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March 14, 2015

Sam Dekker

Bronson Koenig

Bo Ryan


Wisconsin – 71
Purdue - 51

Q.  For Sam, when they're up 35‑30 and maybe you hadn't played your best half, your team, I mean, not you, at this stage of your career and through all your experiences, are you discouraged at all?  What's the feeling like, and what was it like in the locker room?
SAM DEKKER:  Well, obviously we wanted to play better.  We were behind for a reason.  But we're never going to freak out.  We're never going to try to get it all back in one play.  We know we have a team that can put some things together and string some possessions together and win some ballgames.  So we just said, hey, got to get some stops and get into our offense and take good shots, get inside, and we went inside early in the second half, and I think that's what propelled us to a win.

Q.  Bronson, what has it meant for you to step up in Traevon's absence and have the succession that you've had?
BRONSON KOENIG:  I'm just trying to help this team in any way I can.  My teammates have done a good job of giving me confidence to do so, especially Traevon from the bench, during halftime, timeouts, stuff like that.  He's given me a lot of confidence to do my thing.

Q.  Speaking of confidence, Bronson, I think at least twice and maybe more times, you took on the shot clock and really aggressively.  Can you explain what you have to be able to cope with in order to be able to get off a good shot when you know the defense and the clock are both against you?
BRONSON KOENIG:  Well, it's really nice to be in a ball screen with Frank who can pretty much do everything, so if his guy drags me, then I just kick it back to him or I try to be aggressive as I can coming off the screen, going to the hole or shooting any jump shots, yeah.

Q.  Bronson, a career night in points for you.  Can you talk about how this tournament and how this particular game has made you feel more impactful as a player?
BRONSON KOENIG:  I mean, like I said before, my teammates and coaches have done a good job of giving me confidence just to be aggressive, and when I have the ball in my hands at the end of the shot clock, that kind of gives me a little bit of freedom just to make a play pretty much.  I'm just trying to do anything I can to make us better and try and help us win.

Q.  Sam, defensively in the second half, I know it was more of a switch, and you guys really frustrated A.J. Hammons, Frank doing a good job with, that, too.  How did you force so many turnovers in the second half and what was the effort in that category?
SAM DEKKER:  Well, first half I don't think we were aggressive enough defensively.  We were kind of letting them get easy post touches and get two feet in the paint too easily, and they're too big inside, and if you let them do that, they're going to win.  We just tried to make it a little tougher for them to get inside, to stay physical, and like I said, somewhere in the first half, we did an exchange, got a guy as well in the first half.  In the second half, we talked it out and we were all on the same page, and when we're all on the same page like that, we become pretty good defensively, and hoping to build on that for tomorrow.

Q.  Sam, I think they scored 16 in the second half, and many minutes in, it was like nine.  What's more fun for your team, offense or defense?
SAM DEKKER:  When we're playing defense well, it becomes really fun, because then you can see what it does to us.  When we get those good stops and good momentum, we get our athletes out in the open court and we can make it tough on them and get them on their heels.  When we're doing good on the defensive end, it makes offense more fun because one thing leads to another, and we have the guys that can get it done on both ends.

Q.  Sam, how big has Bronson been for you guys, and what's it going to mean when Traevon comes back to have Bronson's scoring ability coming off the bench?
SAM DEKKER:  It's been huge.  That was a nice thing in the beginning of the year, we have Trey starting, an experienced player that's won many games for us, but if he needed a break just as good a point guard in Bronson.  Unfortunately Trey went down, he's coming back soon, but then we set Bronson in and he hasn't missed a step.  The kid is very talented, one of the most talented players I've played with, and he's won us many games already, and he's leading us, and he's got a quiet confidence about him, and it's fun to watch him do what he does, and nights like tonight you're reminded how good he really is.
COACH RYAN:  You've never asked an individual a harder question than to ask Sam what's more fun, defense or offense.  He's just now getting the defensive part.  So it's hard to answer that question.
When Trey comes back, somebody said about him taking Bronson‑‑ we'll probably go small and he'll take Sam's place.
Okay, questions?

Q.  18 total for your team and five for your two forwards in Kaminsky and Hayes.  What's the big reason for this team's chemistry and ball movement?
COACH RYAN:  You're my kind of guy to notice a stat like that.  How about that stat?  Well, Frank Kaminsky must really be a good player because he wasn't asked to the press conference shooting 50 percent, 5 to 1 assists, three blocks, three steals, and you probably thought he had a bad game.
But those five assists, getting to your answer, they were huge because they were paying a lot of attention to him, and he might have tried to force one earlier, a pass, but he really caught himself, relaxed, played.  The way Purdue was playing, we had to do some different things, and Frank is smart enough to either do it on his own or listen to coaching.
Our bigs being able to find people has been one of our keys for a long time.

