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March 20, 2009
Kansas Â– 84
North Dakota State - 74
MODERATOR: Joined on the dais by North Dakota State student-athletes from my far left, Michael Tveidt, Brett Winkelman and Ben Woodside, and Head Coach Saul Phillips. Again, we will begin with an opening comment by Coach Phillips and questions for the student-athletes.
COACH PHILLIPS: First of all, I think one thing that bears noting in my opinion, we not only lost to a good team in Kansas, but we lost to a good team that played well. As you look at the stat sheet, five turnovers. I don't care if you are in an empty gym taking care of the ball like that for an entire game is going to give you a chance to win it.
It's a real testament to Coach Self that he is able to take a group that is obviously a little more inexperienced and younger and do that. He did a tremendous coaching job with this team this year and it really showed up at a pretty big time. Because I thought we came at them pretty good, and it wasn't enough because they played pretty good.
I am disappointed that I won't get to coach these seniors again. I am not disappointed with any other single part of the night. Or day or morning or whatever it was out there.
I am so proud of what these guys accomplished on the court, in the classroom, in the community. But make no mistake about it, we have gotten used to not losing and this really hurts right now. But it hurts because we just wanted to keep playing together as a group. That's it.
MODERATOR: We'll take questions for the student-athletes.
Q. Guys, I know it has been right after a tough loss. Can you kind of put the journey into a little bit of perspective? The four years -- the five years I guess. Maybe Ben start off.
BEN WOODSIDE: It has been a great run for us. It's been a great journey for us seniors. We've enjoyed every minute of it.
You know, it hurts that we won't be able to play together. You know, we won't be able to play as teammates anymore and we have been together for a long time so it definitely hurts. But I definitely think the positives throughout our journey outweigh the negatives by a long shot.
So, like I said, we really don't like to lose, but overall it's been a fun time for us.
BRETT WINKELMAN: It will take a while to sink in that I will never play a college basketball game again, and even longer to sink in that I will never play with these guys again. Woody and I have been playing together for seven years now, and it will be pretty weird when, you know, we're done for good.
But, you know, we gave it everything we had. We honestly were flying on the floor. We were battling as hard as we possibly could, because, you know, we knew that this was, you know, the end of the road if we came up short.
So we gave it everything we had. Unfortunately Kansas had just a little bit better game than us.
Q. Ben, it almost felt like a mini duel with you and Collins out there. Can you describe what that was like. You would make a shot and he would come back and it kind of went back and forth between you two.
BEN WOODSIDE: You know, I don't think it was us competing against each other, but he is a great player. He knocked down some tough shots in the first half and he kept his team in it in the first half, I believe.
He is a great point guard. He can do it all. And, you know, it was fun competing with Kansas and guys that you see on ESPN all the time. We definitely enjoyed that.
But you have to give it to Collins, he's a great player. He's a great point guard.
Q. Ben, I know the loss must be disappointing and hurt, but can you talk about the fact you're on the biggest stage of your -- you're on the biggest stage you've ever played on and have one of the best games in your career.
BEN WOODSIDE: Do you want to repeat it? I couldn't find you right away.
Q. Can you talk about the game, playing on the biggest stage you ever played on and having one of the best games in your career.
BEN WOODSIDE: No doubt it is a big stage, it is the NCAA tournament. For a while there I felt in the flow, everything was going down for us. You know, we played hard. And it only took us so far. Obviously we are disappointed in the loss, but as far as individually, you know, it felt -- I felt in the flow of the game tonight or this afternoon, and we just fell short though, so.
Q. You guys got it down to a 3-point game halfway through the second half. Was there a sense in the huddle, hey, we've got them right where we want them here? A 3-point game with nine minutes to go?
BRETT WINKELMAN: Exactly. Any time you are playing from behind at halftime like we did, we are always waiting for that opportunity to have two or three stops in a row and go down and convert on the other end. We got it within a one-possession ball game a couple of times and we knew right there we either get a couple of stops here and convert, otherwise it will get back to a two-, three-position game.
We tried to take advantage of it and we did everything we could, but unfortunately we couldn't quite get over the hump.
Q. Michael, can you address the bigger role you played in the offense as the season wore on here and your confidence factor in that?
MICHAEL TVEIDT: Yeah, I started out the season, I kind of got used to my role from the year before, and it was kind of just to sit in the corner and sit on the outside and make some good cuts and knock down great shots.
When you are playing with four great seniors out there starting, they get double-teamed once in a while, and it is off to my guy that is coming in there. I got a lot of good looks, my teammates found me a lot of times and I think that's what my role turned into, knocking down open jumpers and working hard on the glass and things like that.
I owe a lot of my success this year on the good shots that I was getting to these guys over here.
Q. Ben and Brett, Aldrich had eight dunks. How difficult of a matchup when you throw it up over the top to him?
BRETT WINKELMAN: Yeah, I think you will see on SportsCenter a couple of highlights. We tried to front and they lobbed it over the top to him and unfortunately quite as long as he was and he went up and got them. I had to do a couple of things, rotate over faster and things like that.
But he is a good player and long and tough for us to handle. Especially when our big man got in trouble and fouled out and it was tough to hold him.
BEN WOODSIDE: You have to give Cole credit, he played well. A lot of his looks with dunks, you're correct. And it's tough, because you're worried about him inside, but also you are worried about the shooters in the corner, you know. He's long, he's athletic and he gets the job done inside. So you have to give him credit for this afternoon.
Q. Guys, talking about shooting the 3-ball, you have to shoot the three ball well to come in but you really shot it well. But feel like you would get some of those open looks? Or were a lot of those looks contested in your eyes with the longer team? Can you talk about that a little bit, firing from beyond the arc.
BRETT WINKELMAN: To start the game we had great ball movement and we did get open looks and we knocked them down. I think we started the game -- our first three buckets were 3-pointers.
We always had great ball movement and when we're cutting hard we get open looks. And it felt good. You know we're in the dome, it just kind of felt like at home. Everybody felt good on the jump shots so we just knocked them down when we passed the ball around.
Q. Mike, your thoughts on Ben's performance this afternoon? You have seen him play a lot of games the last couple of years, where it ranks with all of his big games?
MICHAEL TVEIDT: Woody played a really good game today. It makes our job really easy when he's cutting through there like that, gets the double-teams and kicked it out. And knocks down the open jumpers. And every once in a while he would fly by them.
I remember a couple of times that he was even uncontested even at that rim down there, Luke Moormann was setting good screens, Cole was being long in there but getting the ball high off the glass and they were going in and getting fouls, hitting them from the free-throw line. That is really great and makes it easy on the rest of us.
Q. For any of you guys. Coach Self commented that it was more their offense that probably won them the game tonight. Can you comment on that and how difficult it was. I know you touched on it a little bit already as far as defending them.
BEN WOODSIDE: They, well like Coach was saying, I think they only had five turnovers. And, you know, they played a good game today. And it's obviously we needed -- I think what we needed is for them to make a couple of more mistakes. You know, they only had five turnovers and we just needed them to make a couple more mistakes and they played a solid game from start to finish.
BRETT WINKELMAN: Our goal has been to hold the team to one point per possession. That is our benchmark. And they were over that early. They were shooting well, too. But they were getting good looks. And we were trying to contest as much as we could. Collins got a couple of tough shots early, just got rolling. And obviously he started feeling it after a while. It is tough, but they are a good team.
Q. Brett, did Minnesota ever recruit you?
BRETT WINKELMAN: A little bit.
Q. Obviously you got down a couple of stretches by 11, once in the first half and 10 in the second half. And every time it looked like they might pull away you kept finding a way to get right back in it, get it down. Especially for you and Winks and Woody, you guys played for 40 minutes. Where did you find the energy to keep coming at them? At times they were getting close to making a run and pull away.
BEN WOODSIDE: We are in the NCAA tournament.
No, there's no fatigue factor at all. Playing in the NCAA tournament, you don't get tired no matter what. The adrenaline is high. We had thousands of fans out there rooting for us. So fatigue wasn't a factor. We knew we had to keep being aggressive, keep attacking and we tried the best we could all game long.
BRETT WINKELMAN: Whenever there is a stretch where there is five, six minutes before a TV timeout, I look up at the crowd and say everybody is behind us here, and it would give us a little extra lift.
Like I said before, this is, you know, win or go home, so we definitely knew that we would give it everything we possibly had, and I think we did that.
