Lickliter, Iowa Prepare for Purdue

Iowa Head Coach Todd Lickliter met with the media on Monday as his team prepares to take on the red-shot Purdue Boilermakers. Lickliter addresses recruiting, his team's improvement, the unbalanced Big Ten schedule and much more...

Coach Todd Lickliter Opening Statement


Last week on the road was really tough, Indiana was just such a challenge and I thought we really struggled.  Then to come back and respond the way that we did, I was concerned on Saturday out of respect for Penn State and the way they play. We all knew that Claxton was out.  I think people rally sometimes in that situation, but at the same time, I have such respect for Claxton and the way he plays, you know that it's a tough situation for Penn State.  Our guys focused on what needed to be done and I thought complimented one another well, played with pretty good purpose most of the time and it paid off.  We don't have any time to enjoy it.  We did rest yesterday, practiced this morning at 7:00am, and hopefully can get prepared for a really good Purdue team who is playing as well as anyone in the league.  That is the plan anyway.


How tough is it to prepare for a team as balanced as Purdue?


I think every team presents problems.  Ohio State was balanced last year, but I am sure it was tough to prepare for Conley and Oden.  I think that they are not only balanced, I think Matt (Painter) does a terrific job.  You hear about their skill level and presence on the floor and the way they compliment one another.  All of those things are true.  But I think they defend with great intensity, too.  I have been really impressed with their half court defenses and the kind of pressure they can apply.  They can cover for one another.  When you have a point guard that can guard most people's posts, he is terrific defensively and so versatile.  There is a lot to be said for the way Purdue plays the game and what


You are going back to Indiana again, is there any extra meaning to it?


The number of ticket requests.  That is a good thing.  I get to see some family.  It's not Indianapolis, it's not Butler.  It's Purdue.  We have played there before.  Other than having family and friends there, it doesn't mean anything other than how difficult it will be.


Are Cyrus Tate's Big Ten numbers anything to do with Coach Joel Cornette spending time with him?


Just the opposite (laughs).  Put that down, that will be good for Joel.  Not extra time, but I feel that Joel and LeVall are terrific examples.  They communicate well.  Joel has a really good feel for how to play the game from Cyrus' position. I think it has been ongoing.  Cyrus has been a good student, he has listened and paid attention.  I don't think it's just Cyrus.  I think that we are more comfortable with one another and with what we would like to do.  I think that has paid off for Cyrus.  He remains so active.  That has been really important.


He is not fouling as much either, what has he understood about defense?


I can't say that there is anything other than if you are in better position, you usually foul less.  I think he is adjusting better with the ball.  We have been talking about that for a great deal of time now.  He is not reacting.  He is more involved in the play.  He has always been good, from the time we got here, with his on the ball defense.  He moves his feet well, he has some assets defensively that there is no way I can take credit for it.  He already understood that.  Now he is making progress as far as playing off the ball and moving his feet and being ahead of the play.


What has LeVall done with Jeff?


Again, and I am probably less facetious with LeVall because Joel and I have had an ongoing relationship since he was about a freshmen, LeVall has done a great job with the guards.  But Jeff is the kind of guy who studies tape.  I saw him the other day meeting with Chad Walthall and looking at tape.  I think Jeff is beyond his years as far as poise.  But all freshmen want to play, and I think he was probably pressing there for a time.  Lately, he is not pressing as much and he mentioned about his poise.  I think that has helped, and LeVall is really good with the guards as far as things that will help them to get by, tricks of the trade.


How much emphasis do you put on tape study and do you encourage that?


What I encourage is for our coaches to watch a lot of tape so that the players don't have to watch near as much.  If we can be real specific, I think that helps.  We can get right to it.  I think that is what coaching should be about.   Helping the players and being specific in areas.  When they come in, we are not going to watch a whole game.  We will watch what we think will help someone improve in the least amount of time, be efficient with your time.  Jeff is also preparing for the classroom, as is everyone and we have to balance that.


It seems that you have come a long way this year.


I appreciate that.  I don't know that I can gauge how far.  What we look at is are we far enough along.  I don't think so.  We have to get better every day.  Does that mean that we are not pleased with what they have done?  No.  We are pleased, just not satisfied.


Purdue is competing for the Big 10 title with four freshmen.  Does that give you hope for next year?


Well, I think it speaks well to recruiting and having a plan, having an idea of what you want in your program and what kind of players.  Having that specific blueprint.  If you do that, along with the right classroom work and the system, it looks like to me that it's possible.  Matt has shown that it is possible.  He has a really good class there.  I have never doubted that it's a people business.  I think upper classmen should be an advantage, but in this day and age, I don't think you have to have all upperclassmen.  The best player in the league might be a freshman in Eric Gordon.


Does preparation get any easier for you now that you get at these teams a second time?


I think it's the same.  There is a review, more of a review.  It's the same.  You have to be diligent and make sure that you are thorough.


You will be done with Indiana and Purdue on Wednesday, and there are three or four schools that you haven't seen yet.  How do you feel about that?


