Are you a bracketologist? Do you have all this NCAA stuff figured out?
No. I don't think anybody does.
There's a lot of season left. A lot is going to be determined at the way that you finish the season. We have to prove that we can play without Pierre.
What have you seen in Alex Thompson's development?
He's just becoming more active out there. He's really contributing to this team. A lot of what he's doing right now is helping us get victories. He's doing the little things like rebounding and getting putbacks here and there.
He kind of bounces around a lot for a big guy, doesn't he?
Yeah, and I think that's the one thing coach really liked about him; just always being active;l always being around what's going on in the plays.
How does it help for you guys in the perimeter with him in there?
It helps us on the perimeter and Brunner inside. It's just another guy that they've got to pay attention to.
Can you talk about getting another shot at the No. 1 team in the country later this week?
It's another great opportunity. It's not every day that you get to face the No. 1 team in the nation and on your home court, too. So. we're looking for a lot of fan support. We're anxious.
You could pick up a lot of PR with the (NCAA Tournament) committee if you could win that one.
Yeah, that would be huge.
How do you feel about winning the Big Ten Player of the Week award?
It was a good week. It could have been better. We could have won two games.
What have you seen from Alex Thompson in terms of his development?
He's a very skilled player. There was like a three-week period where nobody could really guard him. It was just a while back.
It was just one of those periods where when you're playing well, you're hard to guard. He was just in a really hot streak.
He's really confident right now. His confidence is showing and he's playing well on the court.
Is he OK with starting now?
I think so. I told him that opportunities are very slim. So, you've got to run with it when you've got opportunities.
I said, a lot of bad things had to happen for Jeff and I to become starters when we were freshmen. We just took it and ran with it.
Where you rank in some of the Big Ten statistics would strongly suggest that you be all-Big Ten this season. Do you feel like you're having that type of year?
Whatever individual honors you can get is how good you can make your team. I don't really care about that until after the season. If we can get to the tournament and I can make this team the best I can, I'm willing to do it.
Mike Henderson was saying after the game the other day that you and Horner keep on giving speeches about no more NITs.
Yeah, I think they're getting sick of hearing it. Mike was making fun of me a couple of days ago because I always say the same things.
I just want to beat it into their brains that this is a well developed team. We play together and we play hard. I want to get as far as we can and live up to all the expectations.
Six Big Ten games left and four are on the road. You haven't won a Big Ten game yet on the road.
We're close. We're two overtimes and a 3-point loss. We're there.
Are you guessing 20 wins, 8-8 in the Big Ten gets you into the Dance?
I have no idea. I wish I had that magic number in my head. It would take a lot of pressure off of us because then we'd know what we need to get.
But we'll be all right. This team is going to persevere. We'll be fine.
How do you feel about starting now?
It's exciting to get out there and start off the games. It's an opportunity to get into the flow of the game right away. You've got to come in with the attitude to just do what you can do.
When did you find out you were going to start this last game?
Maybe about the day before. I kind of figured out that I might be starting. I got worked in a little bit with the starting group in practice.
Has it been tough playing that many minutes?
It's a good thing. I'm not used to playing that many minutes. I got a little winded, but I got my second breath there.
We're you expecting to come in and make such a big contribution as a freshman?
As a freshman, I really didn't know what to expect. I came in with the attitude that I was going to play hard and try to help the team in as many ways as I can.
Are there things you're feeling more comfortable with?
I'm starting to feel more comfortable as the season has gone on; just getting used to our system and getting used to the way that things need to be done.
You look active out there. Has that always been a part of your game?
Yeah. That's one of my stregths; just trying to do all of the little things; get loose balls; be scrappy. That's something that I've always had fun doing.
Are there certain numbers you're looking for in terms of points and rebounds?
I don't know about numbers. I just try to help out in areas that we need help.
Where do you feel you've made the most progress?
Like you said, probably just getting more comfortable and just being able to play more free and loose out there and just getting used to playing with some of the starters and stuff.
What about going in the road this week to Purdue this Wednesday night?
It will be a different experience. It's a big game. We'll be ready for it.
Are you more comfortable right now with your back to the basket or coming out and facing?
I try to do both, but I'm probably a little bit more comfortable facing up and playing in the perimeter. But posting up is something that I do, too.
How has Bru helped you this year?
As a freshman, it helps to have leaders to talk to about stuff and help you through things that they've went through when they were freshmen. He's always been there to talk to and work with and just learn from.