Saturday Sosa & Co. travel to Lexington for a showdown with unbeaten, and third-ranked, UK. The 6-foot-1 senior guard from New York, who is second on the Cardinals team in scoring (13.3 points per game) and leads them in assists (4.3 per game), talked about that match-up Wednesday night after he scored a game-high 16 points in UofL's Big East-opening 73-52 win over South Florida.
A: "That's just how UK fans are, hopefully UofL fans aren't like that toward UK players."
Q: There is a lot of talk about UK fans bringing lots of signs, with probably not-so nice things written about Coach Pitino, what do you think about that?
A: "That's something we're not happy about, people talking about Coach P. Because he's been there for me, he's been there for the whole team. We know what it's going to be like going in there, we know how UK is we're just going to have to take care of business between those lines."
Q: What are you going to do if they start yelling vulgar things at Coach Pitino?
A: "I'm going to do nothing as long as nobody touches him, and I feel like nobody is going to touch him. We're going to hear it all, and we're just going to have to take care of business between those lines."
Q: Are you going to need earplugs?
A: "I think we're going to need them. To this day UK has been the toughest place I've played in my whole life (two years ago), and we were up double figures the whole game. I can't imagine what it's going to be like when we walk out on that court. But this is what you live for, this is what you go to the gym at 2 a.m. for, this is what you take after practice to take extra shots for, for games like this. And this is a basketball player's dream especially for me. I hit the game-winning shot, I'm walking in there, it's almost like I'm walking into Hell. But I've just got to handle my business, the team has to handle our business and we need to prepare well for them."
Q: Will you guys kind of take on Coach Pitino's demeanor when you are out there in Rupp Arena?
A: "Whenever I play out there Coach P prides himself on being a tough person, and I try to go out there and play tough all the time for him. When I go out there I'm representing Coach P and Louisville, just like when us as people when we walk outside we're representing our family and we represent where we come from. So when we go out there we represent Coach P most definitely and we're doing things as we would do them if he were out there on the coach."
Q: Did (UK coach John) Calipari ever try to recruit you coming out of high school?
A: "He never tried to recruit me. When the rumors were going on about me transferring and stuff people were saying that I should look into Memphis. But I never paid any attention to that, I was never going to transfer I always wanted to be here playing for Coach P."
Q: What do you tell the young guys on the team, guys who have never played in Rupp before, heading into this game?
A: "I just would tell them what we witnessed at UNLV, times that by 100. It got loud at UNLV, but what we're going to see on Saturday I don't think even I've ever witnessed anything like that. I think this is going to be an eye-opener for all of us. But if me and Jerry and the older guys and all the veterans can go out there and throw the first punch and score the first basket, or you can get them to turn the ball over the crowd starts quieting down little by little. That's what we're hoping to do, just throw the first punch and get the game going like that. But if they come out let's say, God forbid, off the tip they get a dunk, oh my God the place is going to go crazy."
Q: Have you seen UK play much so far this season?
A: "I've watched them play on TV. I saw the whole game them versus UConn, and they're a great team, you have to give them credit. It's not just John Wall. John Wall is the main guy, but you're talking about Patrick Patterson, a guy who came in here last year and just beasted against us, he's an animal. They're more than just John Wall, they're more than just Patrick Patterson, they're a team of eight, nine, 10 guys that can really play basketball. So we've got to focus in on stopping them as a whole instead of just stopping John Wall by himself."
Q: Do you have to kind of guard against getting into a one-on-one matchup against Wall?
A: "Most definitely. If that's what people wanted to see then me and John Wall could just go to a court and play one-on-one. This is a team game and I have to make sure that Samardo is getting touches so he can get some of those big guys in some foul trouble, because those dudes are huge. I just have to run he floor like I've been doing and play and not try and go in there and put up 30 just to say, ‘I scored 30 against John Wall and Kentucky.' That's not what I'm about, I'm a senior now. I probably would've done that as a freshman, I'm not going to lie, but I'm a senior now and I know the W is much more important than me scoring 30 points."
Q: A lot of people are talking about the individual matchups of this game, but it's not about that is it?
A: "It's all about schemes. We're going to stop UK as a team. I have a lot of pride and I know that I'm playing probably the No. 1 draft pick in the NBA Draft next year. Samardo with Patrick Patterson, Jerry with their two guard, it's a lot of one-on-one things but we've got to stop them as a team. They're much more than just John Wall and Patrick Patterson."
Q: How important will the press be in this game?
A: "It's important, it's very important. We've got to get guys like John Wall and (Eric) Bledsoe tired, we've got to force them into careless turnovers, we've got to double-down on Patrick Patterson because he's a beast. We just have to play a smart and physical game to beat this team."
Q: You know that Kentucky is going to make a run, or have a big dunk that really gets the crowd into the game, but you just have to shake that off quickly in this type of game, don't you?
A: "We have to, we have to. Without thinking, ‘Oh my God how loud it just got,' but we have to just go on to the next play. We're not saying that we're going to come out and open the game on a 20-0 run, but we're definitely going to be ready."
Q: Not many people are giving you guys a chance going into this game, how does that affect you?
A: "It doesn't really affect me as a person much, I think I've been an underdog all my life. But it's just sad that sometimes you hear UofL fans say, ‘Well, they got us this year.' The game hasn't even happened yet. This is the game of basketball, you can lose any night. I'm not talking bad about the UofL fans, because these are probably the greatest fans in the country, but when you have a certain amount saying that they ‘got us,' without the game even being played yet that's real sad."
Q: How are you feeling heading into this game?
A: "I'm excited, I'm real excited. This shows me where I'm at as a basketball player, but more importantly this shows us where we're at as a team. This team is phenomenal, you can't even lie. They have guards, big men, wings, everybody can play. And if we go in there and win, let's say, that's going to show us how good we can be, and how good we are."
Q: How has last year's shot affected you?
A: "It was a big confidence boost, just because I was playing so bad in the first half of the season. But as the time has passed I'm coming to realize how big that shot was. When it first happened I'm just like, ‘Yo, I hit a game-winner.' It was the first game-winner I'd ever hit in my life and I was just happy that I'd had a good game because I had been playing terrible the first half of the season. But as time has gone on people tell me how big that shot was and I think years from now that shot is going to mean even more to me."