Licklter, Iowa, Prepare for #8 Wisconsin

Iowa Head Coach Todd Lickliter met with the media on Monday and talked about his team's ability to bounce back from tough losses and come through the other side, as they did against Ohio State and Michigan State this year. He also talks about his recruiting philosophy and much more in this press conference transcript...

Q: Bo Ryan calls his offense the swing, can you define that for us?

Todd Lickliter: What I see out of Bo Ryan's offense is that he spaces the floor well. More than one person will go into the post off of what you would call a flex cut or a back screen. He up screens, they run just about every kind of action you can run but with the floor spaced. His players are skilled passers. They understand where each other will be, and that is tough. He has more than one person who passes well out of the post. If you don't double, its isolation, if you do, he passes out and the floor is spaced. It's a similar offense to what you would see here under Tom Davis, what you see Bruce Pearl run. Flex cuts, not exactly that. He has added to it. I have not studied it per se to tell you all of the aspects. You would have to be there in the system to understand all of it. But that is the general idea.

Q: You talked about responding to success, your team has had a pattern of responding well after losses…is this next step?

Lickliter: I guess what we can say is that I think it would be easy for a team to be somewhat deflated after what has happened to us occasionally. This is a tough league, and you get beat, then what do you do? We have responded well as far as playing well the next game. I don't think that it's causing the other way…I don't think we have had success and now we are comfortable. We happen to run into really good opponents. We haven't been able to be successful against them. I don't think it's because of what happened before. I would like to say that this is what is required; let's try to do it again. It will be different, because the opponent is different. They are probably not going to play a zone, Ohio State did. In our approach, as far as trying to incorporate a game plan and make sure that we carry it out. Again, we are playing against one of the best teams in the nation. It's easier for me to talk about it than it is to do it.

Q: You beat MSU and OSU here, holding them way under their offensive average. Those two teams like to get it and go. Wisconsin is more comfortable with the tempo that you like, is that a different challenge, that they are more at ease in the 40's and 50's than MSU or OSU?

Lickliter: We don't talk about tempo a whole lot. I think it's assumed that we like a certain tempo or whatever. What we want to do is be poised enough to work the shot clock down if need be. If not, we will shoot it quick. Wisconsin would be the same way. I have seen them score in transition. I think they want to make sure they are comfortable with the shot they are shooting. I do think that you can have longer possessions against them, quite possibly. You are going to have to maintain your concentration and your focus. It's almost who will break first. It's a test, no question. They have good individuals, but its not only the test to guard those guys, but can we maintain focus for an extended period of time, 30 seconds, if need be.

Q: How much would you say confidence is helping Seth right now? He was talking about having a sense of urgency as a senior.

Lickliter: I would say this, that I hope that our freshmen don't feel that way, or sophomores or juniors. When you get to be a senior, you are going to want help from the underclassmen. There is no question. It's only right that you give that help as underclassmen. Seniors say that, but I hope they understand that you are never going to have a team of all seniors. You better hope that everyone has a sense of urgency. I really think it's more of us being comfortable with the way he would like to play. I think he can be effective, I am comfortable with that and I think he is finding a comfort level also. He is effective when he plays to his strengths.

Q: You said that Justin Johnson continued to play well when he was not shooting it well. At Michigan, Coach Cornette had a conversation with JJ during a timeout…

Lickliter: Is that right?

Q: I think so.

Lickliter: OK.

Q: You might have had your back turned.

Lickliter: I didn't see that.

Q: How did Justin handle that slump?

Lickliter: I think so much of it is because you hear it's a slump, because we look at the final results all the time. Like Saturday, we talk about JJ's shooting. Part of the reason that JJ got shots was because of Tony Freeman. I believe you have to guard him. So now the floor is spaced. I don't think we can only look at a player's contribution by are they scoring points or so on. I think that JJ provided the same thing for Tony. I think he is someone that you have to guard. What I want is for them to be comfortable with whatever the contribution may be. I want them to only shoot good shots. If someone guards him so tight that they can't get a good look, and we have to know that it opens up something for someone else, then you have done your job. Years ago, when Bird was a senior, I could be wrong in this, maybe I dreamed it, it seems to me that Bradley put three guys on him one time and he didn't score and his team won. His comment was that I hope everybody does it. That always struck me as a very positive team approach. They were not going to do that, because it will not work. Your contribution is in that you stay poised and confident and are appreciated for helping your team win.

