Purdue-UNI Pregame Quotes, March 18
March 18, 2009
Q. Can you guys talk about, Rob, you talked on Monday a little bit about having a team meeting, for lack of a better term, after the Northwestern game, and watching the tape. Have there been moments during the season where you guys felt that it was necessary and was there anything that happened before you came here to talk about what you wanted to do here?
ROBBIE HUMMEL: I think that you're going to have times where there's always moments necessary to have a team meeting. Things aren't always going to go your way during the season. It's a very up and down thing. But coming out here there wasn't a whole lot to talk about.
E'TWAUN MOORE: Definitely. We just really got to keep our cohesiveness and just stay together as a team, especially we lost a few games the end of the year, so we had to make sure everyone was staying on focus and staying on task, and that's definitely what the meetings were for.
Q. There's a lot of talk in this tournament about the 5 12 match ups. Traditionally the 5 seeds and 12 seeds have been an interesting mix. When Northern Iowa were in here they talked about how you guys were going to be awfully tough to beat. You follow college basketball closely. 5 12 something that's a worrisome match up?
ROBBIE HUMMEL: Yeah, I think so. Anywhere in that range of 3, 4, 5, I think are in danger of being upset by the 12, 13 and 14 seeds, because it's college basketball and it can happen so I guess we're in that range of teams where upsets do happen. But I think we're focused and we're going to do everything in our power to not let that happen.
Q. Just whoever wants to take this, obviously you guys last played on Sunday. Northern Iowa last played a week and a half ago. Do you still feel pretty well rested? Is it good you're striking while the iron is hot or would you rather have had more rest?
JAJUAN JOHNSON: I feel like we're fine right now. It hasn't the coaches haven't been too hard on us in practice. They've been kind of mindful of our short turnaround and I think we'll be fine.
Q. Could you talk about the momentum you get from the way you guys played in the Big Ten tournament and how you're feeling now and how that all feeds into this? What do you think of your seed?
ROBBIE HUMMEL: I think winning the Big Ten tournament was a great momentum turner for us, because we were definitely struggling coming into that weekend. But I think we played really well in the Big Ten tournament and I really felt like we were playing well as a team and doing everything we needed to do to win.
In terms of the 5 seed I think we're all happy with that. I think we're just happy to be in the tournament. We like where we're at and hopefully we can continue to play well.
Q. Maybe all three of you guys talk about this, you've been struggling a little bit at the end of the season and offensively you kicked it in gear, you only had 17 turnovers all three games. After some of the last two losses was there a eureka moment in practice where everything clicked or what turned it around?
E'TWAUN MOORE: I think everyone just came ready. We were more focused and more concentrated on the task that we had. And we were playing a little sloppy sometimes, playing a little out of control. So we need to focus, tighten it down, play basic fundamental basketball and just do the basic things necessary to win. Everyone just came ready to play.
ROBBIE HUMMEL: I agree a hundred percent with E'Twaun. I think those meetings did help us and like he said, we definitely were very focused on the task at hand.
JAJUAN JOHNSON: From those two losses that we had towards the end of the year, I think we got out rebounded those two games, and I think we kind of just bought into what our coach was saying about rebounding and defending. And during the tournament we really concentrated on that and we executed, that's why we were able to win.
COACH PAINTER: First of all, we're honored to be here in Portland. Honored to be in the NCAA tournament. I think sometimes when your guys go to tournaments for two years in a row, now this is our third year in a row, you don't want to take anything for granted, you understand it's a big deal to play in the NCAA tournament.
We're excited about the opportunity. We think we're playing good basketball after coming off of winning the Big Ten tournament. It was huge for us, we ended the season losing three of four. Hopefully this can build momentum for us as we're starting to get healthy. And hopefully play good basketball here in Portland.
Q. In the past ten Big Ten tournaments, 15 12 seeds have won opening round games against the fives. Is that something you even bring up with your guys or do you just not try to crowd them too much with minutia?
COACH PAINTER: No, we don't bring up the 5 12 seed. Also the fact that we don't bring up there's never been a three seed to win the Big Ten tournament until we just won it. The thing I would say about the five's versus the 12's in the history, they're a lot closer than they look.
Obviously the separation is 7. And with that, those 1, 2, 3, 4's, and you start to push, I think 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9's are so close, and 12's, you get in there and you get the wrong 12, it comes down to match ups. I say the wrong 12, but it's just a match up, what style of play fits.
But with that I think it just shows the parity through the years, that there's not a whole lot of difference between the 5 and 12. I felt that way in the Big Ten tournament. I felt the number two seed Illinois was not a whole lot different than the number nine seed Northwestern. We struggled with both of them throughout the year, had a difficult time. We preferred not to play any of them. But there was not a lot of difference between our two.
Q. I was wondering from your standpoint, the Big Ten tournament put you in the pressure situation, how much has that helped prepare you for the NCAA tournament?
COACH PAINTER: I think our experience in the last two years in the NCAA tournament will help us, obviously, in this year's tournament. The only thing that I think really helps you, but when you have that conference tournament on that neutral court, I think that is something that can help springboard your team into the NCAA tournament, if you can play well. Or you can use it as a wake up call before the NCAA tournament if you don't play well.
We used our struggles at the end of our regular season as a wake up call to help us win the Big Ten tournament. Now we're hoping to use that as momentum to play well here in the NCAA tournament.
Q. You talked about match ups, what kind of match up is Northern Iowa for you, and what are your concerns?
COACH PAINTER: I obviously have a lot of concerns, because I think Northern Iowa is a very good team. They are not a traditional mid major team, I think a lot of the mid major teams across the country, have a couple of combo forwards, 6'6", 6'7", because you can't get that huge post at that level.
I think that's one thing everybody searches for, but it's difficult to have that guy in the pivot that is productive like they have with Jordan. He's a good player, he causes match up problems. Then they have Koch, who is similar to Hummel, who can play in the post, play on the perimeter. Then they have a lot of skills. Their 2's and 3's can shoot the basketball.
And I think their point guard is a guy that can play anywhere. He's very strong, very quick, makes good decisions, can create for a lot of different people. So I think they have the pieces to be very successful in this tournament.
And then I think on top of all that they can play a couple of different ways. Normally you get pigeonholed into playing a certain way, if it doesn't go your way, you're going to struggle. They can play in the half court and they can play in transition. They push the basketball, they try to score in transition, and in the half court they very efficient, also?
Q. Question about Lewis. When you play a freshman a lot of minutes, everything is kind of new to them, first time through. Are you to the point with Lewis where you're no longer worried about how he'll react to his first NCAA tournament?
COACH PAINTER: I think anytime you play a lot of minutes as a freshman you get to the end of the year, you're more a sophomore than anything. You've advanced that. Lewis has done a good job. He's a smart player, he understands things. I think at different times he's had to adjust to different styles.
We played Northwestern with their 1 3 1, you play somebody that presses, just a lot of different things you have to adjust to, but it's nothing that's unfamiliar to him. He's been a point guard, and run the team. He's made good decisions. We're fortunate to have him to be able to get someone with that grit and toughness that can help us on both ends of the court.
Q. You just saw Illinois at the Big Ten tournament. Talk about what they need to do to get it going right again, and sort of the approach that you expect Bruce will take from your background with him.
COACH PAINTER: Well, I think that they had something happen to them in the Big Ten tournament where they lost their heart and soul. They lost their emotional leader. They lost their defender. And it's difficult when you have that void because their next guy is not Chester Frazier. Is he a good player? Yes, he's a good player, but he's still not that lockdown guy.
Now the thing I've been impressed with with Illinois is, I think, Meacham has done a good job of making big shots and as a defender. Mike Davis and Tisdale have to be active and they have to be productive. Especially with Chester out. And both of those guys are capable of scoring 20 points and getting 10 rebounds, and I think they can cause some match up problems because of their skill level and Mike Davis's athleticism.
And Demetri McCamey has got to be ready to roll. When Demetri is on top of his game and playing well, Illinois is going to be a tough out. But if he's not making shots and not being aggressive and he's not locked in, that's when I think you see some struggles with him.
COACH JACOBSON: We've had a good week and a half coming out of St. Louis. We were able to get some rest on Monday and Tuesday and able to take Saturday off last week, as well. So our guys are rested. Had a very good week in workouts this week, before getting on the plane yesterday. So I like how we've worked out this week.
Certainly excited to play tomorrow. We know we've got a tremendous challenge in Purdue. I'm extremely impressed with how hard they play and how tough they are. There's a lot of challenges at both ends of the floor, but just extremely impressed with how hard they play and how tough they are, and obviously no surprise knowing Coach Painter from a few years ago and playing against his team. No surprise there. Our guys are excited. We know we've got a great challenge on our hands.
