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Missouri - 03.14.09a 1
Missouri – 73
Baylor – 60
An interview with:
CHARLIE FISS: Ready to begin with the
Missouri Tigers, champions of the Big 12
Conference. Coach Mike Anderson and his four
student-athletes, DeMarre Carroll who happens to
be the most valuable player, Leo Lyons, Zaire
Taylor, another all-tournament team member, and
Coach, before we get to questions for your
student-athletes, congratulations. Your thoughts
on today's victory?
COACH ANDERSON: First I want to say
my hat is off to Baylor. I have been at a program
where you have to go four games in four days, and
that's tough, especially to play against a team such
as the Missouri Tigers in terms of how we play.
I thought the tournament format plays into
our hand, especially with the depth. But the thing
I'm more proud about these guys is the focus, the
focus that they came out with each and every
game. They just took care of business. Hats off to
them. We got off to a, I thought, pretty decent
start, but our bench came in and played real well,
our young guys, the freshman, Miguel Paul, Kimmy
English, Marcus Denmon, Keith Ramsey, all those
newcomers, those guys came in and really helped.
These guys were able to come out in the
second half and put the pedal to the metal
so to speak with our defense. Our defense was
the most consistent thing here in this particular
tournament. Eventually, we are going to shoot the
ball well and I thought we shot the ball a little bit
Q. Matt and Leo, you two more than
anybody else have been here so long. I know
you try to look forward and not back. Can you
just talk about any sense of appreciation you
have for the moment and all that's gone on in
the last period since you guys have been here?
Did you reflect on that on the court after
LEO LYONS: It is a very emotional time
for us right now. Four years we have been through
all the ups and downs. We have seen this
program when it was at its worst and best and
that's right now. We want to continue to keep it
going and take it as far as we can to end our
MATT LAWRENCE: I agree with my boy
Leo. It has definitely been a roller-coaster ride.
Credit goes out to the guys on our team that all
came in here and we are about one thing and that
was winning. That reflects our coach.
Coach Anderson has been nothing but
honest with us saying he is going to bring a
championship to this school. Not many people
believed him except those 14 guys in the locker
room and our coaching staff, too.
Q. Seniors, what was it like for you that
last 60 seconds or so where the outcome had
been decided and the clock was just ticking
COACH ANDERSON: It was a great
moment, you know. Coach -- we couldn't really
look at the last 60 seconds. We had to wait until it
got to zero because Coach said -- he kept saying it
is not over yet. Once it got to zero, we got happy.
We hugged each other.
Hats go off to our bench. They all get a lot
of credit. But I think we are the ultimate team.
That's what makes our team so great because
many of y'all know that Leo went out and Lawrence
Bowers would come out and he would get a great
March 14, 2009
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Missouri - 03.14.09a 2
steal. Many teams, when one guy come out he
gets kind of mad. We are the ultimate team. I
think our bench stepped up, Kim and Miguel.
Hopefully we carry this on to the NCAA
MATT LAWRENCE: I was just
concentrating on winning the game. I wanted to
see the 0:00 on the clock. I wasn't worried about
what was going through my mind except for that
game being over with finally. I was excited to be
out there on the floor with some of these guys I
have been through a lot with.
There is time for reflection later. I think we
got a big thing coming up in a week. We showed
we are a team that can play in a tournament-style
atmosphere and do well. We will try to do it well
again next week.
LEO LYONS: Mostly you are used to
seeing us laughing. I know I made a mistake at
the end of the game. He told me he loved me. It
was pretty emotional. I said I loved him back. The
game ended. That just shows the maturity that I
have been through and just shows how we stuck
together throughout these whole things.
Q. DeMarre, everybody is talking about
their emotions. Can you talk about your
emotions, transferring here, all you have been
through and to be the MVP and end up here?
DEMARRE CARROLL: You know, my
whole thing of transferring here, once I transferred
here, everything started going wrong and I was just
looking around like "man, what did I get myself
into." My uncle told me to keep having faith and
the light is going to come up -- the sun will come
up at the end.
I got shot. We lost a lot of games and so
on. Look at me now. I'm standing here smiling
with a Big 12 championship.
Q. Kim went through a pretty tough
period there the last two or three weeks,
struggled on the court. Tonight he came into
the zone and really stepped up for you guys
when you needed him the most. How did he
stay so positive and what advice did you give
him? And how important is it for him to keep
going with what's coming up?
LEO LYONS: He has got a high
confidence level. There is nothing that can bother
him. That's good for him because him being a
freshman, he goes into the games knowing he can
score and knowing he can play for us.