Q. I want to ask that question. Talk about Minnesota recruiting and how much better is your team since you played Minnesota?
BRETT WINKELMAN: Yeah, you know, we went to North Dakota State University, we made that choice and we played Minnesota for four years. We kind of wanted to go back there and kind of, you know, prove that we're here to play ball, too. But unfortunately we played four games at Williams Arena and couldn't pull it off. They are a good team and they have always been really well coached.
Q. Guys, can you just talk about your first reaction when you walk out to the Metrodome and you see 15-, 20,000 fans behind you? What was your first reaction when you walked out onto the court?
BEN WOODSIDE: Yeah, that's something that I will never forget in my entire life. I remember walking out there and we were doing layup lines and I couldn't even hear my teammates who were stranding right next to me it was so loud.
You have to give the community, the Fargo fans credit. They came down and they supported us well. You know, it's very fulfilling when you look up in the stands and all you see is green and yellow. And definitely helped us, but it is something myself and the rest of this team I think will never forget.
MODERATOR: Guys, we will excuse the student-athletes.
Q. Coach, given their five turnovers, how many dunks Aldrich was given, foul trouble with Moormann, Collins, did you ever think maybe I should try zone or another defensive attempt?
COACH PHILLIPS: No.
COACH PHILLIPS: It's not what we do. You know, I think if you go back and look at the tape, I think you will find Sherron in particular hit some very difficult shots.
You know what? I've watched them play zone and I read all kinds of stuff on them. People were talking Baylor played zone, so-and-so played zone. But I also saw a situation where that seemed to empower their interior players a little bit, too. Some of their lobs off that.
It's not something we do. We had a week to prepare. I am proud of the way we prepared. I thought we did a good job with it. We needed them to turn the ball over a little more and/or just not shoot it quite as well with difficult shots. It didn't happen. We did everything we can do. Yep.
Q. Saul, you got it down to three I think three or four times in the second half, but there was about a two-minute stretch where neither team could score. Is that perhaps the lost opportunity that you will be thinking about for a while?
COACH PHILLIPS: There are all kinds of moments in the course of a game. Just before half we missed the front end of a 1-1 and they come back down and not get a jumper and that's a four-point swing right there. You can look the whole way through.
I will have a hard time looking at this any other way than they played well enough to win this game. That wasn't too dissimilar from how well we played when we have beaten high majors. And I thought to do it in this environment is admirable. Unfortunately, all's it is is a big loss right now and it doesn't feel very good.
Q. Saul, you have seen a lot of great games from Ben. Where does this one rank on this stage going against one of the premier point guards in the country?
COACH PHILLIPS: Given the stage, it's hard, how are you going to vote over the 60-point game. And, again, if anybody says they were there, they are lying, there were 50 people in the gym. I can vouch for that. The VHS copy looks like the Blair Witch Project guy filmed it. So if you watch it you are excited for Ben, but you get an upset stomach by the end of it. You have to be real careful.
It was special. It is funny I was on Wisconsin staff when Devin Harris came in and had a phenomenal game against Kentucky and it kind of springboarded him into national prominence. Unfortunately those who want to watch Woodside on the college level they missed their opportunity at this point now. But I can't help but think he has done wonders for himself in terms of presenting himself for the next level.
Q. Coach, did you have any concerns going into the game, playing the defending national champions and this is your first NCAA appearance, and how the game would be called? And was the game called in a way where it allowed your team to play at its best against the best?
COACH PHILLIPS: Yeah, I mean, those are the best of the best out there. I'll tip my hat to them. Obviously during the course of any game there are calls you like, calls you don't like. And we've had J.D. Collins before and I know he's an excellent ref. I haven't seen the other two before.
But I don't think it made a factor one way or another in the game in the long run. But yeah, you're always -- I'll tell you what, I have a real unique perspective for refereeing. I try to do it in practice and blow about 75 calls a day. I am the world's worst ref and probably a worse referee critic.
Q. Coach, with Moormann in foul trouble early, how did it affect your guy's game plan at all, especially on the defensive end? Did it have a big effect for you guys?
COACH PHILLIPS: There is no question it did. You know, we tried a couple of different things, too.
