Quotes - West Virginia

SYRACUSE, NY - Here are quotes from a number of West Virginia players, including Darryl 'Truck' Bryant, as well as Head Coach Bob Huggins, as the Mountaineers prepare for Thursday's Sweet 16 game against Washington in the Carrier Dome.

West Virginia Players Darryl Bryant, Da'Sean Butler, Devin Ebanks, Kevin Jones, Joe Mazzulla and Wellington Smith:

Q. This is for all you guys: It sounds like there's some connections with some of you guys with some of the Washington players, either through the AAU ranks or through the prep leagues, what have you. How much is that familiarity going to help you in the game tomorrow night?

DA'SEAN BUTLER: I'm familiar with Quincy (Pondexter). He's a very good player. I played with him overseas this summer. We went to Serbia and played. He's very talented, he's athletic, can shoot the basketball. And pretty much the only thing you can stop that is if he has a bad night. We need to do what we do as a team and stay to our schemes and we'll be fine.

DEVIN EBANKS: Me also. Played against Isaiah numerous accounts. It will be fun to play against him again. I kind of have a feel for what he likes to do. Especially watching film the last couple of days. I think if we focus on that, we should be fine.

KEVIN JONES: I don't really have a connection with any of the players, but I've seen them play on TV and stuff like that. They're a pretty good team. Just looking forward to great game tomorrow.

WELLINGTON SMITH: I don't know anybody on the team.

DARRYL BRYANT: I'm not playing, but I know Isaiah Thomas. I know him from Reebok U camp. He and Brendan were on the same team. We played against him. We had a pretty good relationship. Talk here and there.

Q. Question for Darryl: How tough is it with your injury and how disappointed are you and how did it happen?

DARRYL BRYANT: It was a tough injury. Actually, I don't know how it happened. My foot was hurting for a couple of days. I didn't take it that seriously. I didn't think it was that serious. I switched shoes at halftime during the Missouri game, that I started to notice my foot was hurting. Yesterday I just backed up. I didn't even make a movement, really. I just backed up, backpedaled and I felt my foot pop. It was bad. I needed an X-ray. I went to the doctor and they said I broke my fifth metatarsal.

It's tough, actually. Of course I want to play. Lights is on, big time of the year. Just wanted to be a part of it. I believe in my team and I know they'll get it done.

Q. Darryl, specifically you said you switched shoes. Did you switch brands? Did you go from one identical shoe to another identical shoe? And Da'Sean, when you lose your point guard, you are supposed to be depressed, you're supposed to be disappointed. You guys don't seem to be too down in the mouth, if you know what I mean.

DA'SEAN BUTLER: It was disappointing just to see -- we didn't even know what happened to him. We just thought he was faking it at first. They came on and told us he was kind of hurt. Obviously that sucks, because you know he's a big contributor to the team. But when I first saw him, he was walking with his crutches and you see this big smile. He kind of put it to the back burner. Granted, he is hurt and it sucks, but at the same time, he's in good spirits about everything and he's fine. He's doing the usual.

DARRYL BRYANT: I switched from LeBrons to Huaraches thinking that my foot would feel better. It still felt the same. I was trying to keep going. Then it wasn't bothering me. So I just kept playing.

Q. Did the injury occur in Morgantown? You guys were practicing in Morgantown or already on the road.

DARRYL BRYANT: We were practicing yesterday in Morgantown. It happened within the first 30 minutes of practice.

Q. Joe, how does this change your approach to the game, if at all?

JOE MAZZULLA: Very difficult. I've never been in the Sweet 16 game before. Don't really know what to expect. So all I got to do is try and go out there and just play as hard as I can.

Q. You have started games before, is that true, Joe? And again, just as you approach this game, does it change how you play in any way that you're starting?

JOE MAZZULLA: No. My role doesn't really change. Obviously I have to play a little bit smarter to try to stay out of foul trouble, and stuff like that. But just try and just contribute to the team and do what Huggs asks.

Q. This is for Da'Sean: You guys are facing a No. 11 seed, yet they're from the PAC-10 conference. They were preseason picked in the top 25. Does it feel like you're facing a big underdog or one of those Cinderella teams?

DA'SEAN BUTLER: Just another team. For me I kind of feel like they're a better team than we are. So I kind of put the target on their backs. I don't really look as a team being inferior than us. Because we have a way of playing in games and giving up leads and things like that. I don't look at any team as inferior to us. They are a really good team, two to three really good players. Everybody knows their roles on the team. So it does present a problem. If we take care of what we need to take care of, we'll be fine.

Q. That is question for Truck: Truck, I was just wondering while you were at the doctor and found out what was wrong, was there any kind of timetable on the healing process? Like could you be ready for next year?

DARRYL BRYANT: I definitely will be ready by next year. I will definitely probably be ready by summertime, actually. Probably around June or July. I'll be fine by then. So right now just taking it little by little and trying to get healthy.

