Temple pre-game press conference transcript

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THE MODERATOR:  We’re joined by Temple student‑athletes, T.J. DiLeo, Khalif Wyatt, and Rahlir Hollis‑Jefferson.

Q.  Khalif, first of all, how’s the thumb?

KHALIF WYATT:  It’s good.  It’s a little sore right now, but it will be fine.  It will be fine by tomorrow.

Q.  Did you get any X‑rays?

KHALIF WYATT:  Yesterday, but everything was fine.

Q.  You didn’t hesitate after the game to say you wanted to play Indiana.  Why is that?

KHALIF WYATT:  I think it will be a good challenge for us.  That’s why you play basketball.  You want to play against the best.  It’s a good challenge for us, a great opportunity for us, and we’ll be ready for it.

Q.  Can you just talk a little bit about the inside game.  When you look at Indiana, they’re plus 7 on the boards.  I know you guys did a good job of kind of neutralizing the inside presence of NC State.  What’s going to be the key matching up with those big guys?

RAHLIR HOLLIS‑JEFFERSON:  I think we’re going to have an even bigger challenge tomorrow because Zeller is a big guy.  He gets a lot of rebounds, and everyone on their team crashes the boards as well.  We have to just battle again and try to stay physical with these guys.


Q.  T.J., before Jake transferred, what did you know about him, and what was it like when he came in?

T.J. DILEO:  When we started looking at him, I started to do some research on him.  I knew he could stretch the ball, stretch the defense, and he has good most moves.

He kind of gives us a new dimension a little bit.  We get a lot out of that when we have someone that can pick and pop and stretch the defense, really open stuff up for everybody.

Q.  Khalif, can you just talk about how important it will be for you guys to keep them under 80 points?

KHALIF WYATT:  They’re a good offensive team, and they play a good pace, and they’ve got some good players.  We’ve just got to be solid on defense and try to limit them to one shot as many times as we can.  And just know their personnel.  They’ve got some guys that can shoot the ball.  They’ve got some good inside players.

Just got to know who to guard and try to limit them to one shot.


Q.  What do you see from Oladipo, either watching him on TV or watching him on tape?  What do you see, and how are you going to stop him?

T.J. DILEO:  The first thing I noticed about him, he plays really hard.  He’s obviously really athletic.  He’s a versatile player.  He can jump out of the gym.  He’s got a good change of direction.  He’s really a tough matchup.

As long as we can contain him, make him take tough shots, I think that’s the key to guarding him.  I think he’s a really good player, and it’s going to be a tough matchup, but I think we’ve got people who are going to step up to it.


Q.  Khalif, on the other hand, Oladipo defensively, how much in a short turnaround time can you kind of study how he approaches guards?  He usually draws Indiana’s toughest back‑court matchup.

KHALIF WYATT:  I know he’s Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year.  I know he’s a great athlete, and he plays really hard.

I know, if he’s guarding me, I know he’s going to be up for the challenge, and he’s going to play hard.  I’ve just got to let the game come to me and just go out there and play my game, let my teammates get me shots, set screens, just work without the ball and stuff like that.

He’s a good defender, but, I mean, not the first good defender.


Q.  Khalif, you know, I look back over the course of the season, and you pretty much had two games, Duke and Xavier, where you didn’t shoot well, you didn’t get to the line, you didn’t create a lot for your teammates.  What do you recollect of those two games, and why ‑‑ you know, January, February, you really didn’t have a game like that where you really didn’t contribute in one way or another.

KHALIF WYATT:  I really don’t remember much about the Xavier game or the Duke game, but I know I couldn’t ‑‑ I was getting good shots, just they weren’t going in.  So I don’t really know ‑‑ I don’t really know what they were doing or if they were doing anything different than anybody else has been doing.

I think, as the season’s gone on, I’ve just been getting in a better rhythm and just trying to let the game come to me and just trying to make the right play.


Q.  Looking back when you were in high school, like you were a two‑star recruit and Oladipo was a three‑star recruit, why are guys like you and him overlooked when you were in high school?  Is this the kind of stage you’ve been waiting for since you’ve been in school?  I know you’re the A‑10 Player of the Year.

KHALIF WYATT:  I’m not sure about Oladipo’s case.  I know I went to a small high school.  I know I played with some really good players in the summertime.  I don’t know.  Just got to take advantage of the opportunity when you get it.  I’m just happy that Coach Dunphy recruited me and gave me a chance to play at Temple and gave me a chance to showcase what I can do.


Q.  T.J., we saw you guys get huge contributions off your bench yesterday.  Can you just talk a little bit about Indiana’s depth and how important it will be for guys to come off the bench and play well?

T.J. DILEO:  Definitely.  The way they run their offense, there’s a lot of movement, a lot of screening, a lot of cutting.  People are going to get tired, and we’ve got to bring people off the bench who are ready to step up.

They do the same.  They bring people off the bench.  They have people that are fresh.  So we’ve just got to kind of match their intensity and not take any possessions off, especially on the defensive end.  They run a lot of sets, and just we’ve got to be ready for everything.  We’ve got to communicate and just stay overall focused.


Q.  T.J., what kind of challenges come mentally with playing the No. 1 seed?

T.J. DILEO:  This is what you look forward to.  You’re excited.  You want to step up to the challenge.  This is what the NCAA Tournament is all about.  It’s a team that’s been ranked No. 1 in the country for a good portion of the year, most of the year almost.

It’s great playing teams like this.  It’s what you always dream of.


Q.  Khalif, have you seen what La Salle did yesterday?  Do you have any friends on the team?  Did you trade any texts or any exchanges with any of the guys on La Salle?

KHALIF WYATT:  Yeah, I’m good friends with Ramon Galloway and Tyrone Garland and Tyreek Duren.  I just congratulated them.  I didn’t get to see much of the game.  I think they were playing around the same time we were playing.

I was definitely happy to hear the news they won.  I texted them and told them congratulations and hope that we can both keep it going.


Q.  Just to continue on that thought, T.J., for the A‑10, it’s been a pretty nice run here.  Is it pretty impressive to watch with you guys and then La Salle and the rest of them?  You guys are 6‑0 so far as a conference.

T.J. DILEO:  Yeah, it’s something we’ve known all year.  The A‑10 is a tough league.  Every night you’ve got to come out and play.  I think it’s prepared us well for the tournament.  I think a lot of different styles of play within the A‑10, different teams have different styles.

So that’s good.  That’s good to prepare yourself for postseason.  And that’s something I can be proud of, saying I played in the A‑10 this year.  It was a tough league and something I’m going to remember.

THE MODERATOR:  T.J., Rahlir, and Khalif, thank you for your time.

We’re now being joined by Fran Dunphy.  Coach, if you’d like, you can make an opening statement.  After that, we’ll open the floor for questions for Coach.

COACH DUNPHY:  We’re excited to be in the Sunday game.  It’s a great win for us yesterday, knowing full well what the challenge is as we play Indiana tomorrow.

There’s a reason why they are a first seed, because they’re a terrific basketball program and team.  And I think Coach Crean has done a terrific job of putting them in that position.


Q.  Fran, when Tom Crean was talking yesterday about the matchup, he was saying he wasn’t sure if this was right, but he thought he read somewhere that you guys were so ‑‑ are such an intense program, such a detail‑oriented program, that you didn’t even watch most of the Selection Show because you were in a meeting rehashing something from the previous game.  He wasn’t sure if that was right, but I was curious if that’s actually accurate.

COACH DUNPHY:  We were a little wounded from our first round loss to UMass.  As most of us coaches do, we put some ideas in our players’ minds.  I really didn’t know where we would be.  I didn’t want our players to be distraught if we weren’t in the tournament, and all the prognosticators were saying we’re okay, but you just never know.

I just sat in my office.  I was doing some things and saw where we were, and then we all got together and walked into a room where all of our fans and alums and band and cheerleaders were.

We just weren’t sure.  And the reality is you have no control over where you’re going, who you’re playing, or any of those things.  And when I saw it was NC State, we got our staff together and just started to prepare for that game.

I’m not sure ‑‑ I don’t think we’re any more intense or any more loose than any other program.  Everybody does it differently, and in this tournament, everybody’s done it pretty well.


Q.  For the second straight game, you’re going up against a high‑scoring opponent.  Is the approach the same as it was last time, try to keep it below a certain point level, total?

COACH DUNPHY:  I don’t think you have that option, to be honest with you.  I think every game takes on a different personality.  It may be a low‑scoring game; it may be a high‑scoring game.

Like for us yesterday, we played very well defensively in the first half, knowing full well that NC State was going to make a run at us.  So there are stretches of game where you’ve got to manage the game.  There might be possessions where we get our best look at ten seconds on the shot clock.  We may have to wait 30 to 35 seconds to get a decent look at it.  There may be some possessions where we don’t get any shot at all.  So it depends on that.

I also think that how we run our offense will dictate how we play our defense.  If we shoot good shots, then we’ll be in pretty good floor bounce because one of the concerns about Indiana is that they push the basketball on makes and misses and they have great transition game and they find each other very, very well.

So we have to be prepared for any style of game tomorrow.


Q.  Do you anticipate any ‑‑ Khalif having any limitations as it relates to his thumb?  How important is having him play well in this game?

COACH DUNPHY:  I think, as he goes, we go many times.  He’s such a ‑‑ not only a great scorer but he’s such a terrific play maker.  He’ll be a little tender probably on that thumb, but as we went through our workout today, he rested when he needed to and caught the ball pretty well.  I think always the big concern is how you catch the basketball when you have any kind of injury like that.

I don’t think it’s real severe.  The doctor looked at it today and taped it up, and he did pretty well.  So I don’t think it’s a huge concern.  Even if it were, he’s not going to let me take him out of the game.  He wants to play.


Q.  Fran, I wonder about the matchup potentially tomorrow with Khalif and Oladipo, what your thoughts are there.  Also, when you did see where you’re playing, in UD Arena, and you’ve been here, the familiarity, did that do anything for you?

COACH DUNPHY:  As far as the arena is concerned, it is a familiar place for us.  We had a very good victory here this year, probably one that was disappointing for the Dayton crew.  It was just one of those crazy games at the end, but we were pleased to have it.

So we know the area a little bit.  We know the facility.  Those things, if they matter, there’s many, many stories out there that the teams just arrive on the scene, don’t really do much practicing, and make every shot they take.

I thought we shot it really well yesterday the first half, struggled a little bit in the second half, and vice versa for the NC State guys.

That part of it is kids, they take on the role of whether they want the moment or not, and we’ll see who does.

As far as Oladipo is concerned, he’s a terrific basketball player, and his defense and length and speed and athleticism will be difficult to handle for us, but hopefully we’ll get our share of looks if he’s on Khalif, and hopefully Khalif will be able to make some plays for his teammates as well.  But he’s a really good player.


Q.  Jake O’Brien’s played pretty well for you guys over the last month.  What’s he meant to you lately for this run?  Also, what was it about him that made you consider him as a transfer?

COACH DUNPHY:  First of all, he’s such a high‑quality individual.  He’s obviously a very good basketball player.  He has some unique abilities as a big guy because he can step away from the basket and make shots.  That’s not necessarily what we had going for us at the power forward and center position, so we needed that kind of attribute in our program.  And we needed a power forward of sorts, and I think he’s really gotten better defensively.

One of the things that happens is he ‑‑ before you can make a shot, you’ve got to know how to get a shot, and he’s been getting his share of shots recently, much better than he did early on, whether that was him getting used to us or vice versa.

But he’s really added a great dimension to our game, and he’s done a terrific job.


Q.  Khalif, I believe, was a two‑star recruit, only had a few offers, and now he’s the A‑10 Player of the Year.  Oladipo was ranked 144 in his class, and now they’re the two better players in the country.  Is that him being overlooked?  Is it player development?  How do you explain that?

COACH DUNPHY:  I’d like to tell you it’s all player development and me and my staff are killing it with player development.  I think it’s just a little bit of luck.

I think you see things ‑‑ when you watch Khalif play as a high school kid, he had a unique, unique game, and now you just needed to talk to him all the time and harness this thing and let him go sometimes and bring him in other times.

He’s just developed over the years.  I think it’s just a natural maturity that kids go through.  What he did have is a fearlessness as a high school player.  That might be as important as anything out there because of the competitive nature of what it is we do.  Respect everybody but fear nobody, and that’s what he does as a basketball player.

And to get back to the ranking, we’d all like to get the top, top guys, but it’s not always going to happen.  So when you do get somebody that has that little piece of something that you can work with, then you take advantage of it.


Q.  Fran, the A‑10 is having a nice run in the tournament.  Can you just talk about the varying styles in the league and how that might get you ready for the tournament?

COACH DUNPHY:  I don’t know we’re any different than any other league.  Everybody is the same.  Each league is really competitive.  I think ours this year was absolutely superb.

You had St. Louis, who won the league and just a great defensive basketball team, but also had the ability to make shots when they needed to.  They had great balance and great depth.  VCU had a terrific season as well.  When they turn that pressure up, it’s really difficult to play against.  So that’s another style of play.

There’s 16 unique styles.  There are some similarities, but they’re certainly unique styles.  But I don’t think it’s any different than most leagues.  We’re playing against a Big Ten team, and it’s a great, great league, top to bottom.

So is it good that our league was so competitive?  Yes.  In terms of the style of play, I think we all have to go through ranges of style of play.


Q.  You mentioned Khalif’s unique game in high school.  Could you describe that a bit more.  Did any part of you feel you were taking a risk on somebody given maybe his unorthodox talents?

COACH DUNPHY:  No, I don’t think so.  We needed a good player, and we needed somebody who could score points.  He didn’t play a lot as a freshman.  He was just getting used to me and me him.  We didn’t hit it off all that great when he was a freshman, but he hung in there and stuck with it.  And his sophomore year he was the Sixth Man of the Year in our league because he was a dynamic scorer and he could just ‑‑ he could make plays.

Again, not only can he score, but he can make plays.  He makes it easier for you to run your offense.  And when it breaks down, which it oftentimes does, especially against a really good defensive team, you need individual talent, and he had that.  Despite the fact he’s not the fastest guy, he has a degree of quickness, but his IQ is off the charts.


Q.  Across college basketball last year, we saw a huge rise in the number of transfers, a record number.  A lot of them are playing prominent roles in the tournament this year, including Jake O’Brien. What are your thoughts on the trend?  Has it been beneficial to college basketball?  Do things need to be changed at all?

COACH DUNPHY:  I think it’s equal parts troublesome that so many kids are looking at different schools to go to, and when the immediate gratification of playing doesn’t hit, everybody wants to take off.  So it’s a lot of work for a college basketball program to work with kids and make sure that they understand that their time is going to come.

Jake’s a unique situation where he had ‑‑ Boston U was leaving their conference, so they weren’t going to be eligible to go to the NCAA Tournament, and he looked around for some opportunities.  I talked to his coaches, and they were great about it.

We had him down for a visit.  It clicked, and we made it work.  Again, there was some getting used to, though.  It wasn’t like it was instantly something that was going to be easy to work with.  He’s a great guy.  It’s just us getting used to each other.

But it’s troublesome, and yet it’s what’s happening today.  You’ve got to get ‑‑ there’s so many changes in our sport, whether it’s the conference issues or the transfer issues.  You’ve got to get ready for change.


Q.  Fran, two questions that are completely unrelated to one another.  You mentioned the Dayton game.  You guys were trailing late in that game, and with about three, four minutes to go, you pulled Khalif out.  The majority of the comeback in that game was with him on the bench.  I wonder if that ‑‑ about a week later, you guys started winning.  I wonder if you think that might have had some kind of impact on the team as a whole.  My second question is, if the dynamic is any different for the team being here, basically the entire administration is back in Philly running the weekend there, so it’s almost ‑‑ is it more like a road game than a tournament game, in that sense, for the team?

COACH DUNPHY:  No, I think it’s a tournament game, and everybody’s not at their home site.  So it’s not that big of a deal, I think.  Our administration is doing a great job of running the tournament in Philly. We have other administrators who are here.  Our president will be here tomorrow, who was at Indiana before he was at Temple University.  So that will be fun to see.

As far as the Khalif issue, I think any time your best player sits down for a little bit and the other guys pull together and do a great job and really influence the game, I think it helps in many ways.  I think it helps both groups.  I think it helped Khalif, and I think it helped the rest of our guys to know that they can do it without him in stretches.

Although they’re smart enough to know that over the long haul they need him.  And he needs us too.  I think we all need each other.  We’re family, and we need to take care of one another.

Did it help us?  Yeah, I think it did in many, many ways, and I think it helped Khalif.


Q.  Fran, I just wanted to go back to what you said about maybe you and Khalif not clicking at the beginning.  Why was that, and how would you describe the relationship now?

COACH DUNPHY:  I think it’s of great respect right now.  But I think in the beginning he had his way of doing things and I had mine.  We were trying to get together on it, but he was a pain in the butt sometimes, you know, and he’ll be the first to tell you.

But he’s grown, and that’s what happens.  When you sign on for these guys, it’s not perfection.  And you sign on for the good and for the bad.  It’s kind of like for richer or for poorer, for better, for worse.  That’s what it is.

He’s been great down the stretch of his career, and I had to sit him out ‑‑ he didn’t start three games for us last year, including the Atlantic 10 Tournament game.  So it’s just ‑‑ it’s what we do as coaches and players.  We get along, but it’s not without its highs and lows and peaks and valleys and fits and starts of maintenance, high maintenance and low maintenance.

Now he’s a very low‑maintenance guy.  Early in his career he was killing me with high maintenance.  But I’m glad it all worked out.  I’m glad it all worked out, and he’s going to be graduating from Temple University in May, and I couldn’t be more proud of him, how he’s turned out as a man.


