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Vols' Pre-UMass NCAA Press Conference

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March 20, 2014

TENNESSEE QUOTES

MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. We're now ready to begin the Tennessee portion of the press conferences. We have with us Josh Richardson, Antonio Barton, Jarnell Stokes, Jeronne Maymon, Jordan McRae.

Q. Antonio, for you, in a game like this when you're playing against a team that wants to run, wants to push pace and so forth, how much discipline does it take to try to keep things at your pace and to really utilize the advantages that you guys have in the half court?

Antonio Barton: It takes a lot of discipline. We've got to keep two guys back at all times because they're a good team. They like to get up and down. We just got to stay within our course and try to slow them down.

Q. For any player that wants to answer this, kind of when did you guys get in and what's been sort of the turnaround since last night's game?

Jeronne Maymon: We got in around 3:00. We went straight to our room, probably laid down around like 4:00.

Q. Jarnell, you had a strong game against UMass last year in Puerto Rico. Any tendency, anything you can take from a game like that to use, or has it been too long? Jarnell Stokes: That was a long time ago. I'm a completely different player since then. They're a completely different team. I can hope that they don't remember that game, but it was a long time ago.

Q. You said you're a completely different player. How have you developed and evolved since then?

Jarnell Stokes: I'm a much faster player. I'm a more all around basketball player. I think I did a good job scoring that game, but I'm more of an all around player.

Q. Jarnell, you said last night in previewing the game at UMass, they're a 6 seed, so people think they had a better season than you guys. Is there something, a chip on the shoulder, your first chance to play a team seeded higher? Does that give you guys a little bit of extra motivation?

Jarnell Stokes: Well, you always have a lot of motivation coming into the tournament. Every team is playing with a chip on their shoulder right now.

We understand that UMass is very long and they run the floor with the best of them. So just personally, I have to do a good job of sitting down and getting back to help out Antonio and the guards.

Q. Any player who wants to jump at this one, back in December, you played a Virginia team and you beat them by 35 points on your floor. I'm willing to think that the last thing you expected was to show up at a regional and they're a 1 seed. What does that say about college basketball and early expectations or early decisions on teams?

Josh Richardson: I think we came out early in the season against Virginia and played good basketball. And when guys are hitting shots on our team, it's tough for anybody in the nation to beat us.

So I congratulate them on a great season. They picked it up when they needed to. They play good ball.

Q. For Jeronne and Jordy both, having played that game and got that under your belt last night, not only getting a win but the way you got it, do you think that helps? You guys are a team feeling good about yourself right now coming into this game because of the way you handled last night?

Jordan McRae: Just like you said, I think we fought last night. I don't think we got a lead in that game until the last two or three minutes of the game. That kind of game brings a lot of energy to the next one.

Q. Antonio and Josh, neither one of you guys had the kind of first half you would have liked to have had last night. Talk about what that did for you to come back and play the way you did in the second half and contribute, both of you, the way you did to the way it turned out?

Antonio Barton: The biggest contribution to that was these guys right here. As you saw, me and Josh did not have a strong first half, but they kept building our confidence, telling us it was going to come to us and keep shooting the ball. That's why we came out the second half, had a strong half.

MODERATOR: Josh, have anything to add?

Josh Richardson: I just second what he said. I think the guys did a good job of just keeping our heads up and told us to keep shooting and it will start falling. We both kept shooting. I feel like we did a good job of just keeping our heads up and playing ball.

Q. Jordan, we asked Jarnell what he thought about last year's UMass game. What about you? What did you think about how you played them last season and will it help you?

Jordan McRae: I don't remember much about that game. But just kind of like Jarnell said, we knew they were a team that liked to push the ball and they do it really well. So just knowing going into the game, a key for us is going to be to make sure we're getting back.

MODERATOR: Gentlemen, thank you very much and good luck this weekend.

We are now ready to continue with the Tennessee press conference. We have head coach Cuonzo Martin.

Q. Coach, would you like to make an opening statement?

COACH MARTIN: First and foremost, excited to be here to represent the University of Tennessee. It's a great time for our guys and our program.

Came off a big win last night against Iowa, a team that played hard, played with a lot of energy and a lot of emotions. So it was fun for our guys, fun for our program.

