March 26, 2009
BILL BENNER: We're joined by Louisville student-athletes. We'll open it up for questions.
Q. Terrence, you seem to have this gregarious personality when you're on the floor. Have you always been that way? Why do you think that's the case?
TERRENCE WILLIAMS: I always been that way. I think it's a case 'cause a lot of people take basketball too serious. Even though it's a serious game, you want to win, but you can still smile while playing hard, by trying to win the game.
So I want to be a rare guy that smiles all the time. There's a couple of us in the country still. With you I just like smiling, having fun.
It's me, DeJuan Blair, Johnny Flynn smiles a lot. Those are the guys with the good smiles (smiling).
Q. You're playing a team that by most accounts slipped into the tournament with their record. I know you've seen film that shows how good they are. What motivational techniques has Coach Pitino used to get you beyond their record to take a look at the team and how to prepare for them?
ANDRE McGEE: He doesn't really have to motivate us. We watch film. We can understand, you know, who's good players and who aren't good players. If you watch Arizona, you can tell they're loaded with talent. They have three potential pros on their team, great guys that know their roles. We don't really look at their record.
They're in the Sweet-16, just as we are, and 14 other teams. They're here for a reason. They showed that by the way they've been playing in the tournament.
BILL BENNER: Terrence, do you care to respond?
TERRENCE WILLIAMS: No. Andre took my answer (laughter).
Q. You both made big free throws in this last game. A lot has been talked about struggling from the line. How much has that been a discussion among players? What's been done over the last day or two to work on free throws?
TERRENCE WILLIAMS: It's not really been a discussion from the players, 'cause we don't really know. But when Coach P write it on the board, you're shooting this percent the last five games, shooting this percent the last five games. You're like, Wow! We can end up losing because of free throws.
Our last couple days in practice-wise, we've been shooting a lot of free throws, everybody. Usually some people get to go shower early. Now he makes everybody shoot free throws for like 20 minutes, then you got to make like 15 in a row before you can leave.
We know that it may come down to free throws and we just got to be prepared to step to the line and make them.
ANDRE McGEE: Like he said, really numbers don't lie. If you look at our numbers from the free-throw line, it's pretty poor. So guys understand that, look at how much emphasis is put on it, especially the last NCAA tournament, being put on Memphis as far as everyone saying one of the main reasons they lost was due to free throws.
So with such a small thing, that can really be changed through repetition. Guys got to really look at the importance of it, especially take a lot of time out, we take a lot of time after practice, guys come in, make a certain amount in a row, try to make a certain percentage out of a hundred. It's about everyone taking their time. We press so hard in the game, so intense, that time spent on the free-throw line, those are gimme shots, so they are valuable.
Q. Do you expect anything different the way Arizona might attack your press, what your impressions are of their personnel?
TERRENCE WILLIAMS: We know they're a great team. On paper they're one of the most talented teams you see in this tournament and in the country. You know, with three future pros on the team.
As far as attacking our press, last game against Siena, that point guard, I think, did the best job against our press, only two turnovers, 10 assists. He played at his own pace the whole game.
So this game we know they have a great point guard in Nic Wise. All we can try to do is try to slow him down, hopefully turn them over. They play like a carbon copy of us as far as pressing zone, man-to-man.
He'll be more comfortable against our press because he goes against it probably every day in practice.
Q. I was in their locker room, and they said they do press and plan to press you the whole game. Do you prefer to go against a team that presses you or do you like it better when they don't press?
ANDRE McGEE: You know, like they said, they also press and we press. The great thing about it is like going against each other in practice. It's really nothing to adjust to because, you know, when you're a pressing team, you have to press each other in practice to get used to it. It will just be like another day of practice. That's the fortunate thing about it. We go against it every day, as do they.
Q. Terrence talked about Nic Wise. Can you speak about him, how he handles the ball, may be able to handle pressure in terms of pace and stuff like that.
