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Men's Basketball

Meet The Press: NIT Semifinals Preview

March 26, 2009

Thursday, March 26, 2009 | Baylor-San Diego State NIT Semifinals Preview

On his team’s confidence...

“I think every game you are successful, your confidence level increases and our upperclassmen have shown a lot of leadership. It has been outstanding. And to be able to win back-to-back road games in the postseason has really helped in boosting our confidence.”

On LaceDarius Dunn...
“He has played outstanding over the last six games or so and when he went out of the game (at Auburn), you saw just how important he was. He is a great shooter and he’s not forcing things as much. He has more patience and that has helped in getting the ball to his teammates; his overall game has improved as well. He has always had that ability to score. We are going to continue to work to diversify his game. As far as his shot goes, ‘if something isn’t broke, don’t fix it.’ He has that scorer’s mentality; if he misses a couple of shots, he doesn’t go into a shell. He always has confidence in his next shot. “

On the excitement of being in the NIT...
“Human nature after any loss or disappointment is to be down. The NIT is a great field and we are happy to be playing. It has great exposure now with ESPN covering the games. Also, when you’re playing good teams, like we have been, it’s easy to get excited.”

On finally getting a break after the chaotic first three rounds...
“I think the players enjoy it because that means there is very little practice time. They had yesterday off and will get Saturday off so they can get caught up on studies and let their bodies rest up. But as coaches, we don’t ever rest. In the offseason, we are recruiting and we are always preparing for our next move.”



On what the NIT has meant to the program...
“This will be the winningest senior class to ever set foot on Baylor’s campus, so that is a great accomplishment for them. As coaches, it is exciting to see all of their hard work paying off. As far as affecting our program, we have had 16 ESPN games this year alone and prior to this year, it was 14 in the program’s history. Our success has provided us with great exposure; it’s fun to have fans nationwide.”

Seniors ending their time at Baylor on this note...
“My greatest concern was this senior class putting in so much work and energy into re-building this program and having a disappointing farewell. Losing to Nebraska in a half-empty arena on senior night was never how we envisioned these seniors going out. Then we had a packed house with a win against Georgetown on national television, and that is the way these guys deserve to go out. They have worked hard and it is nice for them to be able to have special memories of this program and play their final game in that environment.”

On San Diego State...
“We haven’t gotten a chance to watch much film, but I think anyone could see in the game last night against St. Mary’s that they’re a great team. They have size, athleticism and they play extremely hard. They have a lot of transfers which gives you those older guys who have that fifth year of eligibility and provides experience and leadership. They face great competition in playing in the Mountain West Conference that they do and have a challenging schedule. SDSU is a very well-respected team in the coaching profession.”

On setting goals and making it to New York...
“We have really been focused on reaching our goal to get to the final four. Now that we have accomplished that, we will switch our focus to getting to the championship game. I think last postseason helped prepare us a lot. It is always a rush to make it to the NCAA for the first time and we experienced that last year. This postseason we have been able to focus on the games and not get caught up in the hype; we haven’t wanted to hang up our jerseys and that mentality has helped a lot as well.”

SENIOR GUARD Curtis Jerrells
On playing at Madison Square Garden...
“I am excited. It is the first time for a lot of us to go up there. They showed a little film before the Auburn game on some of the history there and that added some extra motivation for us. Our main focus is to win and I think we have done a good job of enjoying each win, but moving on to look ahead to the next games. We are going up there to bring home the first place trophy.”

On playing in the NIT and not the NCAA Tournament...
“At times we are still frustrated that we didn’t make the big tournament. But in the end, it’s about playing the game. You start playing in whatever game it may be and your competitive nature comes out. As an athlete, you don’t want to lose because it’s just in your nature. It is kind of hard sometimes because there is talk everywhere about the NCAA tournament and that was our ultimate goal. We are happy to be where we are and we’re going to enjoy our accomplishments. “

On rebuilding the program...
“We have come a long way. Nobody said it was going to be easy. When we found out we weren’t going to have a preseason that first year, we knew it was going to be tough. We were up for the challenge and we are where we are now because of the hard work we have put in.”

On last year’s experience and how it has helped with this postseason...
“I think we have a different mentality after our success in the Big 12 tournament – just go out and play. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves last year and weren’t really focused on the game itself. When you put that kind of pressure on yourself the numbers are against you. If you just go out and play the game like you know how, things take care of themselves.”

On going to the NIT Final Four in New York...
"It's a great accomplishment. I think it's great to be able to be in the final four and go against such great teams. We have to take it as it comes and hope we can pull off winning the championship."

On being in the NIT rather than the NCAA Tournament...
"It's still on my mind and it was hard initially because we were pulling for the big tournament, but things happen for a reason and we just have to take it as it comes. A game is a game and we are just looking forward to playing Baylor basketball and we know that is what we have to do to win."

On being six points away from 1,000 career points...
"I try not to get myself thinking about records and those types of things. I am looking forward to reaching that goal. I'm just going to go out and play and when it happens, it happens. "

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