Obviously, your
father’s a big influence on your coaching career. But I’m just curious,
coming from the NBA, where teams score
a lot of points, how did you decide
that when you wanted to become a coach that
you wanted to build a program around defense? I think I saw it as a player. I was fortunate to– Green Bay, where I
played for my father, it was a rebuilding situation. So I was part of
that as a player. And I watched it even
when I was in high school. And then I observed him at
Wisconsin when he went there. And I think they’d only
been to one NCAA tournament. I’m sorry, one NCAA
tournament win in– it was like 40 years. I don’t want to misquote,
but it was an amazing stat. And I saw him have to
rebuild it in the Big 10 and how he did it. And then the same thing
at Washington State. So to have that
experience, to know that defense can be an equalizer
and use that, is important. And I think at all
levels, not many teams advance without being strong
defensively, even in the NBA. And that’s what I knew. And I’ve seen it work
and be successful. And then you always continue
to adjust your offense, but that’s probably
sealed it for me as I watched the success come. And then even being under
Coach Ryan for those two years, those experiences. Watching good programs. Coach, we’ll stay in that
same part of the room. David from Newport News. Tony, staying on
the defense, one of the least talked about
aspects of your defense is blocked shots. As you reflected on last
night, getting nine, how essential were they? And could they loom large
again tomorrow night? Yeah, rim protection
is so important, the quickness of Auburn. And sometimes your
defense just breaks down. So the ability for
guys to either erase mistakes– and Mamadi’s
been significant in that. And I know Texas Tech is
excellent in that capacity, too. But when you can
play good defense but you have some length
or shot blocking behind it, it just adds another element
to being harder to score again. So those were key plays. And they have been all
year, whether it was someone coming from the weak side. Over the years, you saw Isaiah
do it, Darion Atkins, and guys. So that is important. Up front on the left, Coach. Ralph? Tony. Ralph Russo from the
Associated Press. Your program has
never been this far. Texas Tech has
never been this far. It’s a unique situation. I’m wondering how much of the
challenge of building a program to get to this
point is literally convincing players,
coaches, the administration, that it can be done. The hierarchy of
college basketball is just so established. Right. That was one of the
things that drew me to have a chance
to coach in the ACC, because of the storied programs
and the storied coaches, the Hall of Fame coaches. And can you go and take a team
and build your program in a way that you think is best and
compete against the best? And there’s a way that I know
works, or that I believe works. So when you get in
those spots, you hope. You have a vision and you hope. But you never truly know. When you come in and say,
this is going to happen. We’re going to be
a Final Four team. We’re going to win the ACC. You believe it, and you hope it,
and then you just go to work. And that’s what it is. So yes. Everyone has the
dreams and the goals. But that’s why we
have a doorknocker. You just keep knocking. And I say, you never know. Sometimes the door gets
slammed in your face. But sometimes you get your foot
in the door, your shoulder. And then you can bust through. And it’s just a
continual process. And again, having gone through
that as a player and a coach, that was an incredible
advantage for me. But it is, can you
build a program and compete against the best? And then how far
can you push it? Having watched Wisconsin
get to the Final Four, having seen other things,
it gave me a blueprint. And then you also add to that. Left side, second row. Jeff? Hey, Tony. Several of your
colleagues back at UVA have won NCAA titles
in their sports. What’s the response been
from your fellow coaches during this run? Do you hear a lot from them? Or because they know you’re
busy, have they backed off? Yeah. You can tell those that
have been through it. Great job. No need to reply on
the text message. Because the 100’s come in. So they’ve been through it. But the support you have– Debbie Ryan, when she was there. Joanne Boyle from the women’s
program, and now Tina. Brian O’Connor, Coach Arenas. All down the list. I can name them all,
all the coaches. It’s a close-knit
family at UVA, because I think we appreciate how
it has to be done there. But there’s so many
great coaches there. And I remember
when I got the job and said, what’s the key
to building the program? And I listened to them
intently about finding guys that fit your
system, your culture, and the culture of UVA. Third row on the left. Tony. Sean Gregory from Time Magazine. On Ty, before you
secured his commitment, why do you think he–
could you just describe why you think he
flew under the radar a little bit as a recruit? He grew a little bit. You look at him, and he’s not
the most intimidating-looking guy athletically. You say, well, is
he quick enough? Can he do things? So I think, did he
pass the eye test? Perhaps not for some
of the high majors. And it was early. But sometimes you have
to go with your gut. I’ve been fortunate. I think when I had a
coach at Washington State, we had to trust our gut. Sometimes you get it
right, sometimes you don’t. But you had to say, I
think I see it in him. And not be afraid
to get those guys. Because if guys are mentally
tough and, of course, have the courage
and the heart maybe in certain areas
that can be lacking– there has to be a minimum
level of athleticism, or whatever it is. But if you see that, those
guys have usually just– they just take off. Most of our guys who haven’t
been the most highly-touted recruiting wise when I’ve
been at Washington State, and now here, have
just blossomed. Joe Harris. Even Malcolm Brogdon. Not a lot, and I can to London– I can go down the list. And those are great stories. There’s just something in them. But I think maybe
that was part of it. And he’s obviously
just kept going. And there’s something in
him that is so special. Coach, we’re going to
move to the right side. Aaron first, then Nancy. Aaron Beard with the AP. Kyle has been very open about
his battles to manage anxiety, to keep himself from
getting over pressured. I’m curious how you maybe helped
him get through some of that? And what stood out to you about
the way he handled those issues to get to where he is now? The best thing I can do for
Kyle is, I pray for him a lot. I do. And I’m there for him. We have a saying. Be kind, because everyone you
meet is facing a hard battle. And some things, you have to
work through with yourself and the right kind of help. And he’s very honest about it. But I try to encourage him
and challenge him in ways and be there for
him, coach him hard. But we always talk about
encouragement and also accountability, being
that way with him. But I constantly think about
him, and for all my guys. That’s one of the
fortunate things. It’s an extended family. So you are a father figure
to an extent to them. And I think about that stuff. And I do that. For me, that’s really
important for him. So that’s probably the best
thing I could say I did. And then we’re together
in this journey. That’s the one
thing you– you talk about being able to go through
the highs and lows together. And we’ve had some. I mentioned the times
we’ve been up here together in tough situations, and then
watching them grow through it. And just, again,
thankful that he was entrusted to me for this time. And that’s why you want to be a
good steward when you have them for the time you get them. Nancy. Nancy Armour, USA Today Sports. Tony, you guys have heard
ad nauseam this year about the UNBC loss. How gratifying is it to
then be in this position? And is there some kind of
karmic payback, that you went from that to where you are now? Yeah. Like I told you, just really
grateful and thankful. I heard about it a lot. We knew that. And as I mentioned it, I feel
like I repeat myself too much. In a way, it’s a painful gift. It did draw us near to
each other as a team. I think it helped us as coaches. I think it helped the
players on the court. And it helped us
in the other areas that rely on things
that were significant. But I think that
karmic payback– I don’t know. Like I said, this
journey, I knew it was going to be a significant
year in all of our lives. I knew that going into
this year because of what was going to be coming
at us, because of that, from a basketball standpoint. So I just knew we
needed each other. And everything was pretty
intentional about this year in how we were going. And did I know we were
going to be in this spot after last year? And I say, what a
difference a year makes. I didn’t. But I knew it was going to be
a really important, marked year for all of us in our lives. And it’s certainly
playing out that way. To the right of the aisle. Gene. Hey, Tony. Gene Wang, Washington Post. A follow up to that. How much of a believer are you
now in maybe destiny, fate, whatever you want to call
it, given how the last couple games have gone? You’ve emerged from some
improbable situations, and to be on the
brink of playing for a national championship. Yeah. Again, I believe our
steps are ordered. I think you walk and
you do everything you can with the
abilities you’ve been given as
players, as coaches. And then you trust. And I believe that. So the fact that
we’re here, yeah. Like I said, there’s
been a hand in this. And in my life, I’d be
foolish not to believe that. On the right side, a
little further back. Mike. Hey, Tony. Mike Barber, Richmond
Times-Dispatch. I wanted to ask you specifically
about this match up. Do you see similarities in
the way Texas Tech defends? And then big picture, do you
feel any sense of vindication after so many years
of people saying, this system won’t get
you here, but there’s two teams that pride
themselves on defense playing for the championship? Well, first,
defensively, Texas Tech– no, they’re different than us. They’re really
special defensively. I have the utmost respect
for how they play. But it is a different system. And I think someone said
statistically, we’re two of the top five
teams defensively. You can see it there. They’re very physical, their
ability to take your ball, and some of the– just at the games and the
tournament, what they’ve done to some of
the great offensive teams has been so impressive. But there’s some
different things. We work, and there’s the
similarities of what we value. But it’s sort of
different in that regard. They’ll switch. They’ve got some different
things they do in it. As far as vindication or
people saying that, no. That doesn’t matter to me. It doesn’t. On the right side,
toward the back. Joe. Raise your hand for us, Joe. Hi, Tony. Joe Juliano,
Philadelphia Inquirer. De’Andre had a very good
second half last night, but had been in a bit
of a funk, or whatever you want to call it. Are you concerned
that he was pressing? How do you feel he’s been
playing, especially coming back in the second half last night? Yeah. I was really
impressed with how he responded in that second half. Even in the Purdue game,
he made two big free throws and made the basket to seal it. He’s always defending. And I just keep challenging him. And he’s just
scratching the surface of what he’s going to become. But who knows? It’s intense. The physicality goes up,
the pace, everything, when you get in these settings. And he really stepped up when we
needed it in that second half. And I know we’re going to
need it, obviously, tomorrow. And again, I think
he’s hard on himself. He’s missing shots or
not helping his team. I think he puts
a lot on himself. We talked about it. Be free, man. Go after this. We need you. Be a player. If the shot’s not
going or whatever, impact the game in other ways. And that’s what
we’ve talked about. And I thought he took a
step for sure in that game. Toward the front, to the
right of the center aisle. Pardon the cliche, but at
what point in your mind did Mamadi become a
prime time player? Well, he’s shown flashes
of that this year. And there’s certainly
been stretches. And he’s been real consistent
since the NCAA tournament has started for these five games. But definitely in
stretches before. And he was just being
consistent with it. Some of it was staying
out of foul trouble. Some of it was me probably
giving him more opportunities. I think it’s all
of those things. But his impact has been
significant in this run, without a doubt. Second row. Paul. Paul Woody, Richmond
Times-Dispatch. Tony, as far back as
the ACC media day, you had said that
you really wanted to get to the Final Four. You really wanted to win
a national championship. But if you didn’t, you’d
been through the worst and you had come through
that and survived it. In the back of your
mind, I know that you– in the front of your
mind, I know that you want to win a national championship. In the back of your mind, are
you not thinking but aware that, if things don’t
work out tomorrow night, you still have that
foundation and you’ll still be able to handle it? Well, let’s clarify something. I’ve been through the
worst basketball wise. Let’s keep this in perspective. And yeah, it’s hard. And we grew from it. But understand. And that’s the one thing. People go through
so many hard things. And I understand that. But to answer your question,
or your statement, yes. Left of the aisle. Thank you, Mark. You’re doing yeoman’s
work up there. Tony, Aaron McFarling
with the Roanoke Times. Tony, I understand
it was your idea to do the whitewater
rafting trip– Yeah. –to choose that. Why did you choose that
activity in particular for the team-building exercise? And was there anything that
you learned about your group dynamics that maybe you didn’t
know going into that trip? Because it’s a blast. Have you ever been
whitewater rafting? I mean, come on. And some of our guys
were scared to death. So it was even more
fun for me to watch them be scared to death. And it was the highest
point of the rapids. And our guys’ eyes were big. We had to beg Dre. I can’t remember some of them. I’ll call him out. But it’s going to be OK. But no. We just wanted to have a blast. Look, that was the summer. We had worked out hard. And I said, let’s do something. We had a little miniature
golf tournament. We went to– I can’t remember– somewhere in
West Virginia the night before. And again, everything was
about, let’s enjoy this. Let’s have fun. It was ironic. When we got here to
Minneapolis, they gave us a paddle when
we got off the plane. And it said, the road ends here. And before the Purdue
game, I told our guys– I just went through some
experiences that I observed and how powerful it was. I said, but one
