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March 4, 2011
ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI
Missouri State Â– 58
Southern Illinois - 56
THE MODERATOR: The victorious Bears are with us. They have a date in tomorrow's semifinal round against the winner of Northern Iowa and Creighton. Head Coach Cuonzo Martin, your thoughts on the game.
COACH MARTIN: I thought Southern Illinois played a great game. They pretty much dictated the tempo the last two minutes of in my opinion. They did a great job stretching us out in offense. We were stalling offense at the half mark. Couldn't get to a flow, couldn't get the ball inside, and we started settling for shots on the perimeter, and not getting the ball inside.
So I think they played a great game, we just found a way to win it down the stretch.
Q. Kyle, on a frustrating day, talk about how the team was able to keep its composure down the stretch and pull it out?
KYLE WEEMS: As you saw the game, I missed some shots that I usually make. It was pretty frustrating, but I've got such great coaches and such great teammates that they just kept me composed. Kept my head right the whole game and let us know, keep that fight, keep it all right, keep shooting it up.
So I tried to do that for the most part and make some big shots late. The last one I just wanted to do that for my team and for our fans.
Q. What was going on in the first half to where you guys were struggling so much from the floor?
KYLE WEEMS: They pressured us pretty good. You've got to give credit where it's due. Southern Illinois was a tough, scrappy team, and that's how every team in the Missouri Valley is. But there was no way they were going out without a bang. And they did a really good job, so congratulate them for that.
We were stagnant on offense. They kind of had us catching the ball out past beyond the NBA three. We're not really used to that. They switched some stuff that we weren't used to teams switching. But we found a way to win. I thought we did a pretty good job the last three or four minutes of just adjusting.
Q. Adam, what were your thoughts after you made that three at the very end of the game?
ADAM LEONARD: That tied the game up. Now the next thought is we've got to get a stop, and we did that. The guys came together. We got a stop, and didn't let them get another offensive rebound. That was our main goal. The whole night was stopping them from getting second chance points, and we did well with that?
Q. Can you take us through the last play there, what you saw, what was the first option? Were you going to the basket no matter what?
KYLE WEEMS: Yeah, I'd settle for a horrible shot, and I apologized to my teammates and my coaches for it. We were down three and really didn't need that. It was pretty deep. And me being a junior, I need to know better than that.
But when Adam hit that shot, there was no doubt in my mind once we got that stop, if it would so happen, I wanted that ball. I just came over and told everybody I wanted the ball.
Coach drew up a good play to get me kind of by myself. And once I seen them, most of the people were spaced out on the left side of the court and there was only one man at the basket. I tried to avoid him, he kind of slid in for a charge, and I avoided him. I'm very blessed that shot went in.
Q. You kind of answered my question. I noticed at the time out you came to the huddle and said I wanted the ball. Is that something that you want the ball in those situations?
KYLE WEEMS: Yeah, for sure. I think my teammates kind of look to me for that as well as Adam, just depending on that kind of scenario. But mainly I knew that if I got to the top of the key, if they ran somebody at me, I have faith in all my teammates to take that shot and I would have passed it: There was no doubt in my mind once we got that rebound or that turnover, I wanted that shot.
Q. Adam, at any point did you look up at the clock and say three minutes left, four minutes left? It looked like you were going inside a little bit and then you started hitting your outside shots again. Was there any doubt at all?
ADAM LEONARD: There was a little bit. We had to make a run at the and end make our stops. Once we got the shots, it started falling. We kept shooting, and looking for Kyle, and they got me open on my shots and they just started falling.
Q. Number one, what does it say about the faith, and your coach and teammates have in you that they'd draw up that last play for you? Also considering the kind of game that you had, is there anybody happier than your team that you pulled it out right now?
KYLE WEEMS: No, like I said at the beginning, there is nobody more that I want to do this for than Coach Martin and our fans, because it's been you a long time we've been in position like, this never, No. 1 seed. Like I said, I just wanted that ball. I'm very blessed that I had great teammates and a very good coach that trusted me to put the ball in my hands at the end of the game like that. I'm just very, very happy that ball went in.
Q. How many times in your career have you been asked to go flat like that? Also, we don't see you go one-on-one quite like that a lot. Is that a move that you've got in your back pocket?
KYLE WEEMS: I've just been working this year on attacking the basket. That's something that Coach Martin and the rest of the coaching staff helped me with in the off-season and each and every day in practice. And I've never gotten to go flat. Maybe one or two times, maybe in high school or junior varsity.
But if I had the ball and we didn't get that play against Creighton at home, I probably would have had an opportunity there, because everybody was telling me the ball was coming my way.
But like I said, I'm just very blessed to have a coach like Coach Martin that trusts me to put the ball in my hands, and I'm just happy I came out on top for my team today.
