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March 3, 2012

Gregory Echenique

Greg McDermott

Antoine Young


Creighton – 99
Evansville – 71

THE MODERATOR:  Coach McDermott, an opening statement, please.
COACH McDERMOTT:  I couldn't be more proud of our team.  Evansville has given us fits in both games this year.  They really probably should have beaten us twice.  We made a few changes overnight that we basically instituted without a walk through.  We just decided to do mental preparation.
I thought those guys executed those well.  We put a little bit more pressure on the basketball.  They were a little more aggressive with our help.  And we gave up a few easy ones as a result of that.  We just thought we made life more difficult for Colt Ryan and Denver Holmes than we did the last time we played them.
Offensively, the basketball moved for us.  When we moved the basketball and got Gregory playing at the high level he was playing, they committed a lot of help to Doug, and when you do that, there are other things open.  Our guards, Antoine in particular in Austin only gets 13 assists and two turnovers between them.
They did a good job of finding what was open and delivering the ball, and our shooters stepped up and made good shots.

Q.  Antoine, watching Wichita State get on right before you guys, did that put you guys on alert, the fact that you had the ranking coming in that you could lose to anybody?
ANTOINE YOUNG:  No, it's been like that all year.  We lost three straight in conference play.  It wasn't anything shocking.  It was describing coming to play every night, and it wasn't a shock.

Q.  Gregory how proud are you up of this team and the way they played today to get to the championship tomorrow?
GREGORY ECHENIQUE:  I'm very happy.  We played hard, and I know yesterday's game was a little close.  Today we dominated the game.  And I think that helped us use confidence, and tomorrow's game is huge.  I mean, we didn't get a chance to win the regular conference season, and we had some, like Antoine said, we've lost some games before.  Tomorrow we have an opportunity, and we're going with great momentum.  Today's win means a lot to us.

Q.  Gregory, you almost had as many rebounds as Evansville's entire team.  They had 10, had you 17.  How did it feel to dominate the glass like that?
GREGORY ECHENIQUE:  It feels good.  I was chasing them.  Even though they're an undersized team, they play hard and try to box you out.  Serves trying to go around them.  I know sometimes since they shot pretty good, and the they took some fouls on me.  But I tried to chase the ball, play hard, and it worked out.
I feel like when I have good rebounding games, it definitely helps me and gets my offense going.

Q.  Earlier in the game yesterday Coach got you motivated and had you to sit down for a little while.  Today you didn't seem to have that issue.  What was your mental outlook coming into the game today?
GREGORY ECHENIQUE:  It's true, yeah, yesterday that happened.  When I came back, I think I played a little better.  Honestly, I always try to come out with the same mindset.  I try to play hard, and I know sometimes it doesn't always work out like that.  But, I mean, today I was just focused and paying a lot of attention to film, and it happened.

Q.  Antoine, this is a two‑parter.  You guys shot 60% from the floor today.  Was it one of these days where you guys were in the zone?  Did it even matter who you guys were playing?
ANTOINE YOUNG:  When we space people out like that, I mean, Austin was driving and trying to spring it out to our shooters.  Our shooters are shooters.  They got going today and knocked some shots down, and when that happens, we're a tough team to beat.

Q.  When the starters are on the sideline late in the game and you got more than 90 points, was there some excitement like, hey, let's get 10?
ANTOINE YOUNG:  A lot of excitement.  It was just nice to see us get a margin win.  It's been neck to neck all the way down.  Also, Coach gave us some rest, so not being on the floor as long helped out a lot.

Q.  Gregory, playing against a team that's that much smaller, do you feel that's the type of game you should be able to dominate?
GREGORY ECHENIQUE:  Well, yeah, I feel like a lot of people put pressure on me when it's an undersized team.  But obviously, Evansville, they know what's on their side, and they work for it.  They're really quick, so they make up for it.  So it's not as easy as people think.
But like I said, I keep on playing, playing smart, trying to use my body, and today I was able to do that.  I was glad it worked out for me.

Q.  Can you talk a little about tomorrow's championship match‑up, and I guess, is any part of you kind of sad that the team's going to be in red and white instead of black and gold?
GREGORY ECHENIQUE:  Well, yeah, we play Illinois State already twice.  They're very streaky.  They can be a dangerous team, and they showed that today.  But I mean, I feel like we match-up well, and we'll be ready for that.  Obviously, we all kind of wanted another shot at Wichita, but that's not going to change our mindset.
I mean, we came here to win this.  It doesn't matter who we play in the final.  Our mindset is going to be the same.  We need to be focused and ready to win this.
ANTOINE YOUNG:  Like Greg just said, obviously, yeah, I think anyone on our team would want Wichita in the finals.  That would have been nice.  But it is what it is.  It's an opportunity to go out and prove ourselves, an opportunity to go play for a championship game, and just another opportunity to play together.

