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March 28, 2014

Archie Miller

Devin Oliver

Vee Sanford

Jordan Sibert


THE MODERATOR:¬† We've been joined by Dayton head coach Archie Miller.¬† We now have student‑athletes Jordan Sibert, Vee Sanford, Devin Oliver with us.
COACH MILLER:  Obviously, excited to be here.  There's not a whole lot to talk about.  We have a great group that's earned a right, so to speak, to be here over the long haul.  I'm really happy for them, especially a couple of our older guys up here, Vee and Devin.
There's been a the lot of sacrifices that have been made in this story that's kind of out there on us.  I know it's a feel good story, but a lot of these guys, they really believe in one another, and that's always a good sign.
Obviously, Florida, probably the best team in the field, very experienced, obviously really well‑coached.¬† We're going to have more than our hands full tomorrow.
But we're going to prepare the same way we've been doing it, and we'll see that we're ready to go at game time.

Q.  Could you just talk about feedback you've gotten from people back in Dayton, where I guess they took over the campus last night.
JORDAN SIBERT:  Campus has been crazy, just very excited for this moment.  Everybody's just enjoying it.
For me, speaking on behalf of the team, I know that we're just excited we've been able to be in this position and make our school proud.
VEE SANFORD:  You know, I didn't really get anything sent to me about it, but I seen it on the news.  It's pretty big for our program, just shows the kind of fans and the kind of people we have at the university.
DEVIN OLIVER:  I think that, more than anything, it's an excitement factor.  People in Dayton are excited.  Just happy to see a team that they support so much back where they should be all the time.  So just a lot of excitement.

Q.  How much would you say that chemistry and sort of the intangible togetherness has just been a factor all the way through for you guys?
JORDAN SIBERT:  Our togetherness has really defined our team.  It's what we've been doing all year, just playing together and being able to believe in one another.
We go 11 deep, we have to believe in each other.  We have to believe that one another can make each other better at any given moment.  That's really defined our team is our togetherness.
VEE SANFORD:  Our togetherness is something that we preached last year during this time.  I believe we were working out, and we wanted to stress we want to be a good team, and good teams have good chemistry.
That's something we've really worked on and we've improved on as a team and as a unit.  I can just say about this team that we all have each other's back through thick and thin, and it shows on the court.
DEVIN OLIVER:  I mean, Jordan and Vee said most of it, but I think just to add to it, we're a group of guys that do things off the floor.  We play video games together.  We hang out.  We go to the movies together.  So when you do that type of stuff off the court, it just kind of comes naturally when you're playing.

Q.¬† Just wondering how you guys balance enjoying the moment, appreciating what you've done history‑wise for the program, but at the same time know there's still work to be done.¬†
JORDAN SIBERT:  You know, it's just something that we've been doing all year.  We've had great wins, and we know that we're still trying to advance.  That's one thing that we say every day is advance.
We know that, hey, we can't dwell on the Ohio State victory, or we can't dwell on any losses that we had previous.  All we can do is look forward to our next game and try to get better every day.  That's how we want to approach it, and that's how we just have to keep maintaining ourselves.
VEE SANFORD:¬† I feel like moments like this is something you have to look back on.¬† While you're in the moment, you've got to stay focused and have the business‑like mentality.¬† It's just something that, afterward or a couple years down the road, you look back and be like, Whoa, we made it this far in the tournament.¬† But during the moment, we've got to stay in our business‑like mentality.
DEVIN OLIVER:  Like they said, I think you can't be too high, and you can't be too low.  You've got to stay in between.  I think this whole year we've just kind of been ourselves.
As long as you don't stray away and stick with the program, you'll be all right.

