March 14, 2013
THE MODERATOR: We'll go ahead and get started with an opening statement from coach.
FRAN McCAFFERY: I thought our defensive intensity at the start of the game was absolutely critical. I think it really got us going. They didn't score for awhile. We got great play from a lot of different people which is really typical of our team. Great to have Mike [Gesell] back in the lineup. We knew they were going to come back. Bill Carmody coached teams come back. They're going to keep coming, executing, keep making it hard for us. And we had to fight to the very end. We executed pretty well against the 2 3. Missed some shots, but execution wise it was very good. I'm truly proud of my guys.
THE MODERATOR: Take questions for the student athletes.
Q. How does feel to get back playing in a game.
MIKE GESELL: It felt great. It's tough having to sit out and watch the guys, but at the same time I was just trying to do what was best for the team. And when I was out, I was just cheering the guys on and it felt great to be able to come in and play some minutes and make some contributions to the team.
Q. Mike, from the beginning of the season just out of high school, freshman year, does it feel like it kind of slowed down for you at this point or has it made any difference since early in the season?
MIKE GESELL: I would say it has. One of the differences was the physicality and the speed of the game when I made the jump. The coaches do a great job of preparing us and battling against my teammates every day in practice. It's just helped out a lot. It's expanded my game a lot.
Q. Eric, kind of talk a little bit about some offensive rebounds you had in the second half. It really seemed to keep possessions alive and then of course your dunk in the first half. Describe what you were feeling.
ERIC MAY: I got to give credit for the way he opened that right up, and he would be mad if I didn't give him a shout out. So he gets the assist on that. But in the second half it was offensive rebounds, those are huge. Key to the season with us is to keep the clock turning and at that point running the clock was on our side. So, doing that was big time. That's what I tried to get after.
Q. Question for the three of you. Each of you made a pretty big three down the stretch every time Northwestern would get close. Talk about how that kind of kept you ahead, a distance ahead that you would ascribe to the three point ball.
ROY DEVYN MARBLE: There was some big shots for us three. Can't really remember the play, but, yeah, we made some big shots. All of us were struggling to get the ball in the hole midway in the second half. We all were able to come up and knock down some shots. So that was good. I thought that we could have made about five or six more free throws out of those 32, but at the end of the day I was proud of our performance and now we got to get ready for the next one.
ERIC MAY: Northwestern's tough. They don't go away, like coach said. They're always in the game. They can shoot the ball so well. Those threes kind of answered their call, that was huge for us to keep that lead and keep that distance from those guys. Because they're dangerous when it gets down like that.
MIKE GESELL: I would say in some of our close losses this year down the stretch, we just weren't playing as confidently as we should. Even though each of us had missed a few shots, we shot it with confidence and that's what you got to do down the stretch. You got to play to win. You can't play not to lose. And those are the shots that you got to take when you're open and we were able to knock them down.
Q. You didn't get to play against Michigan State the first time. You're a Michigan guy are you looking forward to tomorrow's game?
ROY DEVYN MARBLE: It's another opportunity for us to get a big win. I'm not in that phase any more of having to go against home teams. That was probably cool the first time around as a freshman, but now I'm older and more mature, and I understand what's really at stake. So I'm just looking at it as another opportunity to get a key win.
Q. For the upperclassmen, there are a lot of people who are Iowa fans who are saying tomorrow night's game is the biggest Iowa game in a long time. How do you players view it?
ERIC MAY: I'm glad people are getting excited about this. They should be. I think we're giving them reason to be. It is a every game this season has been a big game. Especially in the Big Ten. So for us to be in this position, it would really be for people to be excited and just how much things have changed is really encouraging. It shows what we have been doing and the work we have been putting in and the results we're getting from that work.
ROY DEVYN MARBLE: I think it's a big game just because it's the next one. But I think, like Eric said, we have come out and had a pretty decent, good season. But giving people reason to be excited about forthcoming games, and all we have to do is go out there and not disappoint.
Q. (No microphone.)
MIKE GESELL: Just to come to an atmosphere like this, it's a little bit quiet in there just because it's such a big arena. So you got to continue to keep up the intensity and I think we did a good job for our first game out there of taking care of business. We just got to stay focused and take one game at a time.