Q.  When it comes to playing in the NCAA Tournament, do you think there's an advantage or disadvantage to that Sunday final in the conference in terms of rest, preparation, anything like that?
COACH RYAN:  Well, let's see.  Trying to be fair, we've played in a few Finals.  A couple years there we had key players get injuries.  Maybe not from that last game, but we lost Brian Butch, one year we lost Trevon Hughes in '08, and we played in the championship game in those two years, I'm pretty sure, '07 and '08.  In '04 we played in the championship game, lost to Pittsburgh in a close game in Milwaukee, and then we played in The Finals against Illinois in '05, which is a team to beat everybody pretty much, lost in the national championship, but we did get to the Elite 8 that year.  You probably didn't know I remembered all this stuff at my age.
But just thinking‑‑ because I've thought about those things, like how much rest, what are we doing, how many reps in practice do you have leading up?  And with the pass strength coach and with our guys we have right now, we're just trying to compile all that information and do what's best for the players.
What's really tough is if you play Sunday and your game is Thursday.  So what we ask for, I'm on the board of directors of the Coaching Association, we ask for if anybody is playing in a conference final on Sunday to not play until Friday.  That's been the case most of the time.

Q.  I know you're on the board and all that and that you're active with that.  I know that there's been a lot of discussion about the direction of college basketball, especially with the offense scoring down and all that.  You guys are out there playing probably the most beautiful basketball you guys have played in your time here, the most attractive.  I wondered if you‑‑
COACH RYAN:  Is it the uniforms?

Q.  That's what it is, yeah.  Good‑looking guys.  Is that sort of a reflection of where the game needs to go?  Are you conscious of all that talk and what changes might be needed to make the game more like what you guys are playing?
COACH RYAN:  Yeah, I think it's overcooked, overdone, talking about the points per game.  It's not a lot.  And we'll probably end up going to 30 seconds.  I've coached 30‑second shot clocks, I've coached 24‑second shot clocks.  We run drills in practice, 17 seconds in order to get a shot off, full court.  And Bronson being in that situation, I run a drill where I'll put 12 seconds on the clock and fire the ball to one of the five offensive players.  Okay?  Figure out a way to score.  So you find out that guys like Trey, guys like Jordan Taylor, guys like Devin Harris, they'll get them the ball and we'll run a high rub, we'll run a wing ball screen, we'll run throw‑back, which is a ball screen action.  We'll run flat if I feel that the point guard is one‑on‑one better than the guy guarding him.
So it's not rare that we're in situations that they're not used to when the shot clock is going down because we actually put them into those situations in practice.  I'm sure other people do, too.  I've never asked.  But I think our game is in pretty good shape.  I think there will always be people who will stir the pot simply because it's conversation and it fills the airwaves and it gets talk radio and TV and this and that.  I understand that.  I was an economics and marketing major.  I know what it's all about.  So I can play the game, too.  But if I get a group of kids like I have now and this is the way we can play, well then we're going to play this way.  They are fun to watch, even though I'm not saying that as their coach.  What I'm saying is I like the way our guys play off of one another, their efficiency rate, the way they take care of the ball most of the time.  But you should have seen how hot I was in the locker room.  We had two turnovers in the last minute for three total, and that doesn't go over big.
But anyhow, I think our game is in great shape because there`s a lot of people who are going to watch us tomorrow ‑‑ not just us, whoever we're playing ‑‑ and they'll watch the other conference tournaments today and tonight, and people are still going to watch the NCAA Tournament.
I just think that sometimes we get to the point where we have to talk about something negative so that you can talk about something positive in our game.  They're experimenting‑‑ what leagues, the NIT and another‑‑ they're going to experiment with the 30 and the extended arc.  That's fine.  That's okay.  You know what?  Coaches coach to the rules.  They just coach to the rules.  We'll find a way.

Q.  What information do you study going into the tournament?  How much importance do you place if you should win tomorrow being a No.1 versus a No.2 seed in the NCAA?
COACH RYAN:  You know, I never really have talked about seeds ever, even in Division III when they first were talking about seeding and who's going to play where and whom and all that.  I stay away from it because I want all my energies to go towards the game tomorrow, and then we find out who we play, and then all our energy is going into, boom, that first opponent.

Q.  Talk about your defense on Hammons early in the second half.  You were guarding without fouling.
COACH RYAN:  Yeah, I don't think he had a field goal in the second half.  But it was primarily Frank and a little bit of Vitto and Nigel helped in there a couple times.  But if you start to dig too much off of their perimeter shooters, they can shoot the three, so we cat and moused a little bit, fake dig, and then cover.  But I thought one‑on‑one Frank did an unbelievable job of not allowing Hammons to score.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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