Q.  If you could tell me, Kendall Pollard, how he kind of rose up to the moment last night and talk a little bit about him.  And then how on any given night it can be any one of almost 12 guys.
JORDAN SIBERT:  Kendall is a very confident player.  All the freshmen are.  Throughout this entire year, we've been able to depend on them in tough moments.  Any situation, they've been able to rise to the occasion.
Just throughout the year, we try to just instill that, Hey, it doesn't matter ‑ senior, freshman, sophomore‑ we're all out there, we're all together, and it doesn't matter.
So just credit to them and credit to Kendall.  Last night was his moment.  Next game it could be Scooch, Kyle, any of them.  So just credit to them.
VEE SANFORD:  It just shows how hard he works.  He has that in his game.  He does it in practice.  He brings it to practice every day.
You know, it wasn't no surprise to none of us that are there with him practicing.  Just as a whole, it could be anybody's night because we all work hard and we all believe in each other.
DEVIN OLIVER:  More than anything, happy for Kendall.  He played well.  Like Vee said, it's no surprise.  He does the same thing in practice every day.  He's a good player.
Like you said, anybody on this team any given night can make big plays and come up big.

Q.  What are your thoughts on Florida's team, and how do you counter its experience in the tournament over the years?
JORDAN SIBERT:¬† Very tough team.¬† They're definitely a strong team, physical team.¬† Their experience is definitely great, great‑coached team.¬† It's definitely going to be a challenge.
But it's not really about them.  It's more about us and what we can bring to the table.  As long as we stick to our game plan and stick to what we've been doing all year, and that's sticking together and believing in one another, then we should be fine.
VEE SANFORD:  Like Jordan said, they're a really good team, really good coached team, but it's just going to come down to just playing basketball, and that's what it is, 40 minutes of playing the game.  Nothing else to it.
It's something we've been doing our whole lives.  We're just going to play the game.
DEVIN OLIVER:  Like Vee said, at this point in the tournament, I think to us, you've got to drop the seeding.  It's not about that.  It's about playing 40 minutes.
It's March.  They're obviously a good team, but we're going to come out with confidence.

Q.¬† You guys were all‑stars in high school, played the majority of minutes.¬† Now with the minutes spread among so many people, you know, everybody has reduced minutes, was that an adjustment for you guys?¬† How do you guys keep everybody happy?
JORDAN SIBERT:  It's part of winning.  Sacrifice is a part of winning, and you have to do whatever it takes to win, and that's one thing that we've all been able to come to an agreement on.  Whatever it takes to win.
I mean, anybody is able to hit a game winner.  Anybody's able to take the last shot.  Anybody's able to make the big play.  It's not about that.  It's about who's together, who's in it for the right reasons.  And at the end of the day, that's really all that matters is what we're doing together.
VEE SANFORD:  Yeah, it's all about winning.  One thing I've learned is you got to buy into a role, and whatever role you have, you got to buy into it, and it's going to benefit the team.
So I've learned the most, as far as doing that, and I feel like it's benefited us as a team and it's benefited myself as an individual person just learning.
We all like each other and love each other, so if somebody's going good, we're happy for one another.
DEVIN OLIVER:  At the end of the day, if you win, if your team wins, you're all going to benefit.  So it doesn't really matter.  Guys just want to see the guy next to you do well.  As long as we're winning, everything's okay.

Q.  Archie, what compelled you to kind of change up the way you guys do pregame introductions with the whole huddle thing?  I guess, how much do you think that's a reflection of the closeness that the players are talking about?
COACH MILLER:  I knew very early on that we were going to have a lot of guys that want to play, and the first thing that goes out the window in September, October, is who's going to start.  We didn't have any starters.  So we took it right off the plate.
I don't want guys sitting on the bench and running out and starting and acting as if that meant anything.  Last year we had probably about ten games where we lost the game in the last couple minutes or last possession because we couldn't finish.
So we talked a lot about that.  We don't need starters.  We need finishers.  And early, I think even these guys said, What are we doing up here and what not?  But the more attention you take away from individuals and put on the team, eventually what ends up happening is it becomes who you are.
And I've been saying it for a long time, all the way from the very beginning, we have to be a true team.  We have a lot of guys that are going to have to make a lot of sacrifices for us to be able to be successful.  Whether it's Devin or Vee or Jordan, they all had to give a little bit of something so the other guy could improve.
That's just where it kind of started with us, just in terms of taking the pressure off.  I thought early on, Hey, is it me versus you?  Am I going to start?  Who is it starting?  Is it me versus him?  And we just eliminated that right off the bat.

Q.  As Devin mentioned, at this point you throw the seedings out.  Did the win last weekend kind of convince you it doesn't matter what seed a team is as you prepare for a game?
JORDAN SIBERT:  Absolutely.  Being able to come home victorious against Ohio State and Syracuse definitely boosted our confidence.  We've been able to understand that all year, playing against top teams, beating Gonzaga and coming close to beating Baylor and beating Cal in Maui.  It made us think we can play against anybody in the country.
It's just our nature to know we can go out there and compete for 40 minutes.  At the end of the game, we'll be right there to win it.
VEE SANFORD:  Going on what Jordan said, the seeding is irrelevant.  I mean, it's good to have, but we're just playing a game, like I said before.  It's all about competing.
I feel like, when you compete, that says a lot of things.  We have a team full of people that compete and want to win.  So all the seeding stuff goes out the door.  It's all about how hard you want it and how much you're going to compete.
DEVIN OLIVER:  We're two groups of teams.  We want to win.  They want to win.  Like Vee and Jordan said, it just comes down to competing and playing to win.

Q.  So you have fans who follow you around wherever you go.  What does it mean to you personally when you're on the court?  Do you notice the fans?  And if so, how does that influence your play?
JORDAN SIBERT:  It means a lot.  I mean, me personally, I definitely notice the fans, hear them loud and clear.  It's something that everybody needs.
I mean, I mentioned this before, when we played Syracuse, you could look up and see nothing but orange, but to be able to see our crowd and hear them just as loud as you could hear the Syracuse fans, it means the world to us, and it gives us an edge in every game.
VEE SANFORD:¬† I feel like we have one of the top fan bases in the country.¬† They were there for us last year in Charleston.¬† They were there for us in Maui.¬† They support us, 13,000 every home game, just about a sold‑out arena, and they're here now.
So our fan base is great.  Can't complain about it.  They're always there and cheering us on.
DEVIN OLIVER:  I think the special thing about our fans is that they travel really well.  Like Vee said, they've been at most of our tournaments and games.  They're always loud.  They're just rowdy.  They love Dayton Flyer basketball, and it adds an edge to the game for us.

Q.  You guys have beaten some pretty good basketball teams through the course of this year.  Yet you are looked at as the Cinderella story.  There's some teams that were in this tournament that didn't beat the type of teams that you beat, yet you guys are still the Cinderella story.  Do you sit back, and are you a little bit taken back by that?  Do you feel like maybe there's not the level of respect that you should be deserving going into this game and this tournament?
JORDAN SIBERT:  I don't think we really pay too much attention to that.  Like I said, we want to be considered winners at the end of the day, regardless if people don't respect us or do respect us.  These teams eventually have to play us, and they're going to get our best for 40 minutes.
As of late, we've been victorious against these teams.  No matter what, if you respect us or you don't, you're going to have to play us.  We want to show that we can compete against anybody.
VEE SANFORD:  Like Jordan said, the whole Cinderella thing is out the door.  I just kind of feel like people don't know about the Dayton program, but it's a really great program with a lot of tradition.  A lot of people from the Midwest probably know, but it's just from all over the country.  So I can understand why people want to call us Cinderella.
But nothing about the University of Dayton is Cinderella or small.  We have the best facilities, and we're on top of our things academically.  So nothing about Dayton is small.
DEVIN OLIVER:  I just think that you can't really buy into it that much.  If people want to give us that label, then there's no stopping the media.  But at the end of the day, these two guys next to me and the rest of the guys in our locker room know that, if we come to play and come to play to win, that we can beat anybody on any given night.  That's the most important thing.

Q.¬† For the student‑athletes, and I'll ask you this with your coach sitting there, how would you describe your coach maybe relative to other coaches you know about or you've had?
JORDAN SIBERT:  I'll say passionate about winning.  He has a fire to win, and that's one thing that's definitely rubbed off on us this entire year, just his passion and doing whatever it takes to win.  Whether he has to get in a drill in practice or he has to yell at somebody, whatever it takes to get us going and get us motivated, he's done it.
It's just been a blessing to have somebody who's just as passionate about winning as his players.
VEE SANFORD:  I'd definitely say a blue collar guy, a Pittsburgh guy.  So you know he's a really good worker.  He gets involved and really animated, but he has a lot of fire, and he gets us motivated just to play hard.
You know, it's been great to have him, just to keep us going.  He stays on top of us.  It's a good benefit to have.
DEVIN OLIVER:  I think, more than anything, like Vee and Jordan said, just a passionate guy, a guy who comes to work every day, and that trickles down to his players.  He'll get in a drill and box you out, whatever it takes.
He's just a guy that loves to win more than anything.  He never wants to be looked over or anything like that.  It's just a toughness and a passion that has trickled down to his team.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you, guys.
We'll go ahead and take some questions for Coach.

Q.  Coach, four years ago, you were in the same round, the Elite Eight with Arizona.  Emotionally, similarities, differences?  You're feeling right now?
COACH MILLER:¬† Similar.¬† I think similar.¬† That year, it was our second year at Arizona, and we came out of left field, so to speak, a little bit.¬† We had a couple of incredible first and second round wins, and then obviously we were lined up in the Sweet 16 with the defending National Championship.¬† It was Duke going for back‑to‑back.
A very similar group that was together.  We obviously had a stud in Derrick, who carried us, but the group of people in that bus and what not, it was similar.  Great camaraderie, toughness, played together, and we were a shot from the Final Four.
I'll never forget when I left that arena saying, Wow, it's amazing how close we got.  Can't wait to do it.  About 48 hours later, I left and never went back.
Lo and behold, we're kind of here in a similar fashion.  Starts from day one and it builds.  You stick with it and you try to emphasize all year round what your program's about.  I think these guys embody everything that's good about what we try to be.

Q.  Archie, my first exposure to your fans last night, it was a pretty amazing crowd.  I guess it will be bigger Saturday.  Was that fan base and the love that they have for basketball, was that a big part of why you came to Dayton?
COACH MILLER:  Absolutely.  I think that when you have to do your research on a program and a place, the first thing you say is how do they support it?  Do you have the ability to have a home court advantage, all that stuff that goes into it?
It's very evident that the very first thing you realize is we have a spectacular fan base.  I mean, spectacular.  I mean, when we play, regardless of where we're at, what you guys probably experienced maybe for the first time is what our players experience every time we take the floor, whether we're home or on the road, and that's within our conference, nonconference.  Wherever we go, some crazy group of people is going to show up.
The great thing about what's going on right now is they're energized.  That makes them probably even a little bit more crazy.  From what I gather, they've pretty much taken over downtown right now.
We're happy for them.  It's a proud program.  There's a lot of people that have been around this program for a long time, and they're loyal.  When you're able to make a run like this, they deserve it.

Q.  Archie, in reference to playing so many players, is that by design, or did you just recruit that many good players?  Also, when you recruit players, do you kind of picture how they'll be a team player, or do you have to break them down?
COACH MILLER:  Well, I mean, first, this team was going to be built a little bit differently.  Because of all the recruiting that we had to do, it just so happened that by our third year, we were going to have a lot more players.
We didn't have a whole ton of guys our first couple, but after recruiting and doing things, we just kind of ended up as having stockpiled a lot of guys that we liked.
I think the big thing in the off‑season for us is how are we going to make it work?¬† There's got to be some semblance of chemistry to do it.¬† Our home opener against IPFW, we were going to lose, and we just so happened to make a miracle steal, and the guy made the shot.¬† As soon as that game was over, it was very evident how far away we were from actually figuring it out.
We made some moves as we started to tinker.¬† A guy like Vee Sanford goes to the bench as a 35‑game starter in a row, and to do that, he helps a freshman point guard come off the bench, and that was one step in the right direction.¬† By him doing that, he allowed Jordan to play early with some confidence that maybe he wasn't sure how he would fit.
And then I think it was always trial by error with our young frontcourt guys, who was going to do what.  We had Matt who hadn't played in a year.  He was rusty.
So what ended up happening was really, as we started to play games and started to get into it, whoever was playing well, we would let it run.  We actually scrapped the rotation, the minutes per half was scripted, and everything started to go by feel.
What we realized is, sort of at the end of January, starting to roll into February, what happened is some of our younger players, Kendall and Kyle in particular, they had helped us win a lot of games.  Why cut the leash and bring them back to the bench?  Why not let them play more?  By letting them play more and by getting more guys in the game, our practices became really good.  They became competitive.
Guys knew they were going to play, so they wanted to obviously prepare the right way.  I think so many times over the course of the season, we've had certain guys that didn't play as much or didn't play well that the very next game they were the direct reason why we won.
I think we started to use those examples as the season went around that, Hey, it may not be your day, but it's got to be our day.  And we kind of had that mantra.
No one rolls their eyes.  No one points their fingers.  They don't argue at one another.  It's just been a very unique group.  I don't know if a lot of groups could pull this off, but they got good kids.  A lot of them come from winning backgrounds, which has helped, and some of these guys are going out on their last go.  They wanted to do well.
So leadership, chemistry.  You know, the kids deserve most of the credit.

Q.  You guys prepared really well in one day against Syracuse.  Now you have Florida, obviously, tomorrow.  In terms of talking about the press, you really struggled against VCU earlier this year with that press.  Is that one of the main concerns?  How do you stop it?
COACH MILLER:¬† Well, we didn't struggle as much with VCU's press as much as we did when the ball got over half‑court.¬† I think one of the great things that the Floridas of the world and teams that are really committed to full court defense is they take the rhythm of your game, your coaching staff out of the play, and your players have to be able to function as they cross half‑court, and they've got to be organized.
It may not be so much as turn the ball over in the press as, Hey, what's your decision‑making when you get the ball across half‑court?¬† Are you going to shoot quick?¬† Are you going to hold the ball?¬† Are you going to waste four seconds trying to get organized?¬† What's it going to be?
I think on a one‑day prep, you deal with Syracuse, it's very evident what you have to deal with.¬† You've got to go and work and figure out how to attack the zone.
I think the press will be a big, big thing as we move into tomorrow, and our guys have to understand what's a good shot, what's a bad shot, and how we have to play when we come across half‑court, if indeed they're going to run to the ball or get us going up and down a little bit.

Q.  Just talking a lot to Florida players, one thing they said that stands out about your team is the depth.  Just talk about how much your team's depth has benefited you during your tournament run.
COACH MILLER:  It's benefited us a lot in the tournament.  In particular, you look at the Stanford game, you know, our foul trouble inside was crippling there for a little bit.  But I thought we made our best run as we subbed.  I think that's a credit to those guys.
They come in aggressive.  In some cases, some of the skill sets that come in off the bench are actually better.  You know, as they come in, more aggressive.  You've got Vee coming in off the bench.  He's probably one of our best players, and I think he may even be leading us in scoring in postseason.
So I mean, you're bringing in guys that can play, that's number one.
And I'm not sure that you wear a team down, but I do think the more guys that you have, the harder you can play, the better off you're going to be.¬† No drop‑offs.¬† No drop‑off, keep it going, keep it going.¬† That was a pretty good example last night.
They've all had their moments.  I think Vee didn't have a great day from the field, but I thought he was terrific in Buffalo, and it's kind of been going that way for us.

Q.¬† Coach, talking about Florida's press, your older brother Sean, obviously, recently played Florida in a home‑and‑home series.¬† Did you pick his brain for any information, or is he kind of too busy working on what he's got?
COACH MILLER:  He doesn't talk to me right now.  He's not helping me.  He's trying to do his thing.
But Florida, you see them a lot on television.  You understand kind of what they're about.  You understand kind of their pedigree right now.  They're the number 1 overall seed for a reason.  They've won 29 games in a row.
I don't know who can help me, to be honest with you.

Q.  Tom Ostrom, what has he meant to your staff?  And maybe his familiarity with Florida, it's been a long way back, and his familiarity with Coach Pelfrey?
COACH MILLER:  Tom is great to have on staff.  He's a long time, very experienced guy who really helps me more so than anything.  He's a terrific coach.
And I think Tom's experience with Florida, you know, is a long time ago.  Big thing nowadays, it's not so much what they do, it's their personnel.  Personnel is such an amazing thing when you start to watch teams go from year to year.  They're never the same.  And I think Florida's probably the same.
As you watch them right now, they may be doing the same press or the same offense at times, but the personnel is pretty good.
But Tommy's really good, and obviously, I think Billy and his staff are terrific people.  There's a real reason that they're successful.  They've got a great way about them.

