Arkansas Head Basketball Coach Mike Anderson
1:30 p.m., No. 8 Arkansas vs. No. 9 Seton Hall , TNT
Q. Dusty and Moses, Dusty, now that you're here on site you have the NCAA banner behind you, how does it feel? Does it feel what you envisioned? And if you could talk about Delgado the leading rebounder, what you think of him and what you think of the matchup between the big guys?
DUSTY HANNAHS: It's really cool. We just got here. We had a practice yesterday and a practice at Furman, a practice at Furman yesterday and Bob Jones University today. But this is the first time we're getting around here. And it's really cool. I like the environment. Just really ready for tomorrow.
MOSES KINGSLEY: What was my question?
Q. What do you think of Angel Delgado, the 6'10" Seton Hall player? He's leading the country in rebounding. What do you think of him as a player and going up against him and you guys matching up?
MOSES KINGSLEY: He's obviously a very good player. We've just gotta do a very good job of keeping him off the glass. If we do that, we can push the ball after we get a rebound.
Q. What's the key to keeping a guy off the glass who is averaging 13 boards, because obviously everybody is trying to do that, haven't been working too good. What's your plan to do that?
MOSES KINGSLEY: Box him out. Box him out. That's how you keep a guy off the glass, box him out. And then you get the ball and you get it away, that's a rebound. And then you -- and really what you gotta do is put a body on him. If you put a body on him, the only way he can get the ball is to go over your back. And if we do a good job of that we'll be fine.
Q. Manny, the leadership on this team, just the way it's evolved this year, and all the guys up there really have been leaders for this group. And now you're at this stage. Collectively what's the leadership been like on this run for you guys?
MANUALE WATKINS: What you said, it's been just a collective group of leaders and it's the guys you're looking at. These guys right here, up here, these are the guys that have just brought it every single day at practice, on and off the court and that's what leaders do. It's not just on the court or in the games. It's continuous every day.
And when you've got five of us doing it, it's just real big for the team and that reflects, and we made it this far. So it's just evolved into the whole year, and we don't plan on stopping anytime soon.
Q. Jaylen and Daryl, you have a deep bench, big rotation. Seton Hall a shorter bench. What do you think you can do in terms of getting the game sped up and making depth an issue?
JAYLEN BARFORD: I think we just gotta push the ball, keep the tempo up and just play our game, because I think they play with seven people. We play 10. So when they get tired we just keep going, we just keep going.
DARYL MACON: Piggyback on what Jaylen said, if we push the ball and play our game which is up tempo definitely really coming to play in this game. Like Jaylen said, we play 10 people, they play seven. We play (indiscernible) post player there's no way a team can play seven players with us.
Q. Manny and Moses, what's changed from two years ago when you guys were in the NCAA Tournament as younger guys versus being a little bit older now?
MANUALE WATKINS: I mean, it's really the same feeling. You're here but you're just not excited to be here, you want to keep dancing. We're not here just to -- oh, yeah, media, the hotel -- you're at the NCAA Tournament. I mean that's all nice, but that's not our focus. We're here to dance.
And obviously, I mean, we're here, we're seniors. It's different than when you're a sophomore. It's your last time ever getting an opportunity to play in March Madness. The sense of urgency is through the roof. And you're just ready for the moment. Can't wait.
MOSES KINGSLEY: Two years ago we played. Me and Manny played in the games, but we didn't play that much. But this year we are one of the key players on this team.
And we know what it takes, because we played in that game two years ago. And we know what we have to bring to the game and what we have to tell the guys to bring to the game to execute.
We're not just here to play one game or happy to be in the tournament, we're here to win games.
Q. Dusty, was there ever a time when you thought you wouldn't get to enjoy this moment? I mean, like after last season? Or were you always pretty confident it was going to happen this year?
DUSTY HANNAHS: I was pretty confident it was going to happen this year. After last year, it was down, because I didn't even have a team that sniffed the bubble yet.
So being able this year to have a team that's successful. And, you know, I knew when we were playing pick-up in the summer we were going to have a special team. I could just tell. I could tell people's mindsets were different. And from then on it's been a grind and everyone's focused and taking one game at a time.
Q. I actually know this, when the team went to Jacksonville a couple years ago, you redshirted, I don't know if you're allowed to go to as a redshirt. Did you get to do that?
DUSTY HANNAHS: I was on vacation, Miami.
Q. What's it like, you practiced with the guys all year, you're part of the team. They go to the NCAA Tournament. You can't go because you're redshirted, what was that like?
DUSTY HANNAHS: It was difficult. But that whole year I had gotten used to not traveling because I could never travel with them.
But it was cool just being a part of that team anyway. Whenever they got back from wins and stuff, being able to to help contribute a little bit in practice. But I definitely wanted to go. But you're not allowed to.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you. We're joined by Coach Anderson.
Q. You've obviously got a deeper bench than Seton Hall. What's the key to making it an up-and-down game where you guys can take advantage of your depth?
COACH ANDERSON: We prefer the game to be up and down the floor, and I think even Seton Hall does. They get up and down the floor. You look at some of their scores, they scored in the 80s as well. It's the NCAA Tournament. I'm sure they're going to come with everything and we're going to come with everything as well.
The game is a 40-minute game. And as I say, our defense hopefully can dictate some of that in terms of how the game goes. But they're a very good defensive team as well. Great guard play. When you've got one of the leading rebounders in the country, that gives you a plus as well. So they really attack the glass. And that's something that we're going to really, really have to do a good job of, and I think that's how you get the game up and down the floor. We've got to limit them to one shot and when they make it, we've got to make transition offense a priority and transition defense a priority as well.
Q. What do you think of Delgado? I guess after being able to watch him in film and stuff, and how do you see the matchup between him and Moses?
COACH ANDERSON: First of all, I think the matchup is going to be Seton Hall and Arkansas. You can't just guard him with one person, Delgado. You've got to keep him off the glass. But he has a great presence down low. He can face up. He's a great passer.
I mean, he has those soft hands. When he catches it, it's like Velcro. And that's really helpful in rebounding. He's a great position rebounder, and they play off of him. I think he plays with a lot of energy, a lot of passion.
With our team, I think their time -- we go as Moses goes. I think with Seton Hall, I think he and Carrington, no question about it, are big keys. And the guy who's really playing really well is Rodriguez, playing absolutely well right now.
But Delgado, we've got to make the game -- we can't just let him just have it in the paint because he'll destroy you. He can pass the ball well, and he can use his body to score as well. He's a first-team all-conference player, unanimous. That tells you, a guys that can get that many rebounds, I'll tell you what, he's got great instincts with the ball.
Q. The guys were in here joking, laughing at each other as they always do. How much does that looseness help in an NCAA Tournament? You've obviously done it a few times. Is it good to have your players loose? Is there such a thing as too loose?
COACH ANDERSON: Well, the first game it kind of scares a coach because you don't know how they're going to come out, but this group has been pretty good. Coming off the SEC tournament, hopefully that gives these guys an idea what it's going to be like to play in a setting like this here.
We've got to lean on those guys you saw up here -- Manuale, Moses Kingsley. We've got to lean on those guys to make sure they understand what takes place, and a guy like Anton Beard was here. But in terms of being ready to play our guys will come out, they'll be ready.
Q. You mentioned Anton Beard. He actually got the start for you a couple of years ago. Obviously there's been a lot to his story over the last couple of seasons. How have you seen him grow from that point and especially this season as a player?
COACH ANDERSON: Anton's been real big for us. I think he's the reason why we're seeing the adjustments for Jaylen and Daryl Macon. You made the statement he started for us.
And a lot of guys, they have a problem with that. You know, with new guys coming in, but for him, he's been all arms, probably one of their best friends. He's been key to us coming off the bench.
He's a calming force, and I think he's playing some of his best basketball this year, defensively, offensively. He got sick there for a while -- because he was starting before he got sick and he had some other guys start playing well. But he's going to be key. And we're going to have to lean on him. And we have leaned on him. His experience throughout this season.
