Who are the Hilltoppers? Just don't call them 'mid-major' - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Who are the Hilltoppers? Just don't call them 'mid-major'

Coach Ken McDonald said you can't call the Hilltoppers a mid-major team. Coach Ken McDonald said you can't call the Hilltoppers a mid-major team.
Orlando Mendez-Valdez said the Hilltoppers don't have a single selfish player on the team. Orlando Mendez-Valdez said the Hilltoppers don't have a single selfish player on the team.
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    PORTLAND - Gonzaga plays the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers in a second-round NCAA tournament game Saturday at Portland.>>INSIDE: How do you think Zags will do? | Read comments>>
    PORTLAND - Gonzaga plays the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers in a second-round NCAA tournament game Saturday at Portland. Gonzaga advanced by beating Akron. Gonzaga coach Mark Few said his team has a tough challenge ahead of them, giving credit to the Hilltoppers for the aggressive style of play. >>INSIDE: How do you think Zags will do? | Read comments>>

PORTLAND - Western Kentucky sees itself as Gonzaga when they first started their road out of mid-major status.  They have a few wins under their belt.  They've been to a couple of tournaments, and beaten a couple of good teams.  And now they believe they can compete with any team in the country.

"We really are a mid-major program, but at the same time, we can compete with any team in the country," said A.J. Slaughter during Friday's pregame news conferences. "It really doesn't bother us what the label says."

Orlando Mendez-Valdez said it succinctly, saying they don't feel any pressure.  "That's the best part about it," he said.

So what's made the Hilltoppers the team they are now?  Easy, says Mendez-Valdez, "I think it's our chemistry.  We put the team first and we really help each other score."

He claimed the Hilltoppers don't have one unselfish player on the team.

And don't even think about calling them a mid-major team, either  After all, they're third in the country when it comes to the number of conference championships.  Not ever Gonzaga can boast about that.

"I was told never to use that here - the mid-major term," said head coach Ken McDonald.  I guess you have to because of the conference we're affiliated with, but we're not a mid-major team."

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