On the Podium: Baylor

On the Podium: Baylor

SAN ANTONIO, Tex. - The NCAA presents a full transcript of Baylor head coach Scott Drew and athletes Brady Heslip, Cory Jefferson, and Gary Franklin from the Bears' Thursday press conference...

THE MODERATOR: We are joined by Baylor University studentathletes Brady Heslip, Cory Jefferson, and Gary Franklin. We'll take questions for the studentathletes.

Q. For all of you guys to when you saw you were playing Nebraska in the first round, you guys were all on the team when Baylor and Nebraska were conference opponents. Did they register with you as an old conference rival, or does it feel like completely new? How do you guys kind of see them rivalry wise?

CORY JEFFERSON: I see it as completely new. It's been a long time since they were in the conference. They probably had a lot of things that changed since back then, but we know they're still a physical team and a tough team.

BRADY HESLIP: Like Cory said, it's not a rivalry. I wasn't playing while they were in our conference. So it's a new opportunity for us. It will be our first time playing against them, so we're just excited about it.

GARY FRANKLIN: Yeah, same here. I was red shirting the same time as Brady. So never really played against Nebraska. Hadn't seen them play much, but we know they're a physical and tough team, so we're excited to play them.

Q. Brady and Cory, you guys were obviously in the tournament in 2012. How much will that help you guys? Is it all kind of coming back now, just kind of the atmosphere and all of that?

BRADY HESLIP: Yep, it's all coming back. We're excited to be here, but we're here to win games, so...

CORY JEFFERSON: Yeah, like Brady said, it's a good feeling to be here and just to know that you're playing in the NCAA tournament. Not everybody is blessed enough to say that at this point in the year. But at the same time, we're here to go further than just being here.

Q. Gary, when you guys were 28 in conference play, what flipped things around for you guys? Or were you worried that the season might be lost?

GARY FRANKLIN: The center of our team is based on God. We look to God in every situation. Being 28 was just another opportunity for us to come out of a situation where we didn't like it. Obviously, it's helped our team become closer together.

We've had plenty of meetings where we were talking about what we really want to get done and get accomplished and making it to the NCAA tournament was one of them. So we turned things around. We played harder and played more for each other, and that got us here today.

Q. You guys played four games last week. Do you feel that you have gotten enough rest to be ready for this test tomorrow against Nebraska. Gary, you're smiling, so I'll ask that question to you.

GARY FRANKLIN: Absolutely. If you're not excited to play in the NCAA tournament, you shouldn't be playing basketball. I fully believe that if we had a game yesterday we'd be ready to play tomorrow. So those four games in four days for us, I felt like was a couple of weeks of practice that we've had in the past where things were tough and then having to have a game. So I think we're fully prepared. I hope my guys feel the same.

CORY JEFFERSON: I agree.

BRADY HESLIP: No days off.

Q. Cory, you had talked about this is the reason you came back. Has it hit home that you're in the NCAA tournament? This is really your first time to kind of be a key part of an NCAA tournament team?

CORY JEFFERSON: Right. This is one of the main reasons that I wanted to come back was to actually play in the NCAA tournament. The last two times that we were here as a team I wasn't really on the floor as much and I feel this year would be a great experience just being out there with my brothers.

Q. They've got some pretty talented guards. What do you see from their back court?

GARY FRANKLIN: Their back court, they shoot it pretty well. They penetrate to find each other. They share the ball pretty well. They have a defender, number 3 who defends the ball really well. He's a pest on defense. Their guards have really nice size, something we haven't seen much except from a day like DeAndre Kane. Other than that, they seem to be really, really solid and really talented and really wellrounded, pretty much, being as big as they are. So we're looking forward to these matchups.

Q. Brady, you've talked about it before, but the defense was kind of a key to this last stretch. Nebraska plays really good defense. Can you talk about trying to defend and how key that will be for this round?

BRADY HESLIP: Yep, well, we know that defense wins games, so we're just going to keep playing defense the way we've been playing and focus on personnel and know what their guys like to do, strengths and weaknesses and try to make them score the ways that they're not very strong at doing so.

Q. Is there any Big 12, Big Ten pride to uphold here in this game?

GARY FRANKLIN: I think so. I mean, as far as wanting to see other Big 12 teams do well, absolutely. We have relationships with guys on the other teams that we want to see do well. If we could have a Big 12 matchup in the national championship, that would be fun.

BRADY HESLIP: Big 12's the best conference in the country, so, yeah, we do.

CORY JEFFERSON: I would agree. Our Big 12 season is over, so, like Gary said, we have friends on other teams in the conference and we want to see them do well as a conference. We're not battling each other anymore, so we want to see the Big 12 do well going up against the other conferences.

