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"We're excited to be here, excited to be part of the Sweet Sixteen. I've always loved Memphis, love the Rendezvous restaurant. It's a good thing for me. But really happy for our kids who have played well and basically played pretty well all year long and handled quite a bit of adversity. We're happy to be here."
Can you give us an update on how Ty and the toe is doing today. Any improvement over the last couple?
"No. No is the answer to your last part of the question. It's not any better. It's not, no, that I won't answer the question. I asked him this morning. I'm just being honest. I'm pretty straightforward. My high school coach told me once, if you always be truthful, you don't have to remember what you said.
"I went up to him this morning, and said on a scale of 1 to 10, how was it yesterday? He said about a 6. How is it today? About a 6. I said how was it Saturday before the LSU game? He said about an 8. That's not encouraging to me. It's just something that's taking a long, long time to heal.
"When it happened, they told me about this, it was going to be this way. But I was just, I guess, being more positive or hoping or whatever you want. I was hoping it would be better by this time. Each time that he's played, the first time in the Duke game, he played, and it got very swollen. This time it hasn't swollen, but it's been painful."
In what way is Ty better right now than Raymond Felton was at the season?
"Right now, he's not because he's not 100%. Ty's done a great job with the assist ratio. He's shot a great percentage. He's been really good at times defensively, probably not as consistent as I've wanted him to be or maybe be as consistent as he's wanted himself to be.
"I think it's hard to compare the players because we've asked each one of them to do different things. Everybody from the outside would look and say, 'Well, they both had a big guy. They both had a bench. They've both had this.' I think it has been a little different. I wouldn't say I'd compare it to Raymond, who's better, who's not as good. He's had a sensational year for us. He's gotten much better. Let me back up. He's gotten better in every phase of the game. When you add all those together, he's gotten a lot better."
TYLER HANSBROUGH & WAYNE ELLINGTON
Tyler, I was going to ask you a little bit -- I know a lot has been said about the game two years ago with you and the match up. Can you talk a little bit about that night and what you remember, especially Josh's play.
"They came out. They just played better than us that night. And, of course, Josh had a good game. He was hitting some shots. Got in the groove of things. I didn't really have my best game. They just beat us."
With how well Daye and Heytvelt shoot the ball for big guys, how much emphasis have you put on perimeter defense for your guys' post players this past week?
"A lot. We looked at them. We understand they can shoot. So we're going to have to be able to guard outside. It's something we talked about. But also I think they're good inside players. We're going to have to be able to do a little bit of both."
Has your mentality changed a little bit of late? You've been on such a hot streak on your shooting. But it seems like you've sort of changed your outlook on things a little bit too.
"Yeah. I feel like it's that time of year where I think everybody should be elevating their game. I just -- I've just been stepping up to the challenge. I've been picking up defensively. You know, being a lot more aggressive offensively. And I feel like that kind of got me going. I'm in the groove of things now."
Can you guys talk about the biggest difference in Ty Lawson from last year to this year?
"I feel like he's become more of a leader for us. You know, he's always been our quarterback out on the court, but I feel like he's doing a great job by leading by example and just showing a lot of toughness.
"I think that kind of gets us going. You know, when Ty gets going out there and he's making plays defensively and beating guys offensively, I feel like it gets the rest of us going."
How is the toe?
"It feels the same as last week before the game. It's just sore. It's not going to heal until after the season."
Do you feel like you're a foot doctor now that you've had so many questions about it?
"Everybody's been asking me about it. How does it feel? What do I do for it? Just anything imaginable, so I'm glad it's over with."
So you are pretty much good to go?
"Yeah, I'm good to go. I'm going to play."
Is there a mentality behind your second-half performances?
"Coach always tells me to be more aggressive. In the games that I've had a big second half, we weren't doing too well at the beginning of it, and I was just more aggressive going to the basket. In the first half, I just try to get everybody involved – all of the main scorers like Danny, Wayne and Tyler. In the second half, when things aren't going right, I try to be more aggressive."
"We've had a great week. I mean, obviously, Sweet Sixteen week is -- it's nonstop excitement and then apprehension from a coaching standpoint. But our guys have practiced well this week. They're excited to get to come to Memphis. Love the building. And, you know, the town just embraces college basketball so much here. I think with our series with Memphis, our guys have noticed that over the years.
"Then obviously, just an opportunity to play Carolina, probably the greatest basketball program in history of college basketball. I think our guys have a great sense of appreciation for that too. It's a group that, I think I said last week, at this time of year, a lot of groups just want to get done and are kind of tired of being around each other. That's just not the case. They like each other. They've been great day in and day out, night in and night out, with practice, with their effort, and their team chemistry. They just want to keep it going."
A lot of people have said this is the most interesting regional, your game against Carolina, the most intriguing. With the star power of Tyler and Blake both being here, do you agree with that? Are we in the best regional here?
"Well, I'm biased, obviously, but, yeah, I think it's a phenomenal regional. I mean, I think with the one, two, three, and four seeds here. You've got two hall of fame coaches in coach Williams and Coach Boeheim. And then the as far power, like you mentioned with Ty and Hansbrough and Blake and even, you know, Jeremy and the guys we have. And then Jonny Flynn and the guys from Syracuse. The contrasting styles, I think, makes it interesting. But there's some great match ups all across here.
"I think the one thing that's really neat -- and I think they alluded to it today in the paper -- is just that you can feel and sense the appreciation for college basketball here in this city. That isn't always the case. You know, I think Spokane has it. And obviously Spokane fits 500,000, 600,000. But having a major Metropolitan area like this, the players understand it. They walk around, and people are excited to have this here. It's a great building. I would say, yeah, it probably does make it the best one."