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February 18, 2013

Opening Statement:

Well I thought our team was asked enough let-down questions, and I think they probably were too. The human dynamic can sometimes play into it, but not today, not at all, not with the way they are maturing, not with the way we feel about the rivalry with Purdue. It's a big, big deal. They're a great program…they have been for a long time. Matt (Painter) is not only one of best coaches in this league, but he's one of the best coaches in the country…there is no doubt about it. When you play against them, and when coach against them, you've got to have a strategy for everything, and you've got to have that great mindset…and our guys did that.

I thought Christian Watford came in and not only got us going at a high level offensively, but the job that he did on A.J. Hammons was excellent. I mean really, really good because our guys had memories of that game. They had seen the film and they had heard plenty enough about how A.J. had 30 points in the first game and all that. We came out and had a little different viewpoint of how we were going to defend him. At the same time they're so talented on the perimeter that you can't be in a situation where you drop off at all when it comes to the Johnson brothers (Terone and Ronnie), or when it comes to (D.J.) Byrd, or when it comes to even Anthony Johnson.

I thought our guys did an excellent job…a lot of excellent basketball throughout the game in the sense of continuing to push it up. Will Sheehey, that's why we consider him a starter, and there is no doubt about it…you see it today…I had no idea, until (SID) J.D. (Campbell) said it, that he had a record if we took him out of the game then…I'm glad we did and I'm glad that he got it. That's something that he will always have…when it's a record like that for the school…and he played outstanding.

Yogi (Ferrell) consistent…Jordan (Hulls) consistent…Victor (Oladipo) was doing an excellent job in the game before he injured his ankle…of letting the game come to him…facilitating for his teammates. And Cody (Zeller) just continues to do so many things. He commands so much attention on the court. He played very, very efficiently today…very efficiently…scoring the ball, rebounding the ball, defending, helping, blocking shots…all the different things. I thought our team got better as the game went on…that's what you want as a coach. You want to continue to make adjustments that are going to make you better inside of the game. That's what they did. That was a huge win for us.

Why did you decide to go with (Christian) Watford on (A.J.) Hammons? What kind of advantages did you see with that?

The one thing we wanted to do was just put him in a situation where we had a little bit more…get into his body a little bit better…change up how we defended him. He got some bucket…a couple buckets I guess in the second half. We just wanted to be more aggressive. We wanted to be able to come off and help a little bit more with Cody (Zeller), and Christian really rose to the challenge. He can guard anybody, and I'm glad that people are seeing that. We had (NBA) GM's (general managers) here today…we had other NBA teams here today…but he can guard anybody.

He's got a toughness to him. He can make shots. He can get to the rim. He can make foul shots. But he can really, really defend…that's big…it's just huge…when you have a group of guys…Will (Sheehey) guarded him (Hammons) some…when you've got guys like Victor (Oladipo), Will, Christian, that are so multi-dimensional with what they do defensively, it gives you an opportunity to do so many different things…and really Cody…in that sense…not just because he is 7-foot and is hard to score over, but because he can get down and guard different people.

From where the program was to where it is now, does it mean anything to you to get your IU record back to .500?

Well, I knew we were on the verge of that. I would say this…it's funny that they're back honoring our 2003 Final Four team at Marquette today…when you're a younger coach and you look at those things and you do know what you're averaging win wise for your program and things, but coming in here and dealing with what we dealt with, I got over personal goals really quick because if I didn't I was going to be depressed…and I wasn't looking for that. I have no trouble being driven and motivated by the fact that we had such tough times early on.

I do think to get it back there it's nice, but coming in to Indiana I gave up on all those things that…that…winning percentages…and individual goals…and will you win X amount of games in this amount of time…there was a time when I was interested in that…we had it going at Marquette. If we would have stayed there my odds are good we would've kept building those wins, but we didn't. We chose to come here, and when you get into it you do it for what is most which is making sure that you're developing a program, getting it back where it needs to be, and that every player continues to develop.

So in one sense it's nice. It says a lot about the fact that this group has won 50 games in the last year-and-a-half. But again, when it comes down to me personally, I gave up on that…somewhere along the line in that first year I realized that wasn't going to be important anymore in my career.

Tom, what is the latest on Victor (Oladipo)? Any question he will play at Michigan State?

