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NCAA Tournament press conference notes

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Chris Collins, Bryant McIntosh and Sanjay Lumpkin are ready for their first ever tournament

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Salt Lake City Practice Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Vanderbilt players

  • Luke Kornet on what environment he’s expecting: “I think we’re expecting it definitely to be a high-energy game, and especially with Northwestern, just assume a lot of alumni and just people coming to the game. We’re excited for it We’ve enjoyed playing road games this year and if that’s like that then we’ll be ready for it.”
  • Kornet on what they’ve seen from Northwestern on tape: “Offensively, three guys on the perimeter that can all score the ball. That’s like nothing new. You have to prepare to try to do the best that you can, making harder shots for those guys, and making them earn all their points.”
  • Kornet on if Northwestern reminds him of any SEC teams: “I think they’ve defensively, too, they play pretty similar to some teams in our conference, they’re more packed in as opposed to pressuring out, but that presents its own challenges and we’ve had to adjust to it in previous games. We’ll try to come in prepared for who we’re going to play. Every single team is different, but I feel like we’ve faced similar challenges in conference, similar styles of play.”
  • Kornet on Northwestern as a whole: “They’re definitely a very good team being in the tournament. And you’ve just got to make it difficult for them offensively and just prepare for their defense in terms of what you do.”
  • Nolan Cressler on Northwestern’s tendency to go on spurts of good offense: “They're a very high-caliber offensive team. I think they have a lot of sets that they can rely on when it comes time for them to put 8- or 10- or 12-point runs together. I think they're a confident team right now, which has contributed to that, and a lot of buzz and excitement around their team.”
  • Kornet on Vanderbilt’s height advantage: “They actually do a lot of good things -- whatever height disadvantages they have, kind of being neutralized, tend to double the post and things like that. And I don't think it's something necessarily like we're just drilling it in, but something we definitely have to be aware of. We're going to consistently play offense and whatever Coach Drew calls, we're going to run the play and see what looks we can get.”

Head Coach Bryce Drew

  • Drew on the matchup with Northwestern: “From the Northwestern side, what a great basketball story. I grew up most of my life close to Chicago. So been following them closely, what Chris has been doing. Happy and cheering for them. And once the pairings got announced, quickly switched to preparing to try to beat them. Two great schools, two great academic schools. And I know we're really looking forward to it.”
  • On the similarities between the two teams: “I definitely think there are some similarities. There's a lot of very skilled players that can shoot the ball. Both teams run a lot of offensive actions. Both teams try to play a lot of help side defense. But they definitely — watching film, we try to do some things that are similar.”
  • On the academic rigor of the two teams: “I think that's one of the things that makes Vanderbilt, Northwestern, unique places. The student-athlete has to really perform at a high level on both areas to make it at our schools.”
  • On his relationship with Chris Collins: “I've known Chris, and Chris has always been great to me on the road, great to me whenever we talk.”
  • Drew also mentioned that he and Collins actually ran into each other at one of the Cubs World Series games last year: “ I wish we got a picture altogether, because that would have been good for today. He's a great coach. He's been really, really good to me.”
  • Drew said that he doesn’t show the team his buzzer beater from 1998 because it is“ like a parent and a kid, I don't think any kid wants to see what his parent did, especially when they were in their teenage years, our players definitely don't want to see any of that stuff.”
  • On Vanderbilt’s size advantage: “Northwestern does a great job in the post, they mix things up. And so Luke has been good in the post, he's been good on the perimeter, he's very skilled and he passes very well. We'll move Luke around and see how they're guarding him.”
  • On Northwestern’s trio of Law, Lindsey and McIntosh: “I recruited Lindsey and McIntosh when they were younger, so I've seen them play for many years. And they're playing fantastic basketball. They make good decisions. They take good shots. They can score in a variety of ways, whether it's threes, pull-ups or getting to the basket. And their spacing is good on offense.”

