EA SPORTS Maui Invitational Coaches' Press Conference Transcript [Nov. 18, 2012]
Nov. 18, 2012
EA SPORTS MAUI INVITATIONAL COACHES' PRESS CONFERENCE
JAY BILAS: We want to start out talking about the different teams and have each coach take a couple of moments to tell us about his team and what it's like to be here at the Maui Invitational.
We'll start off with Butler's Brad Stevens, who is in his sixth year as head coach at Butler University. 142 career wins over those six years. Took the Butler Bulldogs to back to back NCAA Tournament Finals in 2010 and 2011.
He turned down a lucrative career at Eli Lilly in order to be a college head coach, and he's done a magnificent job, one of the finest young coaches in the industry. Brad Stevens of Butler.
COACH STEVENS: Thank you, Jay. It's obviously an honor for us to be here. I was walking along with Brianna as we were walking over here and said: For Butler University, I think this is, and our basketball program, this is a bucket list type of thing, to be included in the Maui Invitational, to be able to compete not only against the great teams that are here, but also to be able to take in the great tradition of this tournament.
And so obviously our guys are thrilled to be here. And we've got a lot of work to do. And it's always interesting, because our goal at Christmas every year, after our nonconference schedule, is to accurately assess how we can get better.
And I think we'll be able to accurately assess how we can get better by the end of these three days with the team sitting next to us. So we're excited to be here. Our guys are really excited to play.
Certainly has been incredible hospitality the entire time, and we thank you for including us.
JAY BILAS: Next coach is Marquette's Buzz Williams, in his fifth year as head coach of Marquette. Taken the Golden Eagles to seven straight NCAA tournaments. This year's team from last year's Sweet 16, two straight Sweet 16s for Marquette. He's got three starters back and eight letter winners. Past national champion, Marquette in 1977 under Al McGuire, and Buzz Williams has carried on that tradition very capably. Buzz.
COACH WILLIAMS: We're excited to be here. It's been a long week in some respects. We had condensation on the floor in Charleston. Coach Odom and Brianna addressed that this morning, and I'm glad to know that we'll be able to play here tomorrow. We'll have a good feel, I think, for where we stand after we play Butler and the next two games.
We lost a lot last year, but I'm excited about what we're bringing back, and we're honored that we would be invited to be here. Our guys are thankful for the opportunity and exposure and also just for the opportunity to experience something at this level. Thank you.
JAY BILAS: Buzz, thank you. Our next coach is Rick Ray of Mississippi State. Rick is in his first year with the Bulldogs at Mississippi State. A former assistant coach at Indiana State and also Purdue and most recently at Clemson. He's an outstanding young coach that has proven to be a very capable recruiter. And he brings his Bulldogs a little bit shorthanded, they've had some injuries and suspensions, but they've got a lot of fight in them. Want to hear from Rick Ray right now.
COACH RAY: Thanks for bringing up the suspensions. Appreciate that. I notice you didn't go over my career wins. I've got one. (Laughter) Obviously really excited to be here at Maui. When I first took over the job and was trying to secure our roster, the next thing you look at is the scheduling.
And I noticed we were playing the Maui Invitational. It's a great experience for our guys. Then the second thing I notice we just play a small school called North Carolina in the first game. So that's always adventurous there as well, too.
But our guys are excited. The one thing I'm trying to instill in our guys is nobody cares about your situation, about what state you're in at this point in time, like all everybody cares about at the end of the day is the wins and the losses.
So we want to come out here and play hard and compete, and I expect our guys to do so. But we really are honored to be a part of this Maui Invitational. Thank you.
JAY BILAS: Thanks, Rick. Our next coach is Roy Williams of the University of North Carolina. Coach Williams is a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Doesn't take much to figure out why. He's had an extraordinary career. First at Kansas, and now at North Carolina. He's won two national championships in 2005 and 2009.
I think in both those seasons he started off with a championship here at the Maui Invitational. So this has been quite a springboard to great things for Coach Williams and the North Carolina Tar Heels.