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Baylor University head coach Scott Drew. Coach, an opening statement?

COACH DREW: Well, the good thing is coaches don't have to worry about motivational speeches or anything this time of the year. It was really nice being able to jump on the bus and drive down here last night. Very excited to be here and ready to get going.

Q. Nebraska hadn't been to the tournament since '98, Coach Miles second year there. What do you think of the job he's done to get that program going?

COACH DREW: He's done a tremendous job. I think if you look at his track record, he's been outstanding everywhere he's been. Personally, I love his energy. I love his approach and what he's done with his team. They're fun watching play. So I think coaches appreciate. You spend enough time watching game film on other programs, and he's really done a good job.

Q. Does Nebraska remind you of anybody you've played so far?

COACH DREW: Well, I know style of play, I think Kansas State might come to mind from the standpoint. I think offensively they really execute well, and they're patient. Defensively they're very physical and do a great job making it tough to get to the paint and pretty consistent size across the board. So that might be a team that comes to mind.

But there is scoring they have from their wing positions from their two guards that is something that with that size you don't see a lot in college basketball, two guards with great size that are basically tough matchups for most people they face, I'm sure.

Q. I wanted to get an assessment from you on Petteway too and playing the zone, you try to keep them out of the lane. I assume that is kind of the idea?

COACH DREW: We play man, we play zone. Might take ten guys to keep him out of the paint. So, I think we knew and are familiar with them playing Texas Tech, but I think he's obviously worked extremely hard and gotten stronger and developed. Whenever you are as productive as he has been this year in the Big Ten, I think that speaks for itself. I think Coach Miles game planning and scheming to make sure that he has opportunities is outstanding as well.

Q. Aside from Petteway and Shields who kind of stands out for Nebraska as an Xfactor in your mind?

COACH DREW: Well, I know we do everything by numbers and not names. So let's just keep it with numbers. 35, I tell you the way he shoots the ball and his high release and as quick as he gets it off is outstanding. But I think they've had, similar to our team, the more you watch them, it seems like different people have stepped up at different games. It might be on the defensive end. Number 3 really coming up big. Might be 15 knocking down threes. It might be 21 grabbing rebounds and making plays around the rim.

That's why they're a good team is because they've had people step up at different times. The three guys that have been the most productive scoring grab your attention first and foremost. But this is a team, and not just one individual.

Q. Some of your guys were on the 2012 team. Does that make it easier for you to prepare just because they have some familiarity here?

COACH DREW: Well, I think any time you have past experiences you're allowed to draw from them. At the same time, each year, each game, it's a new opportunity. This time of year if you don't play well, you don't execute, you go home. So hopefully any positive experiences from the past can help your team, but it doesn't guarantee success.

Q. Scott, when you were 28 in the league, did you think you'd have an NCAA banner sitting behind you this time of the year?

COACH DREW: Very pleased to have that NCAA banner behind us (laughing). But I think us and Nebraska are very similar. Both of us in our last 13 are 103 and both have finished very strong. Coach Miles, after the start of their season, we can identify. Guys can separate, point fingers, blame each other, season can be over.

But both teams stayed together, got better, and worked and improved each and every day. There is a definite difference between our team and their team in the beginning of the years to the end of the year. So a lot of similarities.

Q. When you were watching film on them late in the season, their coach said early in the year they were trying to outscore everybody. He said their identity became defense. Did you see that switch flip late in the year? How much does that put on your defense to come ready to play in this game too?

COACH DREW: Well, I think first of all, any team that doesn't accent the defensive end probably isn't in the NCAA tournament to begin with. But I think there is a definite you can tell with our team and their team in games that both of us have won; both of us have guarded better and been more deliberate, more selective on the offensive end. Because you can't play good defense if you take bad shots.

If you take bad shots, it equals easy buckets on the other end, so defense doesn't matter at that point. But definitely you can see the maturation of Nebraska as well as our team throughout the season. I think, again, Coach Miles, whenever you're a Big Ten "Coach of the Year" you've obviously done a pretty good job.

Q. Coach Miles is getting there last season and them being in a new conference is a completely new deal. But are there any games with Nebraska in the time you've been at Baylor that stick out in your mind at all?

COACH DREW: We don't have a lot of good memories playing Nebraska up at Nebraska (laughing). At our place it's a little better. But one thing I've always thought of when I think of Nebraska basketball is I think their fan support has been very good. When we went up there I thought that the arena was always loud, especially if it was a Saturday game. I thought the fans were always really behind their team. I think they've always been a tough team and played hard.

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