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Dec. 31, 2008
Penn State coach Ed DeChellis quotes
Q: Opening Statement
A: I'm really proud of our kids. Last night we got a call from our trainer that Danny Morrissey had the flu and that he was not going to be able to play today. Then, before the game, D.J. Jackson came down with the same thing. He tried to play a little bit. He couldn't do much. Then, Cornley was vomiting during half time as well. So we've got this flu thing going around. It's hit at a real tough time. But, saying all that, I think Battle second half was unbelieveable. I think our kids gutted out and we found a way to win shooting 31% from the floor. So, I'm proud of our kids, proud of the effort they gave tonight. We're fortunate to win. I think Northwestern was very good. We're fortunate to win. We're going to take it, move on and get ready for Saturday.
Q: Stanley Pringle seemed to be pressing. What was going on with him?
A: I think he was trying to think too much instead of just paying. When you start to think and try to analyze every single thing then you're not aggressive and you lose your aggressiveness. We tried to tell him second half that he's the fastest guy out there, just go blow by people. I thought he made some big free throws. He made a big shot along the baseline for us. He can play much better. He will play much better. I thought he was really out of wack the first half and I think it was just over-analyzing things and trying to think too much.
Q: Did Talor Battle will the team to victory?
A: Yeah I just think he wasn't gonna lose. He made big shot after big shot after big shot. Sometimes players have to step up and make big plays and he did. You know, Corn was sick, we couldn't get anything to go down inside. I don't know how many balls rolled around the rim. We couldn't get anything down. Talor took the game over and did an unbelievable job and made shots and got us the win. What was important is that he had twelve rebounds. He's 5'10" and had twelve rebounds. That's something we work constantly every day in practice about you being a rebounder and going and getting the ball and then we can start our break. Northwestern makes you play slow and they did a good job, but we had a guy that wasn't going to let us lose today.
Q: Did you say anything to Talor or did he just do it on his own?
A: No, you don't need to say anything to him. He's a competitive kid. We talked about halftime, guys were sick. I said this is who we are right now and we have to get ready to go play and lets go gut it out and get this thing done. They were fired up and ready to play.
Q: Talk about how Chris Babb stepped up?
A: I think he did a good job defensively. I thought he played hard, made a basket for us that was important. I thought Cam did a good job. I probably should have got him in more the second half. We kind of got in a flow and then I didn't want to interrupt the flow defensively. I thought we did a better job guarding the second half. I thought both freshman played vital roles and both did a very good job under the circumstances. They were on the scout team all week. They came in kind of trying to guard their stuff kind of cold. So I thought both guys did a very nice job.
Q: Would one of your previous teams here have won a game like this?
A: Maybe last year's team, but before that, probably not. Not deep enough. I think our talent level is much improved from two or three years ago and it shows. It's about players and players make plays. We had guys step up and make some big plays, big free throws. Jeff Brooks, Talor made big shots, Stanley made a big shot. Big rebounds. It all comes down to one possession. I told them at breakfast this morning that the Illinois-Purdue game came down to one free throw last night. You know, Purdue makes one free throw and they're feeling pretty good about themselves today. You don't make one play, whether it's an offensive play, defensive play or free throw, that's the way this league is. It's a possession league. If you don't finish off a possession you find yourself on the short end.
Q: How prepared are you to handle the road in the Big Ten?
A: We won our two road games. We won at Penn, we won at Georgia Tech. Wisconsin will be a different challenge for us. They're well playing right now. I'm going to go upstairs and watch them play Michigan. We have to get some guys healthy. We will see if we can practice tomorrow and practice Friday and then get up there because we play early Saturday. We play 1 p.m. central, 2 p.m. eastern. We've gotta get some guys healthy. If Cornley is still sick and Jackson is still sick and Morrissey is still sick, we will have to figure out a way again without those guys.
Q: Are you worried about guys playing too many minutes like Talor Battle and Jamelle Cornley?
A: We gotta win games. We will worry about that when the time comes. They'll be in their cold bath today. We'll stretch them out tomorrow. They did yoga yesterday. They're durable kids, they're great competitors. I mean Talor wasn't coming out of the game. I ask guys at a timeout or whatever if they need one, need a quick one. He wasn't coming out of the game. We gotta win the game and then we'll move on and worry about the next one. We gotta get an extra day off, we gotta do less reps in practice then we'll worry about that. But when the lights come on, you gotta run.
Penn State Player Quotes
Q: Jeff, you seemed a lot more comfortable out there today shooting the ball. What was it about today's game that made you more comfortable?
A: We just came in with a different mind set. It's the Big Ten season now. I really had to step up this game. We had guys out so I thought I would need to contribute offensively a lot this game and that's what I came out and tried to do.
Q: Jeff, do you think this team is more prepared to go on the road in the Big Ten then last years team?
A: Oh, definitely. We have a lot of experience with Mel, and Talor, and myself and Drew Jones and D.J. Jackson from last year. I think this year we're gonna do a lot better than we did last year on the road in the Big Ten. We've got a lot of talent on this team and with players like Chris Babb keep stepping up we're gonna be tough to beat, on the road or at home.
Q: Jeff, what type of spark did Talor give the team, especially in the stretch where he had eight quick points?
A: That spark was like a game changing performance. When he started going offensively, no one could check him, everybody was in the zone then. Everybody's intensity went up another level and that's what we need here and that's what Talor brings every game.
Q: Jeff, talk about how Chris Babb stepped up and how that will help you later on in the season.
A: Actually me and him talk a lot. For me last year playing as a freshman in the Big Ten, I just told him it's time for you to step up. It's a different season, zero-zero, you start over and just come out with some fire and you'll have a good game and that's what he did.
Q: Talor, what was the biggest difference between the first half and the second half for you?
A: I just couldn't hit a shot in the first half, the defense kind of confused me. In the second half I missed a couple and the coaches kind of just cleared it out for me and we went with a 1-4 low. It was just me versus him and I hit a couple and got in a rhythm and it was downhill from there.
Q: Talor, Can you talk about Stanley Pringle's struggles?
A: I don't really know if something was going on to him, I think it was just one of those games where he had butterfingers. He really couldn't keep hold of the basketball. Regardless of that, you see late in the game he hit that big shot we needed. He hit those big foul shots. When the game comes down to the line he's always willing to step up and make big plays. Regardless of what he did in the first half, he forgot about it and moved on.
Q: Talor, How much of this will was just will and determination?
A: That's perfect. That's what it was. We really couldn't make shots. I think coach said we shot 26% in the first half. In the second half we just kinda got together. You know, Danny didn't start and play from the beginning and D.J. (Jackson) we found out was done at the half. It was just a good effort. We knew we were going to have to play a lot of minutes and guys like Jeff (Brooks) and Chris Babb played great and helped us today. And that's what it takes, a good basketball team to do.
Q: Talor, would you guys have won a game like this last year?
A: That's a good question. It depends. Maybe at the end of the season, maybe we might have. At the beginning of the season, more than likely, probably not. We had problems and went in droughts and things like that in big games and it kind of cost us. Today we just had everyone step up. As far as Chris Babb, I think he only had five points, but he had some great plays. He took a couple charges, he defended, and that's what it takes. It's not all about production offensively. It's just what you do, you know, to have our five best players playing their best out there on the court at one time.
Q: Talor, What does this do for the team's confidence going into Wisconsin?
A: It's big just to get our feet wet, especially for the young guys. For us to open up with a win is big. We've got a tough couple games coming up and throughout the season. You know Wisconsin, their a good basketball team and hard to beat. This gives us a little confidence going out there. It's a tough place to play. We gotta move on from this one. We gotta start preparing for them come tomorrow, and do our best and play hard out there and try to come away with a win.
Q: Talor, what do you think about the defense today?
A: I think we played well, definitely in the second half. I mean definitely about the twelve minute mark, thirteen minute mark in the second half on I think we played great defense. In the first half I think we gave up 24 points in lay-ups. That was unacceptable and we worked on that. Early in the second half we continued to let them get easy baskets. After that we kind of just buckled down and really started defending. I think our defensive efforts tonight will really get us over the hump.
Q: Talor, Was this the most fun you have had in a game?
A: There's a couple that we've had fun but today I think we had a lot of fun. We were just laughing and smiling. That's how you really play your best basketball, when you're really enjoying it and living the moment. But you gotta make shots to have fun because if you miss them there ain't much fun you could have. I think our offense allowed us to be smiling and really buckle down defensively. It was real fun.
Q: Talor, What does this say about the team when you can win a game with Jamelle Cornley and Stanley Pringle not playing their best?
A: That goes back to defending. We held them to 55, 54, not a lot of points. It ultimately comes down to defending. Those two guys didn't play their best games and neither did I and neither did a lot of people. It's a team effort and if you can defend you're always going to be in a basketball game. I think our ability to do that tonight allowed us to stick around and we were eventually able to get a lead and hold on to it.
Q: Talor, any clue you would have a game like this, it looked like you weren't hitting anything in warm-ups?
A: In the first half I kind of joked around with the guys at the scorers table. I kinda said good thing there's two halves and stuff like that. There comes a point, I kept telling my coaches I'm going to take over. And they know when I say that more than likely I'm gonna do it. When I miss shots I just leave that go and I concentrate on my next shot. After I hit a couple I really got hot. I started off shaky but finished strong.
Northwestern head coach Bill Carmody
"We got a nice lead in the second half, an 11 point lead, and they (Penn State) were offensive rebounding the whole game, but it didn't seem to take its toll that much on us because they missed. That's deceiving sometimes to get extra rebounds, but it was indicative of the fact they were being more aggressive. I thought Battle took over. I said to a number of people before the game that he's one of the better guards in the conference, and he single handedly took over, lifted them up and gave the rest of his team confidence and we weren't able to match that. So, he makes a shot, and another guy makes a shot, and it just got away from us."
On the strategy in preventing Penn State fast breaks:
"We focused on that and rebounding, so I guess we were one-for-two. They've been pushing the ball off a lot, because they have fast guards and good guards, so we tried to limit those easy baskets."
On what they will take away for the rest of the Big Ten season:
"We've got to tighten up. We're playing Michigan State next and that team likes to rebound usually. We have to rebound, and I think we can run our offense and stuff. Our centers were in foul trouble the whole night, and we got fouled out in 10 minutes, well I don't know how many minutes, but it didn't seem like much more than that, so that changes the way things are and it changes the rebounding. So, every one's going to have to commit."