UNLV - Illinois Thursday Press Conference: Illinois
March 17, 2011
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Mike Davis, Demetri McCamey and Mike Tisdale. Questions for the student athletes.
Q. At different opportunities you talked the last three, four weeks ago about all the opportunities you had to turn this season around. Now this is it, the final opportunity. What is your mindset going into this game?
MIKE DAVIS: It's do or die. It's our last game if we lose. I'm not ready for it to be over. I know they're not ready for it to be over. We want to make a little run here. We've been playing well. We went through stretches where we played really well for 32, 33 minutes, and then we fall apart at the end of the game.
So we've got to put a complete 40 minutes together, and if we do that, we'll be pretty tough to beat.
DEMETRI McCAMEY: Yeah, speaking about that, this is our last go around. If we lose, we go home. And that is the last game here for our careers at the University of Illinois. So with that in mind, the NCAA Tournament is something we didn't make last year. So if you get this opportunity, you want to make the best of it.
MIKE TISDALE: Yeah, just new life, new opportunity. We have a chance to make something special happen. We haven't been a part of that yet, so we want to go out with a bang and see where we can go from there.
Q. The seven games you lost by five points or less, you mentioned not closing out. What have you done to alleviate that and put an end to that?
MIKE DAVIS: In practice we do a couple of drills where a team is up 6, 7 points with five minutes left and you have to extend the lead or you run. So we've been doing that for the past couple of weeks and doing and putting some different schemes in different plays and keeping us moving, because we get staggered late in the game and we wait for Demetri to make a play. It's tough for him to make a play for everybody, including himself. So we have to help him out and get open shots for not only him, but for the team.
DEMETRI McCAMEY: Yeah, we did a couple of new plays and things like that, and we always started off with the rebounding drill in practice. In a number of those games we lost a game. I know Penn State the rebounds cost us the game or cost us a possession to go down and score and extend the lead. So even if they do make a run, we could survive it.
So we did rebound, box out drills every day, and just new schemes. I think with that and the preparation we did this week should help us beat UNLV tomorrow.
MIKE TISDALE: Yeah, like these guys said, we did the different drills. One of the best ones we've been doing is you have to get shutouts to win. At the end of the game you don't have to score, necessarily, but get stops and don't let them score. That's another big key that we've been focusing on.
Q. Obviously, you've probably seen film. They have three bigs who kind of share time. Individually they've done not much, but as a group they combine. Is it more difficult to prepare for those kind of bigs because you don't know which one might play well as opposed to a guy that averages a double double and you just have to stop him?
MIKE TISDALE: Yeah, obviously, when you have guys rotating in they do different things. Especially when they do different things well, it's tough. One guy it's tough to pinpoint his strengths and weaknesses. But these guys have a good rotation, and they all do some things well, like you said. They're not all building stats, but when you combine them, they're doing a pretty good job of being effective. So it won't be easy, but if we continue to do our own thing, we'll be okay.
MIKE DAVIS: Like Tisdale said, those three guys they combine and do their job. Their job is to go in there and rebound, do the dirty work and do stuff like that, screen, rebound, run the floor and stuff like that. We've just got to do a good job. We can't let one them go off for 15 or 12 or something like that, because if we do that, we'll be in trouble.
Q. UNLV kind of works with you as a key player almost in terms of the team goes as you go. Do you think that's accurate? What are your impressions of the UNLV guards?
DEMETRI McCAMEY: I think that with any team in the NCAA just being a coach on the floor, the point guard to lead the troops, if I have a bad game, I think we're all going to struggle. At the same time, we've got capable players. Even if I don't shoot the ball well, I can get assists to Mike Davis or Mike Tisdale or any other body as far as Brandon Paul, Bill Cole getting shots. So it's not necessarily me scoring, but I've got to have energy to bring it on the defensive end as well.
The UNLV guards are going to attack, keep pressure on me, and rotate players, double me, trap me, and try to get the ball in my hands. So I've got to make the right play at the right time and don't lose my composure.
Q. They compare your bigs a lot to San Diego State in terms of length and ability to close out, contest and be able to get some space and the shooters. Can you talk about your bigs and that gives you maybe an extra second on the back end if can you get the shooters because of the length and athleticism of your bigs?
MIKE TISDALE: We have a height advantage. You know it's funny you say that because one of the players at San Diego State did play at Illