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March 14, 2008

Mike Davis

Demetri McCamey

Shaun Pruitt

Bruce Weber


THE MODERATOR: I think you know the drill. Couple opening comments, we'll start with questions with the players and then finish with questions for Coach Weber.
COACH WEBER: It would be an understatement to say it wasn't a big win for us, especially with the struggles we've had through the year. We've been through this drill over and over and give great efforts, emotional efforts and then don't seem to find a way to win.
And it looked like we had it a couple times. Looked like they had it a couple of times. But we made the plays. We needed somebody to be special. And Demetri was very special. I think somebody said 6-for-6 from 3. If that's right, it's pretty good, even though Purdue's three-point shooting was unbelievable. Chester was on more many times than he made shots. So it was special for us but we came here to win the thing. We can't get too high.
The next half hour enjoy, talk about it, then we have to go back to the hotel and see if we can get enough energy to find a way to win tomorrow.
So it's got to be our mind-set. We shot the ball pretty well. I thought for most of it Shaun did a great job inside. You know, there's no doubt the freshmen might have been the key to the game. We had four freshmen in. Their freshmen have been great all year. But our four freshmen, Jeffrey Jordan, Mike Davis and Mike Tisdale and Demetri, got us back into the game which helped us tie it which was a really big boost.
Shaun's tip in to tie it at the end of the half, if you get that last bucket and then you come out and get the first bucket of the second half, or have someone land them, it definitely helps. So Purdue has had a tremendous season. They're going to have a high seed in the tournament. I think they can win some games.
I'm just happy we were able to find a way to win a game and get to play another day and continue to enjoy the season.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, Coach. Questions for any of the three Illinois players, please.

Q. Demetri, when did you feel it tonight? Looked like everything you were throwing up was going in. And related to that, their freshman have gotten so much national publicity but tonight you guys stole the show. Did you talk about that before the game?
DEMETRI MCCAMEY: No, we had a game plan and going out playing hard and playing with intensity and let everything carry over for itself. Just made big plays. Coach said we needed a trigger someone to step up and be special tonight. Fortunately I was that player. But my teammates helped me out a lot too screening, the four freshmen, myself, Jeffrey, Mike Tisdale -- and Mike Tisdale played real good -- and Brian Randle helped us down the stretch, too.

Q. Demetri three-point shooting, hitting six of six, can you talk about that, particularly the last one you hit that forced the overtime from so far out?
DEMETRI MCCAMEY: Felt really good. Usually I hit my first shot, and then shoot it again and keep shooting, and in this game I was feeling good and felt comfortable out there.

Q. Shaun, can you talk about the difference in winning a close game after the dozens of close games it seems you guys lost this year?
SHAUN PRUITT: Unbelievable feeling. It's sad we couldn't do this earlier. This is the time to do it. The biggest thing is to close out wins like this it was such a good team effort and I'm just so proud of the freshmen and the team effort just is what helped us close out the game.

Q. Question for Mike Davis, please. With Purdue having a 15-0 run, you guys finished the first half out with a 15-3 run. Mike, you had three big buckets there. Your thoughts out there running about the Illini?
MIKE DAVIS: Our captain, Brian Randle, got in foul trouble, he told me to go in and play with confidence, hit the open shot if I'm open. And Demetri found me a couple of times, Jeff found me, and Chester found me once, so I hit the open shot.

Q. Shaun, they had no answer for you, nobody who could match up with you physically. Could you talk about the advantage you had inside and what that, what difference that made in the game?
SHAUN PRUITT: I think it made a big difference. I think any time a team would double-team you or something like that, it's a good way to go inside out. And fortunately Demetri got hot and then Brian cut to the basket.
I remember one time I faced up and saw double team coming and Brian was wide open. So it just -- it makes it a little bit easier on myself and especially when my teammates keep moving and got open and things like that. So I was happy about that.

Q. Mike, late in the game you guys were up 3. I think Demetri drove to the hoop, somehow the ball didn't go in, you followed. Can you talk about that play?
MIKE DAVIS: Yeah, it was a two-on-one with Demetri and Chester. Looked like Demetri got fouled, but I was driving on the play, so I instinctively followed the shot and he missed and I just put it back in.

Q. Mike, you and the other freshmen, as Coach Weber mentioned, have really -- were in the spotlight tonight. Talk about how you guys were able to do that mentally, knowing that Purdue was a team that had accomplished so much and really is a poised team despite its youth?
MIKE DAVIS: Right. Their team is all freshmen, start what three or four freshmen. So we just wanted to go out and match how they played and just try to come out strong in the half, end the first half on the run. They made a run and we made a run in the first half. At the end of the game we came out big and made plays and shots fell our way.

Q. Shaun, in preparing for this ball game, you guys have already lost twice to Purdue this year and the coaches as good friends as they are, anything going through your mind thinking it's going to be tough to beat these guys?
SHAUN PRUITT: I think personally when you beat a team twice, I think it makes them dangerous because it's hard to beat a team three times. So we were definitely up and ready for Purdue today. But you gotta give them a lot of credit. They're a tough team.
We knew it was going to be a dogfight. Going into the scouting report last night, the biggest thing was we need to play them hard and match their intensity. I think we did a good job of doing that today.

