It's obvious we have a really challenging game tomorrow (Tuesday). I am excited because of the respect I have for the way they play the game. I think back to my first year as a head coach at Butler. One of the games was Northern Iowa. It was McDermott's first year there. I had not seen the way his teams play, we had them scouted. They had a point guard Andy Woodley. It's funny how that goes around, he is the City High coach that coached my son. It's funny how things come around. As I scouted them, I had a great appreciation for the way they played the game and then playing them was very challenging to the point that we used it as a teaching tool for our defense. They really test you to see if you will stay sound. I am talking about Mac being there, but Jake (Coach Jacobsen), as I am similar to Barry Collier and Thad Matta, when you coach someone and play for them you use a lot of that.
Northern Iowa is true to that. They defend with purpose, they play with composure, and offensively, they have great floor spacing and they really challenge you to see if you will be sound, because as soon as you get ahead a little bit, they will counter and put you in a very bad spot. I am hoping that it's at a good time for us to have this sort of a test. I think there is excitement after being here a year, there is excitement for state schools to play one another. I hope that we prepare well and are ready to compete because we will need to be at the top of our game.
Q: You said last year that you would evaluate the importance of these in state series. What have you learned?
Todd Liclkliter: It is not just the in state, but the pre-conference games. You have to look at that. As I have said, the conference schedule has changed in adding two games to that since I got here, which I forgot to thank them for, which is demanding and we have the ACC/Big Ten challenge. As you look at what is guaranteed you, you need to look at the others and make sure that you are helping your guys prepare, you are giving them enough rest and so on. I think you should always review your pre-conference schedule and make sure that its best for your team. Now as far as the in state schools, I have great respect for them. I think there is an excitement about it. As far as competition goes, I have no problem with saying that it's very competitive.
Q: Is this something you look at annually?
Liclkliter: Yeah, I think we will have to review it as we go. I am not saying one way or another. I know this, we are unique in Iowa. There are not many states where…at Butler, we were never guaranteed that Indiana, Purdue or Notre Dame would come to our facility. I think that is something that as you look at the conferences that participate in this, I think it would be a great benefit to a Butler to be able to say, every other year, a Big Ten school will come in and play us in Hinkle Fieldhouse. We look at it the same way.
Q: Do you have an update on Anthony Tucker?
Lickliter: There is not an update. Only that the suspension holds. Basically that's it.
Q: Can you tell us why he is suspended, or is it just left to the fans speculating?
Lickliter: Anthony Tucker called me Sunday morning to tell me that he had a lapse in judgment. He knew the ramifications for it. Anytime I hear, and I will tell you it was a lack of training. Alcohol related, a lack of training. When I hear that, as I tell the team, anytime I hear something like that I am very thankful that everyone is well and OK. At the same time, we need to address our commitment level we have. He knew there would be ramifications, but he understood that he needed to address it. That is what we have done. We have addressed it, we move forward. We can't change the lack of responsibility from this episode, but we can change his behavior going forward.
Q: If he is arrested or charged with a crime, does that change anything?
Lickliter: It doesn't change anything as of right now. We will continue to address the issues at hand. I don't foresee anything changing. I think we have addressed the major issues. I think that he understands the direction we are moving in. He is fully compliant, remorseful, and I foresee us learning a difficult lesson.
Q: Does it help his case that he called you and you found out from him, and didn't have to hear it from someone else and track him down? Does that factor into the length of his suspension?
Lickliter: I don't know about a factor in how long, but it speaks to an individual's character. When they have made a mistake, and they are remorseful. Even in a bad situation, that can be encouraging.
Q: So it was alcohol related; did he go to the hospital?
Lickliter: I am not at liberty to comment on those areas.
Q: How did he escape charges, being 19?
Lickliter: I really don't know. I don't know that he has. What I am trying to do is not speak about things that I don't have the information on. I have been open as far as the information I do have and what we are doing to address it.
Q: Anthony's lack of playing time against Boston College seemed to have an impact on your point total, which was the lowest of the season. How do you think his suspension will affect the games without him in there?
