Part I (6:00)
Part II (5:48)
Part III (6:13)
How have you been able to process the last 24 hours or so?
Some things in life are extremely difficult to go through, and it's really good when you have some diversions. My diversion that I have happens to be my life as a basketball coach. I'm fortunate there, because I've got so many things to do so I don't sit around thinking about other things. But, once NCAA Tournament play gets here, everybody is so busy that it's unbelievable. What we tried to do last night – playing at 10 o'clock and not getting back to the hotel until after midnight – trying to focus this morning on Michigan State, while getting information from my family and friends…I've been as busy as I can be, and that's a very positive thing.
On Michigan State's relation to being an ‘elite program' -
There are three or four things. They are one of those teams in that – to use your term – elite category. I think what Jud [Heathcoate] did with Magic [Johnson]…I think that still may be the highest rated television coverage in NCAA Tournament play. And then Tom [Izzo], whom I have a tremendous amount of respect for and genuinely like what he does with his club; so I think Michigan State is in that same category. When I think of Michigan State, I do think of Tom first, because I have such high regard for him. When I start thinking of his teams, I think of their toughness, the rebounding, the defensive play and all those things we as coaches have admiration for those teams that do it year after year. One of my assistants got up in front of my team today and said he thinks Coach Izzo never has to say the words, ‘Box out,' and never one time has to say the words, ‘Get to the boards;' because they do such a great job of coaching that and the kids do such a good job of doing that, that they do it every time.
Talk about Coach Izzo's comparison of Tyler's physical play to his own team. Do you think he's poor-mouthing a little bit?
You could say he's Lou Holtz. Its scary watching them play. I'd be afraid to do that [war] drill. I would love to do it. I'm going to find out all I can about and make sure I do it. I wouldn't be shocked if over my 19 years as head coach if we haven't led the nation in scoring over those 19 years. I wouldn't be shocked and I'd be dumbfounded if we weren't in the top two or three. If you were to do the same thing in the time that Tom has been the head coach at Michigan State that they've led the nation in rebounding margin. His guys are so big and physical and they want it. The intensity level that each one of those kids from Michigan State displayed last night was extremely impressive. They've let two people score 70 points on them all season. It's extremely difficult for us and I hope we cause some problems for them. They've got a whole team full of Tylers on their team when it comes to rebounding that basketball.
What is the best and most challenging part of coaching young players this time of year?
They're kids and that's the best thing about them and sometimes it's the most frustrating thing about them. I love my team. Eleven freshmen and sophomores and we can lose our focus in a heartbeat and we can lose our intensity in a heartbeat, but they are great, great kids that have the ability to get it back just as quickly as they lost it. As a coach you'd love to have a team that is diving on the floor, pulling the nails out of the floor, slobbering and spitting and taking charges 40 minutes a game. Tywan takes a charge last night and our bench is laughing at him and so am I because he's getting up like he's dying. I describe him as Dennis the Menace. I guess I'm Mr. Wilson.
How has Reyshawn adjusted to his role this season?
I think he's adjusted very well. Reyshawn has been pretty doggone consistent on the defensive end of the floor. He's not had the consistency of scoring or rebounding, but defensively he's been pretty consistent all year long. He's got tremendous ability and great respect from his teammates. Reyshawn is about winning. I am extremely proud of how far he's come and what he's been able to contribute.
Talk about how important it is to impose your style of play tomorrow against Michigan State.
There is no question that we want to defend them and be able to get a turnover or a shot that's not the greatest shot in the world and turn it into the break. If we try to walk it down and score against their set defense every time we have no hope. That's their game. We've got to try to get some baskets easier, some baskets in an open court, so we'll try to do that. They have to miss some of those shots and we have to get a turnover because they do a wonderful job of getting bask and getting their defense set. We're still going to try to get what we want. I watched a couple of clips of their team this morning and there were a couple of possession where they had no one outside the three point line. All five defenders were back inside the three-point line. We're not just going to come down and shoot three-point shots. We have Tyler Hansbrough, Brendan Wright. You guys have heard me joke all the time about football coaches. Every time we hear a football coach say ‘we took what they gave us,' I think that's the dumbest thing in the world. They gave you one thing because they didn't want you to do something else. We want to get the ball to Tyler. We want to get the all inside to Brandan. We want Tywan to be able to break it down with the dribble. It's very hard to do that, but we're still going to try to do that. We'll find out whether we're successful or not. Tom and our teams have played before and it's a battle. It's not anything like war or anything. I'm not saying that because it's still a basketball game, but it's a very difficult thing to do?
Talk about Brandan Wright's ascension and do you have a nickname for him.
I don't really have any nicknames for him. B-Wright, B-Skinny and some of those things that the other guys call him. He's just a very quite, low-key youngster who throughout the course of the season has developed better intensity in how's he has played. That was huge for us in the ACC Tournament. He needs to be bigger and stronger. He's got to grow up a lot between now and 8 o'clock tomorrow night. This will be the most physical game that he's played in, in his entire life. Those guys are going to try to take care of that skinny little freshman. We need Brandan to step up and he's done a really great job of stepping up and playing in some really big games.
What's the difference between Drew Neitzel now and in 2005?
He's the focal point of their offense. He wasn't that two years ago. In big games he gets the shots. He scored 26 points in the second half in one game this year or something like that. He has that ability and he wasn't asked to do that type of thing two years ago at all.
Will Tyler continue to wear the mask?
He will wear the mask in practice today and he'll have it with him in warm-ups tomorrow. I'm basically going to leave it up to him. Now that he's at this point and he doesn't have to wear it, but yes it would be better. They said the same thing last night. He told me that he'd start out with it, but if he started to struggle he'd take it off. So I said if you're really struggling you're going to blame it on the mask. He'll make the decision tomorrow during warm-ups.
How do you feel about the players drawing motivation from your recent loss?
If I'd known that they were going to do that, I would've let them know about it before the game last night because they sure didn't make it any easier on me during that stretch. I told them about it after the game because it got out. Steve Kirschner called me yesterday morning and said he had gotten a couple of calls. So I didn't say anything to the team until after the game, so it didn't affect their play last night. I just thanked them. As my niece said it was like my sister had her mind back again and she was getting to see us play basketball again, which she hadn't been able to see the last two years. I just thanked the team and after that you guys came in. We spent an hour with you guys and then we went back and had a snack, got up and fed them this morning. I haven't been around them enough to know. I want them to focus on the basketball games. I've got some different things I've got to think about at times, but I think they trust me enough to know that I'm not going to short change them. You go through those things in life and they're not very pleasant. I don't want the team to get motivation from that. I want them to get motivation because they have it inside themselves be the best team we can be. We set goals and have dreams about what this team is going to accomplish and I want them to it for those reasons.
Do you sit on an edge as a No. 1 seed?
The tournament is young; we're not even through the second day. I've never worried about being a No. 1, No. 2, or even a No. 3 seed. I think it's a great reward for a very successful season which we as coaches always want to have. I think last night when they were kicking our tails for 10 or 12 minutes, I wasn't sitting over saying we're going to be the first No. 1 seed to lose to a 16. I think as a coach you just have to worry about each possession and what happens during that possession. You can't worry about those other things. I've been lower seeds and won; been higher seeds and lost. It's a wonderful tournament for the fans and the media. The one group that it's not a great tournament for is the coaches because its one loss and you're gone. A better test would be a 3-of-5 or 4-of-7 that we see in other sports, but it's not that way in the NCAA Tournament. I think that makes it one of the greatest, if not the greatest, sporting event over time that there is because of those wild things that happen.