ADAM LEONARD: He can go left also, but really it was just the one-on-one. We trust him to get to the hoop, and he can also do a 15-foot pull-up. But he was smart enough to get in there and maybe get some contact and make a tough foul. He got caught in their defense and making that tough shot?
Q. Where were you?
ADAM LEONARD: I was on the same side he was. I was in the corner, and when Kyle was there I stopped him and raised up for the shot many. But we trusted Kyle, and he trusted himself to hit that.
Q. Kyle, on that last shot, were you trying to to bank it? It sort of touched the board and went in. Did it go exactly as you wanted, or were you trying to bank it on that shot?
KYLE WEEMS: I did want to use the glass. Maybe not necessarily lean too much to the right. I think I kind of faded a little bit. But my dad always taught me growing up that the backboard is your friend. Don't try to shy away from it. Those rims are pretty hard out there too. Any time you get a chance to use the glass, you might as well do it.
I just wanted to use the backboard to where if I did miss it, one of my teammates could possibly get a tip-in as well.
Q. What are you guys going to do -- you have a game tomorrow, what are you going to do personally to prepare for that game?
ADAM LEONARD: Right now we're going to rest up a little bit. Maybe watch a half or the whole game of this game out here. We've got to start watching film right away, and really buckle down and focus for tomorrow.
KYLE WEEMS: Just like Adam said, get off our feet, watch a little bit of this game, and see who will play tomorrow. But just get off our feet and really watch some film and tune in and hope we have a better start tomorrow.
Q. Adam, shots weren't falling early for you. Was it something that SIU was doing, or was it just that first game and just coming out a little slow today?
ADAM LEONARD: I think you have to credit their defense. They stayed tight on me every screen I'd get, they were up in me. They were up physical and strong. I think they're actually the strongest team in the valley in my mind.
So they're bumping us, and hitting us, and every shot I had was contested except for a few. Finally, late in the second half a couple went down.
Q. Is this what they mean by heart of a champion?
KYLE WEEMS: Definitely. I know I've said this a lot in the media room, but there isn't a whole lot this team hasn't seen. We've been in pretty much every tough basketball game scenario. Down 12 at the half. Down at the half at home, up with teams coming back, and the game gets real tight. Played in a lot of close games.
So we just kept telling ourselves, stay composed, keep our composure and stay the course of the game. And Coach Martin put us in a good position to be successful with certain plays down the stretch.
Q. It would seem natural that a lot of pressure would be on the 1 seed and not much would be on the 8 seed. Was there some tension today? Did you feel up tight for a while?
ADAM LEONARD: At first we were. We didn't think it was going to be a blowout game. We came in here and knew it was going to be a physical game. Just that they executed real well on offense and our shots weren't falling. We couldn't get too many stops, so it led to them making a tough game throughout the whole game.
KYLE WEEMS: To add, no team here is just going to roll over and quit, especially Southern Illinois with a big win last night. We just have to do a better job on our part as players to get our energy and our enthusiasm going a little bit earlier and not be so stagnant. Because there are teams that are going to bring out different stuff that we haven't seen, but it's our jobs as players to adjust.
The coaches do such a good job putting us in position to be successful, but we've got to do a better job coming out in that first four minutes, establishing our defensive intensity and kind of gave up a couple easy lay-ups and couple easy threes. Brown-Surles hit seven straight points, so that's not something that we're used to. So we have to do a better job of adjusting to scenarios like that.
Q. It just seemed like the offense really never got into sync. Were you confident that your guys could shoot their way out of that funk?
COACH MARTIN: I wouldn't necessarily say confident. As you coach, you're coaching a ballgame. But once again, a lot of times I guess we're the 1 seed, you think they're supposed to come in and play a great game. You have to give credit where it's due. Unfortunately Southern Illinois finished the season at 13-9, but Chris does a good job as a coach. His guys played well, they played hard. They competed. He's a friend of mine. I wish those guys would have played that way all season long consistently, because he does a tremendous job.
I have to give it where it's due. The reason we did -- think about it, Adam's sitting in the corner. Nobody's guarding him, and he's making all the shots. So credit to those guys. They played well, defended well. So I have to give it to those guys. They were hitting the shots all night. Give it where it's due, they did a great job defending.
Q. Going into the locker room at halftime, did you say anything to pick your team up?
COACH MARTIN: We approach it the same way. I don't throw chairs around and do all that. We regroup and refocus. As a staff, we figure out the best way to attack these guys and what are we doing defensively that we need to do better.
But like I told our guys, I was really not upset at the half because it's one of those deals that you've finally done something so special as a university. You've made history. So now it's hard for me as a coach to say come down. Let's play basketball.
No, you handle it how you handle it. You rejoice, however you want to do it, as long as you're not breaking laws or getting in any trouble. Because that's history. You can't tell me to calm down. Nobody's ever done it before. So those guys have to handle the situations how they see fit and how they know how. They hung out together and they're so excited about it.
