March 24, 2014
SAN DIEGO -
An interview with:
HEAD COACH Steve Fisher
COACH FISHER: If you are in the line of work that we're in and you're still playing, especially if you've been around once or twice, you know how privileged you are and how excited you should be to be playing in the round of 16. We as coaches feel that way, our players feel that way, and hopefully our fans feel that way. We're excited, we're anxious to play. We're glad we're an hour and a half up the road.
With that excitement, we don't want anybody to assume that we don't feel like we belong. We are going up with the expectations that we feel like we're good enough to win.
We're well aware of who we're playing. They were rated number one in the country for a great part of the year. They beat us up pretty good here in the second game of the season. So we know we're playing a really, really good team, but you're supposed to be good if you're in the round of 16. We believe that we're really good. So I think it will be an exciting game. Hopefully it will be one that everybody wants to tune in to if you're not with a ticket in hand going to the game. It's what we all aspire to do. Get in the tournament is number one, and then make a run when you get there, and then make a deep run.
We're trying to do something we've never done before. Arizona's trying to do what they've gotten used to doing. So we'll both have the same goal, win two games in Anaheim. Our players are ready to go. We'll have three days of practice and preparation to get a final game plan in, and should be a wonderful, wonderful week for us.
Q. Did you watch the game or have you watched the game last night from Arizona and Gonzaga?
COACH FISHER: I did. I watched and Arizona was very good. Gonzaga's good, and they made them look not so good, so hopefully we'll learn from that a little bit. But they're a good team. They guard and they guard effectively. They get a little blood in the water when the turnovers occur, and they are off and running.
Q. Would you say that's your team's description too, and that you guys are similar in a lot of ways?
COACH FISHER: I think we both kind of pride ourselves in saying we're going to guard very effectively. Mark Fisher showed me or told me that in one of these evaluations on per possession efficiency that Arizona's number one in the country for defensive efficiency, and we were seventh. So it's two really good teams defensively going at one another, and closure for defense is rebounding the ball. So they rebounded the ball better than we did here, hopefully, we'll be a little better at it on this go round.
Q. How much has your team grown and how different is it compared to the team that faced them back in November?
COACH FISHER: If you're playing now, you're better than you were in November, so I'll say first they're a lot better. They're better in every regard.
Q. But you're better?
COACH FISHER: We're better also. We're better also. I think our offensive efficiency is improved. I think we're doing things more offensively to move you around, and we're going to play a guy that was, because of me, missing in action in the first game and didn't play, in Dwayne Polee II. So hopefully that will play a big positive role for us. He's been sensational. He's now our sixth starter, and he's good, and he did not play a second in that game.
Q. What has been the key to his growth?
COACH FISHER: Dwayne Polee II is what every coach in America should show his team on how to deal with adversity and how to deal with frustration. I've said this before, Dwayne was the greatest guy in the locker room when he didn't play and we won. You didn't know he didn't play. It's hard to do. Easy to say, very, very difficult to do. But by doing that, he set himself up for when he got a chance, he wasn't brooding and lackluster with his concentration, and he and we have benefited greatly from his demeanor and how he's approached every situation.
Q. Coach, students woke up this morning at 5 a.m. to buy a limited amount of tickets to travel to Anaheim. What does that support mean to you and how important is that support?
COACH FISHER: We've packed this building, 12414 strong for several seasons now in a row. My office overlooks I can look out my window and see the ticket window during the season, and I could tell. Sometimes I would ask, `What concert is there?' And they would say, no, that's for us. That's for our game. So that doesn't surprise me. We're right up the road.
Arizona travels well. You've got a lot of `Zonies' that come here for the racing season and get in the way. Now they're here for they came for the tournament (in San Diego), and a lot of them have stayed. They are a great fan base that travel as well as anybody in the country. So there will be a lot of red in that building, and there will be a lot of Aztec red, there will be a lot of Arizona red, and there will be a pretty good contingency of Wisconsin red. So I'm proud that we're going to have a big crowd. Arizona's going to have a big crowd too.
Q. You talked about your changes. What did you see in Arizona differently than you did in November when you look at the way they are now?
