Well, we're certainly very, very excited to be in the NCAA Tournament. It's certainly one of the great sporting spectacles of this country. You certainly have to earn it. It's very difficult to get in the tournament. Our seniors are very fortunate to have done it three years in a row, which is incredible, so we're excited about that. We come in this way a little bit different than we have in the last couple years. We got kind of hot at the end-- they've been consistent, but we've been a little bit-- had some bumpy roads here the last couple weeks, but I always kind of thought even if you're going real well or not going well, it just starts-- the momentum starts when you win in the tournament. You're either hot or you're out, it's one or the other.
We've got a tremendous challenge ahead of us tomorrow. I've known Mark and Mark does a great job. The Warren kid is off the charts good and playing unbelievable. He's quite a-- he's a fun kid to watch play. He does things in a variety of ways and certainly will challenge us. The problem is he's got a lot of good comrades around him that are very good players, as well.
But we're looking forward to it. The competition is great, and we're looking forward to it.
Sort of along those lines, what is it about being a No.5 that's been so challenging facing No.12s in the NCAA Tournament?
JIM CREWS: I've got no clue, I'm sorry. That's probably a good question. I've got no clue. I really don't think-- there's probably, and each year is a little bit different and you can take the seeds, whatever, the first two-- 1 and 2 seeds and sometimes maybe they're just-- but after that, it's-- I don't think there's much difference in my opinion. Now, I don't study it-study it, but just from my observation. But I don't think the seeds are incredibly important.
It always comes down to you can speculate the seeds or the match-ups and locations and who's playing Thursday, who's playing Friday, whatever, all these things that are fun to try to figure out, but it comes down to the game doesn't know that. The game knows who blocks out, the game knows who handles the ball strong, who knows their assignments. That's what the game does. They don't know any of that other stuff, so that's what we try to concentrate on.
Would you rather be a 12 playing a 5?
JIM CREWS: Probably not because that means if you have a 5 you probably had a better regular season-- not from a tournament standpoint, I don't think it makes any difference, but you're probably rewarded for a better season there, so I'd rather do that.
I asked the boys out here before, you won 19 straight, dropped five of your last six, won the last one, Rob Loe said they found the fire. How do you feel coming into tomorrow?
JIM CREWS: We feel good. When we're winning 14, 15, 16, 18, everyone says you're supposed to lose to kind of break the pressure, so our guys really listened to that at heart.
But competition is tough. I mean, I think that it's really hard to just win a game, regular season, preseason, obviously NCAA season it's really, really hard, and you've got to be very good and you've got to be very fortunate to do so.
Our guys have won a lot of games this year and won a championship, so that's pretty special. I think they're excited, and I don't think last week or two weeks ago or the 19 streak has anything to do with it. They've been rewarded for November, December, January, February and part of March for what they've done, and that's why they're here.
Talk a little bit about your bench play. It's not as solid as you've had in the past. How have you managed still to do what you've done this year?
JIM CREWS: Well, our bench has helped us a lot. Obviously last year we had three kids-- four, but three that came off the bench. Jordaire Jett, who starts with for us this year, but he was a starter last year, we had Cody Ellis who never started but he was as good a player as we had last year, and then Corey Remekun, who started two thirds of last year and the year before. So we had kind of three starters on the bench, which is really unusual, really unusual, and those guys not only are good players but they have great wisdom.
So now this bench that we have, they've done well. They don't have as much wisdom because they haven't gone through the processes like those guys have in the past, so it's just part of the process. But they've been good to us and it's been different guys. Some guys this game, they play and some games they don't play and another guy that plays, and they've all helped us.
Since this is your third year making the tournament, do you think this is the most prepared team you have?
JIM CREWS: I don't know about that. Maybe, just because they've experienced the tournament, so they've done that. From that standpoint I would say yes. But in terms of the other things, not really. But from that standpoint, yes.
Kind of along the same lines, what about the three years being here now and the nuances of all the hotels and the press conferences and things like that. How much has being involved in that the past two years and now being able to come in here knowing what to expect, how much does that help off the court a little bit?
JIM CREWS: Well, I think it helps the players because three years ago it was their first experience, and then some of our guys this year it's their first experience, but a lot of them it's not been. This has been their third experience, so I think that helps. You get a lot of requests for tickets and the families and the hoopla and the media, and every coach will tell you you've got to get rid of those distractions, but you do have responsibilities, and we want our guys to have a good time but also a good time is they're living their dream.
When they're in their driveway or outside shooting against the barn or down at the park or wherever they're playing ball in sixth grade and eighth grade and high school, you dream about getting in the NCAA Tournament. All the teams and the players that put themselves in position to do that, it's a dream come true.
Hopefully all the kids, all the teams really enjoy it, but it does come to a crashing halt except for the national champion. I mean, it comes down fast. It's a little bit of a shock to the system, especially seniors, because I've been in locker rooms where taking those shoes off or that jersey off for the last time, that's pretty emotional for them, very emotional for them. It's a good emotion. Even though it's sad, it's still a good positive emotion and experience for these kids to go through.