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March 3, 2012

Tyler Brown

Jackie Carmichael

Tim Jankovich


Illinois State – 65
Wichita State – 64

THE MODERATOR:  The Illinois State Redbirds are with us.  Coach, an opening statement, please?
COACH JANKOVICH:  My brief statement is I could not possibly be more proud of this basketball team.  You talk about being in a bad, bad situation, things going wrong.  We lost Jordan.  Obviously we need Jordan badly to play in this game.  Jackie gets a couple fouls early.  So now we're out Jordan, we're out Jackie, and Frenchy gets ejected from the game, so now we're only down three big guys for long stretches against their front line.  For that, basically, just not to matter to our guys, I think is just incredible.
It was one of the toughest, hardest‑fought performances of any team I've ever been around.

Q.  Tyler, I know you seemed a little nervous your first game of the tournament yesterday in the first half, but you hit your first few shots and gave you confidence.  What were you seeing that was giving you the opportunity to do that?  Was it just a confidence factor and hitting those first couple of shots?
TYLER BROWN:  I don't feel I was nervous the first game.  I just feel my jump shots weren't falling, so I just tried to attack to the rim.  You know, we came out in the game more aggressive, more physical, ready to basically just put up a fight that we didn't put up against them the previous two games.
I just feel we came out this game ready to fight.

Q.  Jackie, you obviously came out in the first half with two fouls and came in and got your third foul in the first minute of the second half.  Did that affect how you had to play now that had you three fouls and practically a whole have to go?
JACKIE CARMICHAEL:  Not really.  We were focused on going into the second half, and we were a man down.  I didn't have a choice, I had to play physical.  So I mean, this really wasn't an option not to play physical and just kind of back off.  So it worked out.  We had a couple that could have gone either way, but for the most part just tried to play physical until the final seconds.

Q.  Tyler, what was the feeling like when that final buzzer sounded?
TYLER BROWN:  It was crazy.  I've never felt something like that before.  Even though we have another game to win, I felt like it was crazy for me.  I've never been a part of something this big, something that means so much to a lot of people.  Our fans were here.  It means a lot to them, the players, the coaches and the people watching at home.  So it was a great feeling.

Q.  Tyler, could you kind of tell us what your mindset was when you're sitting there at that free‑throw line?  You make the first one, then you guys call timeout.  You're kind of standing there with four Wichita State guys around you.  What is rolling through your mind at that point?
TYLER BROWN:  Just block out everything.  It's just me and the rim, and do my normal routine.  In the middle of the season I felt like my free throws were a little shaky as soon as that went down, so I've been in the gym practicing those, and I felt like that paid off.

Q.  Kind of the obvious question is how do you guys after such an emotional win today not have a big letdown in tomorrow's championship game?
JACKIE CARMICHAEL:  Yeah, I think we'll use this as momentum.  It's not the culture of our team to have this big of a letdown we've worked our tails off to get to this point, and I feel like we're going to keep on working through tomorrow?

Q.  Jackie, given your entire roster has not one senior on it, and obviously this is still a work in progress, what kind of a statement did this game make to yourselves as well as other people that follow the Valley and college basketball in general?
JACKIE CARMICHAEL:  I don't know.  Age doesn't matter, but just the fact that we can really fight.  We really put in a lot of hard work to get to this point.

Q.  Tyler, can you assess your first trip to Arch Madness?  What was that like, especially the way things went down today?
TYLER BROWN:  Like I said before, it's been fun.  It's been crazy.  The atmosphere, I've never been part of something like this, this big and this much meaning to it, this much preparation.  We've been preparing for this for a while now, so much time that we put into it to get prepared.
We're going to go back to the hotel and prepare for the next game like we do any other game and just get ready for the next one.

Q.  Jackie, good defense today.  What was working well that gave WSU some problems?
JACKIE CARMICHAEL:  Just kind of big men‑wise.  We were just trying to push Garrett off the lane.  He's a great player, but we tried to limit his touches.  Our team did a great job.  The guards did a great job of diving down there.  Really just our all‑around defensive effort.

