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January 13, 2015

Ryan Burton

Tom Crean

Robert Johnson

Stanford Robinson


Q.  Rob, just talk a little bit, you really came out tonight more aggressive.  Just what your intentions were out there?
ROBERT JOHNSON:  I just know trying to go out there and find open spots.  My teammates had a lot of confidence in me, despite the shooting lulls me and a couple guys have been in.  It was a matter of getting back in the gym and getting a couple extra shots up.  Guys like Stan and Troy had the confidence to kick me the ball when I was open, so I took my time and knocked it down.

Q.  Can you just talk about the lift that Ryan gave you guys off the bench?  It seemed like you guys went on a pretty good run.  He didn't score any points, but it seemed like he was in this?
STANFORD ROBINSON:  Yeah, we were talking about that in the locker room.  Ryan contributed a lot to this win.  Without Ryan who knows what would happen.  You know, I was just playing on demand.  And I felt like Ryan does everything in practice, everything coach asks him.  So today was his opportunity, and he made the best of it.  It helped us a lot.  Without Ryan, who knows where this win would have been.
THE MODERATOR:  One point when he went in we had only had one offensive rebound and he immediately got three during that span, so we ended up finishing with six, but he had three.

Q.  Talking about Rob and Stan, you guys both spent time getting a few points in the second half.  It seemed like it was hard to find your shots.  What worked defending him in particular?
STANFORD ROBINSON:  Coach Martin did a great job on the scout telling us exactly where he would be on certain plays, and calls for certain plays.  So we pretty much knew how to guard him and not letting him get to the spot was most important thing.  When we took that away, it was hard for him to get going.

Q.  Ryan, did Coach tell you before the end there was a chance you'd be in the rotation, or were you a little surprised when he called your number?
RYAN BURTON:  That's what this program is all about.  Like Stan said, you play on demand.  So I came in and brought a lot of energy.  We're all happy.  I'm happy for our teammates.  Coach Martin did a great job on the scout this week, like Rob said.  So we can bring it in practice really hard.  I'm just really happy for everybody.

Q.  Stan, can you just talk about what you guys have to do better to try to close these games out?
STANFORD ROBINSON:  I think it's having a player‑driven huddle at timeouts, and getting close to under 4:00.  I think we need to rally around each other like we did this game, and just keep a bond and stay together.  If things aren't going our way, find a way to make it go our way.  I think it's just communication with us and just talking to one another, and keeping each other lifted and just grabbing momentum when it's dead.

Q.  Was there any worry that there wouldn't be momentum down the stretch with just a few minutes left and they started coming back a little bit.  Were you worried that they could take control again?
STANFORD ROBINSON:  Yeah, it was.  Because Penn State did that to us last year.  They found momentum and they grabbed it, and they walked us down last year.  But this year I think we did a better job of maintaining that momentum.  They did try to grab it a little bit at the end.
Penn State is a great team, so you have to expect that from them.  You know, they have a lot of tough players, so them trying to grab momentum definitely was happening.  But I think we did a good job at maintaining it.

Q.  Stan, what did you guys learn about life without Hanner?  How much tougher was it on the interior and what do you need to do to be successful going forward?
STANFORD ROBINSON:  I just look at this moment probably when we played Ohio State last year without Noah and Hanner stepped up and gave great minutes in that game.  I just thought that this is the same thing.  Somebody has to step up, and not just somebody, the team has to step up and pick up the slack that Hanner does.  Hanner comes in and gives great minutes.  He rebounds, he scores, he does it all.  He defends.  He's a great leader, so a lot of people had to come in and pick little parts of Hanner and put it into this game.

Q.  Stan, when did you make the decision to start switching back to left or right‑hand?
STANFORD ROBINSON:  Just having a talk with my parents and Coach Crean, and we all just sat down and Coach Crean just told me, you know, whatever is comfortable.  Switching to the right‑hand was just an experiment.  He just wanted to see how it was because it kind of looked better than my left hand, he felt like.  It's still an experiment, but he said whatever you feel is comfortable is going to go to the basket, just do that.

Q.  Ryan, you talked about play on demand.  How do you keep yourself ready when you haven't played in about three weeks could you feel the momentum shift when you got some of those offensive rebounds and things?
RYAN BURTON:  Yeah, you definitely just keep yourself ready coming to practice every day and working hard.  The coaches are definitely trying to put us in game‑type situations all week, so definitely just coming in and bringing energy and then repeat it in the second half.