No, I haven't gotten an explanation for it.  We are going to receive the schedule, and you have to prepare and do everything you can to compete.  I am hoping in the off-season we take a look and see what the reason is for this.  It seems to me that you would go through, play each team, then play them again.  There must be a logical explanation, and I am sure I will hear it.  But there is no time to worry about that now.  The opponent is there and we have to get better.  The other thing is that you are not playing every team twice, so there may be something there.


Does Jeff benefit from coming off bench?


I don't know.  It's hard to argue with his performance the other night.  It's hard to imagine if he started if he would have played a lot better.  He hasn't said he would.  He hasn't complained at all.  I don't think that that is something that is really a big factor.


What was Jeff Peterson's shooting ability coming out of high school?


I think his greatest asset has been his ability to run the team.  He has complimented that with his shooting.  The thing I admire about him is that he shot well the other night, and he had struggled from the field.  What he decided to do is put more work in.  He would stay after and shoot, come in early and shoot.  That is the key.


How much easier does a guy like Jeff make your job?  You don't have to worry about the academic side and he takes care of things on his own?


I have never really thought about it making my job easier, but I respect the individual that does that.  That is the proper approach, it is a privilege to have an opportunity to earn a degree.  It should be pursued the way that Jeff does it.  I haven't had issues with players here.  I haven't had issues at Butler.  I really believe that it's time management, proper priorities.


How many scholarships do you have left?


We have the four that we signed, we have 11 on scholarship now and we have signed four.  We lose three.  Three from 11 is eight, and four is 12, and that gives you one more, but we scholarshiped Dan at the beginning of the year for one year, so that gives us two.  We are still actively recruiting for this class.


Is a big man a priority?


I think it's safe to say that.  You don't want a name, do you?  You know I can't do that.


Will David Palmer travel to Purdue?


I haven't heard anything different.  If he were not going to go with us to Purdue, it would be because of his foot.  I don't think that is an issue right now, and I think that is fine.  I always hesitate on medical issues, just because I have no idea. I wait for them to tell me.  Injuries are day to day so many times.  He did practice today.


Early in the year you relied on Tony and Justin's scoring, where lately you have had a  balanced attack.  Is there a direct correlation between that and your success as of late?


I don't think its more success, but what happens is that teams don't leave Tony and Justin a whole lot now.  They are aware of them, to the point where they help on them, so it opens up other areas.  Tony and Jeff are both very unselfish players.  It has provided opportunities for other players.  Now teams have to decide what they are going to do, and I think that is the idea behind a team.


You talked about your team helping off too much against some of Purdue's shooters in your first meeting…


Defensively, you have techniques and assignments, but you have to have an awareness of time and personnel.  That is what happened.  We have had some struggles at times with personnel and understanding what the tendencies are.   You know that Grant is an excellent shooter.  JJ and Tony are the same.  You are not supposed to help off of them quite so much.  Again, I have to give credit to Matt.  He does a great job of getting people in the right places, teaching them how to read defense and how to compliment one another.  You have to be sound for the entire possession.


Back to scholarships for next year, does that mean you decided to give JR Angle a ride for next year?


The way I look at it is, is that the people in the program right now have scholarships.  I think you go about your approach and business as this is our team and work with them.


The reason I ask, is that JR is a fourth year junior, and the understanding with Coach Alford was that he could redshirt in his second year, but pay own way as a fifth year player.


I have not gone into that with him and I have not talked with Steve at all.  That is something that at the end of the year, we will have individual meetings with every player and those are things we will discuss and we will make decisions then.


What do you think of some of the unsportsmanlike reactions your opponents have received during player introduction in the arena.


The smart aleck side of me wants to say something but I am not going to.  It's hard for me to get involved what our crowd says, does, etc.  There are other people that will dictate that.  I appreciate the enthusiasm of our crowd, I appreciate the enthusiasm of our students and I think if that is offensive or a problem, I think we have people that will address it.  I am very focused on my task and what I need to do.  Trying to put a team out there that people are proud of and represents Iowa in the right way.  There are things that are not in my realm.


Speaking of pride in team, you have exceeded a lot of expectations this year.  Do you take pride in that?


Really, the expectations that we set are that we want to play really good basketball.  When we have a chance to compete, we want to be successful.  So we have not exceeded our expectations.  I am pleased with the way the team has played at times, I am proud of the effort that they have given and we have shown some real flashes and I am excited about that.  I would never limit this team by saying ‘congratulations you have exceeded someone's expectations.'


Before Saturday had you seen Seth's celebration?


Is that what that is, a celebration?  I was thinking that I should do a cartwheel, but I have to stay in the box.  No, I hadn't seen that.


He said you said something to him about that not being something you cared for…


I think emotion and enthusiasm are fun.  It's a fun game.  We should be charged up and all, but I also think that Seth is fully capable of making a three pointer.  If not, please don't shoot it.  If you are going to shoot it, expect it to go in and let's move on.  Let's congratulate one another.  That is my philosophy for what it's worth.  That doesn't mean I am mad at Seth.  I am very pleased with him, actually.

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