Q.  Could you guys talk about, obviously, maybe not a lot of people gave you guys a chance to win this game.  Could you guys talk about what you talk about at the hotel and coming into this game?  Kind of your mindset for both of the players?
TYLER BROWN:  My mindset and the whole team's was that we could win this game.  Most people probably turned their TVs off, whatever, after we were down by ten thinking they were going to win.  But we're not that type of team.  We've got a lot of guys that fight to win.  We may be young whatever people say, that doesn't matter.  We're a strong team.  We came together and we got closer.  We fought for each other for this one.
JACKIE CARMICHAEL:  The mindset coming in was we could win this game.  We never counted ourselves out, and like Tyler said, I think a lot of people turned their TVs off at halftime and flipped to another game or something like that.  Like I said, this team, we're going to fight and keep scratching around.  It's not in our nature to give up at all.  We'll just keep doing that and take care of the momentum into tomorrow's game.

Q.  Coach, it seemed you guys were having so much fun out there.  Was there a sense of a happy‑go‑lucky, loose feeling?
COACH JANKOVICH:  Well, I hope.  You're scaring me because when they become seniors, I hope it's not that they stop having fun.  They're fun guys.  They're a fun group.  I've said that from back when we went to Canada.  I love coaching this team.  They're fun guys.  They're good guys.  They really want to get better.  They want to be a team.  They're not selfish.  They're high energy.  That's the way they are.  That's the way they compete.
We've got a few guys with maybe a little extra personalities that just love competition.  So I think that's what you're seeing.  I don't think it's the age.  I hope next year when some of them are older, they'll look the same and more enthusiastic.
For me, they're just a fun, fun group.  Coaching is a lot of fun when you really love your team.  You look forward to going to practice every day.  I can promise you not every year for every coach is that way around the country.  But this has been one of those years for me where I look forward to seeing them every day.
We had a great culture from day one that we were going to be a great practice team.  Rarely ever had a poor practice.  Maybe not everyone was great.  But just that mindset over the course of four or five months is very difficult.  So I think that speaks to their competitive nature.  Also they like to compete.  They like to get after it.

Q.  How important was the tone that John Wilkins set?  Obviously you don't want a guy to get ejected, but it seemed he had a different level of intensity and fight in him today that maybe we haven't seen before?
COACH JANKOVICH:  He sure did.  I wasn't really hoping that he would get ejected given our situation.  When they told me that I was a little bit in disbelief that now we're going to be down two.
But I think it always comes out.  I've said this so many times.  But for a big guy, the number of rebounds you get tells a big story.  It tells the story of how much grit and how much fight was in you that night.  How active you were and how important it was.  If I'm reading this right, he got eight rebounds in 24 minutes.  My recommendation to him was to start talking in French so that way no one will know what he's saying.  I don't think you can eject a guy for something in French.  He's just speaking the wrong language, as far as I'm concerned.

Q.  What does a win like this one today mean to you as a head coach?
COACH JANKOVICH:  I don't know yet.  I don't know all of that.  I can tell what you it means.  What I was feeling and still am is very emotional.  Not about the ramifications of the future or whatever, but just emotional and lucky to have a job like this.
We work so hard.  All the coaches work so hard, and the players work so hard.  There is such a mountain and so much competition.  When you see your group go to a level that maybe they didn't know they have and become just different and become tougher men and all that, it makes you a little emotional.  That is probably one of the most gratifying things.  Not just what this means in the future, but just to sit there and watch what was going on today with an unbelievable amount of adversity on our end of the floor, I mean, good gosh.
You couldn't have anymore we had by the end of the game.  So for them to fight through that, that's how I feel.  It makes me emotional.

Q.  Since you've been at Illinois State, is this the biggest win for the program thus far?
COACH JANKOVICH:  Yeah, I guess because of the ranking, I guess because of that.  But we've had some pretty good ones.  But always in the moment, it feels like it too.  I would have said that on several other games, for sure.
But right now, sitting here with all the feelings, and all the emotion I just felt, it's hard to say if it's not, it's darn close.

Q.  You weren't shy yesterday about saying how big of an upset this would have been for you guys to win.  Now that you've pulled it off and you're one game away from a tournament, how big an upset is this?
COACH JANKOVICH:  Not that big, but of course it was.  They're ranked 15th or whatever they're ranked.  But if you look at it, I think I said this, and ironically it took us a while to become‑‑ I say a neutral floor‑‑ but a road team.  We played our best road game of the year at their place.  It was a 1‑point game with a minute to go, which just shocks me.  And then at our place we didn't play very well.
We had 3:00 to go, and it's 8 or 9 points.  We got an open 3 to cut it.  For some reason we've played them well even when we didn't play well the last game.  Played poorly, and played them fairly close.
We all thought we had a chance.  But we also knew realistically we were going to have to play tremendous.  I never, ever thought we could shoot 33% and beat this team ever.  I guess that's why I'm feeling emotional.  But yesterday we held a team to 26%, and today we held a team ranked 15th to 33%.
I don't care how you slice it, but that is nothing but grit and toughness, and all the things that are most dear to a coach.  That's why I feel like I do, not because we hit 10 of 11 threes or something and had a hot night.  Now I wish we would do that tomorrow.  I think we're due like nobody else to start shooting the ball.  But I tried to teach these guys from day one it's all about winning games when you don't shoot well.  To do it against this team is magnified to the hundredth power.

Q.  You were talking with this grit and toughness.  Can you pinpoint a part of this season, a stretch in this season where your team really embraced that especially on the defensive end?  Because that's obviously why you're winning games when you're still shooting #33%.
COACH JANKOVICH:  Not for sure.  I think it's a lot of lessons learned with guys that had no lessons.  Half of our guys that played had no lessons.  So even though you tell them, like us all, we have to have it happen to us before we say, yeah, I should have listened to him.
So I think it was a gradual process of learning hard lessons.  We got better and we'd play some stretches.  I'd turn a film on of a road game, and gosh, 20 great minutes of defense, and 10 decent, and 10 minutes of mistakes.  Just lack of concentration and all those kind of things, standing up, ball watching, you name it.
So I could see it coming, but it wasn't there.  I just think it's been a process.  We knew that at the beginning of the year we felt like we would be playing our best basketball here at the end.  I believed in these guys.  I told them even when we were struggling at times, I said, I think this is a heck of a team, but we're not there yet.  We've got to grow.  We've got to grow up and understand what it takes a little bit better.

Q.  I remember Wichita State getting run outs and fast breaks.  How important was that to keep them from that today?
COACH JANKOVICH:  I told them they would not eat if they didn't get back on defense.  So the food was a great motivator for our guys.  That was a big emphasis was defensive transition, the other was rebounding.  I think we got outrebounded 6, but we were plus 6 in turnovers, so we neutralize how many shots you get to take.  I thought with them rebounding was such a strength.
But we rebounded pretty well.  I thought we fought hard on the boards, but we did make a huge emphasis to get back and not ball watch.  The shot goes up.  It's something we talk about all the time, the activity, and what are you doing when the ball's in the air?  The ball's in the air 3 seconds.  Lot of times guys stand there and watch it.  It gets rebounded, and you can't.  You've got to be in motion when the ball is shot, and I thought we did a pretty good job of that.

Q.  You guys went over 12 minutes in the first half without a basket.  To be only down by 8 points at that stage, had you to be feeling pretty good at halftime?
COACH JANKOVICH:  Great, great.  Jackie's out.  You know, we're kind of on fumes.  We've got nothing working.  We started to force.  We panicked a little bit, which was the last thing we needed to do, but only because of defense and rebounding.  I felt tremendous to be down eight at the half, and I told our guys that.
To play without Jackie, to play when shots aren't going and when we panicked a little bit and forced out on our three or four shots down the stretch.  I would have taken eight any day of the week.
I've seen Wichita enough on film to know their style of play, it ebbs and flows.  They can get really hot.  But even in the Indiana State game there were some big swings back and forth.  So I knew that could happen as long as we could dig in and as long as we could get some offense.
We really just opened some things up.  We free flowed pretty good and guys started making plays.  All of a sudden, we got them on their heels and you could feel when it starts taking place.  It's a great feeling when they're on our side and you get the defense on their heels, and that's what took place.

Q.  Can you run us through your emotions and those last six seconds with Tyler on the free‑throw line and them getting two shots to win?
COACH JANKOVICH:  I don't know about the emotions, but it was a lot to think about.  It was a lot to think about right there.  How do you want to play this situation?  You know, there are a lot of choices.  Do you want to sub and 2‑2‑1 press and try to make it hard to get it pass, knowing they'll throw it to someone and shoot it?  If they drive by on a foul, do you go back and switch or not switch and zone or whatever?  It's not emotional at that point.  It's just the thoughts racing through your head and trying to pick the scenario that you like the best.  So that's what was going through my head.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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