ANDRE McGEE: Yeah, being in the Big East, we don't really get to catch a lot of west coast games, PAC-10 games. What I've seen from film, he's a great player. His change of speeds, he is a guy with different gears, a great ball handler, great vision guy, and also a great scorer. I think he's averaging somewhere between 22 and 23 points in this tournament. He's one of those guys that can do it all for them. He's the heart of their team. He gets everyone going. So we must slow him down, which is going to be a difficult task. But it wouldn't be the first time. We've been playing against great guards all through the Big East and all year.
Q. Did Arizona recruit both of you and did you consider going there?
TERRENCE WILLIAMS: I was close to going there. I considered there. But my whole main thing, the reason why I didn't go to Arizona, I didn't know how long Lute Olson would continue to coach. That was my main thing of why I didn't go there.
ANDRE McGEE: I wasn't recruited by them as much. You know, over the years, Lute Olson already had so many great guards. I wouldn't say they were the big dog in the West Coast. It was a couple schools in the L.A. area that were pretty good at that time. They always had the rivalry game against Arizona State.
But Arizona I always thought was a great school, with a great tradition, legendary coach. So definitely I watched them a lot.
Q. Last year and this year is Coach Pitino's approach any different this second week of the NCAA tournament than it was the first week?
ANDRE McGEE: No, I think he approaches it the same. This isn't something new for him. He's been around the block a couple times. If you ask him, he's probably giving the same speeches he did 10, 15 years ago, it's just a different color jersey and different players.
He has the same formula for winning, the same expectations for hard work. We just try to follow everything he tells us.
TERRENCE WILLIAMS: I agree with Andre.
BILL BENNER: Coach Pitino's approach from last year to this year, first round to the regionals.
TERRENCE WILLIAMS: He does everything a hundred percent hard, whether it's October or whether it's now. It's the same. It's just the practice may get shortened by 15 minutes, a little lighter, but it's more pressing and he's more aggressive.
But it's the same in terms of winning and the same time of elements of keys to winning, all stay the same.
BILL BENNER: Thank you, gentlemen.
We are joined by University of Louisville Coach Rick Pitino. We'll take questions for Coach Pitino.
Q. I believe this is your 47th NCAA game you've coached in. This is Russ Pennell's third. Can you talk about how you think he's done this year, being the new coach in this scenario.
COACH PITINO: Well, I really honestly don't believe it has anything to do with coaching at this point, whether you're coaching for 50 years or you're coaching for five years, the players are going to determine who wins and loses. Obviously the coaching staff at Arizona has done a fabulous job getting their team to not only the NCAA tournament but to perform so well in the first two games.
Q. May not have anything to do with coaching, but what do you attribute your 8-0 record at this level to?
COACH PITINO: Well, I don't think it has anything to do with the Sweet-16. We've just played real good basketball in the month of March. It takes a while to build any brand certainly.
At Kentucky in the second year, you have to have goals that sometimes not only are unrealistic, but when you're rebuilding, you've got to give them something to play for in terms of winning. Our goal that year was to win the conference. We couldn't play in the NCAA tournament. We wanted to win the SEC.
So every year we just try to make our goals very lofty. Now obviously once you get into the NCAA, that's a dream for every player to perform on the national stage and play well. We're risk-takers this time of year. We have a lot of fun with it. And I think those are all variables to making a team successful in March.
Q. All four teams here have won NCAA championships or are contenders for it just about every year. How does it feel to be in a regional that's kind of filled with the blue bloods of the sport?
COACH PITINO: I'm used to the blue bloods (laughter).
You know, I think it's great. Everybody likes to see once in a while a Cinderella come in, a mid-major play well, a George Mason, someone like that. You never know how it's going to shake out.
Right now the 16 best teams in the country are left. The 16 teams with probably the most physical talent. In this region certainly it doesn't get any better in terms of talent than Arizona, Kansas and Michigan State and us. We all have a lot of talented athletes who perform well under pressure.
Q. You press but they also press. Can you compare their press and how they use it as opposed to how you do it?
COACH PITINO: It's almost identical. It's the closest I've ever seen two teams in the type of pressure they apply. Even our zone and their zone, plays it like a 1-1-3, gets after it, treats more like man-to-man than a zone. They do one thing different: they bring their center out to the corner sometimes.
