Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Sweet 16: Baylor Bears Talk South Carolina Gamecocks in NYC

Baylor players Manu Lecomte, Ish Wainright and Johnathan Motley speak to the press ahead along with head coach Scott Drew.

Q. Ishmail, how cool is it to be here?
ISHMAIL WAINRIGHT: It's a blessing. It's real cool, especially being in this historical place. We all walked in and we were just in shock, Madison Square Garden. Not too many people can be here.

Q. Ishmail, Sindarius, you faced him a couple times early in your career, how difficult a matchup is he and not to give anything away, but would you be on him, who would try to defend him?
ISHMAIL WAINRIGHT: The whole team will be defending him. He's a great player. I've known him since high school. We had our battles, he's a close friend. He can do everything. And I know he has a great chance to go to the next level and do great things at the next level, too.

But, yeah, they do a great job feeding him the ball in his spots that he likes the ball. Coach has broke down every made shot that he's had and I mean, we have all watched at least about three hours of film on just Sindarius. And I mean he's just a great player. The whole team, it's not just me, it's not just me, but the whole team, we'll be trying to stop him. But everybody else on their team is great, too, so it's not just him.

Q. Following up on that, you said you watched three hours of just him alone. Is that unusual for you guys to concentrate so specifically? And kind of what are you trying to get out of that that you might not see in a regular?
ISHMAIL WAINRIGHT: That's not unusual. Our coaches do a great job of breaking down film. He's not the only person that we watched three hours of film on. We have film on everybody on their team, even to the last man on the bench. But he's just a great player. He's their main player on the team, the go-to guy, can do everything. And he does just about everything for them. So, yeah.

MANU LECOMTE: Like he said, he's a great player. He's a tough player. He's a great rebounder as well, so we're going to have to box out, even when he doesn't have the ball in his hands. But he's a great player. He's their most dangerous man on the court, so we're going to have to do a great job defending him.

JOHNATHAN MOTLEY: Basically the same thing. They're really tough, gritty team, coach leads the show. We got to match their toughness and their physicality.

Q. What makes South Carolina's defense so unique and can you draw anything from when you face the defendant several years ago?
ISHMAIL WAINRIGHT: Well, at this point of the season we try to break it down, like defenses that we have seen before, Oklahoma State plays similar defense and also West Virginia, they're two great defensive teams. So we kind of go off based off that. We played against them my freshman year, our freshman year, so we kind of understand. Coach Martin does a great job with the guys of getting them hyped. And just if your man catches the ball you will get subbed out. So I mean me being a player and Mot and Manu, we don't want to get subbed out of the game, so we don't want our defense -- our offensive player to catch the ball. So they do a great job of defending and just putting the ball, a lot of ball pressure on the passer.

Q. Same question to Johnathan -- how is South Carolina's defense?
JOHNATHAN MOTLEY: They only allow like 19 points in the paint, during the tournament, so that's going to be pretty tough especially they were leading the tournament in paint points. I think we are -- so we got to make sure we force it into the paint and just do what we do and not get away from that. The teams that lost to them shot over 50 percent of their threes, so we just can't fall into that same mode, pattern.

Q. You mentioned West Virginia, their coach is a disciple of Coach Huggins. Do you see a lot of similarities there?
ISHMAIL WAINRIGHT: Yes, just ball pressure. Their defense is amazing. They have a lot of help side defense -- they know their principles and that's what makes them even better, because their offense is going to come with Sindarius and with Duane and their bigs, they understand the offense. But defense, that's one thing that they pride their self about. So I do see, we see a lot of similarity with West Virginia and South Carolina and if we just take care of business and do what our coaches tell us to do we should be successful.

Q. You talked about playing kind of in this area and playing against Sindarius. Do you have a following here? And you seem to have family wherever we go, do you have family in New York as well?
ISHMAIL WAINRIGHT: I actually do. My older brother stays in New York. He stays in Brooklyn. And I have a childhood friend that stays in what part? In the Bronx, no, in Brooklyn, too. So they, yeah, I have family up here. And I also have family in Boston. They're coming down.

(Laughter.) My family's big. Really big.

Q. To follow up on that, can you just talk about obviously the Sweet 16 would be great wherever you played in it, but can you just talk about just the distinction of playing it here in Madison Square Garden?
ISHMAIL WAINRIGHT: Not too many people can say they played a Sweet 16 in Madison Square Garden. This is just like a dream come true for me. I normally watch it on TV. Now I'm actually here and I'm sitting where Carmelo possibly sat. So it's just something crazy, something different. The city's amazing.

Q. Manu, you're the one new face with this group in terms of not having that experience so much from post-season play. When you went into this season, what were your thoughts on having that opportunity, seeing that they had been a pretty much a regular getting this far and knowing what your role would be in trying to keep them on this level of success.
MANU LECOMTE: Well, like you said, this is all new to me. I've been in college for three years, never made it to the NCAA Tournament. But when I got on this team, even last year, when I was red shirting, I knew anything would be possible with this team. Great coaching staff, great teammates. And being here at Sweet 16 in New York is just a dream come true to me. So I'm very blessed.

THE MODERATOR: All right, we'll excuse the student-athletes and take questions for coach in a moment. Moment. We'll have an opening statement from coach and then take questions.

Q. Ish was just talking about how the players have watched three hours of just Sindarius Thornwell alone. I mean, what is he like to prepare for, especially in this stage?
SCOTT DREW: They exaggerate so much it was only two and a half.


As far as, we played against him as a freshman and he had a lot of success against us back then and I knew he was going to be a great player for Coach Martin. And he's such a tough matchup, so versatile. I mean, you're not going to stop a guy like that. What you do is you just try it make everything as difficult as possible and hope that he doesn't have 44 points.

Q. Only be fair here because we were asking their coach about you and he said he has a good relationship with you. What is your relationship with the like with frank?
SCOTT DREW: We became close when he was at Kansas State and a lot of respect for him. We had so many games that went down to the wire either they won at the buzzer, we won at the buzzer, just always admired how hard his teams played, how well they played.

And then he was very, off the court, one of our assistants, Coach Tim Maloney and him were really good friends so we got to know him that way. He's one of those guys people say "Is he really like that in person?" So intense and he's just a gentle giant with a big heart and a really good guy.

Q. I think it's an interesting point this season people would have argued that neither of the teams sitting here would be here at this point in the season. What does it say sort of about the game and in particular this season that these four teams have made it this far?
SCOTT DREW: I think that's similar to college basketball and besides maybe a handful of teams, this year there's been great parity and each and every year it seems like with the graduate transfers, the transfers, the one-and-dones, it becomes more and more difficult to have a dominant team. And the other thing is they're 18- to 22-year-olds which means some days they're really good and some days they're not as good. So anyone that has a teenager can probably relate with that. And as far as the NCAA Tournament it's just like the season, doesn't matter what you're seeded, what you're ranked. What really matters is who plays the best in that 40 minutes and that team advances. And it's not best of four or seven, so the best team doesn't always win.

Q. You talked about defending Sindarius. Is it just as important not to let somebody else have a career night?
SCOTT DREW: Well, first of all, they're here because more than just him. They have a very good team and they have multiple weapons and people that can step forward and their defense is their biggest weapon. They get a lot of transition baskets because of it and whatever they don't get there, they get on the offensive glass. So, very similar to our team, he's a big piece to their puzzle, Johnathan Motley's a big piece to our puzzle, but both of us have very good teams.

Q. Is there an adjustment period to facing the South Carolina defense when you don't see it regularly? And can you draw on playing West Virginia or even that game three years ago to get your guys ready for this.
Scott DREW: Well I think playing Oklahoma State with Brad Underwood, playing Ole Miss, with Andy Kennedy, playing Coach Huggins, those are all similar, from the same tree, Coach Huggins' tree.

Now everyone does something a little different and tailor made to their team and personnel, but the toughness, the rebounding, and the defensive intensity, that's pretty consistent, not only when run on offense. And hopefully those experiences help us. It doesn't make it a guarantee that we'll be successful against it, because first time we played West Virginia I think we tried to set a NCAA record with turnovers. We came up just short. So it's a tough team to play or prepare for, and what really makes it tough is you think well, you played on Sunday, but really Monday's a rest day, Tuesday you prep, and Wednesday you do -- and you don't do much on Thursday. So you don't have a long time to prep and get ready for them.

Q. I know that your schools had to deal with a lot of negative national attention for stuff that obviously that isn't have anything to do with your program. But how do you handle it, if on the recruiting trail the subject does come up? And I'm sure that you want to defend your school as well as anybody else and so I'm just wondering how you handle that when those situations do come up?
SCOTT DREW: Well, first and foremost, people that know more about Baylor, they don't have to ask the question. I've seen in two publications we have an all-time high in applications this year. So people that know about Baylor know that we have good people, it's a good institution, and we're trying to make it better, which is something that I'm proud of with the changes and implementations and things we put into place. The goal's to be the safest college campus in the country and that's an admirable goal.

As far as people that don't know as much about Baylor, then if they ask, it's great because it allows us to explain our personal experiences with it. And one day I want my kids to go to Baylor, so I want it to be a great school.

Q. Do you have to talk to your team about not getting too blown away by the moment of playing at the Garden or how do you handle that?
SCOTT DREW: Well, the good thing is probably every team has to deal with that a little bit. But the second part would be we have had great leadership all year from Ish Wainright and the upperclassmen. We have a lot of guys that have gone in the NCAA Tournament, played in great venues, played against outstanding teams, so hopefully they're not in awe. But they understand the importance of what we have to do. And that's control what we can control.

Q. After what is your fourth consecutive NCAA trip, fourth Sweet 16 in eight years, did you need this kind of run to help validate what your program is doing after the last couple of years?
SCOTT DREW: Well I think you're probably only as good as your last game, no matter what now. We started out winning and Elite 8, Elite 8, Sweet 16, NIT championship and everybody becomes a little spoiled, you just assume you're going to advance and do well in post-season.

