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March 29, 2000
JIM MARCHIONY: Welcome, everybody. Congratulations to the two coaches we have on right
now, Dick Bennett from Wisconsin, Tom Izzo from Michigan State. We'll go just about a half
an hour and then we will have the other two coaches with us. And with that, I will turn it
back over to Premiere Conferencing to moderate the questions and answer questioners.
Q. Dick, can you talk about what Tony's role has been with you guys this year, and how
much has he been a confidant and just a guy that you can really rely on to talk to off the
COACH DICK BENNETT: For the benefit of the others, Tony is my son, and he played for me
at Green Bay. He played three years with the Hornets, got bad knees and then played over
in New Zealand and decided he might want to coach so we brought him back as a manager. And
he and his wife, Laurel, graduate of LSU, I might add, are living with us and he's trying
to decide whether he's going to go into coaching. He's just a good guy because he's honest
with me. If he thinks I'm overdoing it, he'll tell me that. If he thinks I'm underdoing
it, he'll tell me that. And he's had to learn what it means to be manager. When I told him
the first time to pass the water, he passed it to the players and he drank it, but he's
been great to have.
Q. Dick Bennett, you've been noted in the past for keeping track of your past players.
I'm calling to see if you kept tabs with a player at Wisconsin Green Bay named Torreano
Smith (ph) and if so, how he's going?
COACH DICK BENNETT: Torreano Smith is doing well. He's going to graduate in May. Talked
to him just last week. He lived with my wife and I for about two months, and we were able
to get him enrolled at Parkside and he played -- we petitioned the NCAA to get him another
year, and he was unable to get that, but he played two years at Parkside. This year he was
unable to play, but he's finishing up and will graduate. That's one graduation ceremony
I'm going to do everything in my power to attend.
Q. For both coaches, I'm wondering what you all think of the idea that the gap is
closing; that there's much more parity in clothe basketball with a Final Four that has two
No. 8 seeds and a No. 5 and only one No. 1 to get through?
COACH TOM IZZO: (inaudible) ... out the window anymore. I said that three or four years
ago. I think the team systems has been one factor, just better college basketball, to put
more money into basketball. When you start having eight seeds that are Utah Wisconsin,
North Carolina, Kansas, I said all along I was never concerned about having a No. 1 seed
because I knew that the road there would be very difficult. And I just think this is going
to become the norm, not the exception, because there are so many good teams. It's
difficult to play, and I think this is what you're going to see now from here on out.
COACH DICK BENNETT: And I agree totally with Tom, because, you know, for all the
reasons that -- things he said, but also, you know, these young fellows have been watching
basketball now for a long time, and just the basketball world has shrunk, I think. Kids
from small towns are doing the things that kids in the city do. The East and the West
Coast are much closer together. I remember when they said they didn't play ball down in
Texas, in the warm weather states, that's all been changed. So parity, really, has come
about. There are certain teams that are better than others, but the top has moved closer
to the bottom or vice versa.
Q. As a follow for each coach, is this a good trend or a bad trend where you lose maybe
marquis teams in the past that sort of attracted attention?
COACH TOM IZZO: There is more interest and I think it's a tough trend right now in my
mind because people want to see the elite programs that have been there for all the years.
They just aren't used to this new change, but I think in the long run it should be better.
COACH DICK BENNETT: I agree totally. It's -- you know, I think the NCAA Tournament or
men's college basketball is the most competitive amateur sport in the world, without
question in my mind. 320 schools, all of whom have a chance at the prize. And you need a
few good players to build a little nucleus, and you can compete for it. And I don't know
how that could be anything but wholesome.
Q. Coach Bennett, if you can talk about Andy Kowske, he seems like a diligent,
determined type of kid?
COACH DICK BENNETT: Yeah, he's both of those. He really has a mind set, every team he
practices or plays, and sometimes you've got to, you know, pull open the blinders a little
bit so he can see a little bit to the sides, too. But he's just a very determined guy.
He's a task-oriented guy who sets goals. He's that way with his studies. He's an
exceptional student, and a joy to have around because you tell him something once and his
mind is kind of like a steel trap; he remembers it, tries to do his best all the time.
Q. How does a kid like Brian (sic) become a walk-on and become an MVP two years later?
That must be a lot of hard work and all that good stuff?
COACH DICK BENNETT: It's a testimony to my stupidity because he tried to walk on here
after his first year at St. Cloud and I wouldn't let him; talked him into going back
there. Then tried to do it the second year, and he decided to come anyhow without a
scholarship. And I've got a great eye for talent, obviously, but he just -- he's a hard
worker and he can do the one thing that sets people apart, I think, with the three point
line is he can shoot the ball.