COACH FISHER: Their offensive flow to me looks a lot crisper. They're so much quicker with their cuts and movement. They can hurt you in so many ways. We're a good scouting team, so if you run a lot of set plays, we do a good job of saying we're going to not let you run set plays. They run motion better than anybody in the country, and they're good at it. They take you one way, go back the other. They'll give you multiple ball screens. They attack off the dribble when you give them an angle, they know whether to drive it or draw and throw it up to somebody to dunk it in. They're very, very impressive.
Their defense has I'm sure gotten better too. But to me as I watch them, they looked really crisp with their offensive efficiency in the half court.
Q. Why didn't Polee play in the first game?
COACH FISHER: Polee didn't play in the first game because someone didn't put him in the game -- Me. And now, others are saying, `Why didn't he play in the first game?' And I'm saying why didn't he play in the first game? I don't know how he would have played, but I wish I had at least given him a chance to play in the first game.
It was me. It was a coach's decision. You know, through the course of a season you have a rotation, and sometimes it never changes, and sometimes it does change. With us it changed. Dwayne went from ninth or tenth man on the pecking order to our sixth starter.
Q. On that subject, your pal Bill Frieder said last night he's concerned that the Aztecs need to find more offense than Xavier Thames. Do you agree with the cagey old coach?
COACH FISHER: My old mentor Bill Frieder has become he's fallen into the trap of being a talking head. He's got all the answers now right after the game. But I listen when he tells me what to do, and he's right. Yeah, we've got to have somebody other than Xavier Thames to score the ball. It didn't take Bill Frieder to tell me that. But, yeah, he's right on that one, for sure.
Q. What are you doing to build your offense?
COACH FISHER: I've got one more secret weapon that I'm saving for Thursday, that I will not talk about now. We played a 1 3 1 zone, I didn't know if you were here. Did you know we played a 1 3 1 zone? Yeah, we did that. We had that up our sleeve. So we have one more thing that we're keeping in the shadows until we play Arizona that I'll refuse to divulge right now.
Q. Coach, along those lines, what is the message to Winston Shepard as he's struggled recently? He's your second leading scorer. How do you get him back on track?
COACH FISHER: You compete, you move on to the next play. You don't live in the past. You think about what you have to do to help the team, and you help the team. That's what we all have to do. We can't be as good as we want to be without everybody, and that includes Winston, playing and playing at peak efficiency.
We're at a stage now where if we're going to win, we've got to have everybody playing at a certain level, and maybe some bodies playing a little better than they have played.
Q. Besides the obvious of staying alive and advancing, what would it mean to the program to get its first Sweet 16 win?
COACH FISHER: Too many people and all of us fall into the trap of when March Madness rolls around and the first rounds become the second, and the Sweet 16, we forget about the body of work that teams had during the regular season, and we focus on who is still playing. So we're in the spotlight that's narrowed now to 16 of us, and we're one of those 16. For us, it would be if we win on Thursday, it would be doing something that's never been done here. So it's always fun to be a part of the first time. But we're even though we haven't, I don't think we're any different than any of the 16, and there are several in the 16 that have won National Championships.
Our goal our ultimate goal is to not only go to (the Final Four), but to win the championship. We're not talking about that right now. We're talking about winning with this next little two game set up in Anaheim.
But we think we're good enough. I'm not bragging, I'm just saying that we think we're good enough to play with anybody. Arizona has proven that they're good enough to play and beat anybody. So for us, it would be the next step, which was a huge step to doing things that further enhance the fact that we have a big time program just like Arizona.
Q. How much does it matter that Arizona played yesterday, flew home and they're going to fly back to Anaheim. You've been here the whole time with an extra day of rest?
COACH FISHER: I don't think that has any impact at all on anything. You know, if they were flying three time zones away to get ready, but they could walk home, really. They're that close. So I don't think that will have any impact. I'm sure they've talked about should we just stay and bring the academic coordinator and stuff with them and stay on the road. Some teams might do that, but you're close enough not to do that, and I'm sure that won't have any bearing at all on what happens.
Q. You guys got yesterday off. You said you have three days. Does it feel like a routine week for you guys maybe in that sense?
COACH FISHER: We had the opportunity to take a deep breath on Sunday, you're right. Normally during the year if we don't have a Tuesday game, we take Sunday off. That is our normal day off. So it was a little more into our routine of Sunday off and nothing basketball related for any of the players. But I'm sure it wasn't a typical Sunday for the players either. They were probably watching every game that was on, including the last one, which was played here.
Q. Coach, you had a unique opportunity to actually, if you wanted to watch the match up yesterday live, you decided not to. You wanted to watch it from home. Could you explain your decision, and why you thought it was best to not be in the arena?
COACH FISHER: You'll probably see more if you watch it on TV and have it recorded to run back stuff if you wanted to see it again and replay stuff and make notes as you watch it. But also, I think that no one else had an opportunity they didn't have the opportunity to watch us play. So probably everything, including to do things that should be in the spirit of what we're doing. If you start trying to sneak a camera in to watch a guy practice or try to get an extra look, it serves no purpose, and it probably shouldn't happen. So we just decided that would serve everyone, including ourselves, best.
Q. How about the series you have going with Arizona. You have good game here (this season), good game in Hawaii last year, now this one. Do you feel like this is maybe as big as any rivalry in the west right now?
COACH FISHER: We've had the opportunity, and I'll say this not a lot of schools were willing to play us home at home several years ago. And maybe even fewer now. First Lute Olson, and it was as much because of a relationship that Lute and his former wife Bobby before she passed had with Angie and myself. When we came out here, he was willing to play us home at home, and we played home-and-home with them. When Sean came out, he said, `Let's keep it going. Let's keep the series going.'
It's a nice, short trip. It's a good game for them, and it's obviously a good game for us. It gives all the Arizona fans a chance to watch them play on a short trip on the road. So I think it's a win win for both schools, but a lot of schools won't do that.
I'm appreciative of the fact that they feel there is value, and it's not a lose lose that they come here. They know that they could come in here and we're capable of beating them. But that has not worried either Lute before or Sean now. I think that says a lot about them also.
Q. Right after Xavier Thames transferred from Washington State, did you think that he could grow into the player that he is now?
COACH FISHER: We recruited Xavier Thames out of high school. He and Chase Tapley, when we went up there, we recruited both of them, and we knew he was good. He's playing right now in games like he had in Spokane at an elite level. You hope you can get someone to do that. But he's played defensively and with his brain all season. It's well documented when he wasn't shooting it really well, he went 170 some odd minutes without a turnover, guarded the best player on the perimeter on the other team, great help defender, all of that. But now when he's scoring the ball the way he has in some of these games, he's as good as any guard in the country.
Q. How unique is it the way he seems to step up in big moments?
COACH FISHER: That's what you're supposed to do. Everybody aspires to do it, talking about it and doing it are sometimes two different things. Xavier has that quiet confidence, and he's not going to say, `Me, me, me, me, me,' and pound his chest. The most outside exemplifications of his energy are he'll occasionally put three fingers up if he makes one. But he's not trying to draw attention to himself with theatrics.
But he's playing, and obviously, when you have success, you play with greater sense of I've been there, done that, and know you can do it. He's playing with wonderful confidence. Our players have confidence in him. They know we want him to have the ball in situations, and he's making good decisions. Whether it's shoot it, pass it, how to probe and that kind of stuff.
Q. He seems to have a look that he gets on his face after he makes a big shot. It's almost like a recognition that he's now in one of those spots, one of those zones that you know something good is going to happen. Do you notice that? Is there a certain look or demeanor that he gets that you know Thames is in that place?
COACH FISHER: I think you see a quiet sort of body language with him that, yes. I would say, yes, yeah. I can tell when he is really, really feeling comfortable in what he's doing. It's not something outward, but you can tell, yeah. You can tell that.
