PC: Pack Trio Talks Xavier

DAYTON, OH -- T.J. Warren, Jordan Vandenberg, and Ralston Turner discussed the upcoming NCAA Tournament game against Xavier with the media.

T.J., it's been kind of a whirlwind since you guys found out you were in the field. Can you walk us through what you guys have been doing since you watched the Selection Show last night?
We got in this morning. We've been preparing for this tournament. We're excited to be here and we're ready to play, so we're really excited for it.

T.J., Semaj told us last night you were roommates at Brewster. Could you talk about your relationship with him and the times you guys had together.
We were teammates at Brewster my senior year. We have a good relationship. I'm familiar with his game. He's from Cincinnati, so it's not too far from here.

So it's going to be a lot of fun to play against him in the NCAA Tournament. Really looking forward to it.

How would you describe his game?
He's very athletic, very quick, got good size for a point guard, can finish at the rim very good. He's a great player. So looking forward to getting out there with him, so it's cool.

More of a group question for the three of you. How does the familiarity of playing here last year help you guys in any way, knowing the facility?
That question is more directed to T.J., because I didn't play when we came here last time and Ralston was redshirted.

But, T.J., if you want to field that question for me.

RALSTON TURNER: Like he said, I wasn't here last year because I redshirted. But despite that, we'll be ready to play.

T.J. WARREN: What was the question? Oh, it was my first time. I was a freshman last year, so it was a great opportunity to be able to play in the tournament. So looking forward to being back here.

For all you guys, did you go into the Selection Show knowing that the First Four was a possibility, and what was your initial reaction when it popped up on the screen?
We didn't know what was possible, to be honest with you. We got texted at like 2:00 to come in the Dail Center and have some pizza and watch the show.

We came in there not expecting much. You could see from the video, we're all sitting there slumped in our seats. When our name was called, we all got really excited. We didn't know what was possible.

We're fortunate enough to have this opportunity, so hopefully we can make people proud and make people think it was the right choice to put us in this tournament.

RALSTON TURNER: We had no idea whether we'd get in it or not. We had hope and we had faith, but we still really didn't know. But we huddled together and we saw our name come up. We were very excited, so hopefully we can make some noise.

T.J. WARREN: It was a big mystery just waiting. They kind of called us early. So we're going to take full advantage of it, show that we belong here. And we'll get as many wins as possible in this tournament.

For any of you guys, what did you know about Xavier, if anything, when you saw their name was paired with you on the show?
We didn't know much. We know they're a solid basketball team. We know this isn't an easy game for us to go into. As soon as that name came up, we knew they played pretty solid the whole year. They had a good couple of games with Creighton.

So we're not expecting to go out there and just blow out this team. We expect to have a good, hard match, and hopefully we have a good result for ourselves.

RALSTON TURNER: I think that they're a team that play really well. They get into their offense well. They have a great player in Christon. So obviously he's a tough matchup. But we're excited about the opportunity to play. So hopefully we'll be ready.

T.J. WARREN: With Xavier, we know they execute very well, defend pretty good. Obviously they've got Semaj, so we'll be prepared for it and be ready to play.

T.J., you've gotten a lot of accolades nationally for the season you've had. In your world, what kind of season do you feel like you've had?
I feel like I've had a terrific season. Credit to my teammates to allow me to lead this team the best way I can. And we're in a tournament now, so it's a great opportunity for us to lead the way. It feels pretty good, and all my teammate have my back.

For you guys, how good has T.J. been this year?
I've known T.J. for a little over two years now. It's been good to see him take a leadership role in this team. He was a great player last year, but he's now had to take a more dominant role on this team.

He's a true team player. Yeah, he scores a lot of points, but he's more willing to pass the ball if someone's in a better position.

He leads the team both vocally and performance-wise. It's an honor to watch him play. He does spectacular things every game. And without him, we wouldn't be here. So I'm just thankful for having him on the team.

RALSTON TURNER: It's been great playing with T.J. this year. In my opinion-- I said this some weeks back-- he's the best player I've played with to this point in my life. So I'm proud of him.

I was here last year, so I've seen his growth. And he's done an excellent job.

For all of you fellas, for about maybe the last 10, 12 games, Coach Gottfried has been preaching about the NCAA Tournament being the greatest show on earth and a great privilege to play in this thing. How much was that a motivating factor toward the end of the season when you guys were put in the position where you had to keep winning?
We just wanted to take one game at a time. We understood our backs was against the walls leading to the end of the season. It was just crunch time for us. We just had to prepare for every game like it was our last. It's good to be in this position right now.

RALSTON TURNER: Definitely, it was on our minds. Especially there late, we knew it was something we wouldn't have a chance to do. So we went into games knowing that we needed to try to finish them off to give ourselves this opportunity.

JORDAN VANDENBERG: Going into the second half of the season, we knew we had to perform a lot better. We had to close games better, know our defensive assignments better. We knew that the NCAA was an option for us, so we just had to come together as a team and prove that we were a tournament-worthy team. And I think we proved that in the second half of the ACC season and the tournament.

Just like good to have the opportunity to be here. It's my fifth year at NC State. So I'm proud of my whole team. We brought it together at the end, and now we have an opportunity to show everyone how good we are.

Up until this year, when Xavier went to the Big East, they were in the same conference with Dayton. In the two decades, pretty heated rivals. Do you expect to have the home crowd or the crowd behind you here tomorrow night, and how beneficial would that be as opposed to just being a straight neutral court?
It will be great, I mean, having a mutual floor for both fans. We're here to play basketball, so we're not really worried about fans so much.

RALSTON TURNER: It would be nice, but I think right now we're expecting them to have a good turnout. They're just down the road from Dayton. So we'll treat this as if it's probably a road game for us.

JORDAN VANDENBERG: I feel the same way Ralston does about the game.

T.J., what are your memories of the game last year against Temple?
It was pretty tough the first round, losing the first round. Don't want to repeat that.

But it was great to be out there last year. My first time, like I said before. This is a new tournament year, so looking forward to turning things around and going forward in the tournament.

T.J., you know Semaj from Brewster. We talked about that. More and more guys are going route, prep school or something like that. How was that beneficial to you and your process?
It was great for me. It prepared me for this level, and I'm playing with a lot of great Division I players. Everybody was excited to play Division I basketball. And it just prepared me a lot for this level. And anybody who is willing to take that route, I respect that.

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