that stands out is when we were on our
whitewater rafting trip, the first thing we did
after our summer workouts. And literally, they tip
the boat on purpose, and you float down the river. It’s one of the oldest rivers,
they say, in the world, if you can believe that,
where we were rafting. And I remember floating
down the river. And you’re up, and
you’re just going. And I remember
saying to myself, OK. All right, Lord. What’s this you’re
going to bring? I wonder. It was the most beautiful
setting, just floating down the river with these guys. And remember saying
that in my mind. And I relayed that to them
before the Purdue game. And I actually got a
little emotional on them. And I said, here we are. This was on the verge
of the Elite Eight game. I said, I’m floating down
that river, wondering, what’s this year going to bring? Because it’s a significant year. I thought that. And I was thinking, wow. Here I am. And then interesting,
we come to Minneapolis, and the first thing they give
us are these paddles, or oars, that say, the road ends here. So that was a significant
or a poignant moment for me. That same area, one
row back on the left. Tony, Adam Winkler, CBS out
of Norfolk, Virginia Beach. I want to ask you about
tomorrow, another late tip. What’s your day
going to be like? What’s the routine? And also, you’ve
used the Ted Talks. You used Friday Night Lights. Do you have another
bullet left in the chamber pre-national championships? I think we played
Oregon at about 10:30. That was a late one. We’ve played some late games. You push everything back. You keep your routine the same. And we have something
we do at the hotel. So I don’t know if I have
another Ted Talk or anything. I’ll have to ask my wife. She’s the one who
gave me the Ted Talk. She was actually
at that Ted Talk. I think Paul, you
talked to her about it. And then that was five
years before this. And then after we lost,
she’s the one who told me. But we’ll think of something. But like I said, it’ll be a
joy to get ready for this game. To the right of
the center aisle. Coach, Jermaine Ferrell
with WFXR Fox affiliate in Roanoke, Virginia. First of all, I’d like to say,
I appreciate your spirituality and faith. It’s awesome and a blessing. I’ve got to ask you, what’s it
like for you personally to see a lot of these
programs and schools adopt your defensive personality
and everything like that, and what you do
with your program? I don’t know how many do. Texas Tech, they do
something different. And that was poured into
Coach Beard and Coach Adams. And he was under Coach Knight. Coach Knight
influenced my father. But I think, as far
as our Pac defense, that some programs use– I think my father established
that when he was at Green Bay. And other people probably
even did it before him. I think people just are always
looking for ways to, how can we close the gap against
teams that are so talented? And I think, as I
mentioned to Dan, I think it was who
asked the question– I got your attention now. You looked up. Stop texting while we’re
doing this thing here. No, I’m just kidding. But defense can be
a great equalizer. So you play against all
different kinds of systems. And that’s the
beauty of the game. People put their own
little twist on it. But I think, from a
basketball standpoint, that’s one of the best legacies
I think my father left, those five pillars that
many teams have adopted, but that defensive system. On the right side. Mike. Tony, Michael
Lopresti, NCAA.com. You’ve been very open, talking
about some really important things that have happened
in the last year, like faith and family
and relationships, an outgrowth from the UNBC game. Are you amazed at
all that the impact and the changes
in important areas that have come from
one basketball game? Well, I go back to– and I talked to these
guys the other day– this is my 10th year. This has been a
process for 10 years. I’ve been humbled so many times
in this game as a head coach. And I shared that
with these guys. When we played in the ACC
tournament in my second year, and we were up 10 points
with 42 seconds, and got beat in overtime by Miami. We got to the Elite Eight. It was a great
year, and lost that. And then, obviously,
those experiences. And the one thing I told them,
and again, I use scripture. And I understand, everybody’s
at different places. But I told them, one of the
things that we talked about is, don’t grow weary in doing
good, for at the due time, you’ll reap a harvest. You’ll do it. And that’s what
these guys– they’ve been so faithful this year. And that has brought so much
joy to me and the players I’ve been under, when
they’ve faced adversity in a basketball sense. I’m not talking a worldly sense. A basketball sense. They haven’t grown weary
in doing the right stuff. And that’s not just been
from one game, but yeah. That was a significant game. And I knew the light
would shine on them and how they responded
