Player Quotes - 3/15

It's been a busy day down in San Diego, as both Washington and Utah State prepare for their Thursday matchup 7 p.m. at SDSU's Cox Arena. Sports Washington was there to get all the player quotes from both the Huskies and Aggies as they prepare for their NCAA Men's basketball tournament first-round game.

Washington players:
Brandon Roy:
How is team responding to Utah State getting the 'sleeper' tag attached to them?: "I think we're handling it well. It's almost good news for us, we get to be the underdog. Utah State is a good team. People think we're the five that's going to lose to the 12. We're not here to make any predictions. We just feel like we played good basketball down the stretch. We won eight out of our last nine games. Utah State is a good team. I think we're just going to approach it like we're underdogs and we just want to try and get a win."

On Utah State playing zone: "I think that's their strategy no matter who they play. They are a 'pack-it-in' team. They don't want to stretch their defense out very far. And even if they are playing man they are going to pack it in and make you force jump shots. That's something we've worked all week on, going up against a zone or working against a sagging man-to-man defense, making sure we are penetrating and not just settling for outside shots. We're still going to take our cracks at it because we have players that can shoot, but at the same time we have to make sure we can penetrate and get inside their defense."

On failing to finish against Oregon: "Oregon did a really good job in the second half of forcing us to take outside shots. They did a good job of packing in their zone and we didn't do a good job of attacking it. We let our offense dictate our defense. We stopped getting stops down the stretch. No matter what Utah State does to slow us down or to make it a slow-paced game, we have to make sure we still defend and do the things we need to do to win games on the defensive side. If we start missing shots or the game slows down on the offensive end, we still have to make sure we are attacking them defensively and try and get out in transition a little more."

On the changes he's had to make in his game from last year: "Really, I just tried to be more aggressive offensively for forty minutes. Every moment I'm on the court, coach says, I need to be aggressive not only to score, but to make plays for other players. This year I'm leading the team in assists too, so it's not just scoring. Coach says that every moment you're on the floor, you need to be making plays. Basically I'm trying to be more aggressive and doing whatever it takes for this team to win games."

On the changes of the personality of the team over the past three years: "I feel like this is less pressure. Last year we were a No. 1 seed, we had some big names. Nate Robinson was our star name. People put a lot of attention on him, so I was able to slip through the cracks and provide some offense. Jamaal too. Now we're the bigger names, yet people aren't picking us to do very well in the tournament. I'm just approaching it like, we're the underdogs, it's almost like we've got nothing to lose, so let's leave it all out on the floor and make a special run at this tournament. I think it's a total team effort. We don't have as many individual stars as last year, but I think we have a better team and we play more as a team. That's to our advantage as we head into the tournament."

On rooting for the underdog growing up: "I was always a fan of the underdog watching tournaments. I always liked watching them make big shots to win games. I think being an underdog has it's advantages. No one expects much out of you. We're going to go out there and give it 110 percent. Us playing at 110 percent, we've proven that we can beat just about anybody. But at the same time, if we don't play our best basketball, we can lose to a 12-seed. Our goal is to just focus and play Husky basketball for forty minutes. If we do that, we can be the underdog, overdog, it doesn't matter. We think we'll be fine."

On how the team is handling the pressure of being in the tournament: "I think they are handling it well. On the bus coming over, I'm almost approaching it like it's another game. Sometimes you can get caught building it up into too big of a game. It's just another game. If we play Husky basketball for 40 minutes, we can make it something special. I don't think we want to make it bigger than it is, not if we've been here three years in a row. We don't want to build it up too much, we just want to have fun and enjoy the experience, but at the same time we have to get it done or our season is over with."

What does 'Husky Basketball' mean?: "That means playing a full forty minutes of pressure defense. Not only pressure defense, but attacking you offensively off the dribble. We don't want to get stagnant. At times we've been passing the ball around the perimeter, waiting for one guy to make a play. We're a better team when all five guys are being aggressive offensively. It takes pressure off me and Jamaal to keep making plays. And defensively, just getting after you, all over the court for forty minutes - shooting passing lanes, keeping guys in front and trying to get stops. We've proven that we can do that, we just need to do it at the most important time of the year. That's tomorrow."

Jamaal Williams:
On Nate Harris and trying to stop him: "We'll play him the same way we play everybody else. We stick to our basic defensive princicples and keep playing. We never change what we do for any player, but as far as him being in the post, we'll front and make it difficult for him to catch and try and limit his touches as much as possible."

On teams trying to slow UW down: "They try to slow us down by playing zone all the time. It's rare when a team plays us man-to-man for the full forty minutes. If they start in it, they'll usually go back to that zone quickly. We have a lot of good players that can create plays. Guarding Brandon is tough one-on-one. If you try to help off of him, he'll find the open guy. The affects of it depends on how we're shooting that night. If we are shooting well, it doesn't really bother us. If we aren't shooting well, we'll have to go find another way to get it done. We'll see what happens tomorrow.

What is your role and how has it changed?: "It hasn't changed much. I still carry the same scoring load, rebound. My role hasn't changed at all, now I'm just coming off the bench. I'm fine with it, if it helps our team out. Our bench scoring has gone up. I'll do whatever it takes to help our team win.

On keeping focus on Utah State instead of looking ahead to Illinois: "It's the game at a time. We can get caught looking ahead and forget about this game and we'd be going home. For us, it's our last game, and as seniors, we can't look ahead. We have to take it one game at a time. The matchup would be nice if it does happen."
Utah State players:
Nate Harris:
On the potential upset of Washington: "It seems every year a 12-seed beats a five-seed, so it'd be great if that were us this year. But we have our work cut out for us going against Washington."

On being at his third NCAA tournament: "I'm very fortunate to now play in my third tournament out of the four years I've played. This tournament is a little sweeter since it's my last year. Like Jaycee (Carroll) said, we weren't sure if we wer even going to be here after the season ended, so it was a nice surprise that we got into the tournament. It gets easier when you're used to it. You know what to expect. You have the experience and know your surroundings better. You can relax more and play your game and not be so uptight and nervous."

On making a run in the tournament after going 1-16 in post-season play since 1971: "We definitely want to make a statement. Our program's been going in the right direction. We got into the WAC this year, and we've been successful there. To solidify ourselves as a better program by winning in the tournament is a goal we've set for ourselves, our fans and our program."

On comparing Washington to a team they've played in the WAC: "They remind me a lot of Nevada, since they're the top team in the league. Like Nevada, Washington has so many weapons, and they've got a star in Brandon Roy. All good teams have a leader who wants to step every time and give his team a boost. Being a senior, I know the system, and I know what's going on, so I'm comfortable. I try to be the complete player and do whatever it takes for my team to win, whether it's scoring passing or rebounding."

On concerns going into the game against Washington: "I think they have that ability to get up and down the floor very quickly. They're a very high-scoring tam, which counteracts what we want to do. We juat have to go out there and not get caught up in trying to play their game."

Jaycee Carroll:
On being at his second NCAA Tournament: "It's been exciting. I've been lucky to be here two years. Being in the tournament last year as a freshman was exciting, but I think this year it's even more exciting because after our last game, it was uncertain whether or not we'd be here. My teammates and I really want to have a good showing, and hopefully get something done."

On making a run in the tournament: "I know every year we've tried to win, but it's harder to do that when you're the 13th through 16th seed. Now, we'd love to get a run started back-to-back and win a couple games. It'd be really nice for Coach (Stew) Morrill. He's such a good coach, he's worked really hard, and with all the work he's put in, he deserves to have a couple of runs in the NCAA Tournament."

On the media picking Utah State to upset Washington: "I like it when people like our team. I like them to say nice things about our team, so it's great to hear a few nice things like that. In most of our games, it feels like we're the underdog. Going into the tournament, a lot of people said that maybe we didn't deserve to be here, but we practice hard and play hard. We come out to compete, and that's what we'll come out and do tomorrow night."

On Brandon Roy: "Brandon Roy gives me concerns. He's a big two-guard, and someone who will be tough to guard for 40 minutes. I'm also concerned with their post play. It will be a tough match-up, and there's some challenges, be we have to get beyond that if we're going to do well." Top Stories