Now we're excited to move forward against a very talented UMass team.

Q. Coach, are you concerned about the fatigue? You played late last night and you traveled to all hours, and now you've got less than 24 hours to get ready for a brand new team?

COACH MARTIN: Not really. When you're talking about SEC play, tournament play, and also preseason tournaments, it's the same thing. You have three days, three games. That's where the conditioning comes in. It starts in June and July to prepare your body and your mind to play games at that level. So not at all.

I think for our guys, a day off is great for us as opposed to three straight days.

Q. First of all, Cuonzo, what was the trip like down here? That was a really happy locker room last night. The second part, I know you probably didn't really want to go to Dayton, you would have rather been straight into the bracket. But in retrospect, not only that you won the game, maybe got the judging from the start, got the butterflies out or whatever, but the way you won it, could this be a good thing, your team feeling good about themselves, the way they came back and won the game?

COACH MARTIN: It's a great thing for our guys. First, I'll answer the travel. We got in about 1:30 last night. We landed 2:30, 3:00. We had brunch around noon today and then we had lunch at 3:30, 4:00 and then we came over here.

But as far as the game, I thought it was great for our guys to play a game like that, a physical game. I think it helps to get a game under your belt because I thought we got out the gates, we had nerves. I wouldn't say nervous, but we had the nerves. Played tight out the gates against Iowa.

Once we started to settle down in the first half and second half, we played well. Did a tremendous job in defending those guys, a team that scores 82 points a game, to hold them to 65 in an overtime game. I thought we relaxed and played well. I think it will help us because now you have a game under your belt and it's just basketball.

Q. Follow up, winning a tight game, that's something you all had trouble doing.

COACH MARTIN: I think it was great for our guys to be down less than four minutes in a game and to find a way to win the game, to send the game in overtime and really play extremely well in overtime. I thought it was great for our guys because in most cases in these settings, that's what it comes down to, the last minute or two of ball games.

Q. Coach, is Iowa a team who likes to push pace? Was that a pretty good preparation game for UMass, given you don't have a ton of time to install a game plan for this one?

COACH MARTIN: I think so. I think so because of the way they push. And I think both teams are very similar. They both have length. They have size. They get out and press a little bit, do different things defensively. Zones, matchup, 1-3-1s. Very similar. The prep time, I think, will help us.

Obviously got to watch a lot of film and Chaz Williams, a very quick guy, fast with the ball, but he's also tough as nails. He makes plays. He's good off the bounce. He makes big shots, does a tremendous job in probing a defense and continues to make plays. You think he has the ball, you think you have him stopped, he continues to find the guy. They play well together and that's the reason why they're here.

Q. As you looked at the bracket Sunday night, any thoughts about UMass's seeding as a number 6? And the other part, you know, you guys are 11 playing a 6. Do you use that as some kind of motivation?

COACH MARTIN: Well, I think for our guys, it's just playing the way we're capable of playing. We're a very talented team and our guys know and understand those seeds are really just numbers. They're a very talented team. They earned a 6 seed because of the work they've done throughout the season. So you have to give credit where it was due. I don't think we were an 11 seed, but that's the seed we were dealt. So you've got to make it work. Again, once the ball is tipped, it's just basketball.

Q. Cuonzo, back in December, you played a Virginia team and beat them by 35 points. You show up here in Raleigh and they're a 1 seed. What does that mean for college basketball about teams improving or persevering or whatever?

COACH MARTIN: That night we played well. It obviously showed what they've done since that point. They've played extremely well as a team. They have great parts. They do a great job sharing the basketball on both ends of the floor. They do a great job of helping each other defensively. Just a well coached team, a well oiled machine, so to speak. For us, it's just a team that's gotten better.

We had some bumps in the road through the course of the season. We won seven out of the last nine, so we're playing well.

Q. I guess you guys did a pretty good job on the boards last night, looked at the stats. Is that something you think you can, I don't know, take advantage of, I guess, against UMass, or does it help with dealing with a team that wants to push the tempo if you can really hit the glass?

COACH MARTIN: I don't know if necessarily take advantage, because they have big guys. They have length. This is what we do; we crash offensive glass. It's just a matter of the team being able to stop those guys. We really got two guys that do a great job in crashing the offensive glass. We'll continue to do that.

