UM/Minn Postgame Presser Transcript

Tommy Amaker, Brent Petway, and Dion Harris discuss Michigan's 49-40 victory over the Minnesota Golden Gophers in the opening round of the Big Ten Tournament

COACH TOMMY AMAKER: We're very pleased and excited to have a chance to continue in this great tournament here in Chicago, and I thought these four seniors in particular gave us great effort in various ways to allow us to come away with a hard fought victory this morning and afternoon. Obviously it wasn't a pretty game in a lot of ways, but certainly we had to do some things in terms of loose balls, blocking out, gutting things out in a lot of different ways after we got a big lead. I'm very pleased for us to have a chance to continue on in the Big Ten Tournament.

Q. Dion, do you think that it was almost infectious with both teams, that both teams were struggling so much at both ends, it was almost getting into both teams?
DION HARRIS: I mean, we as far as offense, you mean? Yeah, I guess both teams were struggling to put it in the basket. But in terms of us, we don't really want to look at the offensive side of things and base our performance on that. We really wanted to dig down defensively. I don't think we worried too much about whether we've got it going offensively. Obviously we wanted to, and we had to convert going into the second half. The main thing was trying to get easy baskets since both teams were struggling to put it in as far as shooting from the outside, so that's what we did.

Q. Brent, can you talk about the rebounding edge that you guys had and how that played a role today?
BRENT PETWAY: We knew coming into an arena like this, it was going to be a lot of long rebounds because NBA arenas usually have the harder rims, so we knew everyone was going to have to get on the glass. We talk about it every game really. Collectively everyone has to box out and get to the offensive glass and defensively I thought we did a pretty good job of having a balanced game today.

Q. Dion, could you just talk about the mentality of the team out on the floor when the game got to within six and it looked like maybe they could have got it maybe a little closer? What kind of was going through your mind having a 15 point lead when it got back down to six?
DION HARRIS: They got it back down to six, but once again, we've got to take it upon ourselves as seniors to finish off strong and come out with the win no matter what. Obviously we don't want a lead to get down to six after we had it to 15. But we have to do whatever we had to do in order to finish strong and come out with the victory.

Q. For any of the players, just in terms of a chance to play Ohio State for the second time in a week, and obviously what happened last Saturday, just the opportunity that presents itself tomorrow for you guys against Ohio State.
BRENT PETWAY: It's going to be another fun game. Hopefully we get to play the No. 1 team in the country, and that's always an opportunity you look forward to. It's tournament time, and it's just going to be fun. We'll be ready for it.

Q. For any of the players, do you guys pay any attention to the fact that some people say you have to win one or two or three games to make the NCAAs? Are you just concentrating on one at a time?
DION HARRIS: We're not paying attention to any of that stuff. We know what we have to do as far as taking it game by game, and right now all we're focused on is playing Ohio State. That's it.

Q. For anybody, considering the way the Ohio State game turned out that you kind of had the lead for most of it, have you been thinking about that? Was it hard to put that out of your mind for this one?
BRENT PETWAY: Luckily we had a couple days to get ready for this game, so I think that helped us a little bit, no question. But coming into tournament time, it doesn't matter what you've done.
Leading into the tournament, you can always start getting things rolling right when the tournament starts. We felt like we have been playing our best basketball in the past ten days, something like that, but it always starts with the first game in the tournament.

Q. Winning four is difficult over four days. Is it an advantage, though, going into your second game having played today on this court, or is it a deficit of coming back, back to back?
COACH TOMMY AMAKER: Well, I'm sure you can get a number of different theories on what's the best scenario, I think, and my experience always has been of the mindset of getting in the tournament, and whatever tournament that is, and obviously we're speaking about the Big Ten tournament now, try and get momentum within the tournament. So by winning our first game, being the first game here today and hopefully getting a point of reference with the arena, the floor, the court, all the things around being in tournament play, I like the fact that we were able to do that, and certainly it's always nice if you can say that and you have a victory. We were able to do that now, so we're going to see if we can use it to our advantage. I'm sure if you're on the other side, if you're one of the teams that has a bye, that they're feeling good and I'm sure they're selling it to the players that it's better to have an extra day of rest and feel the teams and scout things. But certainly we feel good about winning this first game.

Q. Can you talk about a couple guys getting in foul trouble in the first half?
COACH TOMMY AMAKER: I mentioned to our kids in the locker room that I thought our bench gave us a great boost today. I thought that the three by Ron Coleman, I don't know if it was a three or a two now, but the jump shot that he made late, certainly was a big bucket for us because we had been struggling offensively and had the lead dwindle down. So I thought that was a big basket. But you're right, DeShawn gave us great minutes, especially with free throws in the first half, trying to get out of the blocks. Both teams were struggling to score as we did the whole game, but certainly the start of the game, and I thought his aggressiveness, his energy around the baskets, getting rebounds, put backs, making foul shots for us, I thought he allowed us to break the ice and get a little rhythm and be a little more comfortable in this environment.

Q. What do you attribute the struggles offensively today for both teams? Was it the nerves, the NBA style arena?
COACH TOMMY AMAKER: You could look at a lot of different things. I think a lot of times you see it happen in tournament play where teams are struggling offensively to score and shoot. I was pleased that we didn't allow that to become a crutch for us not to continue to dig in defensively. I thought we were really hustling, getting loose balls, Jerret Smith being on the floor a number of times throughout the ballgame, coming up with loose balls. I thought it was one of those moments where both teams were struggling, and whatever team was maybe going to hit a stride, and I thought we hit it in the second half and opened it up and gave us the cushion that we certainly needed to win this basketball game.

Q. How important was this win for you guys personally? A loss here gives some critics a little more fodder. How important was the win for you personally?
COACH TOMMY AMAKER: It's not about me personally. I appreciate the question, but certainly it's about our team and trying to see if we can advance within this tournament. I thought our kids came in with great spirit.
Obviously coming off, as some of you have mentioned, about our previous game, our loss that we had in our final game at home, and being able to kind of regroup and go for this tournament. I was very pleased with our kids for the effort that they gave today, especially defensively on the backboard, and for us to get 21 wins and advance in our tournament right now is a very positive, good feeling for us.

Q. How have you been able to internalize everything that's been going on with you and surrounding this team? It's like you've been able to keep the guys focused. Your team seems to be concentrating on the games and not necessarily all the things that surround them.
COACH TOMMY AMAKER: Well, I'm pleased that they are. I think it goes to show that we have really good kids. These four seniors in particular have been tremendous with our ball club and doing things on the floor, being solid citizens for us in the locker room and taking care of our team. I just think our kids have been able to respond to what we've been trying to teach and staying very focused. I'm not sure everything that's swirling around us and all those things, we're focused on what's right in front of us, and I think that's been the key, to stay focused, and I'm pleased that our kids have taken that lead, as well.

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