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March 13, 2008

Billy Donovan

Chandler Parsons

Alex Tyus


THE MODERATOR: We'll ask Coach Donovan for some thoughts on the game.
COACH DONOVAN: Well, I thought Alabama played a terrific game, and they certainly shot the ball very well. I thought coming in, the key to the game for us was going to be to try to slow down the three-point line. You know, Riley had a great game against us shooting the ball last time we played them in Tuscaloosa, and I knew he had been shooting great against Vanderbilt and in particular in overtime with how well he shot the ball. And then Hendrix has been doing what he's been doing all year long. We really didn't have an answer for those guys, and they hurt us. Them going 8 for 15 from the three-point line and then 52 percent from the field. I think the last three games for us we've shot the ball very, very well, but defense has been a common theme and a common problem for us. And when we've shot the ball very, very well, we've hung around good teams. And I think when we haven't shot the ball well, like we didn't particularly shoot the ball well today. I think our defensive weaknesses really get exposed.

Q. Chandler and Alex, can you just talk about that first half? You guys were down 25 points, 14-0 real early, and just kind of what was going on there, what you were talking about?
CHANDLER PARSONS: Yeah, we didn't come ready to play today. They were hitting shots early. We weren't playing any defense, and it's tough once you get down too deep. It's tough to crawl back. But Coach Donovan has been stressing all year long about defense, and we're not going to beat anybody playing defense like that. Granted, Alabama played a lot better, but we've got to defend a lot better.
ALEX TYUS: Our main goal was just to try to get stops down the stretch. We wanted to mainly just cut the lead down, you know, around ten minutes left we wanted to get the lead to ten. Then with five minutes left we wanted to get into single digits, just maybe make a run at the end. We knew we couldn't do it all at once, but Alabama played great and they just kept coming back, so hats off to them.

Q. Chandler, how ill was Calathes? He seemed like he was a little off?
CHANDLER PARSONS: He's a little under the weather but Nick is a competitor. It's not going to interfere with the way he played. You've seen Nick at 100 percent, you've seen Nick ill. He's a competitor and he's going to play hard no matter what kind of sickness he has. It wasn't about any individual, it was about us getting did you know to quick and not being able to come back. When you do that against any team in the SEC it's almost impossible to fight back?

Q. Chandler and Alex, you guys got it to within six and had a couple possessions in a row where you could have cut it down, and it just seemed after that y'all kind of hit a wall. Would you talk about that?
CHANDLER PARSONS: We definitely made a big stretch there in the second half and I thought we played well. We started making shots and we started to defend just a little bit better. But playing against these high Division I teams in the SEC, no game is easy. I thought we fought back well, but there's no team we can beat out there once we play that bad of defense and get that far behind.
ALEX TYUS: Yeah, Coach Donovan has been telling us about pushing through the wall, and that was our main goal. Once we got the game closer we wanted to push through the wall, and we failed to do that. Alabama played great. We made a little run, and we just couldn't push through the wall like Coach Donovan has been telling us.

Q. This is for both players. This was a learning year for a lot of guys on this team. What do you take from your first year in the SEC that will help you in years to come?
CHANDLER PARSONS: I mean, people say we were young, and granted, we were, but age shouldn't have an effect on anything. We've just got to learn just to play hard every possession, and really, we've just got to defend better. Offense will come to us. We've got great guys. We've got guys that can put the ball in the basket. But we're not going to do the things we want to do playing defense like we did this year. It's just upsetting that it's this late in the season and we haven't really stepped up on defense and really taken control of that end of the floor.
ALEX TYUS: Yeah, just the main things, we needed to make those habits. We've been making the same mistakes as we did earlier in the year, and we can't do that this far in the season. Those other teams have corrected those mistakes, and we just can't keep making the same mistakes. I think we learned a lot that whole game, not just shooting or scoring or rebounding and doing our own thing. I think we've learned that there's a lot more to winning, and it reflects how we play.

Q. Can you talk about when you guys were down 42-14, you look up at the score board, what's running through your mind?
CHANDLER PARSONS: That's shocking. With everything that we're playing for, for us to allow ourselves to get that far behind, and we just -- it's a learning process, but I mean, it's late in the season. Having this happen this late, and just to look up there like that, and there's nothing we can do. There's no 20-point shot so we just had to keep fighting back and pull within six points, keep making little runs like that. Alabama capitalized and it was too big of a margin to come back from.
THE MODERATOR: We'll excuse the players. Questions for Coach Donovan?