Q. Coach Bennett, talking to Kelley last weekend, he said that when you guys do most of
your film work, like all of your film work, you rarely watch yourselves offensively. You
mostly concentrate on other teams. He kind of liked that, you know, that you guys don't
want to watch yourselves. What's your feeling on the reception that you guys play ugly
ball; and secondly how is that defensive philosophy so important in that you only focus on
the other team's offense?
COACH DICK BENNETT: Well, I'm not so sure. I thought we'd do a little more than that. I
think because the perception of us playing ugly is -- it's been kind of a buzz word, I
guess, for a few years and when we lose, I guess it's really ugly. You know, I have always
thought that working for good shots and trying to play team defense and taking care of the
ball was sort of the way you had to play, and if you have some limitations, probably you
stay closer to that model, and maybe it eliminates some of the more exciting plays. But I
think that's sound; is that if it means it's ugly, then so be it. We have always felt --
maybe he's referring to the past. We felt we had to be in the game defensively at first so
perhaps that's why we focus on the other team's offensive abilities initially.
Q. Coach Izzo, along those same lines aren't those principles what every coach wants,
to take good defense?
COACH TOM IZZO: I agree 100% (inaudible) -- I grew up knowing Coach Bennett and just
like he said, defense wins championships. And now I've attended a school that has a great
hockey program and a great football program, I really don't think it changes no matter
what the sport is. And, you know, I think they look at it as Wisconsin, and everybody
says, well, they don't have the players that some other -- I've recruited a couple of
those guys. Andy Kowske we died to have (inaudible) in a long way, I think every good
coach from North Carolina to Kansas (inaudible) puts a lot into the defense and I know we
watch film. We watch a lot more of the opponent's offense and defense more than anything
Q. For both coaches, I know that you guys are obviously focusing on each other, but
could you talk about Florida and what differences their style presents, for you Coach
Izzo, facing a team -- (inaudible) talk about the differences in their style and their
depth as opposed to other teams you might face in the tournament?
COACH TOM IZZO: (inaudible) -- quite often, and I haven't really spent much time on
them now. My assistants start the day looking more at them and the other teams in the
tournament, but I think they do have a very athletic team. I think they are very deep, as
you say. The advantage I think we have in our conference is we play all kinds of teams,
some are bigger, some are smaller more athletic. But we've had a chance to play different
kinds of teams and one of the reasons we scheduled such a tough non-conference is, I
think, too, playing teams like Texas and Temple you is get used to playing different
zones, mans, slow down, speed up and I think we'll both be prepared for that if that
Q. Could you name the one team that you think most resembles Florida? What team could
you compare them most to?
COACH TOM IZZO: Like Iowa in the past, they have pressed a lot. I think Illinois has a
lot of depth and very good athletes, and can come at you in different ways. At the time we
played Texas, they didn't have as much depth because they had a couple guys hurt, but I
don't know exactly, really, because I haven't played against Florida, but I am impressed
at what he has done in the period of time he's done it.
Q. Same question about any style that you've played, anything close to Florida and what
challenges that presents?
COACH DICK BENNETT: Well, I think Michigan State has a tremendous running game. In
fact, I've not in my years of coaching have not seen a more complete approach to the game.
I admire that, because they will play any way you want, and perfectly comfortable if you
want to run. But Tom mentioned Iowa last year, Iowa was a team that clearly wanted to play
94 feet and press everything, including every inbounds pass from every spot on the floor,
and, you know, we've had that experience in the Big-10. I also agree that Illinois is
capable and I think would like to play a full-court game. I think Michigan would probably
like to do that also. I think even Indiana, at least offensively, really pushes the ball.
And then Purdue, at least somewhat in the past, they wanted to press and go and really
wear you out. So we've had some of that, maybe not to the full extent that Florida has
shown, that full commitment to traps and really push and so on, but we've seen a degree of
that quite a bit in our league.
Q. Dick, from what I've seen, you guys have been pretty much -- I don't know if
incredulous is the right word, but pretty surprised they got this far especially from
where they were a month or so ago. Do you have any idea how they are going to handle this
next step, the bright lights and all at the Final Four?
COACH DICK BENNETT: I don't know, we've never been there. And I think you're right in
that we're somewhat surprised. I would be lying if I said, you know, that this was a goal
that was really prominent in our thinking. We just -- what happened is we got our backs
against the wall and developed a sense of urgency every time out, pretty much throughout
February. Maybe that was a blessing because maybe we learned to concentrate and forget
everything else. I don't know if it's possible to do that at this stage of the game, but
we're certainly going to find out in a short while.
