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March 19, 2014

Karl Cochran

Lee Skinner

Mike Young


THE MODERATOR:  Please welcome Wofford student-athletes, Karl Cochran and Skinner.  Your questions, please.

Q.  Carl.  Just talk about the experience.  Has it hit you that you're in the arena?  Is it starting to hit you, the magnitude of the moment?
KARL COCHRAN:  Certainly.  Ever since we punched our ticket last Monday, we knew this time was coming.  It was just a wait, and now the wait is done.  We got a few more hours, and then it's going to be game time.

Q.  For each of you, I guess when you look at the tape of Michigan and kind of see what they bring to the table, what are kind of keys to pulling something off tomorrow?
LEE SKINNER:  I mean, we've been studying film.  They've got really good players.  They play some 1-3-1.  Bigger than us.  That's been the story all year around whoever we play, we're a little bit smaller.  So we'll have to do a good job at rebounding, playing team defense how we do.  Other than that, we're going to play as hard as we can and enjoy the opportunity.
KARL COCHRAN:  We know they like to push the ball a little bit from what we watched.  Controlling the tempo is going to be a really big part of what we're going to do.  We can't let them speed us up.  We certainly have to stop them in transition.  Other than that, we have a few more keys that we've been going over all week.  So as long as we stick to that, I'm pretty sure we'll be fine.
THE MODERATOR:  People on the outside looking may say, this mighty Michigan from the Big Ten against Wofford, do you play on that, underdog status, do you like that?
KARL COCHRAN:  They've been telling us that ever since the selection show.  I guess the mindset our whole team has had is we're not going to play the numbers game.  15-2.  Oh, well.  1-16.  Oh, well.  It's a basketball game.  That's our mindset.  We're not going to overestimate them.  They're just a team.  They can lose, we can lose.  So, we're going to go into it with a nice humble mindset and stick to what we do.

Q.  Have you guys saw, this happened twice last year, two 15 seeds win it?
LEE SKINNER:  We haven't talked much about it.  Our mindset is that we're focused on the next game, biggest game of the year.  Just like every other game, the next game is the biggest game on our schedule.  We're not playing -- like Carl said, we're not playing to the numbers game.  Our focus is what we got to do, and we're just going to go out there and play our game and play as a team and do exactly what we know how to do.

Q.  Either one of you, some of the Michigan players said they had never heard of your school before.  How did you -- I see the smile.  How did you both come to the school?  Did you have other options?  Was it a first choice for you?  A second choice?  How did you end up there?
LEE SKINNER:  I played at prep school in Virginia where Coach Young played for the same coach.  I had a few other offers.  I took one official visit and that was to Wofford College, and that was during the time they went to the second tournament.  I met a lot of guys on the team, and it felt like just a community and a family that I wanted to be a part of.  I didn't have to go anywhere else to know that Wofford was where I wanted to play.  On top of that, the academics at Wofford is like no other.
It was pretty easy for me.  I went one-on-one visit, met everybody, and I fell in love pretty much.  So, it was an easy choice for me.
KARL COCHRAN:  Hate to say it, home is where heart is.  When I came to Wofford, I played with some of the older guys like Cameron Rundles and Jamar Diggs, they kind of like adopted you even though you were on a visit, they adopt you.  You kind of fall in love with the team chemistry.  It's nice when people flash like the records, how many times they've been to tournament and all that.  But when you see a team that loves each other, loves everybody like a brother, it's hard to walk away from that.

Q.  Is it intimidating at all to be on the big stage, national television and in the NCAA Tournament, or is there a certain sense of pride being a number 15 seed coming from a small school and representing that?
LEE SKINNER:  I love it.  I love, you know, being underestimated and people not knowing who we are, giving us the chance to spread our name.
It's not really intimidating.  We're just really lucky to be here and we're enjoying every second of it.  So, I mean, we're not -- I mean, as much as nerves go, they'll be some butterflies and there has been just thinking about the game.  Other than that, we're just excited.  We'll really excited.

Q.  Would you guys talk about what it's like to have two coaches that have played in the NCAA, Tim Johnson and Kevin Giltner?
KARL COCHRAN:  They can help you a lot.  They've really been giving us a lot of knowledge, lot of experience from that aspect.  It just helps a lot.  They tell you the necessary things you need to know when you get to a stage like this.  I mean, it helps a lot, especially when they've been here twice, especially two times in a row.  We're going to feed off the knowledge that they have and try to bring that to the game.
LEE SKINNER:  I have to say we're pretty lucky for Tim to have played the position I'm playing and Giltner played the position Karl is playing.  Not only them telling us how it's going to be in the tournament, they've been here and done that, but just the playing part of it.  Also, like, you know, they could help us in practice and what to work on and this didn't work for me, I'll give you a couple different ideas what you can do.  You use the best one that works for you, stuff like that.  It helps so much.  And then just more than coaches, they're like brothers to us, too, at the same time.
So there's kind of a link between players and coaches there that we get that I don't know if a lot of other teams get.  We really admire that.

