COACH COLLINS: I just thought tonight was a high-level game. It's exactly what we expected coming in here, playing a really good team, in front of all their home fans.
It was a game that we viewed as a great opportunity for us and our program.
Obviously for us, it gave us the opportunity, again, to do something that has never been done, which is too advance in Saturday in this tournament. It's something we talked about. We talked about taking advantage of those opportunities.
You never know. You can never take for granted when you're going to get opportunities to do something. Tonight we had an opportunity.
Was really proud of our team. We had a lot of toughness. Withstood a big run to start the game, then at the end of the first half, early second half.
I thought McIntosh's three in front of our bench, when we were down 10, was maybe the biggest shot of the game. Gavin drove in there. I guess I'll call that a no-look pass. Bryant hit the shot. It kind of settled us, got us to seven. I think it was our first basket of the second half. It kind of got us back into the flow.
I thought our defense in the second half carried us.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the students.
Q. Scottie, what was different defensively? What did you take from the film session? What did you take from the guys who had defended Melo earlier in the year?
SCOTTIE LINDSEY: In the previous game, Melo got a lot of points off curls, ball screens. Our help line, it really wasn't in the right position.
We adjusted how we were guarding him. I think with everyone in the right positions, we did a better job.
Q. Gavin and Scottie, you guys have had some moments in Welsh-Ryan. Most of your good moments come on the road and in moments like this.
GAVIN SKELLY: Yeah, you know, it's interesting going into different arenas and playing. I think the great thing about our team, the weird thing about our team, is we play harder at away games, I feel like. We unify, come together, buckle down, get things done the way we need to, and win games.
SCOTTIE LINDSEY: Yeah, we definitely feel that when we're on the road, in enemy territory, we definitely come together as a team. We want to come together, going in there in the harsh environment, get a win.
Q. Scottie, as coach said, there's a lot of firsts for this program this year. What does that feel for you guys going through this right now, the excitement about it?
SCOTTIE LINDSEY: Obviously we're super excited right now to be on the stage where we've never been before.
I don't really think that we realize what we're doing right now. I think, you know, after the season, a couple years down the road, we'll realize what we've done, what we've accomplished.
But, you know, just being in the moment, it's awesome. Being able to be a team that gotten wins in the Big Ten, broke our single-season wins record, made it to the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament.
It's an awesome feeling. It really shows how hard we've worked over the years.
Q. You have the 18-round boxing match mentality. How does that shift when you go into tournament play?
GAVIN SKELLY: Yeah, you know, you carry those things over. A great thing about what other coach does is he keeps us fighting, keeps us in the game. In those 18 rounds, we're pretty beat up and tired. Coach doesn't let us let up. He doesn't overwork us, keep our bodies fresh. Every day we have to have a new mindset and fresh mindset of winning games.
SCOTTIE LINDSEY: When coach talks about 18 rounds, if we lose one, it's not the end of the world. We just want to make sure we win more rounds than we lose.
When we win one or lose one, we have to move on to the next one. Coach keeps that fresh in our minds.
Q. Hate to throw a Wisconsin question at you so quickly. You know they're going to be incredibly fired up after what you did to them in Madison. How do you think that victory might influence tomorrow?
SCOTTIE LINDSEY: Wisconsin is obviously a great team. We beat them on their home court. We know on this stage, they want to win a championship, too. They're going to play hard. We have their number. I think that's going to make them play even harder.
GAVIN SKELLY: I agree. I think also that, you know, we have the same taste when we played, Maryland today. I think they will have the same taste when we play them tomorrow. We have to kick it up a notch defensively and offensively to beat them. Like Scottie said, they're a good team, but they're definitely beatable.
We have to come with a fresh, new mindset and a whole new round, hopefully take a couple more.
Q. Was getting Damonte Dodd in foul trouble a big point of emphasis?
GAVIN SKELLY: Yes and no. It's obviously great to have a starter to get two fouls early (laughter). I think that helped us out a lot. A huge thing we need to do is stop Melo. I think we were successful tonight in doing that.
But having Dodd pick up the two early fouls definitely helped us in our game, for sure.
Q. Scottie, I know this off-season was really important for you, especially on the defensive end. Tonight you were asked to guard a lot of guys, especially Melo. How important was this off-season for you to become a different player on that end? How were you able to play three, four different guys on the defensive end, do it with equal efficiency?
SCOTTIE LINDSEY: This off-season was about picking up my work ethic, being more disciplined, being a better player and teammate.
With that, I think I was getting better every day, every workout, every game I played.
You know, playing different positions, I know that's what coach asked me to do. I got to do what he asked me to do. I feel that I am a versatile player. I can guard multiple positions.
It was more about not being tired, trying to push through. You can't be tired in these type of situations. That's not an excuse.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much. You can return to the locker room. Good luck tomorrow.
We'll take questions for Coach Collins.
Q. Vic has talked all year about how this team wants to be a different team. You haven't reached the ultimate goal yet, but they have been different. How have you felt watching them do that?
COACH COLLINS: It's just been an honor coaching this group, really has. To have all these guys believe in what we were trying to do from day one, when we really didn't have much to believe in, but a dream and a vision. To see them work for these things, that's what makes it fun for me, is just thinking back of all the times I saw them in the gym. I saw them coming in at night, getting together, talking about the game, how we could be better, that bad taste in their mouths when we would have tough defeats, come up a little bit short.
To see them come into this year and become the tough-minded group, we had to win tonight with toughness. This was a difficult game. We played last night. They were fresh. You're playing basically in their home gym, in a great environment. They got a lot of energy behind them.
We got done 10. I thought we were a little bit tired. I really challenged those guys about 16 minutes to go. Do you guys just want to go home or do you want to try to win this game?
They got a little bit fired up. They got a little bit angry. They said, We're here to win. They believe it. That's what's cool. They not only say it, I feel they believe not only that they should be playing on this stage, but they should win on this stage. That just doesn't happen overnight. It happens with a process through time and ups and downs.
For me to watch these guys grow the way they have, be a leader for them, it's been an incredible year to coach these guys so far this season.
Q. From the time you got hired to now, what have you learned most about yourself?
COACH COLLINS: Well, I feel like I've improved a lot. I felt like I was prepared to come in, but there's a lot of stuff I didn't know.
We're a developmental program in every way, shape and form. Just like I ask my players to get better, I hold myself to that same standard.
I feel like I've improved handling different situations, coaching, all the things it takes in running a program.
It's been fun for me to grow with the guys. We're one. Hopefully you guys see it. We're a together group. It's not just the players. It's the staff. It's the staff with the players. This is a really together group. There's no outside agendas in this group, other than everybody just wants to win.
You don't get a chance to coach teams like that very often. I've been lucky to coach a few, not many. You can probably count them on one hand.
This is one of those teams. It's just exciting to be playing these kind of games that matter and to see our guys come through on this stage. It's been really fun.
Q. Going back to all your time at Duke, from what you learned from that, how can having a deep run in a conference tournament help you next week and beyond?
COACH COLLINS: Yeah. I think some of my experience, just being in post-season, maybe more so just how to manage the guys in between games, you know, they need rest. They need to be fresh, how much preparation versus those things.
I mean, I've been very fortunate to have gone deep in a lot of conference tournaments, to be in NCAA tournaments, kind of witness Coach K, how he's handled those situations. Certainly I've learned a lot from him with those things.
I think some of my experience there may help. At the end of the day, too, when you're going through it as a head coach for the first time, it's different. You can be on that one seat over, but it's a whole lot different being in the head seat. I'm learning as I'm going, too.
I appreciate my guys just hanging with me. I tell them all the time, We all make mistakes. I'm going to make some mistakes. They're going to. At the end of the day, we have to be tough, try to figure it out.
I think that's what this team does. That's why we've been successful this season.
Q. There have been some times this year where your defense carried you through some offensive struggles. Beginning of the second half, you were a little disjointed. The defense spurred that big run. How would you rank that second half of defense? Having Scottie, how important was that against Melo?
COACH COLLINS: It was huge. Vic got two really quick fouls. It put us in a bind. I think he had two fouls in the first three minutes. All of a sudden, I'm trying to manage the whole first half with his foul trouble. He was going to be our primary guy on Melo.
Now it put different guys on Melo. It put Scottie on him a bunch, B. Mac, a little bit of Isiah. Those guys had to step up and handle the deal.
At the end of the day, we did not stop Melo. He got 20 points and 4 assists. We made him take more shots. We didn't let him run wild the way he was able to do it against us last month in Evanston.
Just really proud of how our guys stepped up defensively. Their pressure bothered us. They turned us over.
Again, I thought the one shot that McIntosh hit right in front of our bench when we were down 10, I felt we really settled in and really locked in after that point and put together the rest of the game a pretty good stretch of basketball.
Q. When you started to make that comeback, did you change something defensively?
COACH COLLINS: We didn't adjust too much. Our main focus against them was just trying to protect our paint. I know they hit some threes. They're going to. They hit six threes. They're at their best when they're attacking downhill and getting at your basket.
Make them play on the perimeter, make them shoot a lot of jump shots. They might make a few. Cowan made a few. Huerter made a few.
Overall, I think we did a good job of protecting the layups, not giving up the free throws. They're really good. Melo puts so much pressure, puts you in the bonus. Those were the two things, keeping them from the free-throw line, eliminating their layups.
Q. What has McIntosh meant the past three seasons?
COACH COLLINS: He's been an extension of me. It's something we talked about in the recruiting process. He and I bonded right away. He grew up a huge Duke fan. When I called him for the first time, there was an immediate connection.
We just clicked. I started talking to him about my vision, what I wanted for this program, how I needed guys. I needed a guard. I needed one guy that was going to have the ball, that could be my extension, that could be my leader, that I could coach throughout on the floor.
That's what he's been from day one. Gave him the ball from the first day he got here. He's grown to be an incredible player.
I know I'm biased because I'm his coach. But to me, I thought he was a first-team, all-league guy this year with what he means to our team.
We rely on him to lead us in every fashion, to score, to assist, to be a vocal leader.
The thing now that we're whole, when we get production offensively from our wings, that's when we become dangerous. It takes a little bit of pressure off him.
To get back to your point, it's meant everything to have him here for these three years. I love our relationship, our bond. I love the command that he has of our team out on the floor.
Q. Everybody is asking about the defense because that obviously has been a great recipe for your success this year. You're 10th in the conference in field goal percentage, shot 60% last night, 55% don't. What's going on?
COACH COLLINS: Again, I thought early in the conference season we were pretty potent offensively. When we were 7-2, we won six in a row. We were healthy. We were really clicking on all cylinders. I felt like our offense was in a really good spot.
Then Scottie went down. If you eliminate a key cog like that, no matter what, it's going to disrupt your team. It enabled teams to really load up on McIntosh and Law, which made them take tougher shots, more contested shots. Their percentages went down.
With Scottie out there, as well, it opens up things for our big guys because we can stretch the floor. I think it's just been a function of him finally getting back to 100%.
He was out three weeks, but then it's taken him three weeks. He did nothing for three weeks. If you do nothing for three weeks, it takes you three weeks to get back.
I think we're finally seeing him get his rhythm and his legs back underneath him, which has been huge for our offense.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
COACH COLLINS: Thank you. See you tomorrow.
COACH TURGEON: Real quick. I thought Northwestern was the better team. I thought they were tougher than we were. Really disappointed in the way we finished the game.
What a great crowd, crowd was amazing. We just didn't play with the toughness we needed to play with. We didn't play very smart. They were good. Give them credit.
We missed a lot of free throws during a stretch. We couldn't score for a long period of time. We just weren't tough enough to run our offense against them tonight.
Happy for Chris. Doing a great job with his program.
THE MODERATOR: Questions to Kevin and Melo.
Q. Kevin, you played this team at their place a few weeks ago and had a rough shooting night. Tonight 19 points. Was it just a bad night a few weeks ago? How have you developed offensively as a player?
