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March 2, 2012
ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI
Illinois State Â– 54
UNI Â– 42
THE MODERATOR:Â Tim Jankovich of the Illinois State Red Birds is with us.Â We'll have him start and give us a brief synopsis of the game and come up with questions for the three student‑athletes.
COACH JANKOVICH:Â I told Ben before the game, "Isn't it great that the prize for winning this game is you get to play Wichita in the next round after watching Wichita today and all year?"
So it's going to be a tremendous challenge.Â But right now it's about today, and just a tremendous, tremendous effort by our entire team.Â You know, we were a man down.Â An important man down.Â Then we have Frenchy with three fouls in the first half.Â We had two.Â I think John had two.Â We're just a makeshift squad as far as substitutions at that point and somehow managed to hang in by four.
Lo and behold, second half, we stay out of foul trouble.Â Just, I don't know.Â I can't say enough.Â Every guy was tremendous.Â Northern is an outstanding team.Â Look at their year.Â Look at their wins.Â Look at how they battle.Â How smart and tough they are.Â We have a tremendous, tremendous amount of respect for them.Â So could not be more proud of our team today.
THE MODERATOR:Â Quick note on Jackie Carmichael, he had his 14th double rebound game of the season today, that is tops in the Valley.Â He also leads the league with 12 double‑doubles.Â With that, you can ask any questions of the three student‑athletes.
COACH JANKOVICH:Â Yeah, but it's only 15.Â You only had 15 rebounds?Â Good Lord.Â We've got to get to work, Geez.Â Anybody can get 15.
Q.Â Jackie, you had the big dunk that put you up 54‑31.Â That started the run and won you guys the game from there.Â Can you talk about that play and what that meant to your team?
JACKIE CARMICHAEL:Â I don't know that it won us the game.Â Our fight really won us the game.Â The way we played down the stretch and handled the pressure, they were doubling on the inside.Â We were able to get the ball to some other players, and Tyler was able to make some crucial plays down the stretch.Â That was just huge for us.
All of that builds into momentum, and that's what kind of pushed us ahead.
Q.Â Jackie, it seemed like you wanted the ball in your hand there's at the end of the game for the free throws.Â Before that you had the fadeaway and a nice pass for the lay‑up.Â Just talk about how you wanted the ball in your hands early?
JACKIE CARMICHAEL:Â Yeah, at the end of the game we wanted to make them foul.Â It wasn't that I wanted the ball in my hands, it was just that we were getting it to the open man and playing team basketball and trying to close out the game.
Q.Â Can you talk about the total defense effort tonight, Bryant?Â Was there a frustration level in the first half that you guys just weren't able to get any offensive rhythm really going?
BRYANT ALLEN:Â Not really.Â I mean, we just wanted to be patient and slow down.Â The first half we just kind of were going fast, going a hundred miles per hour.Â We just needed to slow down and let our defense win the game for us.
Q.Â Bryant, I couldn't help but notice how excited you guys all seemed after the win.Â But was it a relief?Â Everybody seemed to be smiling and upbeat.Â Just because it was kind of a tough game to get through?
BRYANT ALLEN:Â Yeah, it was really exciting to go get this win.Â Coach did a good job of putting together a good scouting report for us.Â We just go out and try to execute to our best.Â We just came together as a team, and we came out on top.Â Northern Iowa's a great team.Â Big ups to them.
We've got much respect for them.Â They're going to be good next year as well.Â But we're going to enjoy this win right now, but right now we're just focusing on the next game.
Q.Â Nic, how big was Jackie?Â He had the five blocks as well as the rebounds.Â I know it's just another game, but how big was he?
NIC MOORE:Â He's always a big key to our team.Â I know if somebody gets beat on the dribble, that Jackie's always there to clean it up as you can see tonight?
Q.Â Nic, in the first half, was there a little bit of nerves?Â We talked before about playing the first time.Â A lot of guys in the Valley tournament, do you think that attributed to your play in the first half?
NIC MOORE:Â Yeah, we were a little sped up.Â Coach told us before that their defense is like a Pac 10 zone, and we needed to reverse the ball in the second half.Â We did that, and got it to Jackie, kicked out and he made big plays and so did everybody else.
Q.Â Jackie, what do you expect tomorrow?
JACKIE CARMICHAEL:Â It's going to be a hard game.Â We'll have to come out and fight even harder than we did today.Â We have a big seven‑footer in the middle.Â Their team all around doesn't make many mistakes.Â We'll go back tonight and get ready to play them.
But I don't expect anything but it to be a knock‑down, drag ‑out fight from beginning to end.
Q.Â Bryant, is the pressure all on Wichita State tomorrow?
THE MODERATOR:Â Bryant, you first then Nic.
