Player quotes - USU

SAN DIEGO - Here's reaction from some of the Washington players after defeating the Utah State Aggies 75-61 Thursday night at Cox Arena in San Diego in an NCAA men's basketball tournament first-round game.

Ryan Appleby:
On his three-point shooting: "It was just one of those nights. The last eight games during the winning streak I've been shooting the ball really well. It was just one of those nights. It's not a big deal. I was getting some open looks, I just didn't knock 'em down. But we won, so it's no big deal."

On his point of emphasis defensively: "We wanted to stop their three-pointers. They have three or four guys on their team on the floor at any one time that can shoot around 40 percent from three-point land. They take a lot of 'em and they run a lot of sets to get those guys open, so we knew we had to shut down their three-pointers."

Mike Jensen:
How does this year compare to the other NCAA years?: "It's hard to compare, because each time it just feels better. We made that great run last year. It was so unbelievable, it was like, 'It can't get any better than this', but this year we're back with a new group of guys and it's been just as good. It's sunny weather, you can't complain. We won our first-round game, and we've got to get ready for the next one."

On the late break dunk: "I was thinking to myself, 'I'm definitely dunking this'. I was excited, and anytime you get a chance to put an exclamation point on a game, it's kind of fun."

On the UW big men and their defensive emphasis: "We just tried to keep them off the boards, deny their bigs. They ran a lot of their sets through (Nate) Harris, and we were pretty successful in slowing him down."

On the 33-22 rebound discrepancy in favor of USU: "Either they were going to make their shot or they turn it over, so there weren't as many rebounds. In the beginning of the game, we were just missing all our shots, so they got a lot of rebounds. Our defense was able to make up for it."

On Illinois: "They're good. I think they might underestimate us a little bit, we'll see how it goes. They've got a lot of big guys, that's going to be our biggest deal. They've got a lot of size."

Justin Dentmon:
On being thrown right into the NCAA fire as a frosh: "It's crazy. It was wild, and everyone was playing hard because it could be their last game. It was very exciting."

On the guards' key against USU: "Our key was to stop and deny the three-point shot. We knew that they were fourth in the nation shooting three-point shots. So after made points, me and BRoy just tried to stop the three-pointer."

On UW's defensive pressure, forcing turnovers: "We knew once we stopped them from doing what they wanted to do, they went to the mental game and on-balls, which played right into our hands. We just played all along and kept doing it."

On why he went out in the first half: "My back tightened up. I have to ice it right now, it's tight. It happened earlier in the year a little bit, not my back so much but more in my calf muscles."

On making the three-point shot: "Coach just told me on my shot I'm not bending my knees, so I started working on it."

On the early struggles for both teams: "It was all about stops. Down the stretch, we got the stops, so we won the game."

On playing Illinois: "It's not a rivalry to me. It's just another game. On the court, off the court, we're still friends. We want this game because they are a big school. Everybody's been saying that we've been playing small schools and we want to show schools that we can play with anybody."

On who he knows from Illinois: "I really just know Jamar Smith. He's known for being a shooter. I expect him to get some shots up, but we need to stop him from getting touches. We need to go out there and just play."

Jon Brockman:
On getting thrown out there as a frosh: "It was the nerves you get, new environment, so both teams were off-set a little bit offensively. We knew that if we kept getting stops and rely on our defense the offense would come. I felt the butterflies before the game, but when you go out there you're just concentrating on the game. They just disappear. It was different. We played here just 20 minutes yesterday."

On his key against USU: "Defense. We knew they ran hundreds of sets and we knew we didn't have time to memorize them all. We knew that if we applied pressure we would have a shot at shutting them down."

On playing the 2005 national runner-up on Saturday: "They are a great team. I watched them a whole last year, so it's going to be a lot of fun being out there on the court."

On soaking up the NCAA experience: "It's just so different. Different atmosphere, words just can't describe it. Just the feeling you get, it's like you're on top of the world. You're on center stage. It's the greatest time of the year for sports, as far as I'm concerned."

Bobby Jones:
On shutting down David Pak: "When we were scouting them, our coaches said they had an unlimited amount of plays they could go to, so they told me it was key to start out on him and get them out of their plays. I think I did a good job of that. Him being left-handed, they also said that if worse comes to worse, have him go right, he doesn't create that well. It wasn't so much about him getting shots up, it was more about him setting up their offense. Their comfort zone is running their offense, and we did a good job of stopping that. In the second half, they wanted to turn the tempo up, and we weren't complaining about that. It worked in our favor."

On his defense catalyzing his three-point shooting: "I didn't make my first couple of buckets, but I wasn't going to let that slow me down when it came to playing defense. None of our shots were falling. Eventually our shots would fall. And the more turnovers they had, the more shots we made. That just built up our confidence even more, because we knew we could shut them down on offense."

On the rebounding discrepancy being a misleading stat: "It was misleading. Our coaches always talk about us being 19-2 when we out-rebound a team. I don't know if they can throw that stat in our faces this time. You could be fooled by that, but if you look at how many turnovers they had, it balances things out. We made up for it in another category."

On rattling USU: "It might take a half, it might take a whole game to get used to our pressure, our intensity. They threw a couple of backdoors, but they weren't going to do that all game. We'll take the turnovers against the backdoor plays. They only had 3 or 4 all game."

On not panicking: The thing about this whole week is to make sure everybody experiences the tournament. With the families, media, how big the arena is, the delay with the bomb threat, it's easy to get distracted. We just wanted to deal with it like a normal game. After those first five minutes, it's just like a regular game. As good as it can get, it can also end just as fast."

Brandon Roy:
On belonging in the NCAA tournament: "Last year we played Louisville, so it finally felt like we belonged. This year, we aren't going to have that approach. We're the underdogs, we play better in this role, so we're going to keep fighting and scrapping. No one is going to pick us, I don't think hardly anyone picked us today. We play better that way."

On big-time players stepping up: "Coach all week long is like, 'B, now is the time of the year when you can really step up and do something special for this team. You have to be ready to seize the opportunity. They made some runs, but my legs felt good going down the stretch. I was going to try and make some plays for our team. Some shots fell for me and I got some stuff going to the basket, some good passes. It's a team effort. Guys like (Mike) Jensen kept some runs going by making some big shots. I just wanted to be aggressive and step up in a big-time atmosphere."

On playing the last game of the first day: "That was the only plus about the game starting late. I thought we would be the only late game on while people are going to sleep. I think we did a really good job as a team, putting on a good show, playing hard down the stretch, playing scrappy. And we got a win. We survived one more day in the tournament, and that's always a good feeling."

On Illinois' Brian Randle: "I know he's long. I sized him a little bit as they were walking off the court. He's taller than I thought. They are a good defensive team, they take pride in shutting people down. It's got to be a total team effort from us to try and make sure we make plays. We've got to get Jamaal Williams going, we need Bobby Jones and Justin Dentmon to make some shots, to loosen up their defense. And hopefully I'll be able to make some plays late to get us over the top."

On both teams' early struggles: "I was excited, amped up to be out there. Coach told us to relax, but at the same time keep them feeling like the game is amped-up and fast-paced. They don't like to play that style of basketball. We did a really good job of that today."

On UW's defensive effort: "We took a lot of criticism last week against Oregon for letting our offense dictate our defense. When they made that run and we couldn't score, we were really upset about that. Tonight, even if we couldn't score, we were going to defend for 40 minutes. Even if they make shots, we were going to keep pressuring and it worked to perfection. We kept defending and it made plays for our offense."

On being the go-to guy after timeouts: "Especially late in the game, that was something we got away from late against Oregon. We just didn't have any offensive chemistry. I looked at the clock, it was at 5:30, and it was tight. I had to try to make plays, even if I force it a little. From here on out, I have to be aggressive. Now is not the time to shy away, because if I do that, we'll be done."

On Illinois' feeling overconfident: "I don't think they are licking their chops at all. You can't do that in the NCAA tournament. You can do that one day and the next you're gone. I think they are trying to stay focused. They are going to get our best shot. If they are the better team, they deserve to win. If we're the better team, then that's the way it is." Top Stories