Q. Ian, you're pretty much the only one on this team who's played meaningful minutes at an NCAA game. How key is your leadership going to be for a lot of the guys the first time playing in a tournament game?
IAN BAKER: I think it'll be very key. I think my job is to keep my team calm and keep them composed and give their best effort.
Q. Kind of to piggyback off that, I know you have played in a tournament game before, too, but how key has Ian's leadership been for you this year and how key will that be in this game?
MATT TAYLOR: It's been huge obviously all year. He's been a guy that we've looked to and we've fed off of him. We've always said our PG is going to take us as far as we go. So him being our team leader and stuff like that, it'll definitely help out there when we go through stuff that some of us haven't been through.
Q. Ian, what kind of challenges does Baylor present? Do they look anything like anybody you all have played this year?
IAN BAKER: I'm not too sure if they look like anybody we've played this year, but as far as I know I know they're a big team. They're long. They're a great team, especially on the offensive rebound, so I would say our job going into this game is keep them off the offensive rebounds and do our best to make them attach to us.
Q. Matt, what does this team, your team, do really well that gives you guys a chance to win this game?
MATT TAYLOR Well, I think as a team we share the ball well. We play together. We play for each other. Obviously we can shoot it a little bit and stuff like that offensively. And then defensively we're pretty good as well. So between sharing the ball and then just trying to pick up our pressure on defense and be active and stuff like that, I think those are our strong points.
Q. Ian, a lot of times in the NCAA tournament you're seeing a team you haven't seen before except on tape. You guys have played against Baylor, not this year but the last two years. Does that familiarity mean anything going into this game?
IAN BAKER: Not too much. And I would say for us our playing style is totally different from last year, after the last two years. So it's pretty much different.
Q. Obviously, with their size advantage, is this a game where you guys at the guard position are probably going to have to help out on the rebounding, especially with how good of an offensive rebounding team they are?
MATT TAYLOR: Yeah. I believe obviously our guards will have to come down and help chip out, get a body on extra guys because they're such a great rebounding team especially on the offensive glass. So, yeah, we should look to go help out and stuff like that.
Q. Head coach Paul Weir in his first season obviously been around the program for quite a while. What has changed maybe this tournament trip as opposed to others and what kind of influence has he had on this program?
IAN BAKER: I think Coach just has us in a right mindset. I think the last couple times we came here, we wasn't as focused. We didn't pay as much to detail like we should have. And that's pretty much been what he has done for us all year, just kept us focused. Always worried about the next game. That's pretty much it.
MATT TAYLOR: Yeah. I just feel like since he's been here, he's kind of changed the culture of the program in the short time that he has and just helping us understand that it's still a basketball game and it's how you prepare versus the other distractions that may come up as you're playing the game and stuff like that. So just core values that he's taught us and that we've basically adopted and we try and use amongst each other and we try and say the same things to each other behind closed doors.
Q. In regards to being able to overcome that 13-point deficit in the WAC title game. What kind of momentum does that bring to this game?
MATT TAYLOR: I wouldn't say it brings any momentum. I think that that was obviously a different game. So it's a completely different challenge ahead of us. But it's just a testament of how we've played all year, which is together, and we always try and fight no matter what the situation is. So that's all we try to do there.
IAN BAKER:<?strong> And to piggyback on what Matt said, I don't think it brings much momentum, but it just shows that no matter how the game is going we have some fight on our team and we're a resilient team. So I think that's some good we can carry over to this game.
Q. You guys have been a pretty good three-point shooting team this year obviously going up against a very good defensive three point team. What do you do to try and get some shots off and get some good looks? Just taking the opportunities as you get them?
IAN BAKER: I think just sharing the ball around, getting some movement on offense, forcing their defense to move around some and not forcing it, not taking the first look. But like I said, moving the ball around and getting the easy shots.
Q. Ian, senior year, and I guess for Matt as well, both of you guys being in your last year with the program, what are you guys doing to make sure that you kind of soak this experience in and kind of make the most of it?
MATT TAYLOR: Just try and have fun, try and embrace the little things. Not too many teams have the privilege of being here, obviously, and so we try not to take anything for granted, try and have fun with each other. Just be together, embrace the moments, and like I said, just try not to take anything too serious, obviously still focused on what you need to focus on, but have fun while you're here because, like I said, it's a privilege.
IAN BAKER: Just basically enjoy the moment. We know this is a once-in-a-lifetime thing, not many teams get to be in this situation. And just try to get the team to stay calm and stay it one day at a time and we're happy that we're here but don't be satisfied.
COACH WEIR: Obviously, Baylor is a terrific basketball team. As much size as we've probably seen this year, very good offensive rebounding team, very good post feed offense team. So we have our work cut out for us as far as mitigating that size as best we can. We've been an energy team all year, an effort team all year. We're really hopeful that whatever we do tactically we can also supplement with incredible energy and effort and kind of overcome whatever kind of deficiencies may be there. So that's really the gist of what we're trying to do.
Excited to be here obviously in this city and forum, but also hopeful that what we've done to get here we'll continue to be able to do on a bigger stage so people can kind of respect and appreciate the team that we have.
Q. Coach, your first season as a head coach but you've been through this experience as an assistant. What did you learn through those experiences as an assistant here in the tournament that you're kind of carrying over now as a head?
COACH WEIR: To be totally honest with you, I've told a few people this. Being an assistant coach does not really prepare you to be a head coach very well. When you're an assistant coach you think you have all the answers. You think you know what it's like. You think you'll make all the right decisions and when you become a head coach, you realize it's brand new territory.
So this year has been a very fruitful journey for me just learning a lot of different things and kind of going through a lot of these experiences. You take note if you have things. We did some different things in our conference we haven't done in the past. We did some subtle things preparing for this that we haven't done in the past. But I'm going into this with a lot of lessons to be learned and things to grow from as well, but I don't want to sit here and pretend that I have all the answers on how things are going to be different.
Q. How does having players from so many different places across the world impact the team and improve the experience?
COACH WEIR: You know, that's a great question. I think basketball as a whole is becoming so much more diverse. And if you look at the diversity of the NBA, I think college athletics is really quickly coming behind. The growth of not just the Canadian players but all these different countries has really made basketball a global game, its expansions in so many other countries around the world. Inevitably that's where basketball is headed.
So I think college athletics is a little bit further behind getting there, but as years past in generations come through it'll just become more diverse every year. So I think it's a great experience for these basketball players. A lot of them get to go play professionally which means they're going to be in another country anyway. And I think it's been very fruitful for us as well.
Q. You talked about Motley earlier in the week. You've been able to watch a lot more films since we spoke earlier in the week. Now that you've watched even more films about Motley, any ideas on what you're going to do to contain a guy like him?
COACH WEIR: Probably the best post player we've seen all year is Tim Williams and he's a terrific basketball player and I know he had some injuries and different things happen, but we had to play him twice. So we've gone into games really trying to take away post players and putting game plans in place to hopefully do that. So that's really what we spend a lot of time on. It's not just necessarily him. They're big and strong and like to play through the post and we like to spend a lot of time on them.
Q. Is there similarities to team other than just being the best post maybe you saw this year or is Motley not as much to the back to the basket like Tim is?
COACH WEIR: No. There are some differences as far as their particular characteristics but as far as the emphasis on a really good post player, that's probably the last time we've had to do it.
Q. Paul, Ian is probably the only one has played any meaningful minutes for you here in the past years. You guys have leaned on his leadership all year. How much is leadership going to be key in this game for you guys?
COACH WEIR: It's one game, so unfortunately we really don't have a lot of time for it. We kind of went through at that a little bit in the WAC tournament. A lot of the first time guys even though the returners on our roster have been through things and we're going to have to grow up in a hurry tomorrow and we don't have a lot of time for some of those guys to get through whatever we did like we did in the WAC tournament.
Q. Baylor has lost to lower seeded teams the last two years. Do you use that as an example for your team or are you just focused more on this season?
COACH WEIR: Yeah, to be totally honest with you, we're just preparing for them the best we can. We really don't get into a lot of those other things.
Q. Throughout the year your team has had the only-game-is-the-next-game mentality. How do you think that's helped you get ready for this sort of situation please?
COACH WEIR: Yeah. That was another thing that I kind of adopted that I didn't really know where it was going to go at the beginning of the year. We didn't talk about beating a rival or winning a WAC tournament or winning a WAC championship, whatever it may be. We just literally talked about that day and the next game and that's how we've approached every single day all year and then ones -- the Bakersfield game ended, it was immediately, we're getting ready for the next game and preparing for that.
So I can't even tell you who we may play. All I've been focused on is Baylor and that's all we're working on right now. And I guess at the end of the season we'll reflect and look back and maybe tinker some things going forward, but the one-day-at-a-time mentality is something we've really done and it's gotten us to this point. So we'll take it as far as it goes.
Q. Talk about how you hope to counter Baylor's height and length with possibly your team's speed and athleticism?
COACH WEIR: Yeah. That's really going to be I think the gist of the entire game, who's able to kind of implement their style better. We obviously want to use our style of play, our effort, our energy. We've kind of hung our hat on that all year long and that's going to hopefully negate whatever advantages they may have for size and even on the glass. So if we're able to do it the way we want to do it, I think we'll be pleased with how the game unfolds. And if we can't, then I think they will be.
Q. You guys obviously are no stranger to the NCAA tournament. Do you see this as an opportunity to kind of put New Mexico State and your brand of basketball on the map?
COACH WEIR: Yeah. I mean to be honest with you, we've been trying to do that all year long. We went into this season with a lot of people doubting us, losing Pascal Siakim. CBS picked us 163rd and spelled my name wrong. So we've had our doubters all year long as far as what this team can and can't do. And we beat a power five team for the first time in nearly 25 years. We beat our rival for the first time at home in nearly ten years. We did that with a rookie head coach and one senior. We lost our leading scorer to injury, and obviously Pascal to the draft.
So we dealt with people thinking we can't accomplish things all year long. We've really never listened to any of them. The guys in the locker room, we believe in each and tomorrow when the ball goes up we're just going to fight to the death and give it everything we got.
Q. The familiarity factor, you guys didn't play them this year but you played them the two previous years. Does that affect your preparation? Does that matter in a tournament game like this?
COACH WEIR: You know, we have not taken really any time this year to worry about previous seasons or previous games. It's really been about making this team our team and our journey together. So there may be for someone like Ian who's kind of been on the court with them and stuff like that, but this team is so new, we have a lot of new faces and even the returning faces were never really part of our rotation in years past. So we really haven't spent any time talking about what happened in previous games. It's about looking at our film and our preparation this year with this team in comparison to what Baylor is doing this year with this team.
Q. You guys have been a pretty good three-point shooting team this year. You talked about this week that they're a very good defensive three point shooting team -- or good at defending the three pointer with their size and length. What are you guys trying to get good looks at the basket, is it just kind of getting your opportunities at the three-point shot?
COACH WEIR: Geoff Grammer would say we're not a great three-point shooting team (laughter), but in that light we're both incredibly similar. I touched on that this week. They have a Top-25 three-point defensive. We have a Top-25 three-point defense. They have a Top-25 offensive rebounding percentage. We have a Top-25 offensive rebounding percentage. They do a really good job of slowing the game defensively and getting long possessions. We do the exact same thing. They have issues creating turnovers and at times we have as well.
So we're remarkably similar in how we execute our various styles of play. We just go about it in much different ways. But there's no mistake about it. We're going to have to make some shots and I think the lulls we've had, we've just had issues with shot selection and Braxton and Ian are two guys that make sure they have to take the right shots. Our shot chart when we've struggled in games offense is when Ian and Braxton shoot much more than everybody else. And we thrived ourselves on balance all year and they have to be patient and let the game come to them.
I thought Ian and Braxton really in the WAC tournament kind of epitomized who we are and what we've tried to be about all year. They were just patient, patient, patient and a lot of their -- and really, Braxton never even really got a shot off. But Ian made a lot of his shots late. And they didn't go out really just trying to force the game onto them. They let the game come to them. So as long as we have really good balance and stay patient offensively, I feel good about our ability to take the right shots and we don't talk about whether a shot goes in or not. We just talk about the quality. If they take the shots we want to take and they go in, you just kind of pat them on the butt and say good job. But if we take the shots that they want to take, then that's not something we want, whether they go in or not.
Q. I know you've been doing a ton of radio this week, TV spots a lot of media kind of breaks the routine when you come to the NCAA tournament. I've listened in to some of those interviews and it seems like a lot of the questions are about Masters degree, about being first year coach, being from Canada. Not much about the team. Anything surprise you or are you just expecting this time of year not a lot of people outside of New Mexico really know much about your team?
COACH WEIR: Yeah. I think that's expected. It's our team's job to maybe help those people notice those things. I feel bad that only two guys get to come up. I feel bad that they can't all be here with me. We've done these things from day one as a team and hopefully we'll finish this thing as a team. And understandably so. But hopefully now it's our opportunity to show everyone what our team's about and how it is we got here when the odds were completely stacked against us.