Todd Lickliter Opening Statement
I haven't beat any ranked teams. I have been a part of teams that have done that, but it hasn't been me, that is for sure. We were awfully down after Wednesday. Nobody liked that. You basically have two things you can do and our guys chose the right thing. They came back and prepared well and competed. I thought that it was important to play in the half court more than in the full court. We were able to do that. I thought we defended with better purpose, which is very important. When you do that, you are able to rebound the ball a little bit. Those things were to our favor. We were fortunate, because it's a very good Michigan State team. I am proud of the guys for the effort that they gave and for the results they came up with.
Q: Tony Freeman kept you in the game.
Todd Lickliter: I don't think so. I think he did a great job, but I would hate to think that we have put Tony out there and he would beat Michigan State. He would have trouble guarding five guys. He did a great job, he was poised, he made big shots. I don't think JJ would go 1-11 0-7. I think Tony is a terrific jump shooter. Tonight, he did more of that than the other, and that is huge. People thought, OK, he is healthy, let's go. He missed a lot of practices, and he was not in synch with what we wanted. To his credit, he has worked hard to get there. It is always hard for me to single out one guy, he had a great game.
Q: How do you lose by 31 at OSU and then beat the 6th ranked team in the country?
Lickliter: I am not going to let that secret out. I told the team if we could get beat by 31, we might be able to come back and get Michigan State. So it was a set up. I think sometimes the game is such that, as you can imagine, things get rolling. Teams get rolling. Thad Matta said that he didn't know if they could play any better. Give them some credit. It happened with us where things went from bad to worse. Tonight we stayed more poised and things came out in our favor. I think that our guys were very in tune. I sure wish we would do it because that is the right way to do it and play, not just because #6 was coming here.
Q: What do you think about the start to your season, schedule wise, here in Big Ten play?
Lickliter: It has been a lot of fun. It has been a great time. Three teams in the Top 25 and Ohio State on the road. But that speaks well for the conference.
Q: Talk about how players didn't let their offense struggles affect their defense tonight
Lickliter: Did you think they had offensive struggles?
Lickliter: 27 percent (laughs). That is a great point, and you have heard me say that. It shows character. If they had gotten on a roll, then what would we do? But that didn't happen. We maintained our composure and continued to defend and we were right there. We knew we had the chance. We just stayed with what we wanted to do. Weren't concerned with how many points. But this possession, we want to play this way.
Q: Not too long ago, you didn't shoot a free throw in a game (against Drake, at home) and tonight you shoot 29. Is that a concerted effort?
Lickliter: Yeah. I was more surprised that we didn't shoot one here than I am with the 29. I think we are very capable of getting to the line. And I think that Cy has been good in that and Kurt got fouled by being aggressive. What that does is give you a chance, Tony gets fouled on the court and we are in the bonus. Cy and Kurt have struggled from the line but it gets our other guys to the line in getting fouled. You have to have more than one way to score, and the line is important. I wish we'd make a few more.
Q: Your first Big Ten win was one when the fans storm the court. That ought to be good for the memories.
Lickliter: I really appreciated the fans tonight. I thought they were really good. It was nice for them, it was nice for our guys to be able to…you have the 6th ranked team in the nation come in and you play them like that and it's gratifying.
Q: How excited were the guys in locker room?
Lickliter: They are allowed to get excited even thought it's behind closed doors. I have heard mention that sometimes I will express some emotion. That is what this is about. We are a group that has worked together that competes hard, that prepares well, that has pride in wearing a Hawkeye uniform. How could you not be emotional about that? I have had teams in the past where I couldn't talk about without crying, I loved them. You get to that. You have a certain level of expectation for your guys. I think a lot of times my level of expectation for them is higher than theirs. They need to know that I am not going to accept anything less than what I think they are capable of giving. If it happens, they will know I am hurting. Then when this happens, I want them to know how proud I am of them and how much I appreciate them. Not just the win, but playing the game the right way. So we celebrated a little bit.