Q. Obviously, if you do what you want down in Indy or do what you dream of that would
be a huge surprise for a lot of people. Personally, what comes to your mind when you think
about Finals Fours and great surprises and great games and great upsets in the past?
COACH DICK BENNETT: The great excitement, everything that's -- everything you dream
about in your chosen profession, I think is present in the Final Four. I mean, as a player
or a coach, that is the pinnacle. So the thoughts I have and having sat in the stand for a
lot of years is this is what I've dreamed of having a chance to do. And if that makes me
-- if that sets us up or me up for a major fall, so be it. But there's tremendous
excitement. There's a feeling inside that is hard to describe, and it just seems to stay
there. It's probably is going to give me memories for the rest of my life.
Q. Were you in the stands? One of the biggest upsets that comes to mind is Villanova in
'85. Were you around for that game?
COACH DICK BENNETT: I was not at that game. Of course I watched.
Q. What do you remember about it?
COACH DICK BENNETT: Well, I remember Villanova really controlled Temple and made big
shots, and, you know, they had some mighty tough kids taking care of the ball, and it was,
you know, it was very impressive.
Q. Would a Wisconsin win be that big?
COACH DICK BENNETT: To me, it would be bigger.
Q. Coach, for the second straight game, you're going to be playing the same Big-10 team
for the fourth time. Is that an advantage or a disadvantage or would you rather be playing
somebody else in the first round?
COACH DICK BENNETT: Well, candidly, I'd rather be playing someone else. Without any
reservation I can say that. I don't know if it's an advantage or disadvantage. I truly
don't know that. People have tried to make a case for the fact that, you know, we have
lost three times; so that means it should be a little better. On the other hand, you know,
we don't know if we can beat them. I prefer to look at this as a separate issue, because
it's really a different situation. As I said before, I've lived this game for a long time,
and I just -- what I admire about Michigan State is their completeness. I mean, they are
good; they are tough; they are sound. I just -- I said before, I saw them coming three
years ago, and I said I love the way Tom has molded this group and now I hate the way he's
molded this group.
Q. With so much being made about these two teams and they are so physical and Michigan
State bringing out football pads in practice, are either one of you concerned that that
could affect your style of play and if so, how do you adjust to that ?
COACH TOM IZZO: You know, I think we both played physical and I honestly believe that
all it does for either one of us is, as Dick said earlier, I think we're both able to
adjust to a lot of different styles. And I think when you get this far in the tournament,
both as coaches and players, you always have to adjust. Officiating is different every
game. You always have to adjust to that. I don't see it as a major problem.
COACH DICK BENNETT: And I agree, because, you know, physical play is one thing, but
crude, awkward play or another, and our league is physical, but it's -- it's good
physical. I mean, it's bodies banging. It's not so much holding or tripping, pushing; it's
just physical play. And when you get ten guys playing hard, there's going to be a lot of
that, and officials are smart in that they know when it's right and when it's wrong. So I
think it's going to take care of itself.
Q. I wonder if both of you could address the single biggest thing your pointguard
brings to you, and also maybe the single area that they have improved the most this
COACH TOM IZZO: You know, ours (Mateen) brings to us the kind of mentality that we play
with, speed and quickness. We like to push the ball through the floor. He's definitely an
extension of our staff on the floor. I think he knows how to push players. He has the
respect of players. He is my pointguard, I think my best player and I know my hardest
worker so that makes it maybe a little easier. He's got his strengths and he's got his
weaknesses, and believe it or not, I think he does know that, just as Mike Kelley does for
Wisconsin. I think they both have a tremendous will to win and do whatever it takes to
win, whether it be score 1 or 21.
COACH DICK BENNETT: And of course, I argue with agree with Coach, except for one thing;
I don't think Kelley is capable of scoring 21. I know he's capable of scoring 1. But
really, there's so many similarities, and yet they are very different players. But the one
thing that makes them kindred spirits is this incredible desire to lead a team to victory,
to do whatever it takes. And both have what I call an uncommon position the floor where
you just don't distract them easily. A lot of the biggest problem is distraction, kids not
being able to think on their feet -- and it appears, I've watched Mateen and I know he
does that and I've marveled at Mike, because he's always at peace on the floor, whether
he's playing well or not, he's thinking. You have to have that. He's different in that he
doesn't push the ball, he doesn't get a lot of penetration, but for what we do, he's
perfect, just like Mateen is perfect for what Michigan State needs to do.
