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March 12, 2015

Chris Collins

Bryant McIntosh

Alex Olah


Indiana – 71
Northwestern - 56

COACH COLLINS:  I want to congratulate Indiana.  They played a very good game tonight.  I thought they were a very determined team.  Their physicality tonight, I thought, knocked us back in the game, and the proof is in the pudding, 20 offensive rebounds, points in the paint.  I thought defensively they really did a great job on our two guys and made it tough on us.
Conversely, we got off to a tough start in the game.  I don't know if it was just a little bit of jitters or just we had a hard time getting going.  I didn't think we were moving the ball the way we normally do, and then, defensively, I actually thought defensively we did a pretty good job in terms of how we played on the initial defense.  It was the second shots that just‑‑ they really crashed the boards.  It's an area of growth for our program.
Overall it's been a great year for us.  I'm very proud of what our team accomplished this year, year two of building.  It was a step forward, and I don't know that I would have said that when we were sitting at 1‑10 a month ago.  But it's a testament to the guys I had in my locker room, a lot of young guys that kept fighting, they kept working.  We have our whole core back.  We'll be adding some pieces as well, and the future of our program is incredibly bright, which I'm proud of.  I'm upset about the loss tonight because you want to keep playing.  Competitively, you want to keep winning.
The thing I love about the locker room afterwards is it was an emotional locker room because ‑‑ that's when you know you've had a good year because there's only one team at the end that's going to be jumping around and celebrating.  Everybody else at some point, it's going to be over for them.  And when you see guys getting emotional, hugging each other, it means you've got something good going because we've got great guys in our locker room, we've got good players, and I'm looking forward to getting these guys a little bit of rest, and then we've got to get to work.  We've got to make a jump.  It's time going into next year.  We'll have a lot of key guys back, and it's time for us to make a jump, and a lot of that is going to be predicated on what we do here in the off‑season.

Q.  Coach talked about areas of growth and learning experience this season and just kind of from tonight specifically, what can you take from what happened?
BRYANT MCINTOSH:  The physicality of the game got ramped up for the Big Ten Tournament.  It was much different than in the season, and I think that's one thing that as a whole we can do better at is we can get in the weight room and get prepared for this next season with this game.  It kind of showed us where we need to go.

Q.  Bryant, what did the pressure of Indiana's guards do to impact the way you guys were able to run your offense as a whole?
BRYANT MCINTOSH:  Yeah, they forced us out on the floor a little bit, and offensively they sent our ball screens to the baseline, and it didn't give us as much room to operate, and then our post‑entry passes are now extended out on the floor so it's a harder pass to get in there to Olah.  They just pushed us out on the floor, and you can't play offense at 35 feet.

Q.  Alex, why do you think Indiana had so much success inside, both in terms of points in the paint and defensive rebounding?
ALEX OLAH:  They're a lot physical, they're physical, and they just crashed the boards so hard.  Everyone was just going so hard, and it was hard for us to keep up with their athleticism.  They had so many points because they had so many second chances‑‑ they had 20 offensive rebounds which gave them 20 more shots, and you can't do that.  You have to limit their offensive rebounds to just be one‑and‑done.

Q.  During the drought stretch in the first half, what was the hardest part about Indiana's defensive scheme in terms of getting the ball back to you?  What did they make the hardest?
BRYANT MCINTOSH:  Well, I mean, they made it hard by pushing the ball out on the floor.  They're taking us away from the scoring area when we catch it.  Now they give themselves time to rotate, which helps side defense.  When you push the ball out on the floor that far, when you make a drive, they have more time to help when you're at 35 feet rather than 20.  That's what made it difficult.

Q.  What did you accomplish this season as a team and what do you hope to accomplish moving forward?
BRYANT MCINTOSH:  You know, I think our resiliency this year is something to be really proud of and the growth that we made, and continue to grow.  I think we could have a pretty good group coming back.  Like Coach said, we have our core coming back and we have some really good pieces that we're adding, and we're excited about it, and we just have a lot of room to grow, really.  It's about growth.  We have to continue to work hard this off‑season and we kind of found out the areas that we really have to work on in this game.

Q.  If your team got into the CBI, would you accept it?
COACH COLLINS:  No.  We're going to be done for the season.  Nothing against any of those tournaments, just we're‑‑ it's time for us to start getting ready for next year.  The finality of ‑‑ we're a little bit banged up, everybody is, and we wanted to put everything into this tournament and see where it could lead for us.  It's time for our guys to get a little rest, and then we need to get to work.  Really with the way our academic calendar is, we get an extended spring to work with our guys because of it being on the quarter system.  We're in school longer and we can work with our guys, which is big.
This is a huge off‑season for our program.  I really feel our talent level is up where it's been, but now we have to develop.  We have to get a lot stronger.  We have to get a lot tougher physically and mentally, and then we have to develop our skills, everyone.  A lot of times you see the biggest area of growth from a freshman to a sophomore, and with five guys in that class, to me it's a huge growth summer for them, but it's a growth summer for the returning guys, for Sanjay and Taphorn as sophomores and for Demps and Olah as seniors.
The guys coming back, it's going to be a huge off‑season.  For us it's time to get going with that.  We feel good about what we did, and we wanted to put everything into this tournament and see what we could accomplish.  You know, it's time to put this season to bed and get our legs underneath us and get ready for the future.

Q.  Every program has goals out there that drive you through the off‑season, to lift weights a few more minutes and run a few more drills.  For Northwestern, how much is it to get to the NCAA Tournament one day?
COACH COLLINS:  Yeah, it's a goal of all of ours.  It's not what we talk about daily, but yeah, in the back of our minds, that's why a lot of these young guys came here.  That's why I came here, to elevate the program to that level.  Like I've said, it's about not just going once, it's about being a program that goes consistently.  But there has to be that first time, and sure, we're striving for it, and I think we're closer today than we've been.  Last year at the start of the year, I mean‑‑ I feel great about the trajectory of our program.  I love the talent in our program right now.  I love the quality of young men that we have in our program.  I love the quality of play that we had at the end of the season.  Even the games early in the conference, we showed we could go toe to toe with the best in this conference and compete, and now it's about continuing to build and go to the next step.
We won more games this year than last year.  One of our goals this year was to be a better home team than we were last year.  We won two games at home in the conference last year.  This year we won four.  I thought we played well on the road.  Last year we got a couple more wins, but we won two on the road this year, and we played Maryland, Michigan State, and Michigan to the last shot on their home floors.  Five of our nine road games were right there to win, as well.
You know, I feel like the future is great.  I'm upset about tonight because I wanted to keep playing and all these guys wanted to keep playing because we really enjoyed being around each other, and we felt like we were really hitting our stride.  It wasn't there for us tonight.  Some of it was us.  A lot of it was Indiana.  That's what happens.
The finality of the end of the college season is so crazy emotional because you're in the game, you're in the fight, then all of a sudden, you lose, it's over, and it hits you, like, man, it's over.  And that's an emotional thing because we put a lot into this and our guys put a lot into the season, just like every team does.
But yeah, our goal coming into this year was to be a post‑season team, but as we go into this off‑season, I want our guys working every day thinking about making that next jump because I think we're capable of it.

Q.  Speaking of emotions, what was your thought when Tre, looked like he was directing Scottie Lindsey and then Alex told them both to cut it out.
COACH COLLINS:  Yeah, it's unfortunate because that's not really‑‑ I think the frustration of the game, obviously it was on the other end of the floor, but I did kind of see them getting at each other, and we addressed it in the huddle, and it is what it is.  It's heat of the battle.  But in order to be a winning team you can't‑‑ when things aren't going well, you can't self‑destruct.  You've got to come together.  To me that was a teachable moment, especially because where we were in the game, it was right at the end, we probably knew we weren't going to win even though we were continuing to fight.
We used a good point of that media time‑out to have that be a teachable moment.  Those guys will grow from it.  To me it was just the frustration of how the game was going.

Q.  Describe the emotions when you substituted out Sobolewski and Cobb, and what did you say to them?
COACH COLLINS:  Yeah, I just thanked them because it's not easy.  You have two guys that are both really good players, and it's not easy midway through their careers to just have everything upended, a brand new head coach, an all‑new coaching staff, a new style, a new system.  Not like one way is good and one way is bad, it's just everything is new and it's different.
I thanked them for their belief in me and our staff to hang with us, to not jump ship, to run to another school, to be a part of this build.  I think we all knew it was going to be a build, and I think the three guys, you had Drew last year and you had Dave and you had JerShon.  I want those three guys to really feel like they've laid the foundation for where our program is headed, and I'm really proud of those guys.  They've been great leaders.  They've been good guys.  They've been great representatives of not only our basketball program but our school.  I was emotional for them because it stinks, you put your‑‑ it stinks when you've played your last game, and these guys have played so much basketball and have loved it, and now it's over, and you feel for them.  But I want them both to feel great about where we're headed, and I want them‑‑ when we do get there, I want them to know how big of a part they played in us getting where we need to go.

Q.  When you look back on the season, what will you feel was accomplished, and then how do you go about that moving forward?
COACH COLLINS:  I thought we got better as a team.  I thought we got better individually.  A lot of guys showed tremendous growth.  You know, we have to become‑‑ this year we were not‑‑ we have to become a better defensive team.  We were a much better offensive team this year, which was great, and it was more like I'd like to play, and I think we'll continue to get better on that end.
Going forward as we go into the summer, we need to get back to guarding people at the level that you need to to win against really good teams.  I thought this year our defense slipped a little bit, but I think as a whole, like I said, you try to look from each year, are you getting better, is the arrow moving up, is it moving sideways, is it moving down.  If everybody doesn't see that the arrow is moving up with our program, then I don't know what they're watching.  You've got really good young players, you've got guys that are going to get better, we're going to keep working at it.
We've got a big core coming back.  We're excited about what we'll add, and to me it's an exciting time, and it's going to be fun to watch and see where we can take this group of guys over the next couple years.

Q.  With the decision on the CBI, did you consult the players at all and do you think they're wishing they had more basketball to play?
COACH COLLINS:  I think they're wishing there was more basketball.  I think they know that it's time.  Yeah, I mean, we talked about all those things.  Ultimately, that's my and my staff's decision.  I just feel like it's time to move forward.  We've got a lot of banged‑up guys.  We've got older guys who are banged up.  To play in a tournament like that, it can bring a lot of positives, but also you've got to be revved up and you've got to really embrace‑‑ for us, we're a little bit of a different calendar than most, and we're also going to have a foreign trip this summer.  For us we're going to get those practices this summer.  We're going to get games this summer.
I felt like where we are, the pulse of our team, physically, emotionally, it's time to shut it down, and I think they all support me in that decision.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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