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March 20, 2014

Aaron Gordon

Nick Johnson

Sean Miller

Kaleb Tarczewski


THE MODERATOR:  We welcome the Arizona athletes to the podium.  Questions for the guys?

Q.  Just talking about, did you guys arrive late last night?  I know there was a push‑back in time.
NICK JOHNSON:  We were supposed to leave about 5:00 Tucson time and we ended up leaving 8, 9:00, so we got here 10:30, got to the hotel, sat around a little bit, watched a movie.

Q.  We've talked to the opponents about life at No. 16 and whatever motivation you draw from that.  When you're the No. 1 seed and everyone is gunning for you, what's that like for you?
AARON GORDON:  I'll let these two guys answer.  Coming in as a freshman this is the only thing I know.  Coming in as a No. 1 seed is great and it feels good to be on top, but when the game starts it's just about 5‑owe‑5 basketball.
KALEB TARCZEWSKI:  Obviously it's great to be a No. 1 seed in this tournament.  We aren't really thinking about what seed we are, what seed we're playing.  We're going to play every game the same, treat every opponent like they could be our last game and hopefully play our best basketball.

Q.  Nick, how important has Gabe York been for this team, especially how he's been able to shoot?
NICK JOHNSON:  He's been great off the bench, hitting that little pop that we need and moved into the starting lineup with the injuries and shuffled around in the lineup but he's been great because he spaces the floor for guys like myself who like to drive and for Aaron and Gabe on the post.  Just trying to get him more involved in games as of late because he's a game‑changer when he hits shots.

Q.  Nick, we were talk to Davion Berry earlier and we asked if there were comparisons between you two, and he said "I definitely can't jump that high!"  What do you see in him?
NICK JOHNSON:  He can score the ball with the best of them, the Big Sky player of the year, and he's used to do winning.  They won in their conference this year.  What are they 30‑‑ they won a lot of games.  He can score the ball, he's a leader for their team and definitely going to be a match‑up that I'm looking forward to, just trying to limit his easy looks that he gets on offense and if he's guarding me, work him a little bit, make him work on defense.

Q.  For Aaron and Kaleb how have changed things for you guys when Brandon Ashley out?
KALEB TARCZEWSKI:  Obviously Brandon's injury is a great loss to the team.  He's a great basketball player.  For me and Aaron it's expanded our rolls.  It's actually expanded everyone's rolls on the team.  We've all had to step up a little bit and play better basketball.  You know, I think everyone one of our team has am embraced the new rolls and it's nice to be able to do some things that we wouldn't normally be able to do.
AARON GORDON:  Arizona is a program where you can play freely, on the offensive end it did change a little bit, I get a few more post‑ups a game, but mostly it's changed on the defensive side of the court.  Throughout the first 21 games I was guarding 2's and 3's and switching and now I have to guard 4's and 5's and that's the biggest difference when Brandon went out, in my role.  But it's something you have to do.  Injuries are part of the game and you have to move auto and keep playing good basketball and good defense.

Q.  You guys ran away with the Pac 12 and the 21‑0 run and all of that.  The last ten games you've lost three of the ten but do you feel that you're playing in any way better ball even in the course of the last ten games than you were during the winning streak or trying to get back to things you were doing?
NICK JOHNSON:  We have a different team.  With Brandon out it changed the way people play.  Aaron went from playing a lot of the game at a 3 to a lot of game at the 4 and a little bit at the 3.
So we're happy with the way we have been playing, you know, it hasn't been pretty, but we felt like we made progress every week since that injury happened and just really working together as a team and practicing and getting extra work in to play well with the team that we have on the floor right now.

Q.  (No microphone.)
NICK JOHNSON:  We're in the Big Dance right now so it's win or go home.  I felt like prior to the first 10 minutes in the UCLA game we had been playing our best basketball, everybody making shots, playing together.  Our defense has really been together.
Really in the Pac 12 tournament we felt comfortable from the way we were playing part from the first 10 minutes of the UCLA game.

Q.  Can you tell us what you think of their bigs and Nick your thoughts on Davion Berry?
AARON GORDON:  Tresnak is an All‑Conference player, really good low‑post player, has a very polished game in the post, a lot of different things he can do.  He can shoot a little bit.
He's a big body.  For their 4 man, 6‑9, 225, he's a very good offensive rebounder and can probably play in a lot of different programs in this nation.  So it will be a good match‑up for us but it makes the game more fun.
NICK JOHNSON:  Like I said, Berry is a tremendous scorer, their leader on offense so I'm definitely looking forward to the challenge of guarding him, me, T.J., Jordan, Gabe will all be rotating on him and they have a unique offense, pretty much all three of their guards coming off screens stagger stuff like that so it's going to be a challenge to chase them off the line and stuff like that and keep 'em in front of us.  We're looking forward to it, though.

Q.  Aaron how difficult has that transition been from guarding wings to guarding big men now?
AARON GORDON:  Not difficult at all.  I pride myself on defense.  Even what Brandon was in the game I was switching from 3, to 4, to 2.  I think I'm a capable defender and I don't really worry about the number I worry about who I'm guarding and I think I think I can do a decent job on anybody.

Q.  Do you guys get a chance to soak this entire experience up and almost not relax but get a chance to enjoy what's happened right now or is it too much a business trip to think about such a word like "relax" and "enjoy"?
NICK JOHNSON:  We have not been here for 24 hours, we haven't relaxed, we're all business.  We have played in this arena before, we feel like it's home, but we came here to win the games and get on to the next site.  We're not looking past anybody, 1‑since teen games over the past few years have been tough for a few teams so we're trying to take it one game at a time and do what we need to do to get this win.

Q.  Kaleb and Nick, if you can talk about Aaron when you heard he was coming to U of A, playing with him a year now into the postseason, the growth, the development, at both ends of the court and what you can give to him for postseason and expectations?
KALEB TARCZEWSKI:  I think Nick might have more insight on this; he's another year older than me.  For insight in the postseason, now it's just taking one game at a time, doing everything you can and that's really all you can do.  Obviously Aaron is an unbelievable basketball player and unbelievable athlete.
I think as the season has gone on and the injuries that we have had, I think he has been shuffled around a lot on the court and he's managed that incredibly well.  I know that being a freshman, playing such high‑level basketball is never easy.  There are a lot of pressures that come into that and being at such a high caliber he's at, I think he's done a tremendous job of dealing with that and, you know, playing basketball.
NICK JOHNSON:  I couldn't have said it any better.  For the postseason part, I would say last year our first two games, I mean, a lot of people were doubting us and we came in the tournament, he were in Utah and we played hard, really.  We were more ready than the other teams were and we came out and jumped on Belmont and Harvard and that's what we're trying to get our team to do this time.
Don't wait for the second half to try to make a run.  We want to jump on teams right away.

Q.  Aaron, strictly a San Diego question.  Your dad played college ball here.  What has he told you about his playing days here?  Have you been across the street to see the gym where he played?  The high school‑like gym?
AARON GORDON:  That was the one we were just in?  We were just playing in it.  The rims are lower from people dunking on it so much but San Diego, great arena, we played earlier here in the season, they have good fans.  Balboa Park is here, right in the ‑‑ he talked to me a lot about Balboa Park and the legends that played there, but he's an Arizona fan now.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you, gentlemen.  We are joined by Arizona head Coach, Sean Miller.  Comments, Coach?
COACH MILLER:  Well, we're obviously very excited to be a part of the tournament.  I know we have a very high seed but you can't take for granted in today's day and age in college basketball that you're going to be here.
So we're thrilled to be here, in particular here in San Diego, close to our home region, where a lot of our great fans are, and tomorrow at 11:00 we have to be ready to play.  Playing against a very, very well‑coached Weber State team, a team that's just a good team but they're a good program.  A year ago they won 30 games.  Their offense, they're organized, they execute, they have special skill where they can make 3‑point shots from multiple positions and they have a good low‑post scorer who is a first team all conference player and when you have Berry on the perimeter, a first‑team All‑Conference center, coupled with a good team, a good program, we have to be ready or we won't advance.  It's that simple.
So we have worked very hard over the last three or four days to hopefully be at our best tomorrow.

