March 10, 2005
KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI
COACH BARRY COLLIER: I thought our team battled hard after getting off it to a slow start but really never gave up and I think that Mississippi did a really nice job defensing us. Kleiza is tough inside and scored the ball for them but they had excellent poise in the first half and we had probably the better of the two teams in the second half but not enough to come back.
THE MODERATOR: Questions. Thank you, coach.
Q. Barry, can you talk about the decision not to start Jake?
COACH BARRY COLLIER: They want these guys first.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student athletes at this point.
Q. Joe, can you talk about that last shot? Did it look good?
JOE MCCRAY: I thought it was good. I shot it and it rimmed out, kind of hurt.
Q. Can you talk about what Missouri was doing defensively in the first half, how you guys finally got it going?
JASON DOURISSEAU: Half court defense was strong. They was in the position, I mean it was set so you couldn't really drive like you wanted to. And they had hands up on shooters but in the second half we was able to get it going in transition and we got some easy buckets and we was able to call our way back.
JOE MCCRAY: I think they was just playing pressure defense, playing tight, just putting a lot of pressure on the ball, but we wasn't being strong with the ball from the beginning, so that caused us to have turnovers and they had the points for them.
THE MODERATOR: Anything else? We will excuse you, guys. Let's go to questions now for Coach Collier.
Q. The decision not to start Jake and how you told him and how that went, and then talk a little bit about the spark he gave you in the second half.
COACH BARRY COLLIER: Well, we just thought that maybe coming off the bench would both help Jake, relax him a little bit and help him play better. He's really struggled here in the last five games or so. Charles has given us some good options offensively getting the ball into the interior of the defense and up the floor on the break. And Jake was ready to roll. He told me he would. I explained it to him a couple of days ago, he said he will be ready when he's called on and he was.
Q. I don't know if this is the norm for you but do you like to run out the play at the end of the game like that, do you normally keep a timeout in your back pocket or was it a different situation?
COACH BARRY COLLIER: We didn't want to let them get set with their defense and maybe take us out of the play that we have practiced every day for that situation. So if we scored a two on a put-back we would still have the timeout to get maybe a foul and another opportunity.
Q. You had six turnovers the first couple of minutes and then four the rest of the way. Not a single turnover in the second half. Any explanation for that? Were the guys just not focused or too excited?
COACH BARRY COLLIER: I think it's probably a little bit of the latter, their being overly excited and maybe reaching for a little bit more than was actually there, opportunities to penetrate that leave you trapped and lead to deflections. I thought our team really responded well and took care of the ball the rest of the way and got shots and really got to the free-throw line the second half.
Q. Looking back on this thing now -- first of all, what your chances are for the NIT in your opinion, and secondly, was this final couple of months disappointing or was it more encouraging?
COACH BARRY COLLIER: I think in answer to the first question because we do want to -- you saw how our team competed there down to the last second. I think our team certainly wants to play and we would love that opportunity. But that's in other peoples' hands. The season, we played kind of came on with some good play, aggressiveness, in the last, oh, month, or three weeks or so of the season and I think that those are encouraging things. We also saw our younger players get better right through the year. We had quite a bit of production out of our juniors and freshman and Charles Richardson, the sophomore class tonight and Bronsen Schliep out of that junior class as well.
Q. Are you pretty confident that you will be back next season?
COACH BARRY COLLIER: I am going to let that be handled by Steve and Mark. I am not sure where things -- what they have discussed outside of our conversations with you folks. I don't know exactly what is taking place yet.
Q. How hard has it been just in the last month or so operating under this like not knowing what is going on; have you known what is going on with your future and stuff?
COACH BARRY COLLIER: The operation is the same really every single day. It is nothing but excuse-making to think other than we have the support -- we have had Steve and Mark's sport throughout. They want us to be successful, probably no one wants to be more successful than we do. So that has never changed and we're focused on doing it better, working harder and working smarter and getting better. That has always been the case within the season. It is again now with respect to recruiting and the coming year.
Q. Could you talk a little bit about the play Linas Kleiza, how you guys held him in the first half, then he scored Missouri's first six points?
COACH BARRY COLLIER: I think we did an okay job defending in the first half against them in total. But he's a really hard player to guard one-on-one because he gets -- he's good -- he's a solid shooter, and from the outside and he can start a drive and finish strong inside and I remember at least, oh, three or four times when he just muscled through our guys for a put-back.
THE MODERATOR: Coach, thank you for coming. Congratulations on a great season.
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