Now we get here as a coaching staff, I mean, I have a sense that man, let's see how these first five minutes go. And it's just part of it. So at the half I just told our guys, man, this is the next step how to handle being a champion. Not that our guys walk with a different swager or head out or chest sticking out. No, they didn't do that. But these guys hit you with their best blow.
I felt like Southern Illinois had the advantage coming into this game. They play the on the floor and they win this environment. Last year at Wichita State I thought we had an advantage. Didn't win the game, but I thought we did well out of the gate because we played on the floor. So I told our guys let's just make the necessary adjustments and find a way to win.
Q. When Weems walks over at the end of the huddle and says, "I want the ball," was that what you wanted as well? Were you had ay to hear that from him?
COACH MARTIN: That was already understood. It was just a matter of when he was shooting it. He was getting the ball. Especially in a situation like that, now, you know, maybe if we needed three, Adam probably the guy. He might not shoot the ball, but he runs. But Kyle pick and pops. So in a situation like that, let's let Kyle win or lose the ballgame for us.
He did a tremendous job of working the clock the right way. Avoiding the contact. Guys getting charged. We had Adam Leonard sitting, so they couldn't help out in the corner and make his move.
Q. Coach, do you like this low defensive scoring game, or do you prefer an up-tempo offensive type of game like you guys usually have some did you like it tonight?
COACH MARTIN: This is up my ally. The percentages, 52% from the field, and they don't shoot as many threes. They shot 50% and did a great job controlling the game. But they made too many shots. I mean, 50% from the field is not very good.
But they did a great job running their motion offense. But, yet, this is how I like it defensively, yes.
Q. What does this game say about the overall toughness of your conference?
COACH MARTIN: The conference? It's a great league. It's a well-coached league. I just think when you look across the country top to bottom, I don't know how many conferences you can say in the country that have good coaches from 1 through 10. I think this league is really good from 1 through 10. Guys that coach for games, prepare for games, execute their offense.
I tell you, last year my pick was one or two guys of "Coach of the Year" was Marty Simmons, and you see, he's a great coach.
It doesn't matter in this league, guys can coach this game. We're just blessed to have enough talent to be successful. But the physical toughness, the preparation. You just can't walk through and go through the motion against guys in this league because guys will outperform you.
Q. Can you talk about Mamadou Seck's game and matching up with him offensively today?
COACH MARTIN: He's a tough guy to go against. 6'7, 6'8. He's quick, he's an athlete. He's really tough to go against. I thought will did a great job. They had had two offensive rebounds. I think he had 17 in two games against us. He did a tremendous job rebounding, and they had two as a team. So our guys did a great job keeping him off the glass.
But he's a tough guy for Will Creekmore to guard. It's okay for Adam Leonard and Kyle Weems. He's just too quick for Will Creekmore, but I thought Will did a great job.
Q. What do you think -- you guys haven't played in a week of basketball. After this game, what are you going to do to prepare for the next one?
COACH MARTIN: The preparations, we did that all season long. Nobody right now is doing anything totally different. Guy might run a play here we haven't seen and we make the adjustment in the play. For us, it's no practice. Just watching a lot of film, getting rested and getting ready to play.
Q. You had Wichita and this game. How much have you aged in the last two games?
COACH MARTIN: I'm good. I'm blessed to be doing this. Our guys are playing hard. I mean, hey, like I told our guys, we lose this ballgame. Let's get on that bus and get out of here. It's a ballgame. When you practice and prepare and give it your best shot, it's a ballgame.
Like I said, we're not the only team in America that has a practice. Everybody practices and performs. I'm proud of our guys. We have plenty of work to do. But as long as they give it their best shot, I'm fine with it. Move on.
Q. Talk about the decision to go 1-4 flat with Kyle. Lot of teams will go high ball screen or something. Why did you do that?
COACH MARTIN: With the high ball screen and the time on the clock, they switch the ball screen, and I didn't want that. All of a sudden you travel ball screen and turn the ball over. I didn't want that. Worst case scenario, say this thing goes into overtime, but he did a good job of making a good play.
But our best ball screen guys, if he was in foul trouble, he fouled out. So we couldn't run the ball screen. With the time on the clock and the game being tied, it was just the best place for us, and the best thing to do to run the high pick. The 1-4 action with Kyle to make a play.
Q. You have SIU scoreless for the last 2:49. During that last timeout, is that something you wanted to emphasize and make that point?
COACH MARTIN: I wanted to emphasize that the whole night. They did a good job running the offense. But down the stretch, it's amazing -- when it's time to get stops, they get stops. Once again, I thought Southern Illinois did a great job running their offense. They were cutting and moving and getting shots, wide open shots. Penetrating and pitching, just did a tremendous job.
But we just did what we needed to do to win the ballgame. And I think we made some shots. You get those guys second guessing a little bit, and anything can happen. We've been in this situation before.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports