were really deep.  That was the No.1 team in the country.  We were deep at the guard positions.  We had everybody coming back.  We were a No.1 seed, I believe, that team.  It just kind of worked that way with those guys.
I don't think we ever really go into this thinking we're going to red shirt a guy, but they usually figure it out, too, once they see the practices and how they go.

Q.  (No microphone)?
JAMIE DIXON:¬† I don't know.¬† I think it's becoming harder to do.¬† I think it won't be done as much.¬† I think a lot of the rules and decisions made by NCAA has caused it‑‑ we also do it for academic reasons.¬† You've got a guy, Cameron Wright, who was the academic ACC student‑athlete, scholar‑athlete award winner, Skip Prosser Award winner.¬† It's great to be talking to a kid and his mom about should we go to law school next year or should we go to work on our MBA next year and that's what we're talking to his Cameron and his mom about.¬† There's something about it, too.¬† What a great opportunity to get a graduate degree or secondary degree at the same time.¬† I know academics isn't what you wanted to talk about, but that's important to us and our APR reflects that, and a scholar‑athlete in Cameron reflects that, amongst the best in the country.
I guess there's a little bit of that in there, too, with getting them ready.¬† But I don't know that it affects our play.¬† I don't know that it affects how we play.¬† I would hope we'd be mature with non‑red shirts, as well.

Q.  I just wanted to ask you about Josh Scott and just about the challenge that he presents you and whether or not there's any players you've faced in the ACC that remind you of him in terms of his skill set.
JAMIE DIXON:¬† Josh Scott, I'm trying to think of a guy in our conference.¬† We didn't face a lot of big‑body guys in our conference as much as I would have thought.¬† But I remember going through the rosters before the season in the summer, and I was like, there's not going to be a big guy, a big presence inside in the ACC as went through it and looked at it.¬† Probably the closest guy, McAdoo from North Carolina because he's inside‑out a bit, likes to face up and drive it.¬† I think he's actually a pretty good comparison.¬† Numbers‑wise they're pretty similar.
They'll both put it down on the floor.  They're both big bodies.  Their offensive rebounds are our biggest concern.  So he'd probably be the closest one.  But yeah, I think that's a pretty good comparison, those two guys.

Q.  For you guys, switching over to the ACC, what was the biggest difference from a coaching standpoint for you guys?
JAMIE DIXON:  Well, I mean, first, prior to recruiting, it affected recruiting and what we had to do, there's no question about that.  We're no longer playing in that Northeast region, we're now in the Southern region a lot more and we've always recruited Northeast because of telling kids you're going to be playing in your backyard.  That's the conference they followed.  First off that was the adjustment we've had to make and continue to make as we go forward here.
Learning different styles of play, they do things different, there's no question about it.¬† You go in there saying it's just basketball, but it's a different deal.¬† Schedules of games, certain rules, when you can play, when you have a Saturday‑Monday game, those things were different.¬† A lot of different things, a lot of NBA arenas that we played in in the Big East, not those huge arenas in the ACC, but great crowds.¬† We were 7‑2 on the road, so that was the best road record in the conference, so that was good to see.
But there was definite change, and you've got to figure out different styles of play, and you're preparing for a different one.  We're still figuring out who we're going to be scheduled, how they're doing scheduling going forward, if they're going to play us one rivalry game, two rivalries games, how that's going to work out.  We'll get used to it, but they're going to change it again, too.

Q.  How is Mike Young doing?
JAMIE DIXON:¬† Mike is doing good.¬† He had a good practice today.¬† I just complimented him afterwards.¬† He had a good practice.¬† Talib didn't practice today.¬† I don't know if I mentioned that.¬† He had a stomach flu.¬† But Mike had‑‑ he was one of our leading rebounders today, got some nice finishes, got some big rebounds in one of our competitive drills we had.¬† His back is what it is.¬† It seems like the longer he goes, the longer he plays, the more it becomes difficult for him and there's more pain, whether it's the endurance it affects or it's the pain becomes too much.¬† It is obviously something he's done for.¬† But I've never had a fracture in my back, so I don't know how it's quite like to play.¬† I wish I could be‑‑ understand what he's going through, but he's battled, he's played hard, he's been physical all year long, and he's another guy who's on the ACC All‑Academic Team, so he's done a lot of things for a freshman.

Q.¬† Colorado lost Spencer Dinwiddie.¬† I think some people wrote them off.¬† You lost a key player, also‑‑
JAMIE DIXON:¬† I think it was on the same day.¬† It was the same weekend because I remember we lost‑‑ I think it was actually the same day, same night.¬† I think ours was during the day, and then if I'm not mistaken theirs was later that night.¬† We didn't announce Durand's until later but I knew during the game he was down with an ACL.¬† I think it was the same injury, too, correct?

Q.  ACL.  What do you see as the adjustments that Colorado had to make and also talk about just the dynamics as a coach when you lose a key player.
JAMIE DIXON:  Every situation is different.  I didn't watch him beforehand so I couldn't speak to what they had to do.  I can speak to what we had to do.  It changed a lot of things and what we wanted to do.  He was one of our best five players.  We weren't starting him, but he was our third leading scorer.  He was our best perimeter defender, Durand, and what we wanted to do was get him on the floor with Lamar.  That was probably our best team was putting the four of them out there, four perimeter guys out there and playing that way.
We're doing a little bit more of that with Josh now that Josh has developed.¬† But I think it's different with every team.¬† Our answer was we had to get a freshman ready, and we had four freshmen that were our options that their minutes were all going to increase, and that's what‑‑ we couldn't play our other guys more, Lamar, Cameron, Talib, James.¬† It was going to fall on those four freshmen, and Durand at the time was playing his best basketball, he had had his two best games prior to that, and he had battled some injuries earlier in the year in the non‑conference.
We had played some without him, but I had known that‑‑ everybody talked to us about what we would miss with him:¬† The shooting, and with me, having seen us practicing without him, it was his energy, it was his aggressiveness, it was his defense, and he had become a real good play maker for us at getting other guys shots.¬† Those were the things that stood out to me, and even though he had this reputation of being a shooter only, he had really developed his game and improved.
But if you watch him now, it looks like he's ready to play.  Maybe we'll throw him in tomorrow.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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