Q.  Is there a team that reminds you of Michigan, especially what they do offensively that you've faced this season and before?
KARL COCHRAN:  Certainly in our conference, I guess, the team that's kind of the best is Elon and Davidson because of how they like the play as far as their speed.  Doesn't matter if you make a shot or pull a rebound off the rim, they like to push in transition and try to get a basket as quick as they can.  So it's nice that we've seen kind of their game style before, but I guess our biggest challenge will be to try to play up to that level of skill that they have being a Big Ten team.  I mean, it's good that we've seen it before, but now we're going to have to upgrade our defense tenfold to try to match their offense.

Q.  Some of the Michigan players kind of compared your style to Wisconsin and slowing the game down, kind of valuing possessions.  Is that kind of the key maybe to an upset tomorrow, is prolonging the game full and really dictating your pace, your tempo?
KARL COCHRAN:  That will probably be one of the biggest factors, especially if we can cut down their baskets in transition and force them to try to score points in the half court set versus our defense.
As far as that, another big part of the game is just going to be who wants it more.  We're going to try to go out there and be the tougher team.  We know they're a tough team.  We've seen them on film.  We're going to have to play that much harder and try to fumble them into our style of play.
THE MODERATOR:  Anything else?  Karl and Lee, thank you.  Good luck.
Please welcome to the stage Coach Mike Young.  Maybe a few introductory words and we'll open up for questions, please.
COACH MIKE YOUNG:  Excited to be in Milwaukee representing Wofford college, the Southern Conference, great city of Spartanburg for a third time in five years.  We have our hands full obviously playing the terrific Michigan Wolverine team, but we've about done with our preparations and ready for the thing to go in the air and look forward to getting over here tomorrow and getting after it.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you.  Questions.

Q.  Mike, do you in any way try to latch on to the history of 15s versus 2s?  I mean, obviously a 16 has never beat a 1.  There is a track record, or at least a precedent, for 15.
COACH MIKE YOUNG:  I haven't.  I haven't.  You know, we've been a 13, we've been a 14, this year a 15.  You know, there are basketball people, I'm sure they've heard that in the myriad of, you know, broadcasts that they've seen and things that they did leading up to it.  But it's not something that I've tried to force upon them.
We're going to try like crazy to do what we do and do it well, and it's going to have to be awfully, awfully well tomorrow, and do everything possible to give ourselves a shot and try to win one of these things.  We been close a couple times.
Tomorrow I will be -- it will be an uphill climb as well simply because it's Michigan and it's Coach Beilein.  Last time I checked they've got pretty good players.

Q.  What's the thing that impresses you the most about them?
COACH MIKE YOUNG:  You know what impresses me most about them is their skill.  They pass the ball well.  They cut really well.  They shoot the basketball one through four and then off the bench with Albrecht and Zak Irvin.  I guess there's a lot of things that impress me.  I'm most impressed with how skilled they are.  I'm just -- we've watched a lot of tapes since Sunday.  They do not turn the ball over.  They do not beat themselves.  They take great shots and just good basketball players.  That impresses me most.

Q.  Coach, Lee and Karl were here talking about getting recruited to Wofford and talking about how much they love your program and that has got to mean an awful lot to you as a coach?
COACH MIKE YOUNG:  You know, we've got -- you know this, we have a great place with really nice people.  They all graduate.  They're taken care of.  We're not afraid to clear our throat on them when need be, but those two guys are indicative of the type of person that we attract, high character guys that are team first people.  They love that college, and the college and Mike Young certainly thinks the world of them.  They make it a lot of fun to come to practice every day.  They make it a lot of fun to come to special times like this, to enjoy the greatest tournament on earth with folks like those two guys.  That's what all about, great fun.

Q.  One ever your guys talked about how he loved being underestimated I guess playing these types of games.  I'm wondering how they've taken to the underdog role the whole year and how that translates to their style of play on the floor?
COACH MIKE YOUNG:  We talk about it being a journey, and this has been a real journey for us.  This kind of came upon -- we weren't very good -- weren't a very good basketball team early on.  We really took awhile to get our feet on the ground and get squared away.  And then as though a light switch came on, we started playing good basketball and we won four in a row and then it was six and then eight, nine.  And then you wake up and it's late February and you haven't lost in a long time.  But for me as a coach, I've got my head down just trying to win one more, and it's all a blur, as it typically is for me.
You know, the underdog deal, you know, that's the way it is when Wofford comes to games such as these and competes against the Badgers of Wisconsin and the cougars of BYU.  And in here tomorrow Michigan and our club, you know, you draw upon whatever you can draw upon.  I don't think we need any more motivation than that, a storied program with a terrific coach and we're all on this stage, you know.  Let your hair down and you fight, you go at it and our team will do that.

