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March 18, 2009

Robbie Hummel

JaJuan Johnson

E'Twaun Moore

Matt Painter


Q. Can you guys talk about, Rob, you talked on Monday a little bit about having a team meeting, for lack of a better term, after the Northwestern game, and watching the tape. Have there been moments during the season where you guys felt that it was necessary and was there anything that happened before you came here to talk about what you wanted to do here?
ROBBIE HUMMEL: I think that you're going to have times where there's always moments necessary to have a team meeting. Things aren't always going to go your way during the season. It's a very up and down thing. But coming out here there wasn't a whole lot to talk about.
E'TWAUN MOORE: Definitely. We just really got to keep our cohesiveness and just stay together as a team, especially we lost a few games the end of the year, so we had to make sure everyone was staying on focus and staying on task, and that's definitely what the meetings were for.

Q. There's a lot of talk in this tournament about the 5-12 match-ups. Traditionally the 5 seeds and 12 seeds have been an interesting mix. When Northern Iowa were in here they talked about how you guys were going to be awfully tough to beat. You follow college basketball closely. 5-12 something that's a worrisome match-up?
ROBBIE HUMMEL: Yeah, I think so. Anywhere in that range of 3, 4, 5, I think are in danger of being upset by the 12, 13 and 14 seeds, because it's college basketball and it can happen so -- I guess we're in that range of teams where upsets do happen. But I think we're focused and we're going to do everything in our power to not let that happen.

Q. Just whoever wants to take this, obviously you guys last played on Sunday. Northern Iowa last played a week and a half ago. Do you still feel pretty well rested? Is it good you're striking while the iron is hot or would you rather have had more rest?
JAJUAN JOHNSON: I feel like we're fine right now. It hasn't -- the coaches haven't been too hard on us in practice. They've been kind of mindful of our short turnaround and I think we'll be fine.

Q. Could you talk about the momentum you get from the way you guys played in the Big Ten tournament and how you're feeling now and how that all feeds into this? What do you think of your seed?
ROBBIE HUMMEL: I think winning the Big Ten tournament was a great momentum-turner for us, because we were definitely struggling coming into that weekend. But I think we played really well in the Big Ten tournament and I really felt like we were playing well as a team and doing everything we needed to do to win.
In terms of the 5 seed I think we're all happy with that. I think we're just happy to be in the tournament. We like where we're at and hopefully we can continue to play well.

Q. Maybe all three of you guys talk about this, you've been struggling a little bit at the end of the season and offensively you kicked it in gear, you only had 17 turnovers all three games. After some of the last two losses was there a eureka moment in practice where everything clicked or what turned it around?
E'TWAUN MOORE: I think everyone just came ready. We were more focused and more concentrated on the task that we had. And we were playing a little sloppy sometimes, playing a little out of control. So we need to focus, tighten it down, play basic fundamental basketball and just do the basic things necessary to win. Everyone just came ready to play.
ROBBIE HUMMEL: I agree a hundred percent with E'Twaun. I think those meetings did help us and like he said, we definitely were very focused on the task at hand.
JAJUAN JOHNSON: From those two losses that we had towards the end of the year, I think we got out rebounded those two games, and I think we kind of just bought into what our coach was saying about rebounding and defending. And during the tournament we really concentrated on that and we executed, that's why we were able to win.
COACH PAINTER: First of all, we're honored to be here in Portland. Honored to be in the NCAA tournament. I think sometimes when your guys go to tournaments for two years in a row, now this is our third year in a row, you don't want to take anything for granted, you understand it's a big deal to play in the NCAA tournament.
We're excited about the opportunity. We think we're playing good basketball after coming off of winning the Big Ten tournament. It was huge for us, we ended the season losing three of four. Hopefully this can build momentum for us as we're starting to get healthy. And hopefully play good basketball here in Portland.

