March 15, 2012
Omaha, Neb. - The Missouri Tiger basketball team held a media session and public practice this afternoon at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, the day before Mizzou opens play in the 2012 NCAA Tournament against Norfolk State. Below is a transcript from Mizzou's session with the media:
THE MODERATOR: Missouri will be playing Norfolk State, and we will go right to questions.
Q. Can you guys tell me what your favorite moment has been in this season?
Marcus Denmon: Winning the Big 12 championship in the tournament was one of my most favorite because all season long we strived to win championships, and that was one of the most important ones we won this season.
Kim English: I've got to do mine in a couple parts, it's all of our road wins, each road win, I would say, there is no better feeling. Winning in Kansas City was great but winning on the road is great because we know how much work we put in that week preparing. When you have 15 guys going up against 12,000 and we come out of there with a victory, there is no better feeling in college basketball.
Q. Can you guys update us on the state of your most recent injuries, Kim, with your quad and Marcus with your ankle and what treatment you're still getting?
Kim English: Well, we both still are getting a lot of treatment. My quad is healing, the swelling is going down. There is still a big bruise, but running is fine, it's when I get physical contact, it still bothers me. I had a long talk with Coach Haith in practice and we decided to take all of the lob plays out of the practice for me.
Marcus Denmon: I'm getting treatment, the swelling has gone down, but I feel a lot better. It still bothers me some but it's nothing that I won't play with.
Q. Ricardo, take me back to a year ago when you first come into the NCAA Tournament, how overwhelming is the experience and how much does it help having been here before?
Ricardo Ratliffe: Since it was new, I didn't know what I was getting into. I basically tried to do the same thing that guys like Kim and Marcus have been through for four years so they just told me to keep the same preparation and make sure I'm mentally ready to go into the tournament.
Q. Everybody seems to like to play the "no respect" card. I don't know why that's funny, but does the No. 2 seed do that for you, not getting the No. 1 seed?
Marcus Denmon: We're just blessed that we are here and have the opportunity to play. All we can do is prepare for our opponent, Norfolk State and that's where we have our focus.
Q. Marcus and Kim you guys had success in the NCAA Tournament as freshmen, is it overstated to say that experience is valuable in a NCAA setting?
Kim English: Experience is helpful but it's not more important than what takes place in preparing and more importantly what happens during a game. Carmelo Anthony had no NCAA experience and won the whole thing so it's not that important. We are comfortable with the setting, the long time outs, the media, the intensity and the level in which these games are played for 40 minutes.
Marcus Denmon: Like Kimmie said as well, the only thing we need to make sure we focus on is getting everyone to understand that since we've been here, we understand what's going to take place. We understand the 40 minutes of media you have to do after the game, and preparing yourself mentally just to go out and perform at this stage because we understand that every possession seems every possession in the NCAA Tournament is magnified a lot more than during the regular season.
Q. Ricardo you faced a lot of great, big men this year, who would you most compare Kyle O'Quinn to? Give me your thoughts on him and who he is most like that you have played defense on this year.
Ricardo Ratliffe: We haven't really played that many centers that like to face up and he's more of a face up player. With his length I guess I could compare him to Kansas State's forwards or maybe Baylor, maybe Perry Jones. He likes to face up more than be a back to the basket player.
Q. Kim, how much of your success this year shooting the ball has been because of the style of offense and you getting the ball in positions where you are comfortable shooting?
Kim English: Coach Haith does a good job of studying team's deficiencies and finding ways that we can use our size to our advantage. My teammates do a good job of finding me spots where I can be successful. That's the most important thing, my teammates find me and deliver the pass and our coaching staff studying teams and seeing where they may have some deficiencies.
Q. Kim, I know you probably haven't thought a lot about this but about a year ago at this time you were looking for a new basketball coach and there were rumors about Matt Painter of Purdue. Kind of acute angle that you two end up here today. Any irony that your life has gone on and his has, too?
Kim English: I had no clue where our search went and I have no clue that Matt Painter was one of those coaches. Marcus and I got a chance to meet with Coach Painter in Colorado at the trials and Marcus spent the whole month with him in China. I wasn't into that, when I heard the name Frank Haith I was pleased because he was the only coach in the nation that I would have come back to Mizzou for. I'm blessed to have Mr. Alden, Babcock and the search committee that did a great job of finding Coach Haith.
THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, thank you very much for your time, best of luck. Coach Haith will make a statement and then we will go to questions.
COACH HAITH: Thank you. Obviously we're excited to be here, our guys have had some good work after the conference tournament. We were banged up going into this week and we're back to being healthy as we possibly can be.
Q. Coach, give me your thought on Norfolk State in particular, Kyle O'Quinn and you've seen big men this season, who would you most compare him to?
COACH HAITH: Norfolk State is a very athletic, talented team. They have had a tremendous season. Early in the year taking Marquette down to the wire, beating a Drexel team who I think probably should have been in this tournament. They're athletic on the wings, but Kyle O'Quinn is talented, he's very, very good.
He plays hard, he's good off the block, which makes him difficult. Not only can he score at two feet in the paint, he can face you up which makes it a tough match up because he can face and drive you and shoot the ball.
Q. Who would you compare him against?
COACH HAITH: Thomas Robinson can take you off the block, too. He's not Thomas Robinson, but he's similar to that type of player.
Q. Frank, you said the other night in Kansas City that you didn't much care about whether or not you got a No. 1 seed, it would be better to go through Omaha than St. Louis. So you didn't get either when you factor in the regional. How do you feel about that?
COACH HAITH: I'm excited about where we are at. As a team we talked about worrying what we could control and that was not something we could control.
I think the fact that there has only been three times that they have been seeded a No. 1 or No. 2, so this is special to be ranked going into the NCAAs. The committee has a tough job and I think they do a great job trying to put it together and we're excited about where we are. Playing in Omaha this weekend hopefully we will be fortunate enough to play next weekend out west.
Q. Frank, you have had success playing a four guard offense basically by necessity. Have you seen enough to where that would be something where if it wasn't a necessity that it would be worth doing in the future, as you have seen other teams struggle to react to it?
COACH HAITH: I do like what we have been able to accomplish this year with that. I would say to you that I like the four perimeter guys with skills. Kimmie is a guard but I wouldn't be afraid to play a guy there that has skills. I think it helps you when you have a complimentary guy that can pass, dribble, catch, and shoot like Kimmie, and I would continue to do that. But a lot of it is we have really good guys, really good guards.
Q. Your team is on such a roll right now, played such a great game in Kansas City, confidence is high. How do you make sure there is not too much confidence there heading into the tournament?
COACH HAITH: I would say this is a senior laden team and they have been focused all year. They stayed in the process, and with that said I feel good about us being focused. We have had opportunities to lose that focus throughout the year but this team has been determined and resilient throughout the year and I anticipate us having great focus on Friday afternoon.
Q. What's been your philosophy on having Moore on the floor with Ricardo Ratliffe versus without? It may be the games I've seen, which is only four of them live but it seemed like most of the time when Moore played, Ratliffe was out.
COACH HAITH: During our second rotation they do play together. They play together at some point during the game and we have a set pattern of rotation we do during the first 16 minutes of the game. Mike will come in for Matt and Steve will come in when Ricardo gets his first foul and then the rotation will be Matt comes back in for Phil and then Ricardo comes back in for Kimmie. So they play together every game for some part of the times, and based on fouls, or whatever, that's how it plays out.
Q. Frank, Durand Scott was suspended yesterday, did you have any thoughts about that?
COACH HAITH: I feel bad for Durand Scott, but the NCAA stuff is stuff I couldn't focus on and can't control. I need to focus on what we are doing right here.
Q. You obviously haven't been through this a whole lot as a head coach you have as an assistant coach. What's the experience like for you in the NCAA Tournament? You had one experience in Miami and a lot at Texas but what kind of things are you adjusting to?
COACH HAITH: First of all, that's what we play the game for is to get to the opportunity to play in the NCAA Tournament. In terms of adjusting, I think that we're going to do what we always do. We're not going to change how we do things, in terms of us being here and how we do whatever we do. I'm excited about the opportunity and we're going to continue to do it the way we have done things all year.
Q. Do you feel like the way the tournament is structured with the long time timeouts that benefits a team like yours that plays a short rotation?
COACH HAITH: I would hope so. Yeah, I think so, giving our guys a break. During the year we have had to use our time outs, sometimes we will take a time out right before a media time out to give our guys a little bit of a rest.
So having the longer time outs in the NCAA will definitely be a positive for our team.
THE MODERATOR: Anything else for the head coach. Thank you very much, best of luck.
COACH HAITH: Thank you.
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