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March 19, 2016

Daniel Ochefu

Ryan Arcidiacono

Brooklyn, New York

Q. Daniel, the daily question, how did your ankle make it through the game yesterday, and how do you feel today?
DANIEL OCHEFU: Ankle made it through perfectly yesterday, no tweaks or anything. And today, Im feeling fine right now. Felt good on the little walk-through practice we just had. I'll get back to the hotel, do some treatment and continue working on it so I'll be good for game time.

Q. Ryan, I feel like the big picture perception of Villanova and specifically you and the senior class is kind of tied to March and how far you can go. Given all that you've accomplished during your career, is it almost unfair that the big picture perception is tied to this time of year?
RYAN ARCIDIACONO: No. Everyone has the right to think what they want, say what they want. We played in those games. We haven't come through in the second round of the tournament. We've had some great success throughout the regular season and in the Big East Tournament the last couple of years. Hopefully, we can win tomorrow, but we're just excited to play.

I can't really tell people how they should look at our senior class or myself in particular. They have the right to think of us how they want to.

Q. Either one of you guys, what are your thoughts about Iowa so far and what challenges they present. Do they remind you of anybody sort of you've seen this year?
RYAN ARCIDIACONO: They're tough. They can really score the ball. They have great size and great length. Clearly, Uthoff can go off at any moment, same with Jok, and they have Woodbury on the inside. I don't think we've seen anyone in particular that has had the length that they've had and had the scores that they've had. I would think a couple years ago, when we played Creighton, when they had McDermott and all those shooters, they were that good. So that's the one team we were kind of thinking had the length, the shooters, and the skill guys that they had.

DANIEL OCHEFU: We know they're extremely tough, well coached Big Ten team. We played them our sophomore year in Atlantis. They do a lot of the same things that they did with Devyn Marble and Uthoff and the other guys. We know they're two years older, stronger, better players, and we really have to lock into that scouting report.

Q. Both of you guys, you've been around Jay now for four years. Are you seeing him -- is there like any kind of a different Jay in this tournament here and his approach? Is he kind of like -- it seems like he's got a lot of energy. Is he doing anything different? What kind of changes have you seen in him, if any?
RYAN ARCIDIACONO: Compared to like our freshman year in the tournament? Coach Wright always has great energy, every single day in practice. I think even around tourney time he's the same person and has been throughout the whole year. That's the one thing I've loved about Coach Wright is you know you're going to get 100 percent commitment to that practice or that day, whatever it is, whether it's film, whether we're just talking in the locker room or before practice or anything like that. He's going to give it to you 100 percent.

I just think he always has that energy, but the NCAA Tournament time, you know he's going to turn it up a notch.

DANIEL OCHEFU: Definitely, what Ryan said, NCAA Tournament time, he definitely turns it up, and we all have in terms of intensity, attention to detail, just because that's what we have to do. It could possibly be our last game, and I think this year we have a lot more young guys. So it's definitely on myself and arch to be on the young guys and make sure they understand we have to respect every opponent despite their ranking or whatever. One of the best 68 teams in the country is playing in this tournament. If we're playing against them, we have to give them the utmost respect.

Q. For both players, we've all heard since September about your season will be measured by the second game in March, second NCAA game in March. Now that it's here, is there any -- I know you guys always say the same thing about taking it one game at a time. But now that it's here, is it more of a special or more compelling moment for you guys?
RYAN ARCIDIACONO: Yeah, you know our answer is always one day at a time, one game at a time. We're just excited to get back out on the court and play again. We know that, if we play our game and defend and rebound like we know how to, there's going to be a good result at the end.

We're just excited to be in the NCAA Tournament the second weekend. We're excited to have the opportunity to get past this game, and we'll try to do our best to be ready to do that, but we know we have a very tough Iowa team.

DANIEL OCHEFU: We're just extremely excited to be able to play in our second game in this tournament. Everybody's been talking about this game for the whole year, even in the summertime before the season started. So the fact that the game is here and we can finally just get it done. Hopefully, we'll get the win, and people will stop talking about it.

Q. I know it wasn't really reflected in the scoreboard, but is sometimes that first game tougher because you haven't played in five, six days, and you just want to come out and set a good tone for the tournament. Getting past that, now getting into a little bit of a rhythm where you can play every couple of days, is that better for you guys? Or it's not really a factor?
RYAN ARCIDIACONO: There's always going to be nerves in the first game, first round, just with the younger guys. Everyone knows everything's turned up during tournament time. But especially getting out there because you know you're going to play a good team and a team, since we got the 2 seed, we knew that team was going to come in with confidence off their tournament, and I think they did. We struggled in the first half, and they really came out and punched us, but we kept responding, and eventually we were able to turn it up a notch.

I think in the beginning everyone always has a little jitters just because you see everything, NCAA Tournament and you see the commercials and everything like that, but once we settled down, I think we were able to just play our game and eventually get the win.

DANIEL OCHEFU: I thought that first half, our first game was good for us just because we were grinding for a good part of it. We just stuck with what we were doing. Coach Wright really harps on playing 40 minutes. We played 40 minutes in that game, and the results were in our favor.

