TRANSCRIPT AT BOTTOM
Q. Terry, do you think this is a great team or what do you think it would take to make it a great team?
TERRY ROZIER: Actually, I think they’re an unbelievable team. Me and the rest of the guys, we know what we’re up against. As well as the coaches, too. They got Tuttle inside, they got nice shooters, they play nine guys. So we know what we’re up against and we know it’s going to be a battle and we’re going to have one heck of a time to prepare. It’s a big one.
Q. I was talking about you and your team.
TERRY ROZIER: Oh, okay. I’m sorry. Could you repeat that again then?
Q. Do you think you’re a great team and if not, what would it take to make that happen?
TERRY ROZIER: Well, we have been through a lot this year. Up and downs. I think it shaped us for this moment, for this actual tournament. We’re probably not a great team right now, but as these games dig in and get tight, we all lean on each other like we did yesterday. We leaned on each other down the stretch and we all came together and we didn’t rely on one person or the other person. We just went out there and played basketball and we played plays down the stretch. So I think we’re coming along as we just keep growing with one another.
Q. Terry, there’s been a lot of talk in recent weeks that basketball’s not high enough scoring, it’s not pretty, it’s not entertaining. The people are going to see Louisville and Northern Iowa and their defensive stats and maybe cringe a little bit. What do you think when people criticize defensive minded basketball games and teams?
TERRY ROZIER: That’s just the outsiders. They really — all they want to see is like scoring. But defense wins games. Coming from a program like ours, that’s all — that’s what you mainly talk about. So we know it’s going to be pretty ugly, probably going to be a low scoring game. But at the end of the day, we got to be the better defensive team if we want to come out with a victory.
Q. Terry, talk about how Louisville maybe flies under the radar screen a little bit in your own state with Kentucky. And just some thoughts about how the Commonwealth of Kentucky responds to you guys, where Kentucky plays that high flying style, even though they’re a good defensive team and how you guys might be flying under the radar screen a little bit.
TERRY ROZIER: Well, yeah, we are. We’re flying under the radar right now, but we will take that. We don’t want to be a team that’s really like noticed for winning all the games. We get targeted more. But Kentucky’s — they’re a great team, they play a lot of players. We’re trying to get to that where we can just, like I said, like we did last night, we just didn’t allow one person to go through us and make a play. Someone stepped up, someone that probably wouldn’t step up the game before stepped up. So we get into that style of basketball where we can just lean on one another and Kentucky has that right now. They have different guys that can make plays at different times and they just don’t rely on one person. So we’re coming along and hopefully we can keep that going.
THE MODERATOR: All right. Thank you. We’ll get started with questions for coach.
Q. Start with an opening statement from coach.
COACH PITINO: After watching the game on film, it was a very exciting game and our players made a lot of intelligent plays down the stretch offensively as well as defensively. We are quite familiar with Northern Iowa. We played them a few years back, our championship team. We were, in Atlantis, we were life and death to win it. So I’m quite familiar with their style of play. This team that we will face reminds me so much of Virginia and who we have played twice. Their defense reminds me of them, their offense reminds me of them. They have six players that shoot better than 40 percent from the three-point line. They have a great inside attack. Just a wonderfully coached basketball team that I think is very deserving of their ranking.
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. You touched on it with Virginia and defense, but there’s been a lot of talk the last couple weeks about college basketball not being entertaining enough and not enough scoring and such. Northern Iowa and Louisville — maybe some people will cringe, but isn’t there a little bit of beauty in the defense?
COACH PITINO: You know, I don’t think it’s — I think people get a little carried away with this because if you look at March Madness the way it is, the games are very, very exciting. When you see great — the worst basketball to possibly watch and I refuse to watch it, is high school all star games and AAU basketball games where scouts aren’t there and NBA all star games. It’s terrible to watch. Because no defense is being played, everybody’s just trying to throw lob dunks. So I think there’s a lot of excitement in what you’re seeing right now because defense is big part of the game. The fans stand up and get into great defense. So I think people are getting carried away with that. Now do I believe we can do some things to stop chucking cutters and certainly lower the shot clock to 30 seconds. But I think that especially March Madness, it’s very exciting.
Q. I think yesterday at the end of the game you might have said on TV that this wasn’t a great team but you made it through. At this point does not being a great team preclude you from making — from having a great season, making a deep run?
COACH PITINO: Did I say that we’re not a great team?