Q.  Coach, could you comment about your staff and what they meant to the program this year?
COACH MIKE YOUNG:  We had an entirely different staff.  We had -- Paul Harris got a head coaching job at Division II level.  We had an entirely different staff and that -- I was concerned about it simply because we never been together.  But what those guys have done, I think they've made a -- made it great fun for me and done a heck of a job with our team and player development.
Darris Nichols who played for Coach Beilein has been just a real blessing for me to have him.  He's a brilliant basketball guy, kind of taken a couple of them under his wing.  He's like with them all the time, Cochran and couple of the others, Garcia, which has been a real shot in the shot in the arm.  Freshman point guard, we expected him to play a lot, and for him to be with Darris, who was a terrific point guard in the Big East at West Virginia, that was a big deal.  Dustin Kerns is as good as I've ever been around and was responsible for the great ones that we had back, you know, three, four, five years ago.  And then to have two former players, two great former players in Kevin Giltner and Tim Johnson, who love the college, love our program, knows the things that need to be communicated in the locker room when things aren't going very well, when things are going well.
You know, add all of that together, it's been a great chemistry within that program, and I think teams recognize that.  I think that's something that kids see and recognize and becomes a big deal.

Q.  This day and age, the way coaches jump all the time and changing jobs, you've been at one place for 25 years.  What has kept you there?
COACH MIKE YOUNG:  Nobody else will have me (laughter).  I love the school.  I've been there since 1989, some of the, you know, most wonderful people that I've been around.  You know, I came there as a wet-behind-the-ears assistant coach.  I was 25 years old when I came there.  Our president at the time, Joe Lesesne who now coaches football.  Lot of neat silly stories.  Danny Morrison was the athletic director and now the president of the Carolina Panthers.  Mike Ayers, dear friend of mine, has been there 27 years as a football coach.  My wife has a great job in Spartanburg.  She's a partner with Price, Waterhouse Coopers.  There's a number of reasons why I stay.
I love, I absolutely, positively love the caliber of person I recruit.  We have the opportunity to recruit to Wofford because the academic standards, and those are the type of young men that I want to surround myself with.  I got an 11-year-old running around out there like a wild person.  Those guys have a lot of influence on him at this stage.
When you're dealing with these guys that were just in here, those are great representatives of our college and our community, and that's why I've stayed.

Q.  I saw something you posted on Twitter after you guys won the Southern Conference the other night.  Somebody said that buildings don't matter, Wofford just made the NCAA Tournament.  Do you think at some point they're going to get you guys a new gym over there (laughter)?  I think it's a fair question.
COACH MIKE YOUNG:  I think it's a fair question.  I hope, I hope sooner rather than later.  We're in an age kids, bells and whistles sell, and we're heading in that direction, I feel very strongly.

Q.  Coach, all the things you said just a moment before, has recruiting gotten easier for you?  You have kids from the Midwest, Colorado.  Do you still have to say "Wofford is" and explain it to the parents or do some of these kids know now?
COACH MIKE YOUNG:  It's amazing, it's amazing with social media and the exposure associated with this tournament.  It's just -- it's fascinating to go me, but at the end of the day, it's still recruiting.  It's still knockdown, drag out hard.  But to be here and to text kids and call kids, boy, guys are a lot more receptive.  Kids understand the significance and kids want the play in this deal for us to have done it three of the last five years.  That speaks volumes, to have done with it two different teams.  But, has it made recruiting easier?  No.  But it certainly doesn't hurt, doesn't hurt.  But it's still tough.
THE MODERATOR:  Maybe the biggest lessons you've learned from the previous trips to the tournament, and are you doing anything differently this time?
COACH MIKE YOUNG:  I'm not.  Thinking back that experience in Jacksonville and the experience in Denver, I liked our approach.  I liked our kids' approach and how they felt and behaved, you know, body language, that sort of thing going into those.  And this team has been no different.  You walk out there in the middle of that Bradley Center floor here in a moment and, you know, maybe you see a little jitter here or there.  But I want them to get lost in the game.  I want them to get lost of in that unbelievable environment and allow themselves, you know, continue to do what they do, be great teammates, enjoy -- take a moment to enjoy this and I'll tell them to do it.  I'm going to do it, enjoy this day, this environment.
There's a lot of blood, sweat and tears that have gone into getting here, but when the thing goes in the air, you know, I let it rip.  Let it rip.  We're not going to be perfect, but we're going to have great time.  We're going to play really, really hard.

Q.  Coach, I had one more.  I think you came here in '99 to play Marquette.
COACH MIKE YOUNG:  We did.  Didn't turn out very well.

Q.  Marquette also had to get a new practice facility that helped the program a great deal.  Is your gym, your facilities, back home --
COACH MIKE YOUNG:  It's not the Palestra.  It's not the Palestra.  I'll put it to you that way.  It was built back when the rocks cooled, a long, long time ago.  Our facility presents some challenges.  Let's put it that way.  We've had kids come on campus, walk in to our gym, the floor, the lighting, there's some things about it that I love.  Think of the hours that I've spent in that building over 25 years.  It's pretty mind-boggling.  We do need a new facility.  We've had kids walk in in this era, we practiced in Marquette's practice facility yesterday.  My gosh, to have something like this, my stars, this is unbelievable.  We've had kids walk in and ask if this is our practice facility.  No.  No.  We compete right here and we practice here.  So, yeah, it is our practice facility (laughter).
THE MODERATOR:  Anything else for Coach?
COACH MIKE YOUNG:  Thanks, everybody.

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