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March 11, 2010

Colton Iverson

Devoe Joseph

Tubby Smith


Minnesota – 76
Penn State - 55

THE MODERATOR: We'll ask Coach Smith to make an opening comment.
COACH SMITH: Well, it's always good to get a win in a tournament, but especially the first one is always a tough one. But I thought our guys were focused and we came ready to play. We really didn't get -- we really didn't play against a healthy Penn State team with Talor Battle laboring, so we were very fortunate along those lines. But we were happy to get the win.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the athletes?

Q. Your team wore respect t-shirts during warm-ups. How much does that theme come from what happened with Damian Johnson?
COACH SMITH: We talked about it. We've been talking about that all year. We've been talking about respecting the game, respecting yourself, respect for that name on the front of the jersey. So that's what that's about.
DEVOE JOSEPH: Just like coach said, it's just something we thought of the whole year, something that's been said. We've got to respect our opponent, everyone has to respect each other, and it's the word that means a lot. We just put it on a t-shirt because it means a lot.

Q. Can you just talk about the start of this game and how -- I mean, a lot of times games get away from you early in the first half. You know if you come out with effort or not, and you can kind of tell you guys came out there with a lot more energy than you had maybe in that Michigan game the last time you were away from home.
COLTON IVERSON: I think we just came really prepared for this game. The starters got off to a real good start. They came with a lot of intensity, and they started, I think it was 7-0. Devoe was hitting some good shots that got us going some, and we just kept going from there.
DEVOE JOSEPH: I agree with Colton. We came with energy. It's the Big Ten Tournament, and we set a goal at the beginning of the year to win the Big Ten Tournament, and we started by playing good basketball today.

Q. Devoe, can you talk about what this win perhaps did for your NCAA Tournament hopes and how much can you guys enhance that with a win tomorrow against Michigan State?
DEVOE JOSEPH: I honestly don't know what it did for our NCAA hopes. That's up to the committee. But I just know that a win tomorrow is going to get us to the next round. Right now we're just focused on winning the Big Ten Tournament. If you win the Big Ten Tournament, you obviously go to the NCAA Tournament.

Q. What was the conversation at halftime? Obviously you all have given up big leads in the past. What did you do to make sure you preserved that lead going into the second half.
COLTON IVERSON: I think that we came in in the second half and we just came with intensity. Again, the guys -- the first few minutes of the second half are the most important. You can't let them gain any more on the lead. I think we had a nine-point lead at halftime, and we held it and we got off to a good start again, and we just kept going from there.
DEVOE JOSEPH: Like you said, we know we've let up some leads in the second half, so we said, just come out and keep going. It's zero-zero again, just keep going hard and keep playing.

Q. Can you guys talk about Michigan State and what this game did for your confidence? I know Penn State played them pretty well before. Do you think you can pull off the upset?
DEVOE JOSEPH: Well, this game definitely gave us confidence, and I think we were playing good basketball lately. Last time we played Michigan State we lost by one point, and we made a lot of mistakes in the last four minutes, so I definitely think we can pull off the upset. They're a good team, and we're definitely going to need to come and play real good basketball to beat them.

Q. If both of you could just elaborate on how it's been two months but if that taste is still fresh in your mouth from Kalin Lucas hitting that game winning shot in Minneapolis against you guys.
COLTON IVERSON: Yeah, it was obviously a disappointing loss at home. We felt like we had the game, and we just kind of slipped at the end. It was just something that we can't let happen again. We've got to come ready to play tomorrow and just get it done.
DEVOE JOSEPH: Kalin Lucas, he's a good player and made a tough shot. A lot of the players made tough shots down the stretch, so we've just got to get closer to our men down the stretch this time and stay with our defensive principles.

Q. Colton, can you talk about the difference between this game and the last two times you guys have played Penn State in those last two games were very close? What was the difference today in your opinion?
COLTON IVERSON: I think we just came with a lot more intensity for this game. We know there's a lot on the line. We can't let anything slip away anymore. This is our last chance to get to our goal, to get to the tournament, so we've just got to come ready to play every game from here on out?

Q. How much does it help for the sake of you guys' momentum? Obviously you had a great shooting night tonight, and you're playing tomorrow night. How much does that help in terms of sustaining momentum?
DEVOE JOSEPH: Well, it helps. If you make shots the night before, you come to the next game with a lot more confidence I feel, so I think it definitely helps.

