Four of Villanova's starting five, Kris Jenkins, Josh Hart, Daniel Ochefu, and Ryan Arcidiacono met with the press in advance of the Wildcats' open practice on Thursday at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn
Q. For Ryan and Daniel, you guys have accomplished a lot in your Villanova careers. How important is the concept of legacy to you guys? And how important is this run towards that concept?
RYAN ARCIDIACONO: That's for -- it's definitely something that we take great pride in playing four years at Villanova. We know that this run could maybe add to it, but we just know we have to take it one game at a time. We want to be able to have our teammates and the past players who have played at Villanova really look at us and appreciate what we have done for the program and what our whole senior class has done.
DANIEL OCHEFU: I couldn't have said it better myself.
Q. For Daniel, how's your ankle? And how have you spent the last two, three days?
DANIEL OCHEFU: My ankle's fine. I've been getting a lot of treatment in with our trainer and staff. I rested a couple days, got back to practice yesterday, practiced today. I'm feeling good. I'm feeling like I'm ready to go.
Q. Another one for Daniel, just following up, how tough has this whole stretch been since you originally got hurt? You've tweaked it a couple of times, missed some time. You're coming down the stretch of your senior year and you've been in and out. How frustrating has it been, and how encouraged are you by how you feel now?
DANIEL OCHEFU: It's been very frustrating just because I want to be out there 100 percent, giving my all for the team. But if I'm out there 75 percent, 80 percent out there, I'm going to give my best for the team. I know my teammates are ready to step up and fill the void if I'm hurt. I'm confident in my teammates' ability to step up if I'm not there, but I'm feeling really good about how my ankle is feeling and ready to get to work tomorrow.
Q. Sort of a two-part question. As someone who grew up immersed in Philadelphia basketball, I'm wondering just what was your awareness of Fran Dunphy and stories you heard or anything like that about him? And just to the other part of it, there being so many Philly connections in this region and just the extent to which Philly basketball continues to dominate the scene, the level of pride you have and why you think that's happening.
RYAN ARCIDIACONO: I just think there's a lot of great universities and schools in the Philadelphia area. I think Coach Dunphy recruited me out of high school, and I took a visit there and loved his staff, loved everything about Temple. But I just think overall it's just a great city of basketball, and I think we all have great respect for each other, and any time we compete, it's going to be a battle, whether it's the Big Five or anyone else. I just think it's an overall great basketball city.
Q. Ryan, you've played your fair share of games at the Garden, and you've played here. Are there any distinct differences between the atmosphere here or the atmosphere at the Garden?
RYAN ARCIDIACONO: I think usually -- usually when we're at the Garden, we know we're either playing St. John's or in the Big East Tournament. Once you're in the Big East Tournament, you know there's a great feel around just the whole area. Every time we've come here the past two years, it's been a great preseason tournament environment also. I think the Garden is just, when we play, like I said, St. John's and the Big East Tournament, there's just a great atmosphere.
But you can definitely get the sense around Brooklyn that the NCAA Tournament is around, and we're excited to be in Brooklyn.
Q. I don't know how close you guys were in high school. You came in together from the same part of Maryland. How big has it been to kind of have each other to lean on through this process, freshman, sophomores, and juniors, and coming from the same area, playing against each other in high school and all that.
JOSH HART: It's been great having someone that you know back home in the same struggles and same positive moments as you. It's been great having him right there, talking to me when I'm down, talking to me when I'm up. He had a little part when he was struggling. Now you see him breaking through and giving everything to the team. To see that, for me, it's just rewarding. One of my best friends, seeing him striving for greatness, just being successful, just something great to see.
KRIS JENKINS: Just like Josh said, it's been great to have somebody like him to go through everything with. Our relationship has gotten stronger, and it's something that will carry on even when we graduate. So I'm thankful for it.
Q. Ryan, last year's conclusion, can you use that for motivation this year?
RYAN ARCIDIACONO: I think we try to look past that. I think we're probably more upset about the game in the weeks following the game, but you can't use it as motivation throughout the whole season, trying to focus on one game. One thing we always try to do at Villanova is take it one day at a time, one game at a time, and try to approach it in a different way. I think we're doing that, even after our Seton Hall loss in the Big East tournament. We just try to get back to practice and get better and take it one game at a time here and focus on UNC Asheville.
Q. For all the players, UNC Asheville seems to have a lot of quick guys but really no one very tall. I think the tallest guy in the rotation is 6'6". What do you see when you watch them on film? And what are the big things to be concerned about with them?
RYAN ARCIDIACONO: We know they have great athletes on the floor. They're all like 6'2" to like 6'6". They really get out in passing lanes. They're one of the top defensive three point field goal percentage teams. They cause a lot of turnovers. We know that they get out in transition a lot. Even though they might not have size, they play a lot bigger than their size may seem.
DANIEL OCHEFU: Just their size and height doesn't really matter because on film we see a lot of their 6'5", 6'6" guys post up a lot of 6'10", 6'11" guys. That just shows the confidence their coach has in their ability in the post. Just because we are bigger doesn't really mean anything in this team.
JOSH HART: Just to add on, they're a great team, able to switch one through five, obviously. They're tough on the glass, tough on ball, physical. Like Ryan said, get their hands in the passing lanes, create turnovers. So just because they're smaller, I think we can -- that doesn't mean everything. They're a tough group of guys, and it will be a battle.
KRIS JENKINS: They're a great team, well coached. They go out there, and they play hard. So it's going to be a great game for us, great test for us.
Q. You say you don't really think much about the early departures the last couple of years. Is there anything that maybe you can learn from them that you do differently coming into this game, whether it's preparation or maybe it's just, I don't know, a superstition that you say, hey, I did that last year. I'm going to change my socks this year or something along those lines. But anything that you think of that you say, I'm going to do this different this year from last year.
RYAN ARCIDIACONO: We always try to focus on doing the same exact thing. I don't think we have any superstitious guys on the team. That's a completely different team last year than we were this year. Just try to do the same thing we've been doing all year and try to just play harder than the other team, play more together, and try to outrebound them.
DANIEL OCHEFU: I think as Ryan said, just not focusing on things that went well for us in the past or focusing on the disappointment of the game. I think just focusing on this year and this game we have ahead of us, UNC Asheville. We can't really harp on the past so much. I think we've done a great job of eliminating that from our memories.
Obviously, we're in the NCAA Tournament, so it's going to be fresh in our minds, and everyone is going to be asking us about it. We do a great job of, as soon as we step on the court, we cancel it out of our minds and focus on UNC Asheville.
JOSH HART: Just adding on what they say, this is a totally different team than the teams we had the last two years. But just everything is staying the same. We're not going to go out there and do something totally different. We're going to stick to our core values, stick to doing what we do. We do that, we're going to be successful regardless.
KRIS JENKINS: We're just focused on UNC Asheville because that's our next game. If we don't come out to play, it can end early for us again. So we just have to make sure we take care of business.
Q. Ryan, just something I noticed last weekend. You came out of the Georgetown game. You took like an extra second. You looked up at the crowd. It seemed like you were trying to sort of take it in. I'm wondering if that's been part of your mindset as you are in, even the potentially last six games of your collegiate career, if it's something on your mind.
RYAN ARCIDIACONO: I don't remember that specifically. But maybe as I was running off the floor, I was looking for maybe my parents or something like that. I feel like we always know where our parents are sitting for games. It's not anything I've tried to focus on.
Definitely at the Garden, you embrace the moment, and I think that's what I try not to do the whole time. I try not to make it about myself. If I tried to make it about myself or if Daniel and I made about our senior class, it would mess up the rhythm of the team. So I try to keep it focused on everyone, and not just us.
Transcript provided by ASAP Sports.