Morris, UM Aim to Avenge Loss to NW

Darius Morris & company have been aching for another chance at the Northwestern Wildcats after a disappointing 74-60 loss to Northwestern earlier this season. Tonight the Wolverines will have that opportunity. Morris shares his thoughts what's different about him and his team since the last match-up, NCAA tournament possibilities, and more.

Question:  You've always been pretty good about taking things personally.  Is there revenge here for this week because those games were the two worse for you and the team I guess? 

Darius Morris:  "Yeah definitely can't wait to meet the challenge for (Wednesday) and then also looking forward to the weekend game.  Whenever you lose to a team, you always can't wait for the next one.  Luckily we have an opportunity to prove ourselves again."

Question:  Were there moments in those two games that kind of stand out to you as sort of low points?

Darius Morris:  "Yeah definitely when we were at Northwestern and they had us down by a lot and the crowd was just really into it and it seemed like they was able to do whatever they wanted to do to us on offense and defense."

Question:  How different are you guys since then and what do you think you guys do better that will help you tomorrow?

Darius Morris:  "I think we've learned from our mistakes, especially in guarding an offense like Northwestern.  They really make hard cuts.  For a really young team it might at first seem like it is going so quick, but I think we will be able to guard it better with one game of experience (against it)."

Question:  What was the difference between going down in a place like Northwestern or Indiana versus going early against Penn State and be able to come back?

Darius Morris:  "It definitely helps when you've been on the winning side of Penn State already.  So when you drop down below you know that you still have a chance.  The crowd was definitely a factor in Indiana.  They have a very tough place to play there.  Northwestern was just very consistent with running their offense then once they have you, they've pretty much got you.  This time I think we will be better prepared to guard it."

Question:  The Penn State crowd seemed to be getting on you more than most any other crowd.  Did you notice that at any point?

Darius Morris:  "Yeah a little bit.  I was walking to the sidelines and they were just yelling a lot of stuff.  Normally that doesn't happen but also booing and stuff like that, but that just makes me want to focus in even more in just playing better and coming out with the win."

Question:  You heard the almost intense booing every time you touched the ball?

Darius Morris:  "Yeah, but after a while you get used to it.  You just out there playing."

Question:  What was the start of this kind of sense of urgency that you guys have now?  It seems like there is a lot more focus and guys are on the same page.  Was there a particular start to the focus thing?  I know you've talked about the meeting as being one of those things.  Was there anything else in a game that did that?

Darius Morris:  "Maybe the Michigan State game, when we was down and we needed to rally up while Michigan State was making their run.  I think we came back and fought back and won that game.  I think from then on we knew what kind of intensity we needed to have to be able to compete in the Big Ten.  I think that just carried over from every game."

Question:  As a point guard does that help you or almost maybe hurt a little bit that you necessarily don't know who the second, third scorer on a night is going to be?

Darius Morris:  "Not with this team because if you look at all of our games we've had different players step up at different times.  So I am very confident that somebody else is going to step up.  Tim (Hardaway) has been doing a good job of providing that scoring lately, but Stu (Douglass), (Zack) Novak, Evan (Smotrycz), any one of those guys can get hot and you know one out of those six guys is going to get hot and so you are pretty confident, as long as we execute the game plan."

Question:  Have you changed yourself recently in the way you are playing the game?

Darius Morris:  "Just attention to detail, winning possessions, but I'm still doing the same stuff that I was doing in the beginning of the season. Now I'm doing it in Big Ten play and just really learning from the mistakes that the coaches point out to me, Coach LaVall and Coach Beilein.  But definitely the same aggressive mentality."

Question:  With seven games to go in the regular season, is there any surprise to you that your team controls its own destiny now?

Darius Morris:  "Definitely not.  I remember talking a couple of weeks back where I predicted that I thought we were going to get 20 wins.  I still believe that.  I'm attacking this schedule, every game as a win for us."

Question:  Stu was talking about maybe there is a little bit of an increased urgency that this is maybe a second season with these seven games left.  To what extent do you guys, I don't want to say look ahead but think, we really have a shot at making the tournament here if we play our cards right?

Darius Morris:  "That is always in the air, but we just really focusing on that next game.  We know if we can take care of that game, we're that much closer to our goal, our dream, which is making the tournament.  We just break down these seven games up into individual seven games and not overlook anybody or anyone.  I think we will be in good shape at the end of the season and going into the Big Ten Tournament, because that is going to be very important that we're hitting our stride going into the Big Ten Tournament."

Question:  Looking back at when you said that, did you almost do it purposely?

Darius Morris:  "Yeah, you've got to visualize your success before it happens.  If you believe it, you have a chance to achieve it.  I really looked at our schedule realistically and I see that all the games were winnable… and I was thinking this when we were on our six game losing streak.  I just had that confidence in us and confidence in our team and hopefully that translates to everybody else in our squad."

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