What have you learned from opening-round scares the last two years?
Aaron Miles: Basically no team can be overlooked. Once the seedings are done on Sunday, erase the numbers and just go play. Then every team is equal, and you have to be prepared for a battle, no matter who you’re playing against.
Keith, your injury keeps you from practicing much. How does that impact you on game day?
Keith Langford: That’s the whole point of me not practicing: so I have enough to go in the game. But my trainer, he’s worked with me so much , rehabbing and doing treatment and things like that. It’s not an issue. Once I get into the game, I’m not even thinking about it. I know I can’t hurt myself any further, so I’m just going all out every time I’m out there.
Is there added pressure playing in Kemper Arena?
Aaron: I don’t feel any (special) pressure at all. Regardless of whether we’re here or if we were in Seattle or wherever, ours fans expect and want us to move on to the next round. Regardless of where we play, there’s going to be pressure.
Keith: The location has no influence on this game. UIC doesn’t care that this game is played in Kemper, and we should have that same mentality. We still have to go out there and do what we have to do to win the game.”
What have the differences been between the way Coach Williams used to prepare you during tournament week and how Coach Self does it?
Keith: The last couple of years, we’ve done the same thing. In fact, we suggested to Coach that we have the dunk contest that we had the last couple of years. Coach is very relaxed about the whole thing, and I see the team with the same mentality: everybody’s loose, no one’s uptight, and everyone’s smiling and having fun, and we know it’s okay to enjoy the process and what you’re going through.
Keith, how’s the knee?
Keith: I’m 110 percent. I’m fine. I’m a hundred-and-ten-point-five percent, as a matter of fact. I asked the doctors to take a look, and I’m good.