Jan. 7, 2014
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I just want to begin by saying that I really appreciate my discussions with Gary Barta the last two days in terms of handling everything. I think it’s important to point out that my passion and energy come from a good place. I want my players to play that way. We ask them to play that way, and I’m going to fight for my guys. That’s what I’m going to do. That will not stop. But I think in that instance, without question, I lost my cool, and you can’t do that. We don’t want them to do that, so I can’t do that.
And I never want to put them in a position where it affects them in any way negatively, or, as I said before, anything to reflect negatively on the institution. Certainly not my desire. But it’s a competitive game. That was a competitive game, and we’re going to fight.
Beyond this statement, I’ll let my other statement stand, and let’s move forward.
Q. Did you think about what had transpired on the way home after the game? Did you have kind of a different thought than you did right after the game?
Not really. I think after every game, regardless of what happens, you go through everything. What could I have done differently? What could we have done differently? What do I have to talk to my staff about? What do I have to talk to my point guard about? I’ve got to get so and so going. So from that standpoint in terms of what you do after the game, it didn’t change anything. No.
Q. Will you be able to speak before the game then? You’re going to go home and watch it. What do you want to see out of your team?
Yeah, I can be at the shootaround and the pregame meal, then I’ll watch it on TV. So I’ll be as involved as I possibly can be with game prep. I’ve been watching film on them. Kirk is watching it with us. It’s Andrew’s game, so Andrew has been watching them for quite some time. He’s got them. He’s watched a ton of tape.
Kirk and I started watching tape and started locking in on these guys yesterday. So we’ll collectively put it together and get our team ready to play.
Q. Is it a luxury to hand the reigns over to someone who has been a Division I coach for 17 seasons?
Yeah, and equally important is how he’s respected by the players. I think in regard to that, clearly he has the most experience being in that first chair. Sherm has been there, Andrew has been there, not at the Division I level. But I feel comfortable with any one of those guys.
Kirk has established himself on a national level as being very talented in this profession, and I feel very confident that he’ll do a terrific job on Thursday.
Q. How difficult has this been for you on a personal level just knowing that now your name is all over the place for a negative incident when you’ve had clearly a good run of success here?
I think what you do is you deal with situations as they arise. It’s part of the world we live in today. This would not have been as big a story 15 years ago. Not as many people would have seen it. There wouldn’t have been as many ways for them to see it. I don’t think as many people would have cared about it.
But we live in a different world. It is more noticeable. It is paid more attention to. I think you have to remember that. I have to remember that. But, again, it’s a fine line because this is a long journey with this team. You go back to when I started recruiting Melsahn Basabe and see how hard he’s worked. And you look at Marble and how he’s developed, and the development of Gesell and Clemmons, and you see them battling for you. You want to fight for them.
Q. How tough will it be to stay away from your team?
It will be extremely difficult, but I have confidence in them that they’ll handle the game very well.
Q. How did your players handle the news this morning when you told them you weren’t going to be there?
Exactly as I thought they would. Okay, Coach, we’re behind you. Let’s go. They’re very businesslike.
Q. What did you see out of Northwestern and how they’ve changed from the first year?
Well, they’re a lot different because they’ve got Cobb and Crawford back. That’s been helpful for them. They’re playing a different style. I think Chris, what he’s done is he’s got them playing as you would expect a Chris Collins team to play. They play with passion; they battle you; they compete; they share the ball.
I think Olah is really improved. He’s coming into his own. You saw it at the end of last year. You didn’t see it at the beginning of last year as much. At the end of last year you saw it. Here comes the 7 footer who can score. So you mix in a couple of experienced guys, couple young guys.
He’s got Demps coming off the bench. He’s a microwave. He’s going to attack. He’s going to shoot. He’s going to drive. He’s a valuable weapon. It’s a talented team, an experienced team, and a team that’s going to challenge us, I think, in a lot of ways.
Q. There were fewer solid possessions on offense in the second half. First half you had seven assists and 15 baskets?
We were shooting the ball too quick. I said that after the game. Early, in particular. You know, I think we had some guys that felt like they could go on their own. They weren’t horrible shots. Mike missed a foul line jumper, White got to the rim with his left hand, laid it up, rolled off the rim. Marble got it close, missed.
Then the only complaint you have there is let’s not quick shoot the ball. Let’s move it side to side, keep them on defense for a little longer. Maybe we’ll get a better shot and maybe they won’t be in as good position to rebound.
We got a bunch of offensive rebounds in the first half too. If you shoot it quick and they’re locked in, the Xs on the O, we weren’t getting second shots either. We were quick shooting the ball, weren’t getting the assists, weren’t getting the rebounds, so we really affected the momentum without a doubt.
Q. Was there ever a point in the game where you contemplated putting Peter in there at all?
Certainly in the first half my intention was to play all 11 guys. I was thinking of a couple different situations where I could have gotten him in because I think it would have been good in the game.
The difficulty then becomes are you yanking somebody else out too quickly, and we’ve been discussing that since August. Can you play ten? Can you play 11? I think once we got to a certain point in the second half, then I think we were just going to go home with those ten.
Q. Does this humble you?
I’m a pretty humble guy as it is.
Q. Just saying does this give you pause to reflect on things?
I have tried to be the same guy who was the JV coach at the University of Pennsylvania in 1982. I’m not perfect. Nobody is. I’m not going to beat myself up over it. I’m not happy about it. I’m not proud of it. We’re all, every one of us is never too old to learn, especially from your mistakes.
Again, that’s what we ask our players to do every day. Every day I try to become a better coach, a better person, a better father, better husband. So it’s just part of it. I don’t feel any differently.
Q. Do you feel that coaching with a passion is one of your strengths?
It is. I think I can still do that without getting a second T. I think you get the first T for any number of reasons. Sometimes you get it and you’re not expecting it, sometimes you get it because you’re trying to get it. You can assure yourself based on where you go. That was a media timeout. I think that factors into the perfect storm aspect of everything.