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March 10, 2017
Northwestern - 72, Maryland - 64
THE MODERATOR: We'll ask Coach Collins to make an opening statement, then go to questions for the students.
COACH COLLINS: I just thought tonight was a high-level game. It's exactly what we expected coming in here, playing a really good team, in front of all their home fans.
It was a game that we viewed as a great opportunity for us and our program.
Obviously for us, it gave us the opportunity, again, to do something that has never been done, which is too advance in Saturday in this tournament. It's something we talked about. We talked about taking advantage of those opportunities.
You never know. You can never take for granted when you're going to get opportunities to do something. Tonight we had an opportunity.
Was really proud of our team. We had a lot of toughness. Withstood a big run to start the game, then at the end of the first half, early second half.
I thought McIntosh's three in front of our bench, when we were down 10, was maybe the biggest shot of the game. Gavin drove in there. I guess I'll call that a no-look pass. Bryant hit the shot. It kind of settled us, got us to seven. I think it was our first basket of the second half. It kind of got us back into the flow.
I thought our defense in the second half carried us.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the students.
Q. Scottie, what was different defensively? What did you take from the film session? What did you take from the guys who had defended Melo earlier in the year?
SCOTTIE LINDSEY: In the previous game, Melo got a lot of points off curls, ball screens. Our help line, it really wasn't in the right position.
We adjusted how we were guarding him. I think with everyone in the right positions, we did a better job.
Q. Gavin and Scottie, you guys have had some moments in Welsh-Ryan. Most of your good moments come on the road and in moments like this.
GAVIN SKELLY: Yeah, you know, it's interesting going into different arenas and playing. I think the great thing about our team, the weird thing about our team, is we play harder at away games, I feel like. We unify, come together, buckle down, get things done the way we need to, and win games.
SCOTTIE LINDSEY: Yeah, we definitely feel that when we're on the road, in enemy territory, we definitely come together as a team. We want to come together, going in there in the harsh environment, get a win.
Q. Scottie, as coach said, there's a lot of firsts for this program this year. What does that feel for you guys going through this right now, the excitement about it?
SCOTTIE LINDSEY: Obviously we're super excited right now to be on the stage where we've never been before.
I don't really think that we realize what we're doing right now. I think, you know, after the season, a couple years down the road, we'll realize what we've done, what we've accomplished.
But, you know, just being in the moment, it's awesome. Being able to be a team that gotten wins in the Big Ten, broke our single-season wins record, made it to the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament.
It's an awesome feeling. It really shows how hard we've worked over the years.
Q. You have the 18-round boxing match mentality. How does that shift when you go into tournament play?
GAVIN SKELLY: Yeah, you know, you carry those things over. A great thing about what other coach does is he keeps us fighting, keeps us in the game. In those 18 rounds, we're pretty beat up and tired. Coach doesn't let us let up. He doesn't overwork us, keep our bodies fresh. Every day we have to have a new mindset and fresh mindset of winning games.
SCOTTIE LINDSEY: When coach talks about 18 rounds, if we lose one, it's not the end of the world. We just want to make sure we win more rounds than we lose.
When we win one or lose one, we have to move on to the next one. Coach keeps that fresh in our minds.
Q. Hate to throw a Wisconsin question at you so quickly. You know they're going to be incredibly fired up after what you did to them in Madison. How do you think that victory might influence tomorrow?
SCOTTIE LINDSEY: Wisconsin is obviously a great team. We beat them on their home court. We know on this stage, they want to win a championship, too. They're going to play hard. We have their number. I think that's going to make them play even harder.
GAVIN SKELLY: I agree. I think also that, you know, we have the same taste when we played, Maryland today. I think they will have the same taste when we play them tomorrow. We have to kick it up a notch defensively and offensively to beat them. Like Scottie said, they're a good team, but they're definitely beatable.
We have to come with a fresh, new mindset and a whole new round, hopefully take a couple more.
