March 14, 2013
THE MODERATOR: We'll go ahead and get started with an opening statement from coach.
TIM MILES: Just happy that I poured my drink in this big cup and didn't miss like we did our free throws the last five minutes. I was watching these guys, it didn't go so well.
It was a good win for Nebraska. It was a good program win. I thought these guys really committed to a defensive game plan like they have all year. It wasn't an excellent finish again, but we'll take it.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student athletes, please.
Q. Brandon, I know you didn't play in the game against Purdue in Lincoln, but Terone [Johnson] and his brother, Ronnie [Johnson], have made a living off getting into the lane and shooting those floaters. It just seemed like it wasn't there for them all day. Just talk about the strategy and obviously your being back helped. How did you stop that weapon they have had?
BRANDON UBEL: We came in with a game plan of keeping them out of the paint. They get downhill on just about everybody. So we wanted to hard hedge those ball screens, not really let them attack the bigs and not get too extended with our guards. It was five guys stopping that.
As soon as I would retreat back to my man, a wing or somebody else would be sitting in the lane waiting for them. So I think we just did a really good job as a team of just keeping them out of the lane kind of at all costs.
Q. For either of you guys, there was talk coming into this tournament that Purdue was the hot team and that they might upset someone of these top 10 teams. And when stuff like that is said it always seems like people are almost overlooking you guys. I wonder if any of you heard of that talk and was it any motivation.
SHAVON SHIELDS: They were hot. They beat Wisconsin, played Michigan tight and everything. A lot of, like almost everyone didn't expect us to win this game. So we had to match their intensity and excitement around them and win the game.
Q. For either of you guys. Talk about the last month, talking about building up momentum for this tournament to try to make a run at postseason. Was this kind of a culmination of the last month or so, I guess, do you think?
BRANDON UBEL: It's the start of it. We're not done with what we want to get done. Because if we want to play postseason like we want to, we got to come out tomorrow with the same intensity, same focus, same excitement, and try and win another game. Because the night's over, we got to look ahead and try to keep winning.
Q. Brandon, it's well known you guys were picked to finish last on 23 out of 24 ballots before the season. What's it feel like to be up here with a W and walk out of that place celebrating a little bit?
BRANDON UBEL: It feels good any time you win. Obviously when you're going in picked last, you kind of feel like nobody believes in you but ourselves. But we don't need anybody outside to believe in us, because if everybody in that locker room and on the coaching staff and everybody believes, then we'll be fine.
That's what we did. We came into this game, we believed we could win, and we had a good game plan. I thought we executed the game plan pretty well. It feels really good to do that.
Q. Shavon, talk about the game you had tonight and did you feel you were heading up to a career night similar to the one you had at Penn State?
SHAVON SHIELDS: No. I was just within the offense curling and things like that and my teammates were screening and finding me open. So if it wasn't for them screening and getting me open and that and playing as a team, I wouldn't have got those 19 points.
Q. For you guys, a big win, but you got Ohio State tomorrow. Talk about enjoying this for now and shifting focus for tomorrow.
BRANDON UBEL: Coach told us after this game, he said he'll give us until dinner to celebrate this one. And we all kind of laughed, but it's true.
We got to get in the film room, got to really focus in on what they do well. Try to take away those things. Try and contain Deshaun Thomas, Aaron Craft whose been playing really well lately too, and hopefully we can come out and execute that game plan as well as we did tonight.
SHAVON SHIELDS: We need to enjoy it until dinner, have a good film session tonight and things like that. Figure out what they do and figure out a way to win the game tomorrow.
THE MODERATOR: Okay. Thank you, fellows. You may go to the locker room. Take questions for coach.
Q. Only six turnovers. Talk about how you were able to protect the ball so well.
TIM MILES: Well, I think we're in the top three or four in the league in turnovers and it's important that we don't, because we don't make a lot of shots. So we need as many possessions as we can.
Our kids are almost too careful with the ball because we don't get to the foul line very much. But at the same time the way this team's got to function and operate like that to be good.
