NCAA Tournament: Locker room chats

Compiled by Sophie McDonald, Sports Editor
Some interviews were one-on-one and some were with other media outlets.


How excited are you for this season and everything that’s happened?

Katie Ross (Coach Steve Prohm’s girlfriend): It’s surreal, this whole season has just been, you want to pinch yourself and say, ‘Is this really going on?’ You can’t really fully comprehend everything that’s happened all year until after it’s over. We came out and I was nervous at the beginning but the second half was great, we’ve just got to hit our free throws. That’s OK though, it means we’re going to get our percentages back up for the next game.


Just what are you guys feeling right now, how excited are you?

Latreze Mushatt: Oh we’re very excited to get one game out of the way. It’s like we always talk about, one game at a time and today we got down to business and now we’ve got to worry about the next team on Saturday so we’re just enjoying the moment right now and once it’s over with we’ve got to go back to reality.


You guys struggled a little in the first half but were able to come out really strong in the second, what was the difference?

Latreze Mushatt: I think it was our defense. The first half we only had one steal and nine deflections and that’s not how we play. We get in the passing lane, we get deflections, we preach defense and that’s what we did in the second half and that’s the outcome of the game, we picked it up.


Outside of that stretch of forcing turnovers it seemed like you really took the air out of the gym and took the air out of them during that stretch in the second half, would you agree with that?

Latreze Mushatt: Yeah, I think we did. We were playing their game in the first half, they were throwing it up, going back door and they did well, It’s a great team. They executed their game plan, but Coach came in here in the second half and told us to pick it up on defense – that’s what we do, we play defense – and once we did that we made them play our game and the outcome changed.


How important is it to force the other team to play your style? It seems like that’s kind of what happened in the second half.

Latreze Mushatt: It’s very important. You always want to play your style, we practice on that every day and we continue to do it so when it’s game time you’ve just got to continue doing what you’re doing. Coach has prepared us to come out and play and handle our business.


One of the big plays was when Zay (Jackson) hit that three in the second half, what were you thinking when that play happened?

Latreze Mushatt: Oh man, I was excited for him. He be in the gym everyday working on his shot and to come out here and hit it is just awesome.


Also talk to us, it seemed like it was a slow start for everybody, do you think it was Donte (Poole) scoring the first eight points- how big was he throughout the stretch and also, did the layoff kind of make an impact early on?

Latreze Mushatt: I think you’re right, the layoff was a kind of impact but, you know, we’re a team so it doesn’t matter who carries us, we’re just trying to get the job done.


Talk about how excited you are:

Jewuan Long: I’m very excited. Us being down by one we felt like we were about to fall asleep so we came out and played with more energy like they did and for us to come back and play with the energy that we played with makes us feel good. We’re celebrating, just for a little bit, then we have to get back to work.


Talk about the first half, struggled a little then you were able to come out strong in the second.

Jewuan Long: We struggled offensively in the first half, they played with a lot more energy than we did in the first half, they got offensive rebounds, they got loose balls. We got back in the locker room and talked about everything we did wrong, we just wanted to fix all those problems with a lot of energy and realize this could be it. We wanted to leave everything we had out there in the second half and that’s what we did.


What did Coach Prohm say to you in that halftime speech?

Jewuan Long: He just told us they was kicking our butts on the offensive glass and they were playing harder than we were so we wanted to go out here and pick it up and leave it out there.


How do you guys refocus going into Saturday?

Jewuan Long: We just watch film, watch (Marquette vs. BYU) the first half, the coaching staff always does a good job with the scouting report.


What’s it like being a part of this and being able to cheer the guys on?

Harley Nussman: Getting to experience it seeing it as a freshman and seeing what you need to do to get back here is cool and seeing how everything happens.


How excited are you that you won and get to play on Saturday?

Harley Nussman: I’m excited to go as far as we can take it, but we’re going to prep for it like we prep for every game. We’re not going to handle it differently or approach it any differently than we have the last 32 games.


How excited are you to get the win?

