March 21, 2011
THE MODERATOR: Coach, an opening statement and then questions for our student athletes.
COACH WEBER: Any time it comes to an end, it's very disappointing. I thought last month we had kind of got it back together and we were playing pretty good basketball, but we faced a team that is special. They have very talented players, and the thing that makes them special is that they also play hard. The talented players play hard all the time. They've got some glue guys and they seem to be a great team.
We just thought we had to have an extra special effort. Somebody had to go crazy and make a bunch of shots, and I thought early we shot it too quick. They got the big lead on us, and we weren't patient enough, didn't play as a team and put them on defense. It was one of the things we talked about because then they get in transition.
I joked yesterday that all I ever watch is them doing lob dunks. They got rolling and got some early and got some late, and just gave them too many easy opportunities. But we didn't quit. Had it at 4 at halftime. Had it 4 or 5 several times in the second half, and we needed them to maybe make a mistake or two. For us, somebody to make a big shot or something happened, and it just didn't, and they just kind of took it over down the stretch.
Couldn't be more proud of our seniors. They're great representatives of our university, quality kids. Two have already graduated. The other two, I hope they have it in their mind to graduate. I think they'll have a great future. We have some young, talented kids and hopefully a bright future for our program.
Q. Could both players talk about the defense you saw tonight versus UNLV, 60% shooting that night, and a little less than 40 tonight.
Mike Tisdale: You know, their defense was obviously pretty good. They're physical. They were quick, and made it tough on us. We didn't make the shots we normally make, and it just happened to be like that, I guess. I've got to give them credit. They're a good team.
Mike Davis: UNLV is more of a gamble type team. They want to pressure you and play fast. Kansas is more of a discipline defense. Coach Self runs a great system on their defensive end. They stay in front of us. They don't gamble. They just make shots. Tonight we didn't make shots. We needed them to miss some shots and we needed to make some extra shots to and shoot better against UNLV to have a chance to win.
But we played hard to the end but just couldn't get over that hump. They kept cutting it to 5, and the kept making a run. I've got to give credit to their players. They're a great team.
Q. Can you talk about playing against the twins, what they were like tonight?
Mike Tisdale: Obviously, they're good players. They don't get where they're at for not being good. They made plays when they needed to. They made shots and rebounds. So you've got to give the two credit. They're good players, and they played tough tonight.
Mike Davis: They're not lottery projections for nothing. They're great players. They made some tough turnarounds. They play together. Those two call for ball screens, and those two say high low. They play together. They just went out there and they were physical. They made some tough shots, and their guards got it to them. They made their team go, those two twins. So got to give them credit to their guys for getting them the ball.
Q. Do you think you guys left a good positive impression on this last game? Do you think you won some fans back?
Mike Tisdale: We played as hard as we could. They're a good team. We may not have won, but regardless I'm proud of us and our team, so that's all I have to say.
Mike Davis: Like Tisdale said, we played as hard as we could. We kept cutting the lead down, cut it to 5. And we couldn't get over the hump. When they kept cutting it to 5, they came down and made the play, and the crowd got loud and we kind of got stagnant again.
But I'm proud of my guys. I'm proud of my young guys, and they played hard. I know they're going to work as hard as they can next summer and this summer coming up to get farther than we got. Leave a better legacy than we left.
But as seniors, we play as hard as we could. We love the fans whether they don't like us or not. We just love them. And we want to thank all the fans for being so supportive.
Q. I think you were within 5 with about 6:00 to go, and the twin towers kind of unleashed it on you. Could you talk about their impact there down the stretch?
COACH WEBER: I mentioned at the start of this that their star players play their butts off, and they're physical. These guys said it if they play together, they read off each other, and the guards are smart. They know where to get it to, they execute, get it to those guys. They know they're going to produce.
I didn't think we did a horrible job on either one of them. They had some turnovers. Where you're trying to trap sometimes and dig sometimes. But down the stretch they just kind of took over, and too many easy dunks, too many easy shots.
It was one of our goals or things we talked about against Vegas. We said no turnovers to touchdowns. And we were trying to limit the easy baskets, the easy dunks down the stretch, and they got too many of them.
We just couldn't get some shots to go down that we needed to. They are difference makers. They're very, very good, and they play very sound defense, the whole team.
Q. What did they do to slow down Demetri? What happened to him?
COACH WEBER: I think sometimes Demetri just makes his mind up what he's going to do on a play or a possession. They went out, trapped him sometimes, jammed him hard, hard hedge as we call it. Then he had to be patient and make the next play and pass the ball to the open man and then cut through the defense and learn to get open without the ball, when people are jamming you up with the ball, get open without it.
I think he got frustrated. He got down on himself. We just kept saying hang in there, hang in there. You're going to make a play, and just didn't seem he needed one to go in. One of those bombs or something to go in to make him feel good and us to make a run to maybe make it a game down the stretch.
Q. Is there an appreciative difference when you game plan between Markieff and Marcus Morris?
COACH WEBER: Well, it's hard. They're both very similar. I wrote on the board basically the same thing for each one of them. The one rebounds a little better because the other one got more shots off or offensive rebounds. But they both are very talented.