would have an impact. But this has been going– this is life. It really is. But this is the
basketball thing. Given you and your staff
and your program’s history of being a top five defense
year over year over year, how much of a benefit will
that be, do you expect, going into tomorrow’s game? Given that the guys
going up, A-team playing B-team, have not faced
the exact same scheme but have encountered
such stifling defense from within the league
and within the team? I think when you try
to play hard defense, you understand the value of,
offensively, how mentally tough you have to be, how
sound you have to be. And you have to take what
the defense gives you. But it’s a challenge. When our defense is
at its best, it really makes people work to
get contested shots. Obviously, Texas Tech, in their
own way, they make people work. And they swarm. So understanding
that, not just saying, oh, they haven’t
seen our offense. They’ve seen offenses before. That would be false confidence. But understanding, hey, it
takes hard, tough offense. And you work to
get quality shots. And then you turn
around and play it the same way against them. We’ll go up front, to the right. Chris from St. Paul. And if this question isn’t
for the student athletes, we’ll take the next one
for the student athletes. Chris, go ahead. Yeah, Chris Thomason,
St. Paul Pioneer Press. I’ll ask Tony this. And then maybe Kyle
can also answer it. You’ve played, Tony, obviously,
at the highest level. What does it take
for a guy like Kyle to step up and have that ability
to perform under pressure, hitting those three
free throws with 70,000 fans and the nation looking on? And then, even
before that, if he doesn’t hit that
3-pointer in pressure, doesn’t even get to that stage? What does it take
to have that ability to perform under pressure? And then maybe Kyle, could you
talk about maybe your ability to perform under pressure? Well, I’ve been fortunate
to watch both of these two young men, Ty and
Kyle, over their years, do that in different settings
and pressure settings. Obviously, in that setting, in
the college basketball world, that was as big as it gets. But it doesn’t surprise me. I think it just takes
to be in the moment. There’s a saying. The art of doing what you’re
doing and not getting too lost in it. I was sitting next to Kyle. He said, I just put
my jersey in my face to focus before he went there. And it takes this
and takes this. And that’s what he’s showed. And that’s what Ty
has shown, since I’ve seen these guys from little
guys on up to young men. They have it both. They got it in both places,
which is everything. Kyle? Yeah, I think for me, and
probably every basketball player, everyone’s
envision themselves winning a game on this stage. Like you said, I just
tried to get in my own zone and focus in. And I knew that my teammates
had confidence in me. And that gives me
more confidence than I’ll ever be
able to give myself. Up front on the left side. Caroline Darney, SB Nation. For the players– Frankie mentioned, starting
with the North Carolina game, you changed up the road
trip stuff a little bit. Didn’t do shootaround,
added a main nap to friendly competition. How have those things
benefited you at this point, having done that on the road
and done the team building? And Coach, just
at the end, if you could add something
about the drive for doing that
instead of the normal? So Ty first, then
Kyle, then Coach. Yeah. I think it was because we
wanted to get off our feet more. Because that Carolina
game, we were coming off Duke two days before. So they wanted us to get off
our feet as much as possible and get as much rest. And then Frankie started
playing the piano. And he’s so talented in that. So I think Coach just selfishly
wants to hear him play. But we’ve been doing so
many team bonding activities since my first year here. And this group is as
close as a team I’ve ever been on in my whole life. And that’s what
makes it so special. Kyle. Yeah. The past two years, those
teams have been so close. And Ty’s right. We’ve done so many team
bonding exercises with Coach and then with ourselves. We play cards all the time. And I couldn’t be
happier for our team and what we’ve
accomplished so far. But we still have one more. Yeah, same thing I said about
the whitewater rafting trip. It’s fun. And it was. We still do a walk through. We do sometimes. Guys will shoot,
but we do our stuff. But then it’s just, come
together and have some fun. And we’ve done a bunch
of different things, and just enjoy that time,
and then get ready to play. Again, I think there has
to be a balance to it. Just have a good time with it. Back to the room
on the right side. Mike. This is for Tony. The players can answer
a similar question. Tony, how has it helped
you as a head coach to have been an NBA player? And guys, you could
answer, perhaps, if he mentions that much
to you during the course of your conversations, Coach,
and that sort of thing. I think every experience you
