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March 8, 2007

Warren Carter

Chester Frazier

Brian Randle

Bruce Weber


COACH BRUCE WEBER: Well, I think early in the game we didn't have much emotion, and the coaches told me in warm-ups they weren't real hyped and geeked, and I don't know if the pressure of trying to get another victory, advancing, maybe the whole mental drain of the season, I'm not sure. But once we got through that early stretch, we played pretty good defense for quite a while and then had the nice run at the start of the second half, and we just didn't play very smart in probably that 12-to-6 minute mark, some careless turnovers, some missed opportunities, some missed free throws. So that -- it allowed them to get their head up.
And obviously Walker just went crazy at the end, and finally we got a couple stops and made a couple free throws. We knew it would be a gut-check game. We knew they'd make adjustments. I talked all week, whether it was at Northwestern, at Minnesota, at Penn State, each team makes adjustments, and you have to adjust. They weren't going to let us get it inside and they made us shoot from the perimeter. 28 threes is a whole bunch, but at least we made some -- and Chester especially as we got deep into the game.

Q. Chester, just talk about the team feeling going into this game in terms of, you know, the NCAA and trying to rebound from the slow start Coach talked about.
CHESTER FRAZIER: Just trying to get wins. Any win looks good on the resume, so we're just trying to add more wins to our resume.

Q. Brian, Coach talked about maybe it was the grind of the season, and I was wondering, you started out the year injured and you guys have had injuries and controversy all season. How much of a grind has this season been?
BRIAN RANDLE: It's been a grind. Every season is a grind. Obviously this year we had guys in and out constantly, even up to this point.
So I think more than anything, it's just been a test for us. We're always going to go in there hard and beat each other up, but because we had less guys, there's points in time in the season where we did have to back off. Where we are now we feel like we probably should have been in December or early January. So it's been interesting.

Q. Warren, could you talk about getting it going after the slow start, and do you block out any concerns about this game just getting away from you, or is it too early at that point?
WARREN CARTER: Yeah, it was definitely too early at that point. I mean, we put ourselves in binds early in the year where we've been down in the second half. And it kind of goes back to what Brian (Randle) said with where our team is now, we probably should have been at this point in December. I mean, we showed some poise and some composure just sticking together, and then we ran around, like Coach said, in the first half and then we jumped on them again in the start of the second half.

Q. Chester, I saw you talking to Walker after the game. What did you say to him?
CHESTER FRAZIER: I said, man, you're tough, seven threes, all big shots. I think he has a lot of guts for those shots, and he's a heck of a player.

Q. He was so far out on some of those, did you guys think he wouldn't shoot it from there?
CHESTER FRAZIER: We knew he was going to shoot it, he just made some big shots.

Q. Chester, how much more was their zone packing this time around and was the primary idea pretty much you putting it up?
CHESTER FRAZIER: They tend to shade to Rich (McBride) more. You know, Rich is an excellent shooter from deep. I'm not so good from deep, but they took away the flashes and I made some opening shots. Not a big deal, just made some shots.

Q. Brian, can you talk about Chester, how he played tonight and maybe how he energized you guys a little bit it seemed like midway through the first half?
BRIAN RANDLE: Really he's the heart of this team. You know, he sometimes puts himself in positions where he probably shouldn't be in and falls down, gets up, screams like it doesn't hurt. He gives us some toughness. You know, today, as much as people try to knock him and tell him this and that, he's going to play each and every game, and that's what we looked for him to do today. He hit some big shots, gave us a boost offensively and defensively, and we got on his back and he carried us.

Q. Warren, where do you think you all stand right now in terms of the tournament, and how much are you talking about that with your teammates?
WARREN CARTER: Honestly, as a team we don't talk about it as much. We know we've got to continue to get wins. None of us are on the committee so we can't sit up here and say whether we're in the tournament or not. We know if we continue to win and win on Sunday then they'll have no choice but to put us in the tournament.

Q. Warren, talk about going up against Indiana again, the things that might be key there, and whether you think this is the game that would put you over the top in terms of tournament?
WARREN CARTER: I think that could be a possibility, but as I said earlier, I'm not on the committee so I can never say. But Indiana is a tough team. They play tough defense, they've had some days of rest. We've met each other twice this year. They've both been grind out games. That's what I'm going to expect tomorrow. We've just got to get some rest and get ready for it.
THE MODERATOR: We'll finish up with questions for Coach Weber.

Q. What's been the most difficult thing about dealing with this season to get to this point?
COACH BRUCE WEBER: Well, unless you've coached, and I had never been through this, to be honest, and I've been doing it 28 years, when you don't have people at practice, it's tough to get better. It's tough for them to get better as individuals and it's tough for you to get better as a team.
And I think what these guys said, we're probably -- now we kind of know our roles. We have a feel of who are the scorers, who's not, who to give the ball, how to get them the ball, and it took us -- this is where, as they said, it should be December-January, not late February-March to get to this point.
We did a thing with -- we turned in the NCAA obviously, or the Big Ten did, how many games, man days we've missed for games. It's 50-some or whatever. But I asked them to do -- our trainer to do practices. Brian Randle has missed 50 or more practices. That's two thirds of your practices.
Chester has missed a bunch. Chester plays in games and everybody sees him suited up, but if you don't practice all week and then play in a game, it's like, he's got a lot of gumption. Then people are like, well, what's wrong with him. Well, he hasn't practiced. You're just going out there without any preparation. That's been the toughest thing.
To our kids' credit, they have been pretty resilient. We've all learned, all grown up. I think it's -- they say adversity helps you develop character, and I guess and toughness, and I guess we truly have been that case this year.

Q. You were yelling at your guys to get some inside touches early, but was that even realistic?
COACH BRUCE WEBER: Well, they just packed it up. They just said you're not getting it in there. I thought early we were a little impatient and didn't look. We needed to make some shots, and even when we made shots they still really didn't come out. We made some adjustments, we actually put a few new things in, just different looks, and they still kind of just sat back there.
I'm just happy Chester (Frazier) made some shots. It would have been nice if Rich (McBride) made some. It would have been a big difference maker. I think Rich wants to -- he still gets ten assists, so he finds a way to do things for us that help us win, and that's what you hope seniors would do.
A radio guy asked me before the game on my pre-game show who would be the X factor, and I thought Brian Randle, and I just threw it in. I said it would be nice if Chester made a couple shots.
I thought Brian (Frasier) had a very slow start. He really got us going, and then obviously Chester made some big shots. Chester is a pretty good defender and for Walker to get open like that and make some of those crazy shots, you've got to give him a lot of credit.

Q. We ask you every day so I guess we should ask again, where do you think you're at with the tournament and --
COACH BRUCE WEBER: I think we're in good shape. But that doesn't mean we're in. That's my feeling. You still have some other tournaments left. Some craziness can still happen. If you're in the last five, six left, well, if you keep getting some upsets, each time that takes off a team, and I don't know where we are in that mix. They're the only ones that know. I hope it maintains our RPI in the 30s. Your schedule rating is still -- it's been a top 25. We've dealt with injuries. We haven't had any bad losses.
The one thing we don't have is probably the great win, but at the same time, we've played a lot of people close, and if people watched us, you know, we go to Indiana and play a game where we're leading and other teams have gone there and gotten beaten pretty drastically. I don't know if scores make a difference, but I think you can see the improvement in our team. There's no doubt about that.
But I will not feel good unless we get into Saturday or Sunday, and then I think maybe I'd be a little more relaxed.

Q. You said you've never been through something like this in 28 years of coaching. Has this year been maybe more work than it has been fun?
COACH BRUCE WEBER: I told the kids before, I thought we were a little tense at Iowa, especially down the stretch. I'm not sure -- we didn't have great emotion. We didn't have great emotion early today. I hope we're not mentally drained. I just think they want to do so well, they want to get it. It's starting to mean a lot more to them. But you still can't be uptight.
For the coaches, and I told them before the game, I wrote energy -- all E's, energy, enthusiasm, effort, and then I threw on there, "and enjoy it." This is a special moment. You play college basketball four years, you're in the tournament, you're in the United Center. No matter what I say, though, they know they're trying to get to 22, 23 wins. They know what's at stake. But I just said let's enjoy this and just go out -- I thought after the beginning they let loose and played a little bit. We played dumb in that stretch in the second half to let them back in it, and we can't do that again.

Q. Is there a feeling on the team that if you guys get a couple wins here in March it will mask a lot of the downs you had over the season?
COACH BRUCE WEBER: I don't think there's a feeling. I think we could have a great finish. I think we're capable of it. I think the whole league is capable of it.
Maybe we don't get in the 90s, but when you get into NCAA play, into tournament play, it's going to be a possession game, it's going to be a half court game, and obviously we've all had a bunch of those in our league.
It might be to our advantage that you might see some surprises, and maybe we -- I don't know if we have the respect or not, but I'm sure we haven't been talked about as much on TV as a lot of people, and maybe that could make a difference. We still -- they've won 22 games and we have the 25th rated schedule, and there's not a team in the country that's had more man days missed. If there is, I'd be surprised.
So they've accomplished pretty much.
Now, when you set the bar like we have the last three years, it's really -- probably tough to live up to it, and I think the kids have felt that pressure, also.

Q. You had a couple intense battles with Indiana. What do you expect tomorrow? It's been pretty wild the last two.
COACH BRUCE WEBER: I would expect the same thing. Calvin (Sampson) has done a nice job. He gets them to play very hard. They've got some seniors that play with great intensity, know how to play. You've got D.J. White, one of the better big guys in the league, and they're going to run their stuff and grind it out. They play good pressure defense.
I thought last year Michigan State might have had a little bit of an advantage because they played a game and then you have to sit all day like that, that late game. It's tough to do. So maybe that will help us a little bit. I would expect we'd have even -- we had a majority of the fans today. I think we'll have a great crowd tomorrow, and maybe that will be a big boost of energy for our guys, and we can come out and just play.
THE MODERATOR: Appreciate your time, Coach. Thank you.

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