Q. What is the history with Sean Miller? Did you know him when he was younger or do you know his father and the family?
COACH FISHER: I did. We knew his dad from when he was coaching, a high school coach. We recruited kids out of the Pittsburgh area. Sean committed early to University of Pittsburgh, but I knew his dad and several of the people surrounding that AAU team. But I didn't know him really, really well, but I've always liked him. I love the way he played when he was playing. He's a really good basketball coach.
One of his sons came over to team camp a few years ago, and I called Sean and said, `Well, I offered him a scholarship when he was here, so don't get mad if he becomes an Aztec in a couple years,' and he laughed real hard. After we played them the one year when Tim Shelton was a senior, he called me on Thanksgiving Day and said, `Let's talk about our teams. What did you see you liked in my team? What did you see that you think we can do better?' So he was comfortable enough to call me and say be honest with me and tell me what we have to do to get better and I'll be the same way with you. Not many coaches would do that.
I like him. Obviously, he's a terrific, terrific coach who has kind of elevated that program to the level they expect it to be.
Q. He said last night, and obviously he's biased, but he thinks his father's one of the best high school coaches ever. You probably had some encounters. Is he that good, that legendary? Can you see the sons taking after the dad?
COACH FISHER: That's spoken like a son who loves his father, but I would say he's probably not too far wrong. His dad was a terrific coach. I think if you're in our business and you go around, there are coaches at every level that could be coaching right here or be coaching at Arizona that for a lot of reasons, some, they never choose to. Maybe like his dad. Others, they never get that opportunity, who are phenomenal coaches.
I would say that's probably a very well spoken, accurate point he made about his dad. His dad could probably still come and sit on the bench and help him and be productive.
An interview with:
Q. So how sweet is it to be heading to the Sweet Sixteen?
Aqeel Quinn: Really sweet. No, I didn't mean to keep it short, but it's a good feeling. I mean, you dream about this as a kid. It's finally here, so I just hope that we just keep it going.
Q. For all three of you, did you guys watch the game last night? And the second part, where are both teams compared to where they were in November?
JJ O'Brien: I think we all watched the game last night. I think both teams, us and them, have gotten a lot better since the last time we've played. Both of our defenses have gotten a lot better. I know our defense has. I know they lost one of their best players, but they still have managed to do great without them. Both of us have gotten a lot better, so it's going to be a good game.
Winston Shepard: They looked really good last night. I think they have a great team, and I think we'll be prepared to play.
Q. Did you guys get a chance to see them in their first game against Weber State at all?
Winston Shepard: Not much.
Aqeel Quinn: No, I didn't.
Q. Do you guys figure it makes a difference that you have an extra day than they have and they're trying to run home for a couple days and they've got to come back and you guys have been here?
Winston Shepard: Not much. Great teams will always be prepared. At this time of the season everybody's going to be ready.
Q. J.J., does Anaheim feel like a home court for you guys?
JJ O'Brien: Yeah, Anaheim has been good to us this year. We won that tournament there. We beat UCLA there last year. We know our fans are going to be there in full force, so, yeah, we're hoping it's like a home game in there.
Q. Do you feel like you're the underdog looking at this one or it's even or how do you look at it?
Aqeel Quinn: I wouldn't say underdog, but I mean a lot of people pick Arizona to win. So we don't look at it as that though. We've just got to come ready to play and see who wins.
Q. What do you guys remember about the previous game?
Winston Shepard: Well that was at the beginning of the season. I think our team was still getting figured out. I think people are settling into their roles now at this point in the season, and I think we're a much better team. We'll wait to see how that goes on Thursday.
Q. Do you guys feel like you have somewhat of a similar style defensively you're both really strong and sort of create off that situation? Seeing the game again last night maybe, compare the two teams?
JJ O'Brien: Yeah, you could say that. We both went off our defense a lot of the time. They pride themselves on being good defensively and so do we. Player for player though, I think we're a lot different. But collectively as a group, yeah, you could say that we're very similar and we're both very precise on the defensive end.
Q. Have you guys had a chance to take a deep breath and look and see what's going on? There are 16 teams left, and you have guys that have won a national title. Have you taken a step back to say, wow, we have a legit chance to keep this thing going?
Aqeel Quinn: Yeah, Coach Fisher in the locker room after the game, he said, "Soak this in, fellas, not everybody gets this chance." So he told us pretty much savor the moment. When this week comes around and it's time for preparation, it's time to move on and get ready for the Sweet Sixteen.
Q. How do you guys feel with Arizona and the rivalry you've had with them this year? It was a tough game last year. You guys both seem to be two of the top programs in the West. Do you feel that way?
Winston Shepard: I would say we've been the two best teams on the west coast this season. Me, personally, I've lost to them the last two times and just hoping to get a victory this time.
Q. Winston, you played with Nick Johnson?
Winston Shepard: Yeah, and Brandon Ashley.
Q. What do you remember about obviously, he comes from a pedigree, his father very famous for his jumping ability. What did you make of it the first time you saw him jump? Was there any particular dunk or anything in practice early on that you can remember?
Winston Shepard: Well, during our two years together, I threw a lot of alley oops to him. I would say he's probably the only guy I know that's in the same jumping pedigree as Polee. But he's a great player, and I spent two years with him at Findlay Prep, and I look forward to playing against him again.
Q. Did you throw any alley-oops that you thought, or lobs that you thought, there is no way he could get this and he got it?
Winston Shepard: Every time I throw an alley oop I try to throw it as high as I can to guys I know that can jump so they can look athletic. So I would say he didn't miss many.
Q. Did you throw any too low for him right off the bat and he said, "hey, throw them a bit higher?"
Winston Shepard: No, never that.
Q. Speaking of Dwayne, he didn't take his sweats off the first time you guys played. What difference can he make now in a game like this given the way he's played so far this year?
Winston Shepard: He's been a great help. And the past couple weeks he's really stepped his game up, and I look forward to him having a good game again.
Q. Fisher said that he has some sort of secret weapon on offense. I don't know if you're practicing it, but is it true?
JJ O'Brien: Yeah, I haven't heard about that one, so we'll have to see in practice today about that.
Aqeel Quinn: We'll have to ask him about it.
Q. What stands out to you guys facing this Arizona team again? What do you really relish and are looking forward to?
Aqeel Quinn: I think just the rematch period, you know? After coming from a loss like that where we got in real close and we just didn't pull it out at the end. So just the rematch period and a chance to play again and redeem ourselves, that's what we're looking forward to.
Q. J.J., can you take us through when you guys cut it to four and then ran that play to Gordon. Do you remember what happened on that? You guys had all the momentum and it looked like you might even win and it changed everything, didn't it?
JJ O'Brien: Yeah, I don't know who was in. It ended up where Dakarai (Allen) was on Gordon. It might have been switch everything. I don't think so. I think we were just staying with our men. He just made a great play. He's a great athlete. He has good size, and they threw it up to him. I think it was the same play they ran a couple years ago where Johnson got a dunk on (James) Rahon. But they made a great play. Dakarai did what he could to try to stop it, and it ended up being a foul. But, yeah, that's all I remember really from the play.
An interview with:
Q. Skylar, you pride yourself on defense as a team. The way you're able to run shots down there at the rim, is that something you've worked on? Is it innate skill or God gave you that ability?
Skylar Spencer: Yeah, it's something that I've pretty much had my whole life. But ever since I came to college it's been more specific details, things that I needed to work on, and I think I've improved that ever since I got here.
Q. What was it you worked on? Is it like a technique?
Skylar Spencer: I worked on more guarding the perimeter with pick and roll defense, and how to guard the post more. Because in high school I just kind of stood in the key and blocked shots, but there's more to it now.
Q. Playing off of that, going against a team like Arizona that's as athletic as they are and like to get to the rim and slash, do you have to change the way you do things to make sure you keep yourself on the floor and not draw the fouls because they are coming at you as constantly as they are?
Skylar Spencer: Sort of. I've been playing against aggressive teams all year, so I'm kind of used to it. So I guess I just have to figure out a way to play smart so I can stay on the floor and not get any foul calls on me.
Q. Knowing you have him (Skylar) back there, does that change the way you play on the perimeter knowing you have a last line of defense?