Q.  Could you feel the momentum shift as you got those offensive rebounds and you were able to score off those?
RYAN BURTON:  I could definitely feel the energy.  Definitely a fun run.  I know everyone was having a lot of fun during that.  And it was just a great run overall.

Q.  Stan, was it the left‑hand that made the difference tonight?  It was your best game with 12 points, or was it just the looks that you were getting?
STANFORD ROBINSON:  I don't think it was the hand.  Because I think the hand is just all in the mind, which hand I'm going to shoot with.  I think it was my teammates, Yogi, Rob, James, Ryan, Collin, all of them, Troy, they all found me in great scoring areas that I can excel at, and that's what I did.
COACH CREAN:  First thing I'm proud of is how the guys responded to a tough last 40 minutes of practice yesterday after Hanner got hurt.  And most people, if you really look at it, how families are families can get mad at each other, they can fight, they can be happy, but at the end of the day when one hurts, and they really care about each other, they hurt, and I know sometimes that gets lost in the translation and it gets lost in the naysayer world.  But guys that are really bonding, they hurt when that guy is out.
And I thought our guys did the best they could at responding yesterday in practice, and I thought they continued to get better in this game tonight.  Because anytime you lose a teammate like they did with him, and you see the pain that he was in, you're going to get distracted, and that's the way it is.
I thought that they came back, for a bunch of young guys to care about one another, they responded, and we came into a hard‑fought game, ready to be in the fight because if you're going to play Penn State, that's exactly what it's going to be.  He is an outstanding coach, and has been for a long time.  They have a very good team.  This is the toughest league in the country for a reason, and he's got players that are capable of doing a lot of things, and we saw that tonight.
Fortunately for us, we're learning how to win close games, which is something we didn't do a very good job of last year.  We've got three wins.  They've come down to two possessions and the other ones have come down to one possession.  Those three wins that we had a year ago, that was the opposite for us.  So our guys are learning how to win those games.  We were 2‑6, I believe, in one‑possession games last year.
You know, part of it is growing up.  Part of it is understanding what we're trying to do.  Part of it is the schedule that we play.  But those things are helping us figure things out.  It's not always pretty by any stretch, but you don't‑‑ there are not awards for pretty, there are awards for winning and there are awards for winning enough.  I thought our guys did a really good job of responding.  They have a lot of really good individual performances, and we defended, not great, on the paint.
We're really going to have to learn how to play without Hanner and certainly in a perfect world there would have been a few more days to prepare a couple different things.  Without his presence inside, without his ability to post, and it sometimes it's not always the statistics that he gets or doesn't get, it's the ground that he covers.  For people that really pay attention, they see the ground that he covers and the presence that he has.
It's not always getting caught up in the numbers that he has or doesn't have.  So we're going to miss him for an extended period of time, and we have to figure out how to play without him.  But when you get guys like Ryan Burton coming in, and Collin, and Stan playing the way he did, and Max coming in in both halves and giving us something, not to mention our starters, then we have a chance to improve.

Q.  Did you go into the game planning to have Ryan in the rotation?
COACH CREAN:  That was something that we like Ryan a lot.  And Steve was in my ear, since last night and today saying don't forget about Ryan.  He has toughness.  If we need something, don't forget about Ryan, and he's exactly right.  It's all about momentum.  The other day it was Troy's players, plays, they get momentum and he came in and brought us momentum.  He was ready when his name was called.  That's what you want as much as anything else.  But sometimes you're feeling your way through it, and you're looking for that dose.
I went with Max early in the second half.  I thought he did a good job, and Stan did a really good job.  I mean, it's all about how long can you keep momentum?  And I thought Ryan's five minutes for us were a really, really valuable five minutes.

Q.  Just talking more generally about that, you talk about the broad impact Hanner has.  When you lose a guy that does a lot of individual things, do you set individual targets at all for guys to say you need to step up in this range or the team collectively?
COACH CREAN:  I think it's got to be a team.  I think the rebounding numbers, you know, are out there.  The charges to me are a big thing because he's gotten so much tougher.  He's a presence in the lane.  You know, we already weren't great at protecting the rim, but he's got a 7'6" wing span at 6'8", 6'9", and it's hard to make up for that.  But it's not about you need to get two more rebounds or three more rebounds.  Right now we need to get a lot more rebounds.  It's more just team wide.
We're going to have a couple days to look and see what else do we need to do defensively that can help shore up the rim.  But I say that.  The three rims that we have, I think we defended the three pretty well.  We defended it well, and to defend the three the way we did against Ohio State and defend it today the way we did, we did not defend the three well at Michigan State.
So, so much of this league comes down to how well you defend the three‑point line.  We don't want to be in a situation where we're helping so much that we lose sight of that.  I thought the fact of the way we defended the perimeter tonight and especially the zone, 5 of 15, I think it was.  I mean, that's big.  He's the real deal.
We gave up some other things, but we didn't get beat by D.J., and that's crucial.  So we've got a couple days to assess and look and add some things, tweak some things, move some things around, and that's the fun of it.

Q.  How much of a challenge was it to change the game plan and get your team to rally around that?
COACH CREAN:  It wasn't you change the game plan.  It's just you can adjust inside the game.  You don't have time to adjust, really with more things with Collin at that position.  We will.  I think you can see what happens when he's in space.  He's out on the perimeter, and they've got to chase him.  We've got to be a match‑up problem for other teams.  Because right now we have a few match‑up problems.  So we've got to make sure that we're a match‑up problem.
We didn't spend a lot of time talking about it with the team.  We did some things staff‑wise that we wanted to do play‑wise, and we put some things in yesterday and this afternoon that we were able to run pretty well and have some success with.  So we'll continue to do that.

Q.  Where do you feel the team has made progress in terms of trying to close out games and what more does the team still need to do?
COACH CREAN:  There are a lot of things that they need to do when it comes to taking care of the ball.  The answer would be belief.  The schedule certainly helped us that we played, and the non‑conference.  The Nebraska win was absolutely huge for us to get it on the road.  So I think the belief that they're going to win.  I don't see panic in them at all.  I don't see their heads down as much.  I didn't like it at Michigan State that much.
But these last couple games, there are a lot of things we've got to get better at.  This is not a stat sheet game for us.  And most of the Big Ten games aren't.  What it is is where can you keep getting better?  How can you keep getting firmer and get a lead and hold on to it, and tighten your defense up that much more.  But I didn't even call timeout at the end.  I didn't see any issues whatsoever with our guys.  I loved the spirit that they had together.  We knew what we were going to do.  They were calling it out.  Chuck did a fantastic job of having an idea of what they wanted to run late, and our guys carried it out.

Q.  Stan hasn't played as much this year, but it seems that he's kept his attitude?
COACH CREAN:  You really go back and look, and he's played roughly, not in the Big Ten, but played roughly the same minutes.  15 games in he was one minute different from what he had been a year before.  Now Big Ten games is when he really started to play more minutes.  If he plays the way he did tonight, he's going to play more minutes.  Go ahead, I'm sorry.  I just wanted to make that point because I had to remind him of that.  He's one minute less than he was a year ago after 15 games.

Q.  The way he has played during the week and the way he played tonight, the attitude, he gets in there to really contribute, is that indicative of maybe some improved maturity?
COACH CREAN:  No, that's Stan's game.  Stan bought into what he needs to do.  And Stan knew I wasn't happy with the one shot he took off the pick‑and‑roll.  They really didn't give it to him.  He's got to grow out of just throwing the ball up at the board.  He's got to go in and finish the way that he did.
Now that one, that was a Space Jam shot.  That was crazy.  But I mean, he's got a lot.  He's got some momentum to him.  But he's got a unique way to get to that rim.  He draws fouls.  I was concerned in the first half because we were really close to the bonus, and all of a sudden we went a long time without getting into the bonus, so Stan helps provide that.  And again, Hanner was drawing fouls for us.
There are a lot of things that get missed that Hanner brings just because he has the foul trouble and the numbers aren't there.  And when you really study and look at it, and pay attention and they see the presence that he brings.  But we've got to get into that bonus so we can get to the foul line, and Stan helps things like that.  The defending, really relishing that role, and getting to the glass, playing with strength and force.  That's what he does for us.  If he continues to do that, he'll continue to play.

Q.  Do you have a line that's capable of‑‑
COACH CREAN:  I don't know.  It's one night.  Let's hope so.  I hope so.  We're going to just be thankful for the way it went tonight and move forward after that.

Q.  I guess not to hammer home anything, but is there anything further with Hanner?
COACH CREAN:  No, you read the release.  That's where we're at.  Okay.  Thank you.

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