Jeff Dowtin and David Cox met with the media Thursday to preview Friday's matchup against VCU.
On VCU: It’s a great team, a great group of individuals. It’s a big game for us no matter what. I like to perform in big games – I guess you could say that. I’m just looking forward to any team.
On success against VCU: I feel like if I play well then everybody else will play well, too. We end up winning games off that. As far as that goes I’ve just got to keep being aggressive and keep leading these guys and keep being that senior leader. I’m finding my guys for open shots, passing the ball – doing whatever I have to do to win.
On the winning streak: Confidence is there. Everybody is feeling good. We’re all in a good state of mind right now. We can’t look past any game or look past any team. We’ve got to focus on the next game coming up and just really lock in.
On the significance of Friday's game: This game holds a lot of weight. There’s going to be a good crowd here. The energy is going to be there. It’s a big game for us. Playing at VCU is kind of hard, and we were able to get that win up there. They’re definitely going to be coming for us.
On his URI career nearing its end: I’m never taking this basketball thing for granted. It can be gone like that. Every time I step onto this court in front of these fans I’m going to give it my all. I know I only have a short time here with this being my last season. I’ve got to just go for it, give everything my all, play hard and play together with my teammates.
On how his team is feeling with the win streak: I think they're feeling pretty good, pretty positive, pretty confident. Not too high, not too low, though. We're trying to stay steady, focused on th enext game, and obviously we have a huge challenge tomorrow night.
On Jeff Dowtin's success against VCU: Jeff's a winner. He started here as a freshman, he's played in a lot of big games. He's a veteran player. When we have our seasoned, veteran player playing at a high level, it calms everybody down. He's evolved into a vocal leader. We need him playing at his best tomorrow.
On the magnitude: All games are big. There's no more emphasis on this because it's VCU. It's a home game. It's a conference game. It just happens that VCU is a very, very good team. Our focus has been 'Next game' all year and the next game is VCU, so we're locked in on this one. But again, I don't want to put too much weight on it, necessarily. We're going to go out here and battle, hopefully come out with the win. Whatever the results are, got to push forward to the next game.
On the anticipated atmosphere: It's going to be really crazy here tomorrow. There's a lot of buzz on campus. The fan base has been phenomenal throughout the season, helping us get over the hump a couple of times already. We need every fan in every seat to help us come out here with a win.
On VCU's four-game win streak: They've always been a deep and talented bunch. I think they're starting to hit their stride, as well. They're playing with tremendous pace. Defensively, they're really getting after it and speeding teams up, turning them over. Offensively, they've found a rhythm. Obviously, their veterans are grizzled veterans and star players. But Bones Hyland, that freshman, has been playing out of his mind. He looks like a lock for the all-rookie team and a lock for the next level.
On what he expects from VCU after URI's win there: They'll definitely come with urgency. I'm not sure it's just because we beat them. It's because they're trying to win the conference, as well. This is a huge game for them, on the road, in conference play. I'm sure that will be in the back of their mind, but that's a veteran team that's played a lot of big games. I think they're just going to be focused on coming in here, kind of handling their business and playing the right way. We've got to have the same mindset. We've got to try to hold home court. We've got to play the right way, particularly on the defensive end.
On whether VCU has done anything different in recent games: Not necessarily. I think Vann has improved tremendously. He's playing with a lot more confidence, knocking down shots. Jenkins is Jenkins, steady as they come. Santos-Silva is a manchild down there. I think the combination of Evans and Hyland in the backcourt is a deadly combination. And they've gotten healthy. Crowfield is back. He's been an elite shooter since he's been there. Therefore, they're playing better on the offensive end.
On national attention: I noticed it and I think it's good for the guys. I'm not too much into that - locked on the next game, locked on getting better. The guys deserve it. They've played well. They deserve some attention, some buzz. I'm a little bit of the old Nick Saban mindset - he calls too much attention rat poison. I try to defuse it a little bit - "Hey fellas, we've got to recognize that's great but let's flip the page and keep on working."
On Jermaine Harris' injury: He went through practice today, looked pretty good. I'll see our trainer after and I'm sure he'll have another session with Jermaine. As of right now, he's questionable, but I'm anticipating him being able to give us something.