Game Quotes from Illinois- Wisconsin

On a day when Illinois needed offense they just couldn't get it going, could it be Wisconsin's defense or were they tired, the Illini should be dancing in the NCAA Tournament when the brackets are announced later this evening.

COACH BRUCE WEBER:
Obviously we had a difficult task with the lateness of the game last night and how hard fought it was going into overtime and then coming back and playing one of the better teams in the country with one of the better players. We just kept talking about grinding it out, keeping it close, keeping it within reach, and then you never know what happened. (Alando) Tucker made some hellacious shots early. I thought we defended him pretty well. He just jumped up, and he contorts his body and still is able to have a good touch on some of those jump shots. And then Kam Taylor in the second half made a couple of big baskets that got them over the hump. Overall they had 53, so we defended them halfway decent, but just didn't have enough offensively, turned it over too many times, empty possessions where we didn't get any shots. It's just probably not much legs, not much gas in the tank to kind of get it done. With the score 27 25 I believe, Brian Randle threw it off (Rich) McBride's back on a transition, and then they went down and scored, I think, back to back, and that was it seemed like the breaking point in the game.

Q.
Shaun, it looked like they were keying in on keeping the ball away from you tonight. Did it feel that way to you and is there anything else you could have done about it?

SHAUN PRUITT:
Yeah, I think they did a good job of packing it in close and just trying to push me out as best they could. I had a pretty good game when we played them earlier in the season, so they definitely did a good job of limiting me tonight.

Q.
Warren, I'm wondering how much do you think fatigue played a role and how much sleep did you guys get last night?

WARREN CARTER:
There's no doubt about it, it did. I think we still got to bed at a decent hour and got to sleep, but just fatigue, legs, especially from playing a tough game in overtime with Indiana and then the Penn State game the day before, but we put ourselves in that situation. We came out here, we fought and we gave it all we had, but the better team won.

Q.
Warren, you look kind of dejected up there, but you guys had two wins in two days and you put yourselves in a position to make the NCAA Tournament. Can you look at this as a success? Is it possible for you to do?

WARREN CARTER:
Maybe tomorrow after the selection show if I see our team's name called, then we'll look at it as a success. But right now we still don't really know. We played hard, we came out here, won two games and won a great game yesterday. We're just going to wait and see what happens.

Q.
Do either of you guys think you deserve the bid? You don't want to say that or are you sitting back and waiting to see?

WARREN CARTER:
I think we deserve it. We've been playing very well here down the stretch once we've gotten our guys back. Coach called it, our body of work looks good. We haven't really had any bad losses. We definitely would have been better if we would have had some of those key wins early. But as Coach was saying, with our body of work, it looks like we're in good shape, but you still never know.

THE MODERATOR:
We'll finish up with questions for Coach Weber, please.

Q.
You talked about last night that if you made it to the weekend that you should be in good shape, but will you still sweat it out until 5:00 o'clock tomorrow?

COACH BRUCE WEBER:
Yeah, there's no doubt, until your name pops up. I got back in the locker room last night, and you find out Nevada lost and Xavier lost, so some of the leagues you probably anticipated one team, one bid leagues turned out to be two, two team leagues. So that means each somebody is knocked off that might have been potentially in there. They keep saying we're one of the last five. You know, does that mean are we fifth, first there or are we fifth? Where are we in that bunch? But at the same time, as they mentioned, when you look at it, all the things they talk about, your RPI, your schedule rating, your last ten games, you know, we played tough opponents. We have top 100 wins. And then if you include the X factor of the injuries and what we've gone through, I've got to believe we're going to be in. But it's kind of ironic, some of these and I guess it's all the so called experts, and they don't really know. The committee only knows. But they're saying some of these other teams and we're ahead of them in all these categories, but they're saying they have doubts about us. We'll just have to wait and see.

Q.
Defensively what were Wisconsin's guards doing to your guards that you guys really weren't able to get a rhythm from your guard play tonight?

COACH BRUCE WEBER:
We've struggled scoring from the guard position actually this whole last stretch. We've kind of lived off of our forwards, Shaun (Pruitt) and Warren (Carter), and Brian Randle didn't get much done today, but they've been a little more effective. And then Chester gets a lay up, get a spot up three. Rich, at least he got back in rhythm a little bit, went three for six. Trent Meacham got a wide open look and didn't get it to go. Wisconsin, they're just a sound team. They don't beat themselves. Actually 11 turnovers for them is quite a bit, and they really didn't get to the free throw line, and they lead the league in free throw attempts. You know, we did some things well, but they're just a solid defensive team. They took Shaun away and just made it difficult for us to get easy looks, and we just never got in a rhythm.

Q.
Regardless of what happens in the tournament or in the selection Sunday, looking at this season and comparing it with two years ago, what is more realistically the future of this program in your mind? Are you guys destined to be kind of a 20 ish win team struggling or are you getting back to the top?

COACH BRUCE WEBER:
You know, when you say 20 win struggling, for a lot of programs that's pretty good. We're already at 23 and went through all we did. If you have Chester (Frazier), you have Brian Randle, you have a lot of the different guys at different times, you know, now you have 25 or 26. You know, that might be a record for some programs. You know, I think we I'm proud of our kids. I'm proud of what they've done this year. A lot of programs wouldn't have fought through it, wouldn't have had the heart that these guys have had. I still think we have some things to I guess to solve and that, but at the same time, you've got Shaun back, you've got Brian Randle back, Chester Frazier back, you've got some people that have been pretty successful. We've got to add a couple into the mix and I think we can be a factor next year. How good will depend probably on who adds, how good are they right away, and how much these guys work at it to get better.

Q.
Having seen how close Wisconsin and Ohio State's two games have been with the home team winning, I guess what would your prediction be for tomorrow's game?

COACH BRUCE WEBER:
Probably a close game (laughter). Honestly, they just neither one seems to beat themselves. Ohio State seems to turn it on at the end of games when they need to and make the plays, whether it's the Michigan game, Purdue game. Wisconsin just seems more solid and consistent. You know, Wisconsin had a chance at Ohio State, they just didn't finish it. Free throws, I'm sure Kam Taylor is going to remember that. If Tucker can play like he did today, they've still probably got to get a little more production. Flowers has nothing and Chappell has nothing, they were still able to beat us, but I think Ohio State can score more points so at least I think they can. The one game at Columbus was pretty low scoring. I think it'll be a close, hard fought game just like the other two have been.

Q.
The assists to turnovers tonight, is that part of being tired?

COACH BRUCE WEBER:
Well, number one, you don't make shots, you don't get any assists, so that's part of it. We had too many empty possessions. It was 27 25, I'm not positive. But Brian throws it off of Rich's back, then we have the breakout, Brian tries to go to the basket, maybe bump, maybe goaltending, goes our way, they get a couple possessions, then Brian turns it over again, just a bad stretch, trying to feed the post. When you're playing against them, a team that is so efficient, you cannot have empty possessions. That was probably the difference in the game.

Q.
If I could, just what were your thoughts on Marcus Landry and what was his play out there tonight?

COACH BRUCE WEBER:
Well, he gives a different element to them. He gives them athleticism. Obviously when Steimsma and Landry went out last year they were a different team. Now Landry, he's not (Brian) Butch, but he still gives them some athleticism. He goes one for five on threes, but the one he made was huge and was a back breaker for us. You're hanging in there, hanging in there, and all of a sudden that thing swishes and it lets the wind out of our guys. You've got to give up something. Shaun comes to the bench frustrated, how are you going to stop Tucker, how are you going to stop Taylor, you've got to give up something to help out those guys. But it was a big bucket. He is definitely a difference maker for them because of his athleticism.

Q.
You kind of mentioned it, but just to reiterate, did you guys get done what you wanted to get done here in sort of the realistic sense?

COACH BRUCE WEBER:
Well, I told our kids, I was going to bring four suits. I wanted to get to Sunday. You know, I thought we were capable of it. I knew it would be very difficult. The Penn State game was probably a harder fought game than maybe you would have hoped. Then last night obviously that thing was a hard fought game, maybe one of the most intense games I've been around for 45 minutes. So it took a lot out of us. And then we said to get to Saturday, we thought we'd be in pretty good position. Again, you don't know all the other leagues. That's the X factor. And I don't know what's in the committee's mind, but I feel we have a pretty good case, and I just hope we're not the first Big Ten team with over 20 wins and finished over .500 in the league not to get in. I hope we don't leave a legacy as far as that goes.

Q.
Alando Tucker just became Wisconsin's all time leading scorer. Have you seen him the last few years? I guess where does he stack up in terms of the some of the best?

COACH BRUCE WEBER:
I think the big thing is he's made improvement. He came in, I recruited him, SIU watched him a lot, he was a player that scored around the basket, very athletic, very gifted, and he just kept his game has just improved and improved and improved. He's a three point threat, he can handle the ball, he just can do a lot of things. I like it because, one, he stayed, and he's done what in this society now, no one wants to do, keep working at it and getting better. Everybody wants instant gratification, one year, go pro. I think they should be very proud, he should be very proud, and he's a great example for kids that you can make I hope he has great success in the NBA. I think it would be a good story.

Q.
In the second half did you do anything defensively against Tucker that was giving Taylor clearer looks?

COACH BRUCE WEBER:
I just think they spread us out. Our guards probably got tired. You know, they got it to Tucker and then we held and we miscommunicated, he got an open look. I just think what goes before the legs probably is the mental part, and we didn't communicate, couldn't score. We've talked all year about we can't let scoring affect our defense, but it just seemed like we just didn't have that extra zip, that extra fire. And now all of a sudden he gets one down, gets another one down because those early shots, they weren't going. He was way off early. But he made big ones when they needed it.

Q.
You have enough going on tomorrow with the selection show, but does this league deserve two No. 1s do you think, two No. 1 seeds?

COACH BRUCE WEBER:
I think it's close. I think one 1 and at least a 2. They've got to be in at least the top eight and get an opportunity to play close to home I would anticipate. They're both very good. They've been very consistent. They've played pretty good schedules. So I think it wouldn't surprise me if they both got 1s, but I would think at least a 1 and a 2 at worst.

Transcript provided by the Big Ten Office



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