Q.  Yesterday you used a very short bench, only Lee and T.J. got minutes off the bench.  Is the same thing happening again tomorrow?

COACH DUNPHY:  Again, I would answer that the same way I would answer the ‑‑ how the scores are going to be, fast pace, slow pace.  It just ‑‑ we didn’t get in any foul trouble yesterday, which that allowed us to kind of shorten the bench.

And also, these time‑outs are ‑‑ you could take a nap during some of these time‑outs.  They’re long.  And for me, I don’t have that much to say.  I’m not that interesting a guy.  I’m done in 20 seconds.  That’s why we practice every single day.  Okay, here’s the situation.  We’re going to run this play.  Don’t go there on the defensive end.  Don’t leave Wood, tomorrow don’t leave Hulls.  Whatever it happens to be.  Doesn’t take that long to do.

You’ve got to sit there.  I drink a little bit more water and think about it, maybe consult with our assistants who say to me let’s do this or that, but it’s a long time out there, so you get a lot of rest.  So that’s the nature of the NCAA Tournament.


Q.  Coach, Indiana is a team that likes to run down their teams, like to bring fatigue to the game.  Are you at all concerned about the possible fatigue factor that might face your team in this short turnaround?

COACH DUNPHY:  Yeah, I am.  I’m always concerned by that.  But I think the big thing is how talented they are, how big they are, how well coached they are.  That’s the biggest concern.

We’re going to have to do a really good job of resting on offense sometimes because we’re not going to be able to rest on defense because they’re at you the whole game.

Very impressive team.  Am I concerned about the conditioning piece?  Yeah, sure.  But not as much as I am about how talented they are.


Q.  Question about Oladipo.  He played at DeMatha, an East Coast kid.  Was he a guy that you considered at all recruiting?

COACH DUNPHY:  We did not.  He had a guy at his position, so it’s one of those things you’re trying not to load up at any one position.  But he’s a great story.  I think Khalif Wyatt and Oladipo are great stories out there, where you don’t need to be this highly, highly rated player, that you can make yourself a terrific player.

Again, going back to our player development, I’d like to think that it’s pretty good, but I think you have to sit there and give these kids the bulk of the credit for where they are today because they watch and they see and they read.  They want to be the best that they can be.  When you are a great competitor like those two guys are, you’re typically going to be a pretty good player.


Q.  Fran, you haven’t faced Indiana in your career yet.  How much respect do you have for that school?  Temple and Indiana both have rich histories as far as basketball is concerned.

COACH DUNPHY:  Yeah, Indiana ‑‑ obviously, Coach Knight was an unbelievable coach there, and now Coach Crean has them to the highest level you can be in the country right now.  So I can’t have more respect for a university and a basketball program than I have for Indiana.


Q.  Fran, would it be correct to maybe guess that Rahlir tomorrow at times could be defending Zeller, could be defending Hulls, could be defending Ferrell, and how important is he going to be on that side of the floor?

COACH DUNPHY:  I agree with your assessment.  He’s such a versatile defensive player.  He can guard quick guys out on the perimeter, he can guard post players who are bigger, stronger, longer than he.  That’s probably more difficult for him than the perimeter guys, but he has done everything you could possibly ask a player to do, especially on the defensive end for us, over his career.

Spectacular guy, a very good basketball player, and somebody that I’m going to miss greatly as he leaves our basketball program.


Q.  I think Indiana had five guys that made 3‑pointers in the first half yesterday.  Everybody but Zeller in the starting lineup could shoot them.  What’s the challenge defensively when you’re trying to figure out how to stop that?

COACH DUNPHY:  I think the problem is there’s not a weakness they have.  I think, if all they did is shoot 3s, you can control that a little bit, but each one of those guys that can make a 3 can also drive off the dribble and help and drive and kick for their teammates.  That’s a huge concern for us.

And then transition is a huge concern because they can run it at the rim each and every time as well.  We’re concerned.


Q.  Yogi Ferrell got off to a really quick start in the game yesterday for IU.  Is that something that surprised you, and how much did that change, if at all, how you guys are going to prepare for him?

COACH DUNPHY:  No, it didn’t surprise me because he’s the Freshman of the Year in the Big Ten.  Am I right?


Q.  Gary Harris, I believe, from Michigan State.

COACH DUNPHY:  Oh, was he?  He was on the First Team All‑Rookie Team?  Is that what I read?  But whatever.  He can really play.

He’s just fast, can shoot, makes plays, makes his team better, looks like he’s a tough competitor.  So I’m concerned.

THE MODERATOR:  Any further questions for Coach?  Fran, thank you.