Senior forward E.J. Singler has played 139 basketball games for Oregon, starting 129. But none of them have been in the NCAA Tournament. That changes Thursday, when the Ducks play Oklahoma State.
Singler's brother, Kyle, played 148 games for Duke. Fourteen of them came in the NCAA Tournament, including the 2010 Final Four, which the Blue Devils won and of which Kyle Singler was MVP.
E.J. Singler answered questions Wednesday about his NCAA Tournament debut:
Q: You've been with this program through the coaching change (to Dana Altman, three years ago), now you're here in San Jose. Have you taken time to think about the journey and what it means to be in the NCAA Tournament?
A: “I'm sure once everything is done, I'll look back at it and realize the journey and the accomplishments. But right now, we're just focused on Oklahoma State and trying to get the win.”
How do you temper your excitement and stay composed, being in the NCAA Tournament for the first time?
“Definitely, there's going to be a lot of excitement. This is the first time for a lot of us. But once the game hits, we've just got to realize that it's just another game and just play like it. We've played so good in the Pac-12 Tournament, it's going to be the same thing. We've just got to realize that it's just another game and just play like it.”
The seedings raised a few eyebrows. Are you using that as motivation? How did you feel about the unexpected low seed?
“I don't think we really even thought about it. We were just so happy we made it. Positions don't mean that much to us.”
The other Pac-12 teams got pretty rough draws, too. Do you think there's still a negative perception about Pac-12 basketball?
“I don't know. The Pac-12 had a really good year, but you know, I'm not sure how we stacked up against other conferences in the preseason. All that matters is how we do right now in the tournament. So we have the opportunity to make a name for ourself and for our conference in the tournament, and that's what we should do.”