"Last year everyone was against us," sophomore guard Rob Brandenberg said. "We turned it around and used that negative energy as positive energy. This year, we're just going to come out and play aggressive, confident and loose. We're not satisfied. We want more. We definitely want to be playing our best basketball this week. We just want to play like there's nothing to lose.

"We want to make some noise."
"We're definitely going to be two highly motivated teams," senior guard/forward Bradford Burgess said.
"I definitely don't think we'll be sneaking up on anybody," Brandenberg said. "I'm sure when people see VCU ... they're going to think of last year and the Final Four. They're going to be ready for us. They're going to prepare for us and our press and our style of play."
Brandenberg said one benefit is the Rams won't be star-struck "seeing Kansas across the jersey or seeing Georgetown or Purdue."

"We've got a different cast of characters," Smart said. "But we do have six guys back who played decent minutes in last year's run. They do have some level of experience. They've been there. They've tasted it. It's an opportunity to do it again now that they're the integral parts of our team.

"We went into the NCAA tournament (last year) with a mindset that we wanted to play aggressive, confident and loose basketball. That really paid off for us. We went into the games attacking, being the aggressors.

"If there's anything we take from last year, I'm hoping that's what it is."