I thought this would be a really good test tonight and it was. I don't think the final score is very indicative of how competitive it was. We were fortunate down in the end where we made some shots and free throws and pulled away. But it was tight all the way. I thought it would be the kind of game with the right focus and approach that we could really learn from and grow, because of what Coach Jacobsen does with his team. They space the floor well, they share the ball, and they run good stuff and test you. I thought they controlled things a lot in the first half. To our guy's credit, we made adjustments.
We had terrific play off the bench. Andrew Brommer, I think he worked hard. Jarryd Cole was very good off the bench defensively, Aaron Fuller and Balwinkel. It doesn't show in the point category, but they did a job defensively. I am pleased with that kind of lift. We had fairly consistent play out of the rest of the guys. I guess I should speak to Cyrus, the way he made the adjustment in the second half and moved his feet. Our guards figured out the appropriate amount of help. That is what I am talking about as far as learning, how to counter good things and good players. I thought it was a hard earned and satisfying victory.
Q: No game is perfect, but you commit just five turnovers and had 11 assists and shot 60 percent in the second half and played aggressive defense.
Todd Lickliter: I think it required us to play that well. They are a good team. It required it. Now, some of it, the way they play, there are some similarities. We don't force a lot of turnovers and they play solid defense. Part of it is style of play, but part of it was our guys making good decisions. Jake Kelly had four assists and zero turnovers and he made plays. That is important.
Q: Peterson, Kelly and Gatens stepped up without Anthony Tucker.
Lickliter: I think it was just opportunity. Those guys, if you watch Gatens, he makes four out of five threes. He makes a big one, he has another one wide open shot late in the game and early in the shot clock and he passes it up. Those guys don't concern themselves with areas they can't control. They play the game with purpose. It leads to this. Did we do it all the time? No. But I think we have to have a better understanding of what that means after playing a game like this.
Q: You had to like your defense, holding them to 46 points and collecting seven steals.
Lickliter: I thought there were times we had breakdowns. In the first half, I thought 22 points was a good number, but I didn't think we were as efficient as we should have been. They caught the ball in places that are difficult to defend. They missed some good looks in the low post. To our guy's credit, we addressed two or three things, they made those adjustments and made them earn it. They missed a few, but that is a part of the game. I have my fingers crossed over there once in a while. Sometimes you have to be fortunate. I think every team misses some they feel like they could make.
Q: Do you think Gatens needs to shoot more?
Lickliter: If he is going to shoot it like this, we should have him shoot every time. That is a part of his game. HE is so poised, and he is patient. The other guys are shooting well too. Matt is comfortable with his role and what he is doing. He will shoot open shots, I guess what we ought to be asking can we get him more open shots. That is something I had better look at. You are right, thank you.
Q: UNI had a 7 point lead late in the first half, it seemed that was a turning point for you.
Lickliter: I don't want to wait for that. I don't think so. Although you can feel a sense of urgency when a team is doing what they want to do.
Q: What was said in that timeout?
Lickliter: Could we please…let's see….I don't remember exactly. I am sure we addressed areas that we needed to. I thought we had some pretty good looks that we missed. So I wasn't too upset with them offensively. And they had 22 points. I thought if we continued to make a few adjustments, things would turn our way. It happened that way.
Q: How is Jeff Peterson from where he was last year?
Lickliter: You mean last March? I can't remember that long ago. What you do in those times is you invest and Jeff has invested. He has gotten stronger; he has worked on his game. In fairness to him, I think he has a comfort level. So you are seeing more poise. Not like he wasn't poised last year, it takes a little while. You are asking someone to run a team. The other positions are difficult, but to run a team you really need to know the system, what the coach wants and be very familiar. I wasn't disappointed in him last year. People questioned some things, but I thought for a freshman he had a good year. It wasn't as good as he wanted, and he has proven he is going to do something about it. He is playing well.
Q: Is this the best this team has played this year?
Lickliter: I am not sure to be honest with you. I hope so. I hope we are better than we were yesterday and I hope tomorrow we are better than we were today. We played well in spurts.
Q: You have to like how your team responded without Anthony Tucker in there.
Lickliter: I don't think their focus was on that. Their focus was on the job that needed to be done and executing, and their team. I don't think their focus were on things they can't control. That is a real key to being successful.
Q: Will Anthony play Friday against Iowa State?
Lickliter: What is today, Tuesday? I don't think I can answer that today. I am sorry.
Q: Do you have a timetable for that?
Lickliter: No, we don't have a timetable.