I don't think no shots mess up his
confidence. We keep on telling him to keep
shooting and sooner or later it keeps going, like
ZAIRE TAYLOR: The coach is like that's
the shot we want after every shot he missed. We
all shot terrible yesterday for the most part. Just
being a little slump -- I mean, every freshman goes
through it. I mean, I'm sure we have all been there
at one point or another.
MATT LAWRENCE: I didn't have a
freshman slump because I didn't play (laughter).
ZAIRE TAYLOR: Matt didn't get the
When it comes down to it, it is just hard to,
like, go through a 30-game season at this level,
I mean, the wear and tear takes a toll. He
knew what he was capable of. I came in and tried
to talk to him and he was telling me what he was
going to do. He wasn't worried about it. So if he
wasn't worried, we weren't worried.
Q. All season long after wins you guys
have said that you have until midnight to
celebrate. Has Coach said anything on
whether or not you get an extension tonight?
LEO LYONS: We got to fly back home.
I'm pretty sure he will tell us on the bus what time
we got to be back in. I'm pretty sure a lot of us
won't hear him. I'm just joking. (Laughter).
Nah. We are not too much worried about
anything else but this win and we will try to focus
on the selection and see where we will get seeded
and focus on the next team.
COACH ANDERSON: Y'all see what I
deal with. Every day I deal with that. That's a
good thing, though.
Q. Mike, given the Saturday finish and
how successful y'all were here, do you think
that you have given the selection committee
ample time to consider you in the conversation
for a higher seed than you might have been on
COACH ANDERSON: Well, I would hope
that would be the case.
We have been a team that's been focused
on the things we can control, and that's the games.
We had an opportunity to win this tournament, and
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Missouri - 03.14.09a 3
I hope that stands for something. We have been
pretty consistent all year long. Even in the feats
we have had, I think we have responded in a
positive way. Our last game of the season, we got
a shelacking at Texas A&M. Look how we
responded. We responded with three pretty solid
games and not giving people many -- the scoring
average was probably in the 60s. And so it just
shows me this team is a team that can adjust and
adapt and they learn, I think.
We are playing some pretty good
basketball. And the better our bench plays, it really
makes us a pretty dangerous basketball team.
Hopefully it does.
Q. The fact that Oklahoma State played
a zone yesterday, did that help you guys get
started in the game? I know it was a different
team, maybe a different zone. But the fact it
was a similar kind of defense you were going
up against, did that help with the shooting a
COACH ANDERSON: I thought it did
because you got to remember in the second half I
thought we did a better job of attacking Oklahoma
State. We scored almost 50 points. So that
means we got the ball moving, we got the ball
inside, we started knocking shots down. We
started attacking the glass. We got to the
I thought coming in today, I knew we were
going to see some zone. Baylor had played zone
practically the whole tournament. That fourth
game, you try to save those guys' legs and they
got some guys in foul trouble as well. I thought
early on we didn't make some shots.
But I thought the freshman group, when
they came in, had great ball movement and they
started knocking some shots. It is kind of like the
lid was open up and you could just see our
defense intensity really pick up and the starters
came back in. I think the game went back and
forth like I thought it would.
Q. Mike, it has been a long time since
Missouri has been at the top of Big 12 or Big 8
basketball. How well prepared is the program
to make sure you stay there for years to come?
COACH ANDERSON: I think if you look at
our basketball team, we got a good nucleus.
Obviously these seniors are very, very important to
our basketball team. I think they have shown the
young guys the way. I think those guys you saw
here along with Michael Anderson, J.T. Tiller who
has been in our program for three years, I thought
they showed the leadership and they showed the
ownership of this basketball team. I thought the
young guys followed their lead. That was very,
So hopefully these guys have the kind of
success they're having. It could leave that trickle
effect. That's how you start a program, you start it
by winning, bringing in great kids and they
understand what leadership, commitment,
ownership is all about.
But hopefully that is something that will be
carried on. These guys look up to these older
guys. And I think they have been imparting some
pretty good knowledge on them. Even a guy like
Zaire, Zaire is an old man.
Q. DeMarre referred to some of the
things he has been through since he has been
here. I wonder if you would talk about what it
means to be able to get to this point for your
program and for some kids like him that have
COACH ANDERSON: I think coming in
and obviously when you transfer, you come in and
you think hopefully things are going to be a little bit
better. Of course, we had some -- I mean, we had
some storms, man. We had a lot of storms. He
was involved in some of those where -- as he said,
what took place with him. I always tell guys, tough
times don't last, tough people do.
