Assistant Coach Paul Lee on the Teleconference

The Basketball Coach is out on a recruiting trip, so his assistant gets to fill in... <br>Its a look at the present state of the Wildcats from a slightly different perspective...

NU Head Basketball Coach Bill Carmody was off recruiting Monday.

So Assistant Coach Paul Lee filled in:

We're in a rough stretch right now, obviously seeking our first victory in the league and unfortunately we have to play the first five of seven on the road. And we're in a stretch right now were we're playing three consecutive games on the road; just getting done with Minnesota, Wisconsin on Wednesday and Ohio State on Saturday all on the road.

And then it gets easy when we come home on next Wednesday when we've got Indiana at home so obviously no easy games here in the Big 10 for us and we're struggling a little bit with our shooting and I think more of a concern right now is we're not guarding like we did last year.

Last year we were either first or second in the league in points scored against and field goal percentage and this year towards the bottom of the league so that's something we're working on in practice and trying to shore up.

Elaborate a little more on the problems your team has had? [Mark Stewart - Milwaukee Journal]
I think one of the major problems we're having right now is replacing the experience and the intensity that we had with Tavares Hardy and Collier Drayton last year, those were the two seniors we graduated. They were our two toughest two guys, our two best defenders and right now we have a couple of younger guys trying to learn our "matchup zone."

We're leaving some shooters open. I think what we're really trying to do is, we're concentrating so much on keeping the ball out of the low post and helping in the low post that we're leaving some shooters open around the perimeter and the teams we've played so far have been taking advantage of that, knocking down a high percentage of 3 point shots.

We're also not doing a great job of stopping penetration, and within this league there's a bunch of good guards out there who are going to take advantage of that too. So its something we're aware of and something that our guys are aware of and something that we're working on every day.

With all the road games early, do you have to worry about the confidence of the young guys early? and how do you go about doing that.
I think the good thing about having young kids is that they do forget fairly easily and I don't think young kids are in a position where they look ahead to anything. We are in a position where guys do take the game one at a time and so its easy for them to forget about Minnesota and concentrate on Wisconsin.

We came off the plane yesterday and came right to practice in our gym and the guys were enthusiastic, gave us their attention to stopping what Wisconsin tries to do and so that's good thing about having young guys is that they forget fairly easily.

Confidence wise? You know every game, we lost a few of these games by double figures, but they've been in a lot of games and they've also gotten down in some of the games and come back cut things to single digits so I think they feel they can play with these teams, and now they have to get to the position where they have the confidence to beat some of these guys.

You mentioned Tavares from a defensive standpoint, OSU used to worry about Hardy, I wondered about the lack of having him in your offense affected the efficiency of it?  [Bob Mathis - Columbus Dispatch]
The good thing about Tavares was he was 6-8, but he was versatile. He could play forward for us, he could play center, he could score inside, and you had to respect him  on the outside, and we were hoping to get that from Vedran Vukusic, our Sophomore from Split, Croatia, but Vedran went down in the exhibition season with a bad shoulder and he's a similar kind of guy, where you have a 6-8 guy who can score in and out, and those are always tough matchups for anybody.

Without him we don't have another guy like that, unfortunately we don't have the kind of depth that some of the other teams in the Big 10 might have. And we had no way to replace Tavares, number one, we were hoping to have Vedran, but when Vedran went down there was not another 6-8 guy in our program who could do the things those guys could do so, so that was obviously going to affect us and we knew that in the beginning of the year.

What about Vekusic this year?
He had a shoulder problem last year, and in the first exhibition this year, its a different injury but the same shoulder, and he had surgery in December and yes he's red-shirting for the year and he'll have 3 years of eligibility after this.
What kind of talent, where did you think you stacked up this year?  [Mike ??? - ABC Sports]
We thought that with Vedran we could play with everybody, but we also knew that he was the one guy it would be hard for us to replace.

We knew we would miss Tavares and everything that he brought, but Vedran had given us a lot of good minutes last year, and we really felt he'd step into that spot, play the 4 position for us and give us some scoring and some rebounding so as I said before, his loss some we knew was going to be felt, but we really thought we'd be able to score the ball better this year than we were able to last year.

T.J. Parker gives us a different dimension at the point guard than Collier did, the fact that he's a fast kid can score a little bit, so we thought we'd be able to score a little bit better, we knew the defense would suffer a little bit more without those guys. It just takes a little while to learn our scheme defensively, and obviously its showing right now because our last four opponents have shot 50%. You're not going to beat a lot of teams doing that, not to mention the teams in the Big 10.

Both Penn State and NU are 0-5. What do you think you have to do to get to the win column besides play each other. [Matt Finkelstein - Daily Collegiate]
[Laughing] That's a good one right there...One of things we need to do is get ourselves back here at home. Our games with Iowa and Michigan were our most competitive games, both those games went down to the last minute with either team a chance to win.

On the road, you know, its a little rough on the road, I thought we played very well at Purdue to keep that game close, our Indiana game was a 10-15 point game and at Minnesota we just didn't play very well, we really weren't in that game after halftime once they made their run so one of the things we need to do and a continuing need for us is we have to play better defense; we have to be able to guard better, force teams into more challenged shots, so they don't c

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