Quotes from coach Herb Sendek's weekly press conference
"Right now, it's very reasonable to say they are playing as well as any team in the country. Their margin of victory over the last handful of games is in excess of 23 points. We saw how they dismantled Notre Dame on Saturday, could have named the score. Across the country, nobody has been able to stay unblemished. It seems like, however, that the most recent team to be number one is quickly knocked off their perch. Right now, if you take the last few weeks, and talk about who's playing as well as anybody, UCLA has to be in that conversation. You can make the argument that over the last couple of weeks, nobody has been more consistent, or played better, than UCLA has."
On Jerren Shipp being apprehensive about playing against his brother Josh, who is a starter for UCLA:
"I don't think he will be. I think those guys are used to competing against each other. I'm sure they have done that since they were young boys, and they've done it now several times over the course of the last three seasons."
On the defense the Sun Devils played last time they met the Bruins a month ago:
"Both teams played really good defense in that game. Points were hard to come by."
On the home crowd at Wells Fargo Arena:
"We always expect there to be a great crowd at Wells Fargo and for our fans to give our guys a lift. That's what college basketball is all about and the great thing about playing at home. But as we have seen throughout the season, especially in the Pac-10, that doesn't assure you of anything. You still have to do it on the court. Teams like UCLA have played all over the country, in different environments. Also, most of these guys have been in several final fours, so they have been on a big stage before. That's for certain."
On the home losses against the Washington schools last time the Devils played at home:
"(Isaiah) Thomas and (Justin) Dentmon were spectacular. Those two guards controlled the game and combined for 55 points. We did not have an adequate answer for them. Then against Washington State, in a relatively low possession game, we also ran into some outstanding play by two players, Baynes inside, and Klay Thompson outside. Those are good teams, and there are a lot of punches being thrown in the Pac-10. It's hard to go through the season without catching a few right hooks and being bruised a little bit. No different any other conference in the college basketball right now."
On the team being extra anxious to get back on the court, in front of the home fans, after losing their last two games in Tempe:
"Our guys always go out and try to do well. If you take any game this year and you're in the locker room with them, seeing them get ready, they're always very intent on doing well. I don't buy into the notion that for this game, for this reason, I'm going to be really ready. We should be really ready for every game."
On guard Derek Glasser's improvement since he arrived on campus three years ago:
"His improvement has been staggering. I can remember his freshman year, being at Xavier, when I didn't know if we were going to get the ball up the court a few times. Now he goes into this year and has games like he did against UCLA. 42 minutes under tremendous pressure with no turnovers. Plus, his shooting percentage has improved. He's gotten better in every way. It's easy to forget he was going to USC to walk-on when Kevin Kruger left us in July. We were fortunate that he was available so we could have a point guard on our roster the first year I was here."
On turning down a lucrative job offer to join Rick Pitino's coaching staff at Providence:
"It wasn't that hard of a decision at the time. I decided that I wanted to give coaching a whirl, but I was prepared to go into the business world if I didn't get a job offer. The number of people who want to coach far exceeds the supply of positions and I was just fortunate that I landed a spot. I had decided in my own mind at the time that if I had an opportunity, I was going to give it a try."
On the team responding to the injuries to Derek Glasser and Rihards Kuksiks:
"I think we've vacillated. We've played better in some games than we have in others, and I don't think that is unique to us. That is very much the way our sport goes. We had some wind taken out of our sails but I thought our guys responded very well this past weekend. We really had a gut check, with two starters being out all week in practice and each of them missing one of the two games. Going on the road, on the heels of getting punched in the gut at home. There were a lot of things converging to make that an unsettling moment for us and our guys responded pretty well."
On the importance of winning a conference championship:
"It would mean a lot to any of the participants or competitors involved to win a conference championship. To some outsiders, perhaps it doesn't mean as much, but who can control what is important to someone else. Someone else may say it's not important unless you win the national championship. Those are outside of the sphere you control; you have to decide what is important to you. Most every team I know would love to win a conference championship."
On the Sun Devils zone defense:
"We try to apply good defensive principles. Fortunately for us, we have been able to keep games close with it, because offensively, we've hit some speed bumps."