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March 23, 2014

Daniel Coursey

Jakob Gollon

Langston Hall

Bob Hoffman

Bud Thomas

Anthony White


Tennessee – 83
Mercer – 63

MODERATOR:  We are now ready to begin the Mercer press conference.  At this time, we'd like to ask Coach Hoffman to make a statement.
COACH HOFFMAN:  Tennessee was really good tonight.  They came after us from the beginning.  24‑4 in rebounds first half, and then our guys battled like crazy, played them even on the boards the second half, which gave us an opportunity to win the game, get back in the game.
Our guys showed great resolve, wanting to win.  Had a bunch of shots go in and out late, but Tennessee was tremendous.  I mean, they did everything right.  Richardson was MVP of the world tonight.  I really hate that, because he's from Oklahoma.  So I don't like how he did that.  But he was a special player tonight and he hit every shot he took, seemed like.
They had answers.  Every time we made a little run, they would make a big shot.  So I wish them great luck.
And the one last thing I'd like to say is that these guys are going to be successful for a lifetime.  It was an amazing run, and it's going to be fun to watch to see what these guys do with the rest of their life, because they're going to do special things.  The world is going to know about the rest of who they are besides being great basketball players in the days ahead.

Q.  For anyone who wants to take it, if you could kind of just reflect on the ups and downs on this weekend, the big upset win and then today, coming to an end.
BUD THOMAS:  Yeah, I mean, there was obviously a lot of ups and downs from even dating a couple weeks before that with our conference tournament.  We had two real tough games there that USC Upstate and Florida Gulf Coast gave us everything we got.  But we found out we were going to play Duke and we were all dream come true for all of us.  Then to go out there and show the world what we got and kind of take it to Duke, it's been unbelievable.
Obviously, this is really tough for all of us, and I'm just so proud of all these boys right here and in the locker room.

Q.  Daniel, could you talk about continuing with their size underneath, Stokes and Maymon.
DANIEL COURSEY:  Stokes and Jeronne, they were, I mean, they're good players.  They rebound hard and it showed tonight.  I didn't do a very good job boxing them out.  It was my fault.  We could have a had a lot more defensive stops if we just could have controlled them on the boards.
But they're great players, and all the recognition should go to them.

Q.  Langston, did you feel like they felt more confident or they seemed to be more prepared for you all this year because they knew what you all can do and came out really hard and focused?
LANGSTON HALL:  Yeah, I think that's because last time we played them, we played them really tough.  They didn't do a great job on ball screens.  This time, they did an amazing job.  They were there, had active hands.  Josh Richardson did a great job.  Stokes did a great job with having his hands up when he was running back.  Then they knew that they were just going to try and attack the boards.
We didn't do a good job of helping Coursey rebound.  That's basically on everybody.  But they just‑‑ they were really prepared.

Q.  Langston, what does Richardson do that makes him such a good defender out there?
LANGSTON HALL:  He's just very long and athletic and he never takes a play off on defense.  He's a really good defender, probably one of the best defenders that's guarded me all year.  He did a good job on ball screening coming back with his hands high so I couldn't make the pass to Coursey that I like to make.  So he did a good job of keeping me out of the lane.

Q.  With all you guys being seniors, last game playing together, how much are you just going to miss just being with each other and playing Mercer basketball?
JAKOB GOLLON:  It's going to be really hard when it finally sets in that this was the last game we all play together.  I think that hopefully, by the time that sets in, we'll all be able to kind of put a smile on and realize that what we've been able to do for our school and for the city has been phenomenal.  It's kind of hard to see right now.  There's a lot of emotions with not being able to lace 'em up anymore with these guys.  But it's been a heck of a journey.  I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Q.  For Coach and any player, your student section was great tonight.  Just how did that, guys, make you feel?  How did it make you guys feel to get that kind of unconditional support and did it help you feel like you earned it, coming in this weekend and accomplishing what you did?
MODERATOR:  We'll need to ask coach that during his section.  Anthony, could you answer that now, please?
ANTHONY WHITE:  Well, the crowd, they're always amazing.  We hadn't had a dead home game at all this whole year.  I really applaud them, because for them to want to travel and watch us play and have as much energy as they did today or against Duke, I don't know, it was really amazing.  It kind of hurts us even more because we feel like we let them down a little bit.
At the end of the day, they're one of the best crowds in the country.  They may not be very big or that many people, but they bring it every game.  They bring a lot of energy and it really helps us out.  We just couldn't get it done for them today.

Q.  Jake, on that, from when you got here six years ago, to see that kind of thing, what kind of goes through your head when you go over there at the end of the game and see, wow, from where things were when you got here?
JAKOB GOLLON:  I think when I first got here, same time Coach Hoffman did, and he can probably attest it, that the student section that we had tonight, seven, eight hours from home, is probably 15 times bigger than any home game we had at that time.  And to see what all these guys have been able to accomplish and what our administration and staff at Mercer's been able to do to get the community involved and to get the kind of support we needed to have a program like we've had is really an amazing, special thing that they've been able to do.  We're thankful for all of that.

Q.  When you guys get older and you're talking to family members, maybe kids down the road, what are you going to tell the ones you love about this experience, playing in the NCAA tournament?
BUD THOMAS:  I'll probably tell them‑‑ there's no words, really, to describe it as far as I can come up with.  It's been the best four years of my life, no doubt about it.  We've been together so much, not just through practice and on the court but rooming together and we do everything together.  We're really like brothers and it's‑‑ I really won't be able to explain it.  I can't.  It's too good for words.
MODERATOR:  Gentlemen, thank you very much.  You're excused.
Coach, would you like to start by answering the question about your fans?
COACH HOFFMAN:  Can you remind me again what the question was?

Q.  Just how it felt to get that kind of unconditional support from the great student section.
COACH HOFFMAN:  It starts with our president because he had a vision six years ago that we could do what we're doing now.  When he gave me the opportunity to get the job, he wanted us to become like some other private schools that made great runs, and so everything is pointed toward the day when we would get the opportunity.
We had three chances.  We finally won the last one, the Conference Championship, and so this has been building for a while.  But there's been all kinds of people that are responsible, including our players, our assistant coaches, Jonathan Howard, because of the things we've done in the community, the community support has come back to help us.  I mean, service projects we do, the reading at the‑‑ all the elementaries, the mentorship programs, marketing guys.  All the people have helped us get to the point we're at today and we've all worked hard.
But the president had the vision.  I had the same dream for the basketball part, but he had a dream that was for the whole university and that's why we have the people out there supporting us.  And because these guys, every day in class and everything that they do on campus, the people that they're around, all the other students recognize what kind of folks they are and so it's easy to support those kind of men.

Q.  What did you see that made the rebounding so lopsided early on?
COACH HOFFMAN:  They've got the biggest men in America.  Wow.  I mean, they just kept coming at us.  We really missed having another body.  Monty would have helped us.  Whether it would have been the whole difference, it would have really been great to have another big body because Maymon and Stokes are as physical and strong as anybody we've ever played against.  You throw them together, that makes it even more tough to overcome.
I thought they got to us at the beginning and their energy was a little higher than us, higher than ours.  I thought, though, we kind of regrouped and then we started making plays.  But when you get beat 24‑4 on the glass in a half, chances of winning are not very good.
So that was a big deal, and it was the game.  And we talked about it.  We talked about, we knew all along it was going to be the game.  But talking about it and trying to do something about it is quite another.  Part of it is we were trying to trap Stokes.  We were trying to trap Maymon because we didn't think we could guard them one on one.  So the ball would get to the other side of the rim, and then you'd have Maymon or Stokes going against our guards and that's definitely a mismatch.

Q.  When you see that rebound stat at halftime, what is the halftime conversation like to try to reverse that or slow it down?
COACH HOFFMAN:  Well, we ended up not trapping as much second half, which helped us some.  But we got in foul trouble because of it, and that's what we were trying to guard against to start with, while we were trapping.  We were trying to keep Coursey out of foul trouble, knowing Monty wasn't available.  Then we tried to go small, which worked a little bit.  Darious run around, got some deflections.  T.J. did and Jake did.
But we just mainly talked about our energy, our execution, continue to believe no matter what the circumstances are.  Try to find a way to get on a run, and that's all‑‑ every huddle, besides specifics about what we were doing, that's what we talked, continued to talk about.
I felt like we'd make a run any time and get‑‑ I kept telling them, if we could get below ten I thought we'd have a chance to win the game.  Because the mind set completely changes on shots.  We never put enough pressure on them to make the shots mean more than they did.  They were able to play free and loose and Coach Martin had them ready to go and they played fantastic.
MODERATOR:  Any other questions?  Coach, thank you very much.
COACH HOFFMAN:  Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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