Q. Did it fire you guys up at all that some people were picking the upset, Penn State?
COLTON IVERSON: Yeah, I saw that some people picked us to get upset in the first round. You can't listen to that stuff. You've just got to come here to play, give them respect, and you've got to -- you know they're a good team, and they played a lot of teams close. Like you said, they just lost to Michigan State at home, and they were in it the whole game, probably should have had it. We knew they were a good team, just had to come prepared and not let anything slip us up.

Q. Can you talk about those early turnovers that you all forced and how that kind of seemed to set the tone for the game?
COACH SMITH: Well, yeah, again, I think these guys came with -- they were very active, had a lot of quickness. Again, making shots makes you a little more -- keeps you ready. I thought one of the keys was putting Lawrence Westbrook on Talor Battle, because I thought he did a good job of making Talor work at both ends of the court. It sort of took something away a little bit from Lawrence's offensive game, but I liked his attitude, and he kind of -- when you see your leader stepping up and taking on that challenge, then I think it invigorates and inspires the other players to play harder.

Q. How much can you use motivation to your players knowing that you guys are on the bubble? Of course if you win this tournament, you're in for sure, but have you been able to use that at all, hey, if we win one, two, three, games, we're probably going to get in?
COACH SMITH: Well, not really. They see and read. They're intelligent kids. We don't really talk about -- I try to concentrate on a single day. It might sound corny, it might sound cliché, but that's the only way I think I can coach. We know that the only thing that can -- there's only one certain, and that's if you win, if you play the right way, and I think when you get into a single-elimination type tournament like this, it's all or nothing, do or die, you've got to come ready to play.
We still, as I mentioned, have an opportunity to reach one of the goals we had set for ourselves this year, and this group has been very good about staying focused. We've lost some tough games, but I think it's solidified us and united us in a way that's been very beneficial.

Q. Obviously Michigan State is a very physical team and they're a great rebounding team. The way that Colton played today and Ralph didn't score as many points, but he was able to rebound pretty well, can you talk about just what those two big guys are going to mean for you?
COACH SMITH: Well, any time a coach coaches a team, they're always one of the top rebounding teams in the nation. Certainly we'll have to do a better job than we did today. We've got to really find a way for all of our players to help out. It's not just up to Colton and Ralph and the post players. We need to get our perimeter guys involved, and I thought today they did in the second half. You know, guys that didn't have any rebounds in the first half got rebounds in the second half, Lawrence Westbrook, Blake Hoffarber, and a couple other guys. They've got to step up and do that tomorrow. But I like the way Colton and Ralph have been rebounding the ball all year long. It may be a situation where we might have them both in the game, if we're not able to play with them on the boards.

Q. Knowing Chris Allen won't play tomorrow for Michigan State, how does that impact your game plan against the Spartans?
COACH SMITH: Well, they've got a lot of good players, so nothing -- Chris is a pretty talented player, and certainly I know any time you lose a player as a starter that has the talent he has, it's going to affect you. But they have a lot of depth, and that's why their team is always -- he plays a lot of players, so I'm not sure -- I don't think it will affect how we will approach the game and how we will prepare for the game.

Q. Seems like Devoe Joseph is getting more and more comfortable with his role. Talk about what he was able to do early for your team and what you need him to do going forward in this tournament?
COACH SMITH: Yeah, he's learning how to control the tempo and the pace of the game and the flow, and you know, he has that ability to knock down the open shot. That's something that we really -- that's taken time for him to appreciate and grow into this -- into being the leader, the point guard on the team, but he's done an excellent job. And going forward, it's something that we've -- we're getting that from Justin, as well. So we'll see how he continues to grow, and again, it adds -- I like the way he's been defending, and he's got the total package.

Q. You've coached in a lot of NCAA games. They're thinking about changing the format a little bit and raising the 32 teams to 96. What's your thoughts about them changing the way the thing is going to be run?
COACH SMITH: I think it would be a great idea. I'd certainly love to see -- I've been on the NABC board, and it's one of the things we've promoted and talked about for years with the NCAA. I think it's a -- especially with the increase in the number of Division I teams now, why not?
When I first got in the business years ago in 1978, '79, there might have been 100 Division I teams. Now there's 347. Just like football. When they increased, they increased the number of bowl games, so why not increase the opportunities for these student-athletes to participate and enjoy and be a part of this March Madness? I think it's long overdue, to be honest with you.
Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: Coach, thank you.

End of FastScripts

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