March 21, 2010
THE MODERATOR: Joined by Missouri student athletes Keith Ramsey, Zaire Taylor, J.T. Tiller and Head Coach Mike Anderson. Coach, will make an opening statement and we'll take questions for our student athletes from Missouri.
Mike Anderson: It wasn't the way I envisioned these guys going out, but at the same time I couldn't be more proud of any team I have had an opportunity to coach than these guys. They left everything on the floor. A lot of teams this time of the year they are fully loaded, they have all their players and we had some guys I always said we have some guys that didn't have an opportunity to play. Justin Safford. We have one guy playing his hand hurt, Laurence Bowers. We have one guy playing with a broke nose. Yet these guys gave me everything they had each and every day. That's why I couldn't be more proud of a team, the effort.
Congratulations to West Virginia. They get a chance to move on. But we just ran out of time. I don't think these guys lost; I think they just ran out of time. But I thought it was a tremendous effort by our guys, and of course I think the guy that had the statement on his game was Da'Sean Butler. I think he was the big catalyst I think for the team, making big plays for West Virginia.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, Coach. Open it up to questions for our student athletes only at this time.
Q. J.T. and Keith, that game from the sidelines seemed like you didn't get it speeded up the way you wanted, but they didn't dominate particularly in the paint the way they hoped to. Was it a game where nobody could really get everything done at all?
Zaire Taylor: No, I don't think I don't think nobody had the dominant hand in this game, where they were trying to slow us down, we were trying to speed them up. I don't think anybody imposed their will fully, you know what I mean? I think it was in spurts; who had the longest spurt of what they were really trying to do in the game.
THE MODERATOR: Keith, your thoughts?
Zaire Taylor: I agree with him. I agree with him.
Q. Keith, I think back to those back to back possessions at the start of the second half. I think it was seven shots. Was that kind of symptomatic of the frustration you guys felt; your passion for the game was certainly there, the ball just didn't fall almost all day?
Keith Ramsey: Of course, man. It's tough it's going to be tough to win when you have guys shoot 2 for 9, 3 for 8, another 2 for 9. It's tough. It's frustrating. So, I mean, if those shots would have fell we would probably talking about us winning.
Q. J.T., can you just talk about dealing with Butler out there? He seemed to be maybe the only guy for either team who could impose, like you talked about, impose a little will on the game. How good was he now that you saw him in the flesh?
Zaire Taylor: I mean, he's a good player, you know. Night in and night out, you're going to be challenged. He stepped up to the plate. He knew we were going to try to really see what he was going to do. He put his stamp on the game. So you can't take anything away from him. He's a good player.
THE MODERATOR: We thank you guys for coming up. Appreciate it. Great season. We'll take questions for Coach Anderson at this time.
Q. Coach, could you talk about what you saw from Michael Dixon today?
Mike Anderson: I thought I saw a young player kind of grow up a little bit more. An NCAA basketball tournament player. That experience alone I think will enable him to be a better basketball player next year. It's one thing to be in the tournament. But then to come in and play in it as a freshman and to play well, I thought he was real pivotal in what took place today, as we made a run back in the game. We got down and he made some key shots, some key plays for us. Again, he didn't look like a freshman out there.
Q. We talked a lot about defense, both with you and Bob. In order to make a deep run, do teams have to be able to score in this tournament and put together some sort of offense?
Mike Anderson: I think you're absolutely right. I think you have to be able to put the ball in the hole. When you're talking about teams, the higher seed teams playing against some of the lower seed teams, a lot of things have to go right for you. It was evident tonight I thought we came with the right mindset defensively, getting after it, putting ourself in position to have a chance to win.
But you're correct in what you just said. You have to put the ball in the hole. We had opportunities to do that. And when that didn't take place, it enabled West Virginia to get to the free throw line. And they made their free throws. But when you talk about making a run in the tournament, you have to put it in the hole, but you also have to play defense. I think they're a good defensive team. We're a good defensive team. But the free throw line, there's a big difference, discrepancy in the free throws.
So, with that being said, they're known for their offensive, rebounding ability. And I thought we matched that. But we had some opportunities to really between the free throw line, ourselves and some lay ups that we missed, it was an interesting game.
Q. As a quick follow up, you held them, I think it was 12:55 without a field goal. Was it a case of if you could kind of get out of your own way you would be all right and make a bucket or two offensively? Were you disheartened that you couldn't build on to a lead or garner a lead in that you were playing such defense?
