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March 19, 2014

Joe Callero

Chris Eversley

David Nwaba


Cal Poly – 81
Texas Southern – 69

THE MODERATOR:  We'll start with an opening statement by Coach Callero, and then we'll open up the floor to questions for the student‑athletes only.
COACH CALLERO:  Great honor to be here at Dayton and a great honor to be at the First Four.  Obviously those who haven't followed very closely, it's our first‑ever NCAA appearance, which we got a lot of letters and text messages congratulating us saying, hey, you made it.
Great thing for these guys.  It's great to make it, but it's a little better to do something once you get there and get a victory.
And I think our conference commissioner is quite pleased with that.
THE MODERATOR:  Questions for the student‑athletes only.  Here back left.

Q.  Chris, could you explain this run you guys suddenly are on?  Where does it come from?
CHRIS EVERSLEY:  To be honest with you, it only comes from the heart.  Before every game, that's what we focus in on and believe in each other and trust in our coaching staff and ourselves as players and just executing the game plan that the coaches put in front of us.
Go out there playing with heart and intensity, the same thing that got us to the Big West Tournament, it's the same reason we won tonight, just making sure we were out there being the five hardest guys playing from a mental standpoint and from a physical standpoint.

Q.  You shot about 41percent on the season and then came out tonight and shot 56percent.  What were you guys doing offensively to get open for those shots and hit them.  Chris?
CHRIS EVERSLEY:  Just again executing the game plan.  We are one of the teams if you move the ball side to side, that's one of the best things you can do as an offense because it makes the defense shift and it negates length and athleticism.
If you can move side to side and have guys like Dave driving on one wing and Kyle shooting on the other, one, it makes life a lot easier because you have guys on top like Jamal facilitating and then you have Zach Gordon and Joel always down there rebounding.
So it makes our offense look like a well‑trained orchestra, because everyone has their job and everybody is playing their own individual instrument, but together we sound great.
So the shots just happened to fall because we're putting everyone in the right position.

Q.  Dave, Reese Morgan has been hurt all year, came in and knocked down three big 3‑pointers.  Can you talk about what it's like having Reese back?
DAVID NWABA:  Yeah, it's good to have Reese back, just another shooter on the floor and just us spacing out and just playing his role, just spotting up and shooting.  I'm glad to have him back.  Just battling through injuries this whole year, so it's great.

Q.  Chris or David, Aaric Murray's gotten his points throughout the year, got off to a pretty hot start.  What was the game plan there?  Because it didn't seem like other than him needing to get much help today.  So was it to make the other guys beat you?
DAVID NWABA:  We knew he was going to get his points either way, so we knew he would just need to take the other players out of the game.  That was our plan going in.  And our bigs still played aggressive and just did their best to take him out of his game just playing aggressive as much as we could.
CHRIS EVERSLEY:  Just to second that, hats off to the team we played tonight, Coach Davis, great coach with great players, and Murray's a great player with a great supporting cast.  They wouldn't be here if they didn't play well with each other throughout the year either.
Hats off to them.  They came out here and played a great game.  They won their conference just like we did, and it was a great‑fought First Round game for the First Four.

Q.  Both players, does Wichita State have reason to be worried?
CHRIS EVERSLEY:  Wichita State is a great team.  They're a national favorite.  They've been undefeated all season.  But one thing we like to focus on is just ourselves.  That's all we can handle.  We're going to let everything else take care of itself, let everything just fall where it may.
We're going to get on a plane tonight, get to St. Louis, Missouri, and just go start on a scouting report and make sure we're ready for Wichita State and go out there keep playing the way we've been playing.
DAVID NWABA:  Like Chris said, just playing our game and going out there and being aggressive and just seeing what we can pull off.

Q.  For either player, Chris, you were talking to Reggie Miller before the game.  Has it sunk in how much fun this is?  I know it's a simple question, but has it sunk in how much fun this is compared to where you were probably seven days ago?
CHRIS EVERSLEY:  Yeah, obviously being here for the First Four is a lot better than being in Anaheim from a national standpoint.  But I still have love for my native California.
But, yeah, Reggie just said:  Go out play a great game.  Great words of wisdom from an NBA legend I respect a lot because I grew up in Chicago, I saw the battles with him and Mike.  For him to say those words to me before the game, it was big for me.
And then the confidence he conveyed to me I conveyed to my teammates, and we were able to go out tonight and play with that energy and enthusiasm that got us here.

Q.  Chris, perhaps the biggest stage you've played on.  What were you able to do down the stretch to keep nerves out of it, to stay strong?
CHRIS EVERSLEY:  Just concentration.  A lot of times throughout the season we had lapses in concentration and we would play about 32 to 35 minutes a game and then we would lose games in that five‑minute stretch in which we lost the ball here or got a defense lapse there.
So just sustaining that concentration for 40 minutes is huge for us.  And that's one thing we've done over the past two weeks is just making sure we're all on the same page and understanding if we want to win, it has to be a full‑focused effort from everybody on that bench and everybody in the locker room has to work for 40 minutes.
We have time to celebrate after.  We take care of business first and have fun playing after.

Q.  David, Coach has talked about how you improved your game throughout this year, but I want to hear from you directly how would you put in words how your game has improved?
DAVID NWABA:  I guess I would say I'm being a little more aggressive, just trying to get my teammates involved as much as I could, just trying to get the best shots on the floor at the same time.
THE MODERATOR:  All right.  David and Chris, thank you and good luck in the Second Round against Wichita State.
We'll open the floor for questions for Coach Callero.

Q.  Coach, for a team that hadn't been in the NCAA Tournament, I don't think you guys had a turnover the first 18 minutes or so.  Could you talk about what you were able to do that way?  And I think you turned several of their turnovers into points and then kind of took control there in the first half?
COACH CALLERO:  Well, in the last three, four years, Cal Poly has been nationally ranked in assist‑to‑turnover ratio.  I think we were top 10 last year, even higher, right up there with Wisconsin.
We make a daily habit of taking care of the basketball.  I think at half we had ten assists and one turnover, and one came at the very end.  I remember that one the most.  It was like that was a fastbreak.  We didn't need to hand the ball off.
Our kids know it's something we emphasize from day one in practice.  Assists are great, but taking care of the ball ‑‑ most important thing on defense is taking care of the ball on offense.
So we start from day one talking about passing and catching.  Meet the pass, two‑hand passes, shortening up the passing lanes and I think that's been one‑‑ we've talked all year about how I thought our team has done a very good job of taking care of the ball, but we weren't very efficient offensively.  Our shot selection, our shot momentum, the rhythm, the people, the places.  So I've been pleased all year.
We've reiterated that to our guys over and over that we have a chance to be really good if we can get the offense going.
Our defense has been very good and our offense‑‑ our ball control has been very good.  Our shooting percentage has been poor.  In this last four games it's been much better.

Q.  A week ago today I think you were on a tear where you were 2‑9 in your previous 11 games.  Going into the tournament, did you have any earthly idea that this could possibly be imaginable where you are right now?
COACH CALLERO:  Maybe sounds arrogant, but I did.  I completely believed in our players the entire time.  I think you can ask any of our guys.  We said we had had injuries, but we were 3‑0 in conference play.  We were 4‑2 at one time with two losses at the buzzer.  Could have been 6‑0 at conference play.  We lost Kyle Odister, our best 3‑point shooter; Reese Morgan, who hit ten points tonight, wasn't even in the lineup.  He's been out all year with knee injury.
We just that we had all the right components.  We had point guard play, we had some athletic wings, we had a power forward in Chris Eversley, our centers were rotating, but they were sophomores.  We had three sophomore centers that were learning how to play post D or learning how to score.  They were babies.  They only had a little freshman experience.  And we needed that season for other guys to step up.
Kyle was out with a broken foot.  We put him on ice for about four to five weeks where he practiced one day a week and played once every two weeks.
So we had a lot of different lineups.  We lacked a lot of rhythm and chemistry and coordination with one another.  We felt if we could just get about a week before the tournament together and we played Senior Night, we started Kyle again‑‑ and the kid's playing with a broken foot.  He's got a stress fracture.  And he's stayed off it enough to stay in shape and not lose his rhythm.  But doctors cleared him to play simply based on pain.  It's always going to hurt him.  We felt if we got him and maybe got Reese back, we'd have our two shooters, and all of us believed we could go to the tournament and win the tournament.
We had beaten teams.  We played well.  We played a great preseason.  We felt like we came here.  And I was celebrating a 16 seed.  I said back in Anaheim give me a 16 seed; send us to Dayton.  This gives us a great opportunity to get under the big lights, get onto the court, get a win under our belt.
And now go play a No. 1 seed and get more national recognition for Cal Poly, get more national recognition for San Luis Obispo in our county, entire central coast, our kids deserve it.  This is special because of the institution.  Such a high academic institution.  And sometimes people look like, oh, you just got a bunch of smart kids out there; you can't get to the tournament.  It's been 20 years.  Cal Poly has been DivisionI for 20 years.  Some great Division II teams.  But now DivisionI.  We finally ‑‑ we've kind of raised our head and got a little national attention, and now we will have two more days of national exposure for Cal Poly.
I think our website will be a little more active in the next 48 hours trying to figure out who is Cal Poly.  And it's pronounced San Luis Obispo.  Not San Louie.  But we'd like to go to St. Louis next.  That will work.

