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March 13, 2008

Chester Frazier

Trent Meacham

Brian Randle

Bruce Weber


THE MODERATOR: Joined now by Coach Bruce Weber and the Illinois players. Coach, if we could have you make a couple opening comments and then we'll do questions for the players and questions for Coach Weber.
COACH WEBER: First of all, I want to commend Penn State and Coach DeChellis. We had some things that happened to us over the last year, but when you lose your two best players and you're able to keep a semblance of order and win some big games, and even today you get down 10 and they didn't quit playing.
And I know Bo Ryan and Matt Painter did an unbelievable job this year, but I think Eddie on some years, he might have been coach of the year for what he did. So I just wanted to recognize them. I was pleased for our seniors.
You know, they haven't had maybe the year that we would have hoped for. You know, today Shaun has a double-double, I think the first one since maybe conference season, since nonconference season. And Brian Randle, you know, has 17 and goes 17 -- or 7 for 7 from the free throw line.
So those guys were the leaders. We worried a lot about attacking the zone and we worked on it this week. And we did a great job of attacking I thought in the first half and had some opportunities to stretch the game out, some fast break opportunities.
We got a travel and a missed layup and a turnover and could have had a bigger lead. But the biggest thing, we didn't defend them in the first half. They shoot 58 percent. We did a much better job in the second half. I don't know if they tired or we were just more aware and held them to 25 percent.
And then, like all year we've had these, we hit these walls and have drought scoring and it was something we talked about last night. We can't -- it happens and you gotta find a way out of it and somebody has got to make a play. And Trent makes a great pass to Chester and I'm happy he made the dang thing, one of the toughest shots when you have a wide open layup. I don't know what happened. I think they had a timeout. Seemed like they wanted to call it and they didn't. And we did -- at least we found a way to win a close game. It's been a long time since we've won a close one.
I'm just happy for the kids we get to play another day.
THE MODERATOR: We can go ahead with questions for the athletes.

Q. Chester, could you go through the last play and how you wound up on the other side of the basket like that? Did you make a mid-air decision or beginning with the inbounds? And since there wasn't a timeout or anything, was that called the previous time out or is that a basic play you always run?
CHESTER FRAZIER: Play wasn't designed for me to get the ball, but I thought Trent was going to shoot it with two people on him. But he made a good read passed it back to me. Thought it was going to get blocked on the other shot so that's why I reversed.

Q. Brian, I know you haven't had a chance to let this soak in yet, but he lived to play another day and you get a third chance to play Purdue. You had lost twice to Penn State, lost twice to Purdue. Different challenge tomorrow. Talk about that game.
BRIAN RANDLE: It's a different style of game. Obviously Purdue wants to get the ball up and down, but just like Penn State, but in terms of the defense, it's a no zone at all. It's lock down, man to man. A lot of pressure, a lot of patience on our part. So I think in terms of that, we need to be very focused and need to be crisp and sharp with our passes and our movements.
So, I mean, it's just a different style of game. I think it's going to be more intense. I don't know if you want to call it a semi-rivalry now from the way we play and the way they play, kind of parallels each other. So it's going to be a big game.

Q. Trent, could you also just go through that last play, what you saw in terms of when you turned the corner there?
TRENT MEACHAM: I was coming off the screen from inbounds and Chester passed to me. First thought was to shoot it and let it go. And then I was about to drive to the basket, but his man, Battle, stepped up to me, and it was almost surprising how wide open Chester was. So I dumped it down to him and I knew he was going to make that.

Q. Chester, was that similar to the play that you guys ran earlier in the game, I guess, where you got called for being out of bounds, is that the similar type of thing?
CHESTER FRAZIER: Almost the same play, but it was Briand Randle who stepped in, and my guy helped up and I dragged my left foot.

Q. Chester, could you talk about how it feels to advance for another day, after all the things you've been through this year?
CHESTER FRAZIER: Similar situation to last year. The same teams, the same type of game. Got up early on them. They came back. But it feels good to play another game especially for Brian, Shaun and Chris, still fighting to see if we can win three more and continue playing.

Q. What does this mean to you guys to win a close game like this? I know you've had a lot of things fall not in your favor, but now to have one go in your favor, does this propel you guys to give you the motivation to go on for tomorrow?
TRENT MEACHAM: I think it will. Like Coach said. We haven't been able to win games like that. The last four minutes or so they took it to us. And we couldn't get the stop or we couldn't get the rebound or the bucket that we needed. So to finish a game with a play like that and win it, hopefully that can propel us and just keep that momentum and see if we can go on a run here.

Q. Chester, could you talk a little bit about chasing Battle around and how were your knees and was that a factor at the end at all, how do you feel?
CHESTER FRAZIER: I'm old. He's a young guy. He's quick. Probably only weighs 125 pounds. He's real quick. He's going to be a tough player in this league. He has a knack for scoring. And with the two leading scorers, I think he took it upon himself to put the team on his back and he did a good job.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, fellows. We'll finish up with questions with Coach Weber.

Q. Bruce, same thing I asked Brian. You've had two great games with Purdue, I know it's always tough to play a friend like that. But how will you approach tomorrow and what will be your significant challenges?
COACH WEBER: Well, if Matt's a good friend, he'll just start his walk-ons and let us win in advance and he's going to go into the NCAA tournament anyway.
So I don't think that's going to happen. He's done a tremendous job. Their freshmen have shown unbelievable poise, and just to win the big road games that they've won has been amazing to me.
The problem we have is they have so many weapons. And they have so many versatile players. I think they have not only guys that can shoot the ball but probably more importantly have so many guys that can pass the ball. And they make the extra pass and get it to the open guy.
And then they're very aggressive and physical on defense. So it's going to be a different game. I do not see Matt playing zone. I don't think that's going to happen. They're going to come out and be aggressive and pick us up and bump up us. And we'll have to deal with it.
Ironic thing is we were worried so much about zone, we get a nice lead and Penn State goes man, and we fall flat on our face and don't make good cuts and don't finish some plays. I don't think we scored the last four or five, six minutes, somewhere in there, until that last bucket.
We're going to have to get a different mind-set and just hope that we play good basketball and for some reason maybe they don't play as well as they have. I thought at our place -- you know, I know they played well at Wisconsin. But at our place in Wisconsin, they played as good of basketball I've seen any team in our league this year.

Q. Talk more about the man to man. Seemed like the game changed immediately. You played against man to man all year, was it preparation for this game was just zone or what have you?
COACH WEBER: You have a change in mind-set a little bit. For three days, basically we went against the zone and watched the film from the first two games and how to attack it and get their zone a little disjointed. And I think we did that.
And yesterday I told the coaches we better get a little bit of motion or man stuff in. And we did. They picked up the intensity a little bit. And here it's only three, four possessions and we have a travel, I think. We have a missed layup, Shaun inside. We get maybe take a questionable shot.
Now they hit 2-3-3s in that stretch and the game's totally changed. So that's disappointing for us. Hopefully, tomorrow we'll have to have a totally different mind-set to deal with their pressure and be strong with their ball and we're going to have to make our free throws like we did tonight. That will be a difference-maker, especially if we're able to get it inside and take advantage of maybe some of our size difference.

Q. Bruce, do you even let yourself ponder how far this might go?
COACH WEBER: No. Just worry about tomorrow. I'm just happy we get to play. I felt pretty good about ourselves, about the 15-minute mark in the second half. And then all of a sudden it changed so quickly. And I just -- you're trying to figure out, man, how can you solve this thing. And you kept talking to them about believing.
And we talked about brick walls and trying to find ways around it and we made a play at the end. So go back, have a nice dinner. Get with the watching film and you don't have a whole bunch of time. Purdue -- they didn't know if they were playing us or Penn State. So the preparation time in a way will be the same.
We know each other, and we're just going to have to do a good job. We have a good matchup. I think Brian Randle and Hummel, if Chester -- his knee is okay by tomorrow, he's got to guard more, and then make sure some of the other guys don't become factors. I think that's the biggest difference. I thought Krump at their place was a difference-maker and Green at our place was a big difference-maker. Their other players played well, but when those guys do that, now you're in trouble.

Q. Bruce, can you talk about the final inbounds plays did you change the play call during the timeout?
COACH WEBER: The first timeout we drew one play up and then we had to call timeout. We didn't get it in. Drew up another play and they did a good job of fighting through the screen. We didn't have a shot. And we had to get another -- we just called a regular out of bounds play we ran all year. We've actually ran it against Indiana. Two of those plays down the stretch. And had some luck. But they defended it well. Chester, you know, it's just a great read by Trent and you can call timeout and draw up a lot of things but a lot of times it's the players that make the plays and they haven't been able to do that all season and today we did.

Q. In terms of some of the recent injuries, one on Brian, looks like he's put that behind him and not having much of a problem with it. And, two, I'm wondering was Rodney available today?
COACH WEBER: Rodney practiced a little bit. And I guess how the game was going, we made a decision not to go with him. Brian seems okay. I think he plays with some pain. He's back to fouling. So maybe he's feeling much better. And then Chester, you know, he's probably the worst of all of the guys. We gotta get him rested and he's always so hyper, we have to get him sitting in bed and icing him to get enough energy out of him tomorrow night.

Q. The fact that you had played so many close games this year, did that help down the stretch tonight?
COACH WEBER: I hope so. We've had unbelievable run of close games and not finding ways to win it and it seemed like it was going to be the story of our season again. And I guess the movie ended differently this time. But I think more than anything in the huddles we just, instead of panicking, we kept talking positive. And who is going to step up, who is going to make a play, who is going to make the difference-maker in the game, be the difference-maker.
And I don't know if that did or not. But something happened and it went right for us. And both the last two games, you know, we took the lead at their place and they make two free throws down the stretch and Demetri had a chance to tie it up at our place against Penn State. I guess if you're patient enough it comes around and goes your way.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.

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