On if he felt he'd be at this level while in high school four years ago: "I wouldn't
have thought that I'd be playing for four years and fitting into the situation I'm in. But
that's life. I've had some unfortunate things happen in the past that put me in the
position I'm in today. Looking back, I'm happy that things turned out the way they did. I
feel like I'm having a good year and that I get the chance to meet and teach younger
players. To go through this experience with them has made it even more special. Looking
back, I didn't think I would be in this situation, but I'm glad I'm here. I've always seen
players leaving high school for the NBA, and you always ask, 'Where are they at?' For a
minute, I felt like I was one of those guys. I wasn't in the newspaper and I wasn't on
television. It really made me focus and work even harder to get back to having fun playing
basketball and going to school. It was a turning point in my life. It not only made me a
better basketball player, but a stronger person. It made me handle adversity better. I had
to go through that to make me the player I am today."
On Illinois forward Brian Randle: "I don't know a lot about what he brings, but he's
a very long guy and very athletic. That itself is going to present problems. When I score
great baskets, a lot of it is how my teammates do in getting me the ball. Justin Dentmon
and Mike Jensen set good screens and put me into positions that I can score. It's not going
to be a one-man show of, 'I have to beat this guy'. I have to make sure I get open enough
to give him problems and make him fight for screens. He's a good player, and I look forward
to the opportunity to go at him. He's got a great reputation, and it's always fun to play a
On last year: "Last year, I started the first three games of the season, and then I
tore my knee. I had to miss 19 days, and I came back early to help the team. But I wasn't
at full strength to play every game. I told coach that I'd be fine coming off the bench and
not messing up the team chemistry. I told him to use me where he needed me to, and as I got
in better shape, I'd be fine. Last season went really well for us, and I didn't want to
mess that up. I just played that season as a sixth man and tried to be the best sixth man
possible and help my team win."
On Illinois slowing down their game: It's going to be a struggle. They're much
better in a half-court setting, and we're better in the up-tempo game. It will be a fight
between two teams trying timpose their will on one another. We feel that if they get us in
a half-court set, they'll have the advantage. We have to do whatever we can to push the
ball. They'll be one of the toughest defensive teams we'll play. I'd compare them to
On pressure to perform in a big-game situation: "I don't really feel that much
pressure. I always tell the guys that we're a better team when all five of us are being
aggressive. I felt that late against Oregon that we fell away from that. I tell the team
to be aggressive, because we're so much better and harder to guard. As the game is going,
I'm going to let everything just come to me and try to get the win."
On Illinois coach Bruce Weber: "I've known Bruce Weber since he was at Southern
Illinois University. In terms of why I chose Washington, I just felt my style didn't fit
Illinois, and that my style fits Washington perfectly."
On Brandon Roy: "He works hard, he's dedicated, and he has the will to win. That's
something most players don't have. People talk about J.J. Redick and Adam Morrison, and I
think they sould be talking about Brandon Roy. He makes everyone around him better. We'd
struggle if he weren't on this team."
On being from Illinois and playing Illinois: "I know that everyone in Illinois is
going to be watching that game. They're going to try and make it into a rivalry game, but
it's just an other game for me. I'm going to play them like I play everybody else."
On upcoming game against Washington: "We're fortunate to be in the second round after
playing such a tough team like Air Force and we have another tough match-up against
Washington. We had a good practice, and just have to watch the tapes and do what we have to
do to become successful."
On familiarity with Washington: "I knew about four or five of their players, like
Justin Dentmon, who's from Illinois. I saw him play a lot. Brandon Roy, who everyone in the
country knows; Bobby Jones, who's my year; and Ryan Appleby, who transferred from Florida.
I know their team and their style of play because I watch a lot of NCAA basketball and the
Pac-10 because they come on around midnight. I like their team, style of play, and the way
they get up and down. At one point they were leading the nation in scoring."
On Brandon Roy: "First of all, he's like 6-6, and I'm like 5-11. But Roy's got
terrific game, and is a great player. For him to say those things about me is an honor, but
he's a great player and I can't wait to play against him tomorrow. There are a lot of guys
with big names, and we've got some big names on our team. But (Brandon) Roy's shining now,
and he's always been shining, so we just have to focus on coming out to win tomorrow."
On the expectation for greatness: "I'm happy of where we are. People didn't expect
us to be where we are, after losing a lot of our players, but I'm happy that I came back for
my senior year, to get my degree, to play with these guys. I'm just enjoying the last year
of college basketball."
On comparison to last year's tournament experience: "I don't remember who we played
last year, so we've got to stay focused on the game (vs. Washington). Last year, I don't
remember playing more than 39 minutes of the first round game. So i've got to get rest, put
fluids in my body because there's a lot of pressure. You lose, you go home. Every round
you go, the competition gets tougher."
On rebounding: "We watched them on film and watched them over the past year, and I
think that we have similiar teams. We have long, lanky wings, good guards, good posts and I
think it's going to be a good match both ways. We want to try to exploit their bigs, and
they're going to try and exploit our areas, and it's going to come down to who wants it
more. This time of the year, the matchups are out the window, and it comes to who wants it
more and who can get the rebounds or lose balls. We have to come ready to play because we
know that they are."
On personal game against Air Force: "I don't think I played well at all. I think I
played well as far as my shooting, but most of my game up and down the court, I didn't
rebound. I didn't play very well on defense. I wouldn't even give myself a 'B', but I'm
happy that we at least won last night."
On Brandon Roy: "He's as complete of a player as you can get. He's 6-6, strong, can
post up, put the ball on the floor and shoot. I remember watching him since his sophomore
year, when I was still in high school, and paid attention to his game. I really like his
style of game, because he's a matchup nightmare for anybody. So I'm going to try and
contain him and go from there."
On offensive breakdown versus Air Force: "I think it's really in the first half,
where I had rebounding and foul trouble. Second half, the last minutes of the game, I had
to be as aggressive as I could. The way that Jamar (Smith) was opening things up, the way
Warren (Carter) was cutting and making big baskets, and the way we moved in transition
offensively, I got some looks and it worked out for me."
Players' Quotes - Illinois
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