Q. Demetri, I know you don't know who you'll play next, but what will be your thoughts about the possibility of playing Indiana again?
DEMETRI MCCAMEY: Doesn't matter. We're playing the winner tomorrow, get ready for them tonight once we find out. Doesn't really matter. We're here to play basketball.

Q. Any of the players, I know a little has been talked about the play of Jeff Jordan tonight. Talk about how he did tonight, he stepped up and came into his own tonight?
SHAUN PRUITT: Jeff was huge. His defense is something very good for our team. Any time you play defense you can always play Illinois. So I think that's his niche, to step in and play and help us out. And he definitely did a good job of that today. He's been doing it all year for us.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks. We'll finish up for questions with Coach Weber.

Q. Bruce, you guys opened the overtime. You got three layups. Was there anything you were doing differently that led to those three plays?
COACH WEBER: You know, one thing we talked about was just keeping our spacing and trying to get Shaun off the block. And somebody mentioned to us, we played last night and they didn't. And it seemed like in overtime, you know, they were a little bit maybe gassed.
And we had some energy. I know -- I thought Grant was cramping. Somebody mentioned that to me. And we just got high and wide and made some great passes, got some easy layups and broke their spirit a little bit. And uncharacteristically they've been so good about keeping their poise, especially on the road. And they came down and rushed some things where they really haven't done that all year.
So I'm not -- I would like to say I drew something up or whatever, but it was just good ball movement, good spacing, and getting it to the right people at the right time.

Q. Coach, where was this all year?
COACH WEBER: I've told you before, the guys that have covered us, it's just disappointing, because really it should have been here. And if it means if we can figure it out here at the end and find a way to do something and actually get through tomorrow and make -- do something special on Sunday, I guess it's worth it.
But I wish the journey wouldn't have been so long. Free throws, obviously, are still a bugaboo. You're eight for 20 and you still win the game in overtime, have a bunch of chances down the stretch to kind of put it away.
But I'm just happy if we finally got to them and got to them believing in winning and the team. And Mike Davis told me today, if he plays more than 15 minutes, we're 8-2. So we got him to 17 minutes today, and we're now at 9-2. So maybe I should listen to the players more (laughter).

Q. You mentioned free throws, but you also turned the ball over, over 20 times. And so how do you win when you turn the ball over 20 times and make less than half of your free throws against a good team?
COACH WEBER: You shoot the ball 60 percent. When you did take care of it, we got good shots and held them to 30 percent. The only time they seemed to score was more making spectacular shots or a little dribble handoff play, which we talked about in the huddle several times, we just didn't defend it very well.
We also kind of controlled the boards. I think that was important, and sometimes you can't explain it. There's lots of games we've lost this year where we've dominated the stats and we haven't won it.
Sometimes if you keep the right attitude -- that's really what we've talked about, the whole week's thoughts have been keeping the right attitude and hanging together and keeping our poise, not letting anything set us back. And I did this thing about brick walls that I heard, we showed a lecture to the guys, we kept talking about brick walls in the timeouts. Brick walls aren't there to stop you, they're there to see you how much you really want it. And I think tonight they showed they really want it.
And so if I got 'em believing in some things now, that's great. Hopefully they keep doing it through tomorrow into Sunday.

Q. One guy who didn't score a point played more minutes than anybody else was Chester Frazier. How much do you think he's got left because his knee?
COACH WEBER: I don't know. I looked at it saw 45 minutes and he's chasing Moore and he's chasing Grant and he didn't cramp. So that's positive. If he has two legs and they're moving, you know he's going to play. The question we have is can he do it for 40 more minutes tomorrow and then Sunday.
So a good thing is Jeffrey Jordan got some minutes, and now maybe a little more confident we can get Chester in and out. We're probably going to have to watch that tomorrow. And really all the guys, you gotta watch them. It's Demetri's 42 minutes and that's a whole bunch for anybody.
So it's fatigue, you know, but again how much do they want it? Are you going to let it -- you can't think about it. You can't let it be a factor.
Our women had -- last weekend they were here they had nine people, six played in -- I think in the night they beat Ohio State, the No. 1 seed. And they came back and won the next game and got to the finals. And with such a short bench. So we've talked about them all week, too, that if they can do it why can't we.

Q. Tournament now in the 11th year, you now with a 19-8 record. You've been here with some very good teams, one with a losing record. Is it something in you or something that really -- do you come out in this tournament?
COACH WEBER: I hope it's in me. I don't know. I think some of it is a situation, obviously our first couple of years we had very, very good teams. And you know got to the finals a couple times. We did lose to Michigan State one year in the four or five game after we beat them, which kind of same scenario Ohio State had.
But just, A, it's important. Last year we were fighting for getting in the NCAA. We were a in a major bubble, probably didn't get in unless we beat Indiana in the Friday night in overtime and get into the tournament. This year we're just fighting for our basketball lives see if we can do something like Iowa did winning four games and getting in the tournament. I think we're good enough. We show we can compete with everybody.
We've played one of the most top 50 teams in the country -- I don't know, this is our 13th or 14th top 50 team. Up to this point, we haven't won one. I told them if we are going to get anywhere, we have to win one.
We did tonight. I hope it's a boost in confidence that we can get over the hump and do it.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.

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