I think it's an incredible rivalry. I got to see it from the other side last year and I didn't like it near as much to be quite honest with you. We had a terrific crowd and I hope they go out and spread the word that it was fun, because its great having them here. It is a rivalry, but I haven't hidden the respect I have for Greg McDermott and what he has done. His teams are always well prepared and are difficult to play against. Last year it was a similar situation, we beat Northern Iowa and they lost to Drake. He had them well prepared, they were in tune. We didn't have a chance. I was very concerned because I knew their approach.
The first half was, we couldn't stop their transition. I thought we were fortunate to be up two at halftime. We made a statement saying listen, we have to commit to make them play in the half court. After scores and misses, we have to get back and get our defense set. I thought our guys really took to heart what we were talking about, they made it happen. Cyrus Tate was very active in the post defensively. Our guards helped appropriately, and that was the reason we were able to extend the lead and hold it. It's fun to watch guys work together and meet such a great challenge, and we have the utmost respect for what Coach McDermott does. It's really satisfying to meet this challenge. We have a ways to go and improvement to make, but I think this group has the right approach.
Q: The last two games you have been able to make your run at the start of the second half.
Todd Lickliter: I don't know if it's making a run, or making an adjustment. The first halves have been really demanding. It's not big adjustments; it's understanding the way the other team would like to play, and for us to evaluate it and then make an effort to change our approach. Tonight, it was the transition defense.
Q: Jermaine Davis provided a spark tonight.
Lickliter: He sure did. He has been playing well. It's fun to watch guys that don't get caught up in what their role is. They just want to contribute. He has been that way. He didn't start, as we all talk about starters. He really came in and contributed, he never concerned himself with that. Now we have asked him to start the game and he has continued to contribute. It goes to his mentality and his team first attitude.
Q: Were you surprised he was able to start out so hot?
Lickliter: No. I have a lot of confidence in him. The nice thing about this team is that they are not concerned. The next game he could play the first five minutes and not shoot the ball. That is a great way to approach the game. I think allowing things to come to them is a fun way to coach.
Q: What did you see in Jermaine when you recruited him?
Lickliter: I saw that he was skilled, no question about that. But it's interesting you would ask, because I enjoyed watching his interaction with his teammates, and I watched him play two or three different times, and it was the same situation. There would be games when he would score, and there would be games when he would defend and pass. You could tell his focus was on team success. He is skilled but it goes beyond that.
Q: Talk more about Cyrus vs Brackins
Lickliter: It wasn't just Cyrus and Brackins. He is tough to defend. I thought Cyrus stayed ahead of him a lot, moving his feet and adjusting to the ball. If you wait and let him catch as deep as he wants, you can't guard him. He did his work early, and he got the appropriate amount of help off the edge, and you can't help too much because they can shoot it.
Q: You are playing a lot of young guys, you had two big wins this week; has this team come together more quickly than you thought?
Lickliter: No, I didn't limit them. We were hoping to be 11-0 right now. I don't worry about when they come together, what the process is. We know the way we should play, we are trying to learn one another's strengths, and we need to play that way today, tomorrow and so on. I know its cliché, but we like the challenge of the game in hand, so we are playing that game and we are 9-2.
Q: It looks like the team has maintained its intensity throughout the game these past two, and hasn't had a drop off in the second half.
Lickliter: I thought we took a dip tonight. We lost a little focus. But if you focus on the right things, then you shouldn't have a lot of ups and downs. You have a task at hand to take care of. Whatever it may be. Concentrate on that, do your job, and support your team. The game is made up of a bunch of possessions, just win the one that is in front of you and it will add up to be enough to get the job done. But you are playing really good competition and they are doing the same thing.
Q: This team has chance to go 3-0 in state, was that a preseason goal?
Lickliter: We want to win the next game.
Q: Was there a concerted effort to get to the basket tonight?
Lickliter: It was there. We thought we could get a little deeper. I thought Cyrus and Jarryd did a great job of screening at the right places on the floor, so we could get the driving angles. We are shooting it well on the perimeter. Very similar to Iowa State; it's hard to come off of those guys. Fortunately we have Jermaine, Jake and Jeff that can really turn the corner and get there. Matt Gatens there to kick back to him.
Q: Did you notice the celebrities in the arena tonight?
Lickliter: Iowa State was here, that is all I know. I heard that there was stuff going on, but when I walked out and the place was close to full, and there was a great rivalry and a terrific challenge, our focus has to be on that. I don't want to miss out on that fun, it was so much fun just to compete. I didn't see what was going on. I heard briefly that there was some flood relief, and that is terrific. I can't tell you how incredibly…I don't know how to explain it. But when I have seen the people of Iowa give to one another, it's uplifting and it continues. It speaks so well to the people of this state.
Q: Do you have a timetable for Anthony Tucker's return?
Q: Bawinkel gave you a good lift
Lickliter: He did. He was terrific. He doesn't turn it over and he shoots it in. I love him.