By Taris Young | @taris_the_gunna
Sports Capital Journalism Program
INDIANAPOLIS — “Yeah, we all got a chip on our shoulder,” said Saint Peters junior guard Doug Edert. “We all have something to prove, both individually and as a team. I feel like tomorrow is a great chance and a great opportunity for us to do so.”
The 15th-seeded Saint Peters Peacocks will face the No. 2 seed Kentucky Wildcats at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on Thursday at 7:10 p.m. Saint Peters will have to deal with Kentucky’s Oscar Tshiebwe, a potential National Player of the Year, who has averaged 17 points and 15 rebounds this season.
Saint Peters will make its fourth tournament appearance and the first since 2011. The Peacocks have lost their three NCAA previous games by an average of 15.7 points.
Kentucky (26-7) is making a record 60th appearance and will play in its 132nd tournament game, with the hope of winning its ninth national championship and the first since 2012.
“We all have a chip on our shoulder,” said junior forward Hassan Drame. “Because at the end of day we have one mentality: Whoever we are playing, they put their shoes on, put on a jersey. We do the same thing. We don’t need the name on the jersey. All we see is a player in front of us just like us.”
One by one during a press conference, the Peacocks spoke of a collective attitude that is not a coincidence. “That’s the way we are,” said coach Shaheen Holloway. “I recruit guys like that, that have a chip on their shoulder with something to prove. A lot of guys on my team think they are supposed to be playing against Kentucky so now they get a chance to play against them.”
Saint Peters (19-11) has been led by Daryl Banks III, who has averaged 11.1 points per game. The Peacocks have held their opponents to an average of 61.8 points per game and they did not allow more than 63 in the MAAC conference tournament.
But they have not faced an opponent on the level of Tshiebwe.
“The truth? He’s a grown man playing against a bunch of kids,” Holloway said. “That’s how you play. He’s a great player. I think with him playing for West Virginia…for Coach (Bob) Huggins and now playing for Coach Cal, he’s just got a different mindset.
“I think we have him on a smaller scale at Saint Peter’s in KC Ndefo. Not as strong, but they play the same way. Like I said, on a smaller scale. Oscar, he’s a grown man, but I think they’re both similar. They both play really, really hard.”