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March 14, 2018

Jalen Brunson

Mikal Bridges

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Jalen, being named a finalist for the Naismith Award. What does that mean to you as leader of this team?

JALEN BRUNSON: Definitely means a lot. I think it's a credit to my teammates. They gave me the confidence to be the player I am. I thank them for just helping me become in this position.

Q. As you prepare for this tournament run, how can you draw on your past experiences over the last few years, what you guys went through when you made it to the final and last year when you fell in the opening rounds?
MIKAL BRIDGES: We've got to take it one game at a time. Stay focused. We got a lot of young guys. We've been through it all. We just help them out and teach them in the tone that -- it's like any other game. Take it one game at a time and prepare for them.

Q. Phil, this is your first NCAA Tournament since 2016. How excited are you about that, and all you've been through to be back to the NCAA Tournament?
PHIL BOOTH: I'm glad to be back for sure. Last year was hard watching the other team, as it went down, and Buffalo was a -- it's definitely great to be back. Totally different from last year or the year before that. Just glad to be back with these guys.

Q. For any and all of you guys, there's a lot of talk now about the one-and-done nature of college basketball and your guys who stuck around and been through the program for a few years now. What does that mean to you guys to be part of that mentality, I guess, and what has it been that's kept you at Villanova for these three years?
JALEN BRUNSON: I think it's the family atmosphere as always with the coaches here. The atmosphere that pervades with the teammates. Coaches, just have great chemistry on and offer the Court. I think these guys like being with college guys, like working on the game, getting an education for sure. Villanova is a great institution for that.

We're really glad to be together, working hard together. Grinding on big names together. Everything we do, we do it together.

Q. Jalen, you're so particular, how much are have you grown since your freshman year when you were a key part of that National Championship team to now as a junior?
JALEN BRUNSON: I think I've grown a lot. I think I've grown as a player, as a leader. I've matured a lot. It just comes with the experience. You experience the national championship, you experience losing in the first weekend. You see both ends of the spectrum, so, I think the experience definitely helped me mature. As a leader, I've seen Josh, Arch, Daniel, Chris and Darryl in the past. They've lead great teams. To be able to pick their brains about how to be a leader in this program definitely molded me for becoming a leader.

Q. This is for all of you. How would you describe Coach Wright's style. He's not a screamer. How does he motivate you guys?
MIKAL BRIDGES: He just -- he stays on us. He wants us to be the best player we can be. If any of us mess up, he's on us for it. He wants us to be as best as we can be and keep trying to get us better.

Q. How did he keep your spirits up when you wouldn't play?
PHIL BOOTH: Coach always talking to me, texts, anything, practice on the side. Just staying in it. Keep talking to these guys, stay locked in. Do what you can to get better while you're out. All of the little things he can do to keep my mind in the right spirits and help me stay involved with the team as well.

Q. Mikal, this site has been getting recognition throughout the country because there's five players who could potentially be lottery picks. You're one of them. What's that like coming to Pittsburgh that there's so many great players here and not that many teams really for them?
MIKAL BRIDGES: At this point now, every team is a great team and they're all really good players, so, that's one thing. But, you know, we don't really look at anyone else besides Radford right now and that's what we prepare for and we're going to get ready for them.

Q. Speaking of preparing for Radford, there's the common knowledge that the 16 seed has never beaten the 1 seed. How do you guys just focus on that game, just try to avoid that, becoming that first one, I guess?
JALEN BRUNSON: I think for us, nothing changes, no matter if it's NCAA Tournament game, exhibition at the beginning of the season. Nothing changes force us. We play every game like it's our last. Full 40 minutes or however long that takes. We're just locked into each other, want to play hard for each other. No matter who it is. No matter what type of game it is. Whatever it is. Nothing changes for us, we're going to play the game as if it's our last.

Q. How do you guys handle being one of the favorites for the title, too, kind of the same mentality?
JALEN BRUNSON: Honestly, yeah. I know it sounds repetitive. Really nothing changes for us. We just focus on one game at a time, one game at a time. Just look at how we can focus on how we can get better that day and have that mindset not to be satisfied with just anything. That's the mindset. As leaders we have to have that mindset every day we step on the practice and obviously every game.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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