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Lobos talk before Stanford

Created: 03/20/2014 8:12 PM
By: ASAP Sports

Here is a transcript of UNM's press conference before playing Stanford:

THE MODERATOR: As advertised,
Cameron Bairstow and Kendall Williams here
representing New Mexico. We will open it up for
questions.
Q For both of you guys, third year
you have been through this, but last year for
both of you. Any different feel to this point? I
know the game doesn't start 'til tomorrow. Any
different feel?
CAMERON BAIRSTOW: I think just
because it's a new team, a new situation, it is a bit
of a different feeling. It has been a different feeling
I think every year based on seeding and
expectations and all that stuff.
But I think at the end of the day, when we
get to game time tomorrow, it will just be the same
thing and just approach it like any other game. So
we'll see how it feels tomorrow.
KENDALL WILLIAMS: Yeah, just, you
know, we don't take anything for granted. Like you
said, it is our last -- especially since it is our last
time. Every experience, even if it feels the same at
some point is different. We're playing a different
team, a different year. We're a different team.
We're just excited to be back.
Q Cameron, the Stanford players
were talking about the physical nature of your
game. How much does that factor in to how
you try to get things done?

CAMERON BAIRSTOW: I think that's a lot
of what I try to do in terms of playing physical,
getting to the foul line. And in a lot of situations,
I’m not the most athletic guy, so I have to try to
make it a more physical contest on the ground and
take away some of the athletic nature.
Q And just as a follow, the new
rules this year were supposed to reduce
physical play. How have you dealt with that?
CAMERON BAIRSTOW: Yeah, I think it
has on the defensive end, especially I think in the
post, the post play especially I think has limits to
what you can do on the defensive end without the
arm bar, and especially for the guards other on the
perimeter with the hand checking.
But I think you can take advantage of it on
the offensive end and I think we did struggle a lot
to begin the year with that stuff, trying to stay out of
foul trouble. But as the year went along you
learned how it was being called.
But as long as you can stay away from it
on the defensive end you can take advantage of it
on the offensive end.
Q Kendall, I am curious, you had
the experience obviously in Colorado Springs,
you know Chasson Randle a little bit. Is that
your match-up? What can you say about his
game?
KENDALL WILLIAMS: Well, it's not my
match-up, it's, you know -- he is a point guard. I
play the off-guard.
But overall, you know, we don't treat
anyone as a specific individual match-up. I
competed against him over the summer, a great
player. He leads a very talented team, so he's
definitely a focal point of us.
I will get some looks at him, he will get
some looks at me, and the rest of our guards will
get looks at him. So we’re mixing it up on him.
He's a very talented guy, so we just have to keep
the ball rolling for him.
Q And I heard that you played
AAU with Brown. I guess he's a little younger,
or was that way back? What do you remember about the AAU days?
KENDALL WILLIAMS: Yeah, we go way
back. He is another So Cal kid and you run into a
bunch of AAU kids when you get to this stage.
Another talented player and he is actually is my
match-up. He is the off-guard and I am the
off-guard. We will start on each other.
We talked about it and are excited to be
both be in this position and match up against each
other, and it is a great opportunity for both of us.
Q Cameron, how does a young
man from Australia end up playing for New
Mexico?
CAMERON BAIRSTOW: A bit of a weird
recruitment. Ron Miller who played out of Australia
had a contact who got on to my coach, I think
about two weeks before I was playing on one of my
visits and just out of the blue got an email from
him, showed him some game film and they were
interested enough to recruit me. And got me over
there and loved it on my visit, so just went from
there.
But it wasn't a long recruitment or
anything, it was just out of the blue and a random
coincidence.
Q I'm wondering, speaking of
going way far back, if your coach has shared
any stories about going up against Coach
Dawkins in their playing days when they were
both in the ACC?
THE MODERATOR: Whoever has the
story. Kendall, how about you first?
KENDALL WILLIAMS: No story on my
end. That's actually the first time I heard about
that. But yeah, I do realize that they both were
pretty good in the ACC.
So it's an interesting coaching match-up
right there. Yeah, no stories.
CAMERON BAIRSTOW: Yeah, same
here, no stories. He doesn't really speak much of
his playing days.
KENDALL WILLIAMS: Ever since he lost
the assist record to Kendall Marshall a couple of
years ago, he doesn't talk about his glory days
anymore.
Q I am curious, you guys have a
whole season behind you now. What have you
guys as players seen the evolution of Noodles
as a coach from the first exhibition games to
now; is he a different coach now than he was in
October?
CAMERON BAIRSTOW: Yeah, there has
been obviously a lot of change-ups. And I think he
is more calm in a lot of situations now, that has our understanding. Being a head coach is different
from being an assistant, which he was for a
number of years.
So he has been learning on the job as
well. But I think at this stage we have a pretty
good idea of him as a coach and kind of know
what to expect a bit more. We always knew what
was going to be the technical aspect in terms of
offensive, defensive philosophies, but to see how
he handles certain situations you weren't really
sure of because we hadn't seen him in that
situation before.
So I think he is just -- well, we know really
a lot more what to expect from him, I think that's
where we are at now.
KENDALL WILLIAMS: Yeah, I think Cam
pretty much touched on it. Especially being a
veteran group, we figured we pretty much knew the
ins and outs of the system, the Xs and Os. But just
seeing him kind of grow as a leader and dealing
with the staff and with the players.
And you know, especially going into the
NCAA Tournament I think we all have a nice
comfort level with one another. And like Cam said,
it's an adjustment as a head coach. There is a big
learning curve and we did it collectively as a
program, we did a good job of staying together,
getting big-time wins, getting back into this
situation.
At this point whether you are a freshman
or senior, first-year coach, 10th-year coach, it is a
level playing field and hopefully by now you
established yourself and we feel really good where
we are at.
Q For either of the guys. I am just
curious, do you guys ever talk about last year?
If not, when was the last time you did?
KENDALL WILLIAMS: Two seconds ago.
We just talked about it before we came up here.
We figured someone was going to ask us and
we're glad you did.
You know, we talk about it all the time. It
was a tough loss, but at the end of the day
everyone loses. Everyone loses. It is a tough way
to lose. But high seeds lose all the time. And I
had respect for that team going into the game and
more respect now. And hopefully Cincinnati has
some respect for them because they were a good
team last year and they are an even better team
this year.
Upsets happen all the time. People ask if
we learned from it and sure we have. It is tough to understanding. Being a head coach is different
from being an assistant, which he was for a
number of years.
So he has been learning on the job as
well. But I think at this stage we have a pretty
good idea of him as a coach and kind of know
what to expect a bit more. We always knew what
was going to be the technical aspect in terms of
offensive, defensive philosophies, but to see how
he handles certain situations you weren't really
sure of because we hadn't seen him in that
situation before.
So I think he is just -- well, we know really
a lot more what to expect from him, I think that's
where we are at now.
KENDALL WILLIAMS: Yeah, I think Cam
pretty much touched on it. Especially being a
veteran group, we figured we pretty much knew the
ins and outs of the system, the Xs and Os. But just
seeing him kind of grow as a leader and dealing
with the staff and with the players.
And you know, especially going into the
NCAA Tournament I think we all have a nice
comfort level with one another. And like Cam said,
it's an adjustment as a head coach. There is a big
learning curve and we did it collectively as a
program, we did a good job of staying together,
getting big-time wins, getting back into this
situation.
At this point whether you are a freshman
or senior, first-year coach, 10th-year coach, it is a
level playing field and hopefully by now you
established yourself and we feel really good where
we are at.
Q For either of the guys. I am just
curious, do you guys ever talk about last year?
If not, when was the last time you did?
KENDALL WILLIAMS: Two seconds ago.
We just talked about it before we came up here.
We figured someone was going to ask us and
we're glad you did.
You know, we talk about it all the time. It
was a tough loss, but at the end of the day
everyone loses. Everyone loses. It is a tough way
to lose. But high seeds lose all the time. And I
had respect for that team going into the game and
more respect now. And hopefully Cincinnati has
some respect for them because they were a good
team last year and they are an even better team
this year.
Upsets happen all the time. People ask if
we learned from it and sure we have. It is tough to

going to end and just make the most of the
opportunities that you do have.
THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, thank
you very much for your time. Best of luck.
The head coach of the Lobos is here,
Craig Neal. I will ask him to make an opening
statement regarding his team being here in St.
Louis and then we will go to questions.
COACH NEAL: Really excited to be here.
St. Louis is unique for me because I grew up about
three hours from here. So I have been over here a
lot when I was younger.
I’m really excited about my team. The
opportunity to play Stanford. We've got a really,
really mature group. I am really thankful that we
were able to get those two seniors back to the
NCAA Tournament and the four starters that we
had last year. You know, they did a lot of great
things this year, winning the tournament, Mountain
West Tournament Saturday, so real excited for the
opportunity to play tomorrow.
Q Coach, the Stanford guys were
talking a lot about the physical nature of your
play, especially the big guys. How physical do
you guys play?
COACH NEAL: Those two guys are pretty
physical. I always said I got the two-headed
monster. Cameron, of course, is a kid that's
developed from day one. Came to us about 6'9",
210 and just a tireless worker. Spent a lot of time
in the weight room. Could barely dunk a basketball
when he got here and now he can put his head on
the rim. So he's really worked to develop his body.
He's a very physical player.
I think this summer helped him a lot with
his -- the international play he did at the University
Games and also with the Australian Olympic team.
And Alex has always been a big kid from
Los Alamos, a local kid that has really come on.
He is very, very talented, and he's got a lot of
basketball skills. But he's also, you know, he's
probably 20 pounds bigger than he was last year.
He's real physical.
So those guys are a tough match-up.
They are physical, a physical group. So that's one
thing we've taken advantage of this year and will
continue to do that.
Q I just wondered, Coach, about
the new rules, quote/unquote, designed to take
away physicality to a degree. How have you
guys had to adapt to that?
COACH NEAL: Well, I think the physicality

or the physical play is still pretty prevalent in the
post play. You know, I think they got away with the
new rules with the hand check and playing with
your feet instead of your hands and your arms, and
I think they've cleaned up the game and it is a lot
of fun to play.
You can still be physical in the paint and
screening and stuff if you do it the right way, and
that's what we have tried to do. And we have been
very fortunate this year to win 27 games and play
the way we play.
Our team has always been a
guard-oriented team. Like last year we had Tony
Snell, the first-round draft pick of the Bulls. And I
think this year we played a little bit more inside,
more physical with our post play because we've
got two really good post players.
And so it's worked out really well for us this
year.
Q Coach Neal, what are your
thoughts on Stanford guard Chasson Randle?
COACH NEAL: He's really good. I have
known him since he was younger when we were at
Iowa and I saw him at the U.S.A. trials and
followed his career and been to watch their
practices a couple of years ago.
But real impressed with how he has
matured as a player and developed as a player.
You know, he can do a lot of things. He can put it
on the floor, he can shoot the ball well. And he's
become a really, really good leader for their team.
So, you know, I really like how he plays and he will
be a key match-up for us.
Q Coach, I asked the Stanford
players and I asked Coach Dawkins if they had
played anybody this year that they can
compare Cameron Bairstow to. And I am not
sure how familiar you are with the PAC-12, but
the player they said he reminds them of is Tony
Parker at UCLA. I am curious your thought on
that comparison.
COACH NEAL: I wouldn't know anything
about UCLA, but no.
Cameron's just -- it's hard to compare him.
The one thing about Cameron Bairstow, and I have
told a lot of people this, he does it in so many
ways. He can post you, he has great footwork, he
can shoot the 18-, 19-foot jump shot which he
really improved on. He can drive it now. We put
him in positions to drive it and make plays. He
makes plays on the basket, but he also makes the
right pass.
So Tony is really good. Tony is a low-post
player from Atlanta and he's at UCLA, but

Cameron can do it all. I don't mean like he doesn't
have any weaknesses, but he's really, really
elevated his game with confidence and his hard
work.
Q Coach Dawkins was asked
about when you two competed in your playing
days. He said that you brought a joy to playing
basketball. I wonder how you recall that, what
you think of that.
COACH NEAL: Back when I was younger
I think they said I was out of control, and then once
I got to a junior and senior they thought it was just
because I loved to play. And I did love to play.
I think we have a great game. I fell in love
with it a long time ago when my dad was a coach
for 32 years as a high school coach. It's in my
blood. I never thought I would be a coach and I’m
very fortunate to be sitting where I am right now.
But I played the game the way I always try
to get my players to play. It is a blessing to play it,
it is a lot of fun to play it, and I've tried to coach it
that way. I tried to make it fun for my guys
because you're very -- we're all very fortunate to be
a part of it. We're all very fortunate to be in the
NCAA Tournament.
But I did play it the way I thought I should
play, and that's because I loved it. And that's the
way I view it now.
Q Coach, Cam is, probably more
than any player I have covered, into that
routine, he wakes up at 4:30 to get food in him
to get the calories and all of that kind of stuff. I
am curious, a week like this when you are not
as in control of the schedule, midday press
conferences and practices, how do you adjust
to make sure Cam is still in his comfort zone?
COACH NEAL: I learned when I first got
the job to stay out of Cam's way. And I let Cam do
his routine and he'll get his routine in.
So we've been very fortunate, just like I
told the story, everybody makes a big deal Cam
used to lift after all the games and then I think it
was after our Air Force game I walked down there
to check to see how our health was and we had six
guys in there lifting.
So I think what he has done, his work
ethic, he'll get his routine in, and I just kind of let
him do his deal and he's there for all the team
functions. And you know, he does his eating. If he
needs food, he calls us and we work it out to get
him some food. So, I know how important that is to
him.

And we've just been very fortunate to have
a group of kids on this team, and not only all 14 of
them, we've been very fortunate to have a group of
guys that have been very dedicated and
responsible and disciplined on their approach to
winning and their approach to the program. We're
very fortunate to have all of them.
Q As a quick follow-up, you have
let this team be a little more loose and free, like
the free spirit Dawkins talked about you as a
player. I am curious if that is tough to manage
as you get them get back on Twitter, grow their
hair out, doing things that they didn't do prior
to you being coach?
COACH NEAL: I didn't let them grow their
hair out. One thing my boss told me when I
interviewed for the job was to shave and get my
hair cut and it worked out for me. The reason they
grew their hair out is because of Hugh's mom, she
is in remission from breast cancer and Hugh got
the idea that we all should grow our hair out and
we will shave it at Lobo Howl next year and I kind
of let them go with that.
I have been a little looser with our guys,
that's the way I am. I think the game is fun. I think
you have to enjoy it. The more you enjoy it the
harder you will play, the more you will love it, the
more passion you will play with it.
But those guys understand that we haven't
backed down from discipline. When you trust team
and you trust players, their responsibility with trust
is to do the right thing. And I've trusted them and
they've trusted me and it's worked out really well.
But I think they are in a little bit better place being
able to be who they are.
Q I'm wondering, given what you
said about how your dad handed the game
down to you. How special this season has
been for you and Cullen and the fact he played
this year after the appendicitis?
COACH NEAL: It has been very special. I
am not going to lie. I think one of my goals when
he came here, when Randy Bennett was very, very
nice to let him out of his letter and come play for
me, one of my goals is I always wanted to coach
my son in the NCAA Tournament, and I reached
one of those. And also I wanted him to be a part of
the championship team and we did that.
So it's been very special. It hasn't been
easy. But he's handled it. I'm just glad that two
weeks into when we got back from Australia I was
going to red-shirt him and I spent three days with
him. He's like I'm not red-shirting. And I was like,
all right, it's your decision, but you are going to go

through some rough patches. There are going to
be some rough patches for you with your strength,
you better be prepared to handle if you play good
or you play bad, it's just part of it.
And he's come through with flying colors
and really matured and he has his strength back.
But he has been a big key to us. When you are
the fourth leading scorer on a team with 27 wins
and won the Mountain West Tournament and are
ranked in the top 20, he's had a fairly good year
and hopefully he will play well in the tournament.
Q I know you only have one
basketball game on your mind, but could you
just share with me a couple memories of that
1986 game where your team beat Duke?
COACH NEAL: You mean when they beat
us?
Q You beat them once, didn't you?
COACH NEAL: Yeah, we did beat them.
And we had some good games, really good
games. I think it was the first year that Duke went
to the Final Four with Coach K, Johnny's team.
I had really good teammates in Mark Price,
who was an excellent NBA player, and John
Salley, who went on to win a championship with
Detroit. Mark was one of the best point guards to
play at Cleveland. And then we had Dwayne
Farrell and Tommy Hammonds. They had Tommy
Amaker and Jay Bilas, those guys were a really
good team.
We kind of all came up together when
Georgia Tech started to do well and when Duke
started to do well. It was a big win for us at home.
And the only bad thing is, and I know you
guys will look this up, I missed a jump shot to win
the ACC Tournament that year. And it wasn't
easy. It was a tough situation, but I missed about
an 18-foot jump shot to win the ACC Tournament.
And it's one of those things that you learn
from your failures. And I learned from that. And I
still get mad at Mark, I ask him why he didn't shoot
it and passed it to me.
So it's one of those experiences that I
have learned from and I've gotten better for it. And
it's made me a better coach, like it made me a
better player.
Q Coach, you mentioned that St.
Louis has a special part of your background
growing up. Talk a little bit about that.
COACH NEAL: Well, I just think it's a
unique situation in southern Indiana. We didn't
have any baseball, and so you are either a

visit our archives at asapsports.com
New Mexico - 03 20 14 6
Cardinals fan or a Reds fan.
And one of my staff, Drew Adams, grew up
in Bloomington and he's a die-hard Cardinals fan.
He can tell you batting averages, pitching, how
many pitches they threw the night before.
When you grow up in southern Indiana and
you are a high school coach and there is not a lot
of means in your family, you do a lot of trips by car.
And we made some trips over here.
I'm just fortunate enough my dad has been
with me this week. I can't figure out how to get rid
of him out of Albuquerque because he seems to
come and stay for months at a time, but it's good to
have him around. And then my mom's going to
make the trip over tomorrow and it will be good to
see her.
So, St. Louis is a cool town and we have
spent some time over here. So it's a neat place
and I am very fortunate to be here to participate in
the NCAA Tournament.
Q Coach, how much does
experience play in this game where this is the
third trip in a row for the Lobos?
COACH NEAL: Well, I think it will be key
for us. We've been very fortunate to be in the
tournament three years. And I think those guys will
learn from it. I talked to them a little bit about it. I
haven't dwelled on it.
Kendall played in it three times, this is
Hugh's second. Alex has been around and Cam
has been around it. So I think their experience will
also help our younger guys, our newcomers. But I
think they will feel a little bit more comfortable than
they had in years past. At least that's what I am
hoping happens.
And I'm just trying to keep my guys loose
and just play good Lobo basketball and have fun
with it. And hopefully we'll play like we have been
playing the last two weeks of the season.
THE MODERATOR: Anything else for the
head coach of New Mexico? All right, thank you
very much.
COACH NEAL: Thank you, I appreciate it.


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