We're not expecting to blow teams out like that every game, but if we play 40 minutes, guys like Ryan, Josh, Kris are hitting threes, and stuff is going well inside and we're defending, we're capable of doing that.

Q. For both players, Jalen and Mikal are new to this NCAA thing, played pretty well yesterday. What do you see in their demeanor ? And the way they prepare that makes you think they're ready for this big stage?
RYAN ARCIDIACONO: I think, since Mikal redshirted last year and he was able to be a part of the NCAA Tournament team, he already had a good sense of it. And then the second half of the season, I think he's really found his role on the team and what he can bring to the team with energy off the bench defending and rebounding.

I think Jalen is just -- he's ready for the big moment in every single game. I think for the NCAA Tournament, it wasn't as big of a deal because I think he's taken every game like it's the biggest game of the year. And I think back to the Temple game when I knew that was a huge game for him and the way he responded in that. So I just think he's mentally -- he's not a freshman. I think he's an upper classman, and he knows what is just our next game and knows what to do when he's out on the floor.

DANIEL OCHEFU: I think they're both doing a great job of just getting coached and continuing to be coached. Even today, Mikal messed up in our scouting report, and guys were getting on him, and he responded immediately, made the adjustment, and he didn't make the mistake again. So both of those guys have done a great job understanding, just because the intensity is up and we're going to be on them more doesn't mean they should be down on themselves. We're not going to be feeling bad for them if they make a mistake. We're just going to tell them about it, and they're on to the next play.

Q. For both of you, this is more just out of curiosity. Yesterday was maybe the craziest day in NCAA Tournament history. When you guys were done, do you guys watch the rest of the games? I know you're also preparing for games, but how do you guys handle the fun part of the NCAA Tournament as participants?
RYAN ARCIDIACONO: I think, once we -- I mean, definitely right after the game we have to do all the media and everything. So we didn't get to see much of the first half of the Temple-Iowa game. We were able to watch the second half in overtime in our room. We're definitely all following along. We all were watching -- I think we were watching the Iowa game, but we were following on our phones the Middle Tennessee State and Michigan State game, which was a big shocker to everyone.

I know I didn't fall asleep until all the late games, and there were three great games, Northern Iowa with that shot and every other game. So I know I was paying attention. But I know it doesn't have any effect on us, but I know just as a fan, it was pretty neat to see all the cool games.

DANIEL OCHEFU: Definitely. When we're having our meals, there's always a game on, and we're watching it. Somebody else has their iPad out watching another game. We go to our rooms and continue watching the games and all the great finishes last night definitely good. I know I was up late watching the Northern Iowa half-court buzzer beater and the St. Joe's game.

You know, it's March. Great things happen. We just don't want to miss them. So the TV's right there. We're laying in bed and just turn the TV on, and something great could happen.

Q. Since you guys watched the Northern Iowa game, who on your team has that best half-court shot if it comes down to it?

THE MODERATOR: If it's you, you can say it's you.

RYAN ARCIDIACONO: I don't want to say myself, but I think any end of game situation, I think my teammates have that confidence in me shooting the ball from wherever it is. I don't want to say myself, but I think that's what Daniel and everyone on our team would say.

But if I had to -- I would probably go Josh, if not me. I don't know. Kris? I don't know.

DANIEL OCHEFU: End of the game, I'm putting the ball in Ryan's hands. He's made big shots. He's done it before. He always steps up to the plate, and we all have the utmost confidence in him. We've seen him do it before. If he misses a shot, then we're surprised that he missed it. If it's the half-court shot, I'm giving the ball to Ryan, just how Northern Iowa did.

RYAN ARCIDIACONO: The only reason everyone would have the confidence in me is because in practice every single day and in a game situation, it's always a play. It's not just that person taking the shot, it's that person making the right read, and I think with the ball in my hands, I think I'll make the right decision, whether it's to shoot it or pass it.

Q. You mentioned you watched the games, the other games going on. I was wondering if you pay closer attention to the Big East, or do you care more about the Big East teams that are playing? Or is it just whatever?
RYAN ARCIDIACONO: I definitely was watching them. We all want them to win, at least I do. I was definitely watching the Providence game the other day. We didn't get to see the Butler. I didn't really watch any of the Xavier game, but we're definitely supporting all the teams, and hopefully they represent the Big East well, and hopefully we can all do well in the tournament.

DANIEL OCHEFU: It's always cool to see guys that we compete against in the same league do well in the tournament. Whenever I got a chance to catch a little bit of the Xavier game or Butler game, I watched. The Providence game was cool.

Q. Daniel, you mentioned earlier that you've been hearing all the talk about the second round going back to the summertime. I'm just wondering, what are some of the conversations like? Is that like with family keep telling you about that?
DANIEL OCHEFU: No, just fans coming up to us saying, we're going to make it this year. We're going to get them this year. We're going to get past the second round. Back then, we didn't even know if we were going to be in the tournament yet. It was just going through the whole year hearing that, it was kind of annoying, but everybody has the right to say just because it just means they expect better things of us, just like how we expect of ourselves.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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