Opening Statement "My hats are off to these guys, I know that's kind of a corny cliché but they have worked so hard and they have done such an excellent job in school and to have everything going on in their life and the wins and the preparation, and to turn right back around and prepare like they did in the short period of time and to be as locked in as they were and to take a team where they really, really wanted to understand what they wanted to do, what they did, their calls, things of that nature. Our guys were completely locked in; they played with a relentless spirit, their energy was tremendous. They were active. The communication was excellent. We wanted to play a 40-minute game, especially on the defensive end, and I think these guys did it. They came back in the second half and although the team scored more points obviously than they did in the first, our guys continued to play at a really high level. So, proud of how they're playing and proud of how they're working, they're maturing. I thought our coaching staff, especially Tim Buckley who was the lead on this, did a fantastic job in a short period of time of getting them ready, making sure that we didn't inundate them with information but at the same time that they absorbed enough to know what they had to do and we felt like we were playing a very athletic team, a team that was excellent on the glass. They're trying to kind of find their way a little bit. I've known Kevin (Nickelberry) for a long time, I think he's an excellent coach. As I said to him after the game, our guys were on it. They were ready to play, excited to play and wanted to join some elite company. There's no way around that when there's only a few teams in this illustrious history of this program that have started 11-0, they wanted to join that and I'm proud of them."
On working on things with a big lead "Second half we did different things. It's a long game, we weren't just going to go back and sit at half court, man-to-man, or sit in zone because that's when you get complacent so we wanted them to be aggressive. We wanted to be in different spots, we did a lot different things in the second half but they were all things that we do."
On maintaining focus "I was far more concerned about this game than I was Notre Dame after Monday in the sense of being locked in. When you're concerned about a team that is coming off of a great win like Kentucky and has finals after Monday's practice I had no doubt that they would be ready to play Notre Dame but this was the one that was concerning maybe but they locked in. They erased those coaching fears that you have and it's only natural, but they erased those right away and our coaching staff and players combined did a great job of being ready to attack today."
Howard University Head Coach Kevin Nickelberry
It was 12-8, then 20-10; what happened in the first half?
"Tom must have gave his team one heck of a speech. They were coming off a good Kentucky game, and a good Notre Dame game. We were hoping that they would be underestimating us. They came out as hungry as I have ever seen them. They were getting after us and spreading us out. Victor (Oladipo) was running the lanes so hard, we had to worry about him in transition. When we ran back to cover him in transition, they spread us out and were nailing threes. It was a barrage of threes. If I wasn't coaching against them, I would have been impressed. This team has improved tremendously since the last time we played them. It was unbelievable to see how hungry this came team out from the beginning. This is a Tom Crean team. They are gritty, the run, and they spread you out."
What did you tell your team in the lockeroom?
"I told them this was a very good team. We have played against some good teams this year. We've played Georgetown, Oregon State; I mean we played some good teams. But this was probably the best team we have played. This team runs and shares the ball very, very well. This is something we can learn from. I told my team we can learn a lot about a team that two years ago, many people weren't thinking much of. This is the same team that my juniors and seniors played two years ago. Obviously they have added a few players, and (Cody)Zeller has been a great addition. Hopefully in a couple years, we can say that we have improved as much as the Indiana basketball team has."