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March 12, 2009

Bill Carmody

Kevin Coble

Michael Thompson


Minnesota – 66
Northwestern - 53

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Coach Carmody, Michael Thompson, and Kevin Coble from Northwestern. If you could make a couple of opening comments and then we'll take questions from the Northwestern players and then we'll finish up with Coach Carmody.
COACH CARMODY: We gave ourselves a chance to win after a tough start and took the lead. I just thought they defended well at the end.
We had opportunities, I think we were up 2, missed a couple foul shots. If I'm right about that, it could have been 4. And then they scored on a few possessions and we had some drives. We were trying to go to the basket to get to the foul line, and Sampson, it seemed like he blocked like three in a row on us, big plays just sort of took over.
So you credit their defense, and whatever that time frame was, you know when it was, I think we were up 49-47. They missed or they turned it over, came down. Missed our foul shots and then after that it seemed like everything went their way, and we couldn't score.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the players.

Q. Kevin, what did you see from them defensively, specifically in those last few minutes? Did they change anything up on you?
KEVIN COBLE: No, it just seemed like they were doing some of the same stuff and we were handling it better earlier in that half. Then a couple times we drove down there and we got all the way to the basket and we just couldn't finish. We were getting good looks, but like Coach said, Sampson was down there and altering shots, blocked the shots that he wasn't altering.
So it was frustrating for us. We felt we were getting to the basket and we were doing the right things, and it just didn't work out for us.

Q. Kevin, did this game feel like some of those other games where you guys were right there and it was there for the taking and couldn't quite get it?
KEVIN COBLE: Yeah, this one was especially reminiscent of Ohio State just a couple of days ago. Came out with a big jump and then took us out of our offense and defense and really out of our entire game.
We settled down, though, and did a good job of coming back. And this game felt even more out of control than the Ohio State one did. And we were still able to do a good job of fighting in there and hanging in.
In the first half, things were frantic but we were only down 6 at half time and came back to take the lead, just seemed like we needed to eliminate that beginning of the game, because I think if you cut those five, 10 minutes of clock time that we were struggling, we win that game by 10 points since we made that big run. I think it was like 18-4, 19-4 run, that can be the difference in a game?

Q. Kevin, did Minnesota do anything specifically to slow you down in the second half a little bit?
KEVIN COBLE: I think we just settled down into our stuff. And first half with me it just felt like things weren't going, and they were guarding everybody really hard. And I just felt I could get to the basket on my guy or find opportunities to score and they got me the ball and it was really good effort for us to hang around like that.
Then in the second half, I think we calmed down a little bit and found our rhythm, and it seemed like it was more of that than anything they did. We started playing a lot better together.

Q. Michael, can you talk about your second half, you picked up that fourth foul but it seemed like despite that you started picking up the game a little bit?
MICHAEL THOMPSON: I remember going back into that game right before I subbed and Coach Carmody told me he'd take me out if I didn't play aggressive, if I was playing soft. So I found a couple of openings offensively, so I took those and I was just trying to be out there and not pick up my fifth foul so hopefully we could get back into the game. We took the lead. We just couldn't finish out today.

Q. Either of the players, what would an NIT berth mean to this team concerning the progress you made this year?
KEVIN COBLE: I think it would be good for us in terms that we haven't been traditional post-season team, and we certainly feel like we're capable of that. You can see glimpses of that whether it's the NCAA tournament, NIT, and I think we just have done a good job this year of everybody buying into what the coaches are telling us.
And we're seeing the results on the court and it's not so much of a behind-the-scenes success. We see it in practice, this and that, but we've never carried it over to the court, and this year we certainly did that.
We feel we're in a good position. We've let some games get away from us that could have us in a really good spot and it's just a matter of making sure that the season doesn't end any time soon. So just gotta keep doing what we've been doing.

Q. Michael, do you feel confident about the NIT thing, or are you nervous about it? What's the feeling?
MICHAEL THOMPSON: I feel as though we're a team that deserves to be in there, but obviously it's not our decision. We did our part winning the games that we won. We let a couple games slip away. But we're waiting until Sunday to find out. We feel as though we have a good chance to make, though.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you. We'll finish up with Coach Carmody.

Q. Can you talk a little bit more about Juice, him getting in foul trouble? It seemed like you tried to sort of sub in and out offensive/defense as much as possible, but talk about his performance despite all the fouls.
COACH CARMODY: Yeah, I thought he played better once he went back in there, after I put him out, because he was -- his fouls, I mean, I'm going to go through this, but most of his fouls were just like little cheap things, a hand on there, no real hard fouls. And he was going through that through the year and he sort of eliminated that in the last few weeks, but that hurt us tonight.
Although, I will say when he was out we came back a little bit. I mean, the guys that went in there did a pretty nice job. But he's got to be on the court. I don't know, how many minutes did he play? Probably didn't play 10 minutes or something like that, and that guy's got to be out there for us game in/game out all the time.

Q. How about his shot that gave you the 49-47 lead, kind of off-balance runner in the lane, I guess, what did you see on that?
COACH CARMODY: What was that off of? Yeah, he went back to the guy who was over playing him at the top, I think Kevin or Jeremy. I can't remember, bouncing pass to him.
It's actually part of our offense there, you know, exactly what you do, but not that circus shot. But he stayed with it and it was nice. Like I said, he came in and hit his shot off the out of bounds play, he came in and banged one off our bench. He's got to be more aggressive offensively, especially when Craig is struggling, he's got to be another guy out there.
He can't be getting six, seven shots in games. He's got to be getting 11, 12 all the time, because he's a very good shooter.

Q. Would the NIT be a good reward for this team? Do you look forward to that and do you have a sense of -- it seems like you guys have been real close there, at least once before, and didn't get it. Do you have a sense whether it's going to happen this time?
COACH CARMODY: I think we had some real good wins, and both guys mentioned that we let some games slip away. But we had some really good wins and not that many bad losses. I don't think any bad losses. People have cited Iowa at Iowa and Stanford at Stanford. But Iowa was beating a lot of good teams at their place.
So I don't think we really have any bad losses against bad teams. And we have some real nice wins against some good teams. So I feel pretty good.

Q. Can you just talk about the opening minutes of the game? You guys came out a little slowly. Did they throw anything at you that you didn't expect, or what do you think the problem was?
COACH CARMODY: You know, we expected them to press and we spent a few days on that. And we really didn't turn the ball over in the full court. We had some carelessness. And it wasn't really the young guys. It was Mike and Craig and then Jeff Ryan went in there and threw a couple.
We averaged 11 turnovers a game and we had 11 in the first half. But they were the bad turnovers. It wasn't like a walk and they take the ball out of bounds and you set up your defense. Iverson stole one up at the top, maybe two at the top, they converted off of them. And those are real -- they just wipe you out. It's different kinds of violations and turnovers and these hurt us badly.

Q. What was the defensive approach today? It seemed like you went back and forth from the 2-3 to 1-3-1. What did you --
COACH CARMODY: We've been doing that pretty much most of the year and try to keep teams off balance a little bit. And I thought Nash actually played real well tonight at the top. But for a few games I've been on him a little bit that he's sort of just out there and I think he went back to being a pain in the neck up there and harassing guys and getting a couple steals and causing some problems up there, because he hadn't been doing that for a few weeks.
So we worked pretty hard on it the last couple days. But the different defenses, it was just sort of pretty much what we've been doing.

Q. Why do you think Moore couldn't get going tonight?
COACH CARMODY: I don't know. I'm not sure, to tell you the truth. It's always that thing with the shooter. Do you let the game come to you or are you aggressive? And I don't know. You know, they play him hard but he's been played hard all year. I thought he got some pretty decent looks, you know, ones that he makes often.
And I really don't know, to tell you the truth. But if we do get an invitation, you know, he'll be in the gym tomorrow shooting and I'm sure he'll break out of it.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.

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