Q. Did you think Shavon [Shields] going off in the first half kind of got them a little scattered. I don't know if that was part of the game plan. But touch on that a little bit.
TIM MILES: I think they were aware of what Shavon can do. And I think Shavon had a really good game. They did a nice job on him after the first 11 or so points. Everything he got after that was hard earned. But maybe they got the matchup that they wanted, but at the same time, you have to credit him, because he really carried the load for a long time in that first half.
Q. Talk about the free throws, the issues you had there. Talk about what happened there. And then on that final possession, defensively, what were you guys trying to do?
TIM MILES: We were trying to survive. All right. So that's just the truth. Trying to keep it in front of us and just see what we could do. But the free throws, that's just hard to replicate in practice. That's part of learning how to win. Free throws are mental toughness. It's like a golf skill. It's something you have to stand up there and do. It's mental.
Usually, technically, by the time you get to a junior and senior in college, you know what you're doing. That's what those guys who are shooting or missing or making were. And it's just one of those positions that we have to continue to get better at. We're going to have limited opportunities here at the end of the year, but at the same time, hopefully tonight will help make us feel a little more at ease tomorrow night.
Q. On that last possession, did you expect them to try to set up that curl? It look like you were set up for a curl.
TIM MILES: We wanted to try to eliminate that cut for him, but still it was only a two point game. So you want to win the game. I'm not happy just going to overtime.
We were playing five and six guys is all, so at that point we had not played Andre [Almeida] the second half, I don't believe, and we wanted to win the game. You knew that [D.J.] Byrd might get a look. We also know that Ronnie [Johnson] and Terone [Johnson] can drive the ball too, those guys scoring the ball. But the offensive rebound, too, because any shot at the rim is a good shot.
So they had plenty of options to me and I thought we just did better at getting in there and fighting. And they got two looks at it, I believe, but Ray [Gallegos] came up with a big rebound to end the game.
Q. You mentioned that it's a program win. Maybe just elaborate on that and the significance of this victory for your program.
TIM MILES: I think to build off the point earlier that was made, we were picked dead last by everybody but my mom. We at least out performed that expectation. Sometimes you got to creep to crawl to walk to run. And that's where we're at right now.
So I think that the idea to bring a team in, understand the process, what it takes to win, it's important for us. Especially since Purdue's playing great basketball. And so to be able to beat the hottest team in the league, probably, was a good accomplishment for this group.
Q. You only took three, three point attempts the second half. Was that by design or more because of their defense?
TIM MILES: We didn't really I felt we were the way their quickness is, they chase you off the line pretty good. So we really didn't talk about it. Just keep attacking the defense, take what the defense gives you. And I just didn't recall being very open from the three point line. So I thought Purdue just did a really good job defending the line.
Q. Last time you played Ohio State out at your place you scared them there in the second half. I wondered if just doing that, does that give your players some belief and confidence tomorrow night to do it again?
TIM MILES: I think you stole my post game talk. That's what we told them was, hey, that game was a game down the stretch. And we were right there. And a few other things go our way, we could have come out on top. And that's what you have to cling to. That's what you have to build your case on.
Our guys will be ready to go. I think they will be locked in and their hearts are fresher than their legs, but I think that's going to be all right. We'll just play a low possession game and see what happens.
THE MODERATOR: All right. Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: We'll go ahead with an opening statement from coach.
MATT PAINTER: Obviously a very tough loss for us. I thought we did a better job of taking care of the basketball. We outrebounded them. We just didn't do some simple things especially well in the second half.
We really played pretty good basketball here the past couple weeks and with that we did a better job with our shot selection and making decisions in terms of taking a good shot.
We had to battle back, I just thought Nebraska was a step quicker than us most of the night. But we battled back and got it to two possessions. And then we went about four-straight possessions in the middle of the second half where we took two horrendous shots and had two turnovers. That was a key time of the game, even though we got back into the game and had a chance to win the basketball game, those four possessions in a row really hurt us. And then we had some breakdowns and missed some free throws. And then had the one rebound on a missed free throw that everybody seemed to box their man out and not go get the basketball. And that crushed it.
