OPENING STATEMENT: Obviously when you're in a Classic, a Challenge, you've got to win that first one to advance to have a chance to win a championship. This was a hard-fought game. They did a very nice job of knocking down some threes and really chasing down a lot of loose rebounds. Their effort was better than our effort in the first half. I thought in the second half our effort was a little bit better. We were able to do some really good things in the second half. There were just really two big mistakes. There were way too many offensive rebounds that we gave up to them and 20 turnovers. We had 21 assists. We did a very good job of distributing the ball. Jeff almost had a triple double. Erek's blocks really changed the tempo of the game in the second half. There were some good positives, but it's the second game in a row of not taking care of the ball. That's a concern.
It looked like you guys were able to find creases in the zone. Yeah. I thought we did a nice job with that. I just thought our threes just came a little bit ill advised. We rushed some threes, especially in times when you're up 10; you're up 11; you're really trying to…that's when you've got to be patient and really get the ball inside. When we did, was had high success. We just didn't get it to them enough.
Is there any reason that Seth didn't play? Yeah. One big reason was that they don't have a center. We didn't know how successful Erek would be. But Erek is long and lanky and a little bit more agile than Seth. But this is the first team that we played that had no center. Middleton might be as close to a center as possible but he's probably more of a forward and he played six minutes. They didn't start a starter over 6-5. So, that's a hard game for Seth to get in the rotation there.
Is Doug Thomas hurting? No. I thought Doug did some good things. He got four rebounds and he was pretty active. This was just a game where Erek was tremendous. Instead of those minutes being pretty equal, Erek's minutes were up a little bit.
Why was it hard to put this team away? We got up 10, we got up 11, and then our shot selection was poor. We turned the ball over. And, our transition defense was poor. It enabled them to chase down the rebound or loose ball and know down a three. They made a lot of threes and yet the game is over and they shoot 26 percent. I didn't think we were going to lose the game by just a team shooting 29 threes. That's a lot of threes. You're going to have to make a very high percentage of those. If we could just be patient if they do shoot it, but we didn't get enough rebounds. They got way too many offensive rebounds that enabled them to get easier looks at three.
You've got a pretty good matchup with Valparaiso. Can you talk about that? We'll work most of the night as coaches. We have a shoot-around (Saturday) at noon. We have to have things ready by noon. The Drew family is friends of mine. I'm happy that they're here. They do a great job with their program. Bryce is with dad now. They have a lot of tradition with the NCAA Tournament. We know that they have a very good big man inside. They shoot the ball well. We'll see a lot of mixed defenses. It will be a very interesting championship game and we're looking forward to it.
Are you expecting to see zone every night now? We kind of figured they would go zone just being as small as they were. We should have handled it a little bit better, but this was just one of those games where we were really flat.
Is it hard to get up every night during a 30-game schedule? It's something that we need to work on. I don't know how hard it is, but we definitely need to do it. We can't be lackadaisical.
What was they key to the late-game run that put it away? It was crunch time. At times, we were playing well in the second half and get up 10, but then we let them hit two threes. They got back in the game. Erek Hansen did a great job making some big time blocks for us when we got beat.
What were they doing to get open? A lot of drive and kick. That's basically what they were doing. They were trying to take a lot of guys off of the dribble and then just kicking out. We weren't rotating like we should.
Why was it so hard to put a team like this away? They're a team that really fights. Michael Bell being from Iowa…the whole team just had a chip on their shoulder. Credit them. They played hard and never gave up.