A little bit about where we are at…I think that the offenses of the teams we have played recently have grown at maybe a faster pace than what we have been able to do defensively. When you look at how aggressive Minnesota was, we struggled to defend their aggressiveness. The other two, Wisconsin and Michigan, were so poised and content…to have a team score 16 in the first half and then give up 60 for the game is alarming and disappointing. We had to address some of it and we have to be willing to compete for entire possessions, with purpose. You will see it again tomorrow.
Northwestern is extremely well coached. The spacing and the cuts and the challenges they present to you are not only excellent, but they are more than willing to make you guard multiple actions during a possession. If you played Northwestern on a regular basis and you really prepared well and did a great job in your preparation, I think it would help you defensively. Because of the challenges they present. As we have been practicing, I think it has put us in tough spots and hopefully it will help. I don't know that we are completely prepared for how well they run it. It is a good way to work on your defensive alignments and techniques.
Q: Are you aware of Northwestern's recent success against Iowa?
Todd Lickliter: We haven't played them. Oh, before I got here? I am very aware of Northwestern and the way they play and their approach. I have watched them through the years with respect. But I haven't looked at series. It's totally different, the way that we are trying to play.
Q: After the Michigan game, Seth and Justin indicated that the team may have gotten too comfortable with the big lead you had.
Lickliter: I hope they learned a very valuable lesson. It wasn't near big enough, obviously. I think that is a bad approach. I would never think you would do that. If we did, then we learned an expensive lesson. Give Michigan credit.
Q: You want teams to defend you for a long time; that's what Northwestern wants teams to do to them. Can you defend with patience for 30 seconds?
Lickliter: That is interesting. There are times when we don't maintain possession for a long time, and we will shoot it quick. Northwestern will too. Good teams do that. The teams that are maybe the most challenging are the ones that are opportunistic. They will shoot in the break, if they get the shot they want, they will shoot it. Northwestern is more than willing and plays with enough poise to make you defend side to side. I would like to think that we can do the same thing. Things are different; we use the dribble a little more, on ball screens, where they use a lot of back cuts and back screens, flare screens. Things that are difficult to pick up. You have to have a good team defense against them. But I would like to think that you could prepare well within our system to play against them, but I thought we would be similar against Michigan, and we didn't defend. We were very ineffective in the second half against Michigan. It was like we hadn't prepared at all. They took advantage of us.
Q: Defense aside, you have had long scoring droughts in games, field goal wise. What is the reason for that?
Lickliter: There are a couple of things. We have not been able to manufacture shots that we want. We get late into a possession and we shoot a tough shots. Turnovers. We have had a number of times when we have turned it over. Now you do those two things, and you are not making all of your good shots, and we miss a few of those and it compounds it. I will say this. I have been fortunate to have coached some good teams, and we have had droughts. The key is to continue to defend with great purpose and fight through that. We have done that at times. Recently, we have done less of that. I think our lack of offense has caused our defense to suffer. I don't agree with that and I am disappointed in that.
Q: Did the weekend off come at right time?
Lickliter: I will let you know. I don't know to be honest. We will have to see. You are always trying to figure out what is best as far as time off and how much practice and so on. It's constantly trying to figure things out. With this off weekend, we came in Saturday morning and came back for a while yesterday. We were able to get completely away, and I think it's good to get a day off during a week. Have a regular school day. Take off Saturday or Sunday and have a school day off where you can get things done that college students need to do.
Q: What are your thoughts on the Indiana situation?
Lickliter: I honestly don't have a lot of thoughts on it at all because I am so unfamiliar, I am not close to it and there are people that are involved in it that don't have an opinion yet. I don't have any idea.
Q: Would you recruit a one and done guy?
Lickliter: That is an interesting question, as far as when you say one and done, he tells you he is not coming back. I don't know if that happens much, I don't foresee it much as it's a hypothetical. I would say that I don't think that is a great situation for college athletics. It almost makes us a minor league team. If you are a young basketball player and you have a dream of playing at the pro level, I think that is a great thing. Who wouldn't want to do that, I would like to still be playing, everyone would. But when you enter into college athletics, your responsibility is to work towards earning that degree. If it's a one and done, they need to work towards that degree fall and spring. You need to uphold the integrity of the institution. If I had the solution, I would offer it up. A lot of people have worked on it and there isn't a good solution. People have spent more time on it than I have, and the solution they have is what we are living it.
Q: How do you coax the defensive patience?
Lickliter: If you want to win, then you will stay in there and defend. You have to have a competitive spirit about you. You have to maintain your stance and you have to maintain your positioning and constantly adjust it. If they backdoor you on the second cut and its open, they will shoot it in. It's not like they will break you down each possession. You better be prepared each time. Within that, there will be that patience.
Q: When you say defend with purpose, how much of that is effort? In the last game, how much harder did your players work defensively in the first half than in the second half?
Lickliter: When I say purpose, a part of it is focus. Purpose is that I am a teammate, and I am expecting the other four guys to meet their assignments. There are definite assignments that they have to commit to and there are principles they have to adhere to. If not, then it's not team defense and we struggle with that at times. It's still relatively new. I have had very few freshmen come in and really defend with the kind of purpose that an upper classmen would. I have had freshmen that have come in and helped us and have been good, but if you have a freshman on the floor with two juniors and two seniors, you can bet those juniors and seniors are covering for them. We don't have that luxury right now. This is new to these guys. It's something that I may have taken for granted a little bit and I am being reminded that it is maybe a little tougher. I am not going to excuse things. There is no way.
Q: You have seven man rotation, a lot of guys playing more minutes than at the high school level. Has fatigue been a factor during the losing streak?
Lickliter: Myself and four of you could play four minutes at a time. Then you sit two and a half minutes, you get 15 minutes at halftime. I can't imagine being 20 years old and being fatigued. I can't even fathom it. Mike Green, we win the (preseason) NIT championship (November of 2006 at Butler), New York, fly back, we get in at three in the morning, we go double over time, he played 50 minutes and I asked him how he felt, he said I got 20 more minutes. Guys that like to play will play all day. With all those media timeouts, I can't imagine being fatigued.