Stacy Wilson: I’m very excited, this is something you dream of when you’re little and right now I’m just trying to take it all in and trying to stay in the moment.


Talk about your contribution, you had a huge three, talk about it:

Stacy Wilson: Yeah, I was open so I just took it. I can shoot it and I was open so I just tried to knock it down.


How do you guys refocus and move on for Saturday?

Stacy Wilson: I think this got our confidence up, we got a good win, we’ve got a lot off our chest so now we have to focus on our next performance because if we want to win it’s going to take all of us.


Donte had a really big first half getting the first eight points then the team struggled a little bit but then was able to regroup and come out really strong in the second half, what made the difference?

Stacy Wilson: The first half we came out passive. The first half, we got some shots but we didn’t knock down what we usually knock down. The second half we came out and played defense and in the passing lane and they didn’t really score on us the second half.


What was Coach Prohm’s halftime speech?

Stacy Wilson: Basically how we were passive on defense and the first half we gave up a couple transition points that we had to get back so we had to get the ball. He was talking about how we have to come out and play like we usually do and that’s what we did in the second half.


You’re the guy who always checks his nose before press conferences and now this (broken nose with tissue stuffed in it), what’s going to happen?

Donte Poole: I’ve really got to check it now. I’m never going out, ever. (laughing)


Talk about the game and how excited are you to be able to move on?

Donte Poole: This is exciting, especially winning an NCAA Tournament game, anytime you can do that at this level is a great feeling.

Talk about your performance in the first half, you scored the first eight points.

Donte Poole: I had a few open shots and the guys found me so it was a credit to me making the shot and a credit to them finding me.


You guys kind of struggled in the first half and were able to come out strong in the second, what made the difference?

Donte Poole: Our defense. When we play defense it just turns up our offensive intensity, so we just wanted to get out, get in the passing lanes, get some turnovers, get some easy buckets in transition.

What was Coach Prohm’s half time speech?

Donte Poole: Just don’t be passive. We were passive, we just weren’t working through the things that got us here so we had to turn it up and that’s what we did.


How worried were you about your nose when you fell?

Donte Poole: I was real worried. I didn’t know what it was, especially when I saw the blood, that made it even worse. I’m fine now though, I feel all right.


How big was the bench today?

Ivan Aska: Zay did a good job, Trez did a tremendous job also, everybody who came off the bench- Stacy. They contribute to the team, they come in, they do what they got to do, they play their role, they just did a tremendous job.


How are you feeling?

Ivan Aska: We did our best to try to play our game and stuff like that, it feels good having the win but we still have a wall to build.


When Zay hit that three in the second half, when he kind of just pulled up and let it go, what was going through your mind?

Ivan Aska: I didn’t know he was going to do that, I thought he was going to drive to the bucket then penetrate and kick but I guess he was in the flow and feeling himself and knocked it down.


He said he was thinking ‘three all the way’, did you know that when you were watching him?

Ivan Aska: Yeah, that Zay, if he’s open he’s going to shoot. He’s got a lot of confidence. He and I talk and sometimes he gets on me when I make mistakes, well, all the time he gets on me when I make mistakes but he is a tremendous teammate and I wish the best for him.


What did Coach Prohm say during halftime?

Ivan Aska: We’ve just got to come out and play our game and stuff like that because we didn’t play good defensive in the first half, or offense, so try our best to play hard. Put every effort into it. Personally, I missed some shots in the first half, some jumpers, and tried to come out in the second half and adjust to how they were playing me and double-teaming me. So I’m going to look at them and how they’re playing me so I can prepare later down in the tournament.


Do you think it was the layoff, you guys haven’t played a game in 12 days, do you think that made a difference?

Ivan Aska: Yeah, in a way we hadn’t played in a long time but we’re always practicing but we got (this game) out of the way and I’m just looking forward to the next game. We’re going to keep building our wall and keep playing our game.

How do you guys keep your eyes up going into Saturday?

Ivan Aska: We just focus. No distractions, don’t worry about stuff we can’t control, just worry about stuff we can control and just do our best and work hard always. That’s what we’ve got to do.