Q.  Coach, you guys played a non‑conference schedule that sent you to a lot of Pac‑12 arenas, a lot of big places.  Can you talk about how you kept your kids loose tonight for a game under the spotlight?
COACH CALLERO:  Well, part of our so‑called master plan the last two years prior to this season, of course, we were in the Big West semifinals and we felt like we lost at the buzzer last year.  Liked playing at the Honda Center.  We had a challenge.  Asked the seniors if they wanted to play a schedule that we could win or a schedule that would challenge us and maybe have a losing record.  Every one of them said play as big, as best as we can.
We played Pittsburgh in the tournament.  We opened the season up with Arizona, a No. 1 seed.  We went to Stanford at Christmas break.  We played in Oregon's tournament who is in the tournament.  We went back to New York City and drove up to Delaware, who won their conference title.  Against five teams in the Dance.  We lost all five games.  We learned a ton about ourselves.  We learned a ton about basketball.  We learned how to compete, keep your heads up.  And we haven't changed.  Not a guy on the team has changed character all season long.
We asked for so‑‑ who wants to come and play DivisionI and try to hide.  I said we're going to play the biggest and the best.  How many teams were raising their hands saying, hey, all players on opening night, the preseason ranked top 5, we said, let's go play them.
And that's the way we play about Wichita State.  They're a No. 1 seed and they're undefeated.  Okay.  That's a great team.  That's a great coach.  That's a great program.
But if we're ever going to be that program that has any national recognition, you have to go play those programs.  So we haven't hid from anybody.  And when we got to conference play, we felt like we are prepared and now we feel like we're prepared to make this next step.  We're prepared for the big lights and the great teams, and we look forward to it.
Coach, last week we were talking about how you like to think "weird" when it comes to big games.  Can you explain your "weird" thinking when it comes to this No. 1 matchup with Wichita State?
COACH CALLERO:  Yeah, I was so weird that I was cheering for the last five years that a 16 never upsets a 1 because I said, well, that would be great if we could ever get a bid; we'd probably be a 16 seed, and then we'd have a chance to make real history there.
So my weird thinking is, you know, the more obtuse this is, you've got a team completely undefeated and you've got a team with the worst record in the tournament.
And, heck, we've got our warm‑up game in now, too.  We've got the sweat, we've got the bright lights, we're going to get on a plane tonight.  And I look at that as if you're going to have a chance against an undefeated team, you probably need to be in a weird circumstance where you get a play‑in game.  Here we are in a play‑in game.  I think it helps us right now that we're not going to have time to think about how great Wichita State is.  We'll get on a plane, we'll land and do some interviews, going to shoot‑around, put a scouting report together, and within 48 hours we're going to play in a game.
Sometimes you give yourself four five, six, seven days, everybody gets in your head, oh, they're great, you're a 48‑point underdog.  What are you going to do?  Everyone tells you how you're not going to win.
We're not going to worry about that.  We're going to worry about ourselves and move on from there.
THE MODERATOR:  Good luck, Coach, in the Second Round.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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