They have plenty of evidence from the past two weeks to support their statements, so believe the members of the Nebraska men's basketball team when they tell you Monday's practice was one of their best since losing to Michigan at the Big Ten Tournament.
The general consensus as the Huskers prepared to fly to Starkville, Mississippi, for their first-round matchup with Mississippi State in the NIT was that the team, while upset with its seeding, was ready to keep playing.
"I feel like if anything, we feel like we should have been in that (NCAA) field. I feel like we have something to prove right now," senior guard Anton Gill said. "We all feel that way."
Gill, one of Nebraska's captains, said Monday's practice featured plenty of trash talking and anger. It was the Huskers' first workout since learning Sunday night that not only were they not in the NCAA Tournament, but also that they would have to go on the road for the NIT.
A potentially long road to New York City begins Wednesday. Should the seeds hold, Nebraska would travel for all three potential NIT games before reaching the semifinals.
"I think it was tough at first. It was a heartbreak for us not to get in the tournament, but then for us to get a five seed was like, man," said Evan Taylor, Nebraska's other senior captain. "But practice yesterday was really competitive, so that's a good sign that guys are going to go out there and give it their all. We feel like we can win the tournament."
Nebraska made a slight change to its normal routine Tuesday, electing to practice in Starkville rather than practicing in Lincoln before getting on a plane.
"We're going to do what we do. Contrary to popular belief, I think we've had a good season. I think that our kids have played well for the most part," Husker coach Tim Miles said. "I want to get them back on the floor and get them competitive. I like what we were doing; I like where we were at."
The Huskers will try to do what they do under experimental rules in place for the NIT.
The most obvious will be the lines on the court: The three-point line will be moved back about 1 foot, 8 inches to 22 feet, 1¾ inches. That's the same distance used by FIBA in international competition. The free-throw lane will be widened from 12 feet to 16 feet, the same as the NBA.
Nebraska got its first look at the new configuration during Monday's practice; both Taylor and Gill said they didn't notice much of a difference in how the Huskers played. Miles said the wider lane led to a couple of three-second calls, but that was the only noteworthy difference.
"Basketball is basketball," Taylor said. "Whether you're playing international, full-court, whatever."
Timing will be different as well. Games will be divided into four 10-minute quarters, and teams will shoot two free throws beginning with the fifth foul of each quarter. And the shot clock will reset to 20 seconds after an offensive rebound instead of the full 30 seconds.
James Palmer added a second all-district honor Tuesday when he was named first-team all-District VII by the National Association of Basketball Coaches.
Palmer enters the NIT opener at Mississippi State averaging 17.3 points per game, while adding 4.3 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.0 steals per game.
Palmer was named first-team all-district by the USBWA last week.