Xavier Thames: A little bit, but we're going to stick to the way we've been playing defense all year. Get out, deny passing lanes, press and do different things like that. But it does help to have Skylar back there. If you get beat, he's got our back.
Q. X, second time around with these guys, and you have so much more style. You play off your defense a lot. Do you really kind of expect this game to be a fast, up paced game?
Xavier Thames: I don't know. We'll see. They play good defense as well, and we play good defense. All I know is it's going to be a fun and exciting game. They're a great team, we're a great team, so it's going to be fun.
Q. What do you like especially getting this chance to see these guys again and in the Sweet Sixteen?
Xavier Thames: Well, it's nice. No matter who we play, we're just happy to be in the Sweet Sixteen. But playing against Arizona again, it's definitely going to be fun. They're a Top 10 program each and every year. So we're just ready for the challenge.
Q. Their team is obviously different from when you played them before. They don't have Ashley. They've gone small. They kind of start three guards. Does that help you with the match ups? It seemed the first game when Skylar came out or one of your bigs came out and you guys went small, it's tough to rebound. Does that swing things more favorably towards you because if Sky's on the floor you can match up better?
Xavier Thames: Yeah, a little bit. But they're still a great team. They have Hollis Jefferson; I think he's coming off the bench now, and he's a four man. So, like I said, we've got to come out and be ready to play. It's going to be a different game. They don't have the same team. We've got different guys coming off the bench. Dwayne didn't even play that game or Aqeel, so it's going to be a fun game and exciting game to play in.
Q. Speaking of that, Dwayne, did Coach Fisher ever explain to you why you didn't play in the first Arizona game?
DWAYNE POLEE: No, he never really explained to me. But I didn't really take offense to it. It just made me work harder as an individual and working with my team harder and dealing with the coaches. So this time around I'm going to be ready.
Q. Do you think it was something you were doing in practice or something that he wanted you to work harder at?
DWAYNE POLEE: No, I can't really call it. Coach Fisher knows what he's doing. He's a very smart, knowledgeable coach, so I can't really hold it against him or hold any grudges. But this time around I'm going to be ready to help my team do whatever they need me to do.
Q. Dwayne everybody's talking about the emergence of your play and how you made a big difference between last game and this game. What is your mindset going in? Do you feel the pressure that you have to be the difference maker?
DWAYNE POLEE: No, I don't feel any pressure. I'm just going to go out and bring energy. That's what I do. Whatever I have to do to bring energy whether it's not scoring a single point, but playing hard defense and getting every rebound or whatever the task may be, I'm ready for it.
Q. Xavier, Coach Fisher was talking about what a positive influence he (Dwayne) was in the locker room even when he wasn't playing. How satisfying is it for you to see him get this opportunity?
Xavier Thames: It's really satisfying. Dwayne has been working since summertime on his game each and every day. Now he's showing everybody what he grinded for. So it's just been great to see him play like that. I know he worked really hard for it. So it's just been fun.
Q. You guys really wanted a shot at Arizona, didn't you? You really wanted to play them?
DWAYNE POLEE: Well, it didn't matter who we played. It's the best time of the year for college basketball, so everybody's going to bring their A game, whether it's Arizona or anybody. So we're just excited to be in the position that we're in.
Q. But you guys weren't watching that thinking, "Gonzaga isn't as good as them. Maybe they can pull the upset and we can play them?"
Xavier Thames: Not really. Whoever we play, we're going to be ready regardless. But I had a feeling we're going to play Arizona because they've been playing really well lately. I'm glad we get to play a great team in Arizona.
Q. You're playing pretty well too?
Xavier Thames: Yeah, I'm playing okay.
Q. Do you guys feel like you're underdogs going into this game?
Skylar Spencer: Yeah, but lately it feels like all year we've been underdogs for every game we've played. So it's nothing new to us.
Q. X, are there times you feel you have to take this team on your shoulders?
Xavier Thames: No, not at all. Whatever coach needs me to do or my teammates need me to do, I'll do it. For me putting the weight on my shoulders, I don't think so. Basketball is a team game and without my teammates, I wouldn't be playing how I've been playing lately.