Q. To turn to your bench, one of your guys being a starter in DT. How much have you really talked to DT and Cook and Thompson, as far as motivation knowing Sunday didn't go the way they wanted it to, in terms of how they contributed, how they performed as a complement to Moses inside?
COACH ANDERSON: In terms of -- they know how they played. They know -- when they play well, our team really plays well. They had some moments in that SEC Tournament, not necessarily in the championship game.
But they've just gotta come out and do what they do. And what do they do? They do some blue-collar things for our basketball team, and when teams are packing in on them they've got to step out and knock down that 15-, 16-foot shot.
But more importantly they've got to bring the energy, they've got to be screeners. They've gotta do their roles, and I think if you combine Dustin Thomas, who starts it off, or Arlando Cook as he comes in and gives us quality minutes. And then of course Trey Thompson. I think he's playing outstanding basketball for us.
We're going to need those guys to match the Seton Hall folks. I think that's going to be key in this game. As we move forward, our forwards are going to be key. I think our guards are playing pretty good -- there are nights when I say Daryl may have it going on or Barford may have it going on. And teams are targeting in on Dusty Hannahs. But we've got to have somebody step up and there comes Anton Beard.
And we see what Manuale brings to the table. He just adds another dimension to his game and shooting the basketball and playing with a lot of confidence. Still doing all the dirty work. So again to me, it's about a team of balance and having more options now. So who are you going to key in on is the key with this basketball team. But we've got to have somebody step up.
Q. Dusty, he waited five years to get here. What sense do you get from him about how glad he is to cap off his career when he's waited so long and just what have you thought about his season overall?
COACH ANDERSON: I'll tell you what, I think so much of Dusty because coming in, obviously he was a guy that shot the ball. He was scoring. And we've seen his evolution as a player. He's developed going off the dribble, getting to the free-throw line, and even playing a lot better defensively than he had in the previous years.
But I think he cares more about winning now. Sometimes you're around guys who embody winning. It makes a big difference.
Now you start doing those little things and we're seeing that. And Dusty is playing with an edge too. I think he's turned into a leader with this basketball team. When I was walking up here and I heard somebody mention what did he do the last time we went to the NCAA Tournament. Hell, he was off on the beach somewhere. We're out there trying to play in a win-in game in Jacksonville and he's at the beach. And he should have been there.
But in essence Dusty to me, I think he's had a very good year, outstanding year. He's been a target. But I think he's done it the right way. There are sometimes when guys are in that position, then they try to go "get" the game. I don't think he's done it. Every now and then he's going to shoot some bad shots. That's what shooters and good players do.
As a coach sometimes you've got to live with it. And I've lived with it this year. And I think it's freed him to go and play and become the best player he can be.
Q. For a team that scores as well as you guys do and usually in the 80s, there's been some stretches, long stretches with no points at all like in that Kentucky game. When you see those kinds of things happen going into the game, what do you tell the guys if they're going through a little bit of a funk like that, maybe drive and try to get fouled get to the lines so you don't have such long stretches with no points?
COACH ANDERSON: You just answered the question right there, didn't you? You said drive or get it inside. Let's go inside. Let's go into the beast. Let's get to the free-throw line.
It's kind of like you're bleeding. Let's stop the bleeding. So we've got to figure out, we do have those drops, we gotta come down and gotta execute and get in what we need to get in.
In the Kentucky game we did have some big drops, and that's a concern, especially even when we get to this stage here because you're playing against a team against Seton Hall, outstanding defensive team as well.
But we've got to be able to -- whether we get guys attacking the basket, we get guy spotted up, we've got to start -- I think start inside, maybe getting Mo a nice touch, because sometimes it's not him, the key to him touching it, it may open up somebody else.
Q. You went through a little stretch this season where you guys weren't playing particularly well, Missouri, Vanderbilt; you lose at home. People were down on the team. What were you going through right there, and was there a turning point coming out of that that you look back at and say that is the kind of thing that started to click for you?