But it's almost identical of what we're trying to accomplish. They have a lightning-quick point guard, who is playing fabulous basketball. Great with his hands. Great in the open court. Shoots it terrific. He causes a lot of havoc on defense. Very good shot blocker in the back.
Defensively we're very similar. Offensively we're probably different.
Q. At this point in the year, how much film are you personally watching and how much is your assistants coaching?
COACH PITINO: I think we're all watching. What happens is I'll concentrate on the first opponent and then the other guys, whoever has that scout, is concentrating on the second opponent. Then I start catching up with the team we're playing. Then they'll go ahead and they'll go to the next game. We're all watching obviously a lot of film.
Today you have more film than anybody else. It's a great tool. You know each other very well. You don't know each other as well when you play on Friday and the Sunday game. The assistants will know it better than me when you have that one-day preparation.
Q. Arizona is a team that kind of fell off the radar nationally because they lost some games, but they're playing well now. What have you seen watching film?
COACH PITINO: I think it takes time for any adjustments. And they had, obviously, a coaching change, started to play differently, different concepts put in. So it just takes time for the team to get cohesive, even though they're a veteran ballclub in some areas. They peaked at the right time. They have outstanding talent. Three of their young men, certainly you can't forget Horne, any of their young players. They're as good as anybody in the country in terms of being draft picks.
Outstanding point guard. Outstanding five men. Budinger, seems like he's been around college basketball for a long, long time because he's been so brilliant. They have outstanding talent. We know that. Now they understand what their coaches are teaching them concept-wise offensively and defensively. They're a very dangerous opponent.
But to be honest with you, as I look at the other 15 teams in the Sweet 16, I think everybody would have the same comment about the people they're playing.
Q. Not specifically related to the reports about Connecticut, but could you talk about the general landscape of recruiting right now with texting, agents, things like that. Is it something that the NCAA is going to have to get their arms around?
COACH PITINO: Well, texting is now illegal. It wasn't back then. The NCAA is sort of like the IRS, it's sort of like the border patrol. They're undermanned but they do a good job of stopping the problems. They have to police ourselves. They come in in terms of when there's a problem, and they do a great job of investigating the problem. But there's too many outside influences that infiltrate our game that we as coaches have to stop. There's too many runners. There's too many people that are working for agents that we don't know about. You can't describe them. You don't know who they are. They're face less people. We've seen it obviously before this. We've seen other situations on the West Coast.
We have to do a much better job of policing ourselves to make sure nobody infiltrates one's program. It means too much to us personally, professionally for the university, for the towns to let this happen. I'm not talking about Connecticut, as you're stating.
The NCAA does a great job, but they're just undermanned and we have to do a better job institution-wise of making sure that no one infiltrates our programs. And it's tough to do, by the way. It's really difficult.
Q. Ever since November, Arizona has heard your name in connection with this job. Do you have any interest at all in Arizona?
COACH PITINO: To be honest with you, I'm glad that I'm not living on the West Coast because I haven't heard any of that. I heard a little bit more about Boston University wanting me back where I started. But I'm hoping they settle for my son (laughter).
Q. The last time you faced Arizona at this type of stage, you faced a guard named Mike Bibby as a freshman. You talked about Nic Wise. Can you talk about him again, what he does in handling pressure.
COACH PITINO: He's really great to watch. He's obviously on a great run, shooting the ball extremely well. One of the best pick-and-roll guys in splitting the pick-and-roll I've seen this year on tape. He's also lightning-quick, great defensive hands. I really appreciate his game, watching it. I don't know if I'll appreciate playing against it.
But the Arizona team back then when we played them in '97 was a far different basketball team than this one, and we were a far different basketball team. We were a very young team back then. They were a team that had to be three No. 1's to win that championship. It was quite a feat.
Q. Sorry to put you on the spot, but you didn't really answer that question about interest in Arizona. What would your answer be?
COACH PITINO: I wouldn't answer any question about any other job because it would be disrespectful to the University of Louisville. You know, any time you hear a player stand up here and say, I'm not going pro, I'm coming back, he's gone. Any time a coach says he's not interested in a job, he's dead interested in a job.
So, you know, I don't mislead you. All I can tell you is for eight years I've given every ounce I've had to the University of Louisville. I will continue to do that. I can poke fun and make all the jokes in the world, but there's no truth. Anybody today can go on a message board. Anybody today can put anything out there they want - truth or untruth. All I can tell you is that I've lived and died with Louisville for eight years. I've heard it about Kentucky and Billy G.
The only job I can be honest with you, the only job I've thought about for a 24 higher period since I've been at the University of Louisville was Providence college last year. I sat down, the athletic director at the University of Louisville is one of my closest friends. I sat down with him, I said, Because of the personal things I went through at Providence, I wanted to sit down and talk with them about the job to see if I did want to come back because of personal reasons that were very deep to me. I sat down with them, talked to them bit, and realized Louisville was the place for me. Outside of that, for eight years, I haven't thought about any job except the University of Louisville, and that's answering you the honest way.
Q. Your initial impressions of venue, with the vastness of it, is it going to affect the shooting tomorrow night?
COACH PITINO: I haven't been out there yet. I think it does affect the shooting by all teams playing in domes. So I think you've got to understand that it takes time to get used to it. It's very important that you take high-percentage shots, that you create good ball movement, good player movement. We are two transition teams. Arizona is great when they get in the open court. They finish really well. They pass really well. They run the lanes well. So do we.
So hopefully we can get high-percentage shots. I'm hoping we don't have to rely on just jump shooting to win the game. But we are two teams that rely on trapping zones. Those type of defenses don't give a lot of good looks, so you're going to have to react well under pressure, off the bounce as well as with the pass.
Q. Last year Memphis had to answer questions about free throw shooting all through the tournament. It ended up hurting them a little bit. I guess now you're the team that carries the mantle who have the lowest percentage of the 16 teams left. Can you address that?
COACH PITINO: Well, it is a weakness of ours. We work very hard at improving it. It hasn't been a factor yet. It was a factor down the stretch for Memphis. It could be for us. We're going to have to stand up and make them certainly when it happens.
But there's nothing we can do in terms of dwelling on the negative. We're going to dwell on the positive of what we do well. If free-throw shooting comes into play, listen, free-throw shooting is a big part. We lost to Arizona in '97. One of the closest young men in my life Nazr Mohammed and I haven't talked to him since then. I'm only kidding (laughter). So I know what it is to miss free throws. It is part of the game. It's a big part of the game.
I was watching a game, Creighton/Kentucky the other night. The young man had two free throws. That was it. They could have iced the game. Missed them. I remember a game that Providence would have never made the Final Four in '87 if the young man from Austin Peay didn't miss those free throws. I remember carrying him out crying. I remember beating Washington when Darius Washington for the conference USA championship when he missed three, I believe with the game on the line. It happened us to in '97. It happens to everybody. It is a weakness you must overcome. That doesn't mean we can't make it in the stretch. Statistics don't always hold true in that area.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about Jordan Hill and his development? He seems like he's somebody who has gotten better in increments.
COACH PITINO: Well, he's a very interesting basketball player. He's obviously picked very high on all the draft charts, if he does decide to go. He is a young man that just has gone the right way. Coaches have done a terrific job in helping him develop his skills. And he's a terrific turnaround jump shooter. Goes very well off his left shoulder. He draws charges, he blocks shots, he does them both. He's very long. He's a very talented young man and he's going to keep on getting better and keep improving. He's one of the better big men we will face this year. And we have faced some outstanding ones, playing in the Big East.
Q. Can you talk about Samardo Samuels. When you recruited him, you went to Jamaica. What were your impressions of where he's from and how that factors into his personality?
COACH PITINO: Samardo has improved personally as the year has gone on. He started out as a low post basketball player who played below the rim. The biggest task we had to convince him at the collegiate level he could no longer play laterally when he goes up. We had to correct that bad habit he had. The second thing he had to start doing is rebound the basketball. He was a very poor rebounder in high school. He's become an average to good rebounder, so not where we need him to be. But he has improved all phases of the game as the season has gone on. He's a terrific low post basketball player. He has a strong desire to win.
Going to Jamaica, I've been to Jamaica before. I visited Kingston when I was coaching Patrick Ewing with the Knicks. His address was Montego Bay, so you think it's not going to be too bad compared to Kingston. Once you get out of the resort area and get to the farmlands, it's a third-world country. The poverty is something to behold. He grew up in a very difficult environment with no indoor gymnasiums. We visited his playground where he started playing. Uneven concrete. The baskets were not 10 feet. One was, the other was lower. Incredible poverty.
He came here, attended St. Benedicts, learned a lot about basketball from Danny Hurley, outstanding coach there. Danny did a great job in developing him. Now you understand why he's so hungry to make it in this game, because of where he's from and trying to help his family.
It was a good eye awakening for me in understanding what he's all about. He's been terrific to coach.
BILL BENNER: Thank you, coach.
BILL BENNER: We're joined by Coach Pennell. We'll take questions for coach.
Q. Most of us try to live in the present, not worry about the past or the future. It seems to me your situation almost demands it.
COACH PENNELL: Yeah, there's no question about that. One of the things I think that's helped all of us, the players, coaches and everyone this year, is try to focus on 2008/2009 season. We're still in that, obviously.
You know, if you just go about focusing on preparing for practice or preparing for a game or if you're working a kid out, whatever you're doing, you put your mind on that, then you don't need to worry about things that you can't control anyway.
So that's the way we've tried to approach every day this year.
Q. All four teams in this regional have won NCAA championships or are in the running just about every year. How does it feel to be here with kind of three other blue bloods of the sport?
COACH PENNELL: It's exciting. It's a great opportunity. You know, this is actually my sixth NCAA tournament and the third time I've been in the Sweet-16. My first two years at Oklahoma State, we got there.
So, you know, I at least have an idea of what to expect from the atmosphere, the crowds, everything else. But, you know, to play in this environment against these teams, it will be a real treat for our players and for our staff.
Q. Is there a team that you played this year that plays a comparable style to the full court pressure of Louisville?
COACH PENNELL: The University of Washington will play full court, man-to-man defense. They may not trap quite as much as Louisville does, but we have seen that. When we played Kansas at home, they extended their pressure a little bit.
I think Louisville does it as well as any team in the country. So to prepare for that is difficult. I don't know we've seen a press like they're going to play against us tomorrow.
Q. Talk about depth. With the TV timeouts, I know you don't use a lot of guys, they press full court, do you expect depth to be an issue?
COACH PENNELL: Well, it certainly could be. But, you know, we've played the way we're gonna play tomorrow all year long. We've got three guys we play heavy, heavy minutes. In fact, they were three of the top five minutes played in the PAC-10 this year. They're in incredible condition. Their conditioning all year has been really good. We've been very fortunate that we've stayed injury-free. And with the long timeouts, it definitely helps us.
Also, when we've sensed they're a little bit tired, we get them out right before the media timeout, which many coaches do, to buy them extra time.
We're going to have to ride the horses that got us here, and that's what we'll do tomorrow.
Q. If I read the media guide right, you were doing Arizona State radio last year. Did you ever see yourself coaching in the Sweet-16 a year later?
COACH PENNELL: No, I don't think anyone can plan on that. I did radio for ASU for a couple years, had had a couple opportunities to get back in coaching. They weren't exactly what I wanted.
When I signed on to work at the University of Arizona, I was hoping we'd be in the Sweet-16, but I had no idea that I would be the head coach at that moment.
You know, the great thing about life in general is it can change quickly, and sometimes it's for the best, a real positive. And this year it's been that for me.
Q. Your initial impressions of the facility, whether you're concerned at all about the vastness of everything out there.
COACH PENNELL: I don't think it will. It was great to get out there and shoot around. We spent our entire 50 minutes really on shooting just so we could get accustomed to it. We'll have a short practice in here again tomorrow. We should be fine.
It's a beautiful facility. I commented to someone out there before, it's just incredible what they've done with it. It's a great venue. I know when the Final Four is here next year, it will get to be shown off even more.
I think this is a great, great environment for basketball. I like the way they've built the stands, back up to the football stands. I think they've done a real nice job with that.
Q. There was a lot of publicity regarding your program in the year before this season started regarding coaching situation, Coach Olson. The job was offered now to the man who is your assistant coach. You were off the radar. Now you're back. You're getting some publicity regarding that. I'd like to ask you how you and your assistant have delegated the duties? Are you co-head coaches? Who makes the decisions and under what circumstances?
COACH PENNELL: I make the decisions. I'm fortunate that I have someone of Mike Dunlap's experience. He was a head coach for 17 years. And I do rely on him heavily, as I do Reggie Geary and Matt Brase, my other assistants.
But Mike has brought a wealth of knowledge to what we're doing. Everything is run through me and I have the ultimate decision. I also have a lot of confidence in him.
My whole thing is this, I really could care less who gets the credit for what we do as long as we're successful. It matters not. I see in this business a lot of time people's egos destroy them. I always thought to myself if I had this opportunity at whatever level, as an assistant coach for 15 years, which I was, I appreciated the people I worked under, that they gave me a lot of responsibility. I thought that was important that I did the same.
Q. If this is it, if this is the only chance you ever have to be a head coach and get here, is this enough?
COACH PENNELL: Sure. Just the opportunity to walk through this journey this year is incredible. And it's helped me not only as a coach but as a person. It stretched me. It's forced me to think outside the box. It's very unconventional what we've gone through. Yet somehow we've made it work.
I think the biggest thing is the line of communication we've had between our players, our staff. We're very open, we're very transparent. And when you're that way, you can truly look at it as a family. Because in families, you have arguments. In families, you have discussions. And we do the same thing. But we've always been able to put aside our personal agendas for the good of the team.
And for that, you know, I'll forever be indebted because I think it's made me a better coach and a better person. If this is the only opportunity, so be it. Life goes on.
Q. Do you ever find yourself going, How the heck did this happen?
COACH PENNELL: I don't think I've had the luxury of thinking about that yet. Again, there has been so much to do, trying to keep everyone on point. I'm sure maybe I will in the next few weeks, be able to reflect back.
But, you know, I really believe that things happen for a reason in life. I believe there's a purpose in life, for everyone's life. And my appointed time is to be the coach of the Arizona Wildcats. Even if that's for a brief time. So the opportunity I've had, I've tried to make the best of it and do the best for the people that are underneath me.
Q. Coach Pitino is 35-11 in NCAA tournament games. You're about to coach your third. What is it going to be like to match wits against him?
COACH PENNELL: I'm undefeated. Better record. No, I'm kidding (laughter).
You know what, when I was at Ole Miss, we went against Coach Pitino's teams at Kentucky. I know how good a coach he is. I know what he stands for in the college basketball world. You know, this didn't come down to me versus Rick Pitino. It's our team against Louisville's team.
There are no secrets anymore. They do what they do very well. What we have to do is counter that. And if we can, we'll be victorious. If we can't, they'll win. That's the thrill of the great many.
Once that ball gets tipped off, it's another basketball game that everyone's trying to win.
Q. What is the single most difficult thing about their press in getting the ball up court?
COACH PENNELL: I think it's that it's so relentless. They have so many guys they can put in there. They really get into the basketball and make it difficult. Then once those guys get tired, they put in a new wave. And they can just keep coming at you, coming at you. The thing you have to be careful about, you can handle it for a little while, then all of a sudden they hit you with one of those big runs. That's, to me, what makes them so dangerous.
All the games that we have watched, there's that one moment in the game where they've been able to really explode. And that's the key. You try to keep that from happening. It's easier said than done.
Q. Could you also talk a little bit about the zone that they play in halfcourt. They kind of make it a point to pressure. Seems like it's more ball pressure than typical zone.
COACH PENNELL: It's a little bit like what we try to do. You really try to get into the ball, you kind of spread it a little bit, get in the passing lanes a little bit more. They're trying to obviously speed you up, try to make you make quick decisions.