I said they play hard. They post hard. They don't try to do things out of their system. I think the biggest improvement for both of them, and I haven't seen them that much and you've probably seen them more, they're shooting from the perimeter now too compared to last year when you talked to people that played them last year who said the one thing can you do is sag off of them, and now you can't do that.
Now they spread you out. They're good inside. They've got other good shooters. I think Morningstar and Reed don't get as much credit how good they are, and how solid they are. Just we make a run, and all of a sudden one of them pops up and makes a play, makes a pass, makes a jumper. Taylor also played well. He guarded Demetri. His quickness, I think when you asked about that, it probably bothered Demetri a little bit.
Q. You made that point about their best players being the hardest workers that play the hardest. You had that a few years back when you had a great team. When you look at the guys coming up now, do you think they can be that looking now?
COACH WEBER: I think that's the message I said, I appreciate the seniors and the quality student athletes they've been for our program, and they've done some special things and made big strides from their freshman year. We just couldn't get the wins that you would hope for, or the big wins.
But the young guys, the message I sent was, you have to realize how fast it goes, and how hard it is and how hard you have to work. If you want a special moment like this in advance, you've got to be prepared and put in that effort beyond just practice, beyond just weights, beyond just the conditioning in the summer. It's got to be a special effort. We've got to get some young guys to step up and give that and be that leadership that pushes people.
Q. Do you ever get used to the suddenness of it? You go into a game with high hopes and then it's over.
COACH WEBER: It's just hard to deal with. Talk to several coaches from anywhere, Tom Izzo, Kevin Stallings, just the last few days, it's hard to deal with. Especially when you say you have high hopes. We felt good going into the game. I think our kids felt good. They hit us pretty hard early, and that was one thing we did to Vegas was hit them hard early, and we let them set the tempo.
But to our kids credit, we didn't back down, we kept coming. It's four at the half. It's four or five. We just needed one or two plays to go our way, and maybe them not to play as well or make a mistake, but that didn't happen tonight.
It's hard to deal with because I said the other day there is nothing better than winning in the NCAA and going back to the hotel and watching film on the next game and feeling good about yourself that you're going to play another day.
When you can't get back to the hotel to watch film again, it leaves little emptiness. No matter the ups and downs of the season, you just don't like it to end.
Illinois Senior Guard Demetri McCamey
On his play tonight... "They made plays. I couldn't get it going offensively. I missed shots I usually make. My teammates stepped up. I'm proud of all of them--Mike Tisdale and Mike Davis. They battled. D.J. Richardson came and gave us some good energy off of the bench by hitting threes. I just didn't get the job done. I couldn't make a jump shot. I had some open looks, and I just didn't get it done."
On the season... "It was up and down. We accomplished one goal and that was to get into the tournament. We fell short in trying to make it to the Sweet Sixteen, but the seniors went out with a battle. I respect that."
On his final game... "It hurts to know it's my last game in an Illini uniform. I didn't play well. My team almost had a chance to beat one of the top teams in the country to make it to the Sweet Sixteen. It hurts, but at the same time, I have to get better as a player and move on. Hopefully the young guys get it and get another opportunity like this."
Illinois Sophomore Guard Brandon Paul
On the second half and Kansas pulling away... "They gave us a lot of chances to stay in the game. We kept fighting. Then we just let it slip. They caught a couple of dunks. That boosted their emotion. We kind of just laid down after that."
On the season and next year... "The season was filled with a lot of ups and downs. For the most part, I think we competed well. We beat a lot of teams that are either ranked ahead of us or are top contenders. Some of those teams are still in the Sweet Sixteen right now. We can compete with the best of them. As far as next year goes, I think we'll have a strong team. We have a lot of people in my class and the freshman class. We have another athletic freshman class coming in. I'm excited for it. We have a lot of workers. I feel like if we all just work hard every practice and don't let up, I think we'll have a good season."
Illinois Senior Forward Bill Cole
Do you think you played your best game tonight? "I thought we played great against UNLV, but today I thought we played pretty good, but we needed to be special to beat Kansas. Even if we were going to be special, we probably needed an off night from Kansas."
Talk to us about the close game tonight. "We kept it close all night. We gave them everything we had. I kept thinking we were going to make that spurt to put us over the top and it never happened."
What are your thoughts on the Morris Twins? "They are tough. We didn't want to double team them because we knew how good the Kansas' shooters were, so it's kind of a lose-lose situation playing those guys."
How do you think the team will do next year? "These guys have so much talent on the team. They are going to be good next year. They work hard. D.J. [Richardson] and Brandon [Paul] are going to be the foundation junior class next year. I will be supporting them and they have a good coach."
Illinois Sophomore Guard D.J. Richardson
Do you think there was a turning point in the game? "They started to get a lot of momentum when they got dunks. That was one thing Coach [Weber] told us in the locker room to not give them a lot dunks. Every time they got dunks they fed off of that."
Did the non-conference schedule help prepare you for this environment? "We played on a lot of neutral courts. Coach [Weber] did a good job putting in the non-conference schedule, putting us in games that helped prepared us for games like this."