Q. I've got a question for each coach. Coach Izzo, did you learn anything from last
year's Final Four experience that will be valuable in preparing your team this time
COACH TOM IZZO: I think you all should ask Krzyzewski because he's been so many of
them. The things I've learned unfortunately are not going to help on the court, the
hotels, getting around, the practice times, what you do. They are not really things that I
think are going to make a major difference. Is there a little bit more of a comfort level
when you see all those media cameras coming, but do I think when you get this far you play
in a league like we have with the exposure we get in the Big-10, do I think it's going to
make an incredible difference? Unfortunately, no. I wish I could say that it was. But yet,
I think it's got to help a little bit.
Q. Just wanted to know if your feelings are kind of similar in terms of accomplishment
(inaudible) that team did a lot, upset a No. 1 team along the way and here you are?
COACH DICK BENNETT: Those were special times. I wish I could grab that -- the MVP of
that tournament and let him suit up, Terry Porter. That's when you played about five games
in about six days. We played one game at nine in the morning; I remember that. And then we
played another game, finished another game about 12:30 midnight, after midnight and I was
so excited and all of that. But there weren't that many folks to get excited with me at
that time; that was the difference. And you did your interviews outside your locker room,
you know, with about six or eight reporters. But it was still, I thought, terrific
basketball in those years with the NAI, and that was a very special -- special team. In
fact, Brad was Terry Porter's running mate at guard.
Q. I would like to know, Coach, if you could look back to early January and February
and if you could explain a little bit about what sort of obstacles your team ran into. I
think maybe we should be more puzzled by how you lost those games than by how you managed
to make the Final Four?
COACH DICK BENNETT: I guess if you were to take an opinion poll on that, they would say
poor coaching, and they are probably right. But we did play a good schedule, and so, you
know, if you're going to go into the Carrier Dome as we did or down to Wake Forest, chance
is you're going to lose some of those games, and we did. But we were struggling to score
enough points; that's always been our problem. We were just -- I think we were playing
together, and I think we were trying hard, but it just wasn't there. Perhaps we were
feeling a little sorry for ourselves. I know one thing we were doing is we were trying to
please everybody. I remember that distinctly, worrying about, are we living up to what we
were supposed to. And the kids said -- in fact, it was after Michigan State came in here
and really played a great game at our place, and it was very humbling. I remember after
that, the kids said -- and we talked about it, listen, everybody is on our back now, we'd
better circle these wagons, we'd better start pleasing one another. Forget about the
media; in fact, I remember not letting the kids interview any more until after the season
ended, and of course that was very warmly received. I just think we came together in a way
that you have to. You know, the old siege mentality. I remember growing up in Green Bay
and they always talked about the Packers had that siege mentality; you know, take control
of everything and don't let anybody break down your walls, and that's kind of what
happened to us. We just did it that way.
JIM MARCHIONY: Thank you. And now we will begin the second half hour of this, and we've
got on the line North Caroline, Coach Bill Guthridge and Florida Coach, Billy Donovan. I
will turn it back over now to Premiere Conferencing to coordinate the question and answer
Q. Coach Guthridge, sometimes players or coaches want their players to exploit the
press. How do you plan on doing that and also, how do you plan on tempering that when it's
time to pull the ball back out?
COACH BILL GUTHRIDGE: Well, Florida certainly has a good press and it's been very
successful for them this year and we hope that we can -- can handle it and take advantage
of it and know when not to.
Q. I wonder if both of you could talk about the single greatest thing your pointguard
brings to you, and in the case of Coach Donovan if you could talk about how you balance
having two guys in that role a little bit?
COACH BILLY DONOVAN: Well, I think, you know, for us, it's been a process because our
backcourt has been young, freshman and sophomores and I think like anything else when
you're young as the season goes on they get better and better. I think the biggest thing
our guy seniors done for our program is they really listened, they have learned, they have
gotten better. They are dedicated to the team, dedicated to the team winning, dedicated to
trying to improve. And I think like anything else, your pointguard is an extension of the
coach on the floor. He is your leader. And for me, it's been a lot of fun coaching those
guys because of their willingness to learn and try to get better and try to improve.
Q. Was there a time when you weren't sure that was coming at the right pace?
COACH BILLY DONOVAN: I think there was so much made of Brett Nelson when he came in as
a freshman that, you know, best player since Jerry West at West Virginia and all these
expectations and when he struggled early in the year, I think it was very, very difficult
on Brett, but I think because of his humanity, the type of kid he is, the way he was
brought up and raised he really worked very hard to try and figure things out. He watched
a lot of tape on his own. I had a chance to meet him as did our assistant coaches and he
basically just tried to commit himself, and did everything we asked him to do. And I think
really the second half of the year he has played very, very well for us.
Q. What should we make of the fact that two No. 8 seeds, No. 5 seed and only one No. 1
seed has advanced to the Final Four? Is this signaling something in terms of parity and
sort of the gap closing between the top echelon programs and the lower ones?
COACH BILL GUTHRIDGE: I think there's a lot of parity in college basketball. There are
a lot of very good coaches, very good players, and consequently, there are a lot of very
good teams. I think there were a lot of teams in the NIT that could have won games in the
NCAA Tournament. And on a given day, one game and you're out, a lot of the top seeds are
going to lose, and I think that's happened this year.
COACH BILLY DONOVAN: I agree with Coach Guthridge there. I think that obviously the
parity, the coaching, I think maybe the reduction in scholarship has played a role a
little bit. Going from 15 to 13 has probably helped as well, but there's still a lot of
great players. If you look at a NBA All-Star teams over the past years, Dennis Rodman,
these guys were not highly profiled guys coming out of high school, but what happens is
guys improve and get better, and I think sometimes with some kids, because of a lot of
guys leaving, going early, you have a kid that's staying in school for four years. And
when you have a lot of seniors on a team, experience can earn certainly win a lot of
basketball games for you. By I think there's a lot of combination, why there's so much
parity right now.
Q. Is this a good thing or a bad thing, you're at a traditional program that's used to
being one of the better teams. Is it good that this gap is closing?
COACH BILL GUTHRIDGE: I think it's good for college basketball and I always wished
there were just enough good players that wanted to come to Carolina and not want to go any
place else, but that of course is a selfish -- but I think it's good for the game and good
for the interest.
Q. Could you just talk about the difficult of playing against different styles in the
tournament now? You're going up against a team that really likes to push the ball up the
floor and play the full-court basketball. Is that style terribly difficult for your team
to adjust to just because they like to play a different style?
COACH BILL GUTHRIDGE: During the course of the season, you play against all different
styles, and when you get into the tournament, you don't have a lot of time to prepare;
although, the first time -- in the first round, and then again in the first round of the
Regionals and then you do have some more time to prepare. But throughout the course of the
season, you have to work through all different types of situations, and as a coach make
sure your team is prepared for any situation that arises.
Q. But do you like this contrast in styles?
COACH BILL GUTHRIDGE: I think it's good, yeah, to play against different styles.
Q. And for Coach Donovan, you said before this tournament started that you looked
forward to playing against teams outside your league just because you think that your
style does present a different challenge for other teams and it seems to have worked out
that way particular any in the last three games.
COACH BILLY DONOVAN: I think with our non-conference schedule, certainly playing
against a lot of different styles starting in Hawaii and moving through until we got into
the SEC, but I think our style of play is unique. I think it's little bit different. I
think going into to play against North Carolina a little bit to adjust because there has
been some time to prepare for both teams. But I think with the way we play we try to use
our depth, we try to use ten people. But I think out there the one thing that's been so
impressive about Coach Guthridge and is their system that's the thing that stands out is
their system. I think when you talk about Indiana, Bobby Knight's system. Generally, I
think at the collegiate level, the programs that are really good have a system in place
and the players buy into that system and they execute that system to the best of their
COACH BILL GUTHRIDGE: I might add, I think Billy has done a great job of establishing a
system there at Florida and getting the players that he likes to fulfill his system. He's
done a great job both in recruiting and in coaching.
Q. I wondered if you could look back towards the regular season and tell me what the
difference is between the teams that lost those games and a team now that's on a four-game
winning streak and under such pressure in the circumstances you face in the tournament?
Where did you lose your way during the regular season?
COACH BILL GUTHRIDGE: I liked our team all year and we were pretty close and I'm really
proud of the way they hung in there and each -- after each defeat, they have still come
back ready to go. I think I might have overscheduled us. I think our schedule is probably
too tough and we lost some confidence. But as far as areas we've improved, I think we've
improved in all areas. I think we've gotten better defensively and individually and making
it collectively, and just like any team that's still playing now, you have to keep
COACH BILL GUTHRIDGE: Billy was a great player, and I was just happy to be on the team,
but there's so much more interest in that now than there was at that time. And with
television and the media blitz, it's become quite a thing. But it was exciting then and
certainly exciting now. This is what you play and coach for is to have the opportunity to
get to the Final Four.
COACH BILLY DONOVAN: I think from my perspective, Coach Guthridge has probably got a
much much better perspective of how the tournament and the publicity has probably
heightened over the years, just because being an assistant coach and now a head coach he's
had a chance to participate in quite a few over his career and could better than anybody
talk in great detail about that. For me I think going in as a player you just kind of
overwhelmed -- when I was at Providence we had not played in the NCAA my first three years
and we went in my senior year and it ways a great run went, very quick, went by in the
blink of an eye, and as time went on you realize how special that was to have an
opportunity to play in that. Obviously I think because of each year the media exposure,
the attention it's turned out to be obviously a great basketball event and I'm just so
happy our kids are going to have a chance to experience this on Saturday.
Q. Is it difficult to look at a program like Carolina with their tradition and whatnot
and consider them an underdog? And second part for Coach Guthridge, how has it been to be
in the underdog role for most of this season?
COACH BILLY DONOVAN: I would say this, I think that Coach Guthridge has done an
outstanding job. I don't think that -- certainly them being an 8 seed is any indication of
the job that coach has done this year and the way their team is playing right now. I think
like anything else, what's been so impressive to me about Carolina was we had a chance to
see them play in Hawaii is they are a team in my opinion, obviously gotten better and
better and better and Coach Gutheridge has got them playing their best basketball at the
time of the year when you want to do that. And I think for any coach to take the first
three years of a -- take teams to the Final Four speaks volumes of what he has done there.
So we realize that we are going against once of the most tradition-research programs in
all of college basketball that's had great coaching and Coach Guthridge has obviously done
a terrific job there. And me looking at Carolina, I think the one thing you realize is
that they are a great team, regardless of seeding.
COACH BILL GUTHRIDGE: As far as us being an underdog, it has been different this year.
It's kind of fun right now but I hope that we haven't the underdog all the time because if
you are the underdog, you haven't succeeded very well and we were disappointed that with
our regular season, and I take the blame for that that we couldn't quite get things going.
But as I said many times, I really like our team and they have hung in there and I'm
really happy for them that we are having this opportunity.
Q. Coach Donovan, Teddy Dupay has made the change from shooting guard or from
pointguard to shooting guard. Could you talk about that and how you think that's affected
COACH BILLY DONOVAN: Well, I think Teddy being 5'9, there's a reason why he's playing
at this level and that's because of his ability to shoot the ball from the perimeter, and
I think Teddy from a pointguard situation went through some adjustments last year. Last
year he was able to play alongside Eddie Shannon (ph) quite a bit and Eddie was a guy that
got Teddy a lot of shots. This year, it was Teddy trying to set everybody else up, and I
think it was a huge adjustment for him and we were probably not in my opinion getting out
of him what he could provide for our team. So I would say later in the year we decided to
move him over to the two line. I think the first few games of doing that Teddy had an
adjustment period where he didn't shoot the ball particularly well, but I think he feels a
lot more comfortable in that role right now, and we've been able to take advantage of his
ability to shoot the ball from the perimeter a little bit better at the two spot than at
the pointguard position.
Q. Coach Guthridge, do you personally feel vindicated by a team making the Final Four
after all the criticism you took this year as a coach?
COACH BILL GUTHRIDGE: No. I'm just happy for the team. I feel good about myself. And I
don't get on the Internet and I don't listen to talk shows. But there's tremendous
interest in Carolina basketball, and I know that any time we lose, there are people out
there; when there is interest, there are opinions. So I haven't let that bother me. I'm
just happy for the young men on our team, that they have had some success and had the
opportunity to go to the Final Four, because it's a real thrill to go to the Final Four.
And all of us, coaching staff and all those that are really closely connected to Carolina
basketball, are thrilled.
Q. You talk a lot about the use of the team, and at the same time it seems like a lot
is made of the importance of senior leadership on teams and veteran play. How have you
guys managed to get so far with such a young group?
COACH BILLY DONOVAN: I think when you're young you realize you're going to make
mistakes. And as the season goes along you try to minimize and have guys grow mature as
players. I think the big thing for us is we have a high energy team. Guys play hard. I
think guys lay it on the line. I think all you want from a coaching standpoint is guys to
play with a tremendous amounts of confidence and play fearless and not be afraid to make
mistakes, but at the same point there's got to be a responsibility and accountability for
decisions that are made out there on the floor. I think as each game has gone by for our
younger guys, they have had a much, much better awareness of what they can and cannot get
away with at this level. And I think there's been a tremendous improvement from the first
day of practice obviously to now. So I think for a lot of players right now, you know,
these kids really aren't freshman and sophomores. They are 30 games into the season right
now, and hopefully with the level of competition we've played against with a
non-conference schedule in the SEC that's hopefully made them better and learn to grow at
a rapid rate, because they have been forced to learn to play at a very, very young age.
Q. Does that surprise you at all?
COACH BILLY DONOVAN: I think that these guys have really overachieved. I think they
have put aside egos. They have committed themselves to winning. That's been the most
important thing. I think it's been fun for me as a coach to see these guys gel and mesh as
a basketball team. A lot of kids coming in with a lot of big, inflated egos were told how
great they are, told to come in and sacrifice for one another, it is a unique situation.
And I'm proud of the way they have handled the season so far this year, being young.
Q. Could you talk about Ed and what in particular he gives you that maybe you can't get
from somebody else?
COACH BILL GUTHRIDGE: Well, Ed's been a great pointguard for us, four-year starter.
This is his third Final Four and as Billy said about their young guards being an extension
of the coach and I think that's so important. I know through the years when we've had our
best teams is when the pointguard is thinking the same way as the head coach and even
makes the call before the head coach has an opportunity to tell him what he'd like to do,
and Ed has certainly been that. He and I are on the same wavelength and he holds the
career assist record here, and we have had some pretty fair country pointguards, too. He's
just been tremendous and I know he's looking forward to this game and all of us are. It's
an exciting time. Even though he's been two other times, he's really excited.
Q. Who is he most similar to amongst point guards that Carolina has had over the years
that you've seen?
COACH BILL GUTHRIDGE: We don't compare our players; so that wouldn't be fair to Ed or
any of the other players. But he's a great pointguard and we're certainly glad we have
Q. Coach Donovan, I'm wondering if there's any similarity between the Florida this year
and the Providence run in '8, and what did you take from Coach Petino, having played for
COACH BILLY DONOVAN: I would say there's probably more similarities. There's obviously
-- we had a lot of seniors on that Providence team. This year he only have one, but the
one thing I've always taken from Coach Petino is a guy that has been as success as he's
been, having the ability to listen, I think, to be innovative, to take educated risks. I
think those things have always impressed me, certainly the style of play. The one thing I
always remember him talking about was take the system in place and try to make it better
and try to build on it, and that's what I've tried to do since I've been a head coach is
take the system, make it better, try to improve it. But obviously, I've taken a lot from
Coach Petino over the years, just because I had a chance to play with him for three years
and obviously work with him for five.
Q. Both teams have sort started stared elimination in the face here in that tournament,
what has that done for either one of your teams?
COACH BILLY DONOVAN: I think for us being young, and I've almost compared our team to
being like a family a little bit, because we're young, I think the more emotional
experiences you go through, and especially games you can win has a tendency to bring your
team closer together. And I think we had some games throughout the course of our year that
came down to the wire and some we were able to win and there was some we lost. But there's
probably none more emotional than our Butler game, and I think everybody felt like after
the Butler game would we have enough emotion to play Illinois, because it was obviously
such a moving experience for four basketball team, but to go in the locker room after our
game and seeing guys crying and hugging, I really felt that that game brought us closer
together. You look back at teams that have played in the Final Four, there's always one
game that you can always point back to that maybe could have gone either way and you could
be obviously sitting at home right now. So we feel fortunate that in that first round game
against Butler, an outstanding team that we were able to move and advance and be in the
situation we're in now. I think that game and that experience made us better.
COACH BILL GUTHRIDGE: I think what Billy is saying is exactly right. You go into -- I
think anybody that's ever won the NCAA championship has had a scary game like they did
against Butler or all four of our games we could have lost very easily. They went right
down to the wire. So I know our '82 team, we almost lost in the first round to James
Madison, and Michigan State could have lost Iowa State and Wisconsin could have lost.
There are so many good teams out there and I think it's great experience to win those
games and advance and had the thrill and excitement of coming out on top.
COACH BILL GUTHRIDGE: It's different. TV time-outs are two and a half minutes and the
30-second time-outs are 45 seconds to a minute; so it is different. That it's something
that you have to adjust to and get used to. We're just glad we're playing in this type of
COACH BILLY DONOVAN: I agree with Coach. It certainly is an adjust. I think, too, I
notice time especially in our first two games in Winston Salem your guys have a tendency
to want to get up a lot sooner because they have been programmed over the year of how long
those time-outs are, and in essence on those 20-second time-outs they have moved to 50
seconds, almost a minute. You really can almost sit down. So there is some adjustment. I
think it gives you probably a little bit more time to talk with your coaches, for the guys
more time to rinse out, and as a coach a lot more you can speak about in those time-outs
but it's certainly a lot different.
Q. Could you talk about Mitchell, South Dakota and the actual recruiting process of
Mike Miller and did you have any doubts that a player from South Dakota could excel in big
time college basketball?
COACH BILLY DONOVAN: Obviously Mitchell is a very unique place and I know it means a
great deal to Mike. It's small town, but I would say a basketball town. His high school
has had tremendous tradition over the years. He comes from a basketball family. For me,
recruiting Mike, it was a great experience, just because I got a chance to know Mike's
family and they are quality people and I think Mike is a quality kid, as well. The first
time I really had a chance to see Mike I think that people were kind of surprised with his
talent that he could be from South Dakota, but obviously he has got a lot of skills. He
can shoot it, pass it, handle it. I think the best part of his game is his ability and his
understanding of the game at such a young age. It was a great experience and obviously had
he has really excelled and improved and gotten a lot better.
Q. Where does Mitchell rank?
COACH BILLY DONOVAN: It's certainly up there. Obviously, you needed three flights to
get there, but I had to spend some time recruiting in California, didn't have much luck in
California, but that was certainly a long one as well. Getting to Mitchell was a difficult
trip because you could only fly at certain days, times, three connections to get there.
You spend most of your day traveling.
COACH BILL GUTHRIDGE: I think it reminded Billy a lot of his hometown.
COACH BILLY DONOVAN: (Laughs).
Q. For both coaches, both of you at various points from various positions of your
career worked for guys who sort of had legendary careers or reputations. Did you feel that
you had become your own quote unquote, own guy on the sideline, and was that something
that happened immediately or did it take any number of games or years for that to happen?
COACH BILL GUTHRIDGE: Well, of course, working for Dean Smith for a few years and
before that, for Tex Winter for five years, I pretty much knew how to be an assistant
coach, and I enjoyed it, and then when I became the head coach, I still get advice from
Dean Smith. He doesn't come and tell me how to do this or that, but I go to him quite
often. But it's certainly nice to have him as a resource but I've always felt that -- I
was part of the Carolina program and I still feel part of it. The main difference is that
instead of making suggestions now, I make decisions; that each day I have gotten more
comfortable as the head coach. I enjoy it and I look forward to coming to work. And I
think the key to any coach is how his players responds and all three of my teams, the
players have been great and that makes it a lot of fun.
COACH BILLY DONOVAN: Obviously I have to think Coach Guthridge probably feels the same
way I think for probably Coach Smith and obviously for Coach Petino, you realize you had
been forwarded a tremendous opportunity and you have learned quite a bit. But the I think
the one thing I realize after leaving Coach Petino I needed to be myself and I think what
Coach Guthridge said is 100% true how your guys react to you is important. And I think if
you're trying to be something you're not I think players can see through that; so I
realize, I think when I first took over at a young age that I needed to be Billy Donovan,
I realized because I've worked with Coach Petino and played with him there, it is always
going to identify with me, linked to him just as Coach Guthridge is linked to Coach Smith.
I feel honored and I'm sure Coach Guthridge feels honored by the comparison because I
think both people have played large influences in both people's lives, but I also realize
too, from my perspective, I needed to be Billy Donovan .
Q. Has it been an even ridge this season or were there dips from Ed as well that
reflected in the results of the game and so what did he do to get out of that?
COACH BILL GUTHRIDGE: Throughout the course of the season, teams have ups and downs and
players have ups and downs, but most of Ed's has been up. He's playing at his best
basketball right now, but I don't think he's had any bad games. He's had maybe some that
were better than others. He's certainly performed well and been a very good lead in
getting these young players better. I think it's always an adjustment for any pointguard
to go play with one group of young men one year and another the next. Playing with
Williams and Vince Carter and Antoine Jamison (ph) for a couple years and then to play
with these guys, I think there are always have adjustments to be made but I think he has
made them very well.
Q. Could you just talk a little bit about -- I'm sure -- I don't know if you've seen
much of the tape of the Duke game, but were you surprised at the way Florida was able to
wear down and dominate Duke the way they did in the last three minutes of that game, given
Duke, so much experience in that situation before?
COACH BILL GUTHRIDGE: I haven't watched the Duke game. I intend to watch that tonight.
I've watched five or six of the Florida tapes, and I know that Duke was a tremendous team
this year. Mike Krzyzewski sure did a great job of rebuilding that team in losing all of
these great players and he has two rocks that were the rocks of their team a year ago. I
know for anybody to defeat Duke, they have to be very good. But I have seen Florida play a
lot on television through the year. We were in Hawaii with them and we were in -- at the
Jimmy B Classic when they beat Rutgers. I know they are a very good team and it was a very
impressive win. I have had some people tell me that that game, the best team won and I can
JIM MARCHIONY: Thank you very much, coaches. Thank you for your time. We look forward
to seeing both of you at the salute presentation tomorrow night and we look forward to
seeing the members of the media that are on this call here this weekend. Thank you again.
End of FastScripts