Q. Was getting Damonte Dodd in foul trouble a big point of emphasis?
GAVIN SKELLY: Yes and no. It's obviously great to have a starter to get two fouls early (laughter). I think that helped us out a lot. A huge thing we need to do is stop Melo. I think we were successful tonight in doing that.
But having Dodd pick up the two early fouls definitely helped us in our game, for sure.
Q. Scottie, I know this off-season was really important for you, especially on the defensive end. Tonight you were asked to guard a lot of guys, especially Melo. How important was this off-season for you to become a different player on that end? How were you able to play three, four different guys on the defensive end, do it with equal efficiency?
SCOTTIE LINDSEY: This off-season was about picking up my work ethic, being more disciplined, being a better player and teammate.
With that, I think I was getting better every day, every workout, every game I played.
You know, playing different positions, I know that's what coach asked me to do. I got to do what he asked me to do. I feel that I am a versatile player. I can guard multiple positions.
It was more about not being tired, trying to push through. You can't be tired in these type of situations. That's not an excuse.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much. You can return to the locker room. Good luck tomorrow.
We'll take questions for Coach Collins.
Q. Vic has talked all year about how this team wants to be a different team. You haven't reached the ultimate goal yet, but they have been different. How have you felt watching them do that?
COACH COLLINS: It's just been an honor coaching this group, really has. To have all these guys believe in what we were trying to do from day one, when we really didn't have much to believe in, but a dream and a vision. To see them work for these things, that's what makes it fun for me, is just thinking back of all the times I saw them in the gym. I saw them coming in at night, getting together, talking about the game, how we could be better, that bad taste in their mouths when we would have tough defeats, come up a little bit short.
To see them come into this year and become the tough-minded group, we had to win tonight with toughness. This was a difficult game. We played last night. They were fresh. You're playing basically in their home gym, in a great environment. They got a lot of energy behind them.
We got done 10. I thought we were a little bit tired. I really challenged those guys about 16 minutes to go. Do you guys just want to go home or do you want to try to win this game?
They got a little bit fired up. They got a little bit angry. They said, We're here to win. They believe it. That's what's cool. They not only say it, I feel they believe not only that they should be playing on this stage, but they should win on this stage. That just doesn't happen overnight. It happens with a process through time and ups and downs.
For me to watch these guys grow the way they have, be a leader for them, it's been an incredible year to coach these guys so far this season.
Q. From the time you got hired to now, what have you learned most about yourself?
COACH COLLINS: Well, I feel like I've improved a lot. I felt like I was prepared to come in, but there's a lot of stuff I didn't know.
We're a developmental program in every way, shape and form. Just like I ask my players to get better, I hold myself to that same standard.
I feel like I've improved handling different situations, coaching, all the things it takes in running a program.
It's been fun for me to grow with the guys. We're one. Hopefully you guys see it. We're a together group. It's not just the players. It's the staff. It's the staff with the players. This is a really together group. There's no outside agendas in this group, other than everybody just wants to win.
You don't get a chance to coach teams like that very often. I've been lucky to coach a few, not many. You can probably count them on one hand.
This is one of those teams. It's just exciting to be playing these kind of games that matter and to see our guys come through on this stage. It's been really fun.
Q. Going back to all your time at Duke, from what you learned from that, how can having a deep run in a conference tournament help you next week and beyond?
COACH COLLINS: Yeah. I think some of my experience, just being in post-season, maybe more so just how to manage the guys in between games, you know, they need rest. They need to be fresh, how much preparation versus those things.
I mean, I've been very fortunate to have gone deep in a lot of conference tournaments, to be in NCAA tournaments, kind of witness Coach K, how he's handled those situations. Certainly I've learned a lot from him with those things.
I think some of my experience there may help. At the end of the day, too, when you're going through it as a head coach for the first time, it's different. You can be on that one seat over, but it's a whole lot different being in the head seat. I'm learning as I'm going, too.