Q. It seemed especially in the first half and even early in the second half you weren't real thrilled with Marreese's defense and sat him down. At this point in the season, I know I asked you this question after Mississippi State, but are you surprised at that?
COACH DONOVAN: You know, obviously for Chandler I think to say the team wasn't ready to play, I've got to take responsibility for that because I think that's my job. That's disappointing to hear. But I don't know if going into an SEC Tournament as a young kid, as a freshman, one, if he knows what he's talking about; and two, if he felt -- I don't know how you can't just yourself be excited. I think that that's kind of the way Marreese came out.
I'm not surprised. A lot of these guys talk a really, really good game, a lot of them do. You know, I think it's a matter of -- I think our deficiencies, so to speak, that have affected our team are exposed and I have not been able to, as a coach, get them to focus on it, improve it and make it better or buy into it or whatever words you want to use.
No, I watch it every day. I watch it every day, so I'm not surprised at all. There was nothing that was uncharacteristic for me as a coach watching our team play out there today. You know, I think, like I said, the reason we got down by so many points is because we didn't shoot 53, 54, 55 percent as we did in some of these last couple games. And I think that if you look at just the shooting percentage by Alabama today and the three-point shooting percentage, it isn't a whole lot different from what Tennessee or Kentucky or Mississippi State shot. It's just that we got so exposed because we shot such a low percentage that we really didn't give ourselves an opportunity to win the game by getting down so many points.
I think our guys are pretty competitive that they would have fought their way back, and I think Alabama maybe contributed a little bit to that. It's hard to keep a team, I think, really focused and motivated when you're up by 20-something points like that.

Q. You knew this was going to be a different year, but how would you characterize this year, looking back? I know this game just ended, but was this a year where you thought they would get better? Was it disappointing the way they finished the season?
COACH DONOVAN: I think every year is challenging in a different way. You know, it's hard for me to be excited going forward because I don't see things getting fixed, you know? Again, we're 31 games into the season, and I'm not going to sit up here and talk about youthfulness or what we don't have or what we lost or those type of things. What you want to see is you want to see a group of guys really understand what it takes to win. And sometimes you've got to go through some things to understand what it takes to win.
It's in front of our guys, what it takes to win, and like I said, for whatever reason, I haven't brought it out in them. They're not committed to it. But I'm not necessarily really that excited about these guys being sophomores to be honest. I don't see that being -- I think people's initial thing is, well, they're going to get older. I never believe in that. I don't think people change a whole lot, and I don't think you've seen the basketball team change at all this year. So it's hard for me to get overly thrilled or excited.
I think if you see guys really get better and battle and compete you say, you know what, they're just young, they're inexperienced. We have some, I think, talent issues on the defensive end of the floor, foot speed-wise, that sometimes is not all their fault. But also, I think, too, we have a commitment issue, which to me bothers me as a coach because I just got done coaching a group of guys the last two years that were so committed. And to be with this group, I don't think just because they're going to be another year older that all of a sudden, quote-unquote, everything gets resolved. I don't see that.

Q. What players in particular are you talking about, Chandler, Mo?
COACH DONOVAN: I'm not going to get into particular players. I never look at our team as individuals, I look at it as our team. It's our team. When I say team, I throw coaches in there, I throw players in there. It's all of us. We're all together. But I would say that all these guys are young, they're all young. It's not like we have any older guys except maybe Walter. But I would say that just because this group, all of them, are a year older doesn't mean they become a year better. I've never been a big believer of that old adage, the best thing about freshmen is they become sophomores. I've never bought into that motto. They're wiser, they're more experienced but the same issues are still in front of them, and until they address those issues it doesn't really make a difference how old they are.

Q. Late in the second half when you had it down to six points, they just went flat from that point out. Was it a case, do you think, of they just kind of ran out of energy there and didn't have any more in the tank?
COACH DONOVAN: I thought Alabama made some really momentum changing plays. We got it down to six a couple times and we had an opportunity to get it inside there. A big play in the game was we made a big pass to Chandler and Hendrix was behind him and he really didn't see him and Hendrix blocked the shot, and that took it to Riley to three from 7 to 10 and that was big. Then we fouled Riley one time one 3-point shot that was a big play. We got it to six, they made some momentum changing plays.
I thought our post defense in the second half with the way our post guys worked was a lot better than it was in the first half, but, you know, does it take 25, 26 points to get down to say, okay, now I'm going to play defense? Dan Werner, I thought Marreese worked a whole lot better in the second half. But we need to be able to work like that the whole game.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much.

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