Feb. 28, 2010
Coach Ed DeChellis Quotes
Q: What's it like when the team is hitting on all cylinders the way they did today?
A: The credit goes to the players. They played extremely well, both offensively and defensively. I think offensively, the first half we were really good and that kind of gave us more confidence to defend down on the other end. I thought defensively, you know they made some three's the first half , but I thought that hopefully that couldn't last forever. We really tried to concentrate on 24 [John Shurna]. He made his first two and then I think DJ [David Jackson] and Chris Babb and other guys that we kept switching on and off of him did a nice job. The kids played well. I thought we played pretty good for 30 minutes. The last 10 minutes were a little loose, a little sloppy, but that's a part of human nature.
Q: 25 points from the bench - that has to be refreshing.
A: Yeah it is. We've been asking them all year for it and trying to challenge them. I think some guys who played better in practice got a chance to play tonight. It's really simple: you perform in practice and I got confidence in you to come on into the game and try to give us a helping hand. I thought our bench was outstanding tonight, on both ends, both offensively and defensively.
Q: What is about Northwestern that you always do so well against them?
A: I don't know. [Kurt] Kanaskie says he does an unbelievable scouting job and I don't know if that's the truth or not, but I think we beat them, some of the guys told me, like eight or nine times. Maybe it's just confidence, maybe we're just supposed to beat them. Maybe our guys just feel like they can win the game. I don't have an answer for that. We've always played pretty well against them, even though it's a very difficult system to kind of grasp in a couple of days.
Q: Talk about the open shots against Northwestern's defense.
A: Well, maybe, I'll watch the thing tonight later on, I don't know. Defensively they were as good as they may have been in the past. Maybe they just had a rough day defensively for them, but they didn't go to the 1-3-1 until late second half. The last 10 minutes, their matchup, we moved the ball pretty well. We really concentrated all of the last two days on really getting basket cuts and reversing the basketball and getting in the post and kicking it out and then shot faking and driving. We really worked on cutting to the basket and trying to get them to get a little confused on who they're supposed to be guarding. I thought we were pretty good offensively.
Q: The last 2 games, Jeff Brooks
has been going straight to the basket well. Has he been practicing?
A: Yeah, north and south towards the basket rather than dribbling around east and west. I thought he made some good, strong, tough moves in the post tonight. I thought Jeff- our kids played pretty good tonight, but I thought Jeff had a loose ball play there and I loved how he dived out and he got one loose ball. I thought he made a strong move around the post and that's what we've been trying to get him to do and tonight was fun seeing him have some success at that.
Q: The start of March is coming - how does it feel going into March playing well?
A: Well, I don't know about "well." January and February haven't been a whole lot of fun. I tried to convince the kids the last couple of days that this was a very important game for us to try to springboard ourselves into Michigan State on Thursday and then Purdue here next Saturday. We got two huge games and this is a game that could help at least springboard us. I don't think there's a team that we play that we couldn't have beaten. I'm trying to convince them that the conference tournament is going to be wide open for us, but we got to have some momentum going into that conference tournament. We got to be playing well. I thought we played pretty well tonight so I told them after the game, "you guys played well tonight. If we play that way we're going to beat some people." We're going to have a chance Thursday, we're going to have a chance next Saturday and we're going to have a good chance in the conference tournament. We just got to continue to play well, believe and this team is going through a lot of adversity, but they've stuck together. It's been really easy to throw in the towel weeks ago. These kids haven't and we've continued, I think, to get better and play better basketball.
Q: It's been a rough last few days for DJ. What did you expect from him today?
A: I just told him to go out there and play and he got a little winded the second half, but he practiced yesterday pretty well. He got back for team practice and he's going to leave now after the game and drive back for his grandfather's funeral on Tuesday. We're going to get him back here late Tuesday night and hopefully have him on Wednesday at practice and hopefully have him Thursday at the game. He's a tough kid and he wanted to play today. He came back to practice yesterday, his mom brought him back, [because] he wanted to play today.