Q: You think Justin understood what you are saying, or was he despondent?

Lickliter: Not a bit. I think he lacked patience at times out of anxiousness, to help the team. He is not the only one. Most people are that way. To his credit, he is a team guy. If you noticed, he had a few big games and we didn't win. The first thing he said was I want to win. He is really a good teammate.

Q: What is Coach Cornette's role other than instructing? We have seen how he instructs in practice. It looks like he may be your alter ego

Lickliter: Could you explain that to me please? He would take offense to that (laughs).

Q: I haven't seen you scream at players in practice or in games. He seems to be that person. I am not saying that is a bad thing.

Lickliter: I don't know if he is screaming at them or if he is showing his passion. Believe me, he played for me and there were huddles where I didn't say a whole lot. He could come over and direct the team right there. He is one of those guys that I remember his senior year, if you looked at his stat line, it wasn't all that great. But I remember talking to him saying htat the only stat you cared about was that we were at the top of the nation in wins. That is all he has ever cared about. He has a huge team ego, he can instruct, he understands the game, he is highly intelligent and he is passionate about the game and cares about people. Sometimes it comes across emotionally, and that is fine with me. I think that is a wonderful thing.

Q: Screaming was a bad choice of words.

Lickliter: The one thing is that if you scream all of the time, how are you going to get their attention when you really want it? I think he is really good at communicating effectively. Sometimes you need to get someone's attention. He needed to do that at Michigan, and he did. In the heat of it, sometimes you just can't be the most polite, nicest guy. You have to understand that it's not personal, and our guys know that. You show them every day that you care about them, so we are working hard to get something done here. It's not easy. We are playing very good teams that are determined to stop us.

Q: Are you the one that pushes his buttons?

Lickliter: No, you don't have to push his button. No, no. He doesn't need anybody. I trust my guys. I wouldn't hire someone that I didn't know if they were competent or had the team first approach or set examples. They have a lot of freedom from me. I completely trust that they will do what is right.

Q: What do you look for most when you are recruiting someone?

Lickliter: That is interesting. Part of it is the need. You need ballhandlers, rebounders and guys that can guard both big and small. But then I like versatile players. The second thing that I like is I like to watch a guy and see if he is involved with his team. I like to see if guys understand that you are playing to win and you play as a team and that your teammates enjoy playing with you. I love it when I watch a guy and I can tell that his teammates like playing with him. He has to be skilled and fit the other needs, but that is a huge part of it.

Q: Based on what you have seen, does Matt Gatens fall into that category?

Lickliter: I have said this all along, how fortunate I am. I would love to say that I targeted Matt Gatens and started recruiting him. That is not what happened. I am very fortunate. He is exactly the kind of player that I would recruit. As a matter of fact, one of the assistant coaches at Butler, when they knew we were coming, that is one of the first things he said, that we have to keep Matt Gatens, he is our kind of guy

Q: Had you seen him before you came to Iowa?

Lickliter: Yeah, we had seen him and we didn't think that we would be able to sweep into Iowa City and get him to come to Butler. We didn't think so. It doesn't mean we didn't know how good a player he was and the kind of guy he is.

Q: What has your son said to you about playing with him?

Lickliter: That is kind of a personal thing, what my son and I talk about, but it's OK. I will talk about that because it's good. He loves it. He knows that Matt is a team guy. Somebody said this, I think Bobby Hansen, he feels like Matt, if he scores in a win, if he doesn't score it would be great. I think that is very true. He does a lot of things that make people better.

Q: The fans have been counting down your shot clock in home games. Is that a good thing?

Lickliter: I think it's a good thing. There are clocks on both ends atop the basket, I hope our guys are checking on those. I think our fans appreciate the fact that if it takes us 30 seconds to get it the one we want, so be it. If we can score immediately, we will do that too. I think our fans have been terrific. Saturday, they were great. It was really a pleasure to be here.

Q: Do you get the sense that more fans are liking this team?

Lickliter: I don't know about that. I don't think the fans have been negative at all. Sure, people are disappointed at times, I have been too. That is the way it is. If you are a Hawkeye fan, you want them to win every game. That is how it should be. When I am out and the comments I get, I don't think they have been negative towards this team at all. I think this team has put forth a great effort. We haven't always played well, but we have always given a great effort. Now we are trying to play well and give the effort. That can lead to some special things.

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