Q. Adam, you guys have had, like coach referenced, ten days off. Purdue is coming back after winning the Big Ten. Got some research with the Iowa Hawkeyes. They laid eggs in the first round of the NCAA tournament, most notably a few years back, lost to Northwestern State up in Auburn Hills. Does that give you guys confidence knowing the history that tournament winners from major conferences have been big victims in the first round of this tournament?
ADAM KOCH: We can understand that, coming off with less time to prepare, having that many games in a few days, it can make it more challenging mentally. I'm sure they'll be ready to go. But I know we're definitely happy to have a little bit more time off.
Q. You've gotten to see tape now of Robbie Hummel, and body wise you're similar, talk about the comparison of you two.
ADAM KOCH: We've watched a lot of Purdue tape the last couple of days, and just watching him you can tell he's a really good player. He can do a lot of stuff at his size, being able to shoot the ball on the floor. He does so many things well. It makes him a good player.
It will be a challenge. It will be a match up that I'm looking forward to. It's nice it's tough knowing that it's not an area of the game you can give him and he'll shoot a 3 or whatever. He's going to be able to do all that. It will be a challenge.
Q. Again, for Adam, you know, Purdue defends really well on the perimeter. Coach talked about their toughness, is that something you can pick up, watching them on tape, can you tell how tough minded they are defensively on the perimeter?
ADAM KOCH: Yeah, you can definitely tell just from watching the film. They really get after it and are aggressive on the defensive end of the floor. I think one of the nice things for us is some of the teams we played this year and in the past, they played a similar style. So it's something we've gone up against, but at the same time we know they're going to go after you on the defensive end.
Q. How would you, Adam and Travis, both, describe how your team made a turnaround midway through the season? What happened with your team?
TRAVIS BROWN: I think we had we started off 6 6 and then we lost our first opening Valley game and it was kind of a downer. And I think the guys just kind of rallied behind each other and really got confidence from a win at Southern Illinois. And I think that carried us throughout the regular season.
Q. Talk a little bit about the guy who's been here before a few years ago. What makes this different than just a typical tournament or typical regular season game, atmosphere, arenas? What makes this a different event?
TRAVIS BROWN: Basically at the start of the year, this is what every team dreams of, postseason play, this is the highest level you can go for college for postseason play, and that's what makes it special.
You want to be on the highest stage. We're excited about this opportunity.
Q. Coach, the New York Times today wrote a piece about upsets, Cinderella stories, and your team was not included. Not even going back to 1990 and Eldon Miller. Will you play that type of card, where you're not getting respect. And can you talk about the fact that you're a conference champion, you've had a chance to get that out of your system where Purdue is coming back, and you know what that's like for the Iowa team, coming back from getting picked off. The Cinderella story and then the layoff factor?
COACH JACOBSON: You know, in terms of the Cinderella story, that isn't a card, if you will, that I play with our guys. Our guys know what they're about, and they know what they're made of. They don't need me to remind them what we're up against. They've done such a good job of getting better all year and just knowing who they are. This is no different for us from that standpoint.
And if I heard you correctly, referring to the article, we weren't picked as one of the upsets, that's because we're playing a really good team. Purdue, they're really good. And some people have asked me about the 5 12, and I said it, in one of the articles, it doesn't mean that we just get the win because we're the 12, and people like to talk about it. We're going to have to play a very good basketball game and we know what we're up against.
Q. Can you talk about the layoff, Coach?
COACH JACOBSON: As I mentioned in the opening, I think it's been really good for our team to have Monday and Tuesday off. And as much physically, mentally, for the guys to be able to get away a little bit. We worked out a little bit Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and then took Saturday off. And now we've had some real good workouts, practiced the way we had for the majority of January, February.
But I do think that the rest, physically, is good. And maybe more important the rest mentally, for the guys, especially the two weeks we were coming off. We had to play our best at Illinois State. We had to play a great game against Evansville to get a share of the conference title. And then three great games to get us here. That rest was good for our team.
Q. Could you tell me about Lucas O'Rear, how you got on to him, what he has meant for you, et cetera?
COACH JACOBSON: Luke's dad, Mike, and Ron Smith, go way, way back. So the relationship started with Ron Smith when he and I were assistant coaches along with Jeff Rudder for Greg McDermott. And that relationship, as I mentioned, with Ron Smith and with Mike O'Rear goes a long ways back.
Obviously Mac and Ron went to Iowa State three years ago, and we were fortunate to be able to maintain that relationship and Luke was at our camp the summer before his senior year and was really good. Just loved how hard he played, loved his toughness, has a great feel for how to play. And as good as he is on the floor, he's that good off the floor and in the locker room and with the guys in terms of helping them with their confidence and their toughness and keeping them loose. So his presence has been very good for our team and it starts with his toughness?
Q. About Moran, could you trace how he wound up here, did you expect him to start all year, and now has he hit a freshman wall, and how he's gotten through that.
COACH JACOBSON: Yeah, Kyle Green, one of my assistant coaches saw Johnny first, and really liked him and got us going on Johnny and then we worked hard from that point to see if we couldn't find a way to get him. And the thing we like most about him was his toughness. He really could shoot the basketball. He's got a very good feel for how to play. He's played the point guard position. He's played the 2.
But the thing we like the most was his toughness. And I thought he'd have an opportunity to start for us. I didn't know that he would for sure. I thought he would, because he was so tough and because he had some versatility on offense.
I did not know that he would have games like he had at Drake where he was 6 of 8 for three. And Creighton where he goes for 20 or 22. He had some big time games for a freshman. I didn't know he would have some games like that. And he did. He was banged up a little bit in February and playing almost 30 minutes a game for a true freshman.
And then the type of year that we've had, winning 11 straight games, being in the hunt for a conference title, those, obviously, are very intense basketball games. That's a long two and a half months for a true freshman. He's played very good basketball. Hasn't shot it quite as well the last two or three weeks, but he's continued to play great basketball.
Q. Talk a little bit about the importance of not getting caught up in the situation or the atmosphere of an NCAA tournament game and maintaining aggressiveness, attacking the basket the way you might in a February game.
COACH JACOBSON: You know, I think that's certainly a big part of this for every team, all the teams left or all the teams that are in the NCAA tournament, to be able to play the way that you've played. For us, our last five basketball games we played very, very well. I think the key for our team, and I've talked to them about it, is to approach this the same way.
Now, that's easier said than done sometimes. But the thing I like about the team that we have right now is we were 6 6 and found a way to rally and win a couple of games and gain some confidence. And throughout that 11 game winning streak obviously there's I don't like the word pressure the expectations, obviously get cranked up a little bit. And the guys handled themselves very well through that.
We lost a couple of basketball games and they rallied and bounced back. These guys have been in a number of different situations, they've been in a number of different late game situations, overtime, double overtime. They have been in a lot of different places this year and responded very well, largely because of the approach they've taken and we'll take that same approach tomorrow.
Q. Could you talk about your personality and getting the team ready for a pressure cooker like this. Your kids were really prepared at St. Louis, they had a swagger about them, they had the bullseye on their back. Talk about your personality, your approach inside that locker room a minute before tip off when obviously they're on a big stage and trying to pull off an upset. What will they draw from you moments before tip off?
COACH JACOBSON: It will be very similar to the way I've been all year. This team hasn't needed a lot from me in the way of motivation or great stories or whatever it might be. I haven't had to try to trick these guys into playing hard. And that, I think, is the key, and what's been a lot of fun for me.
To be able to 100 percent be myself at practice every day, not have to try to manufacture effort out of our guys. Not have to try to help them understand the importance of approaching each game in a consistent manner. They've been terrific about those things.
And it will be no different tomorrow. We'll talk about some things tonight and some experiences I have from being here at the NCAA tournament and Travis, as well. But these guys will be ready. And I look forward to tomorrow.
Q. Have you guys seen the type of pressure that you're going to get from Lewis Jackson, Purdue's point guard. He jams the whole game and really starts their defense.
COACH JACOBSON: Not very often. He's really good that way. He does it every possession. I think there's guys out there that will do it in spurts, not a lot of guys out there that will do it as Jackson does, every possession, where he's really pressing up on you and making things difficult.
We have seen it some. We've got some guys in our league that have done it. We played Marquette in a non conference, obviously when James was healthy, and Marquette with their three guards. That was a long time ago, but a great learning experience for our team.
But there are teams in our league that get out there and pressure you, not to the extent that Jackson can, not very often, he's very good at it.
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