CRAWFORD BLOG | In their own words: U of L on the Final Four - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD BLOG | In their own words: U of L players on the Final Four

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ATLANTA (WDRB) -- Selected thoughts from the University of Louisville basketball players one day before they meet Wichita State in a national semifinal at the Georgia Dome:

PEYTON SIVA, ON LOUISVILLE MAKING AND SUSTAINING RUNS IN THE TOURNAMENT: During those times, we start making shots. We don't think about it at the time, we just try to make key stops. Basketball is a game of runs. It is about stopping the other team's run and making our own at the right time. Lately we have been making our runs at the right time. We are just keeping up the pressure on our opponents and limiting them to only one shot. That has been the big key for us.

I wear No. 3 for the Trinity, the Father, the Son, and Holy Ghost. It has been a major role in my life on and off the court. I have always been strong in my faith and it is a way for me to give back to God. I know without Him, I would not be here today.

SIVA ON THE EXPECTATIONS BEING SQUARELY ON HIS TEAM: I feel that last year we should have won and I feel that this year we are going to try to win out. Kentucky did a great job handling being the No. 1 team at the beginning of the year and finishing the year as the No. 1 team. We have to just continue to play our game and not worry about anything else.

CHANE BEHANAN ON THE DIFFERENCE IN EXPECTATIONS FROM THIS YEAR TO LAST: People are expecting us to win it. I think that is the one difference from last year to this year. We have the No. 1 seed. It's a lot of pressure with everyone expecting us to win.

BEHANAN ON SO MUCH OF THE FOCUS BEING ON KEVIN WARE AND NOT THE REST OF THE TEAM: Kevin is a big part of this team. I'm glad all the attention has been on him. The focus of everybody on this team remains the same. Everyone knows what our goal still is. We haven't hit it yet, and that's winning a national championship. Kevin is going to be a big part of that, and I don't think we will lose focus.

SIVA, ON THE ADVANTAGE OF BEING THROUGH THE FINAL FOUR EXPERIENCE BEFORE: I think the advantage comes through the NCAA Tournament. I do not think it really comes into play here. Throughout the tournament, we know to use take one game at a time. Once you get to this point, every day is a championship game. You just have to continue to put it all on the line and that is what I think we are doing right now. We are staying together as a team, taking good shots, playing good defense."

SIVA ON SIMILARITIES BETWEEN HIM AND WICHITA STATE GUARD MALCOLM ARMSTEAD: He is a lot different from me. He is a more aggressive point guard. He scores a lot more than I do. He is a heck of a player. He is a lefty and gives lots of people fits. He is a strong, aggressive guard that can shoot and attack you off the dribble. He is good in the pick-and-roll. There are just so many parts of his game that he is good at. For me, I am more of a facilitator and try to run my team. He does a good job at that as well.

DIENG ON IMPROVEMENTS IN HIS OFFENSIVE GAME: My game has changed a lot, and that's what happens when you play against good competition. When you're willing to work and get good coaching, that's what happens. The coaches showed me some things, and I just kept doing them. I work on those things by myself and sometimes with my friends. That's what makes you great. I've learned a lot under Coach P. He changed my whole personality and made me tougher. Everybody knows that I was very skinny and I've gained a lot of weight. I've worked on my game offensively and I've become a good shot blocker. To make it short, I was a boy and now I'm a man.

DIENG ON HOW THE TEAM IS SUPPORTING WARE: We're going to support him the best way we can. Every Final Four team has, I don't want to call it a distraction, a topic that people want to focus on. Kevin's getting all the attention and I'm sure he's going to handle it well. I'm sure my teammates are going to handle it pretty well. Kevin did what he was supposed to do. He helped this team get to the Final Four. He can have all the attention. We don't need it. Once we step on the floor, we're going to play our roles. Every team that wins the national championship, they play their roles. Everybody knows what's at stake. They play tough. If you know Louisville, coach P's teams, they play hard. So it's going to be an ugly game. We're looking forward to it.

DIENG, ASKED TO EXPLAIN HIS 'UGLY GAME' COMMENT: This game is not going to be fun to watch. It's going to be ugly game. But we don't care if it's pretty, we just want to win. You know both teams are very hungry.

DIENG ON PITINO'S POSSIBLE ELECTION TO THE BASKETBALL HALL OF FAME: We'll wait. We're not going to anticipate anything. We're going to take one thing at a time. When it happens, we'll congratulate him and be happy for him, because we think he deserves it. But right now, it's not Coach P's show. We have to take care of business. We have to win.

DIENG, ON WHY HE THINKS IT'S GOING TO BE AN UGLY GAME: All we know is we're going to play with a lot of effort and bring a lot of energy. Everybody knows Coach P's teams play hard. And they are a very hungry team, too. Coach P says they are a very physical team.

TIM HENDERSON, ON WHETHER HE'S NERVOUS, FACING AN INCREASED ROLE: Not nervous. Before any game in high school, I'd get butterflies. I'm sure I'll get those same butterflies. But once I get out there I'll be fine, I'm sure. It means the world to have the team call on me. I'd love Kevin to be out there playing, but he's not able to, and I feel like I'm ready to step into that role. I've been practicing hard. I just have to play defense.

SIVA, ON HENDERSON'S IMPORTANCE: I think Tim Henderson and Luke playing more (in Ware's place), they're more than capable guys to play the role. Tim, a lot of people talk about he's a walk-on and everything, but he's been guarding Russ Smith the whole year. Think about that. I think he can spell anybody. If you guard Russ Smith the whole year, you can pretty much guard anybody, especially in practice. Because Russ doesn't hold back in practice.

RUSS SMITH, AS THE BEST PLAYER ON THE BEST TEAM IN THE NATION, DOES HE FEEL OVERLOOKED AS A THIRD-TEAM ALL-AMERICAN? I've always been overlooked all my life. To be named an All-American is an honor to me, no matter where I'm put, first, second or third team. I just feel like, at least I was recognized. Wherever the outside world may think I belong, that's their opinion. For me to make All-American is something my family, my coach and my teammates are proud of because I know where I started and I was not on the road to be named All-American. To be named third-team is an honor to me.

For more transcripts of player interviews at the Final Four, visit

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