March 4, 2014
SAN DIEGO -
Head coach Steve Fisher
"I would say not having looked at anybody's schedule other than our own, we have the most exciting, challenging last week of the regular season that anybody could hope to have or want to have. It will be good for TV, good for the news print and coaches will all be nervous on both sides. It will be UNLV's last home game, and I talked on and on about how it's been when we've played them over the last 10 years, and I would expect nothing less on Wednesday. It's two teams that respect one another, but desperately want to beat the other. We've had a lot of close, tough basketball games (against UNLV), and I would anticipate we would have another on Wednesday. I don't need to repeat the challenges they pose. They're good. They're very athletic, they run, they can shoot the three. They have a shot blocking extraordinaire (Khem Birch) that I think blocked our first four shots in the first game (Jan. 18). So we are determined we'll go in and compete hard, and hopefully make shots like we have the last couple games. If we do that, we'll have a very good opportunity to be successful."
On if they'll change their game plan with UNLV's Roscoe Smith not playing on Wednesday:
"It's basically going to be the same thing. It will depend on who is out there in the other (forward) spot. (Carlos) Lopez-Sosa has started for them, and I would think on senior night he would probably start (on Wednesday). (Christian) Wood presents a little different set of problems with his ability to shoot the outside shot. So we'll have to be able to know when he's out there and not give him unguarded shots, because he's looking to take those perimeter shots, as well as go inside. But basically, we'll be doing the same thing that we would do if (Smith) were in there."
On possibly winning the most conference games in his career this season:
"If we win the next two it will mean a lot. We set out at the beginning of the season wanting to win the Mountain West regular season. In order to do that, we've got two more games that we need to win. We're playing more games this year than we've ever played also. We're playing 18 (MW) games now. We've won the league before and it didn't matter how many (MW games) we won, it felt extraordinary and we're hoping we could do that again. I think most people thought most teams would have more than two losses, and right now there are two of us still with two losses."
On UNLV playing so much zone defense lately:
"We're wondering if they'll play 40-minutes of zone against San Diego State? I don't think so. But will they play zone? Absolutely. Air Force is a hard, hard team to guard, we all know that. Especially if you have two bigs you're playing the whole time, that makes it even more difficult. So they found something that worked, obviously. They were pretty good with it. They make you take perimeter shots and limit you to one shot, and that's a pretty good recipe. I haven't seen (UNLV's zone) yet against us, so we'll wait and see. I'm sure if they play zone against us, if it's effective, why change it? So we're going to have to score against it to get them out of it."
On the matchup between UNLV's Khem Birch and Skylar Spencer:
"Birch creates so many problems for you because he's always lurking around the rim. He's a little bit like (Spencer) in that standpoint, except he's a little bit more aggressive with his shot-blocking and maybe a little more effective. He's been a thorn for us and has created a lot of problems for us, guarding anybody that drives to the rim. That's his home, and he doesn't want anybody to get near it. He makes it hard for you. He's been a difficult guy for not only us, but for a lot of teams, to go to the rim and score baskets on because he's coming over to block shots and alter shots. He's very effective at it."
On the atmosphere at UNLV's Thomas & Mack Center:
"When it's full, it's as good as any in the country. I think sometimes as fans we get spoiled a little bit and expect perfection, and when it's not there, (fans) are not quite as supportive. I'm not saying that about (UNLV) fans, but that's fans in general. If you look at what Dave Rice has done there his first two years, it stacks up against any first two years for any coach in America. Everything is being compared to Jerry Tarkanian's undefeated, national championship team, and nobody is going to do that. But (their fans) come and they are supportive. It seems like when we play there, there's always more people than when other teams come there. It's there last home game to honor the seniors, so it will be a big crowd and it will be loud."
On if his team is up for this week's challenge:
"We're hoping we get that opportunity. We're full-blown looking at UNLV, and immediately after that game, we'll turn our attention to New Mexico. I don't think any of us right now are thinking about the conference tournament. It's probably fitting it comes down to us having to play like this. We would like to be playing for the outright conference championship on Saturday. In order to do that, we need to get a win tomorrow night. Our players know that. The most important thing to us is we want to win the conference."
Senior guard Xavier Thames
On if he expects UNLV to play a lot of zone defense against them:
"We didn't get to watch any tape yet on their zone, but Coach Fisher told us about that. I was really surprised when he told us that. I was not expecting UNLV to ever play zone. That was very surprising."
On if UNLV playing zone defense changes their approach to playing them:
"Not really. We've faced a lot of zone this year. Teams have played zone against us all year. We just have to do what we do against the zone, get to the high-post and do things like that."
On if having another perimeter player like Aqeel Quinn give him confidence:
"Yeah, it does. (Quinn) has been like that all year. He's been making shots all year. It does help me out a little bit. He's just another person on the wing that can shoot."
On staying focused while playing difficult teams at the end of conference play:
"We just focus on one game at a time. We can't look ahead. We have UNLV coming up tomorrow, and we just have to get that win and then we'll focus on the next game. We'll take it one game at a time."
On playing in his last road game in the Mountain West:
"I'll miss it. I'll miss playing against UNLV and New Mexico and those types of teams, but we still have the conference tournament left. I'll be ready."
On there not being anyone on the SDSU roster that has won a game at UNLV:
"I know I haven't won there. We want to get a win, not just because of that, but because it's a big game as well. We want to go in there and try to get a win against a good UNLV team."
Junior guard Aqeel Quinn
On playing at UNLV:
"I know it's a big rivalry. I haven't played there yet but I went to the game last year and I know the fans were ecstatic. It was hard to hear on the floor and I'm definitely looking forward to playing there. I know it's going to be a big game."
On his experience while playing at SDSU:
"I pinch myself every day. I know I still talk to my mom about this whole experience. I still can't believe this is happening. I think when the season is over I'll be able to really look back at it and see how incredible this whole experience was. I still have another year left, but this year has definitely been a roller coaster. I'm enjoying the ride, especially with Xavier and Skylar. Guys like that on the team make everything worth it."
On the closeness of the team:
"On and off the court it's a bond that you can't imagine. When people say that these are your brothers, it's true. They really become your brothers. I love these dudes."
Sophomore forward Skylar Spencer
On being matched up with UNLV forward Khem Birch:
"I'm pretty excited. I like playing games against good big men. It's going to be a really good game and a really good matchup. I'm looking forward to it."
On what Khem Birch does well:
"He makes a presence in the paint and he's a really good shot-blocker. I respect him for that because I block shots, too. I think, overall, he's a really good, big man and I'm looking forward to playing against him."