That's how I look at myself, my life. You
have got to persevere; you have got to have faith.
You made a decision -- he made that decision to
come here. I didn't make it for him. He made that
decision. You have to go through some things to
get where you want to go. I have got to say he
really dedicated himself, he committed himself
since he has been here, and he has had a
tremendous, tremendous impact on our program.
I mean, just think about the things that
have taken place. He is the first team
all-conference, first team all-academic, first one in
the league for that to take place. He's graduated
and continued to lead this team as we get ready
for the NCAA. He is a true, true leader. He is the
ultimate, ultimate warrior. I think when you talk
about the complete package, he has that package.
Q. Mike, I wonder if you can talk about
what this means -- a win means to you, give a
little perspective to that.
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Missouri - 03.14.09a 4
COACH ANDERSON: I think it is some
unchartered water where we hadn't been since I
have been there. To see it all come together with
such a young basketball team, it tells you the
commitment of our guys. I think I got an excellent
coaching staff, when you talk about Melvin
Watkins, associate head coach. This guy has
been in the Big 12. He knows all the -- the trainer,
Matt Zimmerman, those guys have been with me
at Arkansas. T.J. Cleveland played for us at
Arkansas and happens to be my nephew. Jeff
Daniels played junior college ball with me at
Jefferson State. I have known these guys for
almost 30-some-odd years.
So to have those guys, Ben Lindsey and
so on, to have those guys to work with me, I think it
has been a blessing and makes my job a whole lot
easier. There is no question about it. When you
start out the season, you set goals and this was
one of our goals. To have an opportunity to
actually do it here in these circumstances, I think it
says a lot about our basketball team.
Q. Coach, you talked about the
challenge of having that focus but consistently
having it every day through a tournament like
this. I was across the street this morning, saw
Oklahoma, one of the two or three best teams
in the country just not ready to play, not
focused. Talk about how it is that your team
had that this week and it seemed like that
would be an advantage going into this NCAA
COACH ANDERSON: Once we got to the
tournament, I always tell our guys, we don't
change anything we do.
As a matter of fact, we kind of hopefully
amp it up or turn up the volume on our defense
and really get after people, especially in a
tournament format. But it just goes back to -- from
day one when we started out, the biggest game is
the game you are playing right now.
And so that's been my talk to these guys,
when you talk about it. Enjoy until midnight. It
sounds cliche-ish, but it is pretty simple. They
don't have to worry about all those things. As we
start winning games and everybody, the
prognosticators say you are going to be this, you
are going to be that, those are things they can't
control. They just stayed in the moment.
I think the approach to our guys -- you
have to go back to the leadership, the leadership
and the ownership. I think those guys, they want
to do well, and I think they -- they formulate a bond
that's really, really special. As I told them, they got
a chance to have a special season and it
Q. How hard was it to suspend those
guys last season as a coach, just on the
surface? It cost you at least one game. And if
you don't, are you here today in this situation?
COACH ANDERSON: Well, I tell you
what, that wasn't an easy decision. But it is about
who I am and what I want my program to be about.
I want the brand. The brand is going to be
exciting, fun, up-tempo basketball where kids are
going to graduate and they are going to do the
right thing on and off the floor.
I'm a product of what I preach. So with
that being said, it was a decision I made and I'm
not necessarily worried about the outcome of
games. Games are not that important, not when
you are dealing with kids' lives.
That's important to me. So hopefully that
was a life lesson learned for those guys as well as
my guys that continue to be here. I thought it
made a statement about what our program is going
to be. I think as we got to this point, I think even --
I made a statement to our student-athletes, I made
a statement to our administration, not only that but
to the family of the kids that are here, to the family
of the kids that were coming. So a guy like Kimmy
English, I knew his dad. He knew what kind of
person I was, what kind of program I was going to
Hopefully it is going to continue to help us
as we continue to recruit in the future. I think when
you get -- I'm big on character, and I think
character can take you a long way. Sometimes it
can outweigh the talent because the kids are going
to come and do the right things on and off the floor.
Not only that, one of the biggest secrets to
our basketball program is we develop kids. They
develop. They develop on and off the floor, so
when they leave, they can go and be a productive
citizen in society. I'm recruiting, I hope you all
know that. (Smiling).
That's who I am and that's what our
program is going to be about. Thank you.
CHARLIE FISS: Coach, congratulations.
Good luck next week.
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