But you have to give them credit, I thought Shavon Shields was great in the first half. He played like a senior, played like an experienced guy. So give him credit. If you would have told us that we would have took their two best shooters and they would have had nine and five, I would have said we would have won this game. But obviously we didn't. But give them credit. They outplayed us.
THE MODERATOR: Take questions for the student athletes.
Q. For both of you, to start the second half you pulled within two right at the end of the half and they got off, I think and scored the first nine points of the second half. What at both ends did you see went wrong in that stretch, because you were playing uphill the rest of the way because of that 9 0 run.
D.J. BYRD: Offensively I just thought that we could have got some better looks, took some better shots down the stretch. But we just had to run the offense. And you didn't really know if they were going to switch on some down screens on some of the guys. I guess give credit to them. They made it tough on us. But that 9 0 run we had to be able to crack down and get some stops and we didn't.
RONNIE JOHNSON: I thought we were digging ourselves in a hole pretty bad. They were scoring and then we were throwing up bad shots. So that's not what you want when you're trying to win.
Q. D.J., this team has played so well the last three weeks and then you got back into this one, but you fall short. You're two games under .500. I know as a senior you talked about wanting to continue to play basketball. It's not in your hands now, but do you feel like this team is still deserving of some kind of post season opportunity?
D.J. BYRD: I believe so. The way we played the past couple weeks, Michigan and Minnesota, and we had some good games and played hard. And we came up short in some big games too. So for me, I always want to play some more games, but it would be great if we could.
Q. Ronnie, in the game out in Lincoln, you and Terone were able to get in the lane and get some of those floaters. Terone had an especially good night. And they talked about how they were able to plug that up this time. Did you sense from early on that it was going to be more difficult with Ubel in there for you and Terone to penetrate and get those floaters like you've been doing so often lately?
RONNIE JOHNSON: I thought so. They guarded the ball screen a bit different than Wisconsin did. They had a hard hedge, whereas, Wisconsin, you could get in the lane pretty easy. And they kind of stayed on our hands instead of my left and my brother's right. So it was just kind of hard to get in there and make those plays.
THE MODERATOR: All right. Thank you, guys. We'll take questions for coach.
Q. Same thing, so much you talked about this year, good things happen when you're able to get into the paint. It just didn't seem like it came as easily tonight. From a strategical standpoint, talk about what they did that made it so difficult tonight to get in there?
MATT PAINTER: Really not anything different than what other people do. They packed it in. When you face different teams that do that, you just have to show some discipline and put them on defense and break them down.
We didn't do that. We were too eager. I didn't think we did a good job of moving. I thought we had to move them more. Any time you move them more, you usually spread them out more. And we just didn't have good ball movement, we didn't cut hard, we did too much watching. That's something we really worked on this past month. And it's a shame that you get in a close game like that and you can't do a better job of disrupting their offense.
Q. You went with Sandi [Marcius] at critical times in the second half. What did you see from him tonight that you liked?
MATT PAINTER: I thought he played hard. He gave us a spark there. He had six rebounds in 14 minutes. And obviously A.J. [Hammons] scored the basketball.
But in that one stretch A.J. had the turnover and then he had a couple shots right there at the basket and he had already been out there about three or four minutes. So it was just a natural rotation where I was going to sub him out anyway and Sandi went in and got rebounds for us and gave us some energy. So we stuck with him.
He's done a really good job for us. A lot of times when guys get out of the rotation they get down, they get a bad attitude, and Sandi's had a great attitude when he got out of the rotation and he's kept fighting and he's really helped us here the past couple weeks.
Q. That final possession turned into a scramble. Who were you hoping would get that shot away?
MATT PAINTER: We were doing we did the same thing we have been doing before with [D.J.] Byrd getting those shots, except that Terone [Johnson], we wanted him to get in the paint, because we didn't need a three. We wanted him to get in the paint and try to draw a foul or get to the rim. And we didn't get a good ball screen. You go back and watch the tape, he didn't get a good ball screen right there. He got a contested shot.
