What is your thought on the whole Sinclair-Mediacom thing?
The what? (laughter) (laughs) I have no idea. (laughs)
Is this a good time to be going to Champaign?
I don't think there's ever a good time. It's a very, very difficult place to play. Bruce had done a tremendous job over there. They've lost a few in a row here to high quality teams. We knew regardless of what their record was, overall or in the Big Ten, it's always a very difficult game in Champaign. We're going to have to build upon what we did against Michigan State to give us a chance in the end to try to steal a victory. And that's what you try to do when you go on the road. Ohio State is probably the only team all year that will be able to go into Assembly Hall and kind of dictate things from the get go. It was one of those days where (Illinois) didn't make any shots. They shot 24 percent. Illinois is not going to do that very often. They probably haven't done that in a decade. It just doesn't happen very often in a home environment that you shoot that poorly. You have to give Ohio State credit. They took advantage of it. But we know they're going to shoot the ball better. It's not going to be a run-away game. We're going to have to fight like crazy and hopefully put ourselves in position where in the last five minutes we're in position that we might be able to steal one.
Do their two league losses make them more dangerous now?
That's hard. Two league wins makes a team hungry. This early in the season, you ought to be hungry. We fully anticipate that. I would hope our guys would be hungry whether we were 1-0 or 0-1. If you're not, there's really no reason to be playing at this level or in this league. That's why this is a fun league to coach in. Every night, you've got to be ready to play and be ready to do things well.
How are they different without Dee and Augustine?
They're going through an identity change like us and a lot other teams in the league. With youthfulness comes from inexperience and with inexperience comes inconsistency. That just has to happen when you have a turnover like that. They've had a turnover in players. We've had a turnover in players. If you take Penn State, Michigan and Wisconsin out of the equation, and there are eight other teams in this league that are really trying to get their own identity because of all the new players. That's the majority of the league. That's why you're going to see some inconsistencies on our league and you're going to find it very difficult whether it's home or road to get wins.
How do you get the new guys prepared for the Orange Krush?
(Laughs) I don't know. We just told them that there would be a lot of orange. It's a great student section. It's a great environment. We've played some road games. We've played in some good environments. Hopefully those road games have prepared us a little for what's going to happen. With that said, it's the first road experience for a vast number of our guys. It will be interesting to see how they handle it.
Big Ten teams in general have kind of struggled on the road this year?
Young, very, very young. Wisconsin hasn't played a lot of road games and they're the most experienced team in our league. Michigan, a very experienced team, I don't think they've played a lot of road games. Penn State, I'm not sure about their schedule. They're the three most experienced teams. The rest of us are young. Anytime you play on the road, playing with those types of players, it's a new experience. That's one of the reasons why the Big Ten had such a poor non-conference road record.
Why was Cyrus Tate so successful in that last ballgame?
We believed. His teammates believed in him. Coaches believed in him. He's been doing a great job of watching tape and really working hard on his game. He was one of those guys that just needed success. Once he's tasted success, he's practiced really well since the Michigan State. That doesn't mean he's going to be a 14 and nine guy every night now. But I hope he can continue to build on that momentum and continue to do the things on the backboard and defensively like we've got to have him doing. It was good to see because Cyrus has worked awfully hard. That's another young kid. That's a sophomore trying to learn things at a very quick pace. We're not loaded with a lot of depth. To be honest, Cyrus would have benefited maybe six or seven games in of maybe sitting down and watching an entire game just to see how it's done. He hasn't had that opportunity. He doesn't have a Brunner, a Hansen, a Doug Thomas to sit there and say this is how you do it. All of our bigs are young and we don't have a lot of bigs. He's really been thrown into the fire early, and he's battled. He went through a little slump and hopefully the success that he got he can build from.
How close did you come to taking him out of the starting lineup?
We talked about it. We just felt like we have to have Cyrus. We have to hang in there with him. We have to help him as coaches. We have to do a better job of getting him ready to play and do some things at a high level. That's part of coaching. We know we need him. J.R. has got to be a role guy for us. We could have went with Kurt and Seth, but that really messes with our rotation. If you go that way, it's really hard to go to a four-guard line-up, which we like doing now. We just felt like our best opportunity to be successful was to hang in there with Cyrus, keep working with him, and hopefully he'll play his way out of this thing. It worked for Michigan State and hopefully he can continue to play well.
How do you convey that to a guy? Do you put your arm around him and say we really need you?
Sometimes you put your arm around him and just lightly tap him. Sometimes you put your arm around and you squeeze a little harder. There's a balance of that. It's watching a lot of tape. His teammates have done a good job of believing in him. I think Cyrus would tell you that while he's going through that tough time he's still in the starting line-up that he should know that the coaches believe in him. The coaches want him to be successful.
Was having a weekend off a positive?
That's hard. After you beat Michigan State, you'd like to probably keep playing. It gave us a chance to do some recruiting and there are a lot of positives that came out of that because it was a nationally televised game and a win. That's always good to go out and recruit then, too. The downside is that players kept patted on the back. You've got to move on. It was a great job. It was a great win. But it was last Thursday. By Saturday I just as soon had them forget about it and move on. We've really tired to shake them the last couple of days to get them to forget about what happened on last Thursday.
What are your thoughts on the NCAA possibly limited the text messaging of recruits?
Something has to be done. I can sit on my Blackberry and basically text message 24-7. (laughs) That's probably not something that I enjoy doing for 24-7. If I had some rules, that would make it nice. I would think that's bothersome to recruits. I'm a parent. That's would be bothersome, not just from a cost standpoint, but just from the standpoint of studies and things they have to be doing. Phone calls are limited to '07 kids getting two a week and '08 getting one a week. Text messaging it's open house. That's really taken place of letter writing and phone calls. There's more text messaging going on than there is anything else.
Have you had a chance to talk with Dan Monson?
We speak all of the time. We haven't talked about the Minnesota team or our match-up with Minnesota. It's just me being supportive of him as he goes through this difficult time and knowing that he's an outstanding coach and he'll land on his feet in the spring.
Are you in better position to play a good road game now?
I hope. We've had some really key, tough opponents on the road in some good environments on the road. With that said, none of those environments are like the environment that you see in Champaign. It's new. Drake was a sellout. A sellout for them is like six or seven thousand. A sellout at Assembly Hall is double that. You take an environment that we saw in the Knapp Center and you have to double it. That will be something our guys will have to adjust to and handle.