He's in his tenth season as head coach seems like you just got there, just came back yesterday. Roy Williams, North Carolina.
COACH WILLIAMS: Thank you very much, Jay. We do realize that Jay is a Duke graduate. So, Rick, the fact he doesn't say anything about your number of wins is not a problem. He just said that Buzz had been at Marquette for five years and gone to seven straight NCAA tournaments in five years. (Laughter).
JAY BILAS: I'm just reading the copy.
COACH WILLIAMS: Which Duke did the copy. Is that not right, Buzz, five years that's a hell of a record.
JAY BILAS: That's how good of a coach he is.
COACH WILLIAMS: I just didn't have the equity to say it.
COACH WILLIAMS: Anybody's got equity to say anything about Jay. We're as happy as we possibly can be to be here, to say the least. We've played three games already. And we haven't faced the kind of competition that we're going to face here.
I truly believe this is by far, year in and year out, this is no exception, the best of these tournaments. I think it sets a standard for everyone else. This year going to four games and letting you have the game at home first is something, I think, was a good deal to have as well.
But the hospitality that you receive here, the work of everybody, Jay and Dave and Brianna, and even Dr. Nichols over here, saying something good about the officials, it's really unsurpassed around the country. And I really believe it's the greatest tournament. And we're here with a very young team and we're excited to be here. Thank you.
JAY BILAS: First of all, thanks for noting that I was a graduate of Duke. It only took me 12 years to get that. And I'm really proud of it. I did major in math.
Next up is the head coach of Texas, Rick Barnes. He's been at Texas now for 14 seasons, and has gone to 27 straight NCAA Tournaments. (Laughter).
Rick is a member of the Lenoir Rhyne College Hall of Fame, which shows you how easy it is to get into the Lenoir Rhyne College Hall of Fame.
Rick has done an extraordinary job at Texas. He was an outstanding head coach at Providence and Clemson before he went with the Longhorns and took Texas to the 2003 Final Four, and I'm sure is going to have something witty to say about what I said about him. Rick Barnes.
COACH BARNES: No, I'm just going to tell the truth. I think it was 1981, and I was an assistant coach at George Mason University. And I think Jay was a freshman.
And when he arrived at Duke they were trying to play that real aggressive man to man defense. He got a little bit too close to a player by the name of Carlo (indiscernible). And I enjoyed watching Jay pick his two front teeth up off the floor.
JAY BILAS: That's actually true.
COACH BARNES: It is true. But Jay has been great for college basketball. And I love the trip that we went on, what, a couple of years ago to Kuwait. Had a great time. It's great being here.
And our team I don't think I've ever coached a team where we just have freshmen and sophomores, no upper classmen that were recruited. It's been a fun group to be with. We think we're going to be good. And this next couple of days is going to give us a chance to grow, and we're looking forward to it.
JAY BILAS: Thanks, Rick. Our next coach is the head coach of Chaminade, Eric Bovaird. Had a chance to watch Eric's team practice yesterday. An outstanding coach. Team is very well drilled. Number of players back. They play hard and they'll be a tremendous challenge in every game that they play here at the Maui Invitational. Eric.
COACH BOVAIRD: Yeah, obviously this event is huge for Chaminade University. Our players look forward to it. When the schedule comes out and the tournament comes out, we all get together, and it's so exciting to see the bracket and finally meet all these coaches I've looked up to for a long time.
We're really looking forward I'm watching Texas on tape, trying to figure out how can we play with them.
UNIDENTIFIED COACH: I can tell you.
COACH BOVAIRD: I will take your advice. I appreciate that. KemperLesnik does a great job putting this event on, and we're just so happy to be part of it.
JAY BILAS: Thanks, Eric. Our next coach is Kevin O'Neill, having the distinction of coached at every school that's represented in the Maui Invitational this year except for Chaminade. And he's got his eye on that job in the future. Kevin has coached at Marquette, Tennessee, Northwestern, head coach at Arizona, and now your fourth year at Southern Cal, Kevin.
COACH O'NEILL: Fourth.
JAY BILAS: Yesterday all these coaches have apparel deals and wear this wonderful, wonderful gear. And Kevin came yesterday dressed much like he is today except but he didn't wear anything that said USC on it. He looked like he was going to go grab a metal detector, go out on the beach and look for loose change after practice.
UNIDENTIFIED COACH: He did.
JAY BILAS: One of the great tacticians in the game and one of the great guys in the game, Kevin O'Neill.
COACH O'NEILL: Roy, are we sure he's a graduate?
COACH WILLIAMS: I won't answer that one.
COACH O'NEILL: It's a great honor to be here. We're excited about our team. I've told numerous people that we have a team full of rejects, starting at the top, myself. Bunch of guys that are transfers. When we took over with sanctions put together transfers and junior college guys.
I think we have a good team. We have a fun group. I like our team, which is hard to do sometimes as a coach. But I really like them. And I think we're going to be a pretty good team when it gets all said and done. This is a great event for us. We'll find out a lot about ourselves as we move forward. Thank you.
JAY BILAS: Thanks, Kevin. Our last coach to hear from this morning on the dais is John Groce of Illinois. John is in his first year as the head coach of the Illini. He spent time at Butler as an assistant, at Xavier and Ohio State under Thad Matta, and spent four years at Ohio U as head coach.
And I think everybody remembers last year the incredible run they went on in the NCAA Tournament. Winning 29 games, losing only eight, and reaching the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament before losing to North Carolina.
John has some outstanding players, is trying to build a program in the image he wants, a team that is tough and plays incredibly hard. And I've known John for a long time and just an outstanding young coach and a really good guy. John.
COACH GROCE: Jay, appreciate it. First of all, a great opportunity for our team to be here. We've enjoyed we actually came out a little bit early and played at Hawaii on Friday and have enjoyed the hospitality.
It's been a terrific experience for our players, trying to balance taking everything in while also getting ready for competition. I think they've done a good job of that. I've got an older team that's very mature. So that's been a good thing. But we've really enjoyed it.
This is great for the University of Illinois to be in this event. I remember watching it for I thought back when I saw it was on the schedule, a lot like Rick mentioned, you get the job and one of the first things you do, you look at the schedule and you look to see that the Maui Invitational is on there.
And I started reminiscing about all the great tournaments, even as a kid, that I watched over the years that have taken place here in Maui. And certainly from the outside looking in and looking forward to experiencing it for myself, personally, you know, it has been the premier college basketball tournament, exempt tournament, preseason, year in and year out. It has been the standard.
And so we're just excited to be a part of it. I think it's a special opportunity for Illinois. Our guys are excited to play in it. We have an older team. As many of the coaches have said, we're going to learn a lot here about our team the next three days. We're looking forward to that.
As Coach Williams alluded to: We've had some good challenges up to this point, but this takes it to another level and really gives us the opportunity to kind of earmark our team and see where we're at here early. So we're looking forward to the opportunity to compete in the event and we appreciate everyone's hospitality. It's been terrific.
JAY BILAS: John, thank you. And thank you to all the coaches for your time this morning. Before we move on to the photo opportunity and the free throw contest, we wanted to have special recognition for someone who has been an extraordinary contributor to the success of the Maui Invitational over the years, and that's the Supervisor of Officials and Coordinator of Officials for this event, Mr. Hank Nichols.
Hank was an extraordinary official in his time wearing the whistle and did countless Final Fours, was a tremendous influence on the game. And after his career on the court, he stepped off the court and became the NCAA Supervisor of Officials where he worked tirelessly to standardize officiating across the country, something that hadn't been really attempted before and really moved officiating forward over the course of the years.
And he's recently retired as the NCAA Supervisor of Officials, but he's not retired from the game. He still is working here and coordinating the officials for the Maui Invitational, but was just this last year inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame for his contributions to the game to take his rightful place with the game's greats.
And we wanted to add our thanks and also the thanks of the EA Sports Maui Invitational to the extraordinary contributions not only to this event but to the game for Hank Nichols. Hank.
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