Despite the words, there is no doubt that the Salukis are playing the "no respect" card as if it were the Ace of trumps. Head coach Chris Lowery echoed the thought later in the event, noting that he was "disappointed" in the comments Billy Packer made in comparing the Missouri Valley conference and the ACC.
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Bryan Mullins on experience, which West Virginia has in terms of playing together, but which the Salukis hold in terms of consecutive NCAA tournament appearances: "WVU has played together a long time, and it does help to have played together, but we have guys that have been here before. They've helped us all year long, and by this point in the season we're not really freshmen anymore."
SIU has been to five consecutive tournaments, but has three freshmen and three sophomores among its top eight players.
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The Salukis, despite starting no player taller than 6-7, have outrebounded their foes this year. Guard Jamaal Tatum explains: "We just have a blue collar mentality. We all work for them. I guess it's like the saying goes – it's not the size of the dog in the fight but the size of the fight in the dog."
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The Missouri Valley Conference tournament wrapped up on March 5 – three days before the Big East tournament began. However, Tatum thinks the layoff will help.
"We go hard in practice. It's not a game atmosphere, but it's close, and we beat on each other every day. I think the sharpness is still there."
Young agreed, adding that the additional time off helped some nagging injuries heal. One player that could use additional time is forward Randal Falker, who is still showing some effects from a stomach virus.
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Although West Virginia's offense is somewhat unique in the fact that it effectively employs two point guards(J.D. Collins and Joe Herber) and that all five players can handle the ball well, SIU coach Chris Lowery said that his team's focus in disrupting WVU's offense remains on pressuring the ball.
"We've had several teams try to change ball handlers on us," Lowery said. "We've seen that before, but it doesn't change what we will do. We will still try to put pressure on the ball. The keys for us are to not allow open threes and back doors."
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SIU had it's forty-minute shootaround from 12:45 to 1:25 p.m. WVU will take the court at 2:15 p.m. The Salukis were ten minutes late for the press conference, which was further delayed by technical difficulties with the NCAA's audio connections.