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The captain looks forward to New York, Notre Dame

By Bryan Rosenbaum
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
November 23, 1999
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Were you expecting New Mexico State to be so physical? They weren't intimidated by Arizona or McKale Center.

I think New Mexico State is a very good team, I knew they would be physical and good because they have four returning starters back and you can't teach experience. We knew going into the game that they were going to be that way; they were going to get in us. They did a great job with us but fortunately, we prevailed at the end.

What about Loren Woods? He showed some aggressiveness during the last 10 minutes, is that just a lack of experience from being out a year and a half?

Again, this is only his second countable game in a year and a half, for anyone, you just have to get adjusted. You saw what he did in the second half; he can be one of the best in the country. What we need from Loren is that for 40 minutes instead of just 10-20 minutes.

The referees were, to be nice, inconsistent Friday night. How did you adjust to this, especially with Jason Gardner and Gilbert Arenas with four fouls each?

The thing with referees is that you have to remember they are human beings; they're going to make mistakes. You're going to have different games with some different judgment calls and whatever, and that's part of winning the game and being a good team, even a great team, is fighting through that and not letting little stuff like that bother you.

How excited are you to go to New York and play in Madison Square Garden? Is this the kind of exposure the team needs on the East Coast?

Oh yeah, it's great. To go to New York and play in the Garden, the No. 1 sports arena in terms of anything in sports, and the guys will get a lot of good coverage back East, which will be good for Player of the Year candidates and All-American status' for some of the guys on our squad.

What do you expect from Notre Dame? Sophomore forward Troy Murphy has been a one-man wrecking crew.

Just from watching tape on them, just from watching a lot of tape on them, Troy is very, very good. Like last night (Sunday) against St. Francis of Pennsylvania, he scored 35 points. The kid can play, but they've got a lot of other good players, too. We can't just worry about Troy Murphy, we have to worry about the other four players on the court, too.

Notre Dame didn't have much confidence when the schedule was being put together - the Irish faced St. Francis on Sunday, right in the middle of the Preseason NIT. I didn'tthink you could schedule games in the middle of the tournaments. The more you win, the more games you play, right?

Under NCAA rules, even though you are playing in the NIT, you may play four games, but it counts as one. Some teams, even Kansas State, have games scheduled in there. Some teams that don't think they'll get to New York, they'll schedule games as a back-up. They figured Arizona, Ohio State, Kentucky and Maryland would have been the teams to advance.

Justin Wessel has really been solid in his role off the bench lately. He seems to be in the right place at the right time and is really making a difference out there.

Justin's been awesome. He's come off the bench and played tremendous minutes. The great thing is that he comes in and contributes, we don't lose a step when we pull Michael Wright or Loren Woods out of the game. He's really done a good job, I just think we need him to keep producing like that.

Aside from Championship Week and the NCAA Tournament, is this the greatest week in college basketball, and do you sneak a peek at the other teams?

It has to be. You've got the NIT, Maui (Invitational), Puerto Rico Shootout, the Top of the World Classic, stuff going on in Alaska, so all the tournaments are going on and everybody's geared up. I've been watching non-stop. There's a lot of great teams out there, and like this year in college football, there's a lot of parody out there. It's an open shot to win it all this year.

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