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March 17, 2016

Will Wade

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

COACH WADE: Excited to be here. Hospitality in Oklahoma has been tremendous. We appreciate the Big 12 and everybody that's hosting, and we're ready to get going tomorrow and play a very good Oregon State team. They do a great job running what they do. They change their defenses up. It's hard to get in rhythm against them, so we're excited. We're excited about the challenge tomorrow and excited about being here, excited about being in Oklahoma City.

Q. Coach, what has the addition of Korey to this roster brought you guys this year?
COACH WADE: Well, we wouldn't be here without Korey. He's brought us some toughness. He's brought us a lot of experience, game experience which we desperately needed. We lost a lot of experience after last season with Treveon Graham and Briante Weber and some other guys that left the program. He's really come in and stepped in and seamlessly fit into our team. He started off really well. Had a little bit of a lull at the middle of the season, but he's just exploded here. He was on the all-tournament team in the conference tournament. He's playing as well as anybody on our roster right now. So we wouldn't be here without him.

I think it's great that this is his first NCAA Tournament. He had one chance to do this, and not only did we get in and he got to the tournament, but he got to come to his home state. His dad actually lives here. The rest of his family is about an hour and 15 minutes from here in Tulsa. So we're excited for him, and we'd definitely not be in this position if it weren't for him. He's had some huge games for us. He's come up big for us down the stretch, and I've been very proud of him. It's your senior year, you're in a bigger spotlight than he's been in, and he's been able to really rise to the occasion and play his best basketball here down the stretch.

Q. I asked the players the same question, but the coaches always have a different perspective. Being with a team that's made it to the tournament six straight years now and playing a team where none of the players have been in this environment, where do you think that gives you an edge? What are some of the things that your players know about and know to expect that the other team has no idea about?
COACH WADE: Well, I do think once it's thrown up I think it's just basketball at that point. I think where there's an advantage are days like today. You don't have to do -- you know, doing media and knowing how days like today flow and knowing how the week flows. Because you get a little bit out of routine when you get to the site where you're staying and those sort of things. So I think just being a little bit more prepared for the unexpected.

But once the ball is thrown up, it's just two really good basketball teams who made the NCAA Tournament and who can impose their will and play the best, especially early on. I think in these type games it's imperative that you get off to a good start early on. You don't want to bury yourself in a hole and have to climb uphill and fight uphill the entire game.

So I think that's really important for us that we get off to a good start. We've tried to prepare ourselves for this. This will be the third or fourth NBA arena we've played in this year. We played in the Garden; we played in Barclays; we've played in Philips Arena, so I think we have some preparation with that.

I know Oregon State played some games at the Rose Garden in Portland as well. So the NBA arenas have different sight lines, the baskets are different, there are some differences there. So I think both teams will be prepared for that. And hopefully our experience will help us sprint out of the gate if anything and deal with all the distractions that you have to deal with when you have to get to this point in the season. But they're good distractions. We're happy to be here.

Q. Coach, Gary Payton II is a unique kind of player. Is there anyone comparable to him that you guys have played? Is there anything else about Oregon State that jumps out on film outside from him?
COACH WADE: Well, he's tremendous. The closest thing we've played to him is a kid Marcus Posley at St. Bonaventure. Posley is a really good rebounding guard like Payton is. He's able to get in the paint, shoots it, shoots it well. But Payton is a special talent. He's going to play in the NBA. He's a really, really good player, and he'll be somebody that we need to key in on and stop.

Just the impressions of their team is one, Coach Tinkle is an unbelievable coach. He's done a phenomenal job. You can tell they play really hard for him. Even games they've been down they keep fighting and clawing and fight back. They play extremely hard for him. He has a very, very good system. He changes defenses. He tries to keep you out of rhythm. They're very efficient with their offense. They run what they run. Their guys take good shots. Their guys don't do any -- they don't have any out-of-body experiences. They do what they're supposed to do when they're supposed to do it. So they're just a solid team across the board that has a guard that's an elite level guard, elite, high-major guard and an NBA talent. When you have that, you've got a good team.

And they do a really nice job of moving Payton around. Playing him at point, playing him at the two, playing him at the four, posting him. They do a really good job of taking advantage of mismatches. So Payton's good, Coach Tinkle's good. One area that probably doesn't get enough emphasis for them, they're one of the best teams we've played all year after timeouts. His schemes after timeouts, changing defenses, his offensive sets after timeouts, picking at certain people. If you chart their ATO stuff, it's at a very, very high level. So that's something we've got to be aware of as well. They're a good team. They're here for a reason. Everybody's good at this point.

Q. Coach, after some of those tough, tough non-conference losses early in the season, did you have to maybe talk to yourself or the kids to keep some doubt from creeping in, and how did that better prepare you guys for now?
COACH WADE: Yeah, we played a brutal non-conference schedule with the team we had now. If we went back and played some of those games with the teams we had now, we'd be in great shape. We're trying to get Korey integrated into everything that we were doing, but I think it really helped us. We sat in front of our team when we were 8 and 5 after the non-conference. We were 5-5 at one point, and we won three straight non-conference games. We sat in front of our team and said, look, guys, every team that's one the A-10 regular season title in the last ten years has made the NCAA Tournament. So we've got one goal. If we want to get there, we've got to win the A-10 regular season title. You have 14 or 15 wins, so sure enough I was right, 14 tied, 15 would have won it outright.

But I said if we want to get there, that's what we have to do. If we want to continue the streak and keep on this, we've got to win the A-10 regular season, and we've got to do that one game at a time. We've got to get off to a good start in league, spread it out to a 9-0 league start and able to hold things off down the stretch. But you had to give them some hope. You had to give them hope. Certainly I sat in that locker room at Georgia Tech when we felt a 5-4, and we thought, boy, our chances are slipping. We've got to get to the Cincinnati game at home, and we lost that one at the buzzer, and going, boy, we're out of non-conference opportunities, it's all in on the conference. So we gave our guys some hope and they've responded. They responded well. We won the league, and here we are.

Q. Coach, I saw that you said on selection Sunday that you felt nervous about wanting to see VCU's name on the board, just how stressful, if that's the right word, was it taking over for this program? You wanted to keep it going, like you said. I know you had a big sellout streak.
COACH WADE: Still going 83. Our marketing people did a good job this year. 83.

Q. Just how difficult was it?
COACH WADE: Hard, very hard. There is a lot of pressure at VCU. Coach Smart raised the stakes of what we're doing and what VCU sees itself as, not only as a basketball program but as a school. I mean, we're growing in all facets. We're expanding in all facets and going to the Final Four and winning games in the NCAA Tournament is something that now our people know it's possible on a regular basis, and that's the expectation now. So it's difficult.

I mean, we didn't want to break the streak. Us and Kansas are the only two schools in the country that have won 24 games ten years in a row, so we didn't break that streak either. We're 24-10 rolling in here today. So you didn't want to break those two streaks. You didn't want to be a part of that. But we wouldn't be in this situation if it wasn't for Coach Smart and the way he raised the expectation levels and showed what can be done.

So the next step for us is, in all honesty, we haven't won a game in the tournament in two years. The last time we won was three years ago, and we need to get back to winning games in the NCAA Tournament. So tomorrow would be a huge feather in our cap as a team and as a program if we can get back to winning the game in the tournament and get that streak back going.

For a certain time, we were one of only a few teams, we had won games in three consecutive NCAA Tournaments. So we need to get back to winning and not just getting here. But he's transformed our program and the university. We're in a $25 million practice facility because of him and the vision he had, and the fundraising efforts we had of our folks. So we're very appreciative, and hopefully we can continue to build on it.

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