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March 17, 2016

Mark Turgeon

Rasheed Sulaimon

Jake Layman

Spokane, Washington

THE MODERATOR: We'll get started with questions for the student-athletes.

Q. For both of you, how different does this feel for, as a team and for yourself, a year ago and for Rasheed, how different does this feel from the other NCAA Tournaments you've been at, given that this is a different team?
JAKE LAYMAN: I think this year we have more experience, obviously, so guys are guys know what to expect coming into it this year. So.

RASHEED SULAIMON: For me, I'm at a new school, so everything is brand new for me here with this team. But everyone is focused and locked in, kind of touching on what Jake said. They're coming back a second year in a row now, and everyone has more experience, everyone is more focused, and we are very confident in our abilities. We're just kind of ready for everything to get going, and we're excited for this opportunity.

Q. Jake, I know you have NCAA Tournament experience yourself, but with Rasheed having the five games and his experience at Duke, have you guys been able to draw on that this week from him and how important is it to have that from him?
JAKE LAYMAN: It's very important. Rasheed's been through winning a tournament and losing a tournament, so he knows what to expect. And I think that the main point that he's telling the guys going into this tournament is just take it one game at a time, you can't overlook any teams.

Q. You have a lot of NCAA Tournament experience with Duke, previously. How do you think that's going to help with you this tournament with Maryland?
RASHEED SULAIMON: Just going to try to use my experience that I had at Duke and just try to help these guys as much as I can, especially the younger guys.

For a lot of these guys, it's their second time around, like Jake, so they have some tournament experience as well. But just reiterating what Jake said, just taking one game at a time and you can't overlook any opponents and can't look at potential matchups, because they call it March Madness for a reason. Any given game could be an upset, any given game you could lose.

So we're just trying to focus on each game at hand and right now, we're just totally focused on South Dakota State and how great of a team they are. And we're going to try to do whatever we can to try to survive and advance.

Q. For either player, South Dakota State has a very talented big man. How do you deal with him without giving up anything else to their other players?
JAKE LAYMAN: I think we trust our big guys' ability on defense. I think our main focus on this game is guarding the three-point line, because they're great shooters. Even their big men. So, yeah, I think if we can cover the three-point line then I think our big men will handle the inside.

RASHEED SULAIMON: We trust our big guys. We have a lot of big guys as well that can really play and are really talented. They're going to have a handful with our guys, our big guys as well.

So everything we do defensively is going to be a team effort. Whether it's guarding their guards, running them off the three-point line, or guarding their big men, it's got to be a team effort, and I think our coaches have done a great job of scouting them. And I think we have a great defensive game plan going into the game, so now it's up to us to go out there and execute it and play as one team on the defensive side.

Q. How is your confidence level in yourselves and team after the Big Ten tournament?
RASHEED SULAIMON: We're feeling very confident. We fell a little bit short at the Big Ten tournament but we took some experience from that game and some things from that tournament that we can definitely build on going into this tournament. Both offensively and defensively.

So, everyone's on a good mindset. It's a fresh slate. Besides a couple of games that have already taken place this far, everyone is 0-0. So it's a new start for us, and we're very confident, we're very confident in all of our abilities and individually and collectively as a team. And we're just ready to get things started, and we're looking forward to it.

JAKE LAYMAN: I think that this group is very confident right now. I think we're trying to take our offense from the last game and our defense from that second half of that Michigan State game into this tournament.

Q. It seems like the last few weeks you've really looked for your shot more, you've shot with more confidence than maybe at any point in your career. Is it the sense of the career's coming to an end or is it just the fact that you're in a great shooting groove?
JAKE LAYMAN: I think I've been trying to just stay aggressive all year. I think it's starting to come together for me. So I think that's all it is.

RASHEED SULAIMON: And Rasheed Sulaimon is giving him great passes.


JAKE LAYMAN: That's right.


THE MODERATOR: All right. Thank you, gentlemen. Coach Turgeon will be up momentarily.


THE MODERATOR: All right. We'll start with an opening statement from coach and then take questions.

COACH TURGEON: Obviously, we're excited to be here. Just to be a part of the NCAA Tournament is special and it's hard to be a part of it. People think it's easy, but it's not. So we're excited. We're enjoying Spokane. Spokane's been great.

We're looking forward to playing South Dakota State, who we got to see early in the season, we got a lot of respect for them, we know how good they are.


Q. Coach was saying earlier, Coach Nagy, that because they can't necessarily matchup with you guys straight up physically, that it's going to be more of a gang mentality in defending, rebounding, all those types of things. Earlier in the year you guys had trouble with somewhat smaller teams doing that. How do you think you've progressed to this point that now you're more well equipped to do that at this point than prior?
COACH TURGEON: We're much further along in that aspect. It's been hardest on Robert Carter figuring out how to guard that position. We weren't able to play small lineup as much as we would like this season with the loss of Deon, but we have overcome it, we have gotten better. We have seen it all. It's March, we have seen it all.

So, they do create some tough matchups for us and like we do for them at the other end. So, we got a good feel for them and how they play. They're old school, they run the motion. Defensively, I think they're going to, like he's saying, gang rebound, probably help really hard on our posts and different things like that. So, we'll see.

Q. You've been pretty consistent talking about how you would like to pace this team. To get them so that they're peaking at the right time. From a coaching standpoint, what's kind of been the challenge of that, especially through some of the valleys?
COACH TURGEON: Well, we did hit a valley about four weeks ago where we weren't very good. Maybe five weeks ago. I can't remember exactly the dates. But I thought it was good timing for us. Then our schedule got really hard.

We were at Purdue and at Indiana and Michigan State on a neutral court. And we battled in two of those three games and had a chance to win them both. So, I do think we are playing better. I do think our guys have a lot of confidence. I do think we're fresh. I do think we're healthy. I do think we're excited. And this is what we have been shooting for.

So, our guys are excited and when our guys are locked in, we usually play pretty well. We're really locked in right now which we were last week and they seemed to be this week in practice. We had a great week in practice, and when that happens, we usually play pretty well.

Q. Follow-up, for you, being someone who you're a pretty intense guy, just kind of managing your emotions, seeing the bigger picture with this team in particular, especially because they had some unique pressures from the outside that they were dealing with.
COACH TURGEON: Yeah, it's been a challenging year. The expectations were pretty high, and we lost Deon and the expectations didn't seem to change. We handled it early, we were 22-3 and then down the stretch we weren't the same team for awhile. So, I have tried to see the big picture, I tried to make us better, I tried to keep us confident, and like I said, it is what it is. But we have been gunning for this weekend, so hopefully it all comes together for us.

Q. How do you keep your team from sometimes looking ahead in these tournaments when you're facing a team like South Dakota State? That's typically where we see the upsets happen is when a team maybe looks ahead to the next round.
COACH TURGEON: Yeah, we're not looking ahead. I think we have done a good job as a coaching staff getting us prepared. I said it before, South Dakota State was in Cancun Challenge, we were in the same tournament, they played Illinois State at Illinois State and beat them pretty good and we were lucky to beat Illinois State on a neutral court. I was so intrigued with them, I went and watched them live both games for 10 minutes, 15 minutes, just because I was so impressed with them. So they have our attention. We're not overlooking them. If they beat us it's not because we overlooked them, it's just because they outplayed us tomorrow. So we'll be ready to go.

THE MODERATOR: All right. Thank you, coach.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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