Q. I don’t know. I read that you did, so I wanted to make sure?
COACH PITINO: What I said all along is we’re not as good as we have been the last three years. But that being said, we have had the most wins in college basketball for a total in the three year period. We have had three 30-win seasons. So we’re not as good as that level but we’re still a pretty good basketball team. We’re not deep and we have had a lot of adversity and we have a lot of young players. But we’re still good. It wouldn’t surprise me if we made a Final Four run. It wouldn’t surprise me if we got knocked out early. So, it’s — we’re good enough to win, but we’re also — we’re not an overpowering basketball team like we have been the past three years.
Q. You obviously had a lot of success throughout your career in the NCAA Tournament. But is there a loss that maybe years later still kind of eats at you, still sticks with you?
COACH PITINO: Well, I don’t hate Christian Laettner. (Laughter.) Okay. So I didn’t watch that well-documented program that they did. But that probably sticks out. I would say we had Arizona beat for a back to back championship and one of my favorite players of all time Northern Iowa see Mohammed missed seven free throws in overtime and I haven’t spoken to him since that — no, I’m only kidding — Nazr is a close friend. But those two games stick out because I had an option and I didn’t take the option the doctor cleared Derek Anderson to play and he wanted to play, he practiced two unbelievable days and I made the decision not to play him. So, that probably sticks out because Derek Miles who is working I think in college basketball right now had an unbelievable game. Derek would have checked him and Miles wouldn’t have scored. Make sure you tell him that. (Laughter.) No, he had a great game and he was the difference maker in that game. So those two probably stick out the most.
Q. First of all, how is Chinanu doing after taking a nasty fall yesterday and second part of that is were you so encouraged by Mangok’s play that he’s kind of your guy right now at center?
COACH PITINO: Chinanu was fine a couple of minutes later after that. I’m not sure whether we’re going to go with Mangok or go with Montrezl at five and probably somebody else at four. I’m not sure right now.
Q. I ask this because Ben Jacobson’s a North Dakota native. Your thoughts on Jacobson and what he’s done with the Northern Iowa program.
COACH PITINO: Well, because I watched him coach in — when you get ready to play an opponent, you watch about seven, eight films on them. Because he comes across as a non-self promoter and a very humble man, indicative of the way you would like to see a coach. As you watch his team play, you realize he’s one of the best coaches in our game. I said that three years ago, three years or two years ago, three years ago. I say it once again. His teams are a lot of fun to watch. They’re good at all phases of the game, they pass well, cut well, they shoot well, they defend well, they have great schemes. So, he’s one of the, for the media nationally, he’s probably not as — he’s not as well known as the Coach Ks and Boeheims and those type of guys of the world. But he is as good as there is in our game. He’s a great coach. Tremendous coach. A very humble man.
Q. We were talking a couple days ago about Chris having to leave and how people had to step into the breach and how the guards, younger guards, have done that. But to switch gears slightly, it seems as though Chris’s situation was what it was. But the topic of sexual assault on campuses especially involving athletes, is a big one. Obama talks about it. I think the NCAA for the tournament has partnered with the Its On Us campaign. So it’s clearly out there whether or not it’s Chris or not, etcetera. I’m just wondering, as a coach, is that a conversation you have with your players?
COACH PITINO: You know, I would say 10 years ago I would speak about drugs once a week to the team. And now I speak about women once a week to the team. Not even going to the extreme of sexual assault, but just on how to treat women. And just getting them to understand what the world is today. And getting the one slight mistake can cost you forever. Those mistakes are unforgivable. Let’s take a situation where a young man, may be innocent, but it’s already out there whether he’s innocent or not, he’s scarred for life. So it’s something that players must be aware of today and you know, you just — I listen to all types of music and just the lyrics on certain music is offensive to women. And it’s something that really needs to be addressed at all levels.
Q. You spoke pretty eloquently yesterday about Wayne. As he winds down his career, what do you see as his legacy? Tomorrow he could get to a thousand points and academic All-American, etcetera.
COACH PITINO: You know, I guess I don’t — I’m around you guys all the time, but I never hear you criticize Wayne. So when I hear things like that, I’m not sure who is criticizing. It’s obviously probably some fans who call in or write in, whatever that is. But all of you who have covered Wayne understand what a gentleman he is, understand how humble he is, understand that — Wayne decided when he came here that he’s going to fit into whatever the coaches asked him to do. Now we have asked him this year, look, we want you to drive more, paint touch more and that’s just in the last two months. We don’t want you just spotting up. We want you rebounding more, paint touching more, getting to the free-throw line. He’s done all of that. He’s had a terrific year. So, I guess he came out with such a great reputation of high school. But what they don’t realize is, he was a lot bigger than everybody in high school but couldn’t go — couldn’t dribble with his left hand, wasn’t a great ball handler. And he’s improved a great deal. He just was physical, very physical in high school and scored a lot of points because of his physicality. Now he’s developed a very good game putting it on the floor. Mid-range game as well as three-point shot as well as getting to the rim as indicated yesterday. So, he’s a young man that has been part of three 30-win seasons, a National Championship, two Final Fours, three conference championships. I don’t know how many people can win more than him. And now he just had a great game yesterday and when we needed him, when our two best players weren’t scoring much.
