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Washington State - Off-Day Quotes
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Courtesy: Washington State Athletics
Release: 03/16/2007
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March 16, 2007

2007 NCAA DIVISION I MEN'S BASKETBALL CHAMPIONSHIP
FIRST AND SECOND ROUNDS
SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA - ARCO ARENA
FRIDAY, MARCH 16, 2007

WASHINGTON STATE PRESS CONFERENCE QUOTES

Head Coach Tony Bennett

On preparing for Vanderbilt in 48 hours...
We play Thursday and Saturday, and we're used to this turnaround for a game. It still comes down to your game, your style, and being who you are - and not focusing too much on the opponent, but focusing on their strengths.

On the lack of upsets so far in the tournament...
Maybe the teams had more experience or maybe the people who seeded them did a good job. Credit to the selection committee.

On Vanderbilt...
They're a well coached and disciplined team.

On what made this group click this year...
We brought in a large group of high school seniors and gave them a lot of experience as freshmen and sophomores. For this group, getting that close, they finally matured. The depth and the experience and being coached by one of the best coaches in the country, my father, he instilled in them a toughness that only he can do. His goal when he handed them off was to give me a fighting chance.

On the team personality-wise and their character...
When my dad recruited this class, he said that we needed to get a bunch of guys we could lose with first before we win. I didn't understand at the time, but what he was saying was that when you go through a rebuilding process, you're going to take a lot of hard losses and go through a lot of tough things. And if you have a group of young men who will go their own way and not stay true to the vision, it will be hard. But if they stay together through the hard times, when you enjoy some success, then that can really get going. Every one of our kids is a real solid individual.

On Derrick Byars...
He's so strong and a complete player. He's tough-minded and physical. Players like that are probably going to make some plays, but you have to make them earn it over the course of the game.

On Coach Stallings...
He's a good man. I know he has a great amount of respect for my father. I respect the way his teams play.

On his father...
He challenged me. When he coached me, I gave him the green light to push me as hard as he wanted. His whole thing as a coach is that it is my job to push out of the comfort zone. To push the team collectively as individuals past where they're comfortable. It isn't human nature to do that. He pushed hard and toughened our groups up.

On what message his dad taught him to pass on...
To know who you are. Play in a way that gives you a chance to be the best. Our style is our system. Give us a chance to play teams the best. Do what you do best and not get too complicated.

On Aron Baynes...
He always had some problems with his health, and then he really played some great games for us as the season went on. He's a physical guy - his ability to defensive rebound and score a little bit at the post really helps his team. We don' t look real imposing, but Aron at least gives us the thick guy in the middle. He's only a sophomore, and I think he has his best basketball ahead of him.

Student-Athlete Robbie Cowgill

On what Washington State knows about Vanderbilt...
We didn't see them play a whole lot yesterday, but I know they can shoot the ball lights-out. That first half (versus George Washington) they really put on a three-point-clinic. It's going to be a challenge for us to get out to shooters and bother them.

On Derrick Byars...
He's the SEC Player of the Year... so he's a solid player. It's going to be on us as a team to stop him.

On what makes the team click this year...
Experience has been the big thing this year. We were right on the edge the last two years. We were finally a competitive program, but we just couldn't finish games. Finally, when we got the experience there, guys who had been there before and a little more leadership, we started to win those close games. When we won a few games early on, we started to believe even more in the system and more in each other that this will be a special year. That has bred confidence in each other and the whole group.

On their awareness of Vanderbilt...
They're incredibly talented. They're a good team - they're solid and take care of the ball

On opener with University of Alabama at Birmingham earlier this season and if they had an indication of something special...
It was going to be a challenge for us, be we had a lot of guys play well and showed our depth well in that tournament. It is when I started to believe that this was going to be that kind of year.

On being in the shadow of UCLA...
We've always been in the back of the Pac-10 as far as attention, coverage, and respect, and that is fine with us. We didn't come in thinking we'd be in the light and glamour. We have a hard-working group that would rather just get it down in workouts and on the floor, rather than being in the limelight.

On how the defense works...
It's predicated, first, on getting back and getting set. That's the number one principle. We want to eliminate easy baskets and not give away transition points. We want that lane to be sacred and want guys to have to take outside contested shots. We feel like if we do that, and rebound, then that is when our defense is the best and we'll be successful.

Student-Athlete Aron Baynes

On what Washington State knows about Vanderbilt...
We're going to have to get back in defensive transition. It is going to be a big thing for us to get back and make them play against a set defense for 40 minutes of the game.

On what makes the team click this year...
Coach Dick Bennett laid the foundation. Tony brings a lot more for the offensive end of things. The team has been together for a bit now. We're able to close out games a bit more.

On the difference in physicality and styles from teams from the east and the Pac 10...
I don't know if there's a difference so much in physicality in the teams, but how it has been officiated at this tournament. They've been letting a bit more go than what we're used to in the past.

On how the defense works...
It's the Bennett system - the pack defense. The whole team has to play it. If one guy stops playing it, it's going to break down.

Washington State Cougars Athletics
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