MISSOURI VALLEY CONFERENCE MEN'S TOURNAMENT
March 8, 2013Eastern Indiana Sports
ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI
THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon and welcome to the official first media session of the 2013 Missouri Valley Conference men's basketball championship here in sunny St. Louis. First the Indiana state Sycamores with head coach Greg Lansing and Jake Odum andR.J. Mahurin.
We'll start with Coach Lansing.
COACH LANSING: Been anxious to get here. Obviously didn't start the conference season the way we'd like to. This group has been a very hard working group all year. Excited about the start of the season here. Hope to make it a long weekend in St. Louis, long tournament with Doug and the staff. Always good to come here. They take very good care of us while we're here.
A couple of years ago we stuck around for the weekend and won a championship. Last year we didn't have quite the success. I like the guys. We've got a good group of guys representing Indiana State as well, and hopefully we'll have a good weekend.
THE MODERATOR: Those of you around know the drill. We have to the left and right our microphones. So if you have questions, please raise your hand. Identify yourself and your affiliation. And we'll proceed with questions for Coach Lansing.
Q. You played Evansville. Normally, that might add an element to the game. Because these teams are so familiar and play is so similar, does that take some of the sting out of a recent matchup you had a couple days ago?
COACH LANSING: I don't know. The recent thing I have beating them down here is pretty good. We didn't play particularly well. We didn't defend the second half at all. And we did some good things. But that was a game on Senior Day. We knew we'd have to play awfully well to have a chance to win. We just didn't get it done.
We know coming in here to win a championship, which is all anyone wants to do. It's not about playing one game. We want to come here and win three games in three days.
We knew we were going to have to play three good teams regardless, and Evansville, we have as much respect for them as we do anybody. Marty and his staff are put together the way they play. Whether it was our last game with them, I don't know it makes much difference other than your prep.
Q. How has it all turned out? In the form of the previous games, how has it changed your prep?
COACH LANSING: Nothing except we gave them Sunday off. Went hard and went at each other. Could actually scrimmage some on Monday. Gave them Tuesday off again. With all of these young guys, I think we got tired. I think that last half of February was tough on us. It's because these guys have been such a hard working group every day in practice, not taking days off and doing stuff on their own. The prep has been basically the same other than being able to get a couple days of rest.
THE MODERATOR: We'll move on to questions from student?athletes, Jake Odum and R.J. Mahurin. Questions?
Q. For both of you guys, a similar question. You played Evansville recently. How much does it stick in your mind? How much is that a little bit overblown to where you are?
JAKE ODUM: We're familiar with a lot of the teams in the league. Being that we recently just lost to them, I like the fact we get kind of a redemption game, kind of erase what happened last time and make up for it. We've learned a lot of the mistakes that we did last game. Hopefully we'll learn from that.
R.J. MAHURIN: [Inaudible.] We played very, very well in the second half. So another opportunity for us. Just play as well as we can.
Q. Jake and R.J., you two are one of the few on the team that have won this tournament. What have you told your teammates this week preparing for the tournament, their mindset to win three games in three days?
JAKE ODUM: It's toughness. Something that we've showed we have this year, and sometimes we haven't showed it. But going back to our freshman year, to win that, you've got to fight every single session. We kind of focused in on every four minutes that year and making sure we won every four minutes and shorten the game. That's something we've got to translate this weekend.
We can't take any plays off. We've got to value the ball and play defense like we have done in the past.
THE MODERATOR: R.J., would you like to weigh in on that?
R.J. MAHURIN: Like Jake said, every four minutes of the game. [Inaudible.]
THE MODERATOR: Question middle front.
Q. Jake, can you talk about how difficult it's been to get back to that championship team and how frustrating it's been trying to get back?
JAKE ODUM: It's always difficult as you try to progress. We really can't put a finger on some games why we came out and played the way we played. We have a younger team. We've just got to battle harder. We've got to get back in our game to where we played Ole Miss and the nonconference, the way we battled there.
And we've got to realize our season is coming to an end, and our sense of urgency has got to get stepped up a little bit. I understand that this weekend is coming to a close.
Q. Talk about going through the tournament and what you've said to the younger members about your experience. Winning the tournament a couple years ago and your experience with that and how you've told that to younger members of the team.
JAKE ODUM: Well, the year that we won it, we had a good group of seniors that led us to the tournament when we were freshmen. So that's something that R.J. and myself have got to do this year. We've got to kind of, I don't know if walk them through it or what, but just kind of show them we've got to bring it right from the start and show them what we can do as a team, what we need to do as a team defensively and offensively, kind of gain that momentum that we need and get that edge.
Q. Can you describe what that feeling is like when you do advance all the way to win it and also the description of what it's like when you go out rather quickly.
R.J. MAHURIN: It's just an unbelievable feeling, all that hard work you put in paying off. Celebrate with your brothers and your teammates.
As for losing, obviously, the opposite feeling, just wondering how we could have done more. We want to leave everything we have out on the floor instead of leaving the tournament wondering what you could have done for yourself and your position.
JAKE ODUM: When we won the tournament our freshman year, it's probably the happiest time of my whole life. There's no greater feeling when you put in the work through the summer and throughout the year and the progress with the team, grow and develop, and at the end of the season, accomplish your goal. There's no better feeling than that.
As to not being successful in the tournament, it's heart breaking. There's thousands of hours put into it with film and practice, and when you don't accomplish that goal, it's not a good feeling, especially when you have a team that you know can do well in the tournament and be successful and you just don't go out and play the way you need to. It's kind of heart breaking.
THE MODERATOR: Any other questions? We'll wrap this one up. Good luck to you all.