PITTSBURGH, Pa. - The UNC Asheville Bulldogs got a chance to practice at Consol Energy Arena Wednesday afternoon as they made final preparations for their match-up with top-ranked Syracuse Thursday afternoon starting at 3:10 p.m.
Thursday's game will be televised nationally by TruTV and locally can be heard on WWNC Radio (570-AM).
Asheville (24-9) enjoyed a crisp practice on Wednesday and look forward to its date with the Orange (31-2).
"We had a good practice all things considered," commented Asheville coach Eddie Biedenbach. "It's hard to do a lot when you only have 45 minutes of practice but our guys are focused and I think ready to go."
The Bulldog players met with the national media prior to practice. Senior guards J.P. Primm and Matt Dickey plus forward Chris Stephenson answered questions from close to 100 reporters. Primm is excited about what Asheville could accomplish on Thursday with an upset.
"We're always confident in every game we go in," stated Primm. "I don't think that's going to change at all. But, you know, I think that we're one of the strongest 16 seeds that's been a 16 seed at the tournament. Like I said, I mean, we like to get up and go, run up and down. I feel like, you know, we could use that to our advantage.
"We're going to have to focus for 40 minutes," added Primm. "We can't have a two‑minute or three‑minute span where we just turn the ball over or be silly on offense or defense. We're going to have to focus for 40 minutes, and hopefully we can get this done."
Stephenson talked about facing Syracuse's 2-3 zone.
"We've been game planning in practice. There's no way we can recreate the size of a 6'8" wing player and a 6'8" wing player, a seven‑foot center who was defensive Player of the Year. There's no way we can recreate that," declared Stephenson. "The only thing we can recreate is what we do on offense. We're going to keep hitting open players on offense, make sure we have some inside action so our scoring attack is balanced so they can't really, I guess, key into what it is we're doing."
Dickey talked about not being satisfied with just being at the NCAA Tournament.
"We're definitely excited about the challenge to play Syracuse. You know, we know they're a great team. We got to watch them all year," explained Dickey. "We're excited to be here. We were here last year, so we got a little taste of it. Hopefully this year we'll be ready. We're not satisfied just being here this year. We talked about that. We want a win. We want to make our team and city known. This is a chance to do that. "