On the inbound, they get it into the big man, and O'Mear tries to bring it across half-court, now gets it to Pack who does break the stripe. Up ahead Wong, slams it home for Miami. Little bit of a fire drill, but a 10-point lead again for Miami. You're listening to the Zach Gelb Show. That's right, it is the Zach Gelb Show coast to coast on CBS Sports Radio. Miami back in the sweet 16, and now joining us from the Hurricanes before their matchup coming up on Friday night up against Houston.
Can't wait for that one, is the ACC Player of the Year in Isaiah Wong. Isaiah, appreciate you doing this. Thanks so much for coming back on the show. How you been? I've been good. I've just been in Miami for a day, you know, just preparing and just practicing with the team and I'm just ready to go for tomorrow's trip.
Well, we'll talk about Houston in just a little bit. No one obviously is surprised with what you did in the round of 32 up against Indiana, you being the ACC Player of the Year, but what made them such a favorable matchup for you when you were able to have 27 points in that victory? It was just one of them games I felt like I felt comfortable. They didn't press up as much and I just felt like I got in the groove and I just, the team gave me the ball and I got some good catch and shoot shots and I got a lot of open looks. The game against Drake in the opening round of the tournament was pretty close. I know it wasn't your best game. Just what was the feeling like with the team after the game to give you guys that response that you did have up against Indiana?
I feel like it was a reality check. There's no way any team can compete with us and we just felt like, we felt like we just needed to improve and I felt like we just, when we won that game we was like real focused on coming into the next one and we realized what we had to do and what we needed to do and just get the ball moving and get in an easy and open shot. Experience this time of the year I think is pretty important. We know what you guys did last year as a 10 seed going all the way to the Elite 8 until you lost up against Kansas. What did you guys really take away from that run and how do you kind of use that a year later? Just what the, I feel like with last year's team we had a lot of great players like we do this year but what made us go far, I felt like we had a lot of guards that made great plays last year.
We had Charlie and Cameron Magesti, they were tough guards. I felt like they took us a long way and we had Sam Wittenberg that played defense at the end and getting rebounds. I feel like with this team we have guard play and we have Norcad, he's been doing outrageous rebounds in all the teams by himself I feel like. Do you feel like this team is better than last year's team? I'll say NOA because we just, I feel like it's two different types of teams but I feel like our team is just, we had like a good 1-5 lineup. We have a lot of scores on this team and we have defenders on this team that can get their own at any time. Isaiah Wong here with us, Miami coming up Friday night back in the Sweet Six team.
We'll have a battle up against Houston. You talk about the changes, we know the nature of the sport with the transfer portal, Norcad O'Mear, like you mentioned Nigel Pack as well two years ago, Jordan Miller transfers over. What is it with those guys that this team, you've been there for four years, have been able to find that chemistry with newcomers so quickly? I would just say the way they play, they all play with just, they all play, we all play together. I feel like we don't really care who needs the ball at a time. Whoever is on fire is like, give them the ball I feel like with this team.
So it was just easy to translate our games together and I feel like it was just an easier process for us to play together and get our chemistry up. We've been calling this one a heavyweight showdown. We can't wait for the matchup on Friday night up against Houston. We know one of the better programs in the country. Just what's your view on them when you get ready to prepare for them? Houston, they've been a great team all year and we know they're the top team in the country and they have good guards and they have a great team and just a great program to go over there.
So it's definitely going to be a hard one and we're just going to have to pull this one out. You being one of the better players in college basketball, you know what the task is going up against Marcus Sasser who's also one of the better players in college basketball as well. What stands out to you about his game, what Marcus does for that team? I feel like he's a great two-way guard. He can create his own shot. He can play defense at the other end and he's a great guard I feel like.
Like you say, he's one of the top guards in the country. Maybe draft pick going into next season but he's been great for that program and he's just been playing outstanding basketball I feel like. How do you guys try to slow him down coming up on Friday? We just try to play our best defense.
We try to pressure him, try and make sure he doesn't get three-point shots and he likes to attack a little bit so make sure he doesn't get as easy shots and just keep them to a minimum. ACC Player of the Year Isaiah Wong is here with us on CBS Sports Radio. Does last year really matter all that much this year? Do you guys still use that as motivation or is last year clearly behind you guys and you're just focusing with this task at hand trying to get even further than last year? Last year is behind us now.
I feel like with the new team we're just trying to create more history and just create new history. I feel like with the team we have, it's just a great team and I feel like we achieved a lot this year and we're trying to achieve more this year so I feel like this team is just on our own path I feel like. How close were you Isaiah Wong to leaving last year because I know you declared for the draft and then elected to come back to Miami. I was like half and half I feel like because I was really trying to, I felt like I really had a good march that year and like a great season actually, just a great season but I came back, I went to the NBA process and they told me things I needed to improve on and I felt like I, with the team coming back we had a great team coming back and I felt like we could make another run at March and which we did.
I felt like that was my best decision. What did you think you had to improve on this offseason? I would just say my three point consistency and just being more of a playmaker and more of a leader. Is this your last year at Miami? Do you think these are your last few games with the program?
That answer, I don't know, I'm thinking about it. How do you think your game projects at the next level Isaiah Wong? I think my game, I think it's going to be an easy transition for me because I feel like for me I play through the offense, I can shoot the ball, I can play defense at the end so I feel like it translates.
That's how I feel. You made a big jump from your freshman year to your sophomore year and ever since then you've just been able to play at a high level. I know you got more opportunities from year one to year two but what really changed after your freshman year with your game and development?
I feel like just my confidence coming up to my freshman year I didn't really have that much confidence, I didn't really get the, I didn't feel like I got a lot of chances but I feel like I just kept my path, I stayed working, I just gained coaches trust more and more and I feel like coming in, like my first game I started I did good and with that I just kept on rolling with it. The game never gets old for Jim Laronega. I always enjoy how much he loves this time of the year. What do you love the most about playing for Coach L? Coach L, he's just a great coach to be around. He's a coach that can, that improves and I feel like he improves you throughout the four years and he just, he's a great coach to be around with the, with Coach L being just there for you and when you're at your down moment he's always there to pick you up and always tell you just play free minded and I feel like I appreciate him for that. What were your first impressions of him when you initially met him four years ago? I feel I connected with him really easy. He was a coach that I could easily talk to at the time and I felt real comfortable around him and I feel like that's the reason why I picked this coach because I was real comfortable with Coach L. The weather also probably had to be nice, right, coming from New Jersey? Oh yeah, most definitely.
I heard the weather in Miami all year round and I knew I was going to love this weather too because that was a plus. How do you kind of look back at that recruiting process? Did that motivate you? Were you fine with the recruiting process?
How do you kind of recall it four years later? I'll say that my recruiting process was pretty good. I felt like I wanted to be in a, in a top conference and I feel like in with the, I just wanted to be my best version of myself. I felt like coming into college and I felt like with the best program and having a lot of like people watching, I felt like that's what I really wanted to be and I felt like we're picking Miami and they're in the ACC and they're in a tough conference and I love all the tough, tough games we go through and it was just, it was just fun watching my senior year of high school.
I just love my decision. What were your expectations for this team before the start of the year, Isaiah Wong? Megan won the ACC tournament, Megan a March Madness and winning the March Madness title. You guys think you have all the pieces this year to go all the way? I know you're already in the Sweet 16, only a few more wins to make that happen. You think you have everything you need? Yes, I believe we have everything we need.
We have the, we have the players, we have the pieces and we have the, we have a great coach too. Well before we let you run, when you won the ACC Player of the Year, just take me through your reaction and also your family's reaction as well. When I first found out I was in the film room with the coaches and we was all together and they had a presentation of me, Norah, Chad and Jordan and they showed me at the last flight of making an ACC Player of the Year and I was proud of myself and I really loved it and when I first told my mom she was yelling and happy and all that and just, just being heard. That's awesome. That must have been a special conversation between you and your mom, right?
Yes, yes it was. Well Isaiah Wong, good luck coming up on Friday night. Appreciate you carving out some time for us today. Thanks so much for doing this. Thank you. Planning a wedding is intimidating, but finding the perfect suit shouldn't be. Design your dream suit at Indochino.com and use Code Podcast for 10% off any purchase of $3.99 or more. That's Indochino.com Code Podcast.
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