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March 17, 2011
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Indiana State student-athletes Aaron Carter, Jake Kelly, and Carl Richard. Questions for the student-athletes.
Q. Aaron and Jake, one of the Syracuse players mentioned that on Selection Sunday when they drew Indiana State they just assumed they'd be playing a bunch of white guys that could shoot the basketball. Both being from Indiana and obviously white, could you talk about that stereotype of basketball players in Indiana?
AARON CARTER: Yeah, I guess that is a pretty popular stereotype. But I guess me and Jake would like to prove that stereotype right tomorrow, you know. That's about all I've got to say about that.
JAKE KELLY: I mean, he's right about that with Aaron. I don't know about that with myself. But, yeah, we do have some shooters on this team. But we're looking forward to playing against that zone they have and hopefully knocking down some 3s tomorrow.
Q. How different is that zone they play from what you've seen on film and how do you plan to attack it?
AARON CARTER: It's a different zone than what we face. We really didn't face a whole lot of zones this year in the Valley. But it's going to be a tough zone. They're athletic. They cover a lot of ground. We just have to do our best to be patient and work in and out and try to get some open looks.
JAKE KELLY: Like he said, against any type of zone, you want to get the ball to the middle of the floor. You've got to pass the ball well and swing the ball fast, find the open guy, and usually you gotta get to the openings in the middle or in the corners or somewhere and find that open spot to spot it to knock down a shot.
CARL RICHARD: Against their zone, in particular, we're really trying to focus on attacking the middle and getting the ball moving and having great spacing with our shooters. And I feel like if we keep our composure, limit our turnovers, we should be just fine.
Q. Carl, when you look at their size and their length and the problems that they pose, how do you kind of simulate and prepare for what you'll actually see Friday night?
CARL RICHARD: It's pretty hard to prepare for the type of athleticism that they have. I mean, in the Valley, it's very few teams that have that type of front lineup, you know what I'm saying?
But, I mean, really just play hard. You can't really simulate that type of stuff. It's really just about willpower.
Q. I'm just wondering, keeping on that zone, I read something earlier in the week about something you guys did where you guys were playing against six men and you put a hockey stick or something in the middle. Can you just talk about that method of preparation and do you think it helped you going into tomorrow?
CARL RICHARD: Well, we don't have the type of size as they have. So our bench team, like it's hard to just put five-on-five and try to simulate what they're going to do. So we put six people in there to try to, you know, see how we could move the ball and how it would affect our offense.
JAKE KELLY: With the six people in there, it simulates their length and that's what the coaches were trying to do. And that was the hockey stick down low in the post also.
Like he said, our bench players aren't real tall or obviously as athletic as the Syracuse players. They had a game plan for us and they felt that's what we needed to do to work on to get ready for the game.
AARON CARTER: Just like those two said, you're just trying to simulate how much ground they can cover, because they're going to get to you quick on the perimeter and just having six guys helped simulate that a little more.
With the hockey stick, it's something that we were doing after practice. One of the coaches were holding up a hockey stick and having us drive in there, and shooting over length is all that was simulating. Hopefully it will be beneficial to us.
Q. Jake, being from Terre Haute, from what I understand Larry Bird's become a little more involved with the program maybe than he has in the past. Is that something you've noticed and what has stuck out from that?
JAKE KELLY: Yeah, he has stepped up a little bit more here lately. He wished us luck. He had some nice comments to some of the news coverage. That gives us a boost, a guy like Larry Bird that's from Indiana State. We walk down the halls everywhere and there's pictures and stuff still. That gets us excited that somebody like Larry Bird is following us and wishing us luck.
Q. You guys are a balanced scoring team, only one guy in double figures, seven players with at least six points. How would you describe your style of play that leads to that balance across the team in scoring?
AARON CARTER: It's just sharing the ball and just being patient. Like everybody -- we have enough talent to where we can have some scorers on the floor at all times. And it's just really -- it has to do with matchups and just who is on that night. But really it's just we're an unselfish team and just share the ball.
Q. I'm assuming you've seen tape about Syracuse. And what were your impressions of Kris Joseph when you watched those tapes?
AARON CARTER: He's athletic. He likes to slash and drive and get to the bucket and stuff. But we're just going to do our best to stay in front of him and make him score over us.
Q. Whose hockey stick was it?
AARON CARTER: I think it was Wayne Gretzky's autographed --
JAKE KELLY: I'm not quite sure. I know they were trying to -- we played our conference tournament over in St. Louis at the Blues Stadium and they were asking for one there. We didn't get one from there. I don't know where they got it. But it popped up somewhere along the line.
Q. Again, with the balanced scoring in front of you guys, do you feel you have one go-to player at the end of the games? If not, does that make it difficult or harder for opponents to guard?
CARL RICHARD: I don't think we have a go-to player. We usually put the ball in a point guard's hands, and we have enough confidence in each other to whereas whoever is open, we got confidence he's going to knock that shot down.
JAKE KELLY: To go along with that, I think that that's what helps us. I think that helps us because the defense can't key to one guy. So they might start the ball in one hand or something, but if they bring a guy over, the guy I'm going to pass the ball to, he's averaging about ten points, about the same as everybody else on the team.
It's good to have a balanced attack like that in my opinion, and it really helps that our guys are very unselfish also.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, gentlemen. We're joined now by head coach Greg Lansing. Coach, an opening statement.
COACH LANSING: Just awfully excited to be here representing Indiana State and Missouri Valley and the community of Terre Haute.
It's been a pretty fun couple of weeks here for us obviously. Our guys just did a tremendous job in St. Louis, something we've been building for for the last month of the year, talking about winning three games in three days. And the guys just went into St. Louis with one thing in mind, and that was winning a championship and bringing it back home. And they certainly did a great job.
It's an honor for me, one, to be able to play against a team that's coached by Jim Boeheim, some guy you look up -- I'm a coach's son, so I always looked up and respected tremendous coaches, a Hall of Fame coach like that.
And obviously one of the premier programs in the country from the premier league. We'll have our hands full, but we've been preparing to come over here and do what we've done all year and play as hard and as unselfish as possible and see if we can't win a game.
Q. One of the Syracuse players talked about when their zone is working well they can kind of just see the look on the other team, either the arguments or just the look of defeat on the other team. How do you kind of train your guys to know there could be some tough moments along the way against a defense like that?
COACH LANSING: I hope we're not seeing that look, whatever that look is. But I think that happens against man-to-man zone. It doesn't matter. Really good defensive teams that are going to be prepared whatever you do, it's just like playing in our conference, everybody knew everything we were going to do. It just comes down to players making plays.
We haven't faced a zone much this year let alone the best zone in the country. With the length and the athleticism that we're going to be going against tomorrow, we can't simulate it in practice.
But we've worked hard against it. We have a good group of unselfish guys that are going to move the basketball and try to get good shots. And zones sometimes can paralyze you, and a zone like theirs can certainly paralyze you. But we don't want to just stand around and pass it around the perimeter; we'll have to move and attack and do just what we do.
Q. I know obviously the excitement level of being in the tournament is sky high. Has this felt like a normal week of preparation in terms of your team just getting ready for another game?
COACH LANSING: You know, obviously it wasn't last week because we weren't getting ready for anybody. But we were just going against each other. But when Sunday hit, Sunday of our practice before the Selection show, guys were excited. And it was we've had probably as good of practices as we've had all year. We're keeping it short, trying to keep them fresh as well as doing our individual stuff.
But the guys have been very, very competitive, very, very high competing with each other, but big high energy with every practice. And we've continued to improve. And that's a big thing.
If you're going to want to continue to win and move on in tournaments you have to continue to improve.
Q. Just wondering what Larry Bird's legacy means to the program, to you personally and to the team.
COACH LANSING: Well, the first thing I did when I got to Indiana State, my first time as an assistant was to get tapes of all those games, just to kind of get the feel for how it was back in those days. Obviously Larry Bird, one of the best players to ever play the game.
He means just so much to the community, the legacy of him and that team and Indiana State, what it means to it. That's the first thing you think about when you think of Indiana State is Larry Bird.
And I knows he's supporting us. He's watching us. He wants us to do well. Nice thing is that a lot of those guys, that team, live in the community. And some of them were down in St. Louis with us. You hear from them, a Carl Nicks, a Brad Miley, Alex Gilbert and Bob Heaton and those types of guys. It's been neat for those guys to come in and out of practices and be around.
Obviously to do what they did as a mid major is unheard of, to go undefeated and get to that championship game. So it was a special time. And Terre Haute, they talk about it like it was yesterday. So it's neat. But ten years ago Indiana State went to back-to-back NCAA Tournaments, too. So it's been done there and it's been done in the right way.
Q. Can you talk about your own evolution as now being a first-year head coach? You've gotten more experience throughout the year?
COACH LANSING: Yeah, I've learned a lot. Obviously I'm a coach's kid and worked my way up. I didn't get where I got because of my name or being some great college player. I really had to work my way up, volunteer, restricted earnings, GAs and doing those things.
And it's just made me appreciate it a lot more. Didn't really have anything given to me. But I've had a lot of great people that I've worked with, starting back just in order there with Kevin McKenna, who is at Oregon now; Royce Waltman, still the best coach I've ever been around; and Steve Alford. Guys like that. It's just been amazing.
And our league, it's an underrated-coach league. There are really good coaches in our conference. I learn from those guys every day and I really respect head coaches, try to learn as much from them as I can and just continue to develop myself.
Q. We're hearing more and more about this hockey stick. I'm trying to find out where it came from. There's not a lot of hockey sticks floating around Indiana. Where did you get the hockey stick?
COACH LANSING: You're going to get us in trouble because we got it from our rec sports and we kind of had it in our office for a while and they never asked for it back. Coach Alford used to do that at Iowa. Cut off the edge of a hockey stick and pad it up for the interior guys to go against.
And obviously with the length and the height and athleticism of Syracuse, we just -- we brought that thing back out. If I've got to buy another one for the rec sports department, I'll do it.
Q. Against a 2-3 zone, how do you strike a balance between taking enough open 3s but not falling in love with the 3?
COACH LANSING: You gotta take them when they're open. And the window against Syracuse isn't going to be maybe what it would normally be against other teams. But you can't just rely on the 3. The ball has to get to the paint whether it be with drives or passes or just your cutting.
You have to work in and out of there. We've always been an offense that tries to work inside out. Even if our interior guys are not scoring, the ball's going down there. Get the defense to collapse a little bit, and we have good passing interior guys and unselfish guys all across the board.
So you gotta make it, try to make it move, try to get yourself an open look and, again, it's that window against Syracuse is not going to be there very long. So when you got it, you better take it.
Q. Jake Kelly has been through so much in his life, between the death of his mother and then the number of injuries the last couple of years. What about his makeup has enabled him to persevere through all this, and particularly this year, contribute to your program?
COACH LANSING: Well, his mom was his life. There's no question. And they were very, very close. And Jake has a lot of family around the Terre Haute community and that's why he came back to start. But he also came back to Terre Haute to Indiana State because he wanted to play in the NCAA Tournament, and just real happy for him that he's going to get a chance to do that.
The things he's been through, there's a lot of things that can happen to a student-athlete, but he's persevered amazingly through this stuff, and it's with help with good family, help with a tremendous group of teammates that he has right now. He's been a good teammate.
That's what's amazing. When he got hurt again this year, boy, he kept his head up, kept trying to be positive for the team and help us. Jake knows he's got a bright future in basketball. And hopefully he can continue to help us advance here. But he's going to have a bright future, and I would guess he would be able to handle anything that's thrown at him.
Q. Have you found yourself having to change your coaching style as now you've gotten to know your team throughout the year, and has that happened at all?
COACH LANSING: We're going to do what we do again. But I think all coaches do that by what their makeup of their team is, and with Kevin McKenna there before, I helped recruit obviously. So we kind of recruit to the type of style we wanted to play. I'm very happy with the style that we play and the versatility of our guys. And that will just continue through our recruiting.
Obviously, I think we have a really good group of players, 1 through 14, and all have contributed a great deal.
Q. Coach, talking about some of those local players, Odum and Jake Kelly being from Terre Haute and RJ Mahurin from Rockville, what's it like coaching those guys in the NCAA Tournament and having watched them in high school and them representing the community as well as ISU?
COACH LANSING: What's great about the whole group, and you throw Lucas and Logan Eitel in there as well, is they wanted to be at Indiana State. You can't ever get enough guys like that. You can't take all those guys. But we've been very, very fortunate that within a short radius, a small radius, we've had some really good players. And those players are contributors.
And they're just really, really good kids that are well known around the community. So it's helped us with kind of the excitement about Indiana State basketball. But you couldn't have that if there wasn't the quality of kids that those guys are. All those guys really represent their local communities as well as Indiana State very well.
Q. You look at the team, the scoring, only one player in double figures, really a very balanced effort up and down the team. Do you attribute that more to the personnel that you have or your style of play, in the balance?
COACH LANSING: It's just that we're so deep. And I think it probably would have been a little different if Jake Kelly and Dwayne hadn't gotten hurt when they got hurt and we had to blend those guys back in when they came in.
And the strength of our team is our depth and our unselfishness, and I just think that you go on down the line to different times and different games, other people have stepped up when it was their number, when it was their time. And that's a great thing for a team to have. If somebody is having an off night, we have a lot of other guys that can step right in there and continue to make plays.
And, again, the unselfishness of these guys. We don't have anybody that's taken just a large majority or a percentage of the shots. We have guys that are sharing the basketball and trying to get their teammates involved at both ends as well.
Q. A lot's been made about your offense versus the Syracuse 2-3. What about when you guys are on defense and trying to stop the Syracuse offense, the athleticism that they bring?
COACH LANSING: It's no easy chore, that's for sure. That was the first thing I actually noticed when watching them on tape and seeing them. Obviously I've seen them on TV. I know they play the 2-3 zone and they're well coached. But their versatility, the way they attack you on offense, they're very good in transition. All of those guys can make plays. All those guys can make individual plays and get baskets. So it's not like you're not guarding some individuals.
It's a very, very difficult matchup, and we want to try to make them go against a set defense for sure, but so did everybody else in the Big East. And they did an awfully good job and their field goal percentage is so high, so you know they're getting good shots and they're attacking the basket.
We've got our work cut out for us, but we led the Missouri Valley in field goal percentage defense, and we're going to try and make it tough for them.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.
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