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November 21, 2012

Rotnei Clarke

Brad Stevens


Illinois – 78
Butler – 61

Q.  Rotnei was obviously great tonight, but other guys kind of struggled to score the basketball.
COACH STEVENS:  Yeah, I thought we looked a step behind on both ends of the floor.  I told our guys when a team's shooting like that, number one we have to change schemes like we did.  We did a good job.  They only hit three threes in the second half.  Number two, you have to get every loose ball, and we didn't.  We didn't.  We got beat to some loose balls, and, again, credit to them.  They're playing with great intensity, and their skill level is so high.  They spread you out so much that sometimes you're not in position to get some of those balls.

Q.  Can you just talk about your feeling it, but were you conscious of trying to get other guys going?
ROTNEI CLARKE:  We were just trying to do whatever we could to get going.  Whether that was me being aggressive or trying to get to the hole or score a little bit or other guys scoring.  We were just trying to get into a groove and get something going. 
       Like Coach said, we didn't do enough of the little things like getting to the loose balls that we have a chance of getting to, and that's what killed us in the end.

Q.  Coach, what do you think of Brandon Paul?
COACH STEVENS:  Oh, he's terrific.  They're a really good basketball team.  Brandon Paul was a pro.  He's a big time pro.  Not only because he shoots it, the way he shoots it, he creates distance on his drives.  I had to ask is he traveling?  And I don't think he was, but he had such a long stride.  We had good athletes guarding him and still couldn't keep him in front.  I think he's as good of a pro prospect as there probably was in this tournament.  Really good player, but really well complemented too with the other guys.
I think the key to their team and the guy that's elevated them beyond what people may have expected in the early season is Tracy Abrams.  He was terrific all tournament.  He's really started off well, and I got a chance to coach Tracy for a blink of an eye in under 18, USA basketball a couple summers ago.  He's a really neat kid who takes coaching well, and it's good to see him have success, just not against us.

Q.  What was it like going up against Coach Groce tonight and what did you say to each other afterwards?
COACH STEVENS:  John may say different, but I didn't really feel like it was our coaching staff against their coaching staff.  It was our team against their team.  They did a really good job in defending us.  I thought, especially in the first half.  I thought they we made a few adjustments in the second half and they adjusted as well.  We just couldn't keep up with them on the other end of the floor.  Then to be quite candid, when you give up 39 points to Butler in a half, something's wrong.  It was we could not keep up with the ball movement.  We didn't have enough pressure on the ball.  In the second half, we really stayed home and went away from our core system quite a bit.  It got us back in the game until Griffey hit those two threes, but that's what they'll do.  It happened for us in a couple of games already this year.  We'll go on 6 or 9‑0 runs, and then bang, game is different.  We're right in the game and a 6‑0 run and bang, game is over.

Q.  Watching Rotnei take a lot of those shots, it looks like you've given him the ultimate green light.  It kind of reminded me of Jimmer Fredette at BYU a couple of years ago.  When he's feeling it, you seem to just let him shoot wherever he wants to shoot.
COACH STEVENS:  If he's not feeling it, he's got the same Green light.  Here's why, Chad.  I think there aren't five guys that have played college basketball in the last ten years that have put in as much time as him.  So he deserves to shoot as much as he wants.  Not everybody that put in that much time would be that good.  But the time that he puts in is remarkable.  It's been contagious to our team.  I thought Kellen's legs were.  But he was short quite a bit.  He's another one that gets in the gym, and those guys have the green light.
THE MODERATOR:  Coach, maybe make a final comment about the overall experience here in Maui?
COACH STEVENS:  Absolutely terrific experience.  So thankful to be invited, be a part of it.  I said this when we got here this was a bucket list event for Butler.  And we've lived a lot of bucket list moments in our last ten years or so, but this is right up there.  We played in the preseason NIT.  We've played in all the other exempts, and this has been a tremendous experience.  I told Dave earlier, you just tell me when you want us back.

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