Q.  Coach, can you talk a little bit about the insights I read you got from your brother on playing Weber State after they faced them last year?
COACH MILLER:  My brother had a great victory over Ohio State today, congratulations to Dayton and him.  It's remarkable to see him win today, great for my family.
But a year ago Weber State played at UD arena, it's not an easy place for them to play and they went in there and won and I remember talking to him after the game and my brother was impressed with how they executed and their style.  I see that, as we have watched them over the last four or five days.  They have a true system, you can tell they believe in their system and they don't beat themselves.
Again, they're well coached and organized and you're always scared when you see those seniors and they have a couple of seniors that led them to the Big Sky championship and when you have seniors on your team it's really to your advantage.

Q.  Coach, obviously a lot of talk about Arizona being a potential Final Four team and how important is Gabe York in that ability to fulfill that potential?
COACH MILLER:  Well, Gabe has been very very important for us.  There are times when Gabe hasn't started but has made maybe the biggest impact in the game offensively when he played.  We inserted him into the starting lineup soon after Brandon Ashley went down and Gabe when he shoots the ball well‑‑ and he's more than just a shooter but I think he gives us a skill level out on the court that makes not only our team good but helps his teammates.  You can't leave him open, he's a good passer and he takes care of the ball.  From a chemistry perspective, when I see him play on offensive, it seems like Gabe is a big part of the action.

Q.  Coach, Randy Rahe said he was impressed with your defense and he wanted to study it in the off‑season but you looking at their defenses do you see similarities in how they approach the defensive end?
COACH MILLER:  Well, they're very disciplined, they play man‑to‑man, I guess they could show a 2‑3 zone but predominantly man‑to‑man and you can tell they take a lot of pride in defending the 3‑point shot.  Last year and this year if you combine them I think they're one of the tops in the nation in defending the 3‑point shot both in attempts and percentage.  So you can tell they have an emphasis to get out toward shooters.  We're probably a little bit bigger physically but they do a good job on that side of the ball as well.

Q.  Coach, Nick Johnson mentioned that in the Pac 12 tournament getting off to that really good start, how important is it to come out and play your game right away?
COACH MILLER:  I think one of the keys for us tomorrow is, you know, we can't get caught up in our seed versus the seed that we're playing.  This is a basketball game in the NCAA Tournament, and what we have talked a lot about is we're trying to be a good team tomorrow.  How can we play our best?  What are the things that we need to make sure we have cleaned up coming into this tournament?  We want to execute on offense and defense and most importantly we want to play with amazing energy and effort.  In the NCAA Tournament a team who plays with energy and effort it goes a long way and we want to be that team.  So whether we're up 2‑0, down 2‑0, get off to a quick start or not, somewhere in that 40‑minute game it's in there and hopefully we can be the better team.

Q.  How much talk has there been knowing that no 16 seed has ever defeated a 1 seed and you don't want it to be you guys?  Have you talked much about not overlooking these guys?
COACH MILLER:  We're not going to overlook them, you don't have to worry about that.  If you're the 1 seed, you don't want to talk about the fact that that's never happened, you know?  It's not in your‑‑ there is nothing good that's going to come out of that conversation.  Everybody in our locker room knows the history of the NCAA Tournament.  Whether you as the coach want them to know it or not.
What starts to happen, you know, you make a shot and all of the sudden you feel like it counts for 3 points not 2, or, you make too many things bigger than you need to.  Again, for us, the process of playing well, what is it that has gotten us to 30‑4, why are we a 1 seed, what are the things we do well?  We have to do those things well tomorrow, period.  The seed and the team, Weber State there they're a 16 seed or something else, I don't know that that's important, it's in terms of how they he execute, and we know we're playing a very, very good team.

THE MODERATOR:  Any other questions?  Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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