"We're in the final four," Wallace said. "Our team has really banded together in the playoffs. There was adversity when we were down 2-0 to the Clippers. But I'm very happy with how the coaches and players came together. They were extremely tough mentally and physically. In all five games against OKC the game wasn't decided until the last minute - sometimes until the last 10 seconds."
Thunder star Kevin Durant, in fact, missed an open 16-foot jumper with 4.9 seconds in the last Memphis victory.
"When you hand the ball to the second-best player in the league, there's danger," Wallace said. "Tony Allen, though, is a tremendous defender. We have a great team defensive concept."
The success has the city of Memphis hopping.
"The city is going crazy," Wallace said. "Memphis is the foremost basketball city in the South. With most places in the South, it's football. But basketball has deep roots in Memphis from players like Penny Hardaway to coaches that have been here like Gene Bartow, Dana Kirk and John Calipari."
It will be interesting to see whether Wallace continues to grow his roots there. His contract expires after this season. And while all seems well on the Western front, Wallace was hired by former franchise owner Michael Heisley, on the advice of ex-president and GM West. Billionaire tech mogul Robert Pera now owns the team.
"I won't get into my situation," Wallace said. "I'm here. I'm very excited with the way it is. We'll leave it at that. The focus should be on the court. This is a landmark series for us. Hell, we only won our first playoff game two years ago."
Wallace, you must know, wasn't speaking from Memphis. He wasn't traveling back from Oklahoma City. He was in an airport, returning from the NBA pre-draft camp in Chicago. ("It was lacking a Mountaineer presence," Wallace, a big WVU fan, quipped.)
"I have limited travel with the team," Wallace said. "It's not like [WVU athletic director] Oliver Luck or [retired AD] Eddie [Pastilong] going to away football games.
"We have 45 road games, and that's before we get to the playoffs. There's nothing I can do to help the team on the road. The equipment manager can do more to help. My job is to constantly look to the future. My job is to evaluate players."
As well as carry that Muriale's flag.
Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, mitchvin...@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.