Post-BTT: Lickliter, Tate, Kelly Q&A

Todd Lickliter and the Iowa Hawkeyes have likely played their last game of the 2008-2009 season. Read what he, Cyrus Tate, and Jake Kelly had to say after the game in this free transcript.

THE MODERATOR: Coach, if you could just make a couple opening comments. We'll take questions for the two Iowa players and finish with Coach Lickliter.

COACH LICKLITER: This is a team that has competed throughout the season at a good level. Seldom have they been in a situation like this. I think West Virginia was like this, maybe one other.

But today was -- we ran into a team that -- we just couldn't challenge them. It started off early. And just it was one of those things where we didn't have an answer for them defensively. It's a team that Jake Kelly shifted over to the point and had done a great job, but we still had limited time. So we've got less options offensively than what we need.

But he's done a terrific job at that position. Cyrus has come back and played 42 minutes last game. Played quite a few this game, after missing most of the Big Ten. So these two guys have done a really good job.

And it's hard when you're competing to gauge progress if you're not winning. But they've set a foundation, I think, that we can build upon and it's not the year we wanted, but the way that they played and the way they approached it I'm proud of this team. It's a tough way to end.

But I'm proud of the way this team has responded throughout the year.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Jake or Cyrus?

Q. Jake, can you talk a little bit about what they were doing defensively that kind of neutralized you and Matt and what were they doing differently?

JAKE KELLY: I don't think they were really doing that much things different than the last time we played them at home. We just weren't executing well. And I think we weren't getting good enough screens and I wasn't doing a good job of maybe pushing the screen and using my teammates to do some more things for me. I think I was forcing some stuff.

But I think we just fought really hard and it's just one of those games where it got out of hand early and we couldn't corral it back together in our hands.

Q. Both players, if you could reflect maybe back to the start of the game and just your thoughts over that first five minutes or so. Cyrus first, Jake?

CYRUS TATE: I think we let Michigan get comfortable early in the beginning of the game. And they kind of got a roll going and comfortable. At a point the game got out of hand and we tried to fight back throughout the end of the first half and tried to in the second half make adjustments to cut the lead down.

JAKE KELLY: Yeah, just to add on what Cy said, I think DeShawn got them off to an early start and they just got rolling from there. He gave all his teammates confidence, and from there on out everybody's comfortable and knocking down 60, 70 percent of their shots. So it's tough to defeat a team like that who is capable of shooting the ball like they did.

Q. Cy, obviously not where you want to end your career at Iowa, but is there anything you'd like to say to the fans, to the university as a whole, as how your time at Iowa was?

CYRUS TATE: I just wanted to thank the university for giving me an opportunity. It was a long ride getting here to this point. And it's been great. And I wish things could have been different. But for the most part, I'm just thankful just for having the opportunity to be here and play for Iowa.

Q. Cy, what specifically was Sims doing to be able to get so open and do so much in the first half especially?

CYRUS TATE: I don't know. It's not much from what he's doing in the past, but he's got a real good rhythm, and he got real comfortable and he's hard to guard. He's hard to guard throughout the game.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you. Questions for Coach.

COACH LICKLITER: I'll say this, these guys are real classy guys. They wouldn't make any excuses. I probably didn't help them near as much offensively as I would have liked to. But you can see neither one of them are going to make any excuses.

Q. Coach, when a player like Sims gets off on a start like he did, what goes through your mind and is there anything that you can do to just stop that?

COACH LICKLITER: It's a lot harder to stop it than it is to try to prevent it. I thought that his floor positioning was to their advantage. He caught the ball where he wanted to catch it, and then was able to basically -- as these two guys said, he was very comfortable.

And that's a big problem. I think the last couple of games -- and I can't remember, I thought up there, especially, we were able to challenge him for spots on the floor. We couldn't do that today. And we did some switching and to their credit they rolled him right into their post on our guards and we weren't able to counter that.

And that's a coaching decision. But I did think that he got awfully comfortable, and like I say, we weren't preventing his touches.

Q. Todd, how do you feel --

COACH LICKLITER: Sick. Excuse me.

Q. I have a follow-up question.

COACH LICKLITER: Okay. I thought I'd tell you just so you'd know. I'm sorry.

Q. That's all right. How do you feel your program is as opposed to where it was a year ago today and how do you get it to a higher level a year from now?

COACH LICKLITER: Well, I mean, I think, I've said this a couple of times, we've made progress. And you're never satisfied until you've reached your goals. And there's a lot of contributing factors to getting a program to a championship level. And we're working diligently within the program to make those things happen. I told the guys today, afterwards, that they had fought hard almost all year. And that's a big step. I think they've laid a foundation, and if you're not winning, then you sure better be getting ready to win. So much of that is approach. So much of that is competitive spirit, as wanting to be coached. Personnel. Things of that nature.

And these guys, I think, have established a real good approach, a competitive approach. Are we where we need to be? No. We need to improve on that. But we've got an off-season to work on it and a recruiter or two coming in and some growth.

If you look at the guys who returned, Jake Kelly, Jarryd Cole when he was healthy, Jeff Peterson, Cyrus Tate, those guys that returned that were contributing, you know, too me they were better within our system. They were better players. And so we think that it will continue to evolve that way and not because we want it to or hope it does but because they make it happen.

So all we can do is control the things that we can control: the way we approach the game, the way we teach it, the personnel we recruit.

Q. Are you interested in going to the tournaments that are not the NIT?

COACH LICKLITER: I think that the criteria is a winning record for most of those. And that would probably eliminate us. We're set to go on our trip overseas in the end of May. And so that will be our focus now, as far as we'll get 10 practice days. We'll have our individual instruction, and we'll play, it looks like, in Italy and Greece. That should be our postseason at this point is what I'm looking at.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.

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