AUSTIN, Texas - Colorado players Spencer Dinwiddie, Andre Roberson and Sabatino Chen discuss the NCAA Tournament matchup against Illinois.
Q. Guys, last year you had obviously some good senior leadership that manifested itself in March. Did you guys take that upon yourself to kind of fill those roles this year?
ANDRE ROBERSON: Definitely feel like we took it upon ourselves. We only had one senior, we had to help each other out. I feel like it started with the juniors and it trickled down to the sophomores and freshmen. So we're in this together. Everybody plays for each other. And that's what we preach every day.
SPENCER DINWIDDIE: We have great senior leadership this year too. I'm sitting next to Sabatino Chen, our lone senior, but our most important leader. And then our leader number two right here, Dre. They just kind of do it by committee. So they lead our team beautifully.
SABATINO CHEN: Yeah, I think these guys said it best. It's just been a collective team effort this year. And that's what we're going to do in the tournament.
Q. Andre, how does it feel to be back home or close to it, and could you talk about it for a little bit. Tell us about what kinds of friends and family you expect to be in the house.
ANDRE ROBERSON: It feels great to be back in Texas where I consider home and also close to Antonio where I'm from.
Definitely I have a lot of friends and family coming to the game. I tried to get as many tickets from coach as I could. Definitely I'll have a lot of support out here, along with our alumni. So it should be a pretty good support.
Q. Andre, what's your health like? I read stories about you being ill the last couple weeks of the season. What's it like and do you feel like you're ready to go for the game tomorrow?
ANDRE ROBERSON: Definitely feel like I'm a hundred percent. Ready to go. I'm back to normal. I had a viral illness a couple weeks back. But I feel good, so I should be ready to go.
Q. Andre, coach said you're going start out on Brandon Paul. What's the strategy there?
ANDRE ROBERSON: Try not to give him any breathing room, dictate where he goes, not where he wants to go. Just be aggressive with him. Try not to let him get shots off because he's a dangerous player and he likes the three ball. So we have a great game plan for him and I'll have to execute it.
Q. Spencer, can you talk about what the Colorado basketball program is and is it one of the better kept secrets in the country as far as its future and how good it could be?
SABATINO CHEN: I think it's up and coming. We have been doing great things ever since Coach Boyle got there. And I think we're a little under the radar, but each year we get more and more notice. I think we still have a lot of potential left.
SPENCER DINWIDDIE: I second what he said. When coach was recruiting me he talked about wanting to build Colorado into a perennial Top-25 program and that being his dream job. I think you see the strides that we're making towards that. We have had three straight 20 win seasons. We had post season play each time. Two of them being NCAA tournaments. We got a great recruiting class, we got an NBA player. And we just are going to continue to try to get better and try to keep playing good basketball.
Q. You were here last year, you won last year, what do you take from that going forward and does it make you want to advance further this year?
ANDRE ROBERSON: Definitely we want to advance further this year. Last year I just felt like it was a stepping stone.
We wanted to win the next game. But this year I feel like we can go all the way. Especially with this year being down, what everybody's saying, definitely feel like we can definitely go out there and compete with the best. So we're going to have to just take it to the next game.
SABATINO CHEN: Last year was just great to make the tournament, especially the way we did, winning the pack 12 tournament. Or else we will probably wouldn't have made it.
So this year, with all of our experience I think we want to just build momentum, keep winning the next game and go as far as we can.
SPENCER DINWIDDIE: Yeah, they said pretty much everything. Each team that makes it to this tournament feels they have a shot to win the championship.
Each team takes it game by game. But they just want to win the next game and try and compete and hopefully they win it all. That's what we want to do as well.
Q. For all three of you, as you've done film study of Illinois what have you seen so far? What kind of challenges do you think they will post and do they remind you of anybody you've seen earlier this season?
SABATINO CHEN: Biggest thing I noticed is that they play lots of defenses, try to throw you off. Big thing on offense is coach said they average like over 20 3's a game. So they live and die by the three. So if they get hot they can be a really dangerous team.
SPENCER DINWIDDIE: They shoot 24 3's a game. They have two big scorer's in Richardson and Paul. Paul's a great playmaker as well.
You want to make him as inefficient as possible and you want to hopefully limit their efficiency from the 3-point line because those are the two things that make them dangerous when Paul is getting off and getting his teammates involved. And when they're capitalizing on the 3 point opportunities.
ANDRE ROBERSON: They're a great 3-point shooting team. They get out and run. Brandon Paul and Richardson, they score, and they definitely kind of remind me of Washington or a little bit of UCLA. Getting out and running and shooting the three ball very well.
Q. Does last year's experience give you guys a different approach to this year? I'm sure you were just in a whirlwind a year ago after winning the pack 12 tournament. What does that do for you guys this week?
SPENCER DINWIDDIE: Experience is always a good thing. It kind of settles down a little bit, because it's not your first time. That kind of goes with everything in life. So it's the same in this situation.
At the same time it doesn't really do much for you in the sense of your matchup because you're still going to have to go out there and compete and they're going to compete as well. And you're just trying to win the game.
ANDRE ROBERSON: Can you repeat the question?
Q. How does last year help you this year?
ANDRE ROBERSON: Last year helps this year definitely. We have guys that played last year and definitely experience helps us. Definitely it's not all about experience though. It's always going out there and competing and just being aggressive.
I feel like we did a great job of doing that last year and just coming out firing and playing loose and confident. And I feel like if we do that this year we can go far.
SABATINO CHEN: I think mostly just for us three, just because we have been there before, we'll just treat it like another game. And with the guys on our team that haven't been there, we'll just try to give them as much help as we can. Try to calm them down and I think we'll be ready.
Q. Andre, you and your sister are both playing in the NCAA tournament. Can you just talk about that family affair, I guess. Have you talked about it much with her? Especially since she had to come back from that injury and now she's getting a chance to do what you've done.
ANDRE ROBERSON: Yeah, it's definitely cool to have a sister, not just playing in the NCAA, but also at the school.
But it's just great now that we both made it. Both programs are up and rising. And I just kind of gave her a little tip of what we did last year and she definitely kind of took it well. So it's pretty cool to have her in the NCAA as well.
Q. Andre, talk about your recruiting process and which Texas schools came in on you late? Did you even consider them? And what attracted you to Colorado?
ANDRE ROBERSON: Yeah, my recruiting process, I was kind of a late bloomer. I didn't really get recruited until after junior year. And that's when all the schools started coming in. The big schools didn't really come in until I started playing in high school the season. And I definitely took a trip up to Colorado for an AAU tournament. Because I really didn't want to make a decision yet. I was still searching around.
But I took a trip up to Colorado, went to Northern Colorado, to meet Coach Boyle because he was the head coach at the time. Even though I took an unofficial to Colorado. So I went to go meet him and then later he signed to Colorado and I took an official visit up there.
But the Texas schools, they started coming in late. After everybody and Colorado came in. Since they were in the Big-12 at the time. And I kind of took that as disrespect. Just kind of recruiting me late. Not really in the beginning since I'm in Texas and all. So I just felt disrespected. So I just felt like going to another Big-12 school in this conference and kind of getting back at them.
Q. Which Texas school looked at you?
ANDRE ROBERSON: Texas came in late, Texas Tech was early, A and M didn't look at me and Baylor didn't either, so.
Q. Spencer, talk about Andre's rebounding and what it brings to the game and how it helps you guys control the game.
SPENCER DINWIDDIE: Well our program is based on defense and rebounding and we have the best rebounder in the country and arguably the best defender in the country. So when have you a guy that's the best in the nation at what your program is built upon, then it just makes everybody else's job easier.
You have a guy that you can say, hey, I want you to shut down Jason Washburn, who is a very good center at Utah or hey, I want you to shut down Brandon Paul, who is a prolific two guard. So when you have a guy who can guard the two through the five on the collegiate level, I mean it makes our whole team just better. And it's easier to play different people. We can go small, go big, and continue to be a great defensive team.
Q. For Spencer and Sabatino, how much did you guys miss Andre when he was gone as far as defense and everything like that goes?
SABATINO CHEN: We missed him a lot. I think you could see that right away. With the back to back Oregon State games. We lost the game at home and then we win a game with him in the tournament. It just makes everyone's job easier, like Spencer said. And without him we lack some depth that we have when he's in the game to.
SPENCER DINWIDDIE: His rebounding on the defensive end limits them to one possession and then on the offensive end it gets us extra possessions.
And it kind of limits our versatility on offense because when we have the two wings and the big in, Josh and Dre, we can choose to post whoever has the smallest man.
If one has a bigger man we can drive him and then put that one on the wing. It just makes us a lot more versatile. And that's what him and Xavier Johnson kind of bring to the table. They are both players that can go inside and out and pretty much just do it all for us.
Q. All year long we heard about how great the Big-10 was and in the NCAA seeding process, some of the PAC-12 teams got seeded fairly low. Do you guys have any kind of conference going on here too? Conference pride?
ANDRE ROBERSON: Definitely. With the Big-10 being talked about all the time I feel like our conference has grown a lot since last year. With it being down and all. I feel like we're definitely going to show it when we play. Because a couple of us are matched up with a couple Big-10 teams. So I think we're going to show what we got.
SPENCER DINWIDDIE: For sure. Any time you have arguably actually probably not even arguably, the best conference in the country and a conference that has been maligned very recently and has kind of gained traction, I mean we want to prove that we're as good as a lot of people think we are and that we play good basketball on the West Coast. Yeah, we're rooting for each other. I want UCLA to win their game, California, Oregon, Arizona to win theirs, even though we're conference foes, but in the NCAA tournament you kind of root for your conference to do well.
SABATINO CHEN: Yeah, just to go out there, I just think maybe just because our last year our conference was down so much that it probably hurt us a little bit in the seeding process. But this conference is a lot better than it was last year, it's like night and day. So I think we could compete with the Big-10.
Q. What separates Coach Boyle? What makes him such a good coach? Anything that makes him distinctive?
SPENCER DINWIDDIE: For me it's because pretty much everything that he's told me in the recruiting process and now that I'm here he's just been a very honest guy. So when you can build that type of trust and have you a relationship with your coach in that manner, then it makes you want to run through a wall for him. If you believe in him and you want to do something for him, I mean that just makes you play that much harder and you see results of what he's preaching also produce wins, so there's no down side really to it.
SABATINO CHEN: I would say just the biggest thing would be his honesty from a non-basketball sense. He tells you exactly what he wants you to do, he doesn't like play games with you or anything. And then basketball wise, he's a great just player's coach. He makes you individually a better player.