ERIC MAY: I don't think we get too caught up in all that. At any point in the season if you're a bubble team, you go and win your conference tournament. We're coming in here to win a tournament, win a championship. The rest will take care of itself the post season play.
ROY DEVYN MARBLE: I think that whatever a lot of people are thinking, we're just here to win a championship and that's been the goal and the task at hand. And tomorrow's just another chance and opportunity to keep going towards that goal. Today was a stepping stone, we took care of business and now it's on to the next.
Q. Mike, how did it feel to be back out there with your teammates playing? And also wonder if any of you others could comment on that also.
MIKE GESELL: It felt great. Every time I get to go out there and compete with these guys, it's a lot of fun. I love all my teammates and they're fun to play with. We have a very unselfish group and the older guys have done a great job of helping me through this season, through the ups and downs of being a freshman. It's been a fun season so far and I'm just looking to keep it going with these guys.
ERIC MAY: It's great. Mike's a great player. He makes solid plays and he's another killer from three point range. He can knock down shots. It's just huge. He brings energy. So we're really glad to have him back and really going at this full force.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much. You can head back to the locker room. Take questions for coach.
Q. Fran, 48-31 on the boards and a lot of second chance opportunities. Were you pleased with the way you rebounded in this game?
FRAN McCAFFERY: I was. But in reality I think you got to look at what [Northwestern Head Coach] Bill [Carmody] was doing. He was putting a team on the floor that was going to be hard to guard. He had four guards out there a good portion of the second half and he was driving a little bit more. They were into the bonuses, they got into the double bonus with time left. So that creates opportunities to get second shots. We were substantially bigger at times.
Q. The team has come quite a ways a couple seasons from where they were when they first got here. Expectations you had with this team, are they about where you thought they might be coming into the second round of a tournament and how far away are they if they're not?
FRAN McCAFFERY: It's interesting because you go back to early, even before October 15th. We worked the guys out a little bit, just a couple hours a week. And I watched all summer how they fared and how they put extra time in on their own. I felt like this team had the ability to do something special. So I'm not surprised to have 21 wins. I think for us the more impressive thing is looking at our losses. We have got some big time wins, but we have had some losses where we were right there. We got drilled once this year. That's why when you look at our rating it's always so high. They take that into consideration.
We have a very good team. We have, as Mike [Gesell] points out, a very unselfish team, we have got tremendous character and we have as much depth, if not more depth, than most teams I've seen. And it's amazing how often different lineups have come into the game and been so effective for us. And you can't predict what lineup's going to be on the floor at the end of the game when you play us. That makes it that much harder to scout and prepare for. I really like where we are. We've got an unbelievable challenge tomorrow. Everybody knows that. And that is, in some respects, almost the gold standard for what teams want to become. [Michigan State Head Coach] Tom [Izzo] is one of the premier coaches in our game, without question. So we know what's in front of us, but we welcome the opportunity.
Q. Speaking about tomorrow night, do you feel tomorrow night's a must win for your NCAA tournament hopes? And also, how pleased are you to hear your players talk about this is more about they want to go out and win this thing; They're not really concentrating on getting into the tournament?
FRAN McCAFFERY: I think that's important. I'm not foolish, I hear what everybody's saying about that particular game. To me, I am very comfortable with where our resume is right now. I think we deserve to be in. But, there are so many factors and I respect whatever the committee decides. There are a lot of other really good teams. The only thing that we can control is how we play tomorrow. That's how we're going to approach it. It's not something that we even talk about.
Q. Talk about how you're able to keep them at bay in that second half. Seemed like they couldn't get past about an eight point deficit?
FRAN McCAFFERY: We had timely baskets. We had a couple of opportunities where we got the ball to the high post, and sort of got it to the rim, back a couple times, Woody [Adam Woodbury] a couple times. But they made the right read. They turn and faced and they missed short shots that they would normally make. We got to the rim one time and Woody had a chance to finish, didn't finish, he'll learn from that. The key is to go back and guard people. And we did that. We got some opportunities after that. As we pointed out, we made some big threes. Three in particular that each one of these guys made, but the other thing is we got some second shot opportunities and we got we had a chance to make some free throws too to put the team away.
THE MODERATOR: All right. Thank you, coach.
THE MODERATOR: We'll go ahead and get started with an opening statement from coach.