Q. You mentioned the Virginia comparison earlier. The second game obviously, Mangok’s shot was the only difference between you guys. But what — looking back on that game, what did you guys do that you liked that put you in position to win that game?
COACH PITINO: Well, if you’re not as good defensively as say Northern Iowa. If you’re not as good as they are defensively, and you don’t take away things — because they can hurt you so many different ways. They have got great speed in the back court. When they substitute they don’t lose a single thing. They’re very deep. Their power forward is at great shooter. Their center can step out and shoot as well as put it on the ground. So they do all so many different things. And Virginia does the same thing. They trap the post like Virginia, they double the post just like him. They blitz pick and rolls just like Virginia. So, they’re just very similar in their styles and their coaches are very similar. Tony Bennett is very similar to the Northern Iowa coach. They’re both very humble personalities, tremendous coaches, and they’re just very similar in so many different ways. I don’t know if they even know each other, but they’re very similar.
Q. Do you and your staff have to verbally reinforce the fact that you’re playing Northern Iowa? Do the kids take them lightly sometimes? Directional schools don’t resonate with some of the major schools. I’m wondering if you have to verbally reinforce who they’re playing?
COACH PITINO: I can tell you that the Louisville media will start with questions like this to our people. How do you feel about being an underdog going into this game? And our players say we don’t follow that. That will be their answer. We don’t follow that type of stuff. Our players, from film right now, are very, very full of respect for Northern Iowa. They realize that this is one of — now we played Duke, we played Virginia twice, we played Kentucky, we played Indiana, Ohio State, we have played some outstanding teams. This team is as good as any team we have played this year with maybe the exception of Kentucky. So, our players know that. They’re ranked ninth and 11th in the country, so they’re higher ranked than us. You may not be a household name 20 years ago, but you are today.
Q. Couple days ago you’re on the Dan Patrick show, made some remarks about one and done, so obviously, we know your opinion. Feel free to reiterate but not necessary, necessarily. I guess my question is, when this comes up, coaches always give their opinion and then say, I’ll do whatever they tell me to do, it’s out of my hands. I guess what I’m wondering is, why is it out of your guys’ hands and should it be? You guys are the ones that actually deal with the players most closely. I’m wondering what your opinion is on that.
COACH PITINO: Well, it’s in the hands of the NBA and the Players Union. They really determine it. What we want — we obviously have a committee set up to try to make recommendations, but it’s really not in our hands. It’s in the Commissioner’s hands as well as the Players Union. And agents have a lot to say with Players Union. I would think that the Players Union would go for high school kids. I’m very much in favor of high school kids going pro. I had six young men commit to me out of high school that didn’t go to college, that went to the pros. I’m very much for that. Because they didn’t want college. They wanted to go to the NBA. And if they decide to go to the D league, that’s fine with them. But the six, seven month education, online classes second semester. I don’t know what that does for a young person. Is it the next best thing for college basketball? Probably, yes. It’s better than for some people to have one and done. I don’t believe that. Now, I’m different than probably the coach of Kentucky, who is having so much success with that. But I just believe I would rather let them go out of high school or go to college for two or three years. Let them go right out of high school. It shouldn’t be different in other sports. If a young man wants to go to the pros and does everything — college is not for everybody. So if a kid doesn’t want to go to college, let him go into the pros. Let him go into the D-League and if someone does want to go to college let them go. We’re still going to have great basketball teams.
Q. We were reminded recently here by a great basketball saying that it takes no talent to criticize. However, I’m wondering, are we at or near the time in big time college sports where big time college sports needs to separate from the NCAA and professionalize in word as well as deed?
COACH PITINO: You know, actually, if you asked me that question four, five years ago I would have said yes. But I think the NCAA is making a lot of concessions to make it better for the athletes. So the trouble they’re having is they don’t know what to do with women’s soccer or women’s lacrosse or men’s baseball, where income is not generated. How do you do it? How do you separate it? A lot of times we all agree that players should be compensated. So I think somebody’s got to come out with, okay, are we just going to say, income-producing sports? So, I guess we have got to be very specific where we want that. If we want compensation — now I’m one that believes that a player should be able to sell his autograph. And it shouldn’t be like, maybe at Louisville, an autograph because we have a big following, could go for 10, $15,000. It has to be an autograph signing where it’s 25 dollars an autograph, whatever it may be. But what Johnny Manziel did or somebody else, I think that should be allowed. Because that’s — he built his brand, he built his name, he should be able to sell it, in my estimation. But I don’t know how you get around all that other stuff when you break away from the NCAA, how do you decide. Maybe Iowa’s great in wrestling, maybe — I know Connecticut women’s basketball is income producing. So how do you separate that would be my question to all of that. But I think the NCAA’s made some very good concessions to make it better. I think the NCAA president right now is doing a fabulous job of making change, even though he gets a lot of criticism. But I think he’s doing — he’s very progressive in making changes.
Q. Among power five conference schools particularly, there’s such a fine line between having a successful season and a disappointing season.
COACH PITINO: I’m sorry, where are you? Oh, thank you. I’m sorry.
Q. Sometimes it’s injury, sometimes it’s something like an unbalanced schedule and seeing your son coach a couple of times, this year I think they had three out of their first four games were on road, they go in the hole, they’re trying to climb out, didn’t quite work out. What was your message to him after this season where they had the talent, they just were about there, but things just kept slipping as the season progressed?
COACH PITINO: Well he pretty much had the same record close to as he did the first year. I gave him a lecture, which he doesn’t always agree with me, I said, Richard, I don’t know why you haven’t had for two years an all-conference player first second or third team in the Big Ten. So I’m not sure why you’re putting so much pressure on yourself thinking you should be in the tournament. I said, we had two all ACC second team players this year. You don’t have one on the third team. So why aren’t you like the rest of us in this world that have to build the right way by recruiting guys who can make all Big Ten. So, if you went to Minnesota, thinking this is a quick turn around, the school probably has only been in nine NCAA tournaments if they got released of a few, in the history of the school. So that’s what I tried to do, build him up a little bit but to get him to understand that it really is — you’re only as good as your players and if you don’t have a first second or third team all Big Ten, you’re probably not going to compete. Same thing in the Big East, same thing in the SEC. There are some teams that can surprise you and have teams get great runs, win close games. When I was at Providence I’ll never forget this as long as I live, I lost six, six games within two seconds. My first year. And I said to the guys back then, because I was a day dream err, you just wait until next year, we’re going to win all these close games. And the following year we won seven with one second to go on the clock. So, it does turn. But we started getting all Big East players, Billy the kid became a first team all Big East player. And you know we lost one game where Walter the ball was thrown to Walter Berry, we had a foul to give and he dropped the ball as we went to foul him and as he picked it up he just threw it from about 15 feet above the top of the key and they called the foul on the shot. And that’s okay, I said, no problem, he’s a 58, 59 percent free throw shooter. He makes them both and we lose in overtime. So, you remember all those tough losses, but then the following year it comes back. Once you get better players, you win those games. So, there are a lot of teams and I talked with the Louisville media today and I said to them, you watch, everybody’s second guessing UCLA, they’re going to go to the Sweet 16. And sure enough, it happens every year, the one team that everybody picks out doesn’t belong, goes to the Sweet 16. So that’s what makes this thing so great. It’s you really can’t — with the exception of a Kentucky or a Wisconsin this year or maybe even a Duke, very, very tough to say who is going to advance. You don’t know. That’s what makes it so much fun.
Q. You talked about the NCAA and some of the reforms that are being made. There’s a proposal now about rolling back the decision deadline on underclassmen and a possible draft camp. I don’t know if I heard your views on that. Could you express them?
COACH PITINO: I don’t know how a young man could, with the rules that’s presently under, I don’t know how a young man can make a goodie six. Because in the NBA, they don’t start working you out until May and June. So, right now, what do we have until April 26 right now is the date? So let’s take Terry Rozier. He’s going pro. And he’s middle to late first round possible. Maybe a second round. But he doesn’t know. So, what you have to do is we’ll contact the league, and they have a committee set up that brings us back information. And the information they bring up, they will give me 18 different opinions of the committee and they will say, some will say late first round, some will say early second, some will say mid to — and it will give a range. But they don’t know whether the teams are interested or not. The only way you truly find out is by the kids working out with the team. So if I was still with the Celtics or the Knicks, I would bring the guys in and then I will determine whether we want to draft them by that work out. And they’re not going to work out right now. So there’s no guarantees. So for Terry it’s going to be a very difficult decision for him. Now I do think he’s going. I said that all along. But it’s going to be a difficult decision to him because he’s not going to know, where Montrezl Harrell, he knows he’s going and he knows he’s going to be a first round pick and so what they’re doing now is great, I wish they would have done it for this year.
Q. Obviously been a couple of tweaks to the block charge rules offensive foul rules, still controversial. Is there any way to fix it? Is there a final fix for block charge situations?
COACH PITINO: No, I think it’s pretty good now. You know, the one thing about officiating and you see it in the NFL you see some calls in the NFL that affect the game, the one thing I say about officiating, I’ve officiated at basketball camps for like 25 years, and you have to coach two games you have to officiate two games when you work basketball camps at a young age and you know how difficult it is. What I always try to tell the officials is, be more like NBA officials, I say stay away from the coaches, don’t talk to the coaches, put the ball down, walk across the other way. Can you imagine if you’re in work or you’re in the studio right now at ESPN and you had the producer in your ear and he’ll talk to you once in a while, but can you imagine if he was screaming at you every single second while you’re trying to read that tele prompter. What it would be like. And that’s what some of these coaches do to these referees and how can they concentrate on the game? So, I’ve always been a big believer that the referees should have very little dialog with coaches during the game. They must be ignored, concentrate on ref reasoning the game, don’t let anybody get into your head, concentrate on that. And the charge block, unless it’s — unless the game is on the line in a call, it’s a tough call to make. Now if the guy is stationed, he’s there — like I think it’s much worse when the offensive player comes down, he’s on the fast break, and just plows into the guy and he gives him two fouls. And now you got some 48-year-old 50-year-old running down, who is not in great shape, trying to catch up to the likes of a John Wall on the break and then he comes out with that, “and one”, and he didn’t even see the play. So, you know, it’s tough sometimes. Refereeing is very difficult. We’re probably going to go to four referees because of the conditioning. No, I’m only joking. (Laughter.) Thank you.
Q. Nate, what do you remember from the last game against Louisville?
NATE BUSS: That was a pretty memorable game for me. It was one of my first real college games. And I just remember coming in the second half and really just hitting shots and playing loose. And we all came together as a team there in the end. Played really good defense, and had a chance to win it at the end.
Q. Seth, obviously a lot of people are going to be talking about you versus Montrezl Harrell. I realize this is a team game, but what have you seen from him on film and watching him and what do you expect tomorrow?
SETH TUTTLE: Yeah, he’s really good. Watching him throughout the year, he’s just gotten better, too. He’s really athletic, plays extremely hard, really physical. So he’s going to be a tough matchup. But the main thing is what you said at the beginning. This is Northern Iowa against Louisville and there’s five people on the floor for each team for a reason. So, we’ll do it together and we’ll do it as one unit to play defense like we have all year.
Q. Nate, how important is Seth’s leadership been for this program this season?
NATE BUSS: It’s been extremely instrumental to our success. I feel like you can look at almost any successful team and they have that one leader that really brings everybody together, that really gets everybody in the right mindset, gets everybody focused and ready to go. Everybody on our team really look toss Tut for that kind of leadership.
Q. Seth, there’s a lot of talk about how people would like to see for entertainment purposes, more scoring in college basketball. When they look at your stats and they look at Louisville’s stats, you could almost see people cringing who favor that style of basketball. But what do you say about that and how do you think of a defensive minded team approach and basketball?
SETH TUTTLE: Yeah, I’m not an expert about this at all. There’s going to be teams that are built around getting stops and playing defense and having a slower style. And there’s going to be teams that are going to want to press and run and get as many possessions in a game as possible. I like how each team has the chance to dictate how the game’s going to be played and at the pace that it’s going to be played at. So, I don’t have much more to say about it than that, I guess.
Q. Marvin, Seth talked about Montrezl Harrell. Can you draw any comparisons to him and how you’ll defend him as with Larry Nance Jr., on Friday?
MARVIN SINGLETON: Just try to keep him off the offensive glass. He’s a very aggressive player, he chases down a lot of rebounds for his team. Keep him off the blocks so he doesn’t get a bunch of easy baskets around the hoop. So just make sure I do that and just make sure we’re out there talking with me and my teammates on the ball screen. But try to get a lot of lobs on the back side. So make sure we’re talking and execute our defensive scheme.
Q. Seth, did you ever think about playing football at this level? Is that something you considered as you thought about college?
SETH TUTTLE: No. No. (Laughter.) I loved football, especially my senior year in high school. And I’m a huge college football fan now. I watch college football as much as I watch college basketball. So I’m a big fan, but the thought of playing football ended when I lost my last game in high school. So, not any farther than high school, no.
MAX MARTINO: I think you ask asked that question to the wrong guy. Marvin, did you consider playing football? (Laughter.)
SETH TUTTLE: He’s thinking about it. He is thinking about it.
MARVIN SINGLETON: No comment. (Laughter.)
Q. For Nate, maybe Deon could take a stab at this. If you don’t have Bohannon, how does this change the approach to Louisville tomorrow?
NATE BUSS: Bohannon is another key leader on our team that we love having out on the court. He brings a lot of energy and he really helps us stretch the defense. But that’s the great thing about our team, we’re extremely deep. We have a lot of guys on the bench that can come off the bench for us and still give us energy and give us those shots. Not saying that we want to go without him. Obviously, everybody on our team loves Bo and we really want him out on the court there with us. Because we know he’s been huge for our success this season, just like everybody else has. But we’re just going to go out there and give it our best with whoever we have out on the court.
Q. Max, I’ll throw the same thing at you. Has coach prepared you for maybe — there’s a spot for you a couple more minutes if Bo can’t go?
MAX MARTINO: Oh, yeah, that hasn’t even been discussed. We’re going to play our game and it’s just the next man up. It’s going to be Bo or its going to be Paul or the same guys all year. We’re going to play our game, that’s all I can say.
Q. For Deon, talk about how important it will be to pressure Terry and just with everything he’s capable of doing out there.
DEON MITCHELL: Pressure who?
Q. Terry Rozier.
DEON MITCHELL: Oh, okay. They’re a real good team. They like to get out and pressure. So I think we just got to keep our composure and take it slow, don’t try to rush. If we have openings, we’re going to attack. But I don’t think we’re going to try to play any different than we have been playing all year.
Q. Seth and Deon, can you share maybe two or three songs from your pregame music play list?
DEON MITCHELL: I don’t listen to music before the game. (Laughter.)
SETH TUTTLE: I also don’t listen to music before the game, so I don’t — I couldn’t help you out much there, I’m sorry.
NATE BUSS: We can tell you that everybody on the team listens to Marvin’s music.
SETH TUTTLE: It’s loud enough for everyone to hear.
NATE BUSS: He loves to play No Flex Zone before every game.
SETH TUTTLE: Marv’s the best.
Q. How do you view Northern Iowa basketball and where it is right now?
SETH TUTTLE: We compare ourselves to the best. That’s the only way that we feel like we can go about getting better and growing and continuing to build in the right direction. So, when we talk about being the best defensive team, we’re not just talking about in the Valley, we’re talking about in the Nation. When we want to have one of the most efficient offenses. We compare it to the best in the Nation. That’s just how we go about it. That’s what Coach Jake really stresses and how he goes about his business. We just — we’re trying to continually build and constantly get better and grow as a program so that we can just always be where we have gotten this year on a more year in/ year out.
Q. Deon, I’ll rephrase my question. Talking about more defensively, how important will it be for you and the rest of the team to really pressure Terry as with the important role that he plays for that team offensively.
DEON MITCHELL: Just being able to lock in and knowing where he’s at. He’s a really good guard. He seems to look to hunt his shots down a lot. So just knowing where he is at all times and just locking in. I think we’ll switch defenders ever now and then. So just locking into the game plan and knowing where he is at all times is something that we’ll work on.
Q. Seth, pretend like we’re still having that conversation. Do you — when Northern Iowa went to the Sweet 16 four or five years ago, it was the fun story that you hear about. Do you want to be that story or do you just want to be a team that’s good?
SETH TUTTLE: No. Coach stressed before the season how important it was for us to have our own identity and for our team to be completely separate from that team that they had in 2010. That’s a very important team in our school’s history and what they did for our program is off the charts. But we’re in a different situation now. We’re just trying to be different. We’re trying to be ourselves. Be our own team, put our own stamp on this tournament. Bring something a little bit different to our university, to our fans, to the college basketball world that those guys didn’t bring or that we can bring in a different way. So we’re just trying to be mainly we’re trying to be ourselves out there.
THE MODERATOR: All right, thank you. We’ll take questions for coach.
Q. An update on Bohannon’s status.
COACH JACOBSON: Yeah. He went through our walk through today and seemed okay. Whatever that means for today. So we’ll see how he’s doing tomorrow. But he went through the walk through today.
Q. The stakes, obviously, are very high. His ability to shoot, obviously, wouldn’t be greatly affected, but catching the ball. Is it just too high of stakes to take the risk that a pass could end up being dropped or something along those lines?
COACH JACOBSON: No, I’m not at all concerned about that part of it, if it end up kind of going that way. Bo’s smart enough. He’s not going to do something to hurt our team. So we’ll see how he’s doing tomorrow and take it as it comes, really.
Q. When you saw the Wyoming matchup, you immediately said your relationship with Larry Shyatt, do you have any previous experience with Rick Pitino or anything like that?
COACH JACOBSON: When we played them it would have been the first time that Coach and I would have met, I think down in the Bahamas, for that tournament. Then had a chance to talk yesterday, or two days, ago again at the tournament meeting. But that outside of that, no.
Q. How important is Seth’s leadership been for this program throughout the season?
COACH JACOBSON: Yeah, it’s been great. There’s a couple things I’ve really enjoyed with Seth this year. Last year toward the end of the year he elevated his leadership. He kind of took on some more in terms of ownership and getting the guys rallied around each other and wanting to end our season last year on the right note. We did win five out of six. He had a lot to do that because he stepped forward. This year he’s taken it up one more level. To have a guy playing — he’s more of a power forward, the body type. But playing center for us and doing a lot of what a point guard does and would do. Starting quarterback, starting pitcher, he’s just got that kind of mentality and that kind of command of his teammates and of the situation. The thing I would tell you to go a long with it is, all of the good things that have come his way, all of the success that he’s had individually and our team has had. He hasn’t changed at all. I think that’s probably his greatest attribute as a leader. He’s, if anything, he’s a small town kid. I think a lot of people have read about that by now. If anything, he’s become more of the small town kid and even more humble and not gone the other way. That, to me, is really defining his leadership. That’s made a huge difference for our team.
Q. What was it like watching one of your old students Dave Richman go against Gonzaga last night and can you talk about the days when he was living in your basement?
COACH JACOBSON: Yeah, we were together in Fargo at North Dakota State for that year. Then he made the trip down to Cedar Falls and did his student teaching in Cedar Falls. And it happened to be our first year of marriage and some of you probably can imagine what that’s like. Dawn, we’re going to have someone live with us starting out on our first year on this journey. But she had gotten to know David well when we were in town. And obviously, for Dawn and I both, it was fun for us. As he’s shown, this year graduating the guys that they did a year ago, and coming back and putting together the season that they have. His, boy, his demeanor and the way in which he carries himself and how he is with his guys. I watched it in the game against South Dakota State for the championship and I think that was why last night they got back in the game. Their guys just kind of kept playing and played a little bit harder and a little bit tougher in the second half. And they just stayed with it and they kept playing and they found themselves down six to one of the best teams in the country. I think that says a lot about David.
Q. Sometimes the hallmark of a good to great program and a coach isn’t just taking a team to somewhat of a mountain top like you did five years ago, but it’s being able to rebuild it, sustain it and do it again. What were the challenges once you got past the 2010 era and building this team and getting it to the point where it is today?
COACH JACOBSON: I think that I would tell you probably the first thing is working with the guys from a mentality standpoint and an understanding that they don’t have to be like the team in 2010. They have to take ownership of who they are. They have to do it the way that they — that is going to work best for them. That’s been a process for us. Obviously, because of how that all happened and playing Kansas and the No. 1 overall seed, and Ali firing that shot up. I mean that gets talked about every year. And it gets talked about a lot in our community and on our campus and it should and I’m glad it does. That was, and is, a terrific moment for our program and it raised the bar a little bit higher. So working with our guys to understand that they have got to find a way to take ownership and do this their own way. That’s how the team in 2010 got to that point. But that can be easier said than done. That can be a very difficult thing when that’s sitting there and you want to do the same thing and people are waiting for you to do the same thing. That can be a lot to handle when you’re 18 to 22 years old. So I’m proud of our guys for taking ownership. Boy, Deon, the five seniors, Deon and Max, they were just up here. Those five guys, they have done a terrific job of changing some habits, getting a little more disciplined, getting a little bit tougher. And mostly as I’ve said, mostly taking ownership and doing this the way that fits them.
Q. You’ve had a lot of success in your career but is there a post-season loss whether as a player or coach that still eats at you years later that’s hard to digest?
COACH JACOBSON: Yeah, the Michigan State game does a little bit. Just because we were up at halftime and we had a team that obviously, I guess if you’re that far. If you’re in the Sweet 16, we all feel like we’re going to get to the Final Four once you get to that point. But that team, boy, that team felt like we were going to the Final Four. It was, man, they — nothing was enough for that team. So that was a hard one because we had the right pieces, we had size at center, and we had a great defender at power forward, we had a terrific point guard. Couple shooters to go with it. And we had a good bench. So we had what you needed. So that one, because you’re that close, right, that one sticks with me. No doubt.
Q. In simple terms, Louisville, what do you have to do against these guys and from you looking at them now closely, what do you see?
COACH JACOBSON: Yeah, I think it’s got to start with handling the different presses. You’ve got to be able to — one, you got to start and get the basketball in bounds. I say that, I know how simple that maybe comes out, but they have got a couple different presses and with them they’re going to work hard to deny it sometimes. Sometimes they will trap the first pass and then other times, they’re going to let you get it in and then trap you somewhere else on the floor. So that part of it is important. Our experience and our ball handling and Deon and Wes become very valuable, of course, in that situation. Once you get through that, you got to have the confidence and, which our team does, to attack. Sometimes that would lend itself to playing into their hands, because they want the game to go up-and-down and use their press to do that. But we have got experienced guys, we’ve got good ball handlers, we’ve got guys that can shoot the basketball. So you got to be able to attack at the back half of it. Once you get into the half court you’re going to see, and it’s — they’re really good defensively in the half court. Some teams that press are not that good defensively in the half court. Louisville is. They’re terrific in the half court with their defense. They make it really hard for you to get into any kind of rhythm. So you’ve got to rely on your guys making plays. And as opposed to being able to run a bunch of stuff and get into a great rhythm, you got to be able to make some plays. Again, that’s where our experience and our ball handling and having some guys that can shoot it, that’s going to have to help us tomorrow. And I don’t know how much — if we had another half hour I could talk about their offense and their guys and their coach and their tradition and everything else, right?
Q. Can you describe how big a deal it is back home to have three teams from the state in the tournament?
COACH JACOBSON: Yeah, I think it’s great for the state of Iowa to have this level of interest. And in large part due to what the three teams have done this year. But it’s been really good now for a number of years. What Fran and Fred are doing and Ray Giacoletti is just getting started at Drake and he’s building it the right way and he’s good shots a bunch of good young players in there. We have been good for awhile now, too. I just think it’s great. As a basketball guy, to have this level of interest in our state and have young kids coming up wanting to be at Northern Iowa or wanting to be at one of the other places, I just think that’s terrific.
Q. Ali was at the site where Kansas is playing in Omaha and asked some of the Kansas fans about that shot and did you read what he had to say?
COACH JACOBSON: I did, I read the article and I watched the video. My favorite part of the video was the student that he was in class with that didn’t know him at the time five years ago and he didn’t know him yesterday. That was my favorite part of that whole deal.
Q. From the thing — from the department of things that are really important what’s the status of the black uniforms?
COACH JACOBSON: I don’t know. We won’t be wearing them tomorrow. Outside of that, I don’t know. I don’t even know if we have them with us. We might. But we won’t be wearing them tomorrow.
Q. You get to the tournament, you win a game, obviously the stakes get higher. Can you talk about, do you talk any differently to the kids at each round or is it just treat it like any game, even though the stakes obviously are much higher?
COACH JACOBSON: We’re headed down the same track yesterday and today as we were getting ready for Wyoming. Obviously, two very different styles of play and some tremendous challenges now with Louisville and what we’re going to have to do. So some different things in film and X’s and O’s, okay? But the other part, the mentality part, no, we’re headed down the same track. These guys, as I said, they have taken ownership of who they are, they understand what we do well, they understand why we are here, they’re loose and their confident. We have had the good fortunate of having Kurt Warner and some of his family join us and man Kurt has just been awesome with the guys. He’s had a great message. Basically it’s been, man, go out and you’re on the big stage and this is the best time to be great.
Q. If Bohannon can’t go who would be the starting five could you share that with us?
COACH JACOBSON: Yeah, if Bo isn’t able to go tomorrow, it will be Paul.
Q. There’s always a discussion about 2010. We have asked questions about it, you hear it almost every day now. At what point does that become a burden to your team or almost where they’re getting kind of tired of it versus — because they have clearly established their own identity but they keep getting asked about it and their identity is about the equal of that one.
COACH JACOBSON: Right. That maybe, maybe you asked the guys this, it isn’t something that I’ve talked a lot with them about. Outside of in the fall we talk about our tradition and how important that is and where the bar is set. We talk about some of the things that have helped those teams get to certain places and why we have had success. So we do go through that and we talk about it in those terms. But I haven’t really sat down with them and talked about it on the other side of are you guys okay with this? Are you, is it starting to bother you? I mean, I haven’t had those conversations with them. What I would tell you is I’m really happy for them, because this is the team that’s had to, as I mentioned a little bit ago, this is the group of guys that had to come after it. And as much fun as that sounds like, when you’re a sophomore, junior, senior in high school and being recruited and that’s what you want to do is play in the NCAA Tournament and go to the Sweet 16 and go to the Final Four and you feel like, if they just did it, okay, we’re going to do it. When you’re there, you start to understand how hard it is. On top of it being really hard, you’re the ones that are supposed to do it. So there’s a lot to that. And that’s why I’m so happy for these guys. They have established themselves as one of the best teams to ever come through our program. I’m really happy for our guys.
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