Ricardo Patton: I think the league is as good this year as it was last year. I think that what you're finding across the country is there's a great deal of parity in basketball right now. I don't think any team can overlook another. There are players everywhere. But I think the Big 12 is as strong a league and has as much talent. The talent may be very young, but it's still talent.
Q: You get an immediate opportunity to make a statement right off the bat, don't you?
RP: We do. But we know it's a tall task. I guess Austin will probably be very excited — the whole town (after the football team's national title win). We know what we're going into, but I think we're ready for that challenge.
Q: You think you're ready for this challenge. I think a lot of teams are looking at Colorado as being ready to challenge in the Big 12. Is that a legitimate opinion?
RP: I think it is. We have some guys that have been through the league now in their fourth year. So we have some experience and it's paid off early in the non-conference schedule that we played. Hopefully, that will continue in the Big 12.
Q: Will your veteran team be able to play a little more consistently on the road?
RP: Well, they shouldn't rattle as easily as young guys might. Certainly we've seen just about every defense that teams can throw at us. Some assistant coaches this morning talked to me about zone and man and pressing, and these are things we've seen all year long. And I think our guys have handled those defenses pretty well.
Q: How well has your non-conference season has prepared you for conference play?
RP: If you look at particularly the first seven or eight games we've played — I think beating a very good UNC-Wilmington team early on, we lost by one at Colorado State; we've gone on the road and one some games. A game at Penn, a team that was 11-1 last season (in conference) and a team that returned four starters from an NCAA team. For us to go there and be able to win spoke volumes. Even going on the road and beating TCU, even though TCU has struggled, we still had to go to their place an win.
Mentally, the games that we've played has really helped us be focused and do the things we had to do to win.
Q: Is there any sense that maybe there's an overconfidence because the teams you have played may not be as strong as the one's you're maybe going to play over the next 16 games?
RP: If we were young and inexperienced, then that might be a factor. But our guys are familiar with what it's like to go to Texas or play Kansas here at home. I don't think that's an issue because our guys know what the Big 12 is like.
Q: How's Julius Ashby progressing?
RP: He got three games under his belt. I think we saw his lack of conditioning in those games. But in the last game he settled down and played a little bit better. But this will be anew challenge for him. He'll be anxious to go play in the Big 12 and he'll have to relax and let the game come to him and not press too much. But he's certainly a guy who's going to help us down the road.
Q: Several of the coaches have mentioned the Colorado team being a surprise, sleeper team to watch. How do you take that?
RP: You've still got to coach your team, you've still got to play the games. Sometimes you wish you could sneak up on them, but I don't think that's going to be the case for us.