Q.  Archie, do you buy into that Cinderella stuff?  Or do you tell your players, Listen, we're beyond that stage.  Do what they want to do in the public eye, or do you perceive it a different way with your basketball team?
COACH MILLER:  Cinderella comes up on a team that hasn't been there in a while.  If you're there 8 out of 9 years and you crack a Sweet 16 a couple times, they don't call you Cinderella.  The reason they call us Cinderella isn't because we're an 11 seed, it's more so that we haven't been here in a long time.
I think this run hopefully will start a trend of consistency.  You want to sustain that.  But we don't talk about anything.
I'll be honest, this team's been really a good team to be around because if you just talk about what needs to be done and you keep it simple, it's good.  But when you start making things bigger than it is, they're going to look at you funny.  So we don't talk about it a whole lot.
If they want to call us Cinderella every year and get us to the Elite Eight, I'll take it.

Q.  Coach, what have you seen from Scottie Wilbekin on film, and how do you plan to slow him down?
COACH MILLER:  He's a terrific player, one of the best guards in the country in terms of using ball screens.  I think Florida has always been terrific at using the ball screen.  But when you have a guy like him, you know, you can really do a lot.
He can shoot behind it.  He's great off the catch.  Really explosive.  I also think he's really tough.  I mean, he's really tough.  He's got guts.  In their big moments, they're going to go to him.
So we're going to have to find a way to be able to contain, slow down, and just make things hard.  A lot like a Randle, a lot like an Ennis, a lot like a Craft.  They're all difficult to deal with.  You've just got to try your best over the course of 40 to make things tough.

Q.  I think Vee mentioned, when I asked him about you, he went to the Pittsburgh thing.  So I'm kind of curious how much that forms you, just for those of us who maybe are not as familiar with Pittsburgh, what that means?  And then also, having grown up the youngest, Sean was a little bit of a celebrity, not the tallest guy for a basketball player, how that might have formed you.  Any words of encouragement for my youngest who's kind of small and laments about that?
COACH MILLER:  Well, obviously, where I was born and raised in Western Pennsylvania, prideful place on blue collar.  The people that you're around every day that aren't involved in sports are probably the toughest people that you're around, whether they're workers or whatnot.
But a lot of the families and whatnot come up with the same thing.  It's about winning, especially in that town.  Winning is everything.  And you play that way.  You grow up that way.  You want to deal with, you know, whether it's athletics or anything, in a way to represent it.
I think the city of Pittsburgh, Western Pennsylvania in general, I was very fortunate to grow up there.  I think people who grow up there always have a little bit of toughness to them.
Coming from where I came from, being a small guy who's a point guard, you have to figure a way out to do it.¬† That starts with my dad.¬† There were no excuses ever made about not being able to get the job done, out‑working people, work ethic, you know, competitiveness, figuring a way out to get better every day.¬† That's where it starts off, sort of, for me.
It definitely rubs off into coaching.  Sometimes I want to play.  You want to get out there and play.  You feel like you can do it.  In practice, you're watching guys make mistakes, you know, it's that burn that just goes sort of into you.
I revolve everything around how I played because it wasn't easy for me.  It wasn't easy at all.  Understanding how I got to where I got, I look at our players, and I want those guys to do the same thing.

Q.  I wanted to check in on your dad and see how he's holding up.
COACH MILLER:  He's holding up.  I mean, it just keeps getting a little bit more crazy around him, I think, to be honest with you.  This is something that's pretty special for not only him, but obviously our whole family.
Got him home a little late, obviously, last night.  I think everybody's excited about what's going on with us, and then you turn on the television, there's 16 to play, and Sean's in a really tough game with San Diego State.  To sit next to him and kind of watch the game from that perspective, you could see how tough it is, how emotional it can be, how well you want everyone to do.  Not because you want to get your name in the paper, but because your son's actually coaching right now on the biggest stage.
For me, it's been really fun for him to be around us.  I think, as he watches out towards them, I think he gets a little more anxious, and the fact that we're both where we are right now, now he gets to enjoy it, at least today, where there's no game.
But believe me, he's taking it all in.  There's a lot of people coming out of the woodwork, I'm sure, that he hasn't heard from in a long time.  So what better way to kind of enjoy your spring and summer than this?
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you, Coach.

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