Q: What's it like playing when there is no pressure and you're having some fun. Have you encouraged that?
A: Yeah, we looked at some road numbers to home numbers and they were drastically different. We had shot the ball better from the free-throw line on the road, we got more rebounds on the road and I talked to the kids yesterday about that. Two days ago actually, Friday, we just said, don't worry about it. You just go play. Don't worry about making a mistake. Don't worry about not doing something, just do it hard. Go out there, let it go, let it rip and have some fun. I thought we played a little looser. I think they really didn't want to disappoint anybody playing at home. They just felt like, you know, we're at home, we should win. They felt the pressure and decided let's just go play, just go have fun.
Q: How about[Cammeron] Woodyard's first field-goal since January?
A: Yeah, [he] came off the bench and made some shots; been playing better in practice, making some baskets in practice, been playing hard in practice so you reward that.
Q: How much easier is it to get some of these messages across when you have tangible, positive things that have happened?
A: Well it's a little easier when you have some success after you talked for a few days about the things that are very important to us. We talked about defensively, we've got to do a great job on [John] Shurna, we got to try and keep him from- you know, he's a very good player, we got to try and do our best on him and challenge some guys there. Offensively, we thought we could move the basketball and get cuts to the basket. We thought we could get open shots and now, if we make them, now we're going to pretty good. We made shots the first half and it gave us a lot of confidence. We just played with some confidence tonight.
Q: Opposing coach said that Penn State has been "snake-bitten." Do you think the played feel the same?
A: I hope so. We're going to emphasize that on Tuesday morning when we practice and Wednesday. I think we can beat anybody on our schedule, I mean I think we can beat anybody. I think these kids can beat anybody we just got to continue to work and believe and trust each other. I thought Talor [Battle] played unbelievable floor- game today, making guys better and getting guys the ball where they could score with it. I thought we passed the ball pretty well. I think our kids have hung in there really nicely and hopefully they're continuing to believe that we can beat anybody and get to that tournament and see what can happen.
Q: Coach the offensive was a lot more patient tonight, especially the last couple of games. Has there been something you guys have preached to take the time with the ball?
A: Well, you know this was a different team defensively too. Sometimes people are pressuring the heck out of you and making you, you know, you have to do different things. This is a team that kind of let you, you know they want to try and keep the ball in front of you as much as you can. So when we can get free and get cuts to the basket and get the ball reversed we were going to get open shots. Other teams defensively do play a little bit differently, but we had good success tonight and hopefully we can continue to make some shots. When you make shots, life is a heck of a lot easier.
#12 Talor Battle
Q: Northwestern's defense gives a lot of teams problems, how did you handle it?
A: In that match-up zone that they play, we're just making sure we cut because even if we cut and we don't find you for a shot, it is just going to cause someone to come out of position then free another guy up. We just try to cut all day long then these guys did a great job of offensive rebounding when we did miss. They're not the biggest team so we just tried to pound them on the glass.
Q: Is it nice to be playing this well heading into March?
A: It would have been nice to be playing this well the whole season. It's fun, that's the one thing I can attest to for the last four games. We've really been having fun. Even in the loss to Ohio State, we were right there. I think all the pressure is off and we're just kind of playing basketball so hopefully we can keep it rolling and when we hit the Big Ten Tournament hopefully we can play well and you never know what can happen.
#25 Jeff Brooks
Q: Is this the most complete game you guys have played?
A: I think so, defensively and offensively, everyone was on the same page. A lot of big plays were made - toughness plays, rebounds and everything. So like the coaches said after the game, it was very fun to watch each one of us step up today and play a big part in a victory in our home arena. It's been a long time since we've won here. So, seeing us play a complete game like that was big.
Q: Talk about your aggressive play.
A: In the last three or four games, I've just been trying to kick my aggressiveness back into play because our team really needs for me to play aggressive and not tentative and timid out there. So, today I just tried to attack the basket as much as I could and grab some rebounds and make some plays for us and we came out on the winning end because of it, so I think my job was done.
Q: Do you feel like you guys are playing well at the right time of the season?
A: As Talor said, I wish we would have been playing this well back in December and January, but things are going well towards the Big Ten Tournament for us, it seems like we're gelling together. It's looking good. It's looking like we can make a run in the tournament and see where we can go from there. For us to be playing really well right now, it's a good thing. We want to just keep trying to make this thing roll.
Q: D.J. [Jackson] is going through a rough period with the death of his grandfather. What are you guys doing to help him through that?
A: He only practice once, which was yesterday. He was at home spending time with his family and I'm pretty sure they came back up today. He's been spending time with them. He's been positive despite what happened to his grandfather. He's still been at practice competing and smiling and being the same old D.J. We just keep trying to tell him that we're there for him, we've got support for him and he came out and did all he could today. He was in foul trouble so I'm not sure if he was really affected by that or not but I know he was happy when we won the game. So, hopefully he can go take care of that and get back and hopefully continue to get better and move on.
Q: The offense has looked a lot more patient and fluent in the last few games, what adjustments have you made?
A: To be honest with you, I think we're just hitting shots now which makes things a lot easier and opens a lot more areas up. Everybody's hitting. We had guys come off the bench and Cameron [Woodyard] and Tim [Frazier] played really well today and then obviously Jeff [Brooks], Drew [Jones] and Chris [Babb] were all just hitting shots. When everyone's doing it, that makes a team that much harder to guard and option are there and I think that's why our offense has looked more crisp the past few games.
Northwestern Head Coach Bill Carmody
We haven't played well on the road all year long, and the last few weeks we've had a hard time guarding people. Most teams have shot the ball very well against us, so it's not really a surprise the way we played today. Penn State just came out and knew what they were going to do. They were getting good shots. They passed the ball around very nicely, we just were unable to stop them. They just went about their business the right way, and we didn't have any answers on the defensive end.
Q: Are there adjustments you can make to play better on the road? Or is that just the nature of the team this year?
A: That's a good question. When we're at home, we usually get pretty good production out of the center position, and we haven't this year on the road. I know it was bad tonight, 0-6 [from the floor]. That's been a continuing story, and I don't know what to say about it. [Our team] recognizes it, we prepare the same way, and we've just fallen flat on it in a bunch of games.
Q: Did you see any improvement in Penn State since the last time you played them?
A: I've always thought they've just been snake-bitten. I was rooting for them two weeks before we played them. I saw them and said `this is a good team, they just can't get over the hump.' Two years ago we had a bad year, we only won one game in the conference, and when I saw these guys on TV when they hadn't won any, I said `this is a much better team.' I think they are better than three or four teams in our conference, it just isn't working out. Now, they beat us at our place, they beat Michigan, they were in it with Ohio State. They have the pieces, sometimes they just need to fall in place, and I think they are a team that's certainly playing well now.
Q: Given how well [Penn State] has played the past few weeks, do you think they have to potential to upset some teams in the Big Ten tournament?
A: Yeah, sure. Like I said, it's how you're playing now. If they beat a couple teams it might not even be considered an upset. You win four out of your last five and go into the tournament feeling good about yourself as a team, you can certainly make some progress, because so many teams in our conference are bunched in that middle.
Q: Coach why have you had these problems the past few weeks?
A: I don't know. We've looked at a lot of things. Today we were just slow getting out to the corners, and then we're at the mercy of the guy with the ball. You saw the head fakes when we were contesting shots. [Talor] Battle jumped into it a couple times to get to the foul line, and a couple of their guys had some nice plays. They passed the ball around the horn very nicely, I just think [Penn State] did a real good job.
Q: Do you think they did a better job lately than people have done against [John] Shurna?
A: If our guy makes a couple of shots at the top of the key when they're doubling him, it might change how they play him. But if you're not making them, it's trouble. Even into the second half, we stayed close because we were making some threes. But they weren't threes in the flow, for the most part. I don't mind end-of-the-clock three point shots, but they were a little bit desperation shots. It was like fool's gold, we were close, but I didn't like the feel at all.