MSU Elite Eight Preview: Coaches Speak

"Well, [getting back to Springfield] felt great," said MSU Head Coach Grant McCasland Tuesday night, "until we found out we were playing Bellarmine."

"We haven't won a warmup all year, I don't think," offered Jim Crutchfield, head coach of the unimposing, but undefeated (32-0) #1 West Liberty Hilltoppers.

"I just want to be Coach McCasland," added Bellarmine Head Coach Scott Davenport.

The quips were flying at the start of Tuesday's Elite Eight coaches' press conference, but you could tell that Coach McCasland was in some ways the envy of his fellow coaches.

"[He won] 56 games in two years," noted Coach Davenport. "You realize how long it took me to win 56 games, as a college head coach? Wow..."

Still, things didn't come easy to the Mustangs (25-8) this season.

Unless they bring home a national title, they'll end this year with three times as many losses (nine) as they had all of last season.

But at some point this year, MSU found their stride.

"It took us a while to figure out who we were as a basketball team," explained Coach McCasland.

"It wasn't for a lack of effort, just trying to figure out how we were going to score, and who we were going to play, and we finally got it down."

One thing the Mustangs have figured out is that speed kills. One reporter covering Missouri Southern State called Midwestern the fastest team he'd seen all season, something Bellarmine's Coach Davenport knows will present a problem for his Knights.

"You know," Davenport pointed out, "Our guys aren't going to get much quicker between right now and tomorrow at noon."

But a strength Bellarmine (30-2) will have going for them is size in the backcourt.

They don't have a player under 6'1" tall, and four of their guards are 6'4" or taller, but Coach McCasland says that there is a recipe for success against big guards like Bellarmine's.

"[The key] is going to have to be pressure," McCasland said. "We're going to have to guard them, we're going to have to get up in them, we're going to have to really compete defensively and try to make them uncomfortable."

We'll find out which team made the right adjustments Wednesday morning at 11 AM CDT, when the teams meet in a National Quarterfinal game.

Newschannel 6 will have a live update on the game at Noon.

Then, tune in for complete highlights and post-game reaction at 5, 6 and 10, and also at 9 on Texoma's CW!