Jan. 21, 2014
SAN DIEGO -
Head coach Steve Fisher
"The next step on our journey is San Jose State (Wednesday) night. Every game has its unique challenges. Don't get caught up in their 0-6 record, I watched them play New Mexico and it was a tied game with two minutes to go. When they played Colorado State, it was a similar situation. We've played Colorado State and we know how tough they can be. So we're going up there prepared to compete and play as hard as we can, and hopefully we'll play well. It will take all of the above to continue what we're doing, and that's getting another victory."
On how to make sure his players don't look past San Jose State:
"We'll find out how mentally prepared we are. If you sat with us and watched highlights of (San Jose State's) players and things that they did, you would have to be impressed. They shoot the three more often than almost anyone in the country, they're making more threes than anyone in (the Mountain West), so they can be a hard guard. The one benefit we do have is if we are a little lethargic mentally, we can and will quickly go to the bench. I think everyone wants to play, so our depth and the quality of our depth should help us at every regard. But I would think our veterans led by Xavier Thames, who has played at such a consistently high level, JJ O'Brien and Josh Davis would be able to provide that type of leadership for us to come and be prepared to play."
On being ranked No. 7 in the nation:
"We are excited about people talking about our ranking and how we have gone from not even receiving votes at the start of the season, to being No. 24 after winning in (the Wooden Legacy) and steadily creeping up the polls. That occurs with winning, and when you win 15 (games) in a row, people take notice. We've won at home and we've won on the road. Our goal is to maintain that type of success. If we do that we'll stay where we are or inch further (up). And that's what we hope to do. You prepare as if you're going to win every game you play. None of us do that, but play and prepare as if it's what you plan to do. I like our group, and I like the fact we embrace being ranked, and folks are talking about us. And yet we're smart enough to know it can go away in heartbeat if we lose a couple (games). Really good teams could lose a couple. You don't win on reputation. You win on performance and on coming out every day and being consistent with how you play, and that's why we're where we are. We've played hard, we've respected our opponents and we've played well together."
On if seeding in the NCAA Tournament is now in the back of his mind:
"We want to win the (MW). We want to win our league, and that's our goal every year. Right now we have a leg up on everybody, but there are a lot of teams nipping right behind us. So in order to win the league, we've got to win the next one and take care of our own business. And if we do that, the seeding and where we go and what we do will handle itself. I really have not gotten involved in, `Boy, I really want to stay out west (in the NCAA Tournament),' and, `We want to be a top-four seed.' If you win, good things happen, and that's what we've talked about. We want to win. Obviously, we would love to have the highest seed possible and stay out west if possible, but that's not the focus. The focus is to play well every day in practice and in the games, and all the other things will fall into place. But one of our long-term season goals was winning the (MW). We are not even a third through the league schedule yet, so there's a lot of basketball yet to be played and there are a lot of good teams in our league. So we need to make sure we're not getting too far ahead of ourselves."
On if it's feasible to go undefeated in MW play this year:
"I think every league is too hard to go undefeated, and yet on occasion, some teams do go through leagues undefeated. This is the 15th year of the Mountain West, I don't think anyone has gone through undefeated. The good news is we're the only team that has a chance to do that with no losses as we speak. So it's every coach's dream not to lose a game. It's happened before, so if it happens, it will only happen to us this year. But that's not the driving force. We want to win on Wednesday, and then we'll deal with everything else after Wednesday."
Senior guard Xavier Thames
On if being ranked No. 7 puts more pressure on the team:
"No, I don't think there's pressure, but teams are definitely going to be fired up every time we step on the court. So we've just got to be ready."
Sophomore forward Winston Shepard
On being ranked No. 7 this week:
"It feels good, but like we've said all season, we're going for the No. 1 spot. That's where we ultimately want to be. So 7th is good and we're glad we're getting more respect, but we don't think we're done yet."
On if it will be hard not to overlook San Jose State:
"Well we've been prepared all season. When you love the game and respect the game, you don't take any opponent lightly. Sometimes it's not even about the opponent. We want to go out there, have respect for the game and go out and get better for us as a team. It doesn't really matter who we face."
Junior forward Dwayne Polee II
On San Jose State:
"They like to shoot a lot of threes, so that's been the main emphasis at practice all week. We'll just try to limit their threes and their transition baskets."