March 14, 2010
Head Coach Mike Montgomery
On being in the last bracket announced
"I wish they would have announced that the first bracket but we're in the tournament and that is what we played all year for. We are happy. We are excited for it."
On playing on Friday in Jacksonville, Florida
"The Friday game I think is good. The distance is probably not as good but if you are going to go a-ways-away having a little extra time is going to help."
On facing Louisville in the first round
"Louisville is obviously a storied program with a great history. Rick [Pitino] is a great coach. It is certainly a big challenge. I haven't seen Louisville on tape yet but we have been taping games of potential NCAA opponents consistently so we have a whole bunch of their tapes to look at to see what challenges they present."
On being in the same bracket with Mike Krzyzewski and Rick Pitino
"Well, I know Mike Krzyzewski very well. I consider him a pretty good friend and he is one of the people I respect. Rick is one of the coaches that has been around with a little bit of a similar background as far as spending time in the other league. Those are two programs that if you look at the history of college basketball show up pretty nicely."
On making the NCAA Tournament
"For us it was great to earn the right to be in the NCAA Tournament. People sometimes don't recognize how hard that is. I don't think that I probably did initially either. It is hard to get in the tournament. There is a lot of good basketball being played. With only 64 teams getting to go, it is a privilege to go and we are going to represent the University of California and these kids are going to represent themselves in the best fashion we possibly can."
On whether the team is better prepared this time around
"A year ago, I thought we lost our edge a little bit. I think the accomplishment of getting there overshadowed the fact that we were going in there to win. Now I think the notion of these kids is that we are going to go in there to compete to win. I think that we have worked very hard to get where we are as far as winning the conference, a lot of pressure. Now I think they want to go in and continue to play."
On the team's closeness
"These guys have been here for four years together so you develop a certain closeness you don't even really understand until somebody decides to want to criticize one of your teammates. Like I said it's like criticizing a member of your family - you are going to come fight for them. I think you have a little bit of that with them. They are a diverse group with different interests but if they have their backs to the wall, they will really stick up for one another."
On having a senior-laden team
"I would rather have five guys like this that are seniors than have them four years ago as freshman and expect to go in and win. The point is that this group is now an experienced group that has developed into good players. Talent is talent and we have got plenty of it as well. We are going to go in and do the best we can."
On the feeling after the Maryland game last year
"I think disappointment. I think sometimes they misread what it takes to compete at that level. I think there was a sense that we weren't ourselves. It just didn't look like we did what we should have done at that level of a game in the NCAA Tournament. I think they were disappointed in themselves a little bit."
On whether he was worried Cal would be selected to the tournament
"Yes I was. You know, they didn't call our names until the last 16 teams, so I had to walk out a couple times and get my thoughts together, but I'm glad they finally called our name. It was a relief."
On the team's reaction to being selected
"We were definitely excited. We didn't go too crazy. We have to buckle down and work hard this upcoming week to prepare for Louisville."
On whether the No. 8 seed was too high, too low?
"It really doesn't matter. You know, we're just glad to be in there and whoever we play, I know it's the top 65 teams in the country, and we know they're going to be ready to play. We've got to play our `A game' as well."
On Louisville head coach Rick Pitino?
"He's just a smart coach. He's been successful. Every time I've seen him coach, he's been really good so I know he's going to come to play, I know his guys are going to come to play. I know they have great players over there in Louisville, but I know we do as well, so it's just going to be a great matchup."
On potential playing Duke in the second round
"I saw that. It's Duke. Everybody knows what Duke is capable of. And we know what we're capable of. We just have to take care of this first game and we'll probably see Duke in the second round."
On his reaction to the whole deal
"I was definitely excited. The suspense was killing me but that's the best part about it to be called in the last bracket. It was exciting."
On whether he has seen Louisville play
"A few times. They seem like, obviously, a well-coached team with a lot of talent. It should be a good matchup."
On whether he thought the Bears might not be selected for the NCAA Tournament
"I've had faith, personally. I think this is our destiny to be here, and everything else will take of itself."
