East Regional Breakout Room Quotes: Villanova/Texas Tech
Zhaire Smith, Fr. Guard
Reporter: Can you just talk about some of the problems presents to you guys? Obviously, they love to shoot the three.
Smith: They are a really good all-around team. They have multiple players that can go off for 20 and can score at all three levels so we have to focus on good team defense as well as our one-on-one defense.
Reporter: Can you talk about Zach Smith and how he has gotten better since coming back from injury?
Smith: Yea he has been great. He is still a little banged up, but he put together an excellent game last night and I’m just glad for him and hopefully he can do it again tomorrow.
Reporter: Do you feel like you guys are getting stronger each game?
Smith: Yes sir. We make sure to learn from our mistakes and try to not make the same ones again.
Norense Odiase, R-Jr. Center
Reporter: One of the things I’ve noticed is the balance and depth of this team and led the conference in bench scoring which shows a lot of unselfishness. How have you cultivated that?
Odiase: We pride ourselves on our depth. I don’t think a guy on our team averages more than 25 minutes. Whenever we can get out and play and get our bench going it’s really a testament of how good of a team we are. Our practices strengthen our game. We battle and go at it and really get after each other and it really shows on the court. We really try to set the tone in practice.
Justin Gray, Sr. Guard
Reporter: There were some tweets saying that last night was the best game people have seen you play. Would you agree or disagree?
Gray: I would agree. It’s a Sweet Sixteen game and my career is on the line and I just didn’t want to lose so I was willing to just leave it all our there. I knew my teammates were going to follow and saw the passion I was showing and makes me feel like I can give them that energy. Whether it’s a block shot, steal or just pumping them up during timeouts to make sure they give everything they have.
Reporter: What is your team’s confidence level as you prepare for #1 Villanova?
Gray: Our confidence has always been high. A lot of people think we are a little too loose because we like to dance and have fun, but that is us and we aren’t going to change. We are going to be exactly who Texas Tech is and we like to let loose, enjoy the environment and make sure we are comfortable. I feel like last night in that environment everyone was comfortable and hitting their shots and made the plays.
Niem Stevenson, Sr. Guard
Reporter: Have you been able to watch a lot on Villanova coming into this on film and what is the biggest challenge you expect from them?
Stevenson: Yes, we have. They are a great team and have a great coach and we are excited to play them. They are one of the best offensive teams in the country and we’re one of the best defensive teams so it is going to be a great matchup.
Jalen Brunson, Jr. Guard
Reporter: You guys were all there when you won it all, but Texas Tech has never been to the Elite Eight. How much does that help?
Brunson: I think it definitely helps just because of the experience, but we know that they are hungry and have never been to this point and want to keep advancing. We know they are going to come in with a lot of energy so we just have to be ready to play Villanova basketball
Reporter: How much studying have you been able to do for Texas Tech? Have you been able to learn a lot about them at this point?
Brunson: Yea, they are in a different conference so we haven’t been able to see them a lot, but I think that being able to watch West Virginia’s film, who has played Texas Tech a couple times, helped us a little bit. We know they are a good team and we are really going to have to lock in and have a quick turnaround to be ready. Coach always puts us in a position to be successful so we just have to make sure we are concentrated and focused.
Omari Spellman, R-Fr. Forward
Reporter: When you were in high school you shot the occasional three but now it seems to be more consistent in your game. Was that a part of your game that you wanted to focus on when you got to Villanova?
Spellman: Coach knew that that was something I could bring to the table and worked on that in the offseason. We wanted to get a minimum of 200 shots per day and chart everything. Once we fine tuned the mechanics, I just became a much better shooter.
Reporter: Your body has really transformed since coming out of high school. Was that something the coaching staff put on you or was that a decision you made yourself?
Spellman: I was a little immature coming out of high school and they told me that you can’t be an elite player at this level at 300 pounds. This program prides itself on defending and rebounding and I knew that I had to be able to do those things at a higher level and it’s only made me better as a player. The strength and conditioning coaches have been with me every step of the way just helping me so much and helping me get to this moment and I’m ready to go out there and play as hard as I can.
Phil Booth, R-Jr. Guard
Reporter: Having won a National Championship and having the chance now to go back to the Final Four with you guys as the leaders this time, how special would that be?
Booth: It’s exactly that, it’s special. I remember I was the young guy when we won last time. I was just a sophomore and the guys leading us taught us a lot on how to be a leader here so it’s big. We just want to keep these guys connected from the top down.
Eric Paschall, R-Jr. Forward
Reporter: Everyone has seen your talent in the past but was it difficult for you to carve out a different role with this team?
Paschall: Not really, no. Of course I was always the big guy but I had no problem sacrificing a part of my game and its clearly been worth it. It means a lot to be a part of this culture. Coach has really made me feel like a part of the team and I’ve helped everywhere I could and seeing the possibilities for this team is a blessing.
Mikal Bridges, R-Jr. Guard/Forward
Reporter: You guys mentioned in the press conference that playing West Virginia kind of helped you guys with this matchup against Texas Tech. How so?
Bridges: Both teams are very physical and can really defend and rebound. I feel like that is the big thing and watching West Virginia film gave us some clips from their games against Texas Tech. We got to see them battle a little bit which was good for us and has helped us prepare for tomorrow.
Reporter: Have you heard from some of the Alumni? What has their support been like on this run?
Bridges: They always text us telling us to keep going and to keep playing our way. They are always with us no matter what the situation is and make sure that we are always sticking to our core values