Coach said Saturday after the Purdue game that it seemed like the team had its swagger back; that it was conducting itself like it had coming out of Hawaii. Do you sense that same thing?
Yeah. Everybody is noticing that a lot of people are contributing. The bench really stepped up for us. That was really huge. That's what we're going to need to continue to be successful in the Big Ten.
It's not going to weigh on the starters. It's the bench that's going to come through and pull out some of those games for us. The way that Doug came off of the bench and Carlton and Mikey, it really helped. And we do have our swagger back.
What have you seen about Northwestern?
They're real similar to last year's team. And it was good thing that we played Air Force. We got to get familiar with that Princeton offense. That will really help for this week in preparation.
How are they different than Air Force?
They're a little bit bigger, a little bit more athletic. Just being familiar with that style of play is the biggest thing. We did that with the Air Force game. We've got a couple of days to prep here. It's a lot better than having to turn around and play Purdue right after Illinois.
You looked alert and with it at Illinois and poised to have a big game had you not gotten into foul trouble. Did you see it that way?
I was really excited. I talked to some of the coaches. I'm trying to turn things around a little bit; be a little more aggressive. At times, I'm a little too aggressive getting some dumb fouls here and there.
I'm real excited with the way that everything is going. Everybody on the team is. We'll see how things progress.
You might have an interesting matchup with their frontline playing a big three. What do you think about going up against a 6-10 guy?
I played with one of them (Davor Duvancic) when I went on the overseas trip. They play like guards. But that's what they like, they like the bigger guys coming out and trying to guard them. They'll try going to the basket.
We'll see what we can do. I know last year they sat in a zone that kind of hurt us a little bit. We should just be ready for anything.
You said on Saturday that this team has a lot of passion and desire. You said that some previous teams did not have that.
Nah. It's a credit to last year's team that we never lost two games in a row. We always had that desire. But this team has a little more aggressive nature than the passed couple of teams in the passed two years.
So, you were talking about the last two years? You weren't talking about before you even got here?
I don't know. I wasn't part of those teams. I don't know the nature of the teams.
What do you remember about the Northwestern games last year?
QWe lost both games. They were pivotal games in the year. If we would have won those, we probably would have been in the tournament.
They're very skilled. Their guys can play different positions. It's just going to be a fight.
We have more defined roles. We'll have to loosen up and play a little bit different types of defense.
If Pierre would have been in in the second half, would you have won that game?
I don't know. They're a great team. They held us off. I don't really know what would have happened.
Are you guys approaching all of these games as must-wins?
Oh yeah. That's how you approach every game. We want to be up there fighting for the championship. We had one bad week. Hopefully we can keep that all the way behind us and that won't be talked about at the end of the season.
What is it about your game that make the coaches get on you?
They know what my potential is. It's all in fun.
My high school said to me that if you're not getting yelled at, you're in more trouble because then they don't care about you. They don't even think that you're an asset to the team. The more they yell at you, the better off you are.
Is there anything in general that the coaches have hammered on you about?
Everything. Just making sure I'm there every day and working hard.
Do you feel like this team has the swagger back as it did leaving Maui?
Yeah. That's something that I commented on after the first two losses in the Big Ten season. We did have that step to us that kind of came out in thinking that we could win all of the games.