COACH LICKLITER: I'll just say that I've always been impressed with John's teams. Michigan has been a tough opponent for us. Played them better at home the time before this, and then this time I thought we competed hard. They got away from us early, and we cut into it but just couldn't make it up.
But this team has fought, and they've competed hard all year, and I've always been proud of them for that. It doesn't mean it's always looked real good. The last two games on the road people were very critical, but that's what happens sometimes. This team is trying to become a good team, and I'm proud of them for the effort today.
Cully played beyond his years today, I thought, and that's a real good thing. I think he enjoyed it. I told him coming in here, he's going to love Conseco, and I think he must. Jarryd has been a very good leader for us. We're obviously going to have to shoot better than 5-for-20 from the three to be able to beat them. But it was -- it just wasn't to be today.But it's a really good group.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes?
Q. Cully, you seemed to be more inclined to really push the ball and be offensive minded today. Was that by design or by nature, or just because you like Conseco Fieldhouse?
CULLY PAYNE: Coach kind of joked about it coming here, he's like, you're going to play great at Conseco Fieldhouse. I'm like, what's so great about this place. I love it, but it's great. That was kind of our game plan today, push the ball a little bit more. We got a lot of transition stuff, which was good for us, so that was kind of the game plan.
Q. Jarryd or Cully, can you talk about switching to a zone defense? What was that like for you?
JARRYD COLE: You know, in practice this week we were trying to -- trying to mix things up a little bit. You know, in Big Ten play, everybody knows what you're going to do basically. You scout all year for each other, and most likely are going to play each other twice. You get into a tournament it's nice to mix things up, give people a different look, and we did, and it ended up being successful for us, but not successful enough.
CULLY PAYNE: Like coach kind of said in practice, the zone will throw them off a little bit and take a little time off of the shot clock in the backcourt, and I think the zone was good for us today.
Q. Either player, I've heard speculation about your coach's future. Have you guys March 11, 2010 visit our archives at asapsports.com Iowa_quotes_game_1 2 heard anything of that, and has it affected the team at all?
JARRYD COLE: Personally, no, I've never heard anything. I don't know if you're talking about us as players leaving or him going anywhere. I've never heard anything. Whatever you hear, I don't know, it's news to me, I guess, too.
CULLY PAYNE: I think like Jarryd said, we haven't heard a lot about it, but I know that I came here to play for coach, and our staff, and we've got four great guys coming in. With the freshman class I know me, Eric and Brennan, that's coach's first class he recruited. We've got a great, true foundation and we're excited for coach, so we're kind of by his side the whole way. I can speak for us freshman class and the whole team that coach is our guy.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Coach Lickliter?
Q. Coach, three seasons ago, take me through this: If I had sat there and told you that by this point almost the entire team would have transferred out, most of them would have been guys that could start and Iowa basketball would be in the state it's in now, would you have said I'm crazy or would you have said that's part of the plan to begin with in the sense that you have freshmen coming in that are your guys?
COACH LICKLITER: I'm not sure I follow the question.
Q. The question is, this is the worst Iowa basketball I've seen in probably 35 years as far as the amount of wins. What I'm asking you is because of the style of play that you had at Butler, you knew you'd have to come in and shape this over the course of time. Has that went like you thought it would or is this beyond what you thought it would be as far as a bad season?
COACH LICKLITER: Well, I didn't anticipate -- you don't look and project wins and losses, you prepare daily and try to put the best players out. I think the hardest thing coming in here has been that the recruits that we've been -- that we have targeted, that we feel like are going to be able to compete have got to go through some tough times. We're not recruiting All-Big Ten players to Iowa their freshman year. If we do, great, if we can find them. But realistically what we've had to do is recruit players that will develop into that, and that has been hard for players to go through the frustration, the grind, the hard work. So we've had to continue to fight through some of that. Of the players that have left, I had recruited one of them to-date if I'm not mistaken. It's not -- if you look back, players have left the University of Iowa before I came. If you look at Butler, I had very few players leave. I had a few. I didn't have a plan for -- as a matter of fact, I take it very seriously your commitment to student-athletes. I want them to progress and graduate, and that's been my commitment to them. I think that because student-athletes can leave, there's probably some of you sitting out here right now that if you could leave your job and go to another job that was very similar without any repercussions, you might do it. And there might be some days you'd do it more readily than others. But that's the state we're in right now, and so we've had to do a little fighting through that. We do have a foundation. I don't know what's going to happen. People have to make those decisions. But we've invested; players have gotten better, and this team is better than the first two teams that won more games.
Q. There has been a lot of speculation today about your future, and it's unavoidable. Are you confident you're going to be the coach of this team next year?
COACH LICKLITER: You know, my future is that I'm healthy, I have a great family. I love what I do. I've done it well, and that's not in my hands.
Q. Along those same lines, have you met with Gary Barta to discuss whether or not you're going to be the coach?
COACH LICKLITER: No, I haven't, no. I'm trying to prepare for the Big Ten tournament and give my undivided attention to this team.
Q. Either specifically with you or for any coach, is three years a reasonable amount of time to judge the progress or not?
COACH LICKLITER: I think it depends on what you go into and the amount of support that you have and that sort of thing. You can judge some coaches as far as wins and losses immediately depending on the situation that they go into.
Q. You mentioned how much this team has improved throughout the course of the season. What can you say about all the freshmen that contributed and played today, where they were at the beginning of the season, where they are now, guys like Cully, who had a huge game.
COACH LICKLITER: Yeah, he shows a lot of toughness, and that's handled the grind pretty well. Now they have a whole year of Big Ten experience. It's a Big Ten that I've talked to a lot of time, media personality a couple days ago and said he cannot remember -- now, he's been at it a while. He can't remember the Big Ten being this good, and we played 18 games this year. They've had a little bit more of a grind than past teams possibly. I think they've held up pretty well. They're pretty beat up emotionally, they're pretty beat up physically. You saw today they don't have any quit of them. They're going to be successful these guys. I think anyway, I think they've got the right approach.
Q. How long is this going to go on? I assume you'd like to know whether you're going to be the coach or not. It's kind of a tough situation.
COACH LICKLITER: Do you think that would have to do with me? I mean, it's not -- you're asking me to answer on speculation. I don't have any. I haven't been told I'm not, so until I'm told I'm not, I've got to -- I am.
Q. A month ago, Gary said without hesitation that you will be back. Is he not saying that now to you?
COACH LICKLITER: He doesn't say -- we don't talk about that. We just talk about what -- the task at hand, and I really don't -- we haven't met on anything of that.