The thing that's difficult about the way that Aldrich scored in particular around the rim was it came a lot off penetrate and kicks, lobs, that type of stuff. I thought we did a decent job of limiting his post touches. Unfortunately we didn't do a very good job of being able to stop him off penetration, off the action of others. And that's difficult to double. That's difficult to do much about.
Unfortunately Cole just walked through the back here as we were about to come on. I think he went into the fetal position thinking that he was going to dunk on us again. What do you do. Life's not always fair.
Q. Coach, you said yesterday you mentioned just a sense of accomplishment to reach this point, to get to the NCAA's. I am curious how you feel now. I have a sense of how you feel, but talk to me a little bit about now do you have any perspective on the season in general?
COACH PHILLIPS: Well, I have a real good perspective on the season and it's not nothing to do with how I feel right now. It's tough. It's tough because you're not going to get to coach these guys again.
What they've done, beyond remarkable. Again, let's not forget the fact that these seniors are all over 3-point in the classroom. If any good superintendents are out there, I think Luke Moormann wants to teach in this area and that's the guy you need to hire right there.
This won't be the last great thing this group of young men do. Unfortunately it is the last thing they will do in a Bison uniform, but they will represent us well forever and ever. I have a real clear perspective on that. It doesn't make the loss better; it makes it tougher.
Q. You knew Collins was good. Did you know he was this good?
COACH PHILLIPS: Yeah. I've lost some sleep over old Sherron. He's good. He's really good. You know, it's too bad, I really wanted -- I was tempted six times to switch Woodside over to Collins and let it go toe-to-toe. The reason I didn't is not Woodside's ability to defend him or not defend him, just felt I was asking so much of him on the offensive end I felt he only had so much in the tank.
Looking back I wish I would have done that for a couple of possessions. It would have been really fun.
Q. You mentioned about how this wasn't too dissimilar to the two upsets that you had. How was it different from, say, Marquette and Wisconsin?
COACH PHILLIPS: Oh, the Wisconsin game is easy. They missed a lot of shots. They shot an abysmal percentage and that was our chance. We took that opportunity and we ran with it.
I thought the Marquette game, too, I think they missed a few more shots. Again, listen, you're going to have -- when you have a mid-major playing a high major, there's going to be six to ten plays during the course of the game that you are not going to do a darn thing about. I call them life's not fair plays. And Taj Gibson had about eight of them out in USC against us. And that's going to happen. How you take care of the rest of your possessions is going to determine how you do.
And, again, we were close. I just -- to go through a stretch run like that where we're not going away, we're pounding at the door, we're pounding at the door, and to have a group of underclassmen stay that composed I just kept telling them you hang around here, something is good is going to happen here. And we were close. We were close.
Q. Saul, describe Tveidt's growth late in the year here.
COACH PHILLIPS: Well Mike Tveidt is absolutely -- he's a very special player. He's got a unique blend of athleticism and skill.
We're not sitting up here if Mike Tveidt doesn't have the season that he's had. His emergence has been the difference between this year and last year. And looking forward to continuing to coach him, because I think his upside is so big it's scary. I think he's going to do some great things for this institution. And hopefully you can have us back in another press room like this.
Q. Coach, this has been a tremendous week for your program and your basketball team. A ton of media exposure. You guys represented yourselves very well out there. How do you use that as a coach as a springboard into next year into recruiting and just your basketball operations in general?
COACH PHILLIPS: I do hope it helps from the recruiting standpoint.
You know, I think we've got a good nucleus of people within this program. But confidence always helped that snowball get a little bit bigger as it rolls down the hill. Hopefully by the time we take the court next year it is an avalanche.
Q. I have to ask the crowd question, what did you think about the crowd out there from the North Dakota State University contingent?
COACH PHILLIPS: Unbelievable. Unbelievable. That's the other thing about Kansas, how about them playing like that in a hostile environment. There is no way that environment wouldn't be deemed hostile. That was special. Very special to be a part of. To see a group of people rally behind a group of young men like that. And everything but the loss is storybook.
But it was very, very much appreciated. I know these fans appreciate us a lot. I don't know if what they -- I don't know if they comprehend how much they mean to us. It's been a lot of fun.
MODERATOR: Coach, we appreciate it very much. And congratulations on a great season.
End of FastScripts