Then you lose in the first round twice and now all of a sudden people are like well, what's the matter? And with us, I think it's made us just appreciate more every win in the NCAA Tournament, because it isn't a given. The first two Elite 8s, we lost to the national champions and we thought, you know what, we'll win this game, maybe we win this thing. So, it shows you we have been close, but I think it's made us appreciate it more being the fourth time in eight years.

Q. Frank Martin talked about the grind in the SEC. Bryce is over there now, does he kind of relay the same thing to you that we know what it's like in the Big-12, but the SEC is that same kind of grind, I guess?
SCOTT DREW: With parity in basketball, I think every college coach would tell you that their conference is a grind. And rightfully so. So we all relate, we all understand, because first of all with all the information, with all the film, and everything that you can get on an opponent in any event, it's hard so score because everyone knows exactly the tendencies and what people do and what plays they're running. So that becomes bogged down. And then the personal experience when you play everybody, our league and leagues where you play everyone twice, it even makes it tougher, because every year you're playing them twice, maybe three times. By the time you're a senior you've guarded the same guy maybe nine, 10, 11, 12 times. So coach tells you he likes to go right, but you know what? You realized, I've closed out and I got to stop his right hand. And so there's just, that personal experience you get when you play people multiple times each and every year.

Q. I know you all tend to do deep dives when it comes to trying to get scouting ready for possible opponents in the NCAA Tournament. You've got a lot of different options out there. How valuable was it for you to have film on South Carolina from previous matchups and different years and moreover, speaking of your brother, was there a reach out to the Vanderbilt staff for opinions and ideas and so forth?
SCOTT DREW: Well, in the coaching fraternity everyone's going to get opinions from everybody as far as the personal experience, because each coach's style's a little different. Definitely it helps to look at some of those past tapes. At the same time, every year we tweak -- every coach does, what offense and what things they do defensively, based on their personnel. The only thing I liked when you watched old film is it reminds you of your past players and brings a smile to your face. We had some great games with them and there was some great players in those games. I think I had more hair back in that day.

Q. To follow up on those questions about Bryce, what's the dynamic like? How -- were you and Bryce and how often do you see each other, how much do you compare notes how competitive are you between the two of you?
SCOTT DREW: The good thing is, there's no one I would rather see win than my brother and hopefully he feels the same way about me. My dad was the 7th all time winningest coach before he retired. So, you got -- I have two assistants, my brother has two assistants, however you want to look at it. It's really nice that you can talk to them after a game and they can share their opinion and they can do it in a way that you'll receive it. And at the same time it's always good to get opinions from people that know what they're talking about, but also have your best interests at heart. So, they're not going to give you patten answers, but they will give you critical answers if need be and give you a different perspective.

The other thing is, us coaches are with our teams every day, so sometimes players you see them practice for several months and they don't do as well. And then in game they do better and you're like -- my dad is like, "Why aren't you playing him more?" And my point is, it's -- some people play better in games, some people, their attitude's not as good, you tend to hold it against them. And that's human nature. If they miss class or do things like this. So it's good to have a fresh set of eyes. The obvious, we all can tell. But a lot of times there's different perspective, why not go small ball? Why not play a bigger lineup? That they have the wisdom and knowledge that they can give it in a way that I can understand it.

Q. Obviously when you took the job, Baylor was not the program that it is right now and I was just hoping you could take me through the decision making process of when you decided to take the job.
SCOTT DREW: Well, at the time I was at Valparaiso University, which is a small private, Christian school and actually, largest Lutheran school in the nation. And before my dad got there never had a winning record in Division-I. And we were able to go to win six or seven conference championships, or six out of seven conference championship, go to the Sweet 16, and do a lot of positive things. And I saw a lot of similarities with Baylor from the standpoint of the largest Baptist school, great academic school, the weather was nicer.

But also ultimately it comes down to, I felt we had to come here through prayer and I thought it was a great opportunity. And no job is easy, but over time we have been blessed to get a lot of good players and have great coaches that have helped build it.

Q. You weren't too specific earlier with the question about how much help your brother might be giving you on South Carolina. And if you can be specific, will you also lean on him if by chance you get a matchup with Florida?
SCOTT DREW: Definitely I'll get his thoughts and opinions. But ultimately our teams are different. So things that they might have done, we don't do because they're a different team than us and they have different strengths. So, offenses are completely different. So you can get some general thoughts and ideas, but it's hard to get specifics. Does that make sense? You're Jacksonville, Florida? You keep Coach Driscoll under wraps down there? Is there any coffee left down there with Dunkin Donuts?

(Laughter.) He's a great man.

Q. Manu was new to the tournament, he hadn't had a chance to play in the NCAA Tournament. What did last weekend do for him and maybe with a little more rest, is he even better, closer to a hundred percent?
SCOTT DREW: Yesterday in practice I told David that's the best I've seen him move in a long time. And he gained confidence, he gained some experience, and hopefully he's able to play better this weekend than he did last. Not that he played bad last weekend, but still, he's getting back in the flow and the rhythm of things and it's tough when it's the biggest part of your season to be thrown in that mix. So, hopefully he continues to just get better and better and this has been the first time for several days he hasn't reaggravated it, which is great, too.

THE MODERATOR: All right, thank you, coach.

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