March 16, 2008
Interim Head Coach Dan Dakich
On his feelings about the team's seeding:
"I have a lot of feeling on it. I think probably there is a lot more involved to it than winning and losing, but it doesn't matter - feelings. You've got to play. You've got to play Arkansas on Friday. You do that and you get a game on Sunday. It doesn't matter what anybody feels. It is just a matter of what you've got to do."
On preparing for Friday's game:
"You know, you've got a little time. Today, we didn't do much. We just shot. Not knowing who you play is a little tough, and the guys are still a little banged up from playing as late as we played the other night. We didn't do much, so we'll do some tomorrow, and then prepare. We'll figure that out here as we go."
On whether he was surprised by the seeding:
"A lot of other people were I'm sure, but was I? No. I have a realistic view of things in the world, and I have a tendency to look a little bit beyond the obvious. Sometimes it is right, sometimes it is wrong. So, no I wasn't (surprised) at all. I'm excited about it to tell you the truth. I think if you are a good team you've got to beat good teams. You get to go right off the bat against a good team. I coached against Coach Pelfry last year. He was at South Alabama and we played him at Bowling Green. We beat them on a buzzer beater. I always liked John. Truthfully, you've got no alternative but to be excited and get ready to go."
On the team's reaction to the game on Friday:
On going back to the NCAA Tournament:
"I haven't really seen them. They went back after the game. I stayed in Indianapolis. I met with them yesterday afternoon. Then we went through things today. The players' attitudes have been great. People keep telling me different things, but all I know is the things that we have done. We lost in the last twenty seconds against Penn State, and we lost on a last second shot. There is a fine line between winning and losing, and I know we're playing better defense in the last three games than we have played all year. We talked to them about that. We'll build on that. If we're a good team, if we're a team that is supposed to be as good as we were projected to be, we'll have a chance to prove it on the very first weekend."
"I'm thrilled to death. Obviously yesterday was a tough day. Friday night, I know I saw 6 a.m., and I'm thinking I saw closer to seven. I didn't even have the TV on, I was just laying there. Yesterday, not so good, but then my brother called me up and said, `Listen man, you're the coach at Indiana University taking them to the NCAA tournament.' You know what, that is pretty dog gone good. I'm fired up. I'm really fired up about it. Like I said, if we're a great team we'll have a chance to prove it."
On the finality of a loss in the tournament:
"As you coach, you try not to take anything for granted. You try to cover every base that you can, so we're going to talk about that. I'm going to get with the guys here in a minute. It'll be interesting to see their reaction. Are they disappointed? Are they excited? Different guys will have different reactions, but the bottom line is to advance in the NCAA tournament, particularly when you struggled down the stretch, you're going to have to beat good teams. If we play the way we're capable of playing, we can play with almost anybody. I think we've also proven it the other way. Guys know the whole survive/advance deal. You've got to prove it. Now you've got to play. It is a hard road in the tournament. The number one seed gets a little easier road in the first game, obviously. The 8/9 game is always tough. You've got to win, but it is a great opportunity for us if we decide to take advantage of it."
On what it will take to win in the tournament:
"I always thought in watching it, playing in it, and coaching in it that you're basketball team needs to play well. Now, what does that mean? For our basketball team to play well, we've got to shoot the ball better. I think that is obvious here in the last couple of games. For our team to play well, we've got to get positive contributions off of the bench. We've got to get a third scorer. My thing is, you've got to play well. I think that means different things for different teams. For us, we've got to shoot the ball well, we've got to play good defense like we have the past three games, and we've got to get positive contributions from basically everywhere. Obviously, when you go through a season, you know why you've lost and you know why you've won. When we've won, we've had really good guard play. We've also won when D.J. (White) has played really well and not had such great guard play. For us those are the things we need to do well."
On if the team feels underappreciated:
"I'll find out. I don't know I haven't met with them. I hope so. I hope that is there mentality. At the end of the day, life goes so fast. Things happen so quickly that sometimes when you're a freshman you think you're going to have three more tournaments. I remember Jimmy Crews telling me before my first year. He said, `You may not have another one.' I'm thinking come on. My senior year, we didn't make the NCAA tournament. He is right. We had two others, but he was right. Hopefully they understand that. Truthfully, we have about four days of work and I hope they work as hard as they have the past couple of weeks. They haven't got the results from it. It is a fine line between winning and losing. They didn't start the game worth a dag the other day, but if they keep doing what they are doing they're going to have some success."
