Larry Brown Q&A
Q: What is so special about Clemson's K.J. McDaniel?
LB: "He does everything. I don't know a player in the country that leads his team in all the categories he does. Plus, he is a great defender. He is one of the reasons they are one of the better defensive teams. He plays in a great conference and he is recognized as one of their best players. If you play in the ACC and you're one of the best players, you got to be pretty special."
Q: Does he concern you more on one end of the floor than the other? LB: "No, he is just a great player. He could be playing in the NBA and surprising a lot of people. He just competes really hard and is a great athlete. He is terrific."
Q: Clemson gives up only 58 points a game, what makes them so effective defensively?
LB: "Well, I won't ever buy defensive numbers because you can hold the ball. Princeton for years led the country in defense: field goal percentage defense and points allowed. Louisville is a great defensive team and they give up points. Clemson is athletic and long. They play man and they play it well. There challenged sometimes, like we are, to score. They stay in games because they guard. I don't think its rocket science when you play them and I don't think it is for them when they play us. Whoever gets good shots, takes care of the ball, and rebounds will have the best chance to win."
Q: Do you know Clemson coach Brad Brownell?
LB: "Not really. I just know him, see him, and say hello. I have watched his teams play and looking at that I think he has similar values to us. They always play hard, they are unselfish, and they try to guard. I think most people would say the same thing about Brad."
Q: Are you concerned with your players getting distracted in New York?
LB: "I don't worry about that. I am going to be excited. Why wouldn't they be? I want them to be excited. It's a terrific accomplishment. I want them to enjoy playing in the Garden and being one of eight teams that are still playing. As long as we do what we do best and realize the things we need to do, our goal is to try and keep playing. We will try to accomplish that. I'm thrilled for the team."
Q: Who is more excited about going to New York: you or Kevin Dunleavy?
LB: "(Laughs). We probably have five or six kids that have never been to New York. I think everybody is genuinely excited. It's neat for Kevin because his family is so involved. Every one of these kids, after two weeks ago when we didn't get to go to the NCAA tournament, to get to this position I think is pretty significant. It's a nice feeling to have. I remember telling people how disappointed we were and how we let them down. Based on the response from the crowd the last three home games, I think people will take where we are."
Q: Do you think this run in the NIT is better than a short NCAA tournament appearance?
LB: "No, I don't but I think it beats the alternative of not being anywhere and not playing. I don't think its better. Our goal was to make the NCAA tournament. When we didn't, we got a great opportunity and privilege."
Q: Did you enjoy playing three more home games?
LB: "It was nice for Nick Russell and Shawn Williams. You don't want to end on that sour note against Louisville on senior night. You get a chance to play three games here and see the enthusiasm and support. It was phenomenal. I don't think any of us expected that. "
Q: What are you looking forward to the most in New York?
RM: "I'm just looking forward to the atmosphere in New York. I heard it's a pretty neat place. The city never sleeps. I have never been there, so it will be my first time. Madison Square Garden has some bright lights, so it should be a fun trip."
Q: Will you get to see the city or is it all business up there?
RM: "I don't think Coach Brown has told us anything about that yet. I think we will have some free time during the week to go see some things in the city."
Q: What have you seen on film from Clemson? RM: "They are pretty strong defensively. One of the guys on their team leads them in almost all statistical categories, so we need to make sure and stop him. Also, they are challenged to score offensively so our defense should be able to contain him."
Q: That guy is K.J. McDaniel. He leads in points, rebounds, blocks shots, and was ACC defensive player of the year. Is he a bigger challenge on offense or defense for you?
RM: "I think he is a bigger challenge for us defensively trying to contain him. He is probably one of the best players we have seen this year. It will be hard to key in on him and try to make it a tough night for him."
Q: Does McDaniel remind you of anyone you have played against?
RM: "I can't really think of anybody right now. Maybe after we watch more film I will get a better idea of who he reminds me of."
Q: You guys are great defensively and Clemson gives up only 58 points a game. Do you think Tuesday will be a slugfest?
RM: "I think it will be a defensive slugfest. We are both going to have to dog it out on the defensive end and grind it out to get the win. Whoever comes out as the tougher team will get the victory, hopefully it is us."
Q: How satisfying is it to make it to New York?
RM: "We reached part of our goal by getting to New York, but we still have unfinished business left to do. We want to win the whole thing. It sunk it that we made it to New York, but now its time to actually realize that we are in the final four of the NIT and want to win it."
Q: Do you worry about the distractions in New York?
RM: "I don't think we are getting caught up in anything. I think the hardest game for us was last game because we were trying to make it to New York and get to Madison Square Garden. Now that we are there, I think we can get used to it."
•The team watched film on Clemson for about 30 minutes and then practiced in Moody Coliseum.
•SMU football coach June Jones was in attendance once again.
•Larry Brown stopped practice even more than usual to yell at players for mistakes. He got extremely frustrated and yelled at just about every guy at one point or another. He also made players run sprints after losing drills.
•Keith Frazier had a very difficult day. Coach Brown really tore into him after a few defensive mistakes and he didn't shoot the ball well either. Also, Eric Snow had to talk to him one-on-one. Frazier stayed after practice to shoot by himself.
•The team played five-on-five at the end of practice. It was Nic Moore, Nick Russell, Sterling Brown, Shawn Williams and Markus Kennedy (coached by K.T Turner) vs. Ryan Manuel, Keith Frazier, Crandall Head, Ben Moore, and Cannen Cunningham with Yanick Moreira subbing in occasionally (coached by Eric Snow).
• Interesting note from SMU PR: There's a chance the Mustangs will play in front of the largest crowd all season on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden. The biggest crowds so far this year were at Louisville, where there were about 20,000 in attendance, and Memphis where there were about 18,500.