The Wolverines discussed the difference in experience between the two teams, Tulsa’s defensive scheme and the short turnaround from Sunday’s announcement.
Q. Could you just talk about the quick turnaround, again finding out that you made the tournament and then what was going through your head, and now you’re here and gotta play another game and just not so many days after the Big Ten tournament?
DERRICK WALTON, JR.: Yes, you could say it’s a quick turnaround. But we just have to prepare for it, and just went through it the following week with three days, and three days of prep and three days of game. So, at this point we’re just fortunate that we get another opportunity to play. And we’ll take it in stride and do what we do best and prepare as best as possible.
ZAK IRVIN: Yeah, we’re just excited to be here. We heard our name get called. There was so much excitement in the room. All our hard work paid off and the committee allowed us to be in the tournament. Like I said, we’re grateful for the opportunity and we can’t wait to play tomorrow.
Q. Could both of you guys describe what this past week has been like for you with the two dramatic last-second shots to win and going from being kind of a bubble team to being in the tournament?
ZAK IRVIN: That’s March Madness for you. Us being able to beat Northwestern on a buzzer-beater and IU, especially on a buzzer-beater, you know, and Kam knocking down the corner. It’s just so much excitement for our team. Like I said, it’s how much hard work we put into the season. You know, you go through a lot of adversity, so many ups and downs. Like I said, we’re just grateful to be here, and we’re excited, going to make the most of it.
DERRICK WALTON, JR.: Pretty much the same thing he said. It’s those last two games were really exciting to be part of that. It’s something I’ll never forget. But like you said, that’s just what March is. Spectacular things happen around this time and we’re fortunate that we’re on a high end of some of those scenarios.
Q. With Spike and Caris out, you guys are really young. Do you think experience is overrated in this tournament, or do you guys think you’re at a disadvantage?
DERRICK WALTON, JR.: Well, experience definitely helps. But we’re here now and excuses kind of go out the window. And we kind of roll with what we have right now. So at this point, we just hope to band together as a collective unit and play as best as possible and click on as many cylinders as possible. And hopefully at the end of the day we’re successful, the effort that we make.
ZAK IRVIN: We’ve gone most of the season without our two seniors, which is definitely tough. Those are the two guys that made it to the National Championship, they’ve been to a Final Four. But they’re doing as much as they can. Even though they’re on the bench I can hear them. Every possession we go on the court, whether it’s offensively or defensively, they’re doing as much as they can. Like I said, since we’ve gone half the season, you know, Derrick and myself had to step up and kind of take that senior role. And I think that’s just brought us a stronger bond with our team. We just want to win for ourselves but for our seniors as well.
Q. It’s always an interesting dynamic here to see who the Dayton people get behind in this tournament. Do you guys think it’s going to be a little bit like a road game kind of being in Buckeye country?
ZAK IRVIN: We really don’t know what to expect. Hopefully they’re on our side. But you can definitely see it going the other way with us being in Ohio. But we’re used to road games. We have like a road warrior’s mentality right now. So we’re going to try to stay together stay as close-knit as possible.
DERRICK WALTON, JR.: What he said, we are in Ohio. And the rivalry stands. But I think we have a pretty strong fan base ourselves and alumni to come support us. So I’m pretty sure we won’t be alone out there. But the Ohio natives kind of outweigh us. We’re still going to play the same way we would if they were on our side.