I appreciate my guys just hanging with me. I tell them all the time, We all make mistakes. I'm going to make some mistakes. They're going to. At the end of the day, we have to be tough, try to figure it out.
I think that's what this team does. That's why we've been successful this season.
Q. There have been some times this year where your defense carried you through some offensive struggles. Beginning of the second half, you were a little disjointed. The defense spurred that big run. How would you rank that second half of defense? Having Scottie, how important was that against Melo?
COACH COLLINS: It was huge. Vic got two really quick fouls. It put us in a bind. I think he had two fouls in the first three minutes. All of a sudden, I'm trying to manage the whole first half with his foul trouble. He was going to be our primary guy on Melo.
Now it put different guys on Melo. It put Scottie on him a bunch, B. Mac, a little bit of Isiah. Those guys had to step up and handle the deal.
At the end of the day, we did not stop Melo. He got 20 points and 4 assists. We made him take more shots. We didn't let him run wild the way he was able to do it against us last month in Evanston.
Just really proud of how our guys stepped up defensively. Their pressure bothered us. They turned us over.
Again, I thought the one shot that McIntosh hit right in front of our bench when we were down 10, I felt we really settled in and really locked in after that point and put together the rest of the game a pretty good stretch of basketball.
Q. When you started to make that comeback, did you change something defensively?
COACH COLLINS: We didn't adjust too much. Our main focus against them was just trying to protect our paint. I know they hit some threes. They're going to. They hit six threes. They're at their best when they're attacking downhill and getting at your basket.
Make them play on the perimeter, make them shoot a lot of jump shots. They might make a few. Cowan made a few. Huerter made a few.
Overall, I think we did a good job of protecting the layups, not giving up the free throws. They're really good. Melo puts so much pressure, puts you in the bonus. Those were the two things, keeping them from the free-throw line, eliminating their layups.
Q. What has McIntosh meant the past three seasons?
COACH COLLINS: He's been an extension of me. It's something we talked about in the recruiting process. He and I bonded right away. He grew up a huge Duke fan. When I called him for the first time, there was an immediate connection.
We just clicked. I started talking to him about my vision, what I wanted for this program, how I needed guys. I needed a guard. I needed one guy that was going to have the ball, that could be my extension, that could be my leader, that I could coach throughout on the floor.
That's what he's been from day one. Gave him the ball from the first day he got here. He's grown to be an incredible player.
I know I'm biased because I'm his coach. But to me, I thought he was a first-team, all-league guy this year with what he means to our team.
We rely on him to lead us in every fashion, to score, to assist, to be a vocal leader.
The thing now that we're whole, when we get production offensively from our wings, that's when we become dangerous. It takes a little bit of pressure off him.
To get back to your point, it's meant everything to have him here for these three years. I love our relationship, our bond. I love the command that he has of our team out on the floor.
Q. Everybody is asking about the defense because that obviously has been a great recipe for your success this year. You're 10th in the conference in field goal percentage, shot 60% last night, 55% don't. What's going on?
COACH COLLINS: Again, I thought early in the conference season we were pretty potent offensively. When we were 7-2, we won six in a row. We were healthy. We were really clicking on all cylinders. I felt like our offense was in a really good spot.
Then Scottie went down. If you eliminate a key cog like that, no matter what, it's going to disrupt your team. It enabled teams to really load up on McIntosh and Law, which made them take tougher shots, more contested shots. Their percentages went down.
With Scottie out there, as well, it opens up things for our big guys because we can stretch the floor. I think it's just been a function of him finally getting back to 100%.
He was out three weeks, but then it's taken him three weeks. He did nothing for three weeks. If you do nothing for three weeks, it takes you three weeks to get back.
I think we're finally seeing him get his rhythm and his legs back underneath him, which has been huge for our offense.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
COACH COLLINS: Thank you. See you tomorrow.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports