Last week was probably as difficult a week as…and I don't expect you to care, but probably as about as difficult a week as I can remember in coaching. It was just disappointing. It was much like in a game; I believe this, you should play all the way to the end. I think Frank Layden said that I would get beat by 14 than 15. Although we were not playing for a championship, we were in a position where we were competing for a better position in the Big Ten. We go into Penn State and we played well enough during that game to secure a victory. To their credit, they made the plays down the stretch and we went three out of the last four possessions without a shot. It would have changed things if we would have been able to get that victory on the road. Then to come back home…
I have read a few things that different people have said. The truth is during the Illinois game, they played better than us, they were better than us and they beat us. They deserved the win. I have respect for what Bruce Weber does and the way he coaches. They defend with tenacity and present problems for you. They made their free throws and shots and I didn't think we ever really challenged them. Now we are sitting here, when I was hoping for an improved position, to one where we have struggled and we have to deal with the disappointment and move on. We are going on the road again and playing a team that everyone that knows anything about the game is very well coached, they present problems for people.
I said this more than once; I think a very deceiving aspect of all of this is standings and records and so on. We have to be on the top of our game to be competitive and we will try to prepare accordingly today and compete tomorrow night and then obviously, everybody, I don't care what the situation is, when you go into a tournament, you feel like you have opportunity in front of you. That is the way we will approach it. Did that cover everything?
Q: Did some of the post game comments surprise you? Seth made it sound like you could assume a win because it was senior day?
Todd Lickliter: Would that surprise you?
Lickliter: Well I am no different. I never know what someone else is thinking. I am not that good. But I can't imagine us thinking that we would ever win a game where we didn't have to perform at a high level. I just can't imagine that.
Q: Did you ask him about it?
Lickliter: I haven't seen him. No. I have not seen him since. Let's face it, people are asked questions, they may not have thought about the answer and they give the answer that pops into their head. That is something that could be said. Maybe if you gave Seth time to think about it, it may not be the same response.
Q: You have played 30 games now and time is running out. What lessons do you think you have learned personally in your first year here?
Lickliter: I was thinking about two things. One, that I read somewhere a quote that said the only thing worse than learning through experience is not learning through experience. The other one was my father saying to me that it would be a lot easier if you would just listen to me, when I told him I might want to learn through experience. I have told our guys this, we need to be thankful in all circumstances so we will evaluate, grow and improve. There have been some real challenges here. You can never prepare completely for a job or an opportunity until you were involved in it. The problem is while you are involved, it's hard to evaluate the overall. You are very busy with the task at hand. What I will do when we sit down, whenever the season is over, I have made some lists and thought about some things and ways we can grow and improve and we will try to address those. Right now, our focus is on this team and our opponent and being successful in a daily basis.
Q: Can you talk about the freshmen?
Lickliter: Jeff has had some good games and has played some good basketball. I think Jeff would tell you that he would have chosen to be more consistent. There are some freshmen or people that go from one level to the next that are ready. I think that is the exception more than the rule. The game is faster and the players are stronger and I think there is a period of adaptation. It's better for most players to play less time. People think you get better in games. I think you get better by playing some, coming out, watching some and not playing through mistakes. When you play, mistakes continue to occur because you don't take someone out and let them sit and talk with them and coach them. It's a different environment. I really prefer that first year players learn at a different pace than this. Our freshmen have had to learn at a very quick pace, like on the job training. I don't know that that is always the best way to do it. I have appreciated the effort they have made and the growth they have tried to make, but I do think they have been thrown into a tough situation. Jake is the same way. Jarryd Cole, I would much prefer him playing than what he is doing now. But it's amazing. I think people who attack things in one aspect, you can see how they will do something out. He attacked learning the system and being a great teammate, and now he has had a setback. I can't say for sure, as I am not a doctor, but his progress looks ahead of schedule. I just appreciate the way Jarryd has handled that.
Q: Jake has averaged 35-36 minutes last five games, and you are shaking your head now. Is that too much for a non-Eric Gordon type freshman?
