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POSTGAME QUOTES: Minnesota 95, Penn State 84 (OT)

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Jan. 15, 2018

Minnesota 95, Penn State 84  (OT)
January 15, 2018
Bryce Jordan Center (University Park, Pa.)

Penn State Scoring Leader: Tony Carr (33)
Penn State Rebounding Leader:
Mike Watkins (11)
Penn State Assist Leader:Tony Carr (3)

Pat Chambers |  Head Coach

I want to give Minnesota credit. They came in and did a great job in the first half. I thought our defense in the first half was not as good as it has been, especially against Nebraska and Northwestern. When we play at home, it seems our defense is a little bit tighter, a bit more energy, little bit more juice. Minnesota, [Nate] Mason was terrific in the first half. Obviously, giving up 41 points in the first half is too much for us. Then in the second half, I thought we did a much better job, more our style - 33 points. That’s the way it should be, but I was proud. They competed, they got back in the game, took the lead for a second. We did not play our best basketball and then give Minnesota credit. They caught fire. Absolute fire - hitting those three three’s, give them credit. They made the big shots in overtime. We made the big plays in overtime against Nebraska. We’ll learn from this; we’ll get better, we’ll get back to work.

Tony [Carr] tied a career high in points, but he also had 30 shots which were more than Mike [Watkins] and Lamar [Stevens] combined. Can you afford to have him being that much of the offense moving forward?



PC: No. And he knows this, but what I would say is he was aggressive, and he was engaged, and I didn’t feel like anybody else was really stepping up. So he went to make plays, and I felt like for a stretch there, he got hot. He got hot, and then he missed a couple here and there. Then we tried to put it back into Mike, he traveled. So we wanted to play a little bit faster and let them make some decisions. He’s getting all the way downhill, he’s missing some bunnies, but then he started getting it going again. For the future success of this team, no it’s got to be a lot less than that. It has to be around that 15-18 range. His assists need to go up a little bit, and he needs to make everybody better around him. But I can’t fault his aggressiveness, and he was so engaged, and he was in attack mode. So I’ll watch the film and see if there was anything I saw, but as we were calling the offense, I felt he made the best decisions for the team at that point

Do other guys need to exert themselves more if he [Carr] feels the need to take those shots?

PC: I agree. I felt like a couple of guys weren’t quite as engaged as they were in the first half or against Nebraska. We have to keep attacking, and we have to do simply better, especially when a team is shooting as well as they did. I thought we did our job as far as defending the three in the second half. But if you miss shots that doesn’t mean you don’t guard, you don’t play hard; you don’t cut hard, you don’t screen hard. I sound like a broken record. We still have sophomores leading us, and they’re still trying to figure out how to win, how to punch through. I thought Nebraska was a great growth and learning experience, but obviously, we have to keep working with them to teach them every single night you have to compete in this league.

How much did the job that Nazeer [Bostick] did denying Mason the ball there in the second half contribute to you guys getting back into it?

PC: I had Jamari [Wheeler] start on him and then I had Nazeer, and I thought that was one of Naz’s best games. I thought he did exactly what we asked him to do. He went out and guarded the best player to the best of his ability. He disrupted their offense. But other guys stepped up for them and made plays. Again give them credit. The kid [Jamir] Harris, I think he’s averaging less than two points a game, and he had 16. It seems like that’s a little bit of a theme and we have to do a better job on those types of guys.

From Jamari Wheeler, [Deivis] Zemgulis, [Satchel] Pierce, and [Julian] Moore, those guys only combined for two shot attempts tonight and no points. So I guess looking forward what can we expect from them?

PC: They did a great job Friday night. Obviously tonight we need to get them more minutes. We need to do a better job of substitutions, and we’ll do that Deivis is doing a great job playing in practice. Satchel was playing really well; he’s a little bit sick and Julian’s like one of those guys I just put in there because I know he knows what he’s doing. He’s a fifth-year senior. Our bench needs to produce there’s no question.

Shep Garner |  Guard  |  Senior

Mike Watkins had a pretty strong start to the game. What was he doing right at the beginning of the game?

SG: He was active. He was giving the ball in the right spots. On defense, he had a lot of energy. That’s what Mike does. When he brings that to the game, we are hard to beat.

You guys have had trouble getting back-to-back wins through the Big Ten season. What do you think has led to that, and how challenging is it not to be able to build some momentum?

SG: It’s challenging. It’s something we want to do. I think that’s the next step for us, to get back-to-back wins. Obviously, it’s tough in the Big Ten. Everybody comes to play. It’s a tough game every night. But, that’s definitely the next step for us.

Considering how well Minnesota played along the perimeter, how much do you think you might have missed Josh [Reaves] out there, or feel he could’ve helped?

SG: Josh is a big part of our team. Obviously, everybody knows that. But, we do live by the next man up mentality, and I think we have the right guys to still win in the Big Ten. We didn’t get it done tonight, but moving forward I still think we have the right guys on our team.

What do you think this team has to do defensively to prevent the opposing teams from going on those runs early in the second half and pulling away about eight to 10 points?

I think the biggest thing is communication. Just communicate, I think that’s huge. Especially, late in games, everybody’s tired, everybody’s banged up. So, just communicate more and loudly will give us an advantage.

You guys won the turnover battle tonight and still lost the game. How much of that do you prescribe to Minnesota’s hot shooting, and is there something else that you think goes into that?

SG: I didn’t know that. We’re a team built on defending and rebounding. We take that very seriously. I think when we don’t defend at a high level, it’s tough for us to win. So, we’re going to get back in the gym, watch the film, and work on it. See how we can get better. See how we can win the next one.

Tony Carr and Mike Watkins took 17 of your last 18 shots all in the last 11 minutes, why was that?

SG: I think Tony had it going. Tony had it going late. Personally, I thought that’s where the ball should go. When you have it going like that you should go to the hot hand. We need scoring. He made the right plays at the end of the game to get us into overtime.

Richard Pitino | Minnesota Coach

Well, a great win for us. That’s a really good team, a well-coached team. To get a road win, under the adverse circumstances that we had is terrific. Our guys showed unbelievable heart. They played a lot of minutes. They shook off a tough shot by [Tony] Carr at the end, and they responded terrifically in overtime. They kept believing. I am really happy for our guys and proud of our guys. They were dealt a difficult situation, and they responded well. Hopefully, this gives us great confidence.

Obviously, you look like a genius starting Jamir Harris on his birthday, and he plays the way he did. What led to him getting that start?

RP: He’s playing hard. He’s competing and battling every day. It’s Michael’s [Hurt] birthday today too by the way. I thought we needed more scoring and, obviously, he can shoot the basketball. So, one of those rare moves that works and you’ll take credit where you can. I’m happy for him though, to do that, with his family in attendance. That’s what college basketball is all about.

[Nate] Mason, [Jordan] Murphy, [Dupree] McBrayer gave you so much in regulation, but where’s the couple big shots in overtime?

RP: It was huge. They were all huge. I thought in overtime we could have gone one way or the other. When [Tony] Carr hit that NBA-leaning three, we had to decide which way we wanted to go; and, obviously, we went the right way. Bakary [Konate] misses a free throw and comes back and makes two. A lot of good things. That was a character win for us.

Have you been that effective from the three-point line this entire season? Were you just getting good looks?

RP: You must not watch us that much. No, well take it though. I don’t know exactly what it was. We drove the kick really good. I think they are a very good defensive team. I think that is a borderline NCAA tournament team, Penn State. [Josh] Reeves being out hurts them. For our guys, they needed that. It’s been very difficult for everyone, so it was great to get a win on the road.

Could you sense after the way that the last couple loses went that their pride kind of kicked in? Especially with it being [Nate] Mason’s last year…

RP: He has a decision to make, and I really feel for him. I don’t care what team in the country. If you take two starters off of him in the middle of the year, it’s challenging. It feels like a brand-new team with brand new roles. That is what it is. We are going to move on and keep working and keep getting better. I told Nate we can still do what you want to do. We can still get to an NCAA tournament. It’s hard, but we are 14-6. Not bad. Not bad with the things that we have dealt with. We have to celebrate tonight, be happy tonight, get some rest, and then get ready for Maryland.

Going back to [Jamir] Harris. Maybe he didn’t play as much as Isaiah [Washington] throughout this season, but he comes up big in this instance. What does that tell you about him?

RP: He is a worker. He is serious about the game. He loves the game. He lives in the gym. It does not matter if he doesn’t play a second or if he plays 36 minutes. He is going to have a great attitude, and he is going to work. That’s what I love about him, and that’s why I gave him the start. I just think that he has substance. It is awesome for him to be able to do that tonight on his birthday with his family in attendance.

Obviously, you’re not going home any times soon. What does a win like this do when you are continuing to have some tough games away from home?

RP: Anytime you get a road win in our conference, it’s big. It’s hard to win on the road. I think this win will give us confidence moving forward. It feels like a new team, a different team. This different team almost had Indiana. In this game, we missed some free throws as we did in Indiana and we broke through. This will get us believing again and not feeling sorry for ourselves. We’ll just go play and play together, and have heart like this, and we’ll battle anybody.



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