Northwestern Post-Game Quotes

Stanford battled Friday in Northwestern a team similar to Air Force, who spanked them 48 hours earlier. The Cardinal defended better against the Wildcats and led by 12 in the second half before NU stormed back to a tie. Stanford recovered and pulled ahead. Lawrence Hill (21 pts) and Trent Johnson talked afterward on a wide range of topics, enjoying a 3-1 record but looking forward to practices.

Sophomore forward Lawrence Hill

On the similarity or difference between the offenses of Northwestern and Air Force

"The offense is very similar, almost identical.  Just different personnel as far as what they want to do with it.  We are going to play a lot of teams like that - ASU and other teams that run it.  We're familiar with it.  It's just a matter of coming out, doing what we're supposed to do and following our own rules.  We were able to do that today, as opposed to Wednesday."

On Stanford's response after Northwestern tied the game in the second half

"Yeah, something that Coach J brings up a lot is to keep our composure and poise under pressure and in adversity.  When they came back, I thought the guys responded well in terms of slowing it down and controlling the ball.  Taj [Finger] made some great plays, and Mitch [Johnson] did as well.  We were able to stop them defensively after that to the point that we were able to get the lead.  I'm really proud of our team for that."

On his offensive success around the basket

"As far as the feel for the game, I just try to get in the right position at the right time for our offense and play strong.  Playing at the 'four' right now, I can't go in there with a weak shot or go in there with one hand.  Today I was able to get in there and go up with two a lot of times.  I haven't had to shoot that many jumpshots because I've been able to go just at the basket.  We always want to do that first.  If they can't start the basket, then keep going there.  That goes for our whole team, and everyone is doing that.  Mitch went for lay-ups.  Anthony [Goods] was going to the basket.  And of course we have Robin [Lopez] and Taj, who are working hard down there as well.  That's our key.  We want to go inside-out."

On the offensive rebound of Carlton Weatherby's late missed free throw

"I don't remember what the score was, but I know it was really close.  On offensive foul trying to rebound was bad, and it went right to me so I just stepped in.  I'm just glad.  As opposed to last year, I might have hurried up and thrown it away trying to hit it to a guard.  This time when I caught it, it went through my head, 'Hold it up there and pass it out so we can stall so more.'"

On the benefit of playing quickly after Wednesday's result

"Yeah, but we try not to think so much about the loss and the previous game.  Immediately after Wednesday's game, we knew what we did wrong.  We knew that another game was coming up, so we had no time for that.  Just like Coach says, we have some practice to go through, and we're thinking about the next one at hand."

On the upcoming week of just practices

"I think it's obviously good because we get to work together now, as opposed to playing games not really developing outside of games.  Either way, I personally feel that whatever comes, comes.  With practice, now we have to work hard and get ready for the next game.  If we have five games in five days, we have to be ready for that, too."

Head coach Trent Johnson

Opening statement

"Good win for us.  I think as a group overall we were really disappointed in the way we competed on Wednesday.  I thought it was important for us to get off to a good start and compete from start to finish.  Northwestern is just coming off a very, very good win against a good DePaul team that returns all its starters that beat Cal in the Newell.  We knew it was going to be a tough guy.  I was glad that Carlton Weatherby come off the bench late in the second half and really gave us a lift defensively.  I thought it was nice to see Taj play well.  He's starting to come back around.  On the defensive end, he's playing with a lot of energy.  All in all, it's nice to be 3-1 at this time, with basically a week before we play.  When we get back in the gym, we need to get a lot of practice and a lot of work."

On calling timeout after the momentum swung to Stanford late with the Anthony Goods score and Robin Lopez blocked shot

"I called a timeout because at that point in time, we had just previously had a couple bad offensive possessions.  I wanted to be sure that we knew what we were doing defensively.  They had a post in who could shoot the three, and our concern was: Do we want to leave Robin in and get exploited on the perimeter, as opposed to getting Taj back in?  So we brought Taj back in, alongside Lawrence and alongside Fred [Washington].  I don't want to give a long answer, but the bottom line is that we had 16 turnovers.  Momentum is key, but previously there were three out of four possessions before that where we came down - Anthony threw it away, Lawrence threw it away.  When you're playing a team like Northwestern, or you're playing a team like Air Force, or you're playing a team like Princeton that we played last year - they're smart and they're cerebral.  Their system is what it is, and they're going to exploit you sooner or later.  Yeah, we got a momentum run, but my concern was that we had a bad matchup on the floor with Robin at that post.  For me and my staff, we're always trying to think three or four possessions ahead, and that's the most important thing.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.  Tonight we were lucky."

