Russ Pennell Selection Sunday Quotes

March 15, 2009

'We were surprised. We had just finished practice and cratered a meal for the players. I was looking down then the players just went crazy. They were running around, jumping on chairs and tables. The celebration must have lasted five minutes. I hugged the same guy five times because we were so excited.'

'The reaction was both shocked and excitement. I knew we were good enough to be in the tournament. Then yesterday I was with my daughter and the national media kept calling me. I got a call from ESPN and I asked why? With Mississippi State winning today, I thought we were cooked. The part I liked was they looked at the whole season. We finished 1-5 in our last six games, but they were to quality opponents.'

'Seeing how things were going down, I knew we still could get one of the 34 at-large bids. We beat four conference champions. We beat Gonzaga, Kansas and Washington when they were all ranked. There was no doubt that with our tough schedule we put ourselves in good position. I think that is a testament to Coach Olson's philosophy of always playing the best teams.'

'I'm glad we got in. We can't worry about the teams on the bubble who didn't get in. I feel bad because a couple of coaches that didn't get in are really good friends of mine. Right now everybody is 0-0. It is a one game season. You win or you go home.'

'I think we had some big wins and some tough loses. Then we went to the Pac-10 Tournament feeling really good, thinking we need one more win. When they made the announcement, there was a feeling of everything we have gone though is worth it. I have never seen a celebration like that. The celebration lasted so long. Again, I must have hugged the same person five times. This is one of the best moments in these young men's lives and something they will never forget.'

'Right after the announcement I saw that Coach Olson had called so I returned his call. I told him that the streak in somebody else's problem now. This goes to show you what Coach has built here. Two years after he leaves, we are still making it to the tournament. Not only does Arizona have success getting into the tournament, we have success in the tournament.'

'When dealing with other people, I always feel optimistic. Personally, I always prepare for the worst case scenarios. I was a little concerned, but I didn't want the kids to see that so I kept to myself the last day or two.'

'Utah is very big, experienced. Their top four scorers are all seniors. They are a very good team, like a well-oiled machine. We respect them and their conference. We beat a very good San Diego State team and have been keeping our eyes on New Mexico. I have only watched about 30 minutes of game tape, but they are inside oriented and they shoot the three well.'

'The one thing I like about the selection committee is they measure each team individually based on merit. When USC won the Pac-10 Tournament, the committee doesn't say, `since they won, we have to take another Pac-10 team out.' It's just based on what you do during the season. With USC winning I was concerned that another spot was taken, but I knew we had a very good season.'

'I knew if the committee looked at the whole season we would be ok. We knew all along that we would be in the mix. Right now, all the talk is about is who getting hot. For us they looked at the whole season.'

'Every team on the bubble looks at the NIT. There are going to be some good teams in the NIT, Florida and Kentucky. The top one-third of teams are either going to the NCAA Tournament or the NIT. If we went to the NIT, it would still be a pretty good accomplishment. Anytime you can play another game it's a good thing.'

'It is ironic that ASU, Utah and us are all heading to Miami to play a basketball game. I guess the economic problem doesn't factor in.'

'Every selection day is special. I remember at Ole Miss, it was the first time in school history that they received an at-large bid. The only other time we won the conference tournament. Kind of like Georgia did last year. Some other teams lost and we just happened to win. The last time at ASU there was a lot of anticipation. Today, the way the guys carried on, it was something very special. It was nice to be apart of.'

'The 25 straight years is great for the university. I am proud of every guy who is on this team. I embraced every player and told them how proud of them I was. There was so much adversity and things could have gone wrong, but we fought through.'

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