In its NCAA Tournament opener, Oklahoma State will face Gonzaga, an opponent that has become familiar. The two teams have played five times since 2004, including three games during Travis Ford’s tenure.
Q: How will last year’s game, a one-point loss at home, affect the players from a motivational standpoint?
A: “I don’t know. It goes both ways. I don’t think our team is getting caught up in that, other than we just know the personnel. We won’t put too much stock into that game because we’re a different team, and so are they. We won’t necessarily get too caught up in how that game was played.”
What stands out about Gonzaga’s personnel?
“They’re big. Two of their top three scorers are at the four and the five (positions). Kevin Pangos is their second-leading scorer, and he can shoot it. Not only that, but he can create his own shot. He is one of the better players in America. Gary Bell had a great game last year, here in Gallagher-Iba (Arena), and David Stockton is a really good point guard. We know their starting five pretty well. We’ll watch film and get to know the other guys better, but their starting five all played a significant role in last year’s game.”
Will you break down last year’s game film as part of your preparation?
“I’m sure I’ll go back and look at it, eventually. It won’t be one of the first things I do. We’ll look at their most recent games. They played a couple Big 12 teams, so I’ll go look at those, even though they were a while back just because I know how Kansas State and West Virginia play. I can get some ideas there. We have a lot of time between now and Friday, so I’ll watch every game they have played, as well as last year’s game here.”
What about playing Friday instead of Thursday?
“That’s good. We have a trip out west, so we have time to adjust, but as I told the team, you can’t worry about things you can’t control. You can’t worry about where you’re going, who you’re playing or what time the game is. Let’s worry about the things we can control. We play Friday. That will give us plenty of time to get out there, rest up and get ready. At this time last year, we didn’t have anyone who had played an NCAA Tournament game, so hopefully with last year’s experience, our guys will have a better understanding of what to expect.”