Could you just talk a little bit about what ways Mike Wilkinson has really improved this year? He seems very efficient and what has he been doing?
"Well I look at Mike (Wilkinson) as a guy who is always attentive, always trying to learn and he's just developed in different areas each year. His strengths were pretty obvious early. When you're 6-9 and you have a decent touch, then certain things are expected. But there's also the other end of that, how he plays the bigger guys. He's played through his work habits. Offensively, still working on the post moves, working on finishing, working on trying to lead the nation in three-point plays. He's been successful on a few. That's an area that we talk to guys about a lot, and not just bigger than average guys but perimeter players too. So he's been working on all the areas. He's a joy to coach because he'll always look you in the eye, he'll always listen to just what's next."
Coach, you've recently talked about how playing games against other Division I schools in the state helps the growth of the game in the state of Wisconsin. What does it say that you have a match-up where two ranked teams within the state of Wisconsin that national TV thinks enough of that they want to care about the growth of these programs in the last few years?
"The only thing I have to say to that is, enjoy it. To the people of Wisconsin, enjoy it. That's really the only way you can look at it. And you hope that there's more times when schools are ranked, if that's what's important to people. But still the rivalry and the games have been good whether or not the teams have been ranked in the past. There have been some great games involving Marquette and Wisconsin, whether they're ranked or not. But the fact that they are and that gets attention is good for the alumni, because they're the ones that are in the other places that are out there and "oh yeah, the Badgers, they're playing today or here tonight," and that's good. There's a lot of retired people that are out there, Wisconsin people that we run into doing Founders Days and things like that. So when you get that type of exposure that's who it helps. It helps the alumni and the fans that happen to be living elsewhere in the country if it's on nationally."
I know you always say take games one at a time, but the fact that both teams are ranked going into Saturday, do you think that might mean a little more for the backdrop or for the fans or the hype or just a state rivalry game this year?
"Well as I said, if something like that's going to be out there, enjoy it. You never get too high about being ranked and you never get too low about being snubbed. So it's a 40 minute basketball game unless we get some overtime. I say to people enjoy it, have fun with it."
Coach with Dwayne Wade gone now, what do you focus on with Marquette this year?
"Well, they lose players, we lose players. We don't change what we do from game to game about trying to take care of the ball, trying to get the best shots we can. There's nothing that's going to change with our approach to the next opponent, no matter who the next opponent is."
Coach we talked to you a little bit earlier about the fact that Marquette doesn't have Dwayne Wade and that you lose players each year as well. But what are some givens going into preparing for a Marquette team, a Tom Crean coached Marquette team that you know that you're going to get from them each year that you have to be ready and try to prepare for?
"Well I think just as with Todd (Kowalcyzyk) and Bruce's
(Pearl) teams, you're always going to have teams that play hard. If people were
saying that about your team, that's good, but that's what you get ready for. You
get ready for a competitive, high energy, every possession type game. There's a
lot of teams that we play that are going to do that so I don't think it's any
different than most of the games that we're going to play from that standpoint."