Obviously, he got it back and had another contested shot there. You would like to get a little better look. But we had the ball in the right guy's hand.
Q. You talked at Illinois in the game about a month ago how you were tired of hearing that you're a young team. What do you take from this last month moving into next year with your team being so young?
MATT PAINTER: I thought that the improvements we made here in the past two, three weeks, I thought that should have been where we were in late December, early January. It just took us a while to figure it out.
Then when things don't go our way the Wisconsin win was a great win, obviously, but we were down 13, 14 points in the game and came back and won. So you see it in games like this right here where we get down, we really struggle to handle adversity. We have done a better job with it, but the missed free throws, the missed opportunities, the breakdowns, they didn't actually answer the question about the start of the second half. It's just an immature approach to coming out in the second half. And maybe some shots don't fall for you, but you still do your defensive assignment, you don't get back boarded out of the corner, you stay tight on a screen. You do what you're supposed to do. They make tough shots, you shake their hand.
We had some mental breakdowns. We weren't ready to play. I wish I could blame it on our young guys, but we just didn't have a group that could stay in it. It was great to see how they improved at the end of the year, but this right here we had too many situations, opportunities where it seemed like we were backing down from where we played most of the year, especially against good competition.
Q. I asked D.J. [Byrd], you said on Monday you would play exhibition right now. Tonight's a little bit of a bummer for you, but do you still hope that somebody will come calling next week for some post season opportunities?
MATT PAINTER: Well, sure. But it's also one of those things where I want our guys to be in the right frame of mind. Because I want to do it, but I don't play. So they can say what they want, but you got to be able to give your word that you're going to go out there and fight and take it serious and go out and try to win the game if you get that opportunity.
Q. This is the first time in awhile that you're not looking ahead to the NCAA tournament . Where do you go from here? How critical is it looking ahead into the summer going forward?
MATT PAINTER: It's like any other year. Obviously, it's disappointing that you're not going to play the NCAA tournament. But we go back and we assess where we are, evaluate each guy, evaluate our team, do our best to evaluate what's coming in. Because we need to recruit and try to get some things fixed.
We just have to be more into it in terms of having 12 month guys. You can't get in situations we got to get a more skilled guy, in my opinion. The year before we weren't as talented as we were before, but we took care of the basketball and we always gave ourself a chance. And this year we didn't do that at times. And then you got to be able to make free throws, just do simple fundamental things.
So when you have guys that are 12 month guys that put in a lot of time, that area is going to improve. You just got to do a better job there. I got to do a better job there.
Q. You talked about assessing everybody individually. Sandi [Marcius] went from starter to DNP back to a critical role player. David Washington went from a starter at different times to now where he's at. What didn't he do to earn playing time?
MATT PAINTER: I get to this a lot of times when you guys ask questions about that, about guys, and you got to understand they're college students. You know. He got beat out. It's real simple. Rapheal Davis beat out all those guys. He's not a traditional four. Rapheal Davis shows up every single day, he comes early, he stays late, he works on his game, he watches extra film. I'm going to migrate to those guys.
I'm not going to migrate to guys that come in, when practice is at 3 o'clock, right at 3 and it ends at 5:30, they leave right at 5:30. I'm always going to be that way.
I tell my recruits, if you work on your game and you care and you love it, I'm your guy. If you go through the motions or whatever, I'm not your guy.
The guys who didn't play tonight, outside of Travis Carroll and Dru Anthrop, they got to get in the gym. Dru Anthrop, Travis Carroll, they overachieved. They worked their asses off to be here and they care. The other guys are good guys, but you got to show up with a passion and a commitment to what we're doing if you want me to trust you.
I think that's what it comes down to. I don't trust guys that I don't see. You live in that gym, I start to trust you. I think that's an important thing in college basketball. Period.
THE MODERATOR: Coach, thank you.