Closing Time

The Northwestern basketball team spoke to the media at Tuesday practice. With rumors swirling around coach Bill Carmody's status, and the team mired in an eight-game losing streak, the team is simply focused on beating Iowa in a crucial first-round matchup at the United Center.

- Reggie Hearn addressed coach Bill Carmody's job status: "As recently as yesterday, I started hearing some of these rumors," he said. "You'll see us come out and unite as a team. We haven't really discussed anything amongst ourselves, but I'm pretty sure we all like playing for him."

- "Did we beat Michigan State, or what?" Bill Carmody joked to the media upon reaching the microphones. Asked about the Michigan State game, he praised his freshmen. After 30 games, he hardly considers them first-year players anymore. In a season filled with injuries, many have received quality minutes. Still, the team's overall youth was exposed down the stretch once again. "You've got to finish off those things," Carmody admitted.

- When a reporter mentioned the glowing praise he received from seniors Reggie Hearn and Alex Marcotullio, Carmody tried to deflect the prompt: "I'm going to give them minutes tomorrow… Next?" More seriously, he dismissed any idea that the seniors would play particularly hard on Thursday.

- Carmody has seen significant development from freshman center Alex Olah. After watching Olah's production decline to open Big Ten play, Carmody saw glimpses of potential on Sunday. "The hardest for a big guy in our offense is to know when to pass it and when to shoot it … it's starting to come to him a little bit." There's still a long way to go. Where can Olah improve on defense? "Every part," Carmody deadpanned.

- Northwestern struggled in both games against Iowa this season. The Wildcats were outscored by a combined 141-107. Carmody said part of that result – in the second game – was influenced by Jared Swopshire's mid-game injury. NU has not won since, and gradually spiraled out of contention. Carmody was concerned by the multiple looks from Iowa, especially the press, which cost NU in the Penn State loss.

- When Alex Olah dunked on Sunday afternoon, he and Kale Abrahamson found the clip online. The cool factor applies to the United Center, and the freshman said he was excited to see Michael Jordan's jersey "hanging in the rafters." As roommates, Olah and Abrahamson feel as though they play well together. They frequently talk strategy off the court, and think their intense workload this season will be helpful in future years.

Stay tuned for more stories and updates heading into the Big Ten Tournament matchup.

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