ON GOING TO OKLAHOMA CITY
I was hoping it'd be Salt Lake just for travel purposes and for our fans. It would have been awfully nice. But we're just delighted to be in and you can never let yourself get disappointed about anything when you're in the NCAA tournament. It's too easy to start bickering about seeds or location or whatever. You just can't do that. You're one of 64 teams that is in the event and happy to be playing.
ON BEING A 15 SEED
We have a tremendous challenge, obviously, in playing Kansas, but we're looking forward to it. It's a situation where you can go have fun and compete.
When you look at this sort of seeding, you're going to play a national power and that's just how it is. It kind of looks as if the Big West was just penciled in as a 15, and we thought maybe a 13 or 14 for us, but there's just no point in worrying about that stuff. You can't control those sorts of things.
Kansas presents so many problems with their system and their talent and everything else. One thing you do have is a lot of tape available because they're on television about every game. So we'll round up our tape and get ready to go. We need a day of rest. We'll travel on Tuesday. It's a quick turnaround, but a happy turnaround.
ON KANSAS' KIRK HINRICH AND NICK COLLISON
They have big-time talent at every spot, but those two guys are All-Americans. You've got one guy draining threes and a big guy inside who's pretty dang hard to deal with. Their coaching is fabulous with Roy Williams. We understand the system because a lot of people in our league play the Kansas/North Carolina system. And we'll have a chance to look at what they're doing out of that system on film. The biggest challenge is that the talent level they have is fabulous and we're going to have to deal with it.
ON USU'S REACTION TO PLAYING KANSAS
You never know if they're going to be overwhelmed or respond to the challenge until you visit with them a little more. I think it's always like "Wow." When I was at Montana, we drew No. 1 UNLV, and it was like "Wow," and then you try to settle in. What happens is that programs like that get so much exposure, and our kids can't get carried away by the exposure their kids and coaches get, or we have no chance. You have to focus on playing basketball and you have to see what you can do.
From our league, we're going to draw a Kansas or a Duke. That's just the nature of the RPIs and the ratings of different leagues. Some of our kids didn't care who we played; they're just tickled to be in the NCAA tournament. Obviously, we're an unbelievable underdog. That's a great opportunity to have no pressure, get a game plan together, go play basketball and see what you can do.
I've never faced Kansas before. I know what everyone in basketball knows - the tradition they have, what a great program they are. I'm very familiar with their system. And they're a team that plays to beat you by 40 , if they can. That's just the way they play, running on every possession. That will be interesting and challenging from a coaching standpoint.
ON WEBER STATE'S SEEDING
I'm glad to see Weber State got a 12, and they deserve that. We've been in that position. Wisconsin has lost a very good player and that will be an interesting matchup.
MARK BROWN 5-10 Junior Guard Tucson, Ariz. (Santa Rita HS/Saddleback JC)
It feels good. This is where we wanted to be the whole season. This is what we've worked for. No matter who they throw our way, we're going to go out there and give it our all and leave it all out there on the floor. It makes it even more worthwhile to play a well-known program. For me, it hasn't completely sunk in that we're going to the tournament. When we get down there and get into the atmosphere of everything, I think it will. Whenever we were down or kind of tired, I think it really helped us to just stick together in California. It helped us keep up our intensity and energy throughout the whole game.
TORAINO JOHNSON 6-4 Senior Forward El Paso, Texas (Andress HS/Garden City JC)
Kansas is a huge challenge. We're going to go out there and compete. The coaching staff is going to break down everything and get us ready. We'll just go out there and play. I know Kansas is a good program. I didn't think we'd be a 15 seed; I thought we'd be a 14 or 15. You can't be disappointed, though. Whatever they give you, you just have to go out there and play.
DESMOND PENIGAR 6-7 Senior Forward Upland, Calif. (Upland HS/Ventura JC)
It's to our advantage right now. We see them on television; they never see us play on television. We see them all the time and we know who they have. I'm sure the coaches are working on game film right now. We're up for the challenge and we know it's going to be a hard task, but we're up for it. We know they have Kirk Hinrich and Nick Collison, two potential All-Americans, and we know that to beat them we need to stop those two guys. And we know that they have a great coach and a lot of history. I thought we'd be a 12 or 13 seed or get Duke, but we're not mad at the selection.
We're just happy to be here, but that's not where it's going to stop. We're trying to get victories. We're not just going there to make a showing, we're trying to get wins. We just need to play together like we've been doing. There's a sense of urgency for the other seniors and me. Now we just need to go out there and play our butts off.
RONNIE ROSS 6-0 Senior Guard Jeanerette, La. (Jeanerette HS/John Wood JC)
I'm just so excited. It's a new experience and I just want to go out there and compete and upset Kansas. I watch them all the time. They're a well-known team. When you think about college basketball, Kansas is one of the teams you think about. It's going to be exciting just to play against a team of this caliber.