Mike Anderson: When it was 25 all I thought we were gaining some momentum and getting ready to take off. We took a couple of quick shots. But at the same time I thought we attacked the basket a couple of times. We didn't get to the line. On the other end, they got to the line. What was 25, where you say they didn't score a field goal, they got to the free throw line. But we had opportunities to really gain some momentum, even in the second half. I thought we got the game speeded up a little bit, disrupted. We had some lay ups that we normally cash in on, and just didn't. When you don't do that, you don't make it happen. You don't get the winning formula if you don't cash in those opportunities. But it wasn't because of lack of effort.
I think these guys when you look at these seniors, they've won 31 games last year. They won 23 this year. That's quite a few wins. When you talk about teams across the nation. But I thought they played against a good West Virginia team, and they came up a little short.
Q. Mike, you said you told the guys like you said here, that you were never more proud of a team than you were this one. Why? What especially?
Mike Anderson: Why, because I made a statement at the beginning of the year, and I'm sure a lot of people picked up on it, a lot of people didn't. They talked about our team losing 1,000 point scorers, three great players that are playing professional ball. And I said it depends on how you look at the hourglass. You can look at it half full or half empty. And I think a lot of people probably wrote that we are probably going to be half empty. I think people now see what I was talking about. It was half full. And with that being said, it kind of evolved, and I think these guys put themselves into position to almost, to almost do some of the same things they did last year. That's what I mean, to have some things thrown at them adversity wise. You get Joseph Safford to go down, one of your most experienced guys to go down, that's probably not even the fourth of the season left. And now there's adjustments that have to be taking place. You have a guy playing hurt, Laurence Bowers. You have a guy playing with a broke nose, J.T. Tiller. And yet, they never complained. They continued to work. You guys wrote about it. But they continued to work. That's why I said I couldn't be more proud of a group of guys, because they paid the ultimate price, and with that being said, I think they're going to be successful in life.
Q. Do you think the fact you did get them back to the tournament replacing those three 1,000 point scorers and having a sophomore league team shows your program has some staying power?
Mike Anderson: I think there's no question about it. Not only sustaining power. We hope to be dancing again. It's not just coming to the dance. I think a lot of people get caught up just coming here. We want to dance. I think that baton was passed last year. It will be passed this year with these three seniors you saw here. These guys are going to be really missed. I think when you look at these guys here, you are looking at glue guys, guys that get in the trenches that do all the dirty work.
With that being said, we have to have some guys to replace those guys. They will be dearly missed because of the dearly missed because of the impact they had on the program. They were the most selfless guys I've ever been around. You don't find that a whole lot in college basketball. A lot of guys are about "me"; these guys were about the team. And I think if anybody got a chance to see us play throughout the year, last year, this year, I think they saw that brand, the same thing, the unselfish guys that play to win.
Q. You guys have done a great job all year making the opposition feel uncomfortable, get out of their comfort zone. Butler never seemed to get out of the comfort zone tonight. Was that something you didn't do or something he did because he played that well?
Mike Anderson: First half he got on a rhythm, he really got on a roll. I thought the second half we did disrupt him. I think he got frustrated. I saw him bark at the official. They were calling each other by the name. I went "holy cow."
Okay, Da'Sean. I was like, whoah, what was this here? I thought we did. I thought that enabled to us get back into the game. I thought we did our defense keyed, our guys made some adjustments. It was a game. People are going to look at the final score and think they just no, they did not. I thought it was a heck of a game. We got three minutes to go and we got the ball. It's a four point game. So it's a game that could have went any way.
Q. You talked about replacing the glue guys. Kim English said it will be harder to replace those guys than the three seniors from last year. Who do you see being the glue guys next year?
Mike Anderson: Well, I think with the guys that already are on board right now, their roles will change even more. You talk about the sophomores, Justin Safford is going to be one of the few seniors we have. Then of course we have, I think, a good recruiting class coming in. They have to prove themselves. So with that being said, I mean, we'll get back and find out who those guys are going to be. Obviously there's going to be some playing time there. When you lose three starters from this team, three guys that were starting for us, hopefully the competition begins in the off season. As we get prepared for 2010, 2011. We'll find out.
But I think there will be some candidates. I promise you that.
Q. Quick follow up. This is the time of year where the talk is out there about coaches. Care to comment on any of the speculation about you and Auburn?
Mike Anderson: I don't know about no speculation. I guess that's you talking I don't know anything about speculation. We just got finished up with the NCAA tournament. That's all I'm talking about. I'm excited about what's taking place at the University of Missouri. I really, really am.
THE MODERATOR: Anything else for Coach Anderson? Coach, great year.
Mike Anderson: Thanks.
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