If you look at their two scorers in conference, one (Carl Landry) was 17.9 (ppg) and the other (David Teague) was 17. 1 (ppg) and the third-leading scorer (Chris Kramer) was 6.4 (ppg), so they obviously get the ball to the two people that are their best scorers in Landry and Teague.
Just to give you an idea of how effective Landry is, he got 24 points off (Greg) Oden at Ohio State. He got Oden in foul trouble. He is very efficient player inside and does a great job of posting up. He's physical like most Big Ten post guys are.
It will be very competitive, obviously, as it is anytime you have 8-9 match-up. You are going to have two teams that are very evenly matched. We're looking forward to it. We're very happy to be going to New Orleans.
As far as our team is concerned, we are probably as healthy as we've been all year. In review the Oregon tapes, we probably played as well defensively as we have all year long. They hit some tough shots from long range, but they obviously did that against everyone in the (Pac-10) tournament. But overall, I think we're ready for the tournament. I think our guys will play very well.
What are you hoping to see from Mustafa Shakur?
Just what we saw last year in the playoffs (19.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 7.0 apg, .542 FG%). I think he feels very upbeat about that. We need good leadership from the two seniors (Shakur/Ivan Radenovic), plus Marcus (Williams) and Jawann (McClellan) have been there. It needs to be a combined effort of those four people for us to accomplish what we want to accomplish.
Are there any "X Factors" in your mind?
I'm very pleased with the way we are defending right now. I don't think there was a case where Oregon got a baseline drive on us. We controlled the middle of the court in terms of drives to the middle. The only thing we couldn't do was to stop their three-point barrage.
Offensively, I think we need to get more touches. I thought that was the one thing I felt about the game that we could have done better. I thought there were a number of times where we took early shots, and given the fact that the momentum was in Oregon's favor, we needed to be more patient. I think going into the game on Friday, that's one thing we need to do. We need to get more touches and be more patient for the shot to come that we want.
When you looked at Purdue, where you surprised that they were more perimeter based, as opposed to Purdue teams of the past?
I'd seen them during the year, but when you watch the game during the year, you are just watching the game. You aren't zeroing in on things. The Iowa game and the Ohio State game from the (Big Ten) tournament, we have that. The other tape we used was the Indiana at Purdue (Feb. 15) just to get an idea. They really played with a lot of energy in that game. One of the best tapes that you'll be able to get on a team is when they play their main rival. Purdue-Indiana is always a real battle and they probably know more about one other than anyone else does.
Is Purdue a team that likes to go up and down?
They'll go up and down, but they are not going to force it. They do a good job of running their motion. They play very physically on the defensive end of the court. It will be similar to what we've faced in UCLA and USC. It's more of an in-your-face denial kind of defense.
That's where the patience comes in, right?
Anytime you play against a team that defends really well, you need to make sure you are patient. It's going to take you more touches to get good looks. With Purdue, we need to be more patient for the shots to come.
With three guys from Houston, do you worry about distractions and such?
No, I think it's great that they aren't that far from home. We've got three guys from Houston (McClellan, Onobun, Wise), so I'm sure their families are very happy that we are down there. Distractions are not a problem. We've played in enough places now where the guys are accustomed to that. This is a business trip and the guys know that.
What's been your advice to Jawann McClellan lately?
One piece of advice was to get his weight down as much as he could so he would not have that added pressure on the knees. He's down now to 206 and I think he played in high school at 205. I think that's good. We need to have Jawann back out there because he's got the experience and he's a tough-minded guy. Defensively, he doesn't back down from anybody. Jawann is a tough, aggressive young man. We need that on the court. I'm hoping that he has a good week of practice so we can count on him heavily on Friday.
Could you talk a bit about Ivan Radenovic, not so much as a player, but as a person?
Ivan's a very bright and very personable guy. He's well liked by his teammates. He plays hard and practices hard. Team always comes first with Ivan. He's very mature. He's fun to visit with because he has a very wide perspective of what life's all about having grown up where he's grown up. He's traveled a lot basketball-wise in Europe. He adapted very quickly. That first half year was a problem for him. But I think by the time he got back here as a sophomore, he was pretty well adjusted. Now, he has good command of the language and doesn't wear the tight jeans anymore (laughs). But, he's been great for us to have and I think he'd tell you that it's been an unbelievable experience for him.
Do expectations enter at all this week?
All we're looking forward to doing is to play Purdue on Friday. There is nothing else on our mind. It's not like this is our first NCAA Tournament. It is for the freshmen, but the other guys have been there. They've played in some of the most difficult situations you could play in. The juniors and seniors play Illinois in front of 18,000 orange-clad shirts (2005 Chicago Regional Final), playing in Philadelphia 15 miles from the Villanova campus (2006 first round). There isn't anything they will face that is tougher than what they have already faced. Other than the freshmen, that's true for everyone else on the team.