I would say right now I would go between precautionary and day-to-day in the sense of just wait and see. He did some things in the back, and I just don't think that any of us were comfortable enough to say, "Let's go do it". I don't think he…he sprained his ankle, which you saw there…he wanted to go back in but we just weren't going to do that at that point. I don't think anybody felt medically that it was the best thing to do at that point. I hope he is going to be okay. He think he is going to be okay, but it's going to be a lot of time spent in this building getting it back to where it needs to be. So wishful thinking would be that he will play, but we've got to wait and see how the next…I'd say the next 24 to 36 hours or so…how those turnout.

You mentioned using Cody (Zeller) on the perimeter. I don't know if he ever had that kind of assignment before. How do you think he did?

I think he did fine. I think the one time they caught him was when he went to block a shot early and then they dropped it off to (Raphael) Davis. When we cleaned up our awareness off the ball, because we were doing a great job of being locked in to the ball…even though a couple times we didn't play them personnel wise…this is a big personnel game…with Purdue…with their strengths…and we didn't always do that, but we were really, really locked in to the ball, and that allowed them a couple cuts at times because when they are doing that he can block shots. You can't forget about your man because your man can make shots.

But he really adjusted well inside of the game, and it just shows his versatility. It shows Christian's (Watford) versatility. It shows Will's (Sheehey) versatility. We knew that it was going to be important that we had movement in the post, that we were active in the post, that we had our hands showing. We didn't need any displacement calls and things of that nature. We knew that had been the term of the week, and it was really important that we do a great job of making it hard for the ball to go in. But I also think a big part of it was the fact that we pressured the ball better on the perimeter than we did up at Purdue.

Tom, given the struggles you guys had the first couple of years, can you feel a little bit for what Matt (Painter) is going through trying to sort of reestablish the culture with a lot of freshmen?

Oh absolutely…absolutely…but again, Matt is the one of the guys in this league…he gives credit to other people…I've always respected that about him…he gives credit to other programs. Even when we were struggling he would say good things and I always appreciated that. I think what that shows is that he has got a real security in how he coaches. I think he is an outstanding coach, and I'm sure I'm not alone…not just in this area but in the country. You wouldn't have had the people going after him that have gone after him in the past to hire him if he wasn't like that.

He had great players, and the best thing I can say about that is as much as we competed against them, as much as we hated losing to them, as much as we battled and prepared, there was a lot to learn by those guys…there was a lot to learn…not just by the (JaJuan) Johnsons, and (E'Twaun) Moores, and (Robbie) Hummels…but the other guys too…the Ryan Smiths of the world and the (Chris) Kramers of the world. I think he is an outstanding coach and it's a great rivalry. I hope we continue to do our part. I know they want to do their part. I don't think they're that far off, I really don't. They're a talented team, they're just young. I don't want to feel too sympathetic because I think they're going to be really good. He's just too good of a coach for them not to be where they need to be moving forward…I don't think there is any doubt about that.

Regarding the physicality in this game, is this just another Big Ten game or do you think it was a little more physical than in the past?

I don't know. I have to watch film. All games are physical to a degree. Let me look at the fouls…23 to 18…I mean it's…we shot 24 free throws…we were under where we shoot free throws so if I am judging on that I'd say maybe not as much…but I don't know. It was a hard fought game. They fought, we fought, it was a battle both ways.

Coach, you guys have closed out opponents since your last loss? What has been the difference?

A better time and score awareness. A better…really making sure that the ball is moving…that were not shooting it quick. I thought the fact that we had low turnovers in the second half…the nine turnovers in the first half was not good…to have low turnovers in the second half, especially with the pace of the play picked up for us…even with Victor (Oladipo) not in there…because the pace just goes in another level when he's in there…I thought that was important…and making sure that the ball was getting inside.

And again, I didn't have my finger on it the last five minutes as much as making sure we were running some offense and not as much in trying to slow it down or anything like that. But I think we really gained a great understanding from the Illinois game…I think that's been obvious…especially last Sunday at Ohio State…that our guys really responded…that…that…yes, there is a lot of freedom here, but time and score at the end of the game is always going to override freedom.

(Christian) Watford said he had been guarding Cody (Zeller) in practice a little bit to help prepare for guarding (A.J.) Hammons. What do you think he got out of that?

well, they guard each other when we go best-on-best, and we try to mix it up. Our practices are different this year because we're doing different things the day after the game. That means maybe a little bit more scrimmaging the day before the game, even though yesterday we didn't. I thought we were…I thought our guys did a great job…I was really concerned about having the right kind of energy. The rivalry energy and the crowd energy, that's one thing and that carries you for a while, but you've got to have it possession after possession in a game like this. I was concerned about that so backed off a little bit yesterday. I think it is important when those guys go against each other and they challenge each other in a big way. We did some of that this week. We'll continue to do that. Some days we just mix the line-ups up, and it's good for us. But I don't think there is any question that they both benefit from that in answer to your question.

How good was Will (Sheehey) across the board today? It seemed like he scored in every way that he knows how.

I tell you how good he was, I had no idea that he had scored that many points, and I am usually somewhat tuned into that in a game. I have a fairly decent pulse of it, but today I didn't. He was just so active. Again, it's just a living example…I mean here's Victor (Oladipo)…Victor really didn't try to press, force, do anything in that first half that was out of character, out of context because other guys were making plays to the point that I was more concerned about it than he was. That's why he's such a great player, because here's this guy who that's doing all these great things and getting all this attention, and he is just out there feeding his teammates and making plays.

Well, Will is the same way in the sense that he does so many things defensively, and he's so locked in to helping his teammates. He literally could run our walk-throughs the night before games…mornings of games…he could do that…we've got some others that could to. But that's how locked in he is. He truly, truly…he's got the edge and he's got the personality and all that, but he has completely bought in to the fact that the he is a starter quality guy coming off that bench, and understanding what the game is giving him when he goes in. He epitomizes a student of the game right now while the game is going on, and then when he gets in there he just plays. He is really maturing because of that, but he was all over the place.

And again, because he can guard so well, because he can guard so many different people, and he is so active on defense that activity just carries on offense. I think they're going to get better. There are some things we definitely need to improve upon, and we are on our way to it today, and then Vic went down. But there is a lot of room for improvement in this team. I think guys like Will get that and that's why they'll continue to improve and play the way they did.

Coach, (A.J.) Hammons coming into the game…I think he had gone to the free throw line 38 times in the last five games…he doesn't go to the line today. Can you just talk about how important it was to keep him from getting to the line?

There's no question. I think he was shooting…I think he was in the 80s…right…the last five games…he was in the mid-80s…I'm pretty sure. That was a big key for us today…that we didn't want to put him on the foul line because he makes them, he's quick…we just needed to make life tough down there in the sense of being active…if he's get you on his back, and you saw this a little bit late in the game, for his age he is almost unstoppable. That says a lot because they've done…and that goes into Bob's question with Matt (Painter)…or their program…they're doing a great job of developing their team.

I always thought we were when we were trying to build it up even though it didn't always come across that way because you weren't winning. Well I think they're doing the same thing…I mean that's a different player than he was. It sure helped him to go and play for Steve Smith (at Oak Hill Academy) and getting that level of competition, and Matt has just picked right up from that. That was big…you just couldn't let him get you on your back and be able to go into that jump-hook or turn-around jumper with ease. For the most part our guys…and the other big thing is his rebounding…his offensive rebounding…what did he have…he had two…it's big that we were really strong there. You've got make him move…you've got to make him guard and get up and down the floor and try to bring some fatigue to the game. But he's going to be outstanding.

Yogi (Ferrell) had six defensive rebounds today. How important is it for him or for Jordan (Hulls) to get those rebounds on defense and really get things going?

Huge emphasis…they took that message to heart…that's a big deal. I mean our rebound numbers have got to go up. Individually they'll go up and that will make…obviously we'll be better as a team and our differential will be better. When this team…when Yogi gets a defensive rebound you've taken about two seconds, maybe three of your break and that's a big deal. It is a big, big deal when he is out there in the open floor and everybody has got to play catch-up with that…and the same thing with Jordan. When our guys are defensive rebounding it gives up more opportunities to score, and then when we are offensive rebounding because we've got so many guys that are scoring at a good rate on their own offensive rebounds…that's important. Big message this week and they took it to heart and did a great job with it.

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