I think the key to attacking it is having a good idea where you want to go with the ball and then having a patience about you. To me, what makes Louisville so good is they can get you sped up. A lot times you might not even take a bad shot, but it's a quick shot. To me that's the beauty of their press, is that it's very offensive. It's not just a defense to try to stop you; they're trying to speed you up and make you play maybe out of control a little bit. Same thing with their zone.
BILL BENNER: Thank you, coach.
COACH PENNELL: Thank you.
BILL BENNER: We're joined by Arizona student-athletes. We'll open it up for questions.
Q. Chase, your coach said you guys spent most of your time out there in this practice on shooting, trying to get used to the arena, the size of it. You think you're going to have a problem with that or do you feel pretty comfortable out there?
CHASE BUDINGER: I hope we don't have any problems. You know, today in shooting I thought we did a good job at making baskets. It is different for us because of the backdrop and the arena is so big. It's just something new to us.
But, like I said, I thought we did a good job at shooting today.
Q. Nic, from what you've seen on film, can you talk about what their pressure looks like. The other teams you played, Washington, Kansas, do you feel it's comparable or is this different?
NIC WISE: You know, their press is a little different. Washington, you know, we handled their press pretty well. It's just the fact that they have so many guards that they rotate in and out, so their energy never drops off. Other teams that we played, they've pressed, but they don't have many subs or backups that can create that energy the whole game. And that's what they have.
Q. Jordan, statistically it looked like defensively you guys played some of your best ball last weekend. I'm wondering what the change was, either philosophically or in execution?
JORDAN HILL: Basically, you know, we just try to attack our opponent first, you know, be the aggressor. We try to help each other out on rotations, try to get to our man as soon as possible once they catch the ball. Ball pressure has been a hundred percent from us. We just got to, you know, try to make it 110%, just try to get in the face of our opponent, let them pass the ball, we just keep rotating.
Other than that, we've been doing a heck of a job doing what we have to do on the defensive end. Just got to continue it.
NIC WISE: We just been, like Jordan said, being the aggressor first. We've been using our adrenaline in the first couple minutes to press other teams, set the tone for our defense for the whole game in the first couple minutes of the game. That's been key for us.
Q. You didn't steamroll into the tournament the end of the season, things weren't going so well for you. Here it is a week or so later and you're in the Sweet-16. What happened in terms of your attitude or focus and the way you have prepared for the games?
CHASE BUDINGER: With the last two games, I thought that we just used the energy that we had from making it into the tournament. You know, once we saw our names go up on the board, we were energized as a team. I thought we just brought that into the games and just used that.
I thought our intensity was as best as we ever had it this year.
JORDAN HILL: Yeah, I mean, we all felt that we belonged into the tournament. But it was up to the NCAA committee. Once we got the chance to get into the tournament, we got this opportunity, we just made the best of it and tried to go back to where we was before, and that's to be the best team that we possibly can, 'cause that's how we feel.
So we just got to go out there and take it one step at a time, you know, just go out there and have fun, play basketball, do the things that we know we can do, we've been known to do.
Q. Do you feel at all that maybe earlier in the season you were underachieving? Did you always feel like you had the potential to make a run like this?
NIC WISE: Yeah, we did. But we really didn't find ourselves into mid-season, after that Houston game. We kind of pushed the tempo on the offensive end, started creating more havoc on the defensive end. We kind of found ourselves in that Houston game, went on a 7-0 stretch where we beat some big time teams. That's where we knew.
We were trying to find ourselves in the beginning of the season, trying a lot of different things. We knew we had the talent to do it, but we just had to find, you know, that scheme that best fits our style.
CHASE BUDINGER: I mean, like Nic was saying, we were trying to find ourselves, and the coaches did a good job at kind of, you know, letting us loose towards the middle of the season, letting us start playing our game a little more. Once we did that, I thought we started playing better as a team.
You know, I think we found ourselves then. And after that we knew we could play with anybody.
BILL BENNER: Gentlemen, thank you.