WVU - Northwestern State Notes & Quotes

Numerous storylines and items of interest presented themselves on Saturday at Auburn Hills

I really hate the fact that WVU is playing Northwestern State, because the Demons are a likeable bunch that are easy to root for. During Saturday's press conference, all five starters appeared loose and relaxed, and offered several funny answers to questions. Among the humorous responses were descriptions of head coach Mike McConathy as a Bill Clinton lookalike, and giggles regarding Jermaine Wallace's girlfriend's name, which happens to be Katrina.

Not that the Demons were laughing at the results of the hurricane, of course. The storm affects the team every day, and they participated in cleanup and relief efforts. It's simply one of those situations that can spark laughter and good-natured kidding among teammates.

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Seniors Tyronn Mitchell and Byron Allen were the only two players to have played with D'or Fischer, who transferred to WVU after two years at Northwestern State. Mitchell was philosophical about losing Fischer, but noted that he would love to call Fischer if the Demons upend the Mountaineers.

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Allen offered the only possibly inflammatory statement of the day, but even that was a mild one. He said that according to his film study, the Mountaineers didn't appear to like to be physical.

The Demons did, however, show a lot of respect for WVU, especially its shooting prowess. Mitchell noted that all the Mountaineer guards can shoot the ball, while forward Clifton Lee, certainly a three-point threat in his own right, admitted that he couldn't match the Mountaineers' from beyond the arc.

"Hopefully, they won't hit every one of the shots they take," Mitchell noted.

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Where Northwestern was loose, relaxed and quite funny during their press conference, the Mountaineers were more businesslike. While the Demos were on stage for 25 minutes, the Mountaineers were front and center for just eight.

Part of that, of course, comes from the tone and tenor of the questions asked, and part is attributable to the positioning of the teams. WVU comes into this game as the higher seed and favorite, while Northwestern State is enjoying the magic carpet ride that the Mountaineers flew for several weeks a year ago. The Mountaineers are something of a known quantity, while NSU, of course, was still enjoying the effects from its buzzer-beating win over Iowa.

"We watched it all night," said Jermaine Wallace, who fired the three-point dagger that sent the Hawkeyes packing. "They kept showing it, and I've gotten so many phone calls I can't count them."

The Mountaineers, in the role of favorites, downplayed the difference between themselves and the Demons.

"We don't see them as Cinderella," Mike Gansey said, while noting that the feeling was different from a year ago. Kevin Pittsnogle agreed, noting that any team that can defeat Iowa is certainly worthy of being in the tournament's final 32 teams.

As might be expected, Joe Herber summed it up best, saying, "We like the underdog role, but you have to accept the role of the favorite if you want to be one of the top teams in the country."

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Along the same lines, it will be interesting to see how the Mountaineers respond in Sunday's environment. WVU will certainly have Pitt fans cheering against them, and Bradley fans are likely to side with their fellow underdogs.

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Mike Gansey noted that his stomach was feeling "good", and said that he anticipated going full speed in WVU's practice session.

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Practice sessions were closed to observers today, as the limited time on the floor was the only chance the teams will have to prepare on the court for Sunday's games. The winners of this game and the Bradley-Pitt matchup will go on to Atlanta for games next Thursday.

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