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March 11, 2010

Bill Carmody

John Shurna

Michael Thompson


Northwestern – 73
Indiana - 58

THE MODERATOR: We'll start with an opening comment from coach. Coach, your thoughts, please?
COACH CARMODY: Well, you know, it's a little different when you play a team four or five days before this. There are really no secrets. We didn't really change too much. I don't think they did. It was a really good game, hard game. We couldn't make a shot. We had a shoot-around today, and I'll bet you we made about five percent of our shots. I thought we got all our misses out of our system, but we didn't. So we -- I don't know, I'm looking here, it says 7-for-31, but I think we made our last at least two or three.
So yeah, we hung in there, hung in there, and our defense tightened up in the second half, it seemed to me. We got our hands on some balls, and it seemed like the only thing they got were foul shots. We were a little -- I don't know if I should say undisciplined, but they got to the foul line and were making some stuff there.
But I told our team just now that -- Capocci and Curletti, you know, they came in, and usually they've been sort of stop-gap guys this year, and I couldn't take them out. And Marcotullio, also. I thought those guys did well. I was going to put Nash right back in, but that combination was playing real well, both ends, and then Thompson got hot and made some shots there and everyone knew it, and his teammates got on the ball, and he knocked them down.
It's a good win for us, and it's nice to be playing on Friday.

Q. For either Michael or John, you guys are one of the couple teams that beat Purdue during the regular season. What do you have to feel you have to do to beat them?
MICHAEL THOMPSON: We know that Purdue is a good team. We were successful in beating them this year. I think in order to be successful against them tomorrow, we have to come out ready to play and handle their defense and have defensive pressure.
JOHN SHURNA: I think Purdue is a strong team, and I think in order to be successful, we'll have to come out strong defensively right off the bat.

Q. You were 1-17 as a freshman in conference, 20 wins adds on the school record for wins. Tell us how it feels, the journey you've made in three years here?
MICHAEL THOMPSON: It feels great to have won 20 games in a season, especially going 1-17 in conference my first year. We have a great team and we've been working hard and playing well today. But we're excited for what we've done so far, but we're still working hard and trying to add more wins to it.

Q. Juice, I've never seen you that emotional. Talk about when you were making those threes at the end. You had your hand raised on the follow-through and you celebrated with Nash a little bit. Just what you were feeling there.
MICHAEL THOMPSON: It was exciting. I made a couple shots, and I was just energetic and into the game. You know, it was just pretty emotional after I got that technical foul. I just wanted to go out there and play harder and compete more.
JOHN SHURNA: Yeah, I think Juice is a great player. He's our best player, and he's what makes our offense flow. And I think when he gets in rhythm like that, it really opens things up for us, when we keep finding the hot hand.

Q. You alluded to the employ of Capocci, Curletti and Marcotullio. Could you expand upon it?
JOHN SHURNA: Yeah, I think all three of them stepped up big for us. Alex hit a couple big threes for us, and then Mike and Davide were getting big rebounds for us, and Davide also hit some threes down the stretch which was huge.
MICHAEL THOMPSON: Our contribution off the bench tonight was tremendous, and it was huge for us. Everyone who came off the bench, they played well, and it was just a great team effort tonight, and I'm glad that we came out with a victory.

Q. Michael, one of the interesting things about tournament basketball is you don't get a whole lot of time to bask in a victory. You couldn't play a much different type of team tomorrow night because of the man to man versus the zone. As a lead guard, could you talk a little bit about how difficult that transition is to go from playing a team that plays 99 percent zone to playing the way Purdue plays, man to man?
MICHAEL THOMPSON: It's a difficult transition going from a team that plays zone to man to man. But we're looking at it as like it's like a AAU tournament where you play several games in a little bit of -- couple of different days. Different teams play different types of defenses. All year we've been preparing for different types of zones and man to man defenses, so I think the team will be ready for that, and we just have to adjust on the fly.

Q. You guys caused, I think, 12 turnovers in the second half. That obviously turned it. What clicked for you guys on defense?
MICHAEL THOMPSON: Our defensive intensity. We just picked it up, and we had a lot more pressure. John and Jeremy, they did a tremendous job of getting their hands on a lot of balls and disrupting a lot of passes. That just led to a lot of easy buckets for us, and that gave us the momentum in the second half.
JOHN SHURNA: I think we were just able to stop their offensive flow. I think we kind of got them in a bit of a funk there, and I think that was big for our offense, too.

Q. Juice, when is the last time you had a stretch like that where you made that many threes in a short period of time?
MICHAEL THOMPSON: I think last Saturday against Indiana I made a couple threes in a row, so about five days ago. I don't know if it was that many like today, but I think that's the last time I made that many threes in a row.

Q. Just going back to the zone, what did you guys think about the job that Nash did in the middle and just disrupting the passes of people and making them throw lobs?
JOHN SHURNA: Yeah, Jeremy was great on defense. I think when we're forcing guys to be out of their comfort zone, it's huge for our defense, and I think them -- forcing them to throw it over his head was big.

Q. Juice, did you make any significant defensive changes after halftime in what you did or just did it better?
MICHAEL THOMPSON: I think we just did better. Coach Carmody got on us at halftime about applying pressure and getting our hands on passes, and I think we just stepped up and did a better job on the defensive end.
THE MODERATOR: We'll go to questions now for Coach Carmody.

Q. At the end of the day, 20 wins is just a number, but is there a psychological feeling of achievement to have reached that total for the first time?
COACH CARMODY: You know, well, it's especially important to our guys because we haven't -- I mean, in the short-term, we haven't been playing very well, and we got to a pretty good start before the conference, and then we had some nice wins, and then we were worn down a little bit.
So this was a real important game for us because even in the first half we didn't -- we started out, it's like eight-zip or something, our defense looked -- they were doing what they wanted to do, and they were prepared.
I don't know, the 20 wins always sounds nice and it is real important, and I told our guys, look, most of -- we have one senior, Jeremy Nash, and so a lot of these guys, 17 wins -- Jeremy has 17 wins and 20 wins. He knows the history, but he's thinking it's a new era and Crawford and Mirkovic and Curletti, 37 wins in two years, and that's good. That's good, considering that we haven't had great success historically. And we're just going to continue to build on that.

Q. You talked about how tough these rims are and you guys started out something like 2-of-24 from three. Were you thinking this is just not our day?
COACH CARMODY: I was just thinking about Reggie Miller, I was thinking, how does he make all those shots? It's unbelievable.
No, in all the years we've played here, that's why I always voted for Chicago, keeping the Big Ten Tournament there, because I just hate the rims. Nothing about the city, it's closer, collegiate, all that stuff, I just hate the rims. But we were able to get some stuff inside, and then finally Alex hit a few and Mike hit some, and that was it.

Q. If you would answer the same question I asked Juice: When you play a zone team like Indiana tonight and then you're going to come back and see that just grueling man to man tomorrow night, as a coach that's part of the fun of the challenge, but is that a difficult 24-hour transition?
COACH CARMODY: Well, I don't know about fun and challenges, but, you know, we've played a lot of man to man. Not too many teams have played a zone this year, to tell you the truth, maybe three, four, five, for extended periods, because we've usually done fairly well against them, so we're used to playing against man to man.
Purdue is a very good team, and instead of getting picked up at 21 feet, they pick you up at 90 feet, so how do we handle that. I've always thought that our offense, if the pressure isn't oppressive where you can't even breathe, then we do decently against teams like that.
It's certainly different and a challenge, not fun, but we're playing tomorrow, so that's great.

Q. Can you talk about the overall contribution of you guys on both rebounding and offensively from the bench? You haven't gotten that much probably that I can remember. But without one guy, there was like three or four you got a lot of contribution, a lot of minutes from guys who don't usually -- haven't been doing as much lately?
COACH CARMODY: Yeah, they were just instrumental in the win, no doubt about that. Capocci and Marcotullio and Davide, and John was right; he made those foul shots, and he had to get lucky because the first one he made hit and it was like one of those Don Nelson jobs, went way up and then fell through. But then he made all the rest of them.
So that was really important, too, and we've been struggling all year. People have said, well, you guys are playing too many minutes, your guys are wearing down and all that. I sort of pooh-poohed that, if you will, but they might be right. So it was great to get these guys to contribute.

Q. Did losing to them last weekend have any kind of advantage for you as a coaching staff in preparation for today's game?
COACH CARMODY: I don't think so. You know, just that -- find out where that guy Hulls is, right, because he just destroyed us. And they found him, just like Thompson. Mike made three or four threes, but Jordan Hulls made every shot he took just about the same last week, and he made a win, and then the other guys picked up because of his play. I thought our guys today picked up because of the bench and our defense the last ten minutes seemed to me to be very good. But I don't know if it helped that we lost, except some guys were a little ticked off.

Q. When it got delivered that one-two punch at the very beginning of the season with Coble and Ryan, could you really sit back and envision this much success for the team this year?
COACH CARMODY: Probably not, but we didn't have time as a staff or as a team to do any envisioning because Coble was three days before the first game and Ryan was the first half of the first game, so there was no, oh, what are we going to do, who's the sixth man, now he's starting.
But they've really come through, and I think it's just a tribute to some of these guys that stepped up and played so well. And people talk about John Shurna, he's really improved. But Thompson, Thompson has really had a great year for us, a super year for us, and doing some real good things. And Nash, it goes all the way down. They just thought that they were a good team, and they're doing okay.

Q. What was so much better about the zone in the second half?
COACH CARMODY: Yeah, you know, like Mike said, fellows, these guys are making passes uncontested. You have to bother guys. That's the purpose of this. You're in passing lanes, one-three-ones extended out, and if you're just going to be statues it's not going to be effective. No defense is. You're playing man to man you've got to move your feet. The same thing here; see if you can anticipate a little bit what's the next thing they're going to do, just normal stuff, just do it better.
THE MODERATOR: Coach, thank you very much.

End of FastScripts

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