Amaker On Illinois, What's Next

Amaker on the Illinois game, on LaVell Blanchard, on Lester Abram, and on regrouping from here.

Tommy Amaker on the nature of the loss to Illinois and where they go from here:
Understandably so, we were very dejected. It was a gut-wrenching loss, as I said, and we all know that, so we told them they had 24 hours to feel however they wanted to feel. And to come here this afternoon and we were going to get back to work. And crazier things have happened. We still have basketball games to play and we're excited about where we can maybe finish. Nothing has been determined yet and so we have to proceed accordingly. It's been a tough loss for all of us. Certainly it was a tough loss for me personally. I mean, you don't like any losses, but certainly this was a tough pill to swallow given the circumstances and the position we could have been in. But that's neither here nor there, so we decided we had 24 hours to wallow in it, think about it, feel dejected, self-pity and all the other things you want to say. And then we're going to come here Monday and put things back together and see what we can do getting on the road and winning at Penn State.

Tommy Amaker on LaVell Blanchard's final days and what he has meant to this team:
As we said all along, this is LaVell's team. It's his senior year, obviously, and I think he's played outstanding basketball for us all season. Certainly he hasn't played as well at certain times as we wanted him to play or he would have liked to play, but I think when you look at his overall performance, his numbers and the ultimate number that we all consider, the greatest measurement is the fact that we've been part of some significant wins this season and he's been as instrumental as anyone. I'm very proud of the growth and development he's gone through over the year and a half and quite frankly right around two years now and I think it was very evident in our last game with his outstanding performance, his passion, I thought the unselfishness – everything was there on display. I just think he's really been the central figure for this team this year and he deserves that.

Tommy Amaker on how LaVell Blanchard has influenced the freshman:
I think he's done a phenomenal job with the freshman group. I think they look to him and respect him. His role has always been (to be) the best worker and the best player and I think he's really taken that to heart to set the tone and to set the example. They understand that. And I think he really likes the younger players in terms of camaraderie and friendship. I think he sees a lot of himself in the younger guys in the freshman class. I think he can really see himself being one of those younger players. I think he would even like to be a part of this in the future because of the younger guys that are here and what they have a chance to do in the future and maybe where the program is headed.

Tommy Amaker on Lester Abram's performance during his freshman season:
He's been understated, probably underestimated, probably overlooked a little bit. But I'll tell you what – he's been as integral a part of this as anyone. We've seen how solid he's been and at times he's been, if not our toughest guy on the floor at various moments, one of our toughest players and he's an outstanding free throw shooter. I mean, we need all of our guys and certainly with the way Lester has played for us all year, he's had an outstanding freshman year. Not a good year. An outstanding freshman year. And still, we have some games to play.

Tommy Amaker on Lester's need to improve his consistency:
I think sometimes as a younger player, you can get a little content and if you've played ok or you've played well, maybe you're not as assertive or as aggressive. I think when he hasn't played as well, you've seen him turn it up a level and he probably needs to stay consistent with that turning it up a level and that's probably something we have to do a better job with as a staff – to constantly remind him of that. I think there's no question that (the number of foul calls) broke his rhythm because he had an outstanding first half and he certainly picked up a few fouls. There have been times when we talked to him about silly fouls – that's how we refer to them – and I'm sure that was something that maybe was on his mind and that caused him to be a little more defensive.

Tommy Amaker on regrouping after the Illinois loss and the credit his team deserves for this season:
I know what face I have to put on and I know how I have to be when we get out there in less than an hour. But, certainly, it hurts, no question. A loss like that is certainly hard to get over, for all of us. One thing I'd like to say in closing – I'm hoping that, no matter how things end for us, that we're not using "disappointing" or "collapse" or whatever terminology you may think of. You take this however you want to take it, but our kids deserve – regardless – they deserve a lot of credit for the job that they've done this year. This has nothing to do with me or our staff. I'm talking about our kids. And I would hope as you look at things and you think about things and however you put together your stories and pieces that you put together at the end of this regular season. First, to be in this position, I think they deserve a tremendous amount of credit and praise. So, please take that for what it's worth.

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