March 8, 2012
THE MODERATOR: We'll have the coach make an opening statement, and then questions for Andre and Rodney. Coach?
COACH SMITH: Well, it was a good win for us, certainly a gallant effort to come back and get a win against a very good team. Northwestern gives everybody problems. I thought we were able to do the things we had to get done. Hopefully they'll move on to the NCAA because they certainly deserve it.
THE MODERATOR: Questions of student athletes.
Q. Andre, Coach had been saying all last week that you needed a guy on the team to be that go to scorer. Is that a role that you thought, coming into this game, that you felt you needed to take on?
ANDRE HOLLINS: Not really. It was just the opportunity to present itself where I had open shots and I just knocked them down, and I'm thankful my teammates passed me the ball. It's not just one person to go to. If you have an open shot, it's open. It's just everybody working together.
Q. Question for Rodney. Once the game got into overtime, what was the mindset of the team? It looked like you guys were playing a lot more energetic, confident, thinking you were going to win.
RODNEY WILLIAMS: You know, we've been in these overtime situations before and we didn't come out on top. We knew that we just had to go out there and shut down their 3s and get the stops we needed and get the shots we needed and then convert on offense. We were very confident that we could do that and we went out there and did it.
Q. Andre, coming into the game, you looked pretty loose heading into this game. Any nerves at all, being your first Big Ten Tourney game?
ANDRE HOLLINS: No, it was no nerves, it's just I was excited to get out there. And this is a great opportunity for us.
Q. Andre, obviously your shots were falling today better than they have all season. Do you feel more comfortable in this game than you have all season?
ANDRE HOLLINS: Yeah. It just coming into a new season. Like Coach said, this is a new beginning for us and we just it's just an opportunity presented itself, and I thought I was just feeling good tonight. Hopefully I can carry that on this whole tournament.
Q. Obviously, playing without Ralph (Sampson III) coming into this game, talk about Elliott (Eliason)'s performance. And you guys went small down the stretch there, but you were still able crash the boards and give the guys a chance to win.
RODNEY WILLIAMS: Elliott came out early in the season, you know, Ralph was out with the ankle injury, and Elliott had to start up, play for him, and he did a really good job. And we just reminded him of those games early in the season, and he came out here and he played tough out here for us tonight.
Q. You guys have played under a lot of pressure for the last several games down the stretch, and it seems like almost tonight, I guess you could have looked at it a couple ways, as if you have a whole lot of pressure on you because you've got to win this and all of them, or you don't really have a whole lot of pressure at all because you're a low seed and not a lot of people expected you to win. Did you guys just feel looser tonight?
ANDRE HOLLINS: I think we really didn't think about pressure and not pressure. It's just going in and playing our game and playing hard. We know that I mean, we were well prepared for Northwestern. We played this is our third time playing them. And it wasn't any nerves or pressure going in. We just had to be focused to come in and give a great effort.
RODNEY WILLIAMS: Like Andre said, it wasn't really any pressure out there because like you said, nobody's really expected us to come out here and do anything. We just have to come out here and play our brand of basketball and we'll come out with W's.
Q. It's been a long time since you've seen Michigan. It was right at the beginning of the Big Ten season. Is that something that it makes it harder to do or easier because you haven't seen them and you guys obviously look different than did you then?
RODNEY WILLIAMS: It's probably a little hard for us because, like you said, it's been so long. But we know that they're a team that can shoot the 3 really well, just like this Northwestern team, and they run the same kind of offense and the defense as well. So we just gotta, like I said, we just gotta come out and play our side of the ball, get stops and run the floor, and we'll be all right.
Q. Does that help? Having played Northwestern, you said they're somewhat similar to Michigan. Does it help?
RODNEY WILLIAMS: That definitely I think that definitely helps us because they're a similar team, so we just gotta go out there with the same mindset that we had tonight and we'll be just fine.
Q. Have you guys thought at all about past the Big Ten Tournament, NCAA Tournament, NIT? Has that been talked about before this tournament at all?
ANDRE HOLLINS: Most definitely. We most definitely want to continue to play this. We get that from our Coach, the pass before the game, and we just want to continue to play, play our hearts out. It's just the steps we have to take in order to get to that point, and we just have to take care of Michigan next in order to keep moving on.
THE MODERATOR: Now questions for Coach Smith.
Q. Tubby, obviously Andre had a great night. Is this something that you just seen him slowly building up to be the kind of go to guy you've been looking for?
COACH SMITH: Well, he's been that way all year. He's been a real he's got the leadership characteristics that you need, and then he has the skill set. He's got great form on his shot. His ball handling is improving. His defense is the biggest thing that he had to improve on, and he's done a good job there.
So, yeah, we saw it, and that's what happens over the course of a season. You expect them to get better, and he's gotten better and he showed it tonight.
Q. Coach, which was the biggest difference for you between the game today and then the game in Evanston just last month?
COACH SMITH: Well, we were you know, played extremely well there, and it was on the road. It was I don't know. Looking back, you know, it was a John Shurna night. I think he was just passing. He had a great game, and he's an excellent player. He's hard to defend. That was one of our problems, just defending and we gave up a lot of easy baskets in the back door, and that's that was a real problem for us.
And when you get behind like that on the road and you're a young team, you just you're inexperienced and trying come back. Today we're behind, we came back and did a good job. So I think that was the major difference because we did a good job on the boards there and everything else, but we didn't take care of the ball. Today we did a better job up there. I think we had 21 turnovers and here we only had 14.
Q. I wanted to say, seems like we saw more fight in your guys tonight. Do you feel like you saw more fight?
COACH SMITH: You know, I told them all that you want to respect your opponents, but you don't want to have no fear, fear no one. And I thought that's one of the things, don't go out there fearful of the one three one and, you know, because I think that was just a tact. So we wanted to go with that type of mentality. And in the second half, that's what we did. We changed our defensive scheme and that paid off. It took away some of their 3s. We were able to keep pressure on as far as full court pressure is concerned, and that was huge for us because I think it kind of gets us going, gives us some confidence, you know, that Coach believes in us and we gotta keep attacking and not play to win and not play to lose. So that's what I saw in them today.
Q. We noticed that after a while, you went with a smaller lineup. You guys were able to after a while you were able to go with a smaller lineup and still be effective, pressuring and causing some turnovers, getting in transition.
COACH SMITH: Well, we were we thought that the rebounding edge was to us and we just felt like we needed to have better defense on the perimeter. So even though Elliott had four fouls on him also, Rodney had four fouls.
So it was just because of that situation, dictated us going small. We had to get Julian (Welch) because we needed good ball handling, better ball handling, and wanted to get Chip (Armelin) in the game because he's a pretty good ball handler so that was that's why we went to a small lineup. It paid off.
Q. Tubby, John Shurna never really got comfortable out there. End of the second half, went into overtime. What was the key to shutting him down or not letting him get going?
COACH SMITH: What was the key well, we wanted keep the ball off him as much as possible, make him put it on the floor in the second half. He's a great spot up shooter. And they set a lot of screens for him. So wanted to run him off the 3 point line as much as we could, and I thought we did a better job of that in the second half, making him drive the ball to the basket.
And that was our game plan. It was our game plan from the beginning but it wasn't working. We changed that defense against the zone. They were just carving us up and lighting us up from outside, so we went away from the zone in the second half and primarily played nothing but man to man.
Q. Julian was back in there after two games. How do you think he responded to having that extended layoff?
COACH SMITH: Big time shots. He made a big 3 today. I thought he played tough. He especially had a really hadn't worked out much at all. Both he and Andre Ingram. He was pretty well fatigued. He was only out there for a few minutes and he was gassed. And I think that's when Julian hit the wall a little bit. And that's what happens when you're shelved and not able to play and you have an injury. The conditioning part goes first.
And I think he showed a lot of toughness and good conditioning today and that was important. He did some good things for us, and I was impressed with how he contributed.
THE MODERATOR: Time for two more.
Q. Tubby, Michigan, everyone says that Michigan has a tough press. Is what Rodney said effective, that it's easier to do that in one day, or Michigan is tough regardless?
COACH SMITH: They're tough regardless. They're just playing with a lot of confidence. They've got some talented players. We haven't seen them in a long time, since early in the season.
But, again, there are some similarities in their offensive style and their defensive style, but it's two different teams, and they're very athletic in key positions with (Trey) Burke. So we really we have our hands full, but it's always tough to prep for a John Beilein team.
Q. You guys obviously put the ball in Andre's hands for the last play of regulation. Even though he missed it, it seems like guys were looking to him in overtime as well. Does that just speak to obviously how well he was playing, but also how much trust his teammates are giving him?
COACH SMITH: Yeah, he's got that ability. I said it earlier. He has all the traits, and that's why we recruited him.
Sometimes as coaches, we can you're looking for other things and you're open but he's more serious minded now. I think he's matured a lot, and that's helped a lot. He's always been an outstanding shooter. It's just more when to shoot, when not to shoot, and that's the biggest challenge for players. And I think he's learned and when to pass, when not to pass.
But yeah. The guys, I have a lot of trust in him, a lot of faith in him that he can make plays for us. We were having problems with too many turnovers, so we thought maybe we just put it in one guy's hands. Wasn't so much it was pretty much to kind of cut down on the turnovers, to be honest with you, because we'd been a little shaky, but we were better in the second half and that helped.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.
MODERATOR: Coach Carmody can make an opening statement and then we'll go to questions for the student athletes. Coach?
COACH CARMODY: Well, tough loss. I just thought at the half we should have had more than a two point lead. When we went to the one three one zone we stalled the ball about three or four times, sort of had breakaways, and we didn't capitalize. I think we had four steals outright and a blocked shot, a missed dunk, a turnover, you know, bad pass. And we didn't take advantage.
And then in the second half they guarded us harder, and I didn't think our offense flowed the way it should. And you give them credit. We weren't able to contain (Andre Hollins), and he made shots in the first half. And then the second half when they were coming back, he just took the ball to the rim and we didn't have an answer for him. We didn't shoot the ball well. And so give them credit for defending us well.
MODERATOR: Questions for the student athletes?
Q. JerShon, you were having a great night up until the overtime and you turned the ball over right at the baseline. Did that deflate you and the team or did you think you had a chance?
JERSHON COBB: No, we still had a chance until the game was over, but it hurt. But that was a bad turnover. It hurt the team.
Q. John, how tough of a loss is this for you to swallow as a senior and coming so close to the NCAA Tournament? Whether or not you guys get there obviously will be decided on Sunday.
JOHN SHURNA: Yeah, it's disappointing. Obviously we've had a lot of close games this year, and you have to give credit to Minnesota. They came up with the extra play and they hit a lot of 3s, I think, coming in. I think Coach said they averaged about six 3s a game, and it felt like they did that in like five minutes today. So it was disappointing, but you have to give credit to Minnesota.
Q. For both guys, do you just feel like an issue with this team has just been poise over the last couple minutes of games and in overtime?
JOHN SHURNA: I mean, obviously I guess you have to look at that just because we've had so many close games and we've lost a couple of them. So, yeah, obviously it's disappointing and but I think our team's dealt with adversity the entire time, and when we're down, we're not out. We like our chances all the way until the very end.
JERSHON COBB: Just to piggyback off of John, this team is tough. We come back, we fight through adversity where sometimes the ball just doesn't bounce your way.
Q. Is it getting to the point where you thought maybe the pressure of each game being the biggest game in program history, was that did that ever get to you guys at some point?
JOHN SHURNA: I don't think so, just because it's been like that for a while. You probably could go from the start of February or the end of January or something like that, and we've won some tough games. And I don't think I don't think we felt pressure. I think we just have to we go out there and play our game, and Minnesota played better tonight so you have to give them credit.
JERSHON COBB: I don't think it's pressure. We just go out there and we play. We play no question basketball.
Q. John, if you're not selected for the tournament on Sunday, do you view this season as a disappointment or is there still something you can take from it that's a positive?
JOHN SHURNA: I don't know. Hopefully I won't be disappointed on Sunday. But I guess we'll just have to wait and see. We'll be playing next week, and we like to compete no matter who we're playing against.
MODERATOR: Questions for Coach Carmody?
Q. Hey, Bill, why do you think the offense stalled so much, especially in overtime?
COACH CARMODY: You know, it's funny. I think we had we must have missed seven layups tonight. I don't know if it was just overtime that it stalled, but I think in a stretch of the second half it was that way. I think what John said was that you have to give credit sometimes that they were playing us real hard, and I didn't think we were moving as well as we could, and we didn't seem to be able to get open and to make the offense really click. And what happened was then you come down to sort of one on one situations, and we didn't fare that well. So I don't know if we were tired or whatever. I think they just outplayed us in that last period.
Q. Coach, Andre Hollins seemed to tear you guys up tonight. What was he doing so well that was able to beat both the man and the zone.
COACH CARMODY: He's a good player. He shot the ball extremely well and he has all year. He shot the ball well, and he's just a tough guy to guard. Like I said, in the first half he was making 3s, and then in the second half, he went he scored like 16 points, it seemed like, out of the first 20 or something they had, something crazy like that.
And in the second half, a couple times when we turned the ball over towards the end of the game, he just took it to the basket and sort of deep this way, that way, and got to the rim. I mean, he was just he's a good player.
Q. Bill, you went away from the 1 3 1 and more man, it looked like, most of the second half. Why was that, do you think?
COACH CARMODY: They were making shots on us. I think we went back and forth. It probably is fairly close in time that we played 1 3 1 and that, but we just wanted to not give them 3s because they were guys were making shots.
Q. Bill, if there is a case to be made for Northwestern to get into the tournament after tonight, what is it?
COACH CARMODY: Well, I told our guys before the game or sometime that if we win tonight, it doesn't mean you're in; if you lose tonight, doesn't mean you're out. And that's what I think. It's a body of work.
And a few years ago, they said the last 10 games used to be something that if you were on a hot streak, that was more important than playing December games, but now they say it's not true. So we'll put our resume out there and see where it goes.
Q. Bill, frustration is part of this game. But when you come close again and again and again, how frustrating has this been for you?
COACH CARMODY: I'm still here. It's hard. It's disappointing, tough, and but, you know, you come back.
Q. What's the plan on Sunday? You all going to get together and watch the selection show, or what do you traditionally do?
COACH CARMODY: We haven't talked about it yet. I'm not really too sure what we're going to do. We'll practice on Sunday. That I know.
Q. You mentioned what you told your guys before the game. What do you
COACH CARMODY: That might have been yesterday or something like that. I don't know if it was I don't think it was right before the game, like the pregame talk. I think it was our last practice or something.
Q. Have you addressed them since after the game, or what do you tell them Sunday to sort of keep their spirits up?
COACH CARMODY: I got a long bus ride home to figure that out. But right now, just reiterating what I just said. And there's not too much you know, you got about five minutes and then the press is in there, so haven't talked about it too much.
THE MODERATOR: Coach, thank you very much.