Q.  Antoine, was there anything earlier in that game that you could sense maybe this team had a little sharpness that it's been lacking over the last four weeks?
ANTOINE YOUNG:  I don't know if more sharpness, but I thought we had a good feel on offense, and on the defensive end is where we started.  I felt like we came out pretty well.  Probably the best all season.  Offensively we were moving the ball, reading things a lot better than we have been, so when that's happening.  It's a great feeling for us, and it makes our coach feel pretty good too.

Q.  You guys all played well today.  It was a great game.  But you got some really good performances out of Artino and a couple of other players as well.  Joe shot terrific from three.  He had four threes in a row straight.  Could you talk about your teammates who played well, and what State's going to have to do to deal with them?
ANTOINE YOUNG:  I said it all year, our bench, I think is dangerous.  We have a really good bench.  They're all talented.  Josh is capable of making shots.  Ethan's capable of making shots.  Will's capable of doing damage like he did tonight.  So I don't think it's anything new.  They're capable of doing that in any game.  If we can tax them like we did today and find our shooters and they're shooting as well, it will be a tough match‑up for them.  But it's going to be a really good game.  It's going to be a tough one.
GREGORY ECHENIQUE:  I feel the good thing about our team is we do have a good bench.  A lot of the things we play, like today, I think it didn't sub much.  Will's playing well, and that helps because I can get a little more rest on the bench.  He's doing his job, and that's great.  I believe in him. 
       Obviously, Josh gave us a great win today, and that's the things that make our team better.  If our bench can help us, that's great.  I hope we can come out tomorrow with the same intensity.

Q.  Antoine, what do you feel makes Illinois State a dangerous team?
ANTOINE YOUNG:  They can spread you out.  They can spread you out.  They're very athletic.  They can drive the ball.  They're a talented team, and you have a great guy like Jackie Carmichael in the middle.  Whenever you can spread people out and drive in and make plays, you're a dangerous team.  So we're going to sit down and guard the dribble, I think that will be the big key of the game.

Q.  Coach, you were able to rest your starters quite a bit today.  Was your mindset as the game progressed and the lead built that that could help for tomorrow?
COACH McDERMOTT:  You know, you don't go into a game thinking that, but as the game wore on and we were able to keep that 20 to 25‑point lead inside of 9:00 minutes, we started to rest them then and we just kind of played it by ear.  If we could maintain that, it didn't feel like it was going to get out of hand or they were going to get back in it, we were going to keep those guys over there.  So it worked out great.
We got a win, and we didn't play guys ‑‑ 27 minutes for Gibbs was the most, and he only played 14 or 15 yesterday.  So I always believe in a tournament like this.  You get to the third day, and you're running on fumes then the adrenaline kicks in and you forget if you're tired.
So nobody will be tired on that floor tomorrow.  I promise you that.  Both teams will give it their all.

Q.  Greg, your guys touched on your depth a little bit.  All but one of your players scored tonight.  But even at halftime you had nine guys who had already scored at halftime.  Can you just talk about the depth that you have?
COACH McDERMOTT:  Our plan was to go to the bench early and go to the bench often because of the tournament format.  We felt we had a little more depth and we could keep fresh guys on Colt Ryan and Denver Holmes when they don't have another Colt Ryan and Denver Holmes coming off the bench to do what those guys can do.
We wanted to keep fresh bodies on them as much as we could.  We played Taylor and played the point guards half and half, so we could keep a fresh body on there.  I think that obviously helped us.  We wore into them as the game went on.
It's going to be important.  Any time you're going to come down here and have an opportunity to win four games, you have to have your people step up and more than your main starters and guys that scored for you all year long.  We win a game by almost 30 points and Doug only takes four shots.
We've got other guys that can score.  We'll need them again tomorrow.