Q. For Darryl: Was your injury something that you had been receiving treatment for, or that you had been ignoring to that point?

DARRYL BRYANT: I was ignoring it until Monday. I think I got treatment after practice on Monday. My foot kind of was hurting. I really wasn't taking it that serious, because I thought it was just like a sprain or something like that. I wasn't taking it serious. But then the next day in practice I felt a pop in my foot. I'm like, it's serious now. I know it's serious.

Q. (Inaudible). THE MODERATOR: The question was, when did he know he first had an injury? DARRYL BRYANT: I know it was getting serious when we were playing Missouri. That's when I knew it was getting serious.

Q. This is for Da'Sean: Does anything faze you guys? You just lost your point guard and you guys are still joking around. It's pretty neat how loose you guys still are, as you were in Buffalo when you were facing a lot of questions.

DA'SEAN BUTLER: I don't know what to say. We're just that comfortable with each other. Truck has been hurt before. He told me a story about how he hurt himself in high school. He has been hurt. He knows what to do and the preparation and knows how to take care of it.

I know he has enough faith in us that we can win the game. So I don't see where the whole panic about everything will be. I think we'll be fine. Everybody seems excited. We'll continue to smile and be loose and enjoy ourselves. Because this is -- well, wow. Just enjoy ourselves and be fine. There's no reason to get uptight and panic and do what everybody wants us to do.

Q. Devin, along the same lines like what Da'Sean was saying, Truck could miss, like, four starts earlier in the season with an ankle injury, and you guys used that five forward lineup. I was kind of wondering, is that anything you guys are thinking about now, thinking back to December when you guys had gone through the process earlier?

DEVIN EBANKS: Yeah -- no, we have to play our games. It definitely hurts us losing Truck, losing our starting point guard, fourth-leading scorer. We are definitely going to miss him. We have to pick up the psyche of the team. I think that's why we've been ranked so high during the season, just because of our depth. We still have players on the team that can contribute. So everybody has to step up.
West Virginia Head Coach Bob Huggins:

Q. Bob, I think everybody is assuming that Joe Mazzulla starts. Is that true? Or do you go back to your five forwards back in December and try to save him because he's probably not going to go 40 minutes?

COACH BOB HUGGINS: I think he could go -- I don't know if he can go 40 but I think he can go 35. I don't know yet, Dave. To be honest with you. We're still trying to figure out which is the best direction to go.

Q. Your six guys were in spectacular spirits, even the guy that's hurt. What do you attribute that to? They're so upbeat having lost one of their more important players.

COACH BOB HUGGINS: Being around my effervescent personality all the time. (Laughter). No, they're just good guys. They're good guys. As I said before, I want them to enjoy the experience and have a good time. They know when it's time to go to work. They know when it's time to have a good time. I want them to enjoy this experience.

Q. Bob, they're scoring 80 points a game and shooting a high percentage. You guys don't score quite as many points and shoot as a high a percentage and have a better defensive reputation. Does one matter more than the other since you are playing tomorrow?

COACH BOB HUGGINS: Hopefully ours matters more. I don't know. I think we're capable of scoring points, obviously. We've done it when the tempo of the game dictated that. We're just going to try and continue to do the things that we do well.

Q. Does it help that you played an up-tempo-type team in Missouri last weekend? Are there any similarities or things that you can bring from that game to this game?

COACH BOB HUGGINS: I think playing in our league you play against every style that there is to play against. There's not a whole lot that people can throw at us that we haven't seen before. We guard everything from the Princeton offense to people trying score 100 points a game. I don't know what it would be that we wouldn't be prepared for. And then on top of that, I think the non-conference schedule that we've played, we've certainly seen a variety of styles.

So I don't see that as being an issue.

Q. Coach can you talk a little about your relationship with Coach Romar and how it evolved from when you met at Cincinnati and how much you've paid attention to him as he's come along at Washington?

COACH BOB HUGGINS: Lorenzo is a really good guy. And was in Cincinnati with Athletes In Action. And actually took some classes at UC and actually had some classes I think with some of our players, came in and played. So we got to spend some time. Actually went to the same church, and then leaving and going to UCLA. Jim Harrick is a good friend of mine. Jim Harrick is a West Virginia guy. We kind of maintained a relationship. And then obviously at St. Louis, we played each other.

He's a good guy. He's a good guy. He's really good for our game.

Q. I'm a native of Dover, Ohio.

COACH BOB HUGGINS: There you go.

Q. This is a question from way back. From high school, playing for your father, what coaching philosophies, what basketball techniques have you carried over to today as college coach?

COACH BOB HUGGINS: Virtually everything. We run the same man offense that he ran. We ran the same zone offense until a year ago when we kind of made some changes, although that's still part of what we do against a zone. A lot of what he did and stressed defensively we do. I mean, obviously I've had to change some things. But I think the core is basically what he did, what I kind of grew up from the time I was old enough to walk until well really today. Still sometimes when I don't understand things I call him.

Q. Kind of a follow-up to that question: As you build a team and a program to kind of your ideal specifications, how close is this team to a that?

COACH BOB HUGGINS: I wish I could do that. I've never been in a place where we could select guys. We always just had to get the best guys we could and then work to their strengths. We pressed when I had guys that could really run, and then when I got Danny Fortson, if somebody beat him, Danny would trip him or tackle him. I didn't see a consensus First Team All America sitting on the bench as helping me much. We kind of got away from that and ran a lot more sets for Danny. And we've changed through the years because we kind of have to -- we have to do that.

We can't -- I would like to -- I would have liked to sometime in my career have had that opportunity just to go out and say, I like that guy. That's the guy I want. But it's never worked out for me that way.

Q. Washington has sort of flipped a switch in January and they say they came together as a team. Obviously that happens with a lot of clubs. I wonder how difficult you think that is for a team to go through? And what are some of the toughest times you have had doing that with a team?

COACH BOB HUGGINS: I don't know a lot about their situation, so it's hard for me to answer that part of it. Yeah, I think it's hard when you try to put new guys into situations. And I think people have to understand their roles. And I think that's the hardest probably thing we do in coaching is get guys to do what they can do well. Because seemingly everybody wants to prove all the things they can't do, rather than the things they do well. And then I think that takes some time, obviously.

Q. Bob, can you talk about the challenge of defending Quincy and is there any player you face this year that he reminds you of?

COACH BOB HUGGINS: You guys always ask me that question, and I never know. I don't know that about anybody. Right off the top of my head, I can't tell you who he reminds me of. I know he's a heck of a player. And we're going to have to do a great job on him. I think the thing that makes him so good is he scores in so many different ways. He can face you up and make jump shots, he can drive it to the basket either way, he can play in the post, he's a terrific offensive rebounder. It's just there's not a lot of things offensively that he can't do.

Q. From a coaching viewpoint, compare your two styles of teams, yours and Washington's. What does each team have to do to be able to enforce their will and play to their style?

COACH BOB HUGGINS: I think they're as good in transition as anybody in the country. I think they're probably the best transition team in the country. It's not that difficult to run off of misses. It's very difficult to run off of makes. And I think if you look at their film, they get it out of the net and they've got tremendous team speed. They really run the floor. And we're going to have to get back and get back in bunches. We can't have guys -- we can't be all scattered out. We have to really run the floor and get back and be prepared to guard, because they're coming at you at a very high rate of speed.
Additional Quotes:
John Flowers:
On what happened to sophomore guard Darryl Bryant: After practice Tuesday, he said his foot was hurting, but he went through the whole practice fine.I guess he got an x-ray. That's all I know about that.

On how the team took the news of Bryant's injury: We don't' have much time to respond before the game, so it's time for (junior guard) Joe Mazzulla to step up like he's been waiting to do, and I think he's going to respond well.

On Mazzulla's recent play: Joe's been playing great. He was supposed to be a senior this year, if he hadn't hurt his shoulder, so I think he's ready to lead the team. He's a great point guard and I don't think we should have a drop-off.

On the Washington Huskies: They're a good team, they're very athletic and they like to run a lot. We have to come ready to play. They're just a good team."

Jonnie West:
On Bryant's injury creating more playing time for him: You never know. I could be called upon in any situation. I've been ready all year. I'm ready if the coach needs me.

On the general mood of Bryant and the team: Obviously, he's down, but he's the kind of kid that always has a smile on his face. If he's down, he doesn't show it. We're trying just to be there as teammates. We understand what he'd going through and we all have to deal with it.

On if playing in the Dome before gives West Virginia an advantage: I remember us getting beat, so hopefully we'll get that taste out of our mouths. If was against Syracuse, so we're playing a different opponent this time, and we'd like to get a win here."

Casey Mitchell:
On the loss of Darryl Bryant: It's definitely a big loss for us, but we go so hard every day, and we prepare for everything to happen. You never know when you're going to lose somebody, so it's important for the players on the bench to be ready to come in and be focused when coach calls their number.

On how Bryant's injury changes his mindset heading into the game: It makes me focus a little more, and I'll just be ready to come in and give the team everything I've got, knowing that we lost one of our starters.

On Washington's team and their talent level: They're really talented and they run the floor really good. We've been working on getting back in transition because they get most of their points in transition.

On both of the teams being on a roll coming into this game: Coach said they made some changes near the end of the year because media and stuff were talking bad about them. I guess they have their confidence now and they used that as a boost, the way people talking about them, so they're real confident right now. If we execute and do what we have to do, I think we should be good.

On being undefeated in the state of New York this year: We have a lot of players from New York and New Jersey, so I guess they feel close to home. They played high school ball here their whole lives, so I guess they feel comfortable here.

On playing better this time of year: This time of year, you have to win everything, so I guess they're playing harder. Playing close to home is a boost for them.

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