home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


March 13, 2019

Giorgi Bezhanishvili

Trent Frazier

Brad Underwood

Madison Square Garden - New York, New York

Illinois - 74, Northwestern - 69

COACH UNDERWOOD: Really, really proud of our team tonight. There were a lot of things that didn't go particularly well throughout the course of the ballgame and yet we kept just hanging in.

Northwestern was terrific. Chris should be nothing but extremely proud of his guys. Law's out, and to rally, which is something that usually happens. You lose a guy and everybody steps up, and rallies and they did that. They're to be commended, because they fought and competed.

The game was probably about as ugly a first half as you're ever going to see, and yet it was Giorgi was tremendous. We felt like he got really good looks in the last game that he played, they just didn't go down. We want to go back at him. Obviously 12 of 15 is something we tried to do tonight.

Then Trent, I'm really proud of him. His four game, no turnovers, 40-plus minutes, and then obviously a couple of big shots down the stretch.

But to miss the lay-up at the end and then have them open the overtime with the three probably is the thing that makes me the happiest. It would have been very, very easy to just roll over and lay down, and we just kept hanging in there. We kept running really good offense. Got the ball where it was. We didn't have Giorgi, and trying to hit the three. Ayo hits the three, and really proud of our guys for just being tough enough to handle that.

Q. Giorgi, after having such a big game, what was it like watching from the sidelines in overtime? What did you see from your guys and what were you doing?
GIORGI BEZHANISHVILI: I was just really excited. I couldn't really put it in words. I was so excited. At the same time I was so confident with any guys because I knew they would leave all out there. We've been through a really tough year, and I know these guys are tough, and I know they would give everything out there on the floor. I was just so confident in them. I really felt like we were going to win the game, and we did. It was just a great feeling.

Q. Trent, this is your second go through of the Big Ten tournament. Just speak a little bit about the difference in the field in the locker room between last year's team and this year's team?
TRENT FRAZIER: Coming into this game, you know, these guys throughout the season we've been fighting a lot. We've been through a lot of adversity. I was very confident we were going to come out here tonight and play as hard as we can and try to move to the next round.

I can't really compare the last year. This is a way different team. Like I said, these guys are unbelievable. We come to practice every day ready to compete and get after it, get after each other, and we've been successful throughout parts of the season. We're hoping, you know, to continue to move up in the round.

Q. It took you a little while to get going tonight. What did you have to do out there? What did you see in the second half down the stretch that allowed you to get going?
TRENT FRAZIER: I kind of let the game come to me. I didn't want to force any shots. Just play my game, do what I do. Like I said, the team, they trust me down the stretch to make a play for myself and my teammates. That's what I did. These younger guys, they're incredible.

I think the biggest thing for us tonight is when Giorgi fouled out, we didn't let that bother us. We had a lot of confidence. Every time coach was asking us, you know, where the dogs at, where the dogs at, you know. We took that personally, huddled each other up, and we locked in on defense, and we got stops.

Q. Giorgi, what were your emotions in overtime watching that?
GIORGI BEZHANISHVILI: I was just excited for my teammates to be out there, you know, and I saw the look in their faces in the timeout. I was like, yeah, I'm not worried. We're going to win this game. I was so confident in my teammates because I saw the look. Once you see that look in the faces of the players, you know they're doing their thing out there. Trent hits one three, Ayo hits a three, we get the stops. It was a great feeling.

Q. Giorgi, you mentioned when you saw that look, was there a point in the overtime when you felt pretty confident that you were going to win this game?
GIORGI BEZHANISHVILI: Right after the buzzer, the last buzzer we felt confident. Right after that buzzer. I just saw that look, you know, when the guys sat down, you know, coach was drawing something up, and I looked at the guys and I was like, yeah, that's it.

Q. Coming off a game where you only took two shots at Penn State, and maybe you weren't playing your best basketball, did you feel like you needed to step up tonight? What was kind of key to you rising up?
TRENT FRAZIER: I don't determine shots in the game. Whoever got it going, that's who we're going to get the ball to. Fortunately that was me tonight. My teammates did an unbelievable job of finding me and trusting me to make big shots down the stretch. Shots, you know, it doesn't matter how many shots I take. I'm going to play what coach wants us to do, run the offense, and just be a good point guard out there. And I was making some shots tonight, and I got it going. So I continued to be aggressive and I was successful.

Q. Chris mentioned in the postgame that the overtime is when you felt that Vic Law's absence was maybe felt the most, because you look down a wing defender. Obviously, Giorgi had a great game, but was that match-up something that would have helped you in overtime if you had those guards and they played really well?
COACH UNDERWOOD: Well, I think it was a factor. I thought the one thing that Vic continued and has done throughout his career is not just be a good offensive player. He's been a guy that's been very, very good defensively. The more film I've watched of them, the more impressed I've become with Gaines. He's an elite defender. You know, Turner has size, and Kopp has size. They did a really good job especially on Ayo tonight, and challenging him on ball screens.

I thought down the stretch it was maybe that, but I also think that, you know, the floor kind of opened up a little bit without Giorgi in there, and we made some awfully nice plays. Aaron made a nice drive, and we made nice passes to wide-open shooters.

Q. Just curious about the "where the dogs at?" question. Is that something you asked throughout the year? Is it a theme? I get what it means, but I'm just wondering.
COACH UNDERWOOD: Yeah, it's a competitive phrase that I like to use, and I've got a couple others I can't repeat. But you know, it's a way to challenge these guys. It's something that they can rally about it in a moment. In the timeout of the game, you know, it's a focus point of knowing what I'm thinking about, not just the Xs and Os.

Q. Can you compare Giorgi before to Giorgi now?
COACH UNDERWOOD: Probably don't have enough time, but, yeah, here's a guy that to go do that on this stage in this moment, he's light years. He's come so far. (Inaudible). Ten days ago, two weeks ago, whenever we played them, Pardon really had his number. He's taken that challenge himself.

Pardon's an elite defender, and he got to his spots. He got a little frustrated early because he got knocked off his spots a couple times, but we did a great job getting him the ball. His maturity has changed the most from day one.

Q. What's it mean for your team not to -- to lose five or six, and lose the opening round, to survive and advance?
COACH UNDERWOOD: It's the next round. We've got to move on. I think there will probably be some positives in that at some point. Right now I've been sitting in the back. Coming out here, working on Iowa and all their stuff. It's not the time to reflect on that.

I think our opponents had some of that. I didn't think we played great tonight. I thought we played actually better in a game or two when they got beat. But, yeah, it's important to win. There is no doubt about that. These guys need to feel what this is all about. You only need a little tidal wave or a ripple to create a tidal wave, so we'll see.

Q. Coach, you expanded your rotation a lot in the first half. I'm not sure you envisioned overtime necessarily. But do you think when it got to overtime, the minutes you conserved in the first half made a difference in the overtime?
COACH UNDERWOOD: I hope so. I thought that was part of our deal, the way we play, we need to play multiple bodies, and we subbed out one time, which I don't usually do, but that was a long four-minute segment, and I thought our bench guys did a great job.

So, other than Trent, which Trent is the energizer bunny. He never gets tired. He can go. But you know, for the most part those guys' minutes are pretty much under control.

Q. How did Ayo maybe respond in the huddle after missing the lay-up in regulation, and ten rebounds for him? How big was he on that?
COACH UNDERWOOD: Yeah, he just -- I'm running out of superlatives and adjectives and everything else to say about him and his game: That was a smile and a dap, he goes, "I got you, coach." He's a kids that been in those moments. He's made them. Made what I thought was a play we figured they would switch, and we busted the switch with him, and he got wide open. Iowa gave him an unbelievable pass. We were bringing Trent off for a little jumpshot, and just happened.

Next time I'll run the same play or some sort of play to him just like that again, and he'll convert it. We'll dap again and smile. It's part of the game.

Q. Coach, you guys kind of linked in the postseason a little bit, and maybe didn't come on and finish the regular season as hot as you wanted to. It was mentioned during that time that maybe the effort wasn't where it needed to be or the focus, I should say rather, for a couple of those games. Just talk about what was the focus this weekend and the mood in the locker room this weekend?
COACH UNDERWOOD: Yeah, everybody starts zero and zero. You come to these events, it's a different field. A 20-game season is a grind, it's hard, it's travel. It just has a different monotony about it, maybe. Then you come in here and you walk in this building and you see all of this and the excitement, and it's just a different vibe. We tried talking about that a little bit. And you get here, and it wasn't the prettiest first half. I thought the first half we could have been a little better, but, again, I'm proud of where our guys played, and on to the next round.

Q. Coach, the way you guys came into this one, getting the result tonight, do you think that is an advantage, even though you had planned short rest? Just get being that win and getting that momentum back sort of?
COACH UNDERWOOD: Well, about four years ago I would have said, no, it doesn't matter at all because they had double byes. Now it doesn't matter. It's been done before. I think UConn won five in a row. It doesn't matter. It's just about the next.

You take every game for its face value, and you don't look beyond. I won't spend two seconds really tonight looking backwards. You don't have time, and it's on to the next. It's really that simple for me.

Q. What did you think of the play of A.J. Turner down the stretch? He sort of took over for Vic Law in sort of the lead ball handler role?
COACH UNDERWOOD: If you look at A.J.'s numbers the last five games, A.J. has been playing really good. He's been shooting close to 40%. You see a different confidence about him. That went just about as expected from our standpoint. We knew he would be in the lineup. We knew he would be the guy that they would look to go to.

The start of the second half he was terrific, and, again, it was just about making his stuff hard. I thought we did a little better job in the last four, five minutes of the game in the overtime making it hard. But he's a terrific player. I think he did everything that maybe Chris wanted him to do, which was step up for a fellow teammate.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

ASAP sports

tech 129
About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297