COACH ANDERSON: We talked about this the other day. I just think that with this team here, with so many new pieces, you gotta grow as a team. And we started this process in the summer months, going to Spain, getting into our offseason. Then, of course, practice. And even as you get into the regular season, it takes time. And with this team here we had a pretty good non-conference schedule. We did pretty good in it.
All of a sudden, you jump into conference play. No sooner we jump into conference play, the sense of urgency goes up 10, 20 notches. And I don't know if our guys understood that as a whole. I know the guys coming back understood.
But that's the process we're talking about of building and creating that chemistry with your team. And even as we got back on a winning track, winning streak, then, of course, then we bump our heads again.
We go play Missouri, play a team we played early in the year. You've got to understand they're better. Their sense of urgency was way out the roof. I thought our guys just went to show up to win. I think it's more mental than anything else. We start growing up mentally.
Vanderbilt comes in and waxes us that home. I think we learned. Anytime we have some adversity we learned from it. I think that's why you're seeing a team starting to surge and put those experiences into use. So I'm anxious to see how we come out -- you're coming from the Kentucky game, where I thought we were just -- I thought we wanted it so bad that we were too amped up.
And now you come to the NCAA Tournament, the last, the tournament, and trying to win a national championship. I'm anxious to see how we come out. And I think we learned from that, knowing that it's one game, and you've got to leave it all on the floor.
Q. With just three guys who have experience in the tournament, going into tomorrow, 24 hours from tip-off, do you talk more about your previous experiences, or do you rely on those three guys to tell the other guys what to expect?
COACH ANDERSON: I think it's got to be a combination. They've got to see it through my eyes. They've been seeing it through my eyes, that's why, when you hear them talking, they're talking one game at a time. That's all we preach: One game at a time.
Throughout this course of the year, I've kept things simple. Obviously we added on some things, but we don't change. As a matter fact, we get to this time of the year, we really want to turn up the intensity in terms of how we play.
But at the same time we've got to lean on those guys that have been through it. Anton, Manuale, Moses, even Trey. Those guys were here. And so they've got to be the guys that say: Hey, guys, this is how we do it.
And I think these guys have enough experience now to understand the sense of urgency in terms of how we want to play and what we want to do in terms of carrying out our game plan.
Q. Besides Delgado, who is obviously a great offensive rebounder, seemed like, with Seton Hall, a lot of them crash the offensive boards, even the guards, like Carrington, he'll slip in there for an offensive board, how much does that concern you, and how much, if you get the defensive boards, can it obviously kickstart your transition game?
COACH ANDERSON: That's going to be -- the main part of defense is rebounding the basketball. You're absolutely right. Rodriguez, he's a tremendous rebounder, all those guys rebound. Carrington, their guards. They are one of those teams, they shoot it and go get it because they shoot it and they know where it's going.
That means we've gotta do an outstanding job of keeping them off the boards. And they played quite a few teams. And you can see the difference in rebounding is offensive rebounding is unbelievable.
So that tells you they've got a knack for that and we've got to limit them to get that, because what not only does getting offensive rebounds, you're talking about scoring, but it puts your guys in foul trouble as well because that's when those fouls come.
So in order for us to keep guys out of foul trouble we've gotta do a good job on the glass. Once we do that, our guards have got to rebound the basketball.
And I think that really gets us into transition, and we've got some forwards we feel that are versatile enough, they can get up and down the floor.
But I think the key is, Delgado's gotta be one we gotta keep off. I think the other guys, we've gotta do a good job of keeping body on body.
Q. For Dusty, how happy are you that he's finally getting to experience the NCAA Tournament? What do you think it means to him?
COACH ANDERSON: He wants to win. I think that's it. He doesn't just want to experience it. He wants to win, and I think it's kind of fitting for he and the seniors. We talked about it at the beginning of the year, as we brought in this group of guys to go along with that, making it a special year.
When you have the seniors that we have that have invested in our programs, doing the things the right way, getting ready to graduate, we've got Moses who is on the SEC leadership SAC program.
We've got some guys that are doing some outstanding things in our community. So to me it's fitting that they go out in a great way and what better way to go out than to have an opportunity to participate and expand and dance in the NCAA Tournament. So he's happy.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.