Todd Lickliter: I think the defense will be the key all of the time, it should be. I think you can stay consistent on defense. It takes a lot of character to not let your offense influence. If things are going well, you still have to execute defensively. If you are struggling, you really need to execute on defense. This group is seeing that we need to determine how the game is played. It's easier said than done, but they are working at it.
Q: This was Florida Gulf Coast's sixth division one game. What did you say at half time?
Lickliter: One of those six games was against us at Butler last year. I had recruited a couple of those guys, and I have known Dave a long time. All of those things, it wouldn't matter. We are going to respect every opponent, we respect the game and without question though, because of our familiarity, there was tremendous respect for them. I like what they do and it makes it difficult. If you score, you better get back and guard, because they are coming at you. They have been a power at Division II, and they are making the transition well. They are a very good program.
Q: Justin Johnson, last year we didn't see a lot of him, except in some cameos…
Lickliter: We would like to have more than that now. It is about opportunity and being prepared. Justin has prepared himself, and the guys have great confidence in him. We have emphasized that he has to be our best screener. If he will buy into that…he is a terrific shooter, but he has to be our best screener. I think he will do it. I have not seen any resistance from these guys. We have asked them to do things and they are trying to do it.
Q: They scored 14 points in first three minutes in the post…
Lickliter: You would have to bring that up
Q: What did you change after that?
Lickliter: I don't think it was as much as me changing as our guys. I told them at a timeout, my father told me one time that it would be easier if you listened to me, and not have to learn from experience. I told these guys that we were not going to break their spirit by scoring and that you had better get matched up back there. Fortunately we were able to adjust, understand what was going on and get back and defend with a greater purpose. But it's scary that it takes that initial four minutes to make that happen. I don't know if it was just that. We were trying, but they came at us hard and they made some big shots. I have to give them their due. What you want to do is continue to contest over the course of the game.
Q: Jarryd Cole had a solid game, talk about his progression in the system.
Lickliter: I thought Kurt handled that better than I could even. A teammate observing how Jarryd listens and pays attention. He already does great things, he is a team first guy. The first time I met with him, I don't think he spoke one time about himself, it was always about his team and winning. When you have that kind of approach, and then you listen, I think you will make progress and that is what he is doing. Sometimes he is so conscientious, that can be, if there is such a thing as trying to hard. I think it's a hard game to play, so what we are trying to do is make it a little easier by having rules and techniques, but you have to learn those first. Right now the game is hard and learning that is hard, but he is adjusting well because of his attentiveness.
Q: One of gulf coast players just said that one of the things he will remember about Iowa is that they are a great screening team…
Lickliter: That is terrific, I love to hear that. Is that right? I appreciate that. We have been talking about it. It's those things that some people might call little, I don't think they are little when you see what they add up to.
Q: Your team holding has held your first three opponents to under 50 points. Is that pretty satisfying?
Lickliter: I don't get into that too much. If they came out and extended the floor and there were more possessions, I wouldn't worry about the score. Someone asked me what the ideal opponent score would be and I said one less than what we have. It speaks to that our guys are trying, that they are defending with more purpose. We saw that more in the second half. That is exciting to watch the team go in and adjust on their own. That is what they are doing. They are out there playing, putting that puzzle together.
Q: Most coaches stress defense, are you doing something different?
Lickliter: I would like to think so. I never want to be ordinary or average. I like what we do. I know there are other ways, but I think it has been tried over time. I think Barry Collier, I am indebted to him, he set the foundation. More than anything, we had players at Butler that I got to coach that took the system and had a great desire to win. They kept improving upon it, and make their own adjustments. Now I have two of them with me, and if there is every any question about their competitiveness, watch them in timeouts and they are competitive guys.
Q: Jeff played with a wrap on his hand, how has he practiced?
Lickliter: I really can't talk about his injury, because that is not my injury. I asked him if he was OK to go. I have such complete confidence in the medical team here. It's sore; there is no questi9one about it. It won't do anything to damage him. If he can tolerate it, he can go and he tolerated it well. It's sore to catch. I think that there were a few times where that probably led to mishandles.
Q: Tony is bouncing around on the bench
Lickliter: We have to watch him. I knew that would be the next problem for us, to keep him still. I am trying to keep an eye on him. For a guy who has invested as much as he has, with his passion, this has to be a tough thing to sit and watch. He is also coaching, cheering, doing everything a teammate would do. I know that he wants to play. We would find a place for him.
Q: Early, when they were rattling off points, during a timeout, I think Coach Cornette got after your players?
Lickliter: Is that right?
Q: We could hear it.
Lickliter: Could you? Coach Cornette mentioned that it got quiet during timeouts. I told him, not you; it's the other people that are quiet. I think it's nice that these players see…Coach Cornette won 100 games in his career, it wasn't by accident. Now he is a Hawkeye and he wants us to play the right way, and with the right degree of passion and purpose. If he doesn't think that they are playing to that level, he will hold them accountable. I don't have any problem with that and they don't either. I have to attribute some of the turnaround to his passion. I think guys want to be held to a high standard. These players, definitely want to.
Q: You got after it when Justin missed that dunk at the end.
Lickliter: It's not the way I taught it. I had just shown that dunk the other day. (laughs) He fully understood. There is nothing wrong with dunking and its good to be aggressive, but at that particular time, I told him we are trying to win a game, lets do what we need to do. Gosh, is he a great guy. There was no problem.
Q: Are you trying to get Justin to attack the lane more?
Lickliter: No, I would like for him to be opportunistic. I think he is capable of scoring more than one way. I can't imagine him not getting up in there. I wouldn't let him shoot if I can help it, so he will have to put it on the floor some and make plays. I hope we learn what works and stay away from the things that don't work. If you win and learn those lessons, that is better than the other way.