BRYANT ALLEN:Â I would say so.Â Them being the No. 1 seed, they've got a lot of pressure on them.Â We just want to go out and execute and continue to just play team basketball and do whatever it takes to win this game tomorrow.
NIC MOORE:Â I would say, yes, the pressure's on them.Â We've just got to come in this game and execute and do what we do and just have fun and believe in each other.
Q.Â Jackie, could you talk about the defensive effort?Â In a conference game, was this tops for the year?
BRYANT ALLEN:Â I think for sure.Â We kind of put it all together.Â We've had great defensive nights.Â We've got times where we've played one great defensive half and either not finished it out, but tonight it really came together.Â I felt like from the beginning everyone came out and played hard.Â It really was playing great defense.
Q.Â You held Northern Iowa to 25% shooting.Â Deon Mitchell and Anthony James combined for four points.
COACH JANKOVICH:Â I'm going to answer that, but first of all, I want to get back to the pressure being on Wichita.Â I love these guys.Â I love our team, but they're totally full of crap.Â The pressure is on us.Â Wichita is in the NCAA Tournament already.Â I don't really see the pressure on them at this point.
I would say that the team in red is the one with the pressure on them, so we'll have to get that straightened out at our meal tonight.Â This is the best kind of game.Â I don't know how many times I've said that.Â This is my fifth year here, but I've learned this a long time ago.Â It took me a long time.Â I was a slow learner, because as I was young and starting in this thing, I thought the best kind when you scored 2, 92‑84, that was the best kind to win, because it's fun and pretty and I love watching it and all that.
But when you've coached long enough, you realize the best games to win are one when you‑‑ I don't know if we set a record‑‑ but we shot 26%.Â They shot 25.Â Probably was a Missouri Valley record for low field goal percentage in a half.Â And for the game we shoot 34.Â We can't make a three.Â Just a tough, tough offensive night.
When you can do that against an outstanding team, those are the best kind of wins.Â Those only happen through the right mindset, the right mentality, the right toughness, the right chemistry, all the things have to be in line to win a game when you shoot 34% and 15 from three and you make one more turnover than your opponent.
I could not be happier.Â I thought the effort‑‑ I don't even know who to single out defensively.Â I thought everybody.Â It was our best effort.Â It was our best, toughest, grittiest, most mature.Â I thought our team grew up.Â Maybe that's the wrong word.Â Took a step tonight.Â I've been saying as much as I love coaching them, we're not close to our potential yet because we're so young.
But tonight they looked older.Â They looked older tonight like they got it.Â They figured out that you can't take possessions off.Â You can't stand up on defense.Â You can't watch the ball.Â All the things that cause you to have break downs.Â We chased the ball.Â We pursued everything and talked.Â So that's why some guys struggled, because we had some guys fighting their absolute tail off.
The bad news for us is as good as Northern is, Wichita is arguably the best team in how many years in this league.Â Highest ranked, I would think.Â Four senior guards that are all really talented, a seven‑footer that I think will be and should be drafted.
You talk about an amazing challenge from our defensive end, but at the same time we'll have to play much better offensively.Â Let's shoot the ball better.Â We were probably nervous.Â My biggest concern coming in here is being nervous.Â Three of the four guards we play all the time, this is their first deal.Â They looked like it first half.
I thought, gosh, if they would just run a little faster, they'd put us in a track meet.Â Yeah, they're all stumbling around, and Wichita's a great defensive team.Â We'll have to play better than this offensively.Â We'll have to play at least this well defensively.
And they have a 7‑footer that neutralizes a lot of the middle, which it doesn't even seem fair to me.Â Seems like we ought to have a handicap on that, but I don't think that's going to happen for us.
Q.Â UNI beat you by 15 points two weeks ago.Â What is the difference between two weeks ago and tonight?
COACH JANKOVICH:Â I think we just kind of got it tonight.Â We've been very good most of the year at home defensively.Â We look like a different team at home.Â Then we go on the road and we didn't look the same.Â We never played with the same fight.Â We played hard, don't get me wrong.Â But not understanding how to win hard, tough road games.
I thought we played pretty well at Northern.Â But we had too many break downs, allowed too many baskets.Â We fell down three times, if you can believe that, and they scored nine points on those and just falling down.
So we thought we can guard it.Â I didn't think we'd guard them this well.Â I didn't‑‑ I didn't see this coming.Â But we've worked hard since then.Â We've been working hard to be able to play that way.Â We've had a great week of practice.Â God, just the best week of practice the whole year.Â I can see some things potentially where they understand you know what, you've got to be exact.Â You've got to be precise.Â So I think that was the difference.
