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An interview with Mike Brennan.

I had a chance to speak with American University assistant coach Mike Brennan earlier today, as the Eagles prepared for their first round NCAA Tournament game against Villanova. A transcript of our conversation follows. - JS

First things first, congratulations.

I appreciate it. Thank you.

Is the team already in Philadelphia?

Yeah. We are. We got up here last night.

Is there an open practice at the Wachovia Center later today?

Exactly. We're practicing at noon at another facility and then we have to go over there later on this afternoon for about an hour. Basically, it is just like a shootaround.

Is it different at all this second time around than it was last year when American went to the NCAA Tournament for the first time?

Not too much. I think you just learn to appreciate it a little more, because you know how difficult it is to get here. I think the first time around you're very excited, the second time around you're sort of able to appreciate everything a little bit more.

Is that the same for the coaching staff as well as for the players?

I think so. Our guys have been pretty focused and I think they understand the opportunity that they have. They competed with Tennessee last year, so I think they want to give a good accounting of themselves this year as well.

Is that a benefit of starting five seniors?

Absolutely. It has been like that all year. We have a great group of guys. They've come to work every day, they understand what it takes to win the league - to win the regular season and to win the tournament and get here. I think it obviously has been a great benefit having that many seniors playing.

You come from a background where you didn�t coach or play in a conference tournament. What is it like going through the Patriot League tournament?

Being that we won the regular season, I wish we didn't have to do it, but it is a great atmosphere. Having a home court advantage is a huge advantage. It is just another opportunity for our guys to compete.

How different is recruiting when coaching at a school that offers scholarships?

Not that much different, to be honest with you. You still basically go through the same procedure as we did at Princeton. It may open up a few more doors to families that are looking for the scholarship, but the process of recruiting doesn't change a whole lot.

Are there particular areas of preparation or player development you�re in charge of as an assistant at American?

No. We have a great staff, it is a great group to work with. Coach [Jeff] Jones gives us a lot of liberties, so we're all involved in every facet of the program, which is a good thing.

Games between teams with Princeton alums on each staff are few and far between. Was it strange to look down the sidelines and see Coach Thompson when American played Georgetown?

It wasn't a good feeling when you look on the court and see [Georgetown center] Greg Monroe and you've got to play against that guy. It is good to see your friends succeeding at other places, like Mitch [Henderson] and Coach Carmody having a great, successful year out at Northwestern, Chris Mooney down at Richmond having a great year. It is just good to see that.

Has Coach Thompson had any advice for preparing to face Villanova, given that the Hoyas have faced them so often?

You don't want to bother him. They're focused on getting ready for a big game tonight.

Can you talk about the problems that the Wildcats present?

Obviously, they have very good guard play. They have a bunch of guys that can all attack and score. Scottie Reynolds is a great, not only point guard, but scorer. That kid [Dante] Cunningham is a tough matchup. I think their overall toughness and aggressiveness is probably the most striking thing about them.

How much do you think playing Tennessee close last year helps with this year's preparation and mindset?

I think it helps. It gives you a sense that if you come and you play hard and you do things right and take care of the ball you can compete with teams of this caliber, so I think our guys sort of understand that. They won't be overwhelmed. They know that if they do a lot of things right they can compete with these types of teams.

Things appear to have worked out well for you professionally since you took the job at American two years ago. Is there any disappointment with how your time as a coach at Princeton finished up?

Yeah. Obviously, you want it to be better. I didn't want to leave under those circumstances, just because the place means so much to me. I'm glad that they were very competitive in the league. They have some good young players in there. I saw some of the recruits that they've got coming in playing as well, so I know that they're going to be even more competitive next year. I am glad to see Sydney [Johnson] and Tony [Newsom] and Brian [Earl] and Scottie [Greenman] and those guys doing well.

Will your parents be heading to Philadelphia? I know I miss seeing them on the road and at Jadwin.

They will be down here, of course - [laughs] - they will be in attendance. They can't get to as many games just because it is a further commute and you don't have those Friday/Saturday games, you have some games during the week, but they still get down as much as they can and are always supportive.

American and Villanova tip off at 7:20 pm ET on Thursday night.

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