BILL CARMODY: We got off to a bad start and turned the ball over probably in the first five minutes about four or five times there. Maybe in the last six, seven minutes of the first half. For the rest of the game, we didn't turn the ball over too much. We had nine turnovers for the game.
But getting in a hole like we did, it felt like we were trying to claw back for most of the game. But we did a pretty nice job of going in we tried to play man and 1 3 1 a little bit and then we sort of found what we thought was a pretty good defense, that 2 3 zone.
We knew they would get the ball in the high post a little bit, but we just thought that guys were in a little different position there and it seemed to be pretty effective for us. Even though they got a few. They got seven or eight there. And I don't know if we had one more turnover, like in a fast break situation.
And then I think Eric May and [Roy Devyn] Marble just started making 13 or something like that. And we weren't able to get back in it. I thought we defended actually pretty decently. But, you know, that rebounding as far as our defense at the end of it, we just didn't get as many rebounds. We went small. We took Kale [Abrahamson] out and it seemed like the physical nature of the game was a little rough for them initially. And then we were in this hole.
So I think that's a pretty good team and they played pretty well for most of the year. I have these two guys next to me who are seniors and I just told them in the locker room they will never have any regrets, either one of them, or any of the other guys too. Because they will never say, well, I wish I had done this or practiced harder or dribbled to my left better or shot better or worked at it more, because they both did. And they're both guys who have class and they carry themselves with dignity.
THE MODERATOR: Questions of the student athletes.
Q. For either of you, what do you feel like was, were the problems in the slow start when you got down 15 2.
REGGIE HEARN: I think at the beginning we weren't executing our offense very well. We had some guys out of position, we weren't communicating well about what the play was and our offense was kind of stagnant and I felt at times when we're not going on offense it affects our defense. And we obviously weren't playing defense well initially and we just got in a big hole.
Q. Reggie, talk about your rebounding. You lead the team again for the second straight game. Talk about what's changed for you since Jared [Swopshire] left. Do you feel you have more pressure to kind of pick up some loose rebounds?
REGGIE HEARN: I wouldn't say it's pressure. But I realize it's something I have to do. Sometimes I feel like, aside from [Alex] Olah or Mike Turner, I'm like the second biggest guy in there, so I just have to rebound if we want to win. And our rebounding margin was still minus 17, so I didn't do near well enough in that department.
Q. Alex, after you guys used your final timeout what was said in the huddle that brought you guys out with more energy?
ALEX MARCOTULLIO: We knew we had to give it our all. We had one last run in us, maybe a couple. We just said to each other, are we going to leave it all out here or are we going to give up? And it seemed like we came together for a few minutes there and we brought it back to seven, like coach said.
And a couple missteps here and there and then they increased the lead. So that was kind of deflating. But I'm proud of the way we fought. Just a few things that we needed to clear up and we didn't take care of really early.
Q. Alex, the way this program is going you guys are building up and things are really starting to look brighter. How difficult was it to endure the way everything went down?
ALEX MARCOTULLIO: It was really difficult, especially for the senior class. But that's basketball. You're going to have to deal with injuries and it's really tough for us being our last year and having all these little fluke things happen to us. But it's no excuse. We just went out there and practiced hard every day, played hard, and just tried to come out with victories and play as hard as we could for each other, the coaching staff and the university.
Q. Alex, talk about how Coach Carmody was able to handle all the speculation about his future and did it influence his coaching?
ALEX MARCOTULLIO: I said this over the last couple weeks, with all the speculation, I think he's done a terrific job with the cards that have been dealt. He's put us in a situation to win and the rest of the coaching staff have done a great job with the scouting reports. And we're the players out on the court and we have to make plays. And, yeah, they put us in the right spots and we just haven't been able to execute as well as we should have.
Q. Reggie, how tough is it for you guys to know there was that, you know, people talking about your coach like that. Talking about changing this program. Just to play with that over you.
REGGIE HEARN: Yeah, it was tough. I didn't know there was that much speculation going on until I got asked by a reporter maybe a week ago or before practice one time. I wasn't really aware of it. And I think that Coach Carmody and the coaching staff has done a great job of not really letting it affect the way they coach.
Like I said, I wasn't aware of it, I don't know about the other guys, but I didn't even know until a weak ago and they kept coaching as normal and it was fine.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much. You can return to the locker room. Take questions for coach.