Q.Â Jackie was kind of deflecting the attention to his teammates.Â Can you talk about how much he meant to your team?
COACH JANKOVICH:Â Wow, he's throwing up some crazy numbers.Â I mean 15 rebounds.Â He had a 19 and a 20, and a 15, these are crazy numbers.Â I mean, crazy.Â Then he gets five blocks and protects when we do have a break down going down the lane.Â How many times did he do that?Â He was tremendous.Â Tremendous.
I am so proud of him, because he knows how I feel last year.Â He wasn't ready for what he was thrown into last year.Â We couldn't score.Â Our guard play was not very good.Â He all of a sudden was asked to be the bell cow, and he wasn't ready for that.Â It was a struggle, and he got inactive.Â This year he's like a totally different guy.
The whole summer, he just dedicated himself.Â And he's not as good as he's going to become.Â He still has room.Â I'm telling you, he has room to get better, and I'm really excited about some of these new rules where we can work with them in the summer and all those kind of things.Â But he's been fantastic.Â He was absolutely terrific tonight.
Q.Â First time you played Wichita there, you lose by three.Â Second time you get buried early at home, you come back, and it's still double digit.Â How do you beat them now as well as they're playing?
COACH JANKOVICH:Â We can go play them at their place, maybe, if we can move this.Â The most ironic thing of the season.Â In no way do I mean we have some secret, but we weren't a great road team.Â Everyone knows that.Â Lot of people weren't this year.Â It was such a hard league.Â Lot of people didn't win a lot of road games, and we didn't either.
Our best one was at Wichita.Â We had a chance to win that game, but it was really because we had a couple of guys just go on fire and get in a complete heat up.Â That's really why.
At home they just kind of kept a ten‑point lead.Â We cut it to nine.Â We had three in the air with three to go.Â If it goes, it's six.Â It's a six‑point game with three to go.Â Kind of threatened them, but of course it didn't.
Jordan Threloff was a big part of that game.Â As soon as we lost him this week, my first thought was Wichita and a big gulp, because he is playing better and better all the time.Â He's a big body.Â He did a great job defensively.Â He kept us in that game, I thought.Â And we don't have him now.Â I don't mean that as an excuse, but if I can't sleep at night, you should at least know why and that's why.
But to beat them‑‑ I was at the hotel, and I saw the score it was like 22‑5 or something the way it started.Â I know how good Indiana State is, and it's like holy cow.Â That's why I asked them.Â Do you win when you win this game?Â Is that the prize?Â We get to play Wichita?
Q.Â You mentioned your young guard.Â In the first half they had six turnovers.Â Anything you said going into the half that gave them a boost of confidence?
COACH JANKOVICH:Â Nothing in a regular voice, no.Â But in a loud voice several things were said to them, yeah.Â No, not really.Â I just tried to settle them down.Â I figured they would do that.Â I was worried they would do that.Â I thought we probably wouldn't shoot great because you feel a little rust.Â I thought we'd turn it over more than we even did.Â I thought we'd make some hurried plays.Â We did.Â So half of the halftime was spent telling everybody to settle down and play like we've played this week in practice.
On both sides of the ball, we just really grew up.Â I could see it.Â I kept telling them, you're getting it.Â You're getting how to be an efficient team and not beat yourself.Â Of course, it didn't go that way the first half, but it certainly did the second half.Â That was very, very well played by our guys.
Q.Â Obviously no coach is ever going to say that they would like to have no seniors.Â This is a stupid question, but do you ever get the sense that you kind of have a happy go lucky group?Â You said there was pressure tomorrow, but knowing this won't be their last stand, so to speak?
COACH JANKOVICH:Â That is a good question.Â I think every coach would like to have, if you're trying to win a tournament or big game or whatever, I think every coach would say give me a whole bunch of seniors.Â Seniors are going to fight.Â There's going to be a different level of fight.Â There is going to be a different level of don't quit, and different level of urgency.Â Those things are all the best that you can have when your team takes the floor.Â If they have those ingredients, and senior laden teams do, that's great.Â Just like I told our guys, Moran's going to play well.Â I guarantee it.Â Moran's going to play well.Â He's a senior.Â He's at a different level than you guys.Â This is his last deal.Â He's been looking around going I don't get to do this ever again, and he did.Â He was their leading scorer, right?Â I knew that would take place.
But maybe a little, you're right.Â A little happy‑go‑lucky.Â Maybe that's not all bad.Â Maybe we're not ready for the challenge tomorrow, but maybe we are.Â It would be a huge, huge, huge upset.Â We understand that.Â I don't want to get too giddy.Â We won this game.
It was big for us in a lot of ways, but, again, the big prize is you get the 15th ranked team in the country who just looked like a million bucks to me in the game before.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports