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March 19, 2014

Rick Barnes

Javan Felix

Jonathan Holmes

Isaiah Taylor


THE MODERATOR:  Welcome to the stage, if you will, University of Texas student-athletes, Jonathan Holmes, Javan Felix, and freshman guard, Isaiah Taylor.  Questions, please.

Q.  Jonathan, you're the only guy on the roster right now who has actually played in a NCAA Tournament.  What is different about this time of year and what have you shared with your teammates about what to expect?
JONATHAN HOLMES:  Every team we play against is an elite team.  They've made it this far.  You've got to be ready to play mentally and physically.  You've got to execute even more so now than early on in the year.

Q.  Isaiah and Javan, kind of counter to what Jon is talking about, what's it's like to be here now?
ISAIAH TAYLOR:  Just excited.  This is our first NCAA Tournament game, and for most of us outside of Jon, s our first NCAA Tournament.  We're just anxious and ready to play.
JAVAN FELIZ:  This is a great feeling for me, especially since last year we missed the tournament, and, you know, it's just something that you dream of as a child watching on TV and stuff like that.  And, you know, we look at it as a blessing, but we know we deserve to be to be here, so we're just ready to go out and play.

Q.  Isaiah and Javan, I assume Demarcus gets the role of defending Carson.  I was curious if that's true and what does he look like on tape when you watch him, Carson?
ISAIAH TAYLOR:  We don't know who is defending him yet, but he's a fast point guard such as Juwan Staten from West Virginia.  He likes to get into the lane.  We'll just look to contain him early.
JAVAN FELIZ:  Like Isaiah said, we don't really know who is guarding him yet.  We watch film on him, watch some of his clips, and just see some things that he likes to do.  He's very fast, likes to get in the lane, likes to attack in a transition, and, you know, he definitely does a good job of getting his teammates involved in getting them open shots when he does create and drive to the lane.

Q.  Jonathan, much has been made of the turnaround that you guys have been able to go through this year.  Can you talk a little bit about just how that transition has been from an attitude standpoint for the team?
JONATHAN HOLMES:  We've all had each other's backs all year.  We've gone into practice every day trying to get better and we've held each other accountable.  When do you that and work hard, you have the talent that we have, it turns out to success and that's what we've experienced this year.
THE MODERATOR:  Maybe if the three of you, one at a time starting with Isaiah, can talk about what you've seen on tape from Arizona State.
ISAIAH TAYLOR:  We've seen Arizona State, they have a good point guard in Carson.  We know he's fast and likes to try to attack in transition.  Also has two good wings and a seven-footer inside that likes to use angles and get the big men in foul trouble.  We know he likes to run the floor and get back early.
JAVAN FELIZ:  We saw on tape that they definitely attack in transition.  They get the ball out fast.  They run to their spots quickly, and it's a big thing for us to get back in transition and definitely they move the ball well.
Carson, he really makes them go, and, you know, they have two good wings that he does a good job of getting them shots and they do a good job of running sets to get those guys the ball in spots that they're effective.  It's something we talked about, especially going into this game and this morning.
JONATHAN HOLMES:  I think to add to what they just said, they play together and know what they're looking for on offense.  They play as a team on defense.  Got to be on top of your game if you get them because you can tell they play together.

Q.  Javan and Isaiah, breaking down the numbers from the last five losses.  I know you know them as well as anybody.  Both you guys are shooting under 30 percent in those games.  During the layoff since the Big 12 tournament, what have you worked on, how much breaking out of a shooting slump is mental, how much is mechanics, how much is just finding right shots?
ISAIAH TAYLOR:  We just been working on the shots that we've been taking the whole season, just getting back in rhythm, just open jump shots.  We know that we haven't been consistent throughout these last five games, but we're looking to get that back on track tomorrow.  But in practice we just take repetitions and just take the shots that we usually shoot and we'll get out of our slump.
JAVAN FELIZ:  Like Isaiah said, I feel like it's more mental than anything, just to keep shooting, have the confidence that keep you going and, you know, we've worked all year on the shots that we take in the game and it's no different now.  Just got to keep putting your reps up and staying true to what you've been doing the whole year.
THE MODERATOR:  Other questions?

Q.  How much do you hate the late start time like maybe almost 9:00 at night?  What do you do all day?
JONATHAN HOLMES:  Tomorrow there's going to be a lot of good games on.  We'll be watching those games and get our minds right.  We played, I think it was like 8:30 game in the Big 12 Tournament.  We're used to this.  It's not going to be an excuse or anything for us to come out and play bad.  We'll be ready to play.

Q.  What do you think about how Martez kind of gotten going here the last couple weeks, going back to Tech and he wasn't afraid to put it up in Kansas City, either?
ISAIAH TAYLOR:  Anybody on our team, Martez plays with a lot of confidence.  He's coming off the bench looking to score.  He's 6' 5" winning.  He's long.  Gets his hands on ball.  He's a good shooter when open.  We try to get him the ball in transition and get him an open look in half court.  That's what he's been doing the past couple games.

Q.  Isaiah, what would you say is the biggest thing that you come away with this year learning from your teammates about just during the maturation process and getting ready for this tournament game?
ISAIAH TAYLOR:  Just playing with confidence and just playing with a chip on our shoulder.  Early in the season, we played with a chip on our shoulder like we had something to prove.  Coming into this tournament will help us.  Playing with a chip on our shoulder and playing with confidence, I think we'll be a very hard team to beat.
THE MODERATOR:  Anything else?

Q.  Jonathan, just out of curiosity, what do you remember about that Cincinnati game in the NCAA two years ago?  Obviously it didn't turn out the way you guys wanted.  What stood out about the game, the atmosphere, the feeling, all that kind of stuff?
JONATHAN HOLMES:  It was exciting.  Like they said, you dream about it your whole life and it was an exciting moment.  It didn't feel like we scored for like the first 11 minutes, something like that, but we made it a game and had a chance to win at the end.  Couldn't pull it out.  But it was a fun game.  It's a good experience and a good vibe around the whole thing, just to say that you got the play in the tournament, it's a good feeling.

Q.  Quick follow-up, can you believe just looking back on the lineup from that game just how much things have changed in terms of the roster here at Texas since that game?
JONATHAN HOLMES:  Yeah.  It's a lot -- it's completely different.  I'm the only one from that game that's still around.  I mean, it's completely different, but these guys, we've worked hard all year, and I think this is something we deserve to get a chance to play in a game like this tomorrow night.

Q.  Javan and Jonathan, I wonder if you heard from any of your former teammates from last year now that you're in the NCAA Tournament?
JAVAN FELIZ:  Not recently, but we all keep in contact.  We all talk.  We haven't nerd nothing from them in these last couple days about the NCAA Tournament, but, I mean, we're still friends and stuff like that.  We talk every now and then.
JONATHAN HOLMES:  We're like in a group message.  I was talking to them this morning, saying good luck.  Those are my guys.  We came in together.  They didn't find this was the best place for them.  You can't look down on that.

Q.  Who did you talk to?
JONATHAN HOLMES:  It was a group message -- Jalen, Myck, all those guys.
THE MODERATOR:  Anything else?  Thanks, guys.  Good luck.
Please welcome Texas Longhorns Coach, Rick Barnes.  Coach, welcome to Milwaukee.  Maybe a few general remarks and open it up for questions.
COACH RICK BARNES:  It's really good to be here.  The short time here in Milwaukee has been great.  Our team is excited being in this tournament.  I think it's a really a great accomplishment for these guys to do what they've done this year, young group that really they've done everything that we've asked them to do.  For them as a coach, we're extremely happy to be here.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you.  Questions.

Q.  Rick, with Jonathan being the only guy with NCAA experience on the roster, how do you try to prepare this team, not only for the opponent but for the moment, the atmosphere, everything that goes into playing tomorrow?
COACH RICK BARNES:  Well, Chuck, I think you do what you've done all year in terms of your preparation.  They've grown up watching this tournament.  They've seen it.  They've grown up dreaming about being in it.  I think that what every team has to do is embrace it and understand that you're really a part of something that's going to be with them a long time in terms of being able to tell people they participated in it.  They've seen it.  They know what it's about.  It's a matter of just understanding that -- I know they're excited about being here, but they understand, too, that you've got to win if you want the keep playing.  And so they have to embrace it.  I think they will.

Q.  Rick, can you talk about how well you know Herb and about what you remember about that one season where he worked for you in Providence?
COACH RICK BARNES:  I met Herb in 1978 when we were both working the University of Pittsburgh camp while Tim Gurridge (phonetic) was the head coach there.  Herb was a student at Carnegie Melon.  That same year I met John Calipari who transferred back from Wilmington.  Sean Miller was -- I coached his team.  He was seven years old, I think at the time.  So it goes way back.
When I got the job at Providence, Herb was the one guy that was on the staff that stayed with me and did a great job.  And he -- at the time he wasn't married and he literally was in the office 16, 18 hours a day.  He was a very thorough, as you can imagine.  Everyone loved him on campus.
When I got there, I can't tell you after the press conference how many people at Providence College told me that they hoped I'd really keep Herb.  Everybody loved him.
So, from that point, he was with me I think a year maybe and he went back to Kentucky, and under Rick Pitino and through the years again, ACC, coached against each other in the ACC.  He's one of those guys that -- great basketball coach.  He's played a lot of different styles.  He's done a great job and did an absolutely unbelievable job at North Carolina State.
Then he's done a great job here at Arizona State, and as much as I can rave about him as a coach and all that, he's a guy that in this business anybody would tell you his character, his ethics are above reproach.  He's truly what every school should want to have represent their program.

Q.  How gratifying is it for you to be back here in the tournament after all the program went through last year and how confident are you that you've got things back on track for the long-term now?
COACH RICK BARNES:  Well, yeah, after being it in for all total, what, 14 years, I think, and three at Clemson, 17 years.  After every one of those bids, I told our team not to take this for granted because it's really, really hard to get here.  It is an accomplishment to be one of now 68 teams playing, but you don't ever take it for granted.
I am extremely happy in the fact that because a year ago I wasn't very happy because of the way we were at all.  I knew we had to make changes.  I knew that before the end of the year.  We made those changes, and for us to get back here, it really started probably close to a year ago when we got knocked out of the CBI tournament and returning players that were coming back, it was amazing how just real quickly the whole attitude in the program changed.  The way they started working and really helping each other carried on through the summer.  And then when the young guys came in -- first time I can ever remember the first session of summer school, we only had one incoming freshman at that time.  It was Kendal Yancy.
Second semester all the other guys came in, and I knew we were going to be pretty good at that point because of the way the guys were returning embraced those younger guys which they didn't get.  As we get into the workouts in the fall, you could just feel that it was a group of guys that understood a team chemistry and you could just tell they liked each other.
Once we started the new rules that we were able to get started earlier, we had some guys, Javan Felix missed the entire preseason.  Jonathan Holmes went in and out.  The young guys got a lot of reps.  We went into this year thinking we're going to have to rely on Javan to score a lot of points for us.  As time went on, we realized that we could have great balance.
But it's been great, and the reason being it's always fun to be around a group of guys that you know they respect each other and are willing to come to work and play every day.  And they had a lot to learn, but they've continued to do that.  This is going to be a great experience for them and my -- am I confident?  Absolutely.  I think we're coming out of a league that has prepared us.  It's like any basketball game, you got to win it.  You're not going to talk your way into it.  You've got what Chuck said, it's what they dreamed of, this moment.  How do you handle it?  You got to go after it.  You don't want to have any regrets with it and that's how -- we approach it.

Q.  What's made you guys such a good offensive rebounding team this season?
COACH RICK BARNES:  We're big and got two guys that are pretty relentless in Jon Holmes and Demarcus Holland does a lot for us that way.  It's something that we always try to emphasize, and we haven't been at good as it lately as we need to be, but lot of that has to do with the way we're holding the ball a little bit too much.  We need the take our shots and give us a chance to rebound it.  That's effort.  It really is.  I can talk about it, but it's really just a mindset that somebody wants to go get it.

Q.For Carson, Do you put Demarcus Holland on him?  What does his style remind you of?
COACH RICK BARNES:  In our League we played against some outstanding point guards.  Juwan Staten to mind.  And the fact that he just creates so much offense and does such a great job of getting the ball to the rim.  And they're similar, but I don't know they're totally similar in every single way.
But I'm not going the say we're going to put one guy on him.  I think a lot of guys could be guarding him because the way we play defense.  I don't think one guy can stop him.  Just like -- he's too good a player.  It's going to take a group effort.  Great transition defense is going to be very, very important.  There's not one guy that can stop him by himself.

Q.  Rick, what were some of the conversations this week with Javan and Isaiah about what happened in the Baylor game?  You got to know your role, take those shots if they're there?
COACH RICK BARNES:  You said it.

Q.  How did they respond to that?
COACH RICK BARNES:  We've had some good practices, we have, but we've had some pretty good practices most of the year, but when the lights come on, you got to go.  So we need -- but you guys know, we came out of that tournament knowing Kendal and Martez showed us some things.  Demarcus Croaker has had a couple good days here.  This time of year, you got to be doing it or we got to advance.  You have to use our bench, there's no doubt about it.
I think those guys, they've learned, I hope from it, and we've got -- none the less, right now you've got to be ready to go with whoever is getting it done for you.
THE MODERATOR:  Coach, many people regarded your conferences as the best in the country.  How did that help shape your team for tournament time?
COACH RICK BARNES:  It is.  The round robin, oh, boy, it's tough.  You feel like you're in a grinder from January on and you're playing against outstanding teams with some outstanding coaches with a wealth of experience and everybody -- there wasn't a team in our league that didn't get better from start to finish.  But it was a night-in-night-out grind, knowing if you let down, you're going to get beat.  I think every coach in the league would say that.  You better be ready the play every single night.  If you weren't, you're going to lose.  Really, it's just going through that round robin from January up until a week ago, it's tough.  But with that said, I think our guys know we've seen about everything that we can see and we played teams that spread the floor, against size, played the post players.  We've seen a lot of different things.  Now we've got to be able to go out and react to changes, but it goes -- it always goes back to fundamentally you got to respect the game, play the game, and as a group execute.

Q.  Everybody wonders about young players in the tournament for the first time, do they get butterflies and deal with nerves?  Do you ever have to teal with that?
COACH RICK BARNES:  I think it's good.  I think butterflies and nerves.  I think I'd probably be a little concerned if I had a group of guys that didn't get have a little nervousness in them, because I think that, all told you ask any athlete that's played at any high level, they all feel that, whether you want to call it a bit anxious, whatever, but I also think these guys, I'm not going to say they all, because I've seen guys not be able the shake it.  The fact is, you want them -- I think get butterflies.
I know as a coach, you can tell guys that are tuned in, focused in, in terms of the way their approach is.  I think if they were really honest, I think any coach would tell you that from a coaching standpoint, you get butterflies, whatever you want to call it, because this is what you do and you want your guys to be able to respond.  And if you feel that from a player sometimes, you've got to know your player, what can you do to try to jolt them out of it is what you hope and -- I do want them to be a little bit -- I don't want them uptight, but I do want them to be on edge.  That means butterflies or whatever, you do want them on the edge.

Q.  How did it go last week with the killing off the whole day?  You have to do that again.  The game doesn't start till 9:00?  What do you do all day here in Milwaukee?
COACH RICK BARNES:  The same thing.  We're going -- probably give them a couple hours to enjoy the sun.

Q.  You've seen it.  That's good.
COACH RICK BARNES:  Enjoy the sun a little bit, get outside.  Might go play sand volleyball, something like that.  The fact is, I think what's good is they will, if you want the look for -- like they're going to get a chance to watch some of these games early.  That's what they'll want to do. we'll do our normal preparation.  We have a schedule that we follow.
We played great at West Virginia.  The time didn't bother us there.  But I think with this being said, it's going to be exciting to them watching the games that come on before us.  And that's what, if you ask them what they want to do, that's probably what they want to do.

Q.  You seem more understated than you used to be in your wild days at Clemson.  Do you feel like you're less emotional as a coach on the sideline?
COACH RICK BARNES:  Probably more mature.  I don't know I would say less emotional.  I don't think that.  I think I'm -- yeah, I'd say the word is "mature."  I think that I am.  The game has changed so much, too.  One part of that being officiating.  I think if I go back to when I was younger and out of control, always most of it was vented as officiating.
But I do think that the NCAA has worked really hard, I know our league is the best at really officials, and you're more confident that way.  I'm confident.  Again, coaches make mistakes, players make mistakes, officials make mistakes.  There's a lot more accountability across the board.  Thinking back to being younger, it would be probably more emotional was ranting and raving for no reason, really.  So, I'd like to think I've matured a little bit.
THE MODERATOR:  Anything else for Coach?  Thank you.  Good luck tomorrow night.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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