Coach Lickliter Press Conference 12-3

Todd Lickliter met with the media on Monday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The Iowa coach talked about the future of the in-state games, his impressions of Northern Iowa, the status of guard Dan Bohall following an arrest, his expectations for off-court conduct and much, much more in this complete press conference transcript.

Opening Statement: Well, if I've added correctly, it was tied the last press conference tied my press conferences in my six years at Butler. This one puts us over the top. So, I'm hoping that I can develop through these It's nice to see you all. It's better weather.

This is a really interesting week the rivalries and the respect I have for those programs and how well they're playing. I watched Northern Iowa and, gosh, they know how to play. They just do a great job.

My first year I had a really talented team at Butler, maybe the most talented team we had. It was Greg (McDermott's) first year at Northern Iowa. I've got clips that I use in a teaching video from the lessons that we learned from them. It was really interesting to teach our guys from those clips. If you defended a certain way, then they would counter it. I was really impressed, so I stayed in touch with Greg and that was the first time we had met.

Then, we went back up and we were very fortunate. We won on a last-second shot. One of the best players I ever coached happened to hit it up there. It was in the UNI-Dome, which was an interesting thing, too. I've seen their new facility on TV. I was really impressed. Not so impressed that I was going to schedule them or anything when I was at Butler. But now that I'm at Iowa, we're going to go up Wednesday and play. Like I say, I love what they do and if we weren't competing against them I'd follow it. But we've got to get prepared to compete.

You caused somewhat of a stir last week when you said that you were going to review these in-state games. Would you like to clarify that?

Really, I just said that your conference schedule is always going to be set. Everything else, you should always leave yourself open to review and evaluate and never say positively that you're going to do anything in that. That's fair. And I haven't been here. I understand the interest. And I don't blame them for the interest. I just think you look at things you want to take into consideration what is the very best for your team. And as long as there's flexibility I would like to be able to use it to make sure we have the best position possible. That's not to say we're not going to play (them). It's great competition and it's great for the state.

Would you be in favor of a Big Four type tournament?

Greg McDermott has mentioned something to me about that. Years and years ago, I think they called it the Hoosier Classic, the original Hoosier Classic with Indiana, Purdue, Butler and Notre Dame. Butler didn't vote that down. Somebody else did; (laughter) One of those other teams.

There was a tremendous interest in it. I've heard it mentioned about maybe playing in Des Moines. I don't know what the format would be. But I'm sure it would draw a lot of interest as these games are, too.

And that's why I say, if we just don't evaluate it and just say that's the way it's going to be, maybe that's a better idea. Maybe it's not. But we ought to at least look into it.

At the time, you were the mid-major with the majors.

Yeah, that was long before I got to Butler. But you can't imagine the interest in the state. This was something that was a huge draw. But people have to do what's best for their program, economically, too.

Where did you play that?

It was way before Conseco. It was years and years ago. I think they played it at Hinkle. Tony Hinkle told me at one time that it was Hinkle Field House and Madison Square Garden (as the basketball Meccas). It was built in '29. Those were the places where people wanted to play.

So, are you saying that at some point in the future, after you've played 18 Big Ten games, if you decide next year or two years down the road that the in-state games are not in the best interest of your program, would you…?

I'd like to have the flexibility to evaluate it. I don't have that answer. I've not been here long enough and it's something that's been instituted for quite a number of years. I know it draws interest and I'm not going to come in there and say that I have some better answer at this point. I would just like to have the chance to evaluate. Maybe there's an option that is better suited. I don't know. Very well, there might not be. This may be in the best interest of every program.

Any comment on Dan Bohall, what's going on there?

Um, the only comment is that…first of all, I very seldom if ever, discuss any kind of personal issues publicly in any regard. I don't think that's fair. I do think that at the University of Iowa since I've been here I've been very impressed with the way that they've approached student welfare; the policies; procedures. I do work here. We'll follow all the Iowa policies and procedures. We'll always have the student athlete's best interest at heart along with our team. We'll take the necessary steps to insure the well being of the individual and the particular team that they're involved with.

Will he play Wednesday?

No he will not.

Do you anticipate UNI to full-court press? Assuming that Tony isn't going to play, do you think it will be more of the same?

You know, they haven't shown that. They haven't shown that they'll extend the floor. I know Ben doesn't need any help from me, but it appears that what they're doing is working quite well. Aren't they 6-1? Went into Iowa State…I've been really impressed. Their two big guys are very efficient. Their point guard is terrific. And that is not to take anything away from their other players. They have a great understanding of one another. That being said, let's prepare to play against a really good team.

McDermott has said that he and (UNI coach) Ben Jacobson text each other a lot, even during games. Is there somebody you text with to that degree?

Not while they're driving, I hope. That's always been a concern of mine. Guys texting while they're driving. (laughter) You know what? I very seldom text anybody except my two sons. Maybe my third son, but he's not as involved in basketball. He's the guy that got all the creative ability. He's an artist. He likes basketball, but he's more artistic. I respect that. But my middle son is an intern with the Pacers and he follows us very closely. Then my youngest son is obviously here. And we seem to spend time discussing it. The rest of the people I talk to on the telephone. Brad Stevens a little bit, who is the head coach at Butler University and doing a heck of a job.

You swept Indiana, Purdue and Notre Dame last year while at Butler. Did you guys sense an extra heartbeat in your guys for those games? Did they approach those differently?

One of the things that I most appreciated about those guys was that you couldn't tell one game from another with them. They had a terrific business approach. They were not concerned about what the other team had on the front of their jersey. They were focused on what our game plan was. That's what enabled them to perform well. You're seeing that again out of them. There comes a point where a program or a team, they feel like they belong and their focus is on performing at their highest level. That's what that team wanted to do. If you'd have seen us before we played Florida, who would have never known we were going out to play in the Sweet 16. Sometimes I thought that I put them to sleep. They were just in the locker room, very, very business like.

Do you sense that same demeanor from this (Iowa) team this year?

It's coming. And I told them the other night that we've got to start focusing on specifics and stay away from generalities. We're doing that better. That's something that is learned and part of the process. It's something that I enjoy as far as the game is concerned. I like specifics.

How do you feel the three freshmen are coming along and how do you feel about starting three freshmen at this level?

Well, I've never really said that you have to play in the system for a certain amount of time before you start. You have practices. You evaluate. The guys that prove that they can give you the best chance to compete, play together, they should be the ones on the floor. And I've said this, I just do not think that we should equate somebody's worth with whether they start, how many points that score. There's so much more to it than that. But, with that being said, the second half of Wake Forest those guys gave us a competitive edge. Once that was established, unless they do something to…or somebody else does something that says I need to be in there a little more then it's there's to do what they need to do. Now part of it is obviously there is plenty to learn. You're learning during competition and that's a tough situation for people. That probably hinders their aggressiveness a little bit. But I would prefer that. I would prefer that if it's a slower process that it's the right process. We're just going to have to do it. That's all.

Do you see these guys as being the building blocks that will help you play winning basketball in the Big Ten at some point?

I surely hope so. That's my feeling on it. I like all three of them, but they're not the only guys that we like. I've been pleased with the others. As I said, I love precision and efficiency. We've got to get to that and get consistent with it.

What are your off-court rules? Is there a time when you're supposed to be in your own bed not wondering around at all hours of the morning?

That would be a great concept, absolutely. I tell them that they can do a lot more damage away from here than we can ever do good. You have a responsibility to your team, to your school, to your community, to yourself. Do what's right. Make the right choice. Be responsible. It's a complex society these kids live in today. It may have been that way when I was growing up, but it seems to have become more complex. So, they need strong support. They need a vision bigger than themselves. That's what we're trying to instill. There's great joy in making sacrifices that lead into accomplishments. That's what we're trying to do, drive those things home.

Did you stress this even more in light of the situations that happened with the football team?

As you talk about situations, and we're focused on Iowa, but I think that I've got three sons. I'm a parent myself. I've coached at a lot of different levels. I just think that you stress these things if you're working with young people, period, no matter what. I firmly believe that Kirk Ferentz covers everything and does it right. I know he is responsible to his players to a person. And I've said this, if my son was a football player, Division I, I know who I'd want him to play for. I'd want him to play for Kirk Ferentz.

At Michigan or Iowa?

Wow, you're on a roll, Randy (Peterson – Des Moines Register). (some very uncomfortable laughter) We're Hawkeyes.

What do you appreciate the most about UNI's big guys?

I love their efficiency. There's two parts to that. There's excellent coaching. And I think Ben would tell you that he's probably been the recipient of working with Greg. McDermott did a terrific job with them and Ben's carried it over. So, there's good coaching there. And then I think that they have a good feel. Swen Nater wrote a book title "You Haven't Talked Until They've Learned". So some of it is on the players, too. They have to have willingness and an eagerness to learn. And it looks like to me that they're using their skills and what they've been taught and making it tough on the competition.

You said you are emphasizing reduced turnovers with your players. How frustrating is it for you as a coach to keep seeing the numbers come up during games?

I'm glad you asked that. Obviously from my demeanor on the sideline you couldn't tell. I've hid it really well that I'm frustrated. You know what? Here's the problem. Here's where you get to. OK, you emphasize it. Now what? It's like emphasizing to a guy that he's shooting poorly from the free throw line. Then it's, "Oh no." We can't have that. We can't go out there and hope not to turn it over. You have to go out there and use the skills and the techniques that we work on every day. And part of our issue right now is we're trying to do things that we don't work on that we probably used in the past that don't work at this level. We have to come to grips with that it doesn't work. And we need to stay away from it. It may have worked at some point somewhere, but it's not working here. We just need to do the things that work and be content with that. Being successful should never be boring.

Will Jeff ever get that wrap off this year? Are you ever going to have enough time for it to heal?

I asked the doc the other day about him and he thinks it's healing. My concern was that if we keep playing him was it not healing. But he felt like we were making progress with it.

How does Bohall's absence affect your questionable depth right now and your substitutions?

I don't know. Ask me Wednesday night, OK. I just don't know yet. I do know this, people rise during adversity. When they do, then they have an opportunity to be successful. If you don't, you have no chance. And if you're not going to fight through adversity, then it's going to be a difficult life. I just don't know that many people that haven't run into something that's…

Friday night you took a lot of blame for the loss. Are you having to learn different ways to reach out that wasn't needed with the system you had a Butler?

We didn't just have a system. We knew what our foundation was and it was a constant tweaking, growing, evaluating, that sort of thing. But we had a really nice base. We don't have that base yet. There's a base, but it's not what I'm comfortable with. I'm the guy that's got the vision for this. So, we've got to keep trying to establish that base. Am I learning? I surely hope so. Boy, I hope so. Does that mean you have to reinvent the wheel? No. I know this, it's very evident to me that the way we played and what we did at Butler can be successful. I read where they talked about the Horizon League. Well, it's a good league, but Butler isn't just winning in the Horizon League. So, I know it can be successful, A couple of years ago we went into a Big Ten school and the coach said to me afterwards, "We won't see that uniqueness that often if ever." Well, good point. We can have uniqueness here, but it needs to be sound. We need to be together. If it were easy, everybody would do it. It's a process. It is a process as much as we don't want it to be because sometimes it's a painful process.

Why do you think Gonzaga, Butler, Southern Illinois, Northern Iowa to a lesser extent have been successful against traditional powers, aside from the outstanding coaching at Butler?

How did you know I was going to say that? (laughter) You could read that, couldn't you? I wasn't going to say it because people would take me serious. They've got a system that they're comfortable with. They recruit to that system. I know for Butler we were in a good location to be able to attract the players we needed. Stability, that's another one. Butler, they've never gone outside. This is the fourth coach now, Barry Collier, Thad (Matta), myself and now Brad Stevens. I think we all believe the same things. So, there's been that consistency. And I don't think I'd say Northern Iowa at a lesser extent or not. I've been really impressed with the way they play. They're terrific.

This is a relatively short trip Wednesday night, 90 minutes or so. Do you go up Tuesday night or…?

No, no, we'll go up day of.

You talked about successful teams having a firm base. How have the players bought into your ideology on what your base is here at Iowa?

Well, one thing is I don't give them a choice. I just can't. I can't ask them, "would you rather do something else?" The nice thing is that they can look and see that it's proven. Guys have made this happen. But it's not some magic that I have. It's the tools. We think with them using those tools we can we successful. They're the ones that make it happen. They're the ones that have to go through some tough stuff. I feel bad for them. But if they'll fight through it…there's a little bit of pain going on, but if we don't do it, we're not going to have the success. We're going to lose what we do have. We've got to go through some of that. And then we'll have that foundation and we'll build from there. I don't see it as a new construction project. It's a renovation. There are so many good things about the University of Iowa. We need to incorporate those. They brought me here because they believed that we could do this and because we had this vision for it. I've received a lot of letters from people that I really, greatly appreciate, saying, "Coach, stay the course." I know it's tough. There's no question. I'm not saying that.

What do you do to keep the frustration from setting in?

We try to show them edits of what we do. Here are the plays that are winning plays. You make them. We'd like to see you do more of those. There are times when you have to show the things that you have to stay away from. But I'd almost rather do that individually, just have them come in. We'd really like for them to see this vision.

Back to the mid-majors. Typically, they don't have the fanciest arenas or the biggest budgets or high paid coaches or are on TV all the time. So, you're saying stability and consistency can overcome that?

There's a lot of focus there. When I was there, most of my time was spent on recruiting and coaching. When you name all of those things, there is more balancing at this level. There's no question about that. Yeah, you can probably recruit at a higher level here, but there you have that stability and your time efficiency might be one thing, too. Plus, I think no matter where you're at, you've got something to sell. You just have to find those right guys that fit, that want to be there, that want to be a part of something special. You know what that is that's special. You can explain it. I want guys who want to be Hawkeyes. I know what's special here. When we get those guys that really want to be Hawkeyes, which is what we're doing, then we'll be on the same page. We'll all fight together. You can be really good then.

Will Dan be available for Saturday's game?

I don't put time limits on these things. I just don't think that's fair. It's an evaluation process right now and what's in the best interest of everyone.


Hawkeye Insider Top Stories