Tournament Talk: East Tennessee St

    
March 17th, 2009

CollegeHoops.net's Jon Teitel spent a lot of time Monday on conference calls with some of the biggest coaches & players in college basketball. Here are highlights of what the coaches & players had to say about their team's chances in the 2009 NCAA Tournament

EAST TENNESSEE STATE

Coach Murry Bartow
Q: How does it feel to be in the NCAA tourney?
A: It is very exciting. Pitt is a heck of a team, and Jamie Dixon is a heck of coach. Levance Fields is 1 of the best point guards in the country. We have some good players too, and our team is playing real well now. I was a little surprised to be a #16 seed (I expected #14 or #15), so I know we will have to play well, but we expect to play well. Every experience gives you new wisdom.

Q: What kind of advice have you received from your mentors?
A: My dad (Gene Bartow, who won the 1973 NCAA title with Memphis State) and I talk every day, but we don't get into X's and O's. I spent a great 2 years working for Bobby Knight (who has won 3 NCAA titles with Indiana), and I'm sure both he and dad would just tell me to get my team ready to play.

Q: How do you look back on your season so far?
A: We had a good year while winning 23 games, but knew February would be a tough stretch. We lost some very tight games on the road, but the last week of the regular season was really big for our team and gave us tremendous momentum. We are playing our best ball of the year right now, and our defense is much better this year than it was last year. We started pressing more towards the end of the season, and it worked well. The players deserve most of the credit: they are the reason we're going to the tourney.

Courtney Pigram, Sr
Q: How does it feel to be in the NCAA tourney?
A: We will have to play hard to win our game. We just try to compete, and hopefully we can take our team history and feed off of it.

Mike Smith, Jr
Q: What did you learn from your schedule this year?
A: We know we can play with anyone and compete. We get a lot of confidence from beating teams who are in the tourney (like Chattanooga).

Kevin Tiggs, Sr
Q: What did you learn from winning the 2007 national JC title and being named national JC player of the year with Mott CC?
A: It is just basketball: you can't really compare it to now because JC and D-1 are 2 different levels. I just try to play every game like it could be our last one.