Lickliter: I am not going to speculate on that. I have to deal with what is and we have to move forward. It wasn't just his lack of playing time in the Boston College game. It was a lot to do with their ability to defend. I am never concerned about how many points we score if we score one or more than the opponent. I thought it was a defensive challenge on both ends and it was a hard fought game. I think we will deal with where we are at and I have a great deal of confidence in the players that will participate.
Q: Do you feel pressure to beat Drake and UNI since they are mid-majors?
Lickliter: I don't need any more added pressure. I have plenty of that. I love to compete. Everybody that knows basketball knows the success of UNI and Drake. I said this when I was at Butler; mid-major is a term. You have major college players playing in those schools, you have excellent coaching and they have proven that whatever the label is they are not concerned and they compete at the highest level. I don't feel any more pressure, but I feel pressure. I want to be successful.
Q: There have been a lot of three point shots in this series with UNI.
Lickliter: I think we will have to defend. They space the floor well, their bigs are skilled, and they contribute. They are opportunistic. They will shoot open three's, they are well coached, and if you give them the open three, they will shoot it. I hope that we are the same way. We don't have a preset number of three's that we want to shoot; we want to shoot really good shots. I think we have capable shooters and they do to.
Q: Defensively, which area of their team poses the bigger threat?
Lickliter: A good team is balanced, so we are going to really do a good job of knowing how much help to give. I spoke earlier; they really test you in those areas. They want to see if they over-help, they counter. Appropriate help is going to be a huge part to us being successful.
Q: How has practice changed this year compared to last year?
Lickliter: Joel Cornette and LaVall Jordan aren't practicing, so that shows you we have made progress. We have more players that are in tune, that are understanding of what we want to do. So now, we can challenge one another. I think practices are challenging. You are going to need to be competitive in practice if you want to improve and I think they are competitive now.
Q: How much control do you have over the pre-conference scheduling at this point. Is this inherited?
Lickliter: The last two years have been inherited. Next year will be somewhat, but when you look at what we do have, you are playing an exempt tournament, the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, the instate schools and the conference. There are only a few games you have control over. The last two years have been set. The Las Vegas Tournament was already set.
Q: Last year when you had similar alcohol related incident, the player came out and spoke to us and was remorseful. Will Anthony speak today?
Lickliter: I don't think he will be available today. I don't think the player was available immediately last year. We would like to reserve that again.
Q: How big of a distraction is something like this, or is it only a distraction if you let it be a distraction?
Lickliter: I think that is the way life is. We are going to have to focus on the task at hand. Competition is so great. Respect for the game is so high, that you need to avoid any situation that can be a distraction. At the same time, if you have situations, nothing stops. You have to deal with things and be thankful in some ways and concentrate on aspects you can control.
Q: Some people might think you are very stern when it comes to alcohol, whether that is with arrests or incidents.
Lickliter: What people think is hard for me to analyze. I am not a mind reader. What I am, I think that people need to show commitment to their own success, to team success, to doing what is right and we encourage that. If something happens that detracts from those areas, then we need to address it. That is all we do. We address it with the hope that we learn, we grow. I have told the team this, experience is a tough teacher, but what is worse is when you don't learn from experience. My idea is that we grow.
Q: Who gets the minutes?
Lickliter: I am not sure. The nice thing about this team, we have had a lot of contributors. We have had a lot of people in whatever area, whatever way you ask them, they will come in and do it. I think that is an area that we have seen growth in.
Q: There is no charge for students to attend this game...
Lickliter: Can you say that a little bit louder? You say it like it's a question. That is the way I understand it. Has that been announced? Last year we had one snowstorm last year if I remember right, or one continuous snowstorm. There was one game, the Wisconsin game, what a great environment that was. The students came in and it was a terrific environment. I do think it's great to have the support of the student body.
Q: Was that your idea or the marketing department?
Lickliter: I think it was probably learning from that experience, knowing that we wanted to encourage the students to come, some incentive. It really wasn't my idea per se, I believe it was a marketing idea. LaVall Jordan last year had asked for this. We really want to have Carver full. That is a dream.