Ventura College men's basketball coach Ned Mircetic on the WSC North co-champion being seeded No. 10 and facing No. 7 Riverside in Friday's regional final:
(on being seeded No. 10)
"I was hoping to be a little higher considering we're a conference champion traveling to a third-place team and we're seeded behind some teams we beat.
"But it is what it is."
(on the parity in Southern California)
"Between the top and the bottom, there really isn't much space. It's a good year for community community basketball. I think most teams that are in the playoffs this year feel like they have a shot and there's probably a number of teams right now that feel like, had they made the playoffs, they'd have had a shot.
(on traveling Riverside, which means the first women's coach to win three straight California community college state championships visits the gym of the first men's coach to win three straight California community college state championship)
"When Tark was there at Riverside was there, I was still a kid just beginning to understand basketball. When we arrive at the gym, we'll be pleasantly surprised with the colors. We should feel right at home."
"Riverside is going to be well-coached. They'll play hard. One thing I'm going to try to get across to the kids is that this game is the most important game that they'll ever play. This game is the gateway for the season to continue.
"All our energy and our entire focus has to be almost laser-like Friday at 7 p.m. Our energy and our focus has to be at its sharpest point."
"Everything we've done and prepared for the entire year has to be executed at its highest level. There cannot be a single play that we leave to chance. You have to have the mental and emotional discipline to play our absolute best for 40 minutes."
(Is this Ventura team capable of winning the state championship?)
"Of course, but it's capable of going out in the first round, too."
(On where the Pirates stand)
"We've made great plays, we've played great games. But we've also turned the ball over and been sloppy in our execution.
"For many of the kids this year, the discipline of playing hard, the discipline of keeping a tight focus on being a great teammate, has been a learning experience."
"This group, if we could keep this group together for another year and let them age and mature, they would have a clearer understanding of everything being taught and we'd be a far-superior team. But the negative side of community college coaching is you don't have the opportunity to be with the kids the third and fourth year, when you get to take advantage of all the learning that has gone on."