March 13, 2011
"First of all, I would like to congratulate the other three Pac-10 teams that are part of the NCAA Tournament: UCLA, USC, Washington, and Arizona on our end. I just hope that all four of us have the opportunity to represent the great conference that we are. There are a lot of different ways of gaining respect, and playing in this tournament and winning games is number one. The fact that forty percent of our conference is in says a lot about the quality of our league. I know that we'll have a fifth, if not a sixth team in postseason play. It's something that I said this year quite a bit, I've only been in the Pac-10 two years, and this year's conference is much improved, night and day from a year ago. I'm honored to be the champion of this conference, and I thought the conference tournament and the championship game really represented the teams and the players and what our conference is all about."
On the seeding:
"I didn't really know what to expect. I think a five seed is a great compliment from the selection committee and once again it gives our conference what I would consider the proper respect. We've been a very consistent team since the onset in mid-November. Some of our losses, if you really look at who they're to: BYU and Kansas, you're talking about two of the top ten teams in the country right there. I'm sure that's all part of it as well."
On the NCAA tournament being unfamiliar territory for the younger players:
"It is uncharted territory, and we went through a lot of that a little bit in last night's championship game. In March, it's not only togetherness, it's not only great effort, consistent play, but it requires extreme concentration, especially at the end of games. The littlest details that you don't take care of, teams are too good, too well coached, have so much at state, that the ball bounces the other way. As much as you can control the things you can control, it's important. That's why when you asked about the Pac-10 Tournament for our team, it was really important the way it played out. Being able to play three games, being in the championship game, being in that pressure moment, I hope learning a lesson of being responsible up three. Those are the lessons that will help us, not only in this tournament, but from this point forward. It's growth inside of a program, growth for young players that get older. I think that the experience we just went through will help us as we transition into the tournament, even through we have quite a few players who haven't been part of the tournament."
On playing in Tulsa:
"Location doesn't really matter. We are just so excited to be a part of the tournament. A year ago I didn't have a microphone here; we had to invent a press conference, on what to say. Thinking about how far we've from not being invited to the NIT and being 16-15, a lot of things we felt really good about inside of our locker room, but big scope we weren't part of the national picture. Returning to this tournament a year later as a five seed, I'm so proud of our team and proud of our players. I can't even being to describe it."
On watching the selection show with the team:
"We were all together and it was fun watching our guys look at the screen and see our name come up. You're a part of the tournament before you get to Selection Sunday, because of our season, but you're wondering where you're going and what seed you had, and who you're going to play against. Our guys were just really excited, and it was great to see them as a part of this Selection Sunday."
On playing Memphis and Josh Pastner:
"Any team you play in the tournament is a great team. You look at the twelve seeds: Utah State, 30-3. I've watched them quite a bit. They're a terrific team. Richmond, who I've coached against first hand at Xavier, I watched them play in the championship game today, and they've won seven in a row. They're 27-7. They have a guard on their team who's very similar to Isaiah Thomas. Then you move towards the other two, which I believe would have been Clemson and VCU in the play-in game. You look at those two teams and you say `wow, those teams are really good'. You look at Memphis, and you say they're really good as well. 25 wins, for them to win their conference tournament on UTEP's home court, what a great job that is. We know some of the young talent they have. I am familiar with Josh Pastner, and I have a lot of respect for who he is, and certainly a lot of respect for what he did at Arizona, not only during his playing days, but all the hard work he put in as an assistant coach here. I just know him in passing. When he left Arizona to go to Memphis, I probably connected with him at more of a higher level. I just know how hard he worked. He's recruited some great players here, coached hard, loves Arizona. It's ironic that we play him, but sometimes that's what happens in this tournament. The storyline is that we are playing a very good Memphis team, and both teams want to advance badly. You lose and your season is over. Outside of that, there's not a big, big story other than the respect that we have for Josh and all the hard work that he put in, and Jack Murphey as well. I know those guys have given their heart and soul to Arizona and love our program. I'm sure on their end that they would have loved to have played other teams besides Arizona for that reason, because of how much they've worked to build this program. I think it's a compliment that they're in the tournament and so are we, so we are going to play the game and see how it goes."
Early thoughts on the Memphis team:
"They're very young and talented and really get up and down the court with ease. They have a lot of different players that can make shots, and to me their defense is very good. If you look at their defensive numbers, you can tell they use their quickness to play solid defense. I don't know them a lot; I haven't seen them play a lot. I will know them a lot more here in the next day or two, but like I said, anyone that we draw in this tournament is going to be good, and Memphis is no exception."
Thoughts on being in the West Regional:
"I haven't really realized that. I'm so focused on that first game. It's not like we've marched through the tournament here in recent years under my direction. It's just the focus of `can we win one game and have a chance to win a second game?'. I haven't really thought about where we would go if we won both. I also know the coach of Oakland real well, and they're a good team. I'm sure Texas is very similar to what I'm saying. Oakland has one of the best front court players in the country. They have a really hard style to play against. They've had some great moments this year as a team, so I'm sure that Texas and Oakland game will be a great game, just like Memphis and Arizona will."
On the players' reaction:
"You're kind of reborn as a player when you see your name pop up, because, truth be told, we all start with that goal to be part of the tournament. It takes a lot. Of the thirty-four games that we've played, the preseason that we've had, the off-season we've had, there's seven months, eight months, nine months, of hard work and belief to get you to this point. I think when your name pops up on that screen, you have the unbelievable feeling that you did it. You're excited about having the opportunity to move in this tournament. 68 teams becomes 64, 64 becomes 32 so fast, and 32 becomes 16, and now you're a couple games away from the final four. I think that's every player's dream and goal. For us it starts on Friday to play Memphis, and hopefully we are at our best. I hope this weekend helps shape us to be playing well. We are going to have to play a great game to beat them."
On playing on Friday and Sunday:
"I really like Friday/Sunday. It gives us an extra day. Three games in three days, the third being an overtime game, plays to our advantage, and probably Memphis as well. I know they had to fight hard in their conference tournament too. I like that we have an extra day."
On practice before Friday's game:
"Today is off, tomorrow we'll probably watch film and lift weights, but have a non-contact day, maybe take that two days. It's all about being fresh right now. Playing three games in three days, I know our guys are banged up. Kyle Fogg will make a lot of progress from today or yesterday by the time we get to Friday, so that's good for him as well."