Bryant McIntosh and Sanjay Lumpkin

  • Lumpkin called the last five years “an unbelievable ride” and said that it’s incredibly rewarding for him to see the team’s growth over that time.
  • McIntosh on the moment: “I think we're just trying to take all this in and enjoy the moment. But after the celebration on Selection Sunday, it was time for us to get back to work and prepare to win a game. So I think that's kind of where our focus has been. So maybe we are locked in and we don't seem too excited. But deep down we are. We're enjoying it.”
  • Sanjay on the team’s first ever tourney: “I would say for all of us, we're obviously enjoying the moment, and enjoying this opportunity that we have now right in front of us. And we can't take it for granted. It may never come again. It won't come for me, because this is my last season. Everyone has to enjoy this while we're here. Now that we're here we have to work and know we want to stay here.”
  • Lumpkin also added that they’re not just doing it for themselves, but for “all the people like Jim Stack, Billy McKinney, Drew Crawford, so many guys like that, that were part of the foundation for this program.”
  • McIntosh on if the tournament was their only goal: “I think we can't emphasize enough that this isn't the end goal. It's one of our goals to make the tournament, but we're not just satisfied to be here. We're going to go out and try and win a game and continue playing, playing for our lives, just to continue the season on.”
  • McIntosh on the common tournament narrative of great point guards winning games: “That is something you dreamed about, and having the ball in your hands. And it's something that Coach Collins expects me to be able to do is help us finish a game and make the right plays and make winning plays. So it's an exciting time. It's not a lot of pressure on me. We have a really good team. But obviously I'm the guy that wants the ball in my hands at the end of the game.”
  • Both McIntosh and Lumpkin emphasized that perimeter defense will be important tomorrow “because they can give us a lot of difficulties with their five man that can stretch the floor and knock down open 3's.”
  • McIntosh also said that overall defense was a focus because “defense wins championships, right?”
  • McIntosh mentioned that he was briefly recruited by Bryce Drew and that “it was really special to hear from him” given his Indiana background. Also said that “it's kind of odd that you're going to play against a guy like that in the NCAA tournament.”

Head Coach Chris Collins

  • Collins on what challenge Vanderbilt presents: “They're very disciplined, they spread you out. They can really shoot the ball. And they feast on teams that make mistakes against them, especially defensively.”
  • On his relationship with Drew: “Bryce and I have been friends for a long time. I've known him since he's been in high school. I've known his family, his father, someone I really respect.”
  • On the incident at the Cubs game: “It was pretty funny, actually, I don't think he recognized me at first, because I had a full uniform on that night. He was dressed all nice, he had a nice shirt on and slacks. I had my Cubs jersey on, my hat on backwards, and maybe some eye black on. He did a double take when I went and said hello to him.”
  • On Doug Collins’ involvement with the team: “at the end of the day he wants to be my dad. He's had a great way, if he ever senses that he's overstepping his bounds, he backs off. If he does come to practice he's never on the floor. He goes up in the seats.” Collins also mentioned that Doug is like a “grandpa to all of them.”
  • On the altitude: “We're trying to keep them as hydrated as possible. We have a great team of trainers and doctors that are on top of that. I think the main thing was we were able to get out yesterday afternoon, we were able to get a good workout in.”
  • On finally making the NCAA tournament: “It's special. I said it on Sunday afterwards, for all of us, I mean how many times in any of our lives do you get a chance to do something historical that has never, ever been done. And these guys have. This group has. They were the first ones. And hopefully -- to me it's not an end game. I talk about that, too. I want this to be the beginning of our program. And hopefully the sign of more success and more NCAA tournaments.”
  • Collins mentioned that a lot of the players are still dealing with finals or final papers and that they’ve been working on them every off chance they get.
  • On the team’s mood come tomorrow: “I'll play that by ear. I've been a coach to coach on instincts and gut feel. You need to take the temperature of your team, if they're really fired up, if you see they're ready, you say less. If you feel they're a little bit jittery or quiet in the locker room, maybe you do a bit more rah-rah.”
  • On Sanjay Lumpkin: “Sanjay is our rock. And he's such a selfless guy. I'm just so proud of him. I love him. And it's been a great five years having him on my side.”