Q. In the past ten Big Ten tournaments, 15 12-seeds have won opening-round games against the fives. Is that something you even bring up with your guys or do you just -- not try to crowd them too much with minutia?
COACH PAINTER: No, we don't bring up the 5-12 seed. Also the fact that we don't bring up there's never been a three seed to win the Big Ten tournament until we just won it. The thing I would say about the five's versus the 12's in the history, they're a lot closer than they look.
Obviously the separation is 7. And with that, those 1, 2, 3, 4's, and you start to push, I think 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9's are so close, and 12's, you get in there and you get the wrong 12, it comes down to match-ups. I say the wrong 12, but it's just a match-up, what style of play fits.
But with that I think it just shows the parity through the years, that there's not a whole lot of difference between the 5 and 12. I felt that way in the Big Ten tournament. I felt the number two seed Illinois was not a whole lot different than the number nine seed Northwestern. We struggled with both of them throughout the year, had a difficult time. We preferred not to play any of them. But there was not a lot of difference between our two.

Q. I was wondering from your standpoint, the Big Ten tournament put you in the pressure situation, how much has that helped prepare you for the NCAA tournament?
COACH PAINTER: I think our experience in the last two years in the NCAA tournament will help us, obviously, in this year's tournament. The only thing that I think really helps you, but when you have that conference tournament on that neutral court, I think that is something that can help springboard your team into the NCAA tournament, if you can play well. Or you can use it as a wake-up call before the NCAA tournament if you don't play well.
We used our struggles at the end of our regular season as a wake-up call to help us win the Big Ten tournament. Now we're hoping to use that as momentum to play well here in the NCAA tournament.

Q. You talked about match-ups, what kind of match-up is Northern Iowa for you, and what are your concerns?
COACH PAINTER: I obviously have a lot of concerns, because I think Northern Iowa is a very good team. They are not a traditional mid-major team, I think a lot of the mid-major teams across the country, have a couple of combo forwards, 6'6", 6'7", because you can't get that huge post at that level.
I think that's one thing everybody searches for, but it's difficult to have that guy in the pivot that is productive like they have with Jordan. He's a good player, he causes match-up problems. Then they have Koch, who is similar to Hummel, who can play in the post, play on the perimeter. Then they have a lot of skills. Their 2's and 3's can shoot the basketball.
And I think their point guard is a guy that can play anywhere. He's very strong, very quick, makes good decisions, can create for a lot of different people. So I think they have the pieces to be very successful in this tournament.
And then I think on top of all that they can play a couple of different ways. Normally you get pigeonholed into playing a certain way, if it doesn't go your way, you're going to struggle. They can play in the half court and they can play in transition. They push the basketball, they try to score in transition, and in the half court they very efficient, also?

Q. Question about Lewis. When you play a freshman a lot of minutes, everything is kind of new to them, first time through. Are you to the point with Lewis where you're no longer worried about how he'll react to his first NCAA tournament?
COACH PAINTER: I think anytime you play a lot of minutes as a freshman you get to the end of the year, you're more a sophomore than anything. You've advanced that. Lewis has done a good job. He's a smart player, he understands things. I think at different times he's had to adjust to different styles.
We played Northwestern with their 1-3-1, you play somebody that presses, just a lot of different things you have to adjust to, but it's nothing that's unfamiliar to him. He's been a point guard, and run the team. He's made good decisions. We're fortunate to have him to be able to get someone with that grit and toughness that can help us on both ends of the court.

Q. You just saw Illinois at the Big Ten tournament. Talk about what they need to do to get it going right again, and sort of the approach that you expect Bruce will take from your background with him.
COACH PAINTER: Well, I think that they had something happen to them in the Big Ten tournament where they lost their heart and soul. They lost their emotional leader. They lost their defender. And it's difficult when you have that void because their next guy is not Chester Frazier. Is he a good player? Yes, he's a good player, but he's still not that lockdown guy.
Now the thing I've been impressed with with Illinois is, I think, Meacham has done a good job of making big shots and as a defender. Mike Davis and Tisdale have to be active and they have to be productive. Especially with Chester out. And both of those guys are capable of scoring 20 points and getting 10 rebounds, and I think they can cause some match-up problems because of their skill level and Mike Davis's athleticism.
And Demetri McCamey has got to be ready to roll. When Demetri is on top of his game and playing well, Illinois is going to be a tough out. But if he's not making shots and not being aggressive and he's not locked in, that's when I think you see some struggles with him.

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