March 11, 2001
Head Coach Mike Montgomery Opening Statement:
We, needless to say, we're pleased. We felt like we were going to stay
in the West and we felt like we were going to be a number one seed. All of that
stuff played itself out, and the kids are excited about the opportunity that
presents itself. They're excited about earning a number one seed and the
fact that we didn't have to share the conference championship with anybody.
I think San Diego appeals to them because a lot of the kids are from the area
and it's more convenient for their families. I think the kids earned it.
I think they're very serious and intent on trying to do the best job they
can in the tournament. I think Ryan [Mendez] said it very well, that you don't
realize how special a Final Four is until you go in and lose in the second round
and don't even get a chance to go to Regionals. You start to realize how
special advancing through the tournament is. We'd like to get Justin [Davis]
back on the court sometime this week because I think we definitely need him
in order to get our depth where we need it. I think the team is in a really
good frame of mind. I think sometimes you're a little bit tired -
I look at other teams in the conference tournaments and I see fatigue, I see
some guys that are struggling. Right now, since we don't have to deal with
a conference tournament, we're going to enjoy that aspect of it as well.
It's a pretty good feeling having accomplished what we have, but I also
believe that the kids are going to put that behind us as earning us the right
to be the number one seed and see if we can't get into this a mini-season
where we try to focus one game at a time without speculating down the road.
If we can keep it at that, I think it will really be to our advantage.
Q. Has San Diego been a goal all season?
A. No, it really wasn't. I think staying West would have been a goal.
I made a comment last night that we used to hope that we could just get in the
tournament and then we started worrying about the seeds, then locations. A long
time ago I said, we're just happy, ship us anywhere, and I didn't
really realize how important a location could be. I think there is significance
in locations and I think particularly for west coast teams because of the difficulty
going west to east with time zone changes and those kind of things. I think
having the opportunity to stay in our own time zone and playing in the west
would have definitely been a goal. I didn't really see a difference between
San Diego and Boise. Of course, people who live in San Diego probably see a
difference, but from the stand-point of playing basketball, I wasn't willing
to differentiate. I felt like the West was the goal if we could accomplish that.
Q. Does it work to your advantage that there is only one other team in your
bracket that is located west of the Mississippi?
A. Well, travel is still travel. I don't know if there is any proof in
this, but I think it is easier to go East to West because you gain hours. West
to East is harder to adjust to.
Q. What's your reaction to people saying that the West is the easiest
road to the Final Four?
A. They're not playing. There are a lot of really good basketball teams
in West as there are in every bracket. I told the kids that if we don't
play good basketball at any point from this point on, we're going to be
out of the tournament. I think that's an accurate assessment and that's
the way everyone had to approach the tournament.
Q. What are the keys for your team to do well?
A. We're going to need performances off the bench. Julius [Barnes] came
in this weekend and made some shots. I don't want to have the bench be
a deal where I'm substituting to rest people. I want the bench to be where
I'm substituting and may well gain something - maybe a little quickness,
maybe a guy makes some shots that the guy he went in for was not making. It
changes the tempo, it changes your match-ups, and it's a plus for us. I
think the bench is going to be a key for us. Obviously, we need to stay healthy.
What happened to us against Arizona was the one thing we could not afford, and
that was we got one of our big guys in foul trouble and didn't have at
that point a substitute. That's the kind of thing you need to avoid, we
have to stay out of those situations.