KEVIN HUERTER: I think it was a bad night last time we played at their place. For us, I mean, he got hot when we were there. When a guy gets hot, we definitely try to give him the ball more.
I just put it to a bad game. Tried to be more aggressive in this game.
Q. Melo, you played against these guys a couple weeks ago. You scored 30 points. What did they do tonight against you to cut down the scoring?
MELO TRIMBLE: I mean, they just took us out of our offense. We wasn't able to execute the way we executed at Northwestern.
They played in the gap. Everyone collapsed whenever I went to the basket. They just tried to put a lot of hands up, tried to take charges, tried to find a way to affect me.
Q. Vic Law, what did he do tonight that you weren't able to stop a few weeks ago?
MELO TRIMBLE: He just hit shots. We wasn't able to keep him out of the paint. He was able to do whatever he wanted. Like I said, he hit shots.
Q. Now that this is over with, you do have the NCAA tournament to look forward to. What has to change for you heading into that?
KEVIN HUERTER: We just have to try to forget about this game. Obviously take away what we didn't do very well, which is obviously we got out-toughed. We didn't execute offensively.
But we got to try to get past it, move on, realize that there's still great things for us to do hopefully.
Q. Is there any extra disappointment that you had a chance to play this tournament so close to home, you're out after the first game?
MELO TRIMBLE: I mean, we had a good crowd there, obviously. I mean, that was the best that we've seen them all year. Unfortunately, like you said, we lost.
But we have another week. It's the bigger tournament. So we're going to prepare for that all week. Have a lot of days. We're just going to start over, get back in the gym, just get back to it.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks. You can return to the locker room.
Take questions for coach.
Q. Mark, what did Northwestern do to kind of take you out of the offensive flow?
COACH TURGEON: They were just physical. They were sitting on a lot of things that we do. But we allowed them to do it. They pushed us out a little bit further than what we're accustomed to.
We just weren't cutting hard enough, trying to score out of what we were doing. We were just kind of going through the motions a little bit. Stay on them to keep getting through it. I mean, just couldn't find any consistency with our offense. Of course, we had that big drought. That was really the game.
Q. Northwestern had two different runs of, I think, 20-2, 20-4. Anything you can say to the players during that to keep their spirits up, help in the future prevent something like that from happening?
COACH TURGEON: Yeah, I mean, this time of year, your defense has to be consistent and your offense has to be consistent. We had a lot of turnovers from our point guard position tonight. Then when we weren't going well offensively, we stopped guarding.
Yeah, it was a game of runs. It was amazing. We started well, and then they were up eight or nine, and then we got the lead, went up ten, then they dominated from there.
We just got to play better. We just got to play better. We got to handle the stage better and play better. Hopefully we have time to practice. Hopefully we'll get better between now and our next game.
Q. What did Northwestern do that was different tonight than the last time you played them in Chicago?
COACH TURGEON: Well, they had a pretty good player that didn't play, Lumpkin, played tonight, didn't play in Chicago. Had a lot more depth. He made a couple tough ones out there. Gives them more confidence. They had more confidence because of it.
Vic Law played much better tonight than he played there. Their defense was much better. We were able to do whatever we wanted at their place. We couldn't do anything tonight.
I think Lumpkin has a little bit to do with that. Gives them more length and athleticism on the perimeter. Then guys like Skelly, Skelly was a lot better tonight than he was there, too.
They all played better, and we didn't play as well.
Q. You're down. The front court is struggling with foul issues. How difficult is to keep changing the rotation over and over again?
COACH TURGEON: We were in foul trouble tonight. We are who we are. We're better than we played. We're 24-8. We were picked 10th. I've loved coaching this team. Tonight we weren't tough enough.
I told them starting Monday, the practice plan, whenever we practice, Sunday, practice is going to stay practice plan number one. We're starting a new season with a fresh attitude, see if we can play well in the NCAA tournament.
THE MODERATOR: Coach, thank you.
COACH TURGEON: Thank you.