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  • Iowa.

  • Thanks for joining us.

  • I love your story because it resonates.

  • I know in Chicago, where you're from with Illinois.

  • But I also think people in New York can relate to this as well, because it's a very Chicago like New York.

  • Very prideful in.

  • But they produce basketball players.

  • And yet a lot of players in New York, like we've seen in Chicago, they don't stay home.

  • But you did with Illinois.

  • You did stay home.

  • You had a chance last year, and then the pandemic took it away to get to the tournament.

  • You're here now, though.

  • How special is this for you?

  • Um, it's a real feeling to be in this situation with my teammates with my coaching staff.

  • And I'm the fans, You know, my home state to be here helping them, you know, accomplished something that hasn't been done since 2000 and five.

  • Ms.

  • Andrea.

  • Feeling I owe you wearing a black mask, which is a tough look.

  • By the way, I had to ask you, man, are you Are you Are you the superhero?

  • Are you the villain?

  • Like who do you feel like you are when you play the game?

  • Um I would say I feel like more of the superhero because our fans capacity only been 25%.

  • But, you know, our fan base is crazy, so it feels like a home game out there.

  • You know?

  • They're coming deep every time.

  • You know, we do something good.

  • I'm hearing our fans sheer, and they're doing the other team.

  • So I think we have an advantage with the fan base.

  • So I feel like a superhero call Masked Mamba he didn't want I didn't want to say I thought you'd say it.

  • I'll But I'll say it for you.

  • I like that.

  • You gotta take that one.

  • I o mask, Mom.

  • So let me ask you question, you guys won the Big 10.

  • When the tournament are you going to take the mask off?

  • You're still rocking with the mask.

  • Obviously you guys are rolling with it.

  • Yeah.

  • I mean, unfortunately, I have to wear for the rest of the season because, um, I still, um, have break into my nose.

  • So I have to wear, um, for the rest of season after the season.

  • I'll, you know, take the next steps to whatever it takes.

  • If it's surgery anything to, you know, get that repair.

  • What was the reaction in the room when y'all learned that you would be the number one seed?

  • Um, I think we pretty much had a good idea when we beat Ohio State the last game of the regular season.

  • We knew we had a pretty good idea.

  • And then after we went to, uh, no, we'd be Rutgers in Iowa.

  • We also had a pretty idea that, you know, we could accomplish that.

  • And then after we beat, you know, Ohio State to win a Big 10 title, It was it was crazy, like all of it, Really.

  • I really couldn't.

  • So we we really couldn't soak it in all at one time because, you know, we just had one of the Big 10 tournament title.

  • We were celebrating.

  • We're cutting down the nets.

  • And then, you know, the selection show came on.

  • So it was a great, great feeling.

  • You know, we we felt great.

  • You guys have Kofi Cockburn and your team.

  • A sophomore averaging 19 points, nine rebounds and absolute beast made 7 ft tall.

  • We had Luka Garza on the show recently and watching them play, I'm like Kobe makes Luca look small.

  • Um, how has it been?

  • How has it been having him on your squad?

  • With the way you guys are utilized him and seeing his growth, it's been great.

  • Um, Kohei started playing basketball, I believe what, maybe four or five years ago, and I'm his growth is just off the charts, you know, seeing him really put time into his game.

  • Seeing him really turned to a student of the game is really what, um, I probably most about his his work ethic and his development.

  • So, you know, he's out there.

  • He's always looking for the challenge.

  • I always try to raise the bar for him.

  • I always try to give him more motivation, and he just goes out there next season every time.

  • So, um, get some rest and that we would get ready for the, you know, the big dance.

  • You know, I was gonna say, Boss man, let me ask you this.

  • How has this season been under this covid situation?

  • Prep all the different things that you had to go through, Man.

  • It's a very unique situation, definitely.

  • You know, I'd be lying if I said it wasn't, um not being with your family after big games.

  • You know, not being able to go outside of your room.

  • I have to wear a mask.

  • 24 7.

  • Pretty much just hanging out with you know, your coaches or your teammates every day.

  • Um, it definitely was some tough days, but I would say it definitely is worth it.

  • Um, it was definitely worth it.

  • Our team coming together, bonding together to, you know, sacrificing, you know, everything else but basketball.

  • That's what we love and be able to play this game.

  • So it was a unique situation that we tried to make the best out of.

  • Now that you are in the tournament, now that you're the top seed, you go into the bubble.

  • Is it?

  • Is it?

  • I mean, it's it's probably the first time you're gonna feel like it's all basketball all the time right now for you, Like this is this is pretty much it, and it's it's six wins to glory for you when you get to that point when you know.

  • All right, I'm in there now.

  • You're there now, right?

  • You're there now?

  • Yeah.

  • So yeah, we was So So do you almost feel like I know LeBron.

  • Always use this this thing, you know, zero dark 30 when the playoffs start.

  • Did something switch for you as you got there as you got into the hotel room and you said yourself.

  • Alright, here we go.

  • Business.

  • You're not gonna travel.

  • You're not moving, not going anywhere.

  • Hopefully for the next six games.

  • Definitely.

  • It's definitely a sense of urgency mentally, with myself and then with our teammates, because now it's going to go home.

  • Um, there is no time for, you know, collapses.

  • Every game has to be played tremendously hard, as hard as you can to accomplish our goals.

  • So, um, it feels great, you know, to understand that to have that, um, circumstances, Um, I feel like it's a It's a great circumstances.

  • I feel we have a great chance to go out there and do something special.

  • So, you know, at this time of the season, there's no, there's no time to really be worried about going out or, you know, senior family, because we put so much work to get here.

  • So now it's all about just focusing in and I'm executing.

  • We know how important this is.

  • obviously to the to the program, but also to you personally as well.

  • So we're rooting for you.

  • I Oh, good luck.

  • Thanks for joining us.

  • Thanks.

  • Thank you.

  • Appreciate.

  • Appreciate you guys.

  • Thanks for watching ESPN on YouTube.

  • Live streaming sports and premium content subscribed to ESPN.

  • Plus right now.

Iowa.

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