Q. You guy has couple of nice wins at the Honda Center the last couple of years. Is there any special coverage you get being in that building?
DWAYNE POLEE: Being right down the freeway helps. Our fans and family get to travel a short distance to come see us play, so that gives us a lot of help, because our fans do a great job of traveling.
Q. Dwayne, in reference to your jumping ability, there are a few nicknames swirling around out there. Are you aware of those? Can you share them with us?
DWAYNE POLEE: I heard Doug Gottlieb called me the 'Trampolee' and 'human pogo stick.'
Q. What do you think of that?
DWAYNE POLEE: I think it's exciting. You can't really create your own nickname. So when someone calls you a nickname, everybody just runs with it, and it's really exciting.
Q. It's one of those unwritten rules in sports that you can't create your own nickname.
DWAYNE POLEE: Yeah, it's just an unwritten law. It's just one of those things that you just know. So just like Xavier 'Money' Thames, and Skylar 'The Eraser.' So everybody has their own little nicknames that they've been dubbed through the media.
Q. Does everybody on the team have a nickname?
DWAYNE POLEE: Just about. I can't name them all off the top of my head. But there are a couple of nicknames swirling around.
Q. Do you have any other ones that you've had in high school or from close friends?
DWAYNE POLEE: Actually, no. This is my first time I actually got a nickname.
Q. How do you like it?
DWAYNE POLEE: Oh, I like it. It's exciting to see the media calling me something and then the fans and other people just run away with it. So it's an exciting feeling.
Q. Which one do you like better, the 'Trampolee' or 'human pogo stick?'
DWAYNE POLEE: 'Trampolee' because it includes my name in it.
Q. Did you play against Dwayne in high school?
Skylar Spencer: No, I wanted to.
Q. Did you know about him?
Skylar Spencer: Yeah, I knew about him when I signed to come here. He was the man in L.A., so I've always heard about him. I know my high school team would have beaten his.
Q. You guys may have answered this kind of already, but a lot like Arizona, you had that big huge winning streak at the beginning of the year and a couple tough road losses. Anything you've kind of adjusted to after those two games that makes you where you are now?
Xavier Thames: I think we just learned from the losses that we took. I'm sure Arizona did the same thing as well. So those losses just make us better and we can learn from it.
Q. Coach Fisher says he's got a secret weapon that he's going to unveil on Thursday. He said he couldn't talk about it. I'm assuming you guys can't talk about it here?
Xavier Thames: No, we can't talk about that.
Q. The last couple years you played Arizona and lost to them both in close games, which one stings? You played in both of them, Xavier. Is it the Hawaii one with the block?
Xavier Thames: Well, they both sting, but the one in Hawaii kind of hurt the most because we thought we for sure had that game won, and then Nick Johnson just came out of nowhere and blocked the shot. But they both hurt, but the one in Hawaii hurt the most, just to know we were that close to win. But it's always a good game when we play against Arizona the last few years. So I'm sure it's going to be another great one.
Q. Do you still talk about that game with Chase Tapley?
Xavier Thames: No, I don't bring it up to Chase. I don't want to bring it up.
Q. You won't tease him about that?
Xavier Thames: No, I won't tease him about that.
Q. Too painful for him?
Xavier Thames: Yeah, yeah.
Q. When you know you are that close to beating them and you're down four and you had the momentum here earlier in the year, do you think they look at that and go, 'Oh, I don't want to play these guys. They've been too close to us?'
Xavier Thames: I don't think so. I know a few of their players and I know they don't think like that. They're competitors just like we are. They wouldn't be where they are right now if they felt like that. Like I said, it's going to be a fun game with two great teams going at it, so we're just ready to play.
Q. Do you guys like at it as maybe a statement deal where you've got two of the top programs in the West to win this game that at least for now, you can pretty much say you're the best team out in the West?
DWAYNE POLEE: I wouldn't say we're the best, but being competitors and having respect for the game we think we're one of the best teams. You know, now that we've proven that we can hang with the big dogs and not only the west coast but in the nation, I think that we can be mentioned among the Arizonas and UCLAs.