On Mitch Johnson driving more to the basket

"It's when you play against a match-up [defense] or a zone.  It's pretty evident what is going to happen with this team all year long.  People are going to sag off Mitch.  Mitch and Fred, people were three to five feet off.  The emphasis is for them to drive into the open gap and take the open 15-16 footer.  They have to get confident at it.  The bottom line, and I think Lawrence said it really well, is that there was a period there where we really had panic on our face.  Then they regrouped.  Again, Carlton came off the bench and did a heck of a job.  And they kept their poise.  It's stuff that we have to get into the gym and we have to work on.  The good thing, like I said earlier, is that we're 3-1 and able to survive against one team in San Jose State who is really young, not as talented and playing as good of basketball right now; Siena is going to be a good team; Air Force is going to be handful; then this team is not as talented as a lot of teams that we're going to see, but their discipline is really good.  That's where young teams get exploited, and we're getting exploited in that regard.  We're getting exploited with our youth in terms of late clock situations, guys playing the passing lanes.  You look at Anthony, and one of the things we talk about all the time is that he gets the ball up here [motions].  Anytime you get into a match-up, you have to ball-fake opposite of where you want to pass and all of the fundamental little things.  It just takes time.  Again, without rambling, they found a way.  40 rebounds to 16.  We were 2-of-13 from the three.  Again I'll say what I said against Siena and San Jose State, it's amazing how good you look when the ball goes down.  But it's not like our guys don't have open shots.  Some of our guys are struggling, but that's to be expected because there are some young guys."

On Stanford's defense

"Defensively, when you outrebound somebody 40-16, that's good.  I don't overreact to their back-cuts and their back-doors.  I thought we guarded the three-point line a little better.  I know that everyone wants to make a comparison between this system and that at Air Force, but there are different players.  Air Force had really good players.  This team is young.  Give this team two or three years in this system, and they'll look every bit as good.  I thought from the standpoint of understanding what they did offensively and making adjustments, we were good.  But we didn't sustain it.  We broke down a lot of times weakside.  We broke down sometimes at the point of attack.  But that's to be expected.  The plus side is that we rebounded the ball really well.  We didn't do a good job of ball pressure.  We didn't do a good job, at times, of the point of attack.  We had a couple crucial situations there where we fouled the three-point shooter and they missed their free throws.  We had a couple situations in the first half and the second half where we didn't get to a three-point shooter.  Those are just mental lapses.  Those mental lapses tonight [knocks on table] didn't hurt us tonight, but they did Wednesday because you got exploited against an experienced team who can really shoot it and is really mature.  We have work to do.  I said prior to getting started that there will be certain nights that we look really good, and there will be certain nights that we look really bad.  This was average because we won."

On the difference this year from last year with Lawrence Hill

"He's a year older and a year stronger.  And he's trying to embrace contact.  I don't try to pay a lot of attention with Lawrence in terms of the offensive production.  Lawrence spent a lot of time this spring and summer playing the 'three,' and now he's having to go back to the 'four.'  He's embracing the contact, and he's gotten stronger.  Lawrence is his own worst enemy sometimes because he has the tendency to overanalyze things instead of just playing.  Right now he's been really consistent on the offensive end, and, like everybody on this team, he's been really consistent in his attention to detail."

On the status of Brook Lopez and Peter Prowitt

"We will have tomorrow off, and we will come back Sunday for a 6:30 lift and practice afterward.  Brook and Pete have both been cleared for five-on-five contact, at times.  Limited.  Unless somebody falls or trips in the meantime.  It's good because Pete and Brook have both been driving me nuts. [laughs]  And I'm not winning that fistfight, so I just turn around.  We'll Sunday and then we'll have Monday off.  Then we'll have four hard practices before our game Saturday."

On Lawrence Hill's position once Lopez and Prowitt have returned

"He's going to bounce back and forth, depending on the match-up.  We're not going to play two posts, whether that's Peter & Robin or Robin & Brook or Peter & Brook, if we have a match-up like we had tonight because Lawrence and Taj give you flexibility to guard a smaller 'four.'  The thing I'm looking forward to is getting those guys out there so that we can start pounding this thing inside-out.  Robin has done an excellent job and doesn't have to worry about a foul or two.  He has done a really good job of trying to stay solid and mature.  Now you get Peter out there, you get Brook out there - that helps your rotation."

On Brook Lopez providing another outside threat

"Well, he thinks he shoots the three, but he's going to be down in the post.  He can shoot the ball to 15 feet.  He's a good shooter.  He's different from his brother.  But let's understand something.  Even if he were completely healthy, he hasn't played basketball since July.  Don't expect him to step on the floor and be a world beater.  It's going to take time.  Because of his experience at the collegiate level, Peter is a guy who can come in and help us right away despite the time he has missed."


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