March 12, 2011
COACH DECHELLIS: Really, really proud of our guys, really proud of these two guys. Our backcourt played very well tonight. I thought Bubby (Talor Battle) hit some big shots that gave us a little cushion. We finally had some breathing room, and then we played a little looser.
I thought Michigan State came out of the gate very, very well and punched us pretty good. I thought the positive thing for us was we were able to absorb it and get back in the thing, and we felt pretty good at halftime going in that we didn't play very well the first five, seven minutes and we're still in the game.
We were lucky to hold on, and we look forward to the opportunity tomorrow afternoon.
Q. Seemed like you struggled shooting against IU, first 30 minutes against Wisconsin last night. Did the big three you hit towards the end of the game last night spark what we saw today?
TALOR BATTLE: I think so. Leaving the game last night, I was feeling well shooting the ball. But it wasn't until the second half I really got going, and from that point everybody just kept screening for me and I felt like I couldn't miss. Even the last three I missed when Draymond (Green) was defending me, it felt good coming off my hand, just missed it long. He (Frazier) did a great job of finding me and the rest of the guys did a great job screening me and getting me open.
Q. Would you like to say something about the offensive capability or your backcourt mate there (Frazier), because he really had a great game in every way, but especially scoring, which he doesn't sometimes often do?
TALOR BATTLE: You know, it was great, and I was probably more happy than he was because, you know, Jeff (Brooks) wasn't really knocking in shots today, and he really picked up the slack with Jeff along with everybody else, and he gave us that punch, and that's what he can do. He really attacked the rim. I think he just played and not tried to be Mark Jackson and pass and make assists on every play. He actually looked at the rim, and I think that was it. He got his confidence early and then he kept playing well throughout the game.
Q. You've accomplished a lot individually here at Penn State. What would it mean -- but you've never been able to compete for a championship. What would it mean to be able to leave your name at Penn State with a championship?
TALOR BATTLE: That would be great because everyone could talk all day about all the individual accolades, but like I've been telling everyone, I'll trade all those in to get to the NCAA tournament, and to win tomorrow would be huge. We play the No. 1 team in the country, and I think we're playing well right now, and hopefully we can keep that up tomorrow and give a good outing and try to win this thing.
Q. Can you just talk about the NCAA tournament? You guys have done a lot, you've got a lot of top 50 wins. Do you feel you're in at this point?
TALOR BATTLE: I hope so, but I can tell you one thing, if we win tomorrow, we're in, so that's our goal. We'll wait for the selection committee to come after the game tomorrow, but our prime focus is just to go out and win the game.
Q. For the players, you guys played Ohio State down to the wire in Columbus, I think it was a three point game, and had a three at the buzzer to try and tie it, then the other game in State College was the one where Jon Diebler I think had the record with threes. Just talk about those two games and maybe what it'll take to knock them off tomorrow.
TIM FRAZIER: You know, just we're rolling right now, so we've just got to keep it on, execute. We're going to go over film for these guys, watch both tapes. We did some things at State College that we didn't normally do. We let Diebler get his shots off, and we're going to try to stop that and just execute like we did today and come out with a win.
TALOR BATTLE: You know, the second time we lost to them, we still got that taste in our mouth, so we can't wait to play them. Like I just told coach in the locker room, the last two teams we played, the last time we played them, they beat us up pretty good, at Michigan State and at Wisconsin, and Ohio State came and beat us up pretty good. So we're looking forward to playing them tomorrow. We know we have got to do a good job on (Jared) Sullinger and of course we can't allow Diebler to hit 10 threes.
Q. Michigan State had a lot of turnovers in the first half. What did you do to disrupt their ball handling and passing lanes?
TIM FRAZIER: I just think it was more our aggressiveness. They came out and they threw a great first punch, got on us early and we knew we had to fight back, so definitely we got them to get transfers and pressure the ball. Jeff had a big tip in the back for us to get open lay ups and open lay ups made it more careful and not able to get that transition game going.
TALOR BATTLE: We just wanted more and played hard. I think we competed and played hard. I remember a play when Jeff was sprinting the length of the court and he back tipped it. It was everyone playing hard, get your hands up, and that's when you can force turnovers. I think it came down to us playing hard, keeping active, getting our hands in and deflecting balls and things like that.
Q. Were you surprised at Michigan State's defensive adjustments to you?
TALOR BATTLE: No, to be honest with you, I thought they played pretty well, not to sit here and boast myself, but I think I hit some tough shots with guys guarding me. But once you get in that zone, you really don't see anyone, or at least that's how I feel. The guys kept screening for me. They were contesting most of the shots, I was just zoned in and really focused on trying to knock them in.
Q. Tim, could you talk about your offensive game, 9-for-13? When is the last time you shot the ball that well and it was flowing that well?
TIM FRAZIER: I'd have to say back in high school. I haven't had one of these offensive occasions in college yet, so it's a great feeling to have it. Overall just like he said, I was kind of more attacking the basket. I got some easy lay ups, couple of transition baskets, then I just opened up and it gave me more confidence to knock down jumpers.
Q. Can any of you guys capture how the feeling was on the court in the first five or six minutes? It's hard to believe now but it actually looked like it was possible they could blow you out.
TIM FRAZIER: It's just the Big Ten Tournament. Yesterday we were ahead like that, same thing, playing Wisconsin, got on them 18 2, so it can easily flip. We know that. We were going to make a run, they were going to throw their first punch, we made a run, weather their storm and we were able to come back.
TALOR BATTLE: The first thing I told the coaching staff because coach was flipping out because we came out slow, I said, coach, I said, 'Let's just all calm down and stick together.' We had silly mistakes. We don't box out, they get it on a foul shot. We were just doing silly things that we can easily take care of, and once we did that, I really think Jermaine Marshall came in to give us a huge lift in the first half and really got us going, some big rebounds, a block shot. So it was everyone tonight and that was the push we needed off the bench from Jermaine.
Q. A similar question that was asked to Taylor, I'm certain you guys' goal was to come in here and win the whole tournament, but do you think the three wins has solidified your bid to an NCAA tournament as of now?
COACH DECHELLIS: Yes. I mean, our strength of schedule was 5, RPI was 42. I mean, what else do you want us to do? We just beat Indiana, we beat Wisconsin, a top 15 team, we just beat Michigan State. We've done the things that we needed to do. You know, we're going to play hard tomorrow and see what happens, but whatever happens, I don't -- we need to be in the tournament. I mean, we've done the things that people said we needed to do, and our RPI is great, our strength of schedule is in the top 7 in the country. I don't know who else you want us to play. But we've done all the things that people have asked us to do. Play a great schedule, we're seventh, RPI of (42), it will go down or decrease after this one today. I don't know what else we're supposed to do. We're going to try to win tomorrow now, I understand that, but barring what happens, I think we have to be in the tournament.
Q. Along those lines, Taylor and all he's accomplished, isn't he the kind of guy who deserves an NCAA tournament?
COACH DECHELLIS: Yeah, he does, all our seniors do. They've worked hard. We had an opportunity two years ago, and the committee said our strength of schedule wasn't good enough, so now we're 7. The kids have done a great job. All our seniors, Bubby and D.J. Jackson, Jeff Brooks, Andrew Jones and Steve Kirkpatrick, we've got five kids who came and worked hard. They've been through good times, they've been through bad times, and they've stuck together this year. We didn't play well at times, but they kept fighting and fighting, and we've been winning a lot of games here in the last three weeks to put ourselves in this position, and I'm really proud of our team.
Q. Anything that you -- not necessarily that there was, but did you sense this kind of resolve in these guys before the tournament started?
COACH DECHELLIS: You know, I think all year we hadn't played well, and I just thought that we would -- somewhere along the way I thought we would just all gel and play and come together. We've been piecing this thing sort of together the last three weeks, different guys have stepped up. I thought we always had the capability to do it. I've been really trying to grind them, and they've responded. I've really tried to push it hard and explain to them that this was their last chance to get to the NCAA Tournament, to possibly play for a championship, and they've responded very, very well, not grinding them on the floor but grinding them motivation wise, mentally, trying to explain to them what was ahead of us and what they could accomplish if they -- last Sunday -- I think it was last Sunday or Monday, I told them, give me six days. Give me the best six days you have, and maybe we can get to that championship game and get ourselves in the NCAA tournament. But I've got to have everything you've got for six days, your focus, your energy, you've got to eat right, you've got to sleep right, you've got to be here, you've got to have great focus, and if you do that, we're going to give it our best swing.
Q. Can you just talk about facing Jared Sullinger tomorrow and what he presents inside?
COACH DECHELLIS: God, can I get 10 minutes? (Laughter).
He's a great player, really a great player. We haven't figured out what to do yet. Obviously we didn't figure it out 10 days ago, so we'll go back and try to figure it out. But I'm not sure you're ever going to stop the young guy. He's a kid that's very physical, very strong, can score. I think what I admire about him as a player, he's always under control, and he's a very good passer. He's a kid that you throw the ball to, if he doesn't have a shot he throws the ball back out to somebody. He's a complete player, and he looks like a great teammate. He's always -- he's got a great demeanor about him, so he's a great player. I don't know if we can. I don't know what we'll do with him tomorrow. But we'll try to do something.
Q. In the first half Michigan State shot 50 percent, in the second half they were 21 percent. What did you do differently in the second half defensively?
COACH DECHELLIS: I don't know if we did much differently. I think they just missed some shots. I'm not going to say we did something special, super duper game plan, we tried to guard them and get into them and jam them a little bit. We were really concerned about their high low action and them getting easy baskets inside, so when they caught at the high post, we really tried to get into them and make it tough for a passer to get to a low block.
(Durrell) Summers has been shooting the ball OK, Kalin Lucas has played very, very well, really concerned about him. I was really concerned about the big guys inside, just beating us up inside and scoring inside and getting second shots. I told the kids if we could take transition baskets away and offensive rebounds, I thought we had a chance, and I thought we did that tonight, and we gave ourselves a chance and then we made some shots.
COACH IZZO: Well, disappointed. It's unbelievable the difference a day makes. But before I do that, I'd like to just say that I think of all the guys to lose to today, Eddie DeChellis has done an incredible job with this team. I think you've got four seniors that stuck around and battled through, and I'm happy for him, as much as I'm disappointed for us. He's one of the good guys in the profession.
They just seemed to have a little more energy than we did. We got off to a great start, and then give (Talor) Battle credit, he hit four threes, and I thought all of them were pretty well guarded. In fact, he missed one that wasn't guarded. We had some turnovers that just led to lay ups, and we just -- that game switched like that (snaps), and we just looked a little sluggish. Their defense probably had a lot to do with it, shooting 21 percent the second half. When we get out rebounded that's usually an energy stat, and we did a pretty good job on turnovers after turning over more the first half. And just didn't play as well as I think we can play, but I give a lot of credit to Penn State. They're deserving.
Q. After everything you guys put into yesterday's win against Purdue, were you guys at all tired today and was it tough to get back up for another game the next day?
KALIN LUCAS: You said were we tired? I don't want to say we was tired, I just think we did start off real great and then after that they started hitting shots, and I think that just took something out of us. You know, we started coming down, and we wasn't scoring the ball, and they was. I think that's what that came down to.
I think (Tim) Frazier was the key. Frazier had a great game, he hit threes, getting into the paint, scoring, and Battle, too. He had a great game, as well.
DRAYMOND GREEN: Like Kalin said, it wasn't anything about being tired. If we were tired, we wouldn't have gotten off to the start we got off to. We just didn't sustain it, and we kind of went on a drought there, bad time to go on a drought because that's when Talor Battle started lighting it up from three, and we couldn't get a bucket to go in at that point, and he was knocking down threes that added up pretty quick, I think. They probably went on an 11 0, 12 0 run, something like that, so I think that's where the game kind of switched, the momentum switched.
Q. Just talk about what you think is going to happen come tomorrow on Selection Sunday. Middle of the season kind of a slump in there, but you've really battled back since March.
DRAYMOND GREEN: I mean, whatever is going to happen is going to happen. We can't control that. Whatever they think of our resume, if we had enough key wins to outweigh the losses then we'll get in. But we can't really sit here and worry about what's going to happen. If we took care of business today, we wouldn't have to worry about it. So whatever happens happens, and it's in the hands of the committee now, so we just have to sit back and watch and see what happens.
Q. Kalin, when you're watching that game they played yesterday, Penn State, can you learn anything from that when it's just both teams score in the 30s?
KALIN LUCAS: Can I learn something from it? As far as the game, I really didn't watch the game actually. I mean, it was a low scoring game, but as far as the game, I really didn't watch the game at all. I just know it was a low scoring game.
Q. You guys shot 50 percent in the first half and then cooled off a bit in the second. Was that something Penn State did or was that just missing shots on your end?
KALIN LUCAS: It was more of us just missing shots, us just missing shots, us missing lay ups, free throws. I missed two free throws, and I don't normally miss free throws. We got some good looks, but shots just didn't fall.
Q. Do you think that's an NCAA tournament team you just faced out there?
COACH IZZO: Yeah, I definitely do, but I'm prejudiced because I'm in the league. I think there's a lot of teams in our league that are deserving of it because I think our league -- people forget we play 18 games in this league, and it's almost a round robin except for two games. It gets started with other leagues sometimes who play 16 who have a lot more teams in it. But I think Penn State is definitely deserving of it, and I think Eddie has had a couple tough plays during the year, might have won another game or two, just the way some things went, Purdue and at home against Michigan when Brooks missed a game. So if you look at it that way, too, I think the committee takes those things in, and I think it's a tournament team, I really do.
Q. You mentioned the four threes that Talor had. In that stretch when he hit those, how much did that hurt you, and did you feel like that may have kind of put the game out of reach for you guys?
COACH IZZO: Well, it shouldn't have, it was that early. But I thought that he was pretty well contested on most of them. Keith (Appling) did a great job, one time (Mike) Kebler did a great job. The turnovers really hurt us. He's going to hit some of those, he's done it every year. But we just turned it over for those lay ups those two or three times, and then we just kind of looked like the wind got taken out of our sails, maybe especially in Kalin's case it's been a wicked couple days with the ankle and everything and what he's trying to do. You know, I don't know if that was part of it, but I didn't think we had the energy after the first 10 minutes that you need, and at this -- when it's one and done time, it's like 40 minutes of energy or you're in trouble, so we didn't bring that.
Q. Obviously Talor Battle was killer, but how about the way Tim Frazier stepped up and hit some big shots, something he doesn't usually do?
COACH IZZO: Yeah, I thought Kalin was right. It's kind of been the story of our year, people hit threes against us that never hit them all year, and he did, too. He hit a three, and then he got about six or eight of those points off those turnovers.
Second half we only turned it over twice. It was a lot better. But I think it was a combination; we did miss some shots, we missed a couple lay ups inside, but their defense, they're a very physical team. They've got size, and you almost have to pull for them because they've got four seniors that haven't been there, and the thought of what was going through their head and the job Eddie has done, I didn't pull for them during the game, but you'd like to see them be successful.
I think Battle has grown a lot over his career, and he's definitely playing the best basketball because he's not forcing things and things that I thought he might have done other years. I think he's really grown.
And I think Frazier has had something to do with that. Ed did a good job getting Frazier on the point, and I think it's made them a better team, and both have flourished because of it. Frazier just had an unbelievable game today, rebounding, assists. There wasn't one part of his game that wasn't good, and I take my hat off to him for that.
Q. Do you think that the team invested so much in what was a big win for you guys last night, probably one of your more complete games of the season, that there was a little bit of a letdown today?
COACH IZZO: Well, I talked to them about that. I hope not. I mean, these guys have played in Final Fours. Juniors and seniors have been there. Now, at the same time we knew the hunger that Penn State would have with those four seniors, but there should be no letdown with our guys when they've been in one and done time a lot. They've had to play games and get right back up. Fatigued maybe a little bit because of the one day turnaround, just the way this year has been and the mental pressure on this team, but it surprised me a little bit.
Q. Is this team ready for the NCAA tournament next week?
COACH IZZO: You know, I made a promise to myself that I wasn't going to beg or politic. I'm not going to -- every year there's different objectives on what people are looking for. We've done enough to get us in, and we've done enough to put us out, and I really mean that. If you look at our strength of schedule and all those things, I mean, we've done enough to put us in. But if you look at a couple of bad losses, you know, and then I think the hardest part for me is trying to figure out the first two thirds of the year with Lucas, where was he at, and I definitely think we've been a better team in the last six, eight games. But we still have our moments where we're up and down, of course. I think you see a lot of teams are doing that.
I'm ready to accept whatever I have to accept. You know, I'm saddened that we put ourselves in a position where you're not going to know anything until it comes out. But that blame goes to nobody but us, and we're going to have to shoulder that. Do I think we could play well in it? Probably, yeah.