Q. Talk about what the week's been and kind of the emotions tonight and what it was like in the locker room after the game and the uncertainty from your situation, does that add to the emotion at all in the locker room afterwards?
BILL CARMODY: I tried to keep it very short. I really just mentioned a few things to the younger guys about what they have to work on; and then really just talked about the seniors, the three seniors and what they meant to the program. How they have worked and how they have carried themselves.
So, like Reggie [Hearn] said, we didn't really talk too much about the whole situation. And if guys knew something, fine. And if they didn't of course, Reggie was probably studying, so he didn't read your articles.
Q. Where's this program now compared to when you got here?
BILL CARMODY: Well the talent level is measurably better. I thought it was going along pretty nicely and then just this year it's sort of, when a couple players went down it changed everything, basically playing with all guards and freshmen. So it got harder for our guys.
Alex [Marcotullio] said that the coaching staff has put them in positions and they have to execute, but they executed to their abilities. I think that it wasn't that they didn't execute or didn't run the game plan or anything like that. They shouldn't take anything from it, because it was just real hard, the situation, arguably a couple of your very good players going down.
Q. With you having to start so many of the underclassmen, how is that going to help them in coming years, despite the adversity?
BILL CARMODY: I hope it helps. Guys get better and sometimes they don't. I would like to say that we're playing all these young guys so they're going to get better and we have to take our lumps now. But sometimes they get better and sometimes they don't. And for the most part we have had a pretty good success rate with guys developing, but you never are sure. I certainly think [Alex] Olah has improved in the last month. You can see it. But there's no definite measure.
Q. Talk about Dave [Sobolewski], he had an off shooting night. He's been shooting a little bit worse from the field in the later part of the season. Do you think he's a little bit too tired or do you think it's just one of those slumps?
BILL CARMODY: People said that last year that he was getting tired and that really affected him. Maybe that's true. But I don't think that was necessarily true this year. I think that he was affected by guys being injured and stuff, because he's sort of a facilitator and trying to help other guys. And when you throw it to a guy who isn't as productive as if you can throw it to Drew [Crawford], he's going to make it about 40 percent of the time from outside. And someone else might not. So then he has to do some things that maybe are uncharacteristic, where he has to stretch his limits a little bit.
Q. Are you surprised that they're talking about your future given the injuries and the academic suspension this year and all the different things that have contributed to where you guys finished that were out of your control?
BILL CARMODY: Well, it's just the way it is. Jim Phillips and I will discuss this the next couple days and we'll go from there. We evaluate each year, so, I mean, it's no different than any other year as far as how we go about our business.
Q. You kind of just answered this. Do you have a meeting scheduled yet with Jim finalized or is it something that you're going to be doing going forward?
BILL CARMODY: We'll get together soon.
Q. Talk about your desire to be back, especially given that next year's roster will be promising. Talk about that, as something that you really want to be back.
BILL CARMODY: I don't think that this is the time for that. I'd just as soon have a discussion with Jim and then we'll go from there.
Q. How would you evaluate it's been such a, I don't want to say up and down, tenure at Northwestern, because you've done some great things. But how would you evaluate your time here so far?
BILL CARMODY: Everyone's goal is to get in the NCAA tournament. So we haven't been able to accomplish that. But in a hundred years we haven't been able to accomplish that. And there's not that much different now about what Northwestern offers than it was when Kevin O'Neil was here and [Ricky] Byrdsong and Bill Foster and all those.
So everyone knows, people have talked about it, it's sort of like an arms race. So the gap might be widening that way. But I feel like we have done a pretty good job of bringing in some pretty good players and getting better.
So, in that regard, the goal of the staff and the players all along has been to get to the tournament and I think the administration knows that we have to sort of move ahead. A big step is being made with the Lakefront facility and the money coming in is fantastic. Down the road it's going to help us.
Q. Football's obviously gotten a big uptick and I'm sure the fund raising
BILL CARMODY: In what?
Q. In wins and attention and I'm sure in money.
BILL CARMODY: Well, you know, football and basketball are apples and oranges. We have been in the post season, the NIT, all that kind of stuff. And football raises. Football money comes in from football. People said 85 percent is football and basketball is like 15 percent. And our administration knows that and they're going to do something about that.
And it's just a question of you have to pick something first. And I think we'll benefit from some of the things that are in this Lakefront facility, academically and the training facilities and then we have to move on to the future.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, coach.