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 8, 2007

Jamal Abu-Shamala

Jim Molinari

Spencer Tollackson


Q. Guys, first Spencer. It looked like you went up to coach before the game and sat down and asked him, anything that you said, anything important?
SPENCER TOLLACKSON: He actually just called me over and just told me not to worry about whatever happens on the offensive end. Don't worry about anything that happens on the offensive end, just try to focus and try to play physical defensively and just try to block out and keep my guy off the glass and the offense will come.

Q. Can you just talk about -- I'm sure you guys have answered this question already, but just about how the season has been just during the losing streak, and how do you maybe try to look on trying to build something for next year, just being competitive against some of the top teams? You started out with Ohio State and Wisconsin.
JAMAL ABU-SHAMALA: It's been a tough year with a lot of adversity. We've kept battling, and all the coaches and all the players, we just kept fighting through it.
We're a young team, and we had trouble holding off some good teams. In a tough stretch when Spencer was out, we played them tough, but we just couldn't hold them off, and I think that was partially experience and not having the experience. We had a lot of new guys that just came in.
It's just been tough, but I think we've just got to get back to work now right away and not take any time off and just continue to get better. Just keep building and trying to make things better for next year.

Q. This is question is for Spencer. While you were injured and when you watched the team play, and like I said, when they had a couple of those games against some of the top teams and they were right there with them, what were you thinking about kind of towards next year and how good this team could be?
SPENCER TOLLACKSON: I think it was obviously frustrating for me to have to sit out, but I have complete confidence in my team with or without me. This team has a lot of character, and I think that that's really where winning starts.
We're definitely looking forward to next year. We're just going to -- like Jamal said, I don't think anybody wants to take any time off. We all wanted to play tomorrow and the next day and the next day. Unfortunately it didn't happen.
It's going to be up to our captains. We're probably going to take a day or two off and get right back and start lifting weights again, having open gyms. I wouldn't be surprised if we started giving each other workouts. This team has a lot of heart and a lot of character, and we'll just put this year behind us, learn from it and move on to next year.

Q. Talking to a couple guys in the locker room, they were saying that coach tells you some things outside basketball. Tell us what he's told you throughout the year, life lessons, I guess.
SPENCER TOLLACKSON: I mean, I think if I ever had a pencil and a piece of paper, Coach Molinari would have written down more wisdom quotes, I guess you could say, than I've ever heard in my life. He's like a wizard. Don't let the gray hair fool you. He knows a lot about life. He's always talking to guys not just about basketball. He's a great basketball coach, but we love him for the person that he is, for the father that he is. He's definitely taught me tremendous life lessons, especially going out with my hand this year.
We've had private conversations where he's really touched me, and I'll never forget that.
But like you said, I'll say it and everybody else on the team will say he's definitely taught us a lot of life lessons.
JAMAL ABU-SHAMALA: I'll just add on that. I've never seen a coach work as hard off the court with just trying to get guys to push themselves with academics and basketball. Hardest working coach I've ever had. I mean, he just put in more time than anyone that I've ever worked with. He's just really truthful and has pushed us to be the best players that we could be. I just want to thank him for that.
THE MODERATOR: We'll continue with questions for Coach Molinari.

Q. When you took over this team for Coach Monson, what kind of expectations did you have? I mean, how good did you think this team could be?
COACH JIM MOLINARI: I think I have higher expectations, but there's no excuses, injuries are part of it, but Spencer going out for seven or eight games really hurt us. That broke a lot of it -- he was playing at a high level then.
But I knew it would be a struggle, but I also think that this is a year in the Big Ten where the middle of the pack is so good, other than the two top teams, that every game is so important.
I always tell people, you never want to be the bottom three. If you're in the top two you get the best games, but if you're in the bottom three it's tough, too. I knew it would be a struggle, but I think they've grown. I think they've grown. We would like to have a few more wins, but I'm proud of them. They never quit. They care.

Q. A lot of years in coaching, how difficult was this season for you?
COACH JIM MOLINARI: Losing is difficult. It's always difficult. I mean, it's really difficult on young people, too.
But other than that, no, there's a lot of reward. I kind of judged it going in just to move the program along, moved them along, move every area along. I think we've done that. I completely trust the leadership at Minnesota that they'll benefit from this, and next year will be better. They're all back. They've got to have some growth and probably some additions, maybe some subtractions.
It was difficult but it was also a great year, and I appreciate the opportunity.

Q. As far as your philosophy has always been defense, and it seemed like there was a time when the team was playing pretty good D to start off and then it got away from that. What do you think about this team's identity? Was it ever to form an identity towards what you wanted them to do?
COACH JIM MOLINARI: Well, I think we got back to it the last few games here. We just had a hard time -- if you hold the team to 27 percent shooting and lose. I thought this year we would get over the hump. I give Michigan credit. They did a tremendous job. They're very long. They're very hard to shoot over. So, I think they understand defense. We need help at the point guard, and what happened this year. I'm sure that's going to come under way with the two guards they signed.

Q. Obviously you said losing is difficult, but after hearing what Spencer and Jamal had to say, does that take a little sting away or make you feel better about what you had accomplished this year?
COACH JIM MOLINARI: Oh, yeah. I love this group. I love coaching and I love doing that part of it. It's just like raising your kids. You don't tell them what's important tomorrow; you tell them what's important in five years. But that's the philosophy under Joel (Maturi), that's the philosophy of Minnesota athletics. The student-athletes really are pushed in all areas. So yeah, that's always rewarding, but still, I like to see them benefit a little more from all their hard work. But I still say they will get that. It's hard for young people if they don't get immediate gratification, but they will get that down before they all leave.

Q. After the experience this year, is your main hope to be a head coach again or would you setting for an assistant?
COACH JIM MOLINARI: Right, that's what I would like to do at the highest level, no doubt. I appreciate the opportunity, no doubt, that's what I want to do.
The reality, these are all growing experiences. That's something I would love to do.
THE MODERATOR: Appreciate it, Coach. Thank you.

End of FastScripts
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