We do a good job boxing out as a team. But I don't necessarily taking advantage, because they crash the glass as well and have length, they have size, and they'll do the same thing.

Q. Cuonzo, you'd been in the NCAA tournament as a player, as an assistant coach. What was the experience like or what is the experience like as a head coach and what did it mean to you to win that first game as a head coach?

COACH MARTIN: It was great. It's just great to I don't know necessarily for me, but it was great to get our guys back to this situation and get to this point in the NCAA tournament, because I think every school starts out, we want to be an NCAA tournament team. The ultimate goal is to one day be the last team standing. But to get to this point, that means you've done a solid job as a program. That's validation as a program.

For me, it was more about our guys, our seniors, Jeronne and Jordan excuse me, Jeronne and Jordan McRae, two seniors. They played Jeronne was a transfer when he came and Jordan was a true freshman. Even those guys were on a NCAA tournament team, they weren't a part or didn't have an impact on the game. And now these guys got us back to that point as basketball players. I'm happy for those guys to get us to that point. That's what it means for me more than anything and for our fans and our student body and the University. That's a big deal to me.

UMASS QUOTES

MODERATOR: We're now ready to begin the press conference with the UMass student athletes. Joining us today, we have Derrick Gordon, Chaz Williams and Cady Lalanne. Let's go ahead with questions for the student athletes.

Q. Chaz, up until last night, you guys didn't have an official opponent set. How has that changed your mindset going into today and how much work have you gotten in on studying Tennessee?

CHAZ WILLIAMS: We all watched the team last night, the game last night as a team. Some guys watched it together and others were in their room. But we got a good view of what we have to do and Coach gave us the game plan today and everything we have to do. We have to go out and execute.

Q. This is for Derrick. The last time UMass was when they were in the Final Four, you were four years old. When they were in the tournament, you were six. There was a player, Winston Smith from St. Patrick's, who did go to UMass. My question is, do you know Winston? It's been a lot of years. What was your impression as you got older and became aware of teams around the country? What impression did you have of UMass?

DERRICK GORDON: No, I really don't know that much about him. I mean, NCAA tournament, there's a lot of good teams in this field right now, and honestly, the number about the team really doesn't mean nothing. It matters who wants the game more and that's been the game plan since we've been down here to just take it one day at a time and get mentally focused and physically focused.

Q. Cady, seems like this is a team that you have to play an important role against, given their size inside. You had a lot of success early in the season against some teams with some size. Do you try to recapture that level of play you had going early on?

CADY LALANNE: Definitely. Just watching film and going back to what was working against the bigger guys like that and what I was doing on offense, how the transition was working towards the big guys that were on the floor. So just looking back on that and seeing what I can do to adjust to bigger guys.

Q. This is for Derrick. You're the only guy, I guess, on the roster that's played in an NCAA tournament. Have you talked to the guys at all about the experience of what you know and what to prepare for?

DERRICK GORDON: Yeah, I talked to them about it a lot. It's one of the best experiences I've ever had playing basketball. And I just told them just stay focused and stay together. It's going to be a lot of ups and downs during the game, and we've got to be able to keep our composure throughout the game. I referred that to plenty of guys on the team and I believe everybody got the message. And we're ready to go out there and do what we got to do.

Q. Cady, one thing that Tennessee's very good at is attacking the glass on both ends of the floor. How important is it for you and some of the other big guys to establish a dominance on the glass early?

CADY LALANNE: It's really important. Everything got to start earlier, pushing them off the paint early, make sure they don't have good post position. As soon as a shot goes up, turn around and box them out. Both the big men both average a pretty good amount of offensive rebounds and that's how the team gets going too.

So me and Samp and Max, whoever is down there, just make sure we turn around and box them out and keep them out of the paint.

Q. Is that a different role for you, talking to the guys about your experience in the NCAA tournament, the new guy on the team that's played together a couple years? What's it like being a voice for them to lean on?

DERRICK GORDON: It's been different, because when I first came here, I was looking to go to Chaz more, just to find out about the teams and everything like that. But, I mean, it's different now. The NCAA tournament, I'm the only one with experience. But I just told them, just go out there, have fun. I mean, don't put any pressure on yourselves or anything like that. But I believe once the first four minutes is up and you get that first four minutes, it's going to be just like a regular game.

Throughout these past couple days, I just notice that my teammates is ready.

Q. This question is for Chaz. Chaz, what does it mean to be part of the senior class that returns UMass to the NCAA tournament and really returns some luster to this program?

CHAZ WILLIAMS: It's a true blessing and an honor just to know that when we first got to UMass, those were our plans and those were the goals we had set for ourselves. And we seen it happen in the first two years we was there. But unfortunately, it didn't go that way. We just had to keep working.

So every summer when we came back, we wanted to work and improve and just be better than we were the years past. And this year, we're just thankful and grateful that we're here.

Q. Chaz, after the selection party, a few guys mentioned you kind of owed Tennessee one after the loss last year. Will you use that as motivation in the next day or so?

CHAZ WILLIAMS: Not really. Like guys have been asking about teams we played earlier in the year and things like that. We're a different team from last year, a totally different team. So what Tennessee saw last year is not the same UMass they'll see tomorrow afternoon.

So it's not necessarily a rematch, but it would be good to beat them guys after they defeated us last year in the consolation game.

Q. This is for Chaz and Cady. Obviously, on Selection Sunday, being included, it hit you that you made the tournament. Since then, have there been things you experienced this week prior to taking the practice court, that has reminded you that, yes, you are actually in the tournament and it's a new experience for you?

CADY LALANNE: Just the fan base and how much support you see around the community, people messaging you, texting you, social media and all that. So it feels pretty good having everybody supporting you. It reminds you that you're in a tournament, family, friends, feels pretty good.

CHAZ WILLIAMS: It's more like the atmosphere. The atmosphere is beautiful and it's tremendous. It gives you the kind of feel like it's a Super Bowl, it's a World Series game. So it's just pretty exciting just to know that we're here for a purpose and we have business to take care of.

Q. Chaz, do you look at that tape from Tennessee last year? How much did you scout that and how much did you use that?

CHAZ WILLIAMS: I seen a little bit of it last night. Actually, once we leave here, I have to go watch the whole game from last year. I feel like they did a great job against us and against me personally, the point guard.

I'm just trying to find ways to creep into their defense and get Cady the ball in easy positions and Derrick Gordon and my other teammates.

Q. Chaz, the Atlantic 10 tournaments, the two games were not necessarily your team's best games. Is there some value in that to give you guys a measuring stick of where you are and what you have to do to work on now?

CHAZ WILLIAMS: Definitely. We understood what we did at the Barclay and we reviewed tape and Coach got on us. We had to come to the realization with ourselves and understand that we have to step our game up if we're trying to compete for a National Championship.

The last couple of days in practice have been truly competitive and guys are getting after it. So it's good to see everybody come out with the fire under them.

Q. For any of the three players, obviously, early in the week before you had an opponent, you were focusing on yourselves. No matter how far you guys go in this tournament, if you have success, it will be because you do what well?

DERRICK GORDON: I'd say mentally prepare well. Feel good, play good is what I go. These past couple days, everybody's just been locked in. We've been focused with the game plan. Even they we don't know who we were playing yet, it was just more of making our games better individually and getting better as a team.

MODERATOR: Any other questions for the student athletes? Gentlemen, thank you very much and good luck this weekend.

We are now ready to start the portion of the press conference with UMass Head Coach Derek Kellogg. At this time, Coach, could you please make an opening statement?

COACH KELLOGG: Sure. We're obviously excited to be here. The city of Raleigh and the NCAA tournament has been fantastic to this point. We were up kind of late last night watching a basketball game. We're looking forward to our open practice and getting ready for a great game versus Tennessee tomorrow. The guys have enjoyed the experience, but now it's time to go play a basketball game.

Q. Coach, you were part of some pretty good teams during your college years that made the tournament as a habit. What does it mean to get to this point where this team has made it back or the program has made it back to playing these types of games?

COACH KELLOGG: I think it's great for UMass and the community and also our program to solidify a lot of the hard work that's gone into building a program. Three straight 20 win seasons, but our first NCAA tournament. And I'd like to kind of write our own legacy, our own history, as far as where we're not always looking back but now we're looking forward. Hopefully, this is an opportunity to get UMass where we're a team that's continuously looking for NCAA tournament appearances and postseason play.

A lot of hard work by the guys. They had a great vision of what UMass could become or could we kind of rejuvenate like it once was.

Q. Derek, Cady's production is not the same down the stretch as it was early in the year. How important is it to get him in there early especially because of a team like Tennessee with the front court size?

COACH KELLOGG: Just to play physical and tough and try to match the size and kind of width of Maymon and Stokes would be huge for us, because those guys have really dominated the glass. As much as his production on the scoring front, if he could do a good job of neutralizing them on the glass, that would be great for us and hopefully get us some transition baskets or on the offensive end, some easy put backs. If he can play with high energy and high intensity and be tough out there, that will give us a chance on the boards.

Q. Derek, is that a mindset thing with Cady, to have him come in with the right frame of mind to approach it correctly?

COACH KELLOGG: With most players, it's mentally where are you and also physically. I think he's in good physical shape. He's excited. It's good for him to have high energy and high intensity. Now he knows this is a challenge.

Stokes is one of the top five guys in the country with double doubles. That will be a huge challenge for Cady. When he's gone against guys like that, he's usually performed fairly well or at least brought some high energy and high intensity.

Q. Is that the thing for you to try to solve, getting Cady back in that frame of mind?

COACH KELLOGG: Well, one of the things would be is to get him to just try to run hard and play hard and use his athleticism. I think the other things will come if he can get out of his way a little bit. He's practiced hard. He's committed to doing it. Now would be a great time. It's one and done. Now would be a great time for him to play his best basketball of the season again, where he was getting six offensive rebounds a game.

Q. Coach, is it nice to finally be able to prepare for one team instead of having to scout two?

COACH KELLOGG: It was. But I'm getting old, so staying up until 12:00 something last night, 1:00 in the morning watching tape and doing scouting stuff, that's wearing. But honestly, it was kind of a good week and also a trying week because we were able to spend some time on UMass. But at some point, you wanted to know are we playing Iowa or Tennessee. To finally realize who we're playing and what they bring to the table is somewhat, at least, a relief in that you know what to prepare for and what we're trying to do.

Q. Derek, you mentioned that guys are enjoying and you're enjoying the experience, but now it's time to play basketball. One of your players mentioned the support from social media. There's that, there's this. Have you had to focus time and attention to focusing guys on the stuff at hand?

COACH KELLOGG: When we've done team stuff, absolutely. We've done team stuff to keep them busy. Especially, our school's on spring break, we had more time to spend on basketball or team building activities or hanging around with each other to make sure guys didn't get caught up in the social media or the hoopla that can go into making the NCAA tournament.

Because the reality of it is, is people are excited in the UMass community. They're trying to vie for guys' time quite a bit. I wanted to make sure while we enjoyed it on one hand, the real joy would come out of winning some games. So I thought we stayed pretty focused throughout the week. I'm hoping they stay focused tonight and then into the game tomorrow.

Q. One last Cady question. You look back at the early season, is the way he played against the Alex Kirks and the Johnny O'Bryants, is that kind of the ideal of what Cady can be when he's playing with that mindset you talked about?

COACH KELLOGG: Absolutely. I thought he battled O'Bryant and Kirk and a lot of other guys along the way. He played great at GW and other games late in the season. I thought he didn't play well coming down the stretch. I thought he played so well early, our expectations were pretty high.

I still think he's capable of having a huge tournament here. When I say "huge," that means doing all the things that I asked him to do to help us win. If it means playing better defense, if it means running the floor harder so other guys can get shots, I think he's done a lot of that stuff. If he can get a touch or make a few layups around the win, that would help us also.

Q. Derek, do you look at the tape from last year? How much did you look at that Tennessee tape from last year?

COACH KELLOGG: We looked at it some. We're a totally different team and they're quite a bit different, especially with Maymon back and how they've played in the last, I guess, three weeks of the season.

To even go back to the middle of the year this year, never mind way back, but we'll browse through it just to see how maybe they play some different sets we're running or ball screens or our press.

But I think you got a pretty good feel for who they are from watching them a ton on TV this year, knowing a lot of the players from recruiting, seeing them in AAU and whatnot. I think because of how often they're on television, we've been able to watch them a lot this year.

Q. Derek, since Sunday, your players seem to be aware when people might say they might be over seeded. But when people might say they might lose their first game, does that sort of come from you? Are they following your lead on that?

COACH KELLOGG: No, they're following all you guys.

Q. Are you okay with that approach?

COACH KELLOGG: I mean, I saw two rats this morning on one show that picked us going pretty far, so maybe that's good. Or maybe they were mice, I'm not sure.

I think the kids and social media today, you can't hide them from it. They're telling me what people are saying more than me going to them. So they're fully aware that maybe people think we've been over seeded or that we might be the trendy, upset pick, whatever you might call it. But all along I've said I don't know how much difference there is in that group of teams. So no matter where we're seeded and who we have to play, it's pretty much you're going to play a team that's comparable and also a team that you're going to have to play really well to beat.

I didn't shy away from that before the selection show. I haven't shied away from it since. The kids are perceptive on that social media. They're good. They get a lot more information than you might imagine.

Q. Derek, when the brackets were revealed Sunday, there's been a lot of talk about potentially playing Duke on Sunday. Did you talk to the guys about not overlooking tomorrow for a potential game on Sunday like that?

COACH KELLOGG: I mean, that hasn't really come up at all. Not one time. Just because, I think, this is a tournament where you concentrate on the task at hand and the game at hand.

Like I mentioned, I think with most teams, anywhere from that 4 seed on up, maybe a 5 seed on up, I think the games are pretty comparable. Both teams are very good basketball teams that have played a tough schedule and kind of fall in that middle area where I think on any given night either team could win.

We're trying to get ready for, at one point, it was Tennessee or Iowa, and now Tennessee, to make sure our guys are ready, they're in the right frame of mind, and that they come out and play well. That would be the goal.

Q. Coach, it seems like you said your players are aware of where the talking is, projecting them as potentially being an upset in the first round. Can that become a motivating factor? Can you say look, you guys are being labeled as a team most likely to get upset or one of the teams that is? Can you use that to your advantage at all?

COACH KELLOGG: I think they're aware of it. Yes, if they use it the right way. There's a lot of things that can be motivating factors, that potentially being one of them. There's some things that are motivational. There's other things that are just hearsay and talk.

My thing with our team is we're ready to play. It's time. I think we're going to be ready to play and go out, add that to it a little bit and some other stuff that might be going on in there.

There are so many people with access to stuff that you could go find this guy over here who's got an account and this guy said this about the game. At the end of the day, you know, you have to go play and be ready to go.

Q. Derek, no matter how long you play in this tournament, and who you face, what are some of the keys that you're looking for from your team that will hopefully let you play well?

COACH KELLOGG: We've played well this year when we've had great energy, when it seems like our whole team from the bench on down to the guys on the floor are moving at a certain rate of speed, are all kind of connected as one on the defensive end of the floor and then we're pushing the ball and playing a fast pace on offense.

Those would be some telltale signs: the energy of how we come out, the commitment to rebounding and defense because of how good Tennessee is on the glass and how tough they play defensively.

If we do those things, I think we give ourselves a chance to win the game. That's what I'll be looking for out of our team. Come out with energy, have fun playing hard and competing and trying to make something happen.

Q. Derrick Gordon is the only player with experience in the NCAA tournament. Have you seen him maybe take a more vocal role? Is that something you want him to do?

COACH KELLOGG: We've talked about it. Him and I met and I let him know that he's the only guy really as players that has had NCAA tournament experience. So not so much to go out and try to do too much, but maybe inform the guys or let them know kind of the whole process of the media stuff and the open practice.

This is a great experience. It's also a different experience than you have on a regular game day or day before a game. Take practice, come here, do this, open practice. Then you go and there's a pep rally and things of that nature.

Take it all in stride, but know at the back of the mind, know the reason you're really here is to play Tennessee tomorrow afternoon. I think Derrick Gordon has done a good job of just letting the guys know the importance of coming out and competing at a high level. It's a one and done tournament. You lose, you go home. There's no more getting ready for next week.

 

 

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