Lickliter: I think possibly you could say that. I think it would be a better situation to be able to learn in practice and from upper classmen. We just don't have the opportunity to have mentors. They are not familiar with what we want. I don't think Levall Jordan would mind me telling you, that it was a whole new environment when he came in as a freshman at Butler. He thought he would step right in and play and it didn't happen. It was a good thing for him. He said he thought he was better than those guys, but they were getting the job done and he wanted to add to it the right way, and he became a good player in his career and that is a good lesson. We are not able to learn in that way. But you play the hand you are dealt and that is where we are at and you try to make the best of things.
Q: You said before that you had a list of things to look at when the season is over. Can you share what is on the list and how long is it?
Lickliter: I really would prefer not to share at this point. I would like to share it with the people in the program and find a consensus of what we need to do. It's not secret that we need a practice facility. We are working on that and it will happen, but that is one area in general, we need to do that. I think we will. It will be a benefit to us.
Q: How does that impact your performance, or does it?
Lickliter: It impacts in preparation. Preparation directly leads to performance. There are things that we would like to do, ways to structure time, that if you have another facility and you can utilize it, now time management is more efficient. With your time and the player's time. It just makes sense. We have had occasions this year where we have worked around events because we had limited choices. The day before the Penn State game we practiced in what they call the north gym. I think that is less than ideal, and everyone thinks that. I am not a visionary in this, believe me. Most of the competition has practice facilities for that reason. I also like the idea that if a player has an hour in his day to come over and shoot, it's nice to have a place to do that. Our court is used a lot. It just makes sense, there are three teams using one facility basically. Again, I am not saying anything new here.
Q: Does a practice facility help from a mental standpoint, not as many distractions?
Lickliter: Where we could lock the media out? I am kidding. No, it's like a classroom. I like Carver and I don't think that we have been distracted. There have been a few times where people have run on the metal steps, that is a little distracting, but once we have asked them to not do that, it has helped. There could people at the top of Carver, and I like the idea that people can stop in, the high school coaches, the media when they are invited. I think that is a good thing. You can see what we are trying to do and you have a better feel for that. With that said, you are right, if you make it like a classroom, there are not people walking in and out of classrooms for a reason. I would like to do that on occasion.
Q: Was there another facility at Butler?
Lickliter: There was. It wasn't ideal, but it was connected to the Field House. We could walk to it. We probably used it 5% of the time. It was there, it was convenient, and it was a benefit.
Q: In Recruiting, do kids ask about practice facilities?
Lickliter: They don't always ask about it when they come here. But when you go to a place that has one, it becomes obvious. ‘Here is something that is a benefit'. It's nice to have to to be able to say if you want to shoot at 9 o'clock at night or whenever, we have a place for you to go in. At Butler, it wasn't an accident that we had really good shooters. We recruited that way, but they had opportunities to shoot the ball.
Q: You intend to have 13 rides next year if you can, your son is a walk on, maybe Bohall is a walk on. That is 15 players. Would you like to go beyond that and how can those numbers impact you in practice, 15 bodies compared to just 10 this year?
Lickliter: Mostly you have to organize your practice appropriately, getting the right reps and so on. That is an easy thing to do. 15 is a very good number if you have the right 15. It's more important who you have than how many. We will just see how that goes. I would rather have, just like this year, our numbers are limited, but I feel much better about that if we would have gotten anxious, offered and had a bad fit and now we have a player that doesn't fit what we are looking for because we were not diligent in it. I would rather have lower numbers if its not the right guys. We will correct both those areas as we move forward.
Q: How will you handle the practice time over the next week after tomorrow night?
Lickliter: Right now, we have played everybody. We have tried to do what we need to do as far as understanding the system, so most of the time its review. Now, what we have to do is be efficient with that. We will take a day or two off in that time period. Hopefully we can take a day or two off during the school week. I love for the guys to be able to go to school, be a regular student, get that college feel to it during the season. We will probably try to do that and we will prepare. I believe there will be enough time to prepare.
Q: What do you think about the Big Ten schedule and the 18 game grind?
Lickliter: That was your analysis right, grind? I like all of the teams the way they approach things. I have great respect for the Big Ten, but if you look at our schedule, it was very demanding, even more so initially. I thought it was very taxing early. Not to say that it's not now, just look at the way that it played out. What can I say, it's the league we are in. You are playing really good people and you had better prepare for that.