Is it difficult to
refocus after two big wins like that and look forward to the Sweet Sixteen?
It is. We have stuff like (media day) and everyone around
here, for St. Mary’s, the Sweet Sixteen is like a national championship and
that we’ve made it. I talked to the team last night and said that we can’t
think like that, because the second you think like that you lose to Baylor so
you really got to turn the page and focus.And it is hard, but that’s how you’ll see good for these next two weeks
and you’ll see who can turn the page and who can’t.
You guys have 5
Australian players. What’s it like to have that have that little pod on the
It brings so much to the team. They bring so much of their
culture to the team and everyday activities. I don’t think people realize how
is; the way they joke and the way they look at life and it’s great to have
them. It’s really brought a whole country into this. The whole country of Australia
is into Saint Mary’s basketball and our games are televised nationally over
there so it’s quite an experience.
So you’re going to go
up against some boys maybe even bigger than you for the first time in
awhile.How do those match ups look for
They’re a big team and they’re athletic and we’re not.It’s a good match up and it’s one of those
games you look forward to.
Have you been
motivated by all the doubters personally? I mean, people say you’re not a star
in Division I star, well here you are beating back all the nay-sayers and what
about after this? NBA… does it enter into your thinking even now?
It does. Obviously the NBA always enters my thinking, but
the doubters really help motivate me. And they’re one of the bigger reasons why
I get up earlier in the mornings and do extra workouts and stuff like that. I
cut out a lot of the stuff I read or paste it above my bed. I really use that
to motivate me and help me achieve my goals. It’s just funny that the higher we
make it, the more people come up with new things. Like they’re going to lose
first round, but now we’re in the Sweet Sixteen and they say well they got
lucky and they can’t do it again It’s one of those things that they’re always
going to find something and it’s great, because that’s what motivates me.
And how big is that
glass slipper you’re wearing?
Size 16, but 16-16… it must meant to be. It’s one of those
things that they call us a Cinderella and its motivation for us.
Can you describe the
scene coming back the other night, when you guys come off the bus. They really
mobbed you and what were kind of the emotions going through you?
Like I said, its just unreal. You’re so happy to see the
media and your friends and family and they welcome you with open arms and are
so proud of you. There’s such a sense of community. The community feels like
they’re in the Sweet Sixteen. It’s such a bond we have with such a small town,
you know people come up to me in the streets and say, “Do it for us!” It’s just
crazy. I got the chance to talk to a guy at the grocery store and said he just
lost his job. He said, “Hey man, I’ve been down the last few weeks and this
weekend really cheered me up. I feel like a new man again. Thank you so much!”
You don’t realize how much this means to the community.
We just ran into
someone who was on the 1959 team. How great would it be to go to the Elite
Eight and beyond?
It would be great. It’s one of those things we have in the
back of our heads, and if you’re not talking about it you’re crazy, but we
understand we have a big task ahead of us and we’re excited. We want to play
Duke and that would be a lot of fun. You grow up hearing about Duke so
hopefully we’ll get the chance to play them and hopefully kids around the world
will grow up hearing about Saint Mary’s.
I know you’ve talked
a lot about the doubters, but in reality, there are a lot of people who think you
guys are pretty good. I don’t think there are a lot of doubters left. Are you
creating some of this on your own?
That’s the thing, its Saint Mary’s. There will always be
doubters. At the very least you just have to call somebody from Spokane and
you’ll hear some. But I heard some guy on ESPN the other day talk about how
Omar Samhan won’t be able to score against Baylor’s bigs; they’re too athletic
for him, stuff like that. I woke up the other day so excited and just have such
a great night before and I heard him and said, “Thank you. God put this guy in
my life.” I had literally just heard this guy stop talking and Coach Kyle had
already texted me and said, “Did you hear what he said?” I was like, “Coach, I
happen to actually be watching!” “Unbelievable, you have back to work soon.” I
said, “No worries.” It’s definitely one of those things that no matter what we
do, even if we win the National Championship, people will say, “It was a weak
field this year.” They’ll find a way to doubt Omar Samhan and Saint Mary’s and
that’s what we want.
And who was that
It was ESPN, but I will get you the name, I promise you
You were considering
getting in some play and shots Saturday night when you got back. Did you?
I did, I did. I got in some shots that night when we got
back. We got back in around midnight
and there were a few hundred people out. I left for a little and let it calm
down a bit and then came back to shoot around.
I heard there was a
There were police and a huge fire truck and they had their
sirens going. They met us right at the ‘Welcome to Moraga’
sign and all the cars were honking as we went by. It was great.
What has been the
best or most odd thing you’ve experienced in the last five or six days?
I think how quickly it turned. Joe Lunardi, who’s this big
brackets guy said, “Enjoy your trip out there, you’re going to lose to Richmond
in the first round” and he had this whole speech on ESPN.It turned so quickly from this team that
wasn’t on the map and no one cares about, to now we’re a nationally known
team.The things we’re doing as a team
and individually, we’ve been doing all year.
You guys went from,
we’re happy to be in the tournament to hey we can actually do some damage here.
You know we beat Villanova, we beat Gonzaga, we beat Richmond,
why can’t we beat anybody? Confidence is building and it’s such a snow-ball
affect so it’s definitely been great.The confidence going into Baylor is the best it’s been all year, which
is what you want.
Have you always been
the big-man who likes to be the big-man? Have you always been that way or is
that something they taught you here?
Yeah I think they paint is sexy. To be in the key and to be
a traditional big man, I think that’s awesome. It’s really what every big man
should be and I hate when big guys are out there shooting and doing all that
kind of stuff. It’s definitely something I take pride in and it works because
that’s exactly what we need here.
Does being the
working guy underneath the basket fit your personality?
I’m just a work horse, that’s all I have.I lace my boots up, put my hard-hat on, bring
my lunch pale.
I really wanted to
see the sneakers, I wish you would have brought them…
They look similar, they have holes in them and
everything.It’s just one of those
things where I take pride in working hard and when guys elbow me inside I get
excited.I love to mix it up.