Are you looking forward to Monday?
You got to see Kentucky last year at the NCAA Tournament?
We saw them a little bit. So, they've got a lot of the same guys back. A couple of their guys went to the NBA. One actually came back. So, they're quite a bit of a different team this year, and they're more different inside than outside.
What about Sparks? You know him.
Yeah, I know him pretty well. I got a chance to play against him this summer. He's a great guy. He's a great basketball player. I'm looking forward for the opportunity to play against him.
Can you take motivation from the fact that he made that team and you didn't?
You can. But I got to know him. He's such a good guy. I'm just going to go out and play my game and just not worry about that. If you get into that, you're more worrying about the individual than the team. I'm just going to go out and do the best that I can.
What are the main things that you have to do when you are defending him?
Definitely never leave him. I'm probably not going to help off of him on the inside. He's a great shooter. And his play making ability is a little underestimated. He's a very good passer from what I saw this summer, too. I'm going to watch some more tape on him and see what happens.
Who would win a 3-point shooting contest between you two?
I don't know. He made that tough shot against Michigan State. So, I don't know. He's pretty good under pressure and he's a gamer. He's been waiting for these big games to break out. A 3-point contest would be interesting because I like playing H-o-r-s-e and P-i-g.
Who won it at Colorado Springs?
I don't know. Nobody shot the ball very well out there. It would be tough to tell who won that one.
You guys have an experienced team. You've been through a lot. If you can go out there and pull this off, you'd be maybe a Top 10 team nationally. There would be a lot of buzz around you guys. Are you looking at it in that regard?
Right now, we're just focusing on Kentucky. That's going to be the biggest game down there because if you get that one then, I wouldn't say the pressure is off, but you can kind of just go out there and play. In the second game, you won't be desperate to get a win.
We've got to come out and play as hard as we can. If you look at it, we're the lowest ranked team there. You kind of have nothing to lose almost, but we do. We want to get off to a good start to the season. Hopefully, we can do that.
What is your read on this team so far?
We've been playing very well defensively. Against Colgate there, we kind of let down in the second half. We've got to get away from things like that. We have to come out and attack the first half like the last couple of games. Now we have to get to the second half and start it out how we should.
If you do well in Kansas City and create some buzz, do you think that will get more people in the stands back here?
I hope so. The way that I look at it is I don't think we've had anybody in the stands in the opening games the last couple of years because the type of teams that we played. If we play teams like Illinois and Michigan State, we know the fans will be there.
The fans that were here were awesome. They were loud and they really got us going there when we were struggling with Colgate a little bit. So, whatever fans shows up it's great. We've just got to go out and play the game either way.
Kentucky is a big name in college basketball. How do you guys keep that in perspective and just play?
Truthfully, with the experience we had last year going down to Maui Tournament to play teams like North Carolina kind of help you overcome "Oh, this is Kentucky; this is North Carolina; this is Texas." We feel like we're up there with those teams. We're just going to go down there and play our game and try to execute on defense. We expect the best.
Can you talk about the guard matchup?
It's going to be a really fun matchup. A lot of polls have Rondo and Sparks as like the best in the backcourt in the nation. This is a big challenge for our guards just to come out and match their intensity.
Do you know the matchups?
I'm guarding Rondo. And I believe Jeff is guarding Sparks. Adam has (Moss).
What can you do to take care of the ball against Kentucky's tough defense?
We've been doing a lot of things in practice. We did something last week and have been doing it a lot this week where we do fullcourt pressure drills when we'll put in six players on the gold team (defense) just to get used to how active they are with their traps and things like that.