Jan. 19, 2014
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Q. Can you talk about the last minute plus of the first half and how that really seemed to change the game?
COACH McCAFFERY: Well, you know, it was interesting. It was kind of back and forth, up two, down two, and a couple of crazy plays happened in a row. To their credit, they converted and they went up, what, seven or nine, ten. So we had to get it shortened a little bit. We did not want to go in at halftime with that kind of deficit. Josh was obviously really, really good in that period. We went to him, and he was on fire. But we also got a few stops. That gave us great momentum, and then you’re sitting there at halftime and you’re thinking, okay, we’re down two, but Marble and White have one point. I feel pretty good about their involvement in the second half and their ability to effect some change out there, and boy, did they ever.
Q. Conversely, do you feel good about your team that you were only two down with them only having one?
COACH McCAFFERY: Yeah, but that’s the beauty of our team. Josh comes off the bench, he was great; Olaseni was great; Pete gets two points. We’ve got a lot of guys chipping in. Uthoff had two points. We had a lot of guys that I’m comfortable with having out there knowing that we have a team that can still score even though we’re behind.
Q. Did you make a conscious effort to get Marble the ball, get it in his hands?
COACH McCAFFERY: I would say that it’s more like that all the time. It’s kind of how we approach coaching him. He can have the ball, he can take it, he can be off the ball, we’ll throw it to him. He’s got the green light to shoot it. He’ll take some bad shots. We live with that. We live with his ability to get to the rim, and I trust his decision making and his commitment to winning. When he gets going like that, it just has such an incredible effect, not only on our team but everybody that was here. The reaction of the crowd was really special.
Q. Five players in double figures. Everyone really contributed in this one.
COACH McCAFFERY: Yeah, and it was great to see Zach get eight. His offense had not been there for a couple games, but he had been playing really well, and he’s incredibly valuable as a leader, as an experienced guy. But to see him make a big three and make some free throws, and obviously he was as valuable as anybody in handling their press.
Q. On the first possession of the second half you were able to get Marble isolated. Was that more of a set play or just…
COACH McCAFFERY: It was a set play that he broke off, okay, and he has, like I said, the ability to do that, the green light to do that. He reacts to what’s in front of him. To be truthful that’s how I coach. I want my guys to react to what’s in front of them. A lot of guys, I call a play, you run that play. Well, you don’t know where the defense is going to be, and as soon as they were on his right, he went left and made a great play.
Q. Oglesby looks like he got more confidence than he’s had in his career here. Is that just a matter of experience or is there more to it?
COACH McCAFFERY: Well, I think it’s a combination of things. Number one, he is more experienced. He’s healthy now. He’s been through it. But he’s a talented player. I mean, I’ve been saying that over and over. His defense today was nothing short of spectacular. It was the same thing against Ohio State. We kind of look at him and say, okay, is Josh hitting threes, and then gauge him on that only. I don’t. He’s not a mistake maker. He defends, gets a huge offensive rebound. He just has an incredible feel and sense of how to play. Now, when he’s hitting, now he’s a superstar. But if he is not making shots, he is still an incredibly effective player, and that’s why he was on the floor at the end of the game.
Q. Not only did he get the rebound but he ate more clock.
COACH McCAFFERY: And he knew that’s what he was going to do. He wasn’t going to go right back up. He had a big guy on his right hand, and all of a sudden we get a rebound, that’s a block. When they block shots, when you turn it over or take a bad shot, they usually turn those into baskets. We limited those chances for them today, and that’s one of them.
Q. Andre Hollins had 18 points in the first half and only two the second, but was he a primary focus for you?
COACH McCAFFERY: He was a primary focus. When a guy that talented gets away from you like he did, we were lucky to only be down two. So we locked into him. I thought collectively defensively in the second half, we were really a lot better. We gave up a few too many offensive rebounds. A couple times we got stops and they got it and put it back in, and that’s what kept it a game for a stretch there when we were on the verge of pulling away a little bit. But it wasn’t the same way they were scoring in the first half. It wasn’t the same way he was scoring. Our close outs were really good. We went to the zone, we closed out really well, and got up in his face and forced him to miss.
Q. What does it say about where this team is right now that Minnesota is a very good team and you finished the game the way you did?
COACH McCAFFERY: Well, I think it’s just a further example of the talent that we have across the board. I don’t know what it was. The points off the bench, it was in the 40s, I know that. When you’re having 40 points off the bench, it presents all kinds of problems for them because they were trying to figure out do we play the 2 2 1, do we play the zone, do we play the man because they’ve got offensive weapons at a lot of different places and they’re going to go a lot of different places to get baskets. You can lock in a zone and shut down one or two people, but when we keep running them in where guys are making shots and guys aren’t afraid to shoot the ball and make plays, and then I thought Gabe’s six offensive rebounds were also critical. We had that one stretch where we were struggling offensively for a period of time and he would go back and get it and give us another shot and keep them on defense and it would wear them down because they had a little bit of foul trouble, so now physically they’re in a different place.
Q. Talk about getting to the free throw line so much?
COACH McCAFFERY: In the first half we missed six, but we were getting there, and you’ve got to get there against this team, and in the second half we made them.
Q. With the Bobblehead, do you own a guitar?
COACH McCAFFERY: I played the guitar when I was in elementary school. I did. Not very well. I did play the guitar when I was younger.
Q. This Minnesota team, this is a very good team. Do you think the score is going to mislead people at all, or are you just this good?
COACH McCAFFERY: I don’t think it’ll mislead anybody. I really don’t. We were at home, we pulled away from them at the end. It was a much closer game, I think, than the score would indicate. I think you look at what Minnesota has done, the way they played against Ohio State, Michigan, they way they came back to beat Penn State on the road, this is a team that’s for real. They play hard, they share the ball, they’ve got their experienced guys playing well, they put the new guys in there who are experienced, they’re just new, but they’re going to be a difficult team for everybody that plays them the rest of the year.
Q. This is the first of three games in seven days. Does it speed up the process of getting ready for Michigan now? Will you dive into that tonight or will you wait until tomorrow?
COACH McCAFFERY: We’ve already dove into it as a staff. The players won’t deal with anything until tomorrow. I let them kind of enjoy this one, kind of flush it out tomorrow morning, then we’ll go to work on Michigan. But Sherman has them. He’s been watching them for weeks.
Q. They handled you guys pretty well the last time you were there. Is that motivation at all do you think?
COACH McCAFFERY: Yeah, I don’t think if you can’t get up to play against Michigan, then come on, there’s something wrong with you. You’re at Michigan, they’re in the national championship game last year, they’re undefeated in our league. That should be enough.
Q. When the polls do come out tomorrow there’s a chance that you’re going to be a top 10 team. Do you believe at this point in time that you are a top 10 team?
COACH McCAFFERY: You know, I understand why people talk about it, and I think it’s great that people are talking about us that way. But I just think it’s irrelevant. It’s where are you ranked at the end of the year. It speaks to the fact that we’re a good team. It gets more people talking about my players, our players, and I’m happy for them that people are saying that about them because they’re the ones that did it. They’re the ones that worked extremely hard to take our program from where we were an after thought to being a ranked team. I don’t want to shortchange what they’ve done. But in terms of how I look at it, I really could care less.
Q. You’ve won two in a row now and you’ve got a tough stretch coming up.
COACH McCAFFERY: Well, it’s such a grind in this league. The teams are so good, you don’t really think about that. You just think, okay, let’s lock into Michigan. What do they do, what do we have to do against them, we’re going to be on the road, and put together a game plan. Our guys have done a really good job of that all year long, pretty much since I’ve got here. They have really locked in and paid attention and grown and really been impressive in giving me everything they have to execute a game plan to win. Now we obviously have more weapons; it’s a little bit easier.