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March 18, 2011

Mike Davis

Demetri McCamey

Brandon Paul

Bruce Weber


Illinois – 73
UNLV - 62

THE MODERATOR: Like to welcome the victorious Illini. Coach Weber, an opening statement and then questions for the student-athletes.
COACH WEBER: Couldn't be more excited for our guys, especially our seniors. We'd been inconsistent, but tonight we were definitely consistent, played at a high level. They executed the game plan. We really wanted to keep them out of transition. We actually got more transition points than they did. Wanted to keep them out of the paint and we did that.
I think our defense especially in the first half really frustrated them, and we were able to get some easy baskets in transition. But you had so many guys play well. You could just go down the line.
Obviously, it starts with Demetri. The guys you here, Mike Davis, Brandon Paul. But for D.J. to make some shots and Crandall to come in and make some plays and Bill Cole was solid. I mean it was just on down the line, just a great team effort.
Some balls bounced our way. Some plays went our way. But when you have a good attitude and you get after it the way they did, things happen good for you. We can enjoy it. We get to play another game, obviously a tough, tough challenge on Sunday, but right now we'll enjoy the game.
As far as Jereme Richmond goes there was a violation of athletic department team rules, nothing more than that. It's going to stay internal, and we're just going to move forward. I was just pleased that our guys were able to respond. Guys like Crandall coming off the bench did some things that helped us.

Q. Can you just talk about the emotion of winning a game in the NCAA Tournament, and how you didn't let off the gas pedal tonight?
MIKE DAVIS: Yeah, it felt good. We wanted to come out the first five minutes and set the tone. They talked about setting the tone pre-game, and we wanted to do that also. We did a good job in the start of the game. We got stops and it turned out to a good lead.
And like you said, we kept our foot on the pedal. Keep your foot on the pedal. That's what we did. Credit to our guys, our guards broke the press and we got some easy shots.

Q. Can you just, talk about UNLV's pressure and how you guys handled that particularly in the first half?
DEMETRI McCAMEY: We didn't dribble -- try to dribble our way through the trap. We passed the ball and made the right pass and broke their press for lay-up. So once you don't dribble against the press and keep it in the middle you will be successful.

Q. Given some of the leads that you guys have lost in the second half, how important was it to come out and maybe maintain or even build on that lead to start the second half, the first five minutes or so?
DEMETRI McCAMEY: We talked about it in the locker room the first five minutes and we're fighting for our lives. We know if we lose this game, it's the last one for the seniors and the last one for Illini you know for the seniors.
So we didn't want that to happen. We kept our foot on the pedal and kept it going. We wanted to get a chance to win our first NCAA game for the seniors and just try to win the game against a good UNLV team.

Q. Like you said, UNLV was talking about setting the tone and getting aggressive on you. Did you take that as a challenge? They were doing a lot of talking.
MIKE DAVIS: Yeah, we definitely did. Our guards took them as a challenge because they thought they could speed them up and cause turnovers. But we did a good job in practice this week, our coaches set up a great game plan. We put up different press breakers for the guards to break. They did a good job. They didn't dribble through the press. They just passed it ahead and kicked it ahead to the open guy, and we made good decisions all night.

Q. Both of you guys have talked about the team's inconsistency this year. But do you think there's been too much focus on the negative and not enough on what you guys have accomplished this year?
DEMETRI McCAMEY: We always talked about it. It's not what you do at the beginning of the year, the time now as you can see on TV, all the crazy games happening, a couple of upsets and crazy shots and game winners. It's about what you do now. Everybody forgets about what you did at the beginning of the season or Big Ten season if you go out and win in March.
BRANDON PAUL: I think we came out fighting well just like our coaches told us. We had a game plan and we executed it.

Q. It seemed like you turned back the clock to December a little bit the way you played tonight. Was it the match-up or what you guys were doing?
COACH WEBER: I'll be honest, I was a little bit leery of the match-up because of their quickness. If you go back in history, what we've struggled with, whether it was Western Kentucky two years ago, Dayton in the NIT last year, quickness has bothered us.
I guess you could say we turned back time. I thought the last three weeks we had really played good basketball, and they were starting to -- I even told them we're starting to coach you in their executing and they really executed the game plan tonight. Just staying compact, knowing personnel, who to close out, who to help off of. How to get in the lane. We got deflections. We got steals. We got transition.
And it was just so disappointing. I think that's why Michigan hurt so bad. Even that game we played so well, and we just didn't finish it. So it left a bad taste. But they responded tonight and good things happened. I'm just happy for them.

Q. What's Jereme's status for Sunday, please?
COACH WEBER: I don't -- you know, it's something we'll talk about. But right now just focusing on our team and the great effort they had. Again, I couldn't be more pleased. Just thinking about Brandon, he had 8 rebounds, 8 points, 4 assists. There were so many good efforts by our guys today.

Q. After four years without a tournament win, does this feel like a big load off the shoulders, exhale?
COACH WEBER: I think the fans bring it up, talk about it, obviously then you guys talk about it. It meant something to our kids, to our seniors. And I'm hoping now they can want more.
I told them before the game it's their expectations that matter. How do they approach the game? How do they approach the tournament? What is their desire? That's the same attitude we've got to have on Sunday. We have a tougher opponent, obviously, but if we have played, I said this yesterday in the press conference, we played it -- there are only a couple teams in the country that played more tournament teams -- we've played eight games against Top 5 seeds. We've played the No. 1 seed and competed with those people. It's going to take a special effort, but it's possible on Sunday.

Q. What's going through your mind when you go against Kansas on Sunday?
COACH WEBER: They have a great team, great program. Bill has done a tremendous job. The success there that they've had the season -- it's probably for them -- I don't know. They were rated high, but I think it's gone even with some distractions better than maybe they thought, lot of weapons, lot of steady play, some big guys inside.
All I really see of them is on ESPN highlights. It seems like they're always throwing lob dunks to each other. So I know we'll have to get back on defense and we'll sit down tonight with the coaches. Coach Howard has the scout. Coach McClain did a great job with this one. Coach Howard already has some things going. And I'm glad we're playing Sunday night. It gives us a little more time to rest and prepare.

Q. Will it feel strange at all playing Bill and the guy who you replaced, and so on and so forth?
COACH WEBER: I mean, I replaced Lon too, I guess. I don't think so. It's been such a long time. Both Lon and Bill did a tremendous job at Illinois. I respect them. Everywhere they've been they've been very good coaches. There is no doubt. They did a great, as I said at Illinois, they helped the program. I'm just worried about Kansas. That's what I'm really worried about in their players. Seeing if we can match-up with them.

Q. The best you've played in how long?

Q. This is better than Michigan.
COACH WEBER: Against a good team or a top team. They were rated higher than us. I thought their seed, they could have been higher, to be honest. But again, I said for three weeks Indiana we played really good. Purdue, other than Demetri getting a couple of quick fouls, we played good basketball against a very good team at their place. Iowa we played well.
I think Michigan State we just couldn't make shots, but it was great to kind of put it all together. They seemed focused. Things went our way. Felt good about themselves. Even the guys coming off the bench did a great job. I was so happy for Crandall and D.J., that was great.

Q. Obviously your guys came out and played hard, but were you a little surprised at how calm and how poised they were?
COACH WEBER: Yeah, and that's been one of the things even at Michigan and part of our inconsistency that we always didn't deal with leads. Then when things go bad -- and not much went bad tonight. Maybe they made a little run and D.J. jump stepped up and made those two threes.
But to keep our poise, stay together, and that was something that we talked about before the game, their expectation, their desire, their attitude and then staying together the whole time.
I really thought it would be a grind-out game and we'd have to win it in the end. So it really surprised me, but I liked how they were focused. It it's going to take even maybe a more special effort on Sunday.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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