Q.  I guess from your vantage point, what did you see that was different about today than maybe the last four weeks?
COACH McDERMOTT:  It's amazing what happens when shots go in.  We started 21‑2 and had more games like this than we had when we didn't shoot it well.  And we have the ability to do that.  It's who we are.  We're not blessed with a bunch of guys that are great slashers and great off the dribble.  But we've got solid post play.  We've got very solid point guard play.  And our wings just do their job.  They do what they do and they don't try to do too much.
What we need some of them to do is not get shots when they're going to commit that much help, the dribble penetration by Antoine or the post‑ups by Greg and Doug.  When Greg was as aggressive as he was tonight, we're a very difficult team to guard.

Q.  Can you expand on the changes you made?  I wonder, you started some games slow the last couple weeks.  I was wondering if you were trying to maybe get that jump started a little bit?
COACH McDERMOTT:  I don't think the pressure had anything to do with jump starting our team.  It's just what we attempted to do against Evansville at our place wasn't as effective as we thought.
Sometimes you go into a game and put together a game plan and it works great.  Sometimes the game is over and you ask yourself, what the heck was I thinking?  Against Evansville at our place, I asked myself what the heck was I thinking?  So we made some changes and guarded them a little different either team, and short‑cutted a few more screens and put a little more pressure on the guy with the basketball.
So his vision to make us pay for mistakes we made wasn't as great.  Like I said earlier, we gave up a few easy baskets, but I understood going in that that was going to happen to take away some of the things we were trying to take away from Holmes and Ryan.

Q.  Yourself and your players have talked about the strengths of Indiana State or Illinois State, rather.  Illinois State did just pull off an upset.  Do you have a message for the fans of Creighton at all to talk about the strengths that your team has against that match‑up and the reason why they should breathe easy knowing that you guys are a good team?  What are the positives going into tomorrow's games?
COACH McDERMOTT:  I don't think anybody's breathing easy.  I mean, our players, our fans, and I don't want them to.  Illinois State won their way to the championship game just like we did.  We had to win some good basketball teams just like you did.
Coach got them playing the best basketball at the right time, and we're going to see a fired up Illinois State team tomorrow, and throw out what's happened the last two games we played them.  It makes absolutely no difference.  We'll need to play great basketball tomorrow if we expect to win this championship.

Q.  As has been touched on, you'll be playing a team tomorrow that's playing for a trip to the NCAA Tournament, whereas you're playing for a seed.  From your perspective over your career, how often have you had a team in that position, and how does that factor into a game when you can look at some kids and tell them we're 40 minutes away from either going to the NCAA Tournament or not?
COACH McDERMOTT:  To answer the first part of your question, how many times have I played in a championship game where I knew I was in the NCAA Tournament?

Q.  No, on the other side where you don't know?

Q.  I got you.
COACH McDERMOTT:  We won one championship at Northern Iowa.  Our first ever three NCAA Tournament runs that we had there, and the first one was a conference championship in St. Louis.  So you're playing for your lives when you're in that situation.
As a coach and as a player, you work your whole career for an opportunity to go to the NCAA Tournament.  But at the same time as a coach and a player, you only have so many chances to win a championship, whether it's a regular season conference championship which we came up short on, or a tournament championship which is in front of us now tomorrow.
I don't think the fact that there's maybe more of a desperation mode for Illinois State because we feel pretty comfortable that we're going to get into the NCAA Tournament, I don't think that plays a factor in the game at all.

Q.  You will not throw the game to get the Missouri Valley three bids into the tournament?
COACH McDERMOTT:  There is probably no chance of that.

Q.  You shared a message and a laugh with Derek before he shot those last two free throws.  What did you tell him?
COACH McDERMOTT:  I said there is no pressure.  We've just got a chance to score a hundred in a conference tournament game.  I thought he'd miss the first one, but he stepped up and made the first one.
Those guys are great, Derek, and Taylor, Matt.  Ross wasn't in uniform.  Those guys are rotating who is on the bench.  They've meant so much to this basketball team.  I can't State enough the value that they've had as leaders for our team.  Their example and their mentoring of our younger players goes beyond what you usually see with a guy that's a walk‑on.
They're walk‑on in name only.  Other than that, they're as valuable to this team as anybody that wears that uniform.

Q.  You dominated on the boards today 43‑17.  Could you elaborate on that and talk more about the game that Gregory had today?
COACH McDERMOTT:  I didn't like our rebounding yesterday.  I didn't think we were as aggressive going to get the basketball.  Today people were ducking out of Gregory's way when he went to get the ball.
He was aggressive.  He wanted the basketball.  His teammates threw it to him.  They trusted him.  He made good catches in traffic.  He ran the floor.  Defensively he was outstanding.  This may have been as complete of a game as he's played in a Creighton uniform.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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