Jordan Mathews on Arizona and the opportunity to win a Pac-12 title: "We're not really looking at it like that. It's just an opportunity to get better. It's just another game that we play together, and we're looking forward to competing against the Wildcats."
Did Mathews watch the Arizona-Utah game: "We caught a bit of it before practice."
Did he learn anything from that: "I just saw two good teams going at it. Brandon Taylor made a big play at the end, and Utah came out with a win."
Ivan Rab, on how he balances being unselfish and demanding the ball: "It's just part of being a team. I think great teams always have selfless players, and I just want to fit in with the guys, but also stick out in certain places, but at the same time, it's all about winning. Whatever I can do to win, that's what I'm going to do."
Rabb, on being more aggressive the last few games, ramping up like he did last year in the state title run: "Honestly, I've been watching a lot of film, as of recently, seeing what I was doing in the past games, and I noticed that when I face the basket, I'm a lot more effective. It prevents double teams. Most of the time, I'm quicker than the bigs, so I just try to use that to my advantage."
Was there a time a couple weeks ago where you were frustrated, getting in foul trouble and getting muscled by bigger, stronger, older guys? How have you dealt with that (Rabb)? "Every once in a while, I'll get frustrated during a game, but I would just say that was stuff that was going on in that particular game. It didn't really wear on me, because guys like him (Mathews) tell me to keep my head up in practice, and challenge me in the game. It's just part of it."
As a big guy, Ivan, how does the outside shooting help: "I mean, that definitely helps a lot, because it takes some attention away from me. When I know I can make a play, and I know I can find a shooter, it slows the defense down, especially when they're trying to double or when guys are trying to collapse on me. It's hard to collapse on me when guys like Jordan and Jabari [Bird] -- we have a lot of guys who can make shots on this team, or make plays, so that makes it a lot more difficult for other teams."
How much has it helped to move him to the four, when Kameron Rooks or Kingsley Okoroh are usually on the floor: "It definitely helps. It just gives me another big body inside, so I don't always have to worry about guarding the biggest guy, stuff like that. That definitely makes a huge difference. They take up a lot of space, adn they do great things on the floor, and that makes things easier."
How would Rabb evaluate his freshman season: "So far, I think I've done pretty well. It's all about improvement, and I think that -- well, I know that -- I feel way more comfortable, and my confidence is growing, and I'm starting to become one of the leaders on this team, and I think that's what we're looking for."
Jordan, what have you noticed about Rabb's development as a leader: "I've always been impressed with how composed Ivan always is, on and off the court. His growth, even in practice, has been staggering since the beginning of practice. He does a great job motivating guys, and my freshman year, that wasn't our role. We didn't do that. To have a young guy come in, someone who's a freshman, come in and be able to be one of the other voices, instead of it always being a senior or one of the junior class, to have a freshman be willing to talk to the other guys, is refreshing and something that's really helped us these last couple weeks."
That's not natural, but you're comfortable with that, Ivan? "I mean, I'm starting to realize that guys actually listen. I'm comfortable talking, but as of recently, I figured out that guys are actually listening to what I'm saying, so why not use it? To a certain point, I didn't really expect it. If we're in a really big game, and I say something, guys would go, 'Yeah, you're right,' so I'm just starting to use that to my advantage."
Earlier in the year, were you aware that you were a freshman, with a bunch of returners: "Kind of. I just didn't think [leading] was my role. I was just trying to figure everything out."
Cuonzo Martin talked about how, at Purdue, Gene Keady would have to encourage him to shoot more. Has he had conversations with you (Ivan) about that? "He has, but I think it's just a mindset going into the game."
What does he say to you? "Exactly what you said, just encourage me to shoot the ball more, be more aggressive and be more assertive, and even if I'm not shooting more, just attack and find other people, because I am pretty good at facilitating, so by being more assertive, I make plays."
Jordan, what was the difference between the USC game and the UCLA game, where you had trouble with your shot against UCLA (1-for-7 from three) and got it back against USC (4-for-9)? "There wasn't really a difference. We won the UCLA game by double figures, so I didn't really worry about it at all, because we won. I looked at the tape, and I was fading away a little bit on some of the shots, and I wasn't following through like I normally do, so I went back to the basic, got extra shots up, mid-range shots, just shot hundreds of shots over again, and it came back on Sunday."
Jordan, for a guy like you with such good shooting form, can you make that adjustment and know that it's going to make a difference: "I think the next step is being able to identify it in a game, because after the game, I'll usually get a call from family members and stuff like that, saying, 'You were leaning back.' It doesn't really feel like that during the game. A couple of the misses against UCLA, 'Man, I felt like that was going in.' [The next step] is the in-game adjustment. My dad told me to self-assess at halftime, and see what you can do better, get a few free throws in and just go from there."
Have the coaches noticed something like that in the game: "Just stay with it, keep shooting the ball, keep trying to put the ball in the basket."
Can you tell when the ball comes out of your hand, what you did right or wrong? "No, not really. It's kind of a feel. Sometimes, I think I'm going to miss, and I make it, and sometimes, I think I'm going to make it, and I miss. It really just depends. Sometimes, it even surprises me. I try to stay to the basics, stay low, follow through, see the ball into the rim, and hopefully, it goes down."
Does it help you that Jaylen Brown is shooting the ball so well? "Yes. It helps a lot, because first of all, a team's got to guard JB, because he drives so well, so when he's making his outside shot, they've got to close short. If they close too high, then he's driving. He's great at finding us, and other guys, like Jabari, who are making shots -- when Jabari's shooting the way he is now, they can't just do what they used to do, face-guard me and things like that. Even so, I welcome that, because we have guys who can make plays."
Jordan, as a shooter, when you watch Stephen Curry play, what's your reaction: "That's not a shot; that's a laser. (Laughs). That's not a shot; that's a laser. That's a laser. That's a laser."
Is it impossible for humans to relate to what he's doing: "Some of the shots, like, OK, like, first, I used to think it was confidence -- he's a really confident player, and he works on that -- but after we watched the OKC game, we watched that as a team, at Ivan's house, and some of the shots he would hit off the dribble were, like, what do you do when someone makes shots like that? Coach Martin would be like, 'We're not moving the ball enough.' I dont' care how far he is, that's a laser."
As a shooter, you can't learn from him because he's on a different plane? "You can learn about his quick release. I like to watch guys like Klay [Thompson] and J.J. Reddick, Wesley Matthews, because those guys have to do a great job -- like Klay does a great job of, no matter where the ball is, he centers it and shoots it. He doesn't need to dip it. Wesley Mathews does a great job of showing his hands at all times, and Reddick's conditioning is top-notch. I like to watch them. Hopefully I can be like Steph, but he's at another level right now."
Are you more of a catch-and-shoot guy than Curry: "I identify with all guys who can put the ball in the basket -- Jamal Crawford, too. Anybody who can score, I like to watch."
Is your shot off the dribble an additional weapon: "It's an additional weapon, but if teams give me a shot from the three, I'm going to shoot it. There's no reason to put it on the ground. If they're going to crowd me, then I'll put it on the ground and make a play for someone else, but if they give me too much space, why not shoot it?"