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March 1, 2012

Kurt Alexander

Mark Phelps

Rayvonte Rice


Drake – 65
Bradley – 49

THE MODERATOR:  Drake Bulldogs are with us.
COACH PHELPS:  All three times we played the Bradley Braves they put up a heck of a fight.  I can't say enough about Geno and what type of job he's doing.  Very, very easy to not play with great effort when you haven't had a lost success.  They're certainly better than their record.
We're very, very concerned about this game.  We were up quite a bit in the second half in Peoria a couple weeks ago.  They cut an 1‑point lead to three.  There were some things that we didn't handle very well.  I was very happy with our guys tonight.  We handled their pressure and their trapping where we didn't do that in Peoria.
So I they we got better.  It took Ben Simons a little time to get going, but he finally got going for us.  Hopefully that's a good sign for the rest of the tournament.
I thought we defended well, and we did just enough on the offensive end sharing the basketball.  I thought Rayvonte was really good in terms of getting in the paint.  We need Kurt to not be in foul trouble.
So that was a little precarious there with Kurt in foul trouble.  But overall, a really good effort by our team against a very, very scrappy and determined Bradley Braves team.
Happy with the win.  We've got to get a lot of rest and try to recover so we can be at our best tomorrow night.

Q.  Can you guys talk about the start of the game?  They didn't score for the first six and a half minutes.  What was working out there defensively?  They missed shots and the forced turnovers and the momentum that built off of that?
KURT ALEXANDER:  It was just basically preparation.  We just wanted to be energetic, and be in our gap like coach coached us to do.  That's why we talked to them to do.
STUDENT‑ATHLETE:  We focused a lot on held defense and trying to help our teammates out.  Yeah, just really help defense.

Q.  Rayvonte, you were able to get the ball to the basket particularly early on.  Was there something you were seeing in the defense?  Because I know at least at your place they were able to kind of keep you out of the lane more.  What was the difference tonight?
RAYVONTE RICE:  We noticed the gaps and my teammates did a great job of putting me in those positions to score.  So just found open gaps and drove the ball.
COACH PHELPS:  I thought Rayvonte had great determination to get in the paint.  He was determined to do that, and I thought he did a good job of that.

Q.  Rayvonte, talk about the problem with this game is always that quick turn around and teams after playing this game historically don't do well the next day.  What do you have to do between now and 6:00 tomorrow?
RAYVONTE RICE:  I just say get a lot of rest and just get treatment and rest our bodies and get ready for tomorrow and play Creighton.
COACH PHELPS:  We actually have some giant freezers in the hotel.  We're going to put our players in those freezers and put them on ice for ten hours and wake them up before the game.

Q.  For both players, as far as looking ahead towards tomorrow.  Creighton's been a tough match‑up with the two losses this year.  Talk about the Bluejays and what you need to do tomorrow in that game?
KURT ALEXANDER:  We know we have a great hard task ahead of us.  We just need our energy, our thinking caps and basically energy.  It starts on the defensive end.  When we play defense, at least our offense has to get going.
RAYVONTE RICE:  Like Kurt said, defense, and then eliminating McDermott.  He's a great player.  He's one of the leading scorers in the country.  So just eliminate him and get the win.

Q.  Bradley struggled shooting the ball.  There were long stretches with droughts.  What were you able to do defensively to maybe force that or take them out of what they wanted to do?
RAYVONTE RICE:  Can you repeat that?

Q.  They had long stretches where they had difficulties scoring, and overall kind of a rough shooting night for them.  What were you able to do defensively to create that situation?
RAYVONTE RICE:  I'd say just keeping it tight, being in our gaps.  When they were trying to draw the ball, just having two or three defenders there while they were trying to get it.
KURT ALEXANDER:  Going off what Rayvonte said, the game plan was to keep it tight.  Let them shoot from the outside.  Unfortunately today, they missed a lot of shots.

Q.  How do you go about eliminating McDermott?
RAYVONTE RICE:  We have to listen to Coach on that.  Just follow the game plan.

Q.  Coach, kind of expand on your defensive game plan coming into today, and if you don't mind expanding to your defensive game plan for tomorrow?
COACH PHELPS:  Right, I think with Bradley, the strength of their basketball team is getting in the paint.  Walt Lemon Jr. is amazing with his ability to get in the paint.  Simms‑Edwards is the same way.  Outside shooting is not a strong suit of Bradley's, so we want to keep it tight, be in our gaps and force outside shots.
In our game in Peoria they did not shoot the ball well from the outside, and today again they didn't.  I thought for the most part they did a good job of keeping our defense tight and being in our gaps.
There were several possessions where they got in the paint and slipped the ball screen.  It's really hard to contain those two guys off the bounce for the entire game.
In terms of tomorrow, we'll start watching film tonight and come up with a one‑day game plan.  I thought at home we played the Bluejays pretty tough.  We were a couple of shots away to pulling to within one, maybe taking a lead in that game in The Knapp Center.
Obviously with them, they played really well together.  Doug is terrific.  He can score from any part of the court, and they really spread you out with their outside shooting.
So the game plan today is not necessarily going to be one that works tomorrow.  I think Echenique does a great job of taking up space.  He can score on the low block.  They have a lot of answers.  They have guys that can really pass.  They have a great collective basketball IQ.  We'll have to be at our best and have guys step up.
Ben, hopefully, is in more of a rhythm hitting some shots in the second half.  We need to get our rest, do a great job on the defensive end and be efficient on offense.

Q.  With keeping Rice and some of four of the five starters around the four‑minute mark, how much does that hurt your game plan for tomorrow?  Or is that just the way the tournament goes?
COACH PHELPS:  Yeah, I mean, I don't know.  Two more minutes.  Two and a half minutes of action.  I don't know what that will do.  I don't know if anybody has an experiment to figure that out.
I do know that we needed to finish that game.  Bradley really hurt us in the second half in Peoria cutting the lead to three and having a chance to cut it down.  It was important for us to cut the game out, and when we did that, we got those guys out.  It's the way it goes, and we have to get ready for tomorrow.

Q.  What is the status of Karl, and how do you feel that Kurt and David did in his absence?
COACH PHELPS:  Yeah, with Karl, his back didn't let him go today.  He tried it.  He's had several treatments the last days, chiropractic treatments and different types of treatments.  We'll do it again tonight and tomorrow.  Hopefully his back will loosen up and he can give us some minutes.  If not, it will be Kurt and David spilling in.  We need to keep Kurt out of foul trouble.  That was a concern in this game.  He got in foul trouble, and he's going to have to be an Ironman tomorrow, and David will have to continue to play well if Karl can't go.  We'll know tomorrow at game time if Karl can give us some minutes.

Q.  Talk about the play of Rice today throwing up 18 points and how important he is?
COACH PHELPS:  Yeah, he's very important.  He's part of our one‑two punch he and Ben.  Especially Ben getting started late.  I thought Rayvonte did a good job getting in the paint.  He was 7 for 13 from the floor.  He got to the free‑throw line and hit 80% from the free‑throw line.  He rebounded for us, had five rebounds.  He fills the stat sheet.
When he's at his best, he's getting in the paint, he's catching the ball down there, and using his body to get it up on the glass or get into the free‑throw line.  I thought he really was determined to stick to that today.  He took a three early in the second half to kind of see where he was on that, and didn't make it and he went right back to work down low doing the dirty work.
That's what we need him to be.  We need him to use his physicality and explosiveness in the paint.  I thought he did a great job of that.  It was really a big part of the game.  Because I thought he scored consistently throughout the game.  Got us off to a great start.  While we were defending, I thought he put points on the board to start the game, which built momentum.

Q.  Mark, obviously you guys could have avoided this round with the bounce of a ball here or there throughout the season.  Did you have concerns with how your guys were going to have to respond to having to play tonight?
COACH PHELPS:  No, I wasn't concerned about their excitement, their energy, their emotion.  I knew they would play that way.  It's unfortunate, like you said, with the bounce of the ball here or there, we went through a five‑game stretch there without Ben and lost three of those five games.  You can't help but go back and have hindsight and wish maybe Ben was there and maybe get a tenth win, which would have changed things.  But it is what it is.
The league was terrific this year, as you guys know.  We'll talk to Doug about that tiebreaker system.  We'll have to change it next time.  I thought the guys came and played with energy.  It could be a good thing as well.  I think people are talking about the fatigue, but it's also not a bad thing to come in the gym, get some shots to go down, get in a rhythm in this gym and play well tomorrow.  So we'll see how it goes.  But guys were ready to go.
We were concerned about Bradley.  Had a great concern about Bradley, but we were excited to play.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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