Dale Ellis Press Conference (2-28-14)

Feb. 28, 2014

(Opening Statement)
"I have tons of family and friends here to celebrate the occasion. What I am most happy about are my teammates, some of them I haven't seen in 25 years. I am going to get a chance to see them tomorrow, actually tonight. Thank you guys for allowing me to have a moment with you."

(On who will be in attendance this weekend)
"I have no idea. Steve Ray, one of my former teammates and Rip Johnson are organizing a function tonight down at Calhoun's on the River, quite a few of my teammates there. I am expecting Howard Wood, Kevin Nash, Reggie Johnson, Gary Carter, Rip Johnson, and Steve Ray. It will be a host of folks."

(On coming back to Knoxville)
"I am always excited to come back to Knoxville. When I left here after college and went on to play professional ball it took me years to get back here. The city has made a lot of changes, the University has grown. I have always considered Knoxville a home away from home for me. I have always received a ton of love here, for four years, it was the best time of my life spending right it right here in college."

(On the most vivid memory from his time here)
"I can remember the last game I played here and how emotional I was. It was emotional. Beating VCU in the tournament, coming into my own as a player, giving myself the confidence that I can get it done. As a first year player you are playing with some great players. Howard Wood, Reggie Johnson, you get to see those guys every day at practice, Gary Carter and Steve Ray. You are just trying to work your way into a situation where you can compete because it had been my dream to play professional basketball. Hitting a shot to advance in the tournament gives you the confidence that yes, you can do this."

(On playing for Don DeVoe)
"I remember him foaming at the mouth because I made defensive mistakes when I first got here. He was a very intense coach. I have played for a lot of great coaches, he was a great x's and o's coach. You have to come with it every day with DeVoe. He taught me how to play both ends of the floor. He gave me an opportunity to play and put me in situations where I could score. He made the game easy for me. He helped prepare me for that next level."



(On not playing much when he first came to UT)
"We sat down at the end of the season and talked about the playing situation, I asked for a meeting. He assured me that things were going to be fine, come back, you are going to get your opportunity. That was all I needed to hear. I was a little disappointed, it was the first time in my basketball life that I had to sit and watch. I went on to play professional ball, my first three years in Dallas were pretty much the same, you are waiting on the opportunity to play but you understand that you are playing with the best athletes in the world. It was just a learning process. I used practices as game opportunities for me, I tried to come with it every day in practice so that once you get your opportunity you are prepared to get it done."

(On when he was told about his jersey retirement)
"Actually the call came in when Allan's jersey was being retired, I was asked to come up and participate and I did. I was told at that moment to pick a game and we will get it done. It just so happened that we weren't able to get it done until this moment. I am excited about it."

(On working hard)
"I did exactly what my coached asked of me. If I was asked to play hard on the defensive end, guard a two or guard a center, or post up, or whatever it was, I just wanted to be on the floor. I was fortunate to have teammates that were willing to sacrifice their game at times to get me involved and to have a coaching staff that believed in me."

(On the introduction of the three-point line)
"I don't think it would have benefited me, I played with my back to the basket. It was rare occasions when I took shots outside the three-point line. There are guys like Michael Brooks that I played with, he would have benefited greatly, it would have enhanced his chances to play professional basketball. He was a great shooter."

(On playing basketball and improving)
"I played pickup game, I love the game of basketball so I can't remember many days when I didn't go out and play with a group of friends in the off season. You could never catch me posting up, only when we needed a basketball to win, I played on the perimeter."

(On talking with the current UT team)
"This is going to be a first for me, I don't really know. I am just going to wing it. I don't believe I can say anything that is going to hurt these kids. I never had the opportunity to speak to a professional basketball player as a youngster, their ages, I know they are going to be attentive. Just share what I know about how you prepare for games and how you have to be professional on both ends of the floor and off the court as well. You have to play both ends. They still have an opportunity to do something special. There was a situation where I got traded to Seattle and we were picked to lose more games than anybody in the NBA, we were picked to be dead last. We gelled at the end of the season, that is what is most important, you will see Miami do that again this year, they will come together at the end of the season and get real strong. You just have to keep working at it. We ended up in the Western Conference finals. We were a 50-50 team, we were the No. 8 seed and we were facing the No. 1 seed and they beat us by 35 points in the first game and we went on to beat them three straight games. So anything can happen in basketball. You just have to go out there and play as hard as you can and try to limit your mistakes on the floor."

(On if he has watch Tennessee play this season)
"I honestly haven't had a chance to watch a game this year, I am excited about getting a chance to see them tomorrow. Throughout my basketball career, I can't remember many days not playing. If you are going to play as much as I did it is kind of hard to take your job home with you. I would rather watch a good movie. This is the time of year I like to get excited about basketball, I turn the TV on, I love the NCAA Tournament as well as they NBA Playoffs, so I am in tune with it right now."

(On competing against Ralph Sampson)
"I wish I could played around the basketball instead of posting him up, take him out on the floor and try to shoot over him, bring him away from the basket. It is difficult if you don't get something real fast with a guy like Ralph at seven foot, 7'2" or whatever he is, and as long as he is. So you have to catch and make a quick move. It was difficult to have to face him two years in a row.

(On Stokely Athletic Center)
"The floor. I thought I was going to get a chance to play in the new arena when I was here. That arena was built after I left, but I love the intimacy of the arena. I think about the fans. We had arguable the best fans in the country, still do 'till this day. I enjoyed going over there to watch Pat [Summitt] coach. I'd sit there and watch her coach- loved watching her, watching her girls play basketball. It was just a real intimate atmosphere and it was easy to play in that type of atmosphere. When you have fans that are behind you 100 percent throughout the course of a game, it just gives you that lift that you need to get it done."

(On emotions when told jersey would be retired)
"I never thought much about that. My high school jersey was retired shortly after I left high school. I don't know. I played 20 years, 17 years of professional basketball. You don't think much about that. I think when you get to that level professional, you think about holding on to what you have. If you get into a nice groove on a court and make a couple shots, you're looking at- keep running that through your mind and keep staying in that same goal. At the same time, once the game is over, you have to carry yourself a certain way so you can retain what you just experienced, so you don't let it try to get too much emotion, show too much emotion about it. I was never one of those players that got excited making a big shot jumping up and down. I tried to keep it all in check. I didn't think much about what I was doing. I was just playing basketball. When I retired, I had a chance to reflect on a lot of it. You couldn't catch me talking about basketball when I was an actual player, but I'll talk about it today. It wasn't much of a thought whether my jersey would be retired here or not. I just thought that at some point it would be- I just want to be alive when it happens."

(On choosing Tennessee)
"I received my first letter from the University of Tennessee, my first college letter. Ray Mears was the coach at the time that actually sent that letter. Don DeVoe came in afterwards and his staff was very consistent when coming back and forth to Marietta to see me more than any other school. I was leaning toward the University of Georgia- just the idea of leaving home, I had never left home before. I wanted to stay home and play basketball. I had school offer me things and Don DeVoe offered me an education and I took that. What pushed me over the edge to make the decision to come to Tennessee was my high school coach who I respect and admire and the coach of the football team helped guide me in that choice. It was a big decision in my life and it just happened to be the best decision. I'm the first in my family to receive a college degree."

(On what differentiates good shooters from other shooters)
"Mindset. I believe once you understand how to play the game, it's 80 percent and 90 percent mental. Just seeing the ball go through the basket, shooting with confidence every time you put it up and visualize it going in with that attitude. When I stepped on the court, I didn't believe there was any other better shooter on the floor than me. Just having that attitude."



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