Cal juniors Jabari Bird and Jordan Mathews preview NCAA Tournament date with Hawaii in first round

Jabari Bird says 'we're ready' to face Hawaii, even without senior point guard Tyrone Wallace, as Cal prepares for the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Jabari Bird, how do you handle the news of Tyrone Wallace being out?

"In regards to Tyrone, I really feel bad for him. The whole team does, actually. It's really unfortunate to see a senior go out like that. He wants to finish his season strong, and make an impact, but we've got to move forward and focus on Hawaii. They're a good team, and we're ready."

How are you doing with the news about Yann Hufnagel?

Bird: "Like I said with Tyrone, same with Yann. It's unfortunate, you know, but you can't really focus on the past. We've got to focus on Hawaii tomorrow morning."

Jordan Mathews: "Like Jabari said, it's unfortunate, but it's in the past. We came to Spokane to win a ballgame, so that's what we're going to do."

Jordan, is Hawaii like any team you've faced this year?

"Um, they're unique. Throughout Pac-12 play, you get a lot of different looks, but they present some different things, in terms of they really want to drive the ball. They're great at drawing fouls. They share [the ball]. They draw some similarities to Oregon State, in the film I've seen, but they're very unique. They have a five-man [ Stefan Jankovic] who can pick and pop. We've seen a couple of those, but nothing like him, before. They're a good team. Nothing I've seen before, but we're ready."

Jordan, what part of Tyrone's game do other people have to pick up with him out?

"He averaged 15 [points], 5 [rebounds] and 5 [assists], so we're going to have to pick up the slack in all those areas. He's a big-time rebounding guard, scoring in a lot of ways. But, I think we're a deep team, a relatively experienced team with the juniors we have. So, I think we'll be able to pick up what Tyrone left. Like I said, it's unfortunate, and we'll miss him a lot, but we have to win this ballgame."

Jabari, has this week been an adverse situation for you guys, between Hufnagel and Wallace?

"It's been a rough week for the team and everything, but we've had ups and downs throughout the entire year, so it's nothing new for us. But, the main thing for us is to put it behind us and focus on tomorrow's game."

Hawaii has two Bay Area players in Quincy Smith and Roderick Bobbitt. Anything you know about them?

Bird: "Quincy went to my old high school in Salesian, so I've seen him play a few times, and I played against Roderick when I was a sophomore in high school. Two talented guards, really athletic, can score the ball. I look forward to the match-up."

Talk about your confidence in Sam Singer taking over at the point for Tyrone:

Mathews: "Big-time confidence in Sam. You see how hard he works, he puts in the effort. He goes hard, he can pass. We saw it early in the year, when Tyrone broke his hand the first time. Sam took the reins from there, and there was very little drop-off. He did a great job facilitating and being a floor general out there, like we need him to be. I have the utmost confidence in Sam, heading into tomorrow's game."

Bird: "Like Jordan said: We're extremely confident in Sam. He's a great facilitator. He knows he's not the scorer that Tyrone is, but he goes up there and he does his job, plays defense, and we're all behind him."

Can you address the level of distraction that you've faced on multiple fronts this week, how you've dealt with it, if you're irked that you've had to deal with so much off the court, and what it's done to help bring the team together?

Bird: "It's no distraction. They're both two unfortunate events that happened this week, earlier, but we came here to win a basketball game, and that's all the main focus is."

Mathews: "Just to go off what you said, we're not irked at all. It's part of life. Things happen. Inside those lines, it's 94 feet of basketball, and we're unfortunate that we don't have Tyrone here with us, but that's part of life. You have to learn with it, and move on. We have a great guy in Sam Singer running the point, now, so the plan doesn't change. We came out here to win a ballgame, like Jabari said."


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