Postgame Quotes: Illinois 57, Colorado 49
March 22, 2013
ILLINOIS PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
COACH GROCE OPENING STATEMENT: Well, I just, this time of year it's about surviving and advancing. So we're grateful to have the opportunity to play on Sunday. I thought it was only fitting that the game was maybe about as strange a game in terms of the ebb and flow of the game that I've been associated with, that it would be that way with this group. We have done it the hard way a lot this year.
I'm proud of our guys for resilience. At one point Colorado went on a 23 0 run in the second half. And I think that in that situation a lot of teams would crack and I thought our guys continued to stay very poised. I thought the 16 2 run late in the game that was spear headed by our defense was a huge, huge part of the game. We got down five, I thought our defense made some plays for us that were big.
I want to give Colorado a lot of credit. They're down 16 coming out of the half, I thought there for the early portion of the second half for sure they were the toughest team there for that portion of the game. Continued to play, enjoyed as I told Coach Boyle before the game, watching their team on film. Really respect how hard those kids play. Respect the way they defend and the way that they rebound. And they have got a young team and it will be great to see how they move forward. I think they have got a chance to keep getting better.
Q. D.J. or Brandon, just how do you explain these wild momentum swings? And kind of the hot and coldness of the whole season. Can you put your finger on why that happens in games?
Tracy got us the ball and in positions to score. We can't tie our defensive effort to the same as our offensive effort. So I think coach said we went on a 16 2 run that just shows the type of poise we have on this team.
Q. Can you describe the emotion that was going through your heads out there during that run? The crowd's going with the other team making the run and you turned things around almost on a dime. Just talk about what you were thinking about and how it changed.
Brandon Paul: We play a lot of teams that feed off the crowd so we don't let that get to us. We stay focused on the task at hand. Coach does a good job of making sure we stay cool, calm and collected. So we have been through this before, and we have been through lots of tests before and we have had a lot of character. We have been through this throughout the whole year.
We played against a lot of teams that really base their energy off the crowd and they to do a good job of pumping the crowd up and we like to stay poised and coach does a good job along with the rest of the staff making sure we calm and cool and collected in the huddles. And no one is pointing fingers and we all keep the same mindset.
Q. What were you guys saying to each other during timeouts during that drought?
Q. Brandon, Illini Nation is in the house, there's more orange in that arena than any other school that's here. How important is that to you guys and did that even help you when times got a little tough in the second half?
Q. Brandon, you talked about this a little bit yesterday about not wanting this to be over. Talk about what it means to have it not over and was there, did you have a moment when you thought it might be over?
Q. What does it mean to be able to get this one?
Q. For D.J. or Brandon, is the shooter's mentality just to have a short memory and if they're not falling just keep shooting and trusting yourself that eventually they're going to fall down.
Q. Have you ever been a part of a team that went through a 23 0 run and still came out and won?
Then to start the second half I didn't think our defense was quite as good at the start. The second half, I thought our offense was good again, but we didn't make shots. And then they made the run and then that's when I thought our offense sputtered a little bit.
So we used a couple timeouts there to try to refocus us back to center field a little bit. But give them a lot of credit, they were physical in the second half, they were aggressive. I thought that at both ends of the floor they were aggressive. But long answer to your question, no, I don't think I I mean, it was a strange game in that regard.
Q. The players were asked something similar to this, but how did you try to refocus them during timeouts, maybe try to make them forget about that run, because you were still down only maybe five points.
Q. Looking at shooting 13 percent in the second half, and still winning by almost double digits. How does that happen? How do the numbers add up?
Q. You always say seniors die hard. Talk about Brandon and D.J., and if they were saying anything while the run was happening in the 21 0 run that Colorado had.
Obviously we talked strategy in those timeouts. But I thought those guys were very positive. I thought they did a great job of staying positive and staying poised. I thought our shot selection got a little bit away from us there when it got close and they kind of took the lead for about a maybe a four or five minute span. And then we kind of got that's when I meant by getting refocused. We got a little bit better at that point.
Q. Wondering how much you've watched Miami and what do you think of them as your next opponent?
Q. A lot was talked about going into the game about how good they are at rebounding the ball, especially Andre Roberson. You guys actually came out on top. Talk about how well you did crashing the boards.
Q. Did you expect to turn them over as much as you did in the first half and did you see that as a way to get your lead?
But I thought we were really aggressive in the first half, got some deflections. We were active defensively and did a good job of turning them over as well as affecting shot percentage and defensive rebounding the ball well. I thought overall as a whole our defense was pretty good, other than maybe the first, you know, five to eight minutes of the second half.
Q. I kind of know the answer to this, but do you worry that this takes a lot out of the kids to play in two days? How do you get ready to go again?
I think our guys know that this is I said it before this is a special opportunity. We'll be able to, I think, rev it back up again on Sunday, no question about it. The next 48 hours is critical. We'll do a lot of things to help get their minds and bodies back.
ILLINOIS LOCKER ROOM QUOTES
Illinois G Joseph Bertrand
On what head coach John Groce told the team during Colorado's run in the second half: We had open shots and we weren't making them. He said they were going to go on a run and [Colorado G Askia] Booker was going to start shooting it more and they were going to be more aggressive on defense, and that is what they did. Once they started trapping, we got to the middle of the court and Booker got some easy buckets at the end.
On the confidence this win gave the team: It is definitely a confidence booster to get this first game out of the way. They are a real good team and they put up a hard battle. I think it was a good game for us.
Illinois F Sam McLaurin
On Colorado's run in the second half: In the beginning of the second half, they came out firing. They were getting us in transition and we weren't rotating properly. They came out and put it on us for a little bit there and went up by five. Coach [Groce] just said we have to start controlling the things we can control which is our effort on defense. Once we tightened up on defense and took away some of their actions that we scouted then it was better for us.
On Illinois' resiliency: We are never down. When it seems like we are down, we are never down and we are never out of it. We always tend to just chip away one possession at a time. We have played about 30 games this year and it seems like we are always in this situation. We have always been able to find ways to come out of it and we did that again today.
Illinois F/C Nnanna Egwu
On how frustrating was it when things were going well and game changes: It is really frustrating especially when you go back but you got to motivate each other. Say, `don't worry about it. Keep playing well defensively.' That was the main thing that really helped us. No matter what was going on, after we had that 21-point turn around, we kind of locked down defensively and held them. I think we did a pretty good job at that.
On the mindset to play Miami: Just to show resiliency. Resiliency of the seniors and resiliency of being on the team. No matter what position we put ourselves in, we don't panic. We understand where we are at and find a way to pull things out. Sometimes it works for us, sometimes it doesn't. We keep testing a 16-point lead but I think it shows a lot that our team is able to overcome the five-point deficit we put ourselves in the second half.
Illinois F Tyler Griffey
On the mood on bench when Colorado scored 21-straight points: 21 in a row? Wow. We stayed upbeat, we stayed confident. We were getting open shots but they just weren't following. We were getting the same shots we were getting in the first half. So we just stuck with it, kept doing the same thing. They really tried to amp up the pressure in the second half so we had to run some different things to get open. Like I said, we were getting open looks but they just weren't going.