Men's Hoops Quotes Previewing NCAAs
March 11, 2018
On the team's resiliency:
"For weeks ago, it didn't look like this was a possibility. We we're low in the standings, but we had the belief that we could do this. I told them four weeks ago that we we're the best team in the conference, and then I put it on them to go out there and prove it. It's easy to say, and it's hard to prove. Trey [Kell] came back, and we finally got healthy. He helped lead us to a six-game win streak. We carried that momentum into Las Vega, an then we beat three higher seeds in Las Vegas and just had a magical weekend. We have momentum on our side now and we have the belief that we're good enough to play with anybody. We're obviously going to be challenged in Wichita by a good Houston team. Physical team coached by a coach I've always admired, Calvin Sampson, whose done this a long time and been successful everywhere he's been. It will be a great challenge, but one we're grateful to have and one we're looking forward to."
On his initial reaction to the match-up:
"I think the 11 seed was pretty good. I think they looked at the fact that we had beaten Gonzaga early in the year, that we had just beat Nevada basically in back-to-back weeks, a ranked team, so we had some very good quality wins. I think they also looked at the fact that we have won nine in a row, so to go from nowhere in the conversation to and 11 seed is a credit to my team and how hard they play down the stretch to put themselves in this position."
On the pressure to win these past few weeks:
"I don't know how much my guys feels pressure, and it's hard to say, you've seen them in the press conference. Even in the big wins, they're really stoic. They're just business-like. I don't think they feel that pressure. I think they just believe in themselves. They just go out--and as they would say--do as we do. They're playing with great confidence and swagger right now, so I don't think there is any pressure that they're feeling at all. I think they're just playing with great expectations."
On how much he will be relying on the senior class:
"Trey [Kell] and Malik [Pope] have been to the NCAA Tournament as freshman. Kameron [Rooks] at Cal went to the NCAA tournament, so my three upper-classmen have been through this before. They'll provide great guidance to the underclassmen, and we'll make it a business trip. It's not a celebration. It's a trip we'll try to win two games and go back to LA for the next round."
On the personal reward of coaching this team:
"I am more happy for the kids than I'm happy for myself. Like I said, as a coach, if you've done it as long as I have, I've been a lot of times. If you fall short, you always say `Oh, I'm going to be here in another year' or `I'm going to have other opportunities.' When these kids get to their senior years, and this is their last opportunity, then you want it so desperately for them. I take great pleasure we're going, but I take great satisfaction that the seniors are going in their last go-around."
On notice who SDSU might get in Round 2:
"Looks like the Maize and Blue over there. We're not going to look past Houston. We're excited for that opportunity."
On going to the NCAA tournament as a first-year head coach:
"Like I said, not many coaches get to take over programs that are in this good of shape. Coach Fisher left me a great roster. He left me with a program that was steep with tradition, and a belief that we're capable of going. All I had to do was take over a program that he left in great shape. I'm grateful to Steve for that, and for my opportunity now to lead this team into the NCAA tournament and to hopefully continue that role for the long future."
SDSU Guard Trey Kell
On the excitement of playing in the tournament:
"We're all just really excited for the opportunity. We still feel really good about what we accomplished, and at the same time we're still really hungry and want to ride this momentum and prove ourselves even more. We're excited and ready to take on this matchup against Houston."
On the team's momentum:
"I think we just all bonded together really well. We never gave up. We just kept at it ever day. It wasn't easy. We could have just easily gave in, but it started with our coaches. They put that belief in us. They believed we were the best team, and we just felt that as well. Right now we're glad to be representing the Mountain West as one of the two teams in the tournament."
On being ready to take on the challenge:
"Yeah. I've always felt comfortable being the guy to make the play or take the shot. At the same time, it's not going to be a one-man effort. It's going to be a complete team effort, and we all faith in each other to accomplish that."
On being in a must-win mode for awhile and how that will help:
"I don't think we necessarily look at it like that. Like I said, I think we've just been playing out best basketball. It just happens to be in that situation. No matter what the situation is, I feel like we're a confident group right now and we're just excited to be in this position."
On the overall excitement:
"No one would have thought we would be here nine games ago, and now that we're here we're excited for the opportunity, but at the same time we're excited to keep this momentum going and stay hungry at the same time."
On heading to Wichita, Kansas:
"I don't know anything about Wichita. It's all going to be new to me, but I don't care where we go--Wichita, Alaska, Antarctica--I'm good. As long as we are in the tournament, then I'm good."
SDSU Forward Malik Pope
On how Coach Dutcher kept this team together:
"Dutch, he's a great guy. It wasn't really hard. He made a huge emphasis that it's going to be a roller-coaster regardless. We just have to stick together. As a team that's as solid as us, if we stick together and compete as hard as we do, we are going to have good odds. We stuck with it, and it panned out for us in the end."
To be in the NCAA Tournament as a senior:
"It's great. It's a good trend to set for the younger guys to set for traditions on and on. We're going to hope to continue that, and I hope the young fellas keep the drive going because they've got some nice talent on this team."
On if the winning streak matter heading in to the tournament:
"Definitely. It's always good to get it going at the right time. A nine-game win streak is a testament to how we've grown throughout the season, and let's just continue rolling this energy and chemistry. We just have to stick to it."
Thoughts on Coach Dutcher's performance this season as a first-year head coach:v
"I'm not surprised. I pretty much expected it coming from a legend like Fish [Fisher] and Dutch [Dutcher] as a duo. You could pretty much expect that this outcome would be the case around this time of year. I'm just happy that we have him and this group of guys to go into this situation and opportunity."
On Coach Dutcher's coaching style:
"He just lets us play. That gives us confidence in anything I feel like. If you have a coach that trusts in every position and every play, it's easy to have that connection and trust factor. That's huge. That's what drove us I feel like. That loyalty and trust is huge. It's huge."
SDSU Forward Matt Mitchell
On the emotions today:
"Honestly, we're just happy to be here. I'm still feeling a little bit of the buzz from last night, but were just happy to be here and ready to get it rolling. We know it's going to be a physical game, but we're just happy to be in the tournament."
On the team's journey:
"We just really matured and started playing like we really wanted it. We started playing together. The whole process is just lovely. We clicked at the right moment. We're starting to play as a team. We're starting to play together. Right now, it's just the best of both worlds. We're ready to get it rolling tomorrow."
On what it was like having Coach Dutcher this year:
"It was big. Just knowing he was there and knowing everything he had came from and knowing the stuff that he knows. His knowledge and the assets that we brought to the table, and the way we just put them together and matured along the way."
On the Mountain West Championship game:
"It was highly competitive. It was two teams that really wanted to be in the tournament, two teams that really wanted a Mountain West Championship title. New Mexico is a great team. No knock on them. Great team, well coached, played very hard. In the end, it was just a little bit back and forth, and I feel like we just locked them up for a little bit and pulled out a win."
On Trey Kell getting the tournament MVP:
"It's amazing. It's great. Trey, he did amazing. He deserves it. Everything he's been through during the season, the ups and downs and the injuries and what not, he came out big for us last night and really deserved it."
On the team's unity:
"We're family. That's all it is. We're brothers, brothers to the core. We're going to take that, and take it to Kansas City and get a win and hopefully just keep advancing in the tournament."
On how they are going to keep the streak going:
"Just keep playing the way we've been playing. Play hard, rebound, fight defensively, score the ball, and do what we do best. Do what we do best on both ends of the floor, really just play our game. Play together and be the brothers that we are."
SDSU Guard Jeremy Hemsley
On the team's winning-streak:
"Man, it feels crazy. It didn't starting hitting me that we're in the tournament until we walked in there, but its just crazy how fast things can turn around for a team. We were 5-7 at one point, but we just stuck with it and now we're in the tournament. It's a dream come true. This is what I've been dreaming of my whole life, and I'm just happy it's finally here."
On never giving up:
"Dutch [Dutcher] believed in us. When you have a head coach that believes in you 100 percent, that makes a lot of things easier on the team. I think just having Dutch at the head of everything and knowing that he believes in everybody, even the guys on the bench, it just gives you a sort of relief feeling. I think that was key to us just pushing through the bad losses and the rough times throughout the season."
On blowout win against Nevada:
"Honestly, when we we're warming up we could just feel the energy. I think everybody was just on the same page. After the game, it really wasn't a surprise. We just knew what we had to do and we took care of business. It wasn't really a surprise. That big of a lead at halftime was a surprise, but I don't think winning the game was a surprise."
On the unity of this team:
"I've never been on a team where everybody just enjoys everyone's company. Everyone is close with each other, and I feel like everybody gets along with each other. I think it shows on the court that we're really a family, and that's helped in the nine-game win streak that we have. We're just a family."
On how to stay focused heading in to the tournament:
"If we want to keep playing, that's just the mindset we have to have. We just have to keep a level head and can't get too emotionally high."