have as a player is invaluable. And a lot of times,
I’ll rely on these guys. Like, hey, what are
you seeing out there? And I trust what
they have to say, because I trust their feel
and their understanding of the game. Sometimes in recruiting,
you can say, hey, I’ve walked the path
you guys want to go. Listen, I played about
13 minutes a game. I was a backup point guard. So I don’t pretend like I
was this big-time player. But I was in the
rotation and I played. So I think that
helps guys say, hey, I had to work my
way to get there. So I think maybe in some ways,
recruiting wise, it helps. And then just things I
learned from watching them. When you play against Michael
Jordan 15 times in your career and get to play in the playoffs
and go against the players, there is just stuff
you figure out. Muggsy Bogues–
I got asked that. Well, what did you see in Kihei? Well, I saw Muggsy
Bogues live it out in person for three years. And then those things, you see. So all that stuff helps. But I have some
good relationships with some NBA people. So I can learn and
get ideas from, and I think maybe
that stuff helps. I hope I don’t talk about
it too much in front of you guys, because that
would not be good. I was just going to
say, he doesn’t really talk about himself at all. He’s so humble and genuine. And the only thing he really
mentions about the NBA is again, the Muggsy,
the Kihei comparison. And then anything
that he learned that could help the team. It’s never about him. And that’s why he’s
such a great leader. Just a few more
minutes, and then we’ll have student availability into
the breakout sessions as well. Up front to the right. Hey, guys. Laura Rutledge, ESPN. And this is for everybody, if
you guys can all answer this. If you actually visualize
yourself cutting down the nets tomorrow night,
what would that mean to you? Ty, could you take
that first, please? I feel you got to ask
me that tomorrow night. We know what we’re in for. We know how good Texas Tech is. So we know it’s going
to be a dogfight. And Coach always says, the
joy’s in the competition. So just get out
there and compete. And we would love to
cut down the nets. And I’ll probably be speechless
if we’re able to do it. And I’m sure it’ll
mean the world to me. It’s what every kid
works so hard for. It’s what we’ve put
in all the work for. But like Coach always says,
the joy’s in the competition. Yeah. Both teams have
probably envisioned it. Every player and coach on
every team has envisioned it, I’m sure. But I think it’s
important to realize that you don’t get
to skip the game and just go down
and cut the nets. We’ve got to focus on
what’s in front of us. We’ve got practice today. A little bit more
media, I think. And just focus. We’re in for a battle,
and we’re excited. Center of the room. Zach Pereles,
Augusta Free Press. For Ty and for Kyle, what’s
the first NCAA tournament final you guys remember
watching growing up? And then has it hit you yet? Or when did it hit
you that you guys were going to be on that stage? Ty first, please, then Kyle. I don’t remember
exactly the order of all the finals I’ve watched. But I vividly remember watching
Mario Chalmers hit that shot, and I was supposed to be asleep. I remember my mom
had come into my room and tell me, shut the TV off. Because it was a 9:00
game, Eastern Time. And I was trying to
watch it and stay up. And then the game
went to overtime. So being on that
stage is incredible. It’s everything I’ve
dreamed of and more. And just being with this group
of guys and this coaching staff makes it all that much better. Kyle. Yeah, I obviously listened
to my parents more. I was asleep when Mario
Chalmers hit the shot. I can’t believe you
had a TV in your room. That’ what I’m still
thinking about. But I told my stepdad, I said,
if it’s close, wake me up. So he woke me up. And we watched that together. But then probably 2007 or
’08, with Oden and Conley. Obviously, they
grew up close to me. So I was rooting for them. And they fell short,
but those are probably two memories the most. Let’s finish up in the back
of the room with David. Tony, David Diehl
from Newport News. Just reflecting on what
Kyle did last night, what were the most
pressurized free throws you ever took as a player,
either at Green Bay or in the NBA or in high school? Well, there’s been
a bunch of them. But I got kind of a funny story. I got fouled when we
were maybe down 2. This is at Green Bay,
when I played there. I think we were
down 1 or down 2. And I went to the line,
and for some reason, before I went to
the line, I just looked back over my
shoulder, because I knew where my mom sat. And I looked at my mom. She was like this. She had her hands in
her face, or her face– and I was like, oh, great. And I remember making them, and
I gave her the business ever since for that. Like, thanks, Mom. You’re supposed to
believe in your son. But she wasn’t looking. I hope your mom
wasn’t doing that, and you didn’t look at her.