On the importance of having a combination like D.J. White and Eric Gordon in the tournament:
"I think it is big. I think it is really big, but you know, I have a lot of respect for Jamarcus (Ellis) and Armon (Basset) as players, and Jordan (Crawford)'s ability. So, I think for our team to get where it has wanted to go all year, everybody has to play well, but those two guys have been good all year. People can point statistically and say Eric hasn't shot the ball, but I'll tell you that against Minnesota down the stretch he got to foul line. When you basically go the last five minutes and say, `Whip everybody.' You're going to go to the foul line. You're going to make some, you're going to miss some. Then, he guards the best guy on the other team, so Eric has played great. D.J. was a monster the other night. He has been a monster all year, but you can't take them for granted. You've got to get them ready too. And then, everybody else has to play to their abilities. I think there are guys here that have real abilities. The key for us is going to be if those guys are playing to their abilities."
Senior Forward D.J. White
"First of all, we're happy to be in the tournament. We feel good about our opportunity against Arkansas. They finished second in the west of the SEC, so we feel it will be a good matchup. We're very happy about this opportunity to play in Raleigh. It is kind of close to us. We're not out west like we've been the past two years, so we're excited about that also."
On watching Arkansas play today:
"Actually, I did watch that game. I saw about that last ten minutes of it. I think they got down early in that game, but they fought back and made it competitive, but they couldn't pull out the victory. We'll learn more about them tomorrow, watch film and break it down. Then we'll build a game plan from there."
On the surprise of being an eight seed:
"That happens. We are just happy to be in tournament. There are a lot of teams that didn't make it. All we can do is go and play Friday at whatever time we play, and try to get the win."
On what it will take to make a run in the tournament:
"Preparation and togetherness. I know lately we haven't been playing well. The main thing is we haven't started games well. The last two games we've started out slow. If we need to come together and start games like we've been finishing them, I think we'll be fine. I think we just need to start the game off well."
On seeing Indiana come up very quickly in the Selection Sunday show:
"It kind of surprised us that it came up so quick. Like we said, we're just happy for the opportunity. We didn't really know where we would be because of the early exit from the Big Ten Tournament. We got an eight seed, so we just need to go out and perform."
On this being the lowest seed in the past three years:
"Like I said before, there is nothing we can do about it. It is a great opportunity to still be playing in March and a great opportunity to be playing against a good Arkansas team and possibly a number one seed. We're not looking ahead, but as I look at it, we're just going to take it day-by-day until we leave and just prepare for them."
On coming up on his last career game:
"We understand that it could be one more game and our season is over. Nobody wants to go home right now. I don't think anyone is worried about a coaching situation or a player situation. Like I said, we're just happy to still be playing in March. We just want to win and play ball."
On playing in the South:
"It will be nice. Hopefully the weather is nice. That would be a start. It is a good opportunity. I don't think it is too far. Some of the team's parents and fans will be there, so I think it is a good site for us."
On getting back to playing well as a team:
"It happens on the court. We all understand what is at stake right now. I think everybody is eager to get out there tomorrow to see what Arkansas does and get ready for practice. Everybody is going to be playing hard, we've still got a bad taste in our mouth from what happened in the Minnesota game. So, I think we'll be ready whenever we play on Friday."
On what it is like to play in the tournament:
"First off it is a great experience. As everybody knows we've been out west. We had a good fan base, but not as good of a fan base due to the travel. Hopefully this year, we can expect a lot of fans to be there. There is some nervousness sometimes for guys who haven't been there, for their first NCAA tournament game. I think we'll be fine once we get out there. Everybody is anxious to play. I think me, Lance (Stemler), Armon (Basset), Adam (Ahlfeld), and Kyle (Taber). Everybody else it is there first NCAA appearance. I know they're very eager. I know Eric (Gordon), he has been watching all his life. I know he is ready to get out there and get a taste of NCAA Tournament action."
Freshman Guard Eric Gordon
On the team's reaction to the seeding:
"We've just got to come out and play. A lot of teams didn't have the opportunity to make it into the tournament. So, we're just glad to be in there, and we just have to come out and play."
On coping with the difficult game on Friday:
"We watched a lot of other college basketball games. Of course, we were still thinking about that game and it was tough for us. There is not much more that we can say about it. We're in the NCAA Tournament, and we've just got to look forward to it and get ready for it."
On what he expects to be different about NCAA Tournament play:
"I don't think it is too much different than what we play in the Big Ten. Physical and I'll say it might be a faster paced game, especially against Arkansas. I saw them play today. They are an up and down tempo type team, and I think the Big Ten style is probably similar to the NCAA Tournament."