On what last year's matchup against Maryland in the NCAA taught him
"I think the whole tournament is definitely about matchups, and how well your personnel is against theirs and how they defend and just their style of play. And last year I don't think we were just content with being there. We wanted to come in and try and make some noise. But this year, having one more year with Coach Montgomery under our belt, having some more experience, I think we're better prepared to come in and really make some noise, really make a statement."
On playing Louisville and then possibly Duke?
"I'm excited. We're playing in a great bracket with a lot of talent, so I'm looking to knock everybody off at this point. You're in something like this and you're trying to win. No mercy on anybody and nobody's going to have mercy on us. That's what it is at this point."
On whether he will be playing with a chip on his shoulder
"It doesn't matter because we're in. Regardless of whatever you do in life, somebody's always going to have something to say. Everybody's not always going to be on your side, and we've dealt with that, being at Cal, for a while now, and me along with the rest of the guys on the team, we're about proving people wrong. We're going to strap on our hard hats and be ready to go to work."
More on Louisville and Duke
"Being a great team you want to compete against great talent. Their legacies have been built as a program and established, and I think that's something that we're trying to do as a team over here at Cal. Making a name for ourselves for the group of guys that are coming in for the future. I think this a great time, being seniors, and having a great group of guys, so the time is now."
On Louisville's reputation
"The reputation is definitely historic, with Coach Pitino as the head coach. It's obviously a Big East school with a rich tradition, so it's going to be a challenge but I think we're up for it. We've got a senior-laden team and I think that we've got a great shot, so we're excited."
On whether playing in last year's NCAA Tournament will help this year?
"Definitely. All the returners definitely remember how it felt in that locker room after we lost last year to Maryland, so we want to get out of the first round for sure."
"We know they're very battle-tested, very strong conference in the Big East. We know they have an inside-outside attack that's very versatile. I've watched them play this year, and I'm very impressed with the way they play. I saw them beat Syracuse so we know we have our work cut out for us but I'm confident in our team."
On potential facing your old team at Duke
"I do still talk to some of the guys. One thing I really don't want to do is have that be the focus. The focus is Louisville. So just taking one game at a time, the focus is Louisville."
On Louisville beating Syracuse twice this season and Syracuse beating Cal
"Well, we didn't have Theo [Robertson] that game and Syracuse is very unique in that they play a zone, so we could have really used Theo that game but I feel very confident in the fact that we had a very tough preseason. We've played with Kansas, the number-one overall seed, and you know, we battled with them throughout the whole game. It was still a game with about four minutes to go, so we know what it looks like as far as playing the big-time teams and we're not intimidated. We're confident in our abilities and we're excited for the challenge."
On whether he was worried that Cal might not make the tournament
"Well we can't control what a lot of people are saying. We just feel very fortunate that we are in the tournament and at this point it's just about preparing as best we can. We want to represent the Pac-10 as best we can. I feel we're a strong conference and we hope that our team, along with Washington, can represent the Pac-10 the best as we can."
On creating a legacy at Cal
"Without question I feel like we've already built a legacy this year and it's sad but at the end of the day you're only as good as your last game. A lot of times you're remembered for how you finished. We want to make sure that we finish strong. Whether it's in a win or a loss, we played our hardest, we gave our best effort, we prepared the best, we had all the best intentions, we were focused, we executed on offense, we knew the game plan, we got the right amount of sleep, we recovered our bodies well. All the little things, all the big things, we want to make sure that we do this week from here on out so at the end of the day we will know, we will leave no doubt that we gave it everything we had. "
On last year's experience in the NCAA Tournament
"Last year, I know I definitely had some moments like, `Wow, we're in the NCAA Tournament.' We were so happy about that, but this year, that was the expectation all year long would be that we would play in the NCAA Tournament. Not that we took it for granted, but I feel that you have a different swagger to yourself when you know you're going to play all year. I think the experience of going there and maybe not playing up to our best, for whatever reason, whether it be jitters or adjusting to playing in a bigger dome, whatever it may be, we've seen it. We're a senior group. We know it. And we'll be prepared this time around."