“We've still got some good players, no question,” Ford said. “Things have changed a little bit. But that's part of it. We'll adjust. We just need a little more out of some people.
“But we're all right. Once we get Cobbins back, if we can survive this early schedule, we'll be fine.”
This team feels different from Ford's last two, which finished 20-14 and 15-18 and were plagued by roster turmoil and injuries.
Ford's first recruiting class, a thrown-together lot collected on the fly after his hire, has now completely washed out. His latest classes, however, seem to boast more character than characters.
“I just look at the toughness of this team,” Brown said, “the competitiveness of everyone coming to practice, working hard trying to make the team better. We all just feel good about this team.”
Said Olukemi: “It's a more mature group of guys. Hard working. No shortcuts. That's what you want to get back to the tournament. I definitely like the feel of the team. I feel like everybody has each other's back and wants to play for each other.”
And wants to play on – into March and in the NCAA Tournament.
“We know last year wasn't a good year for us,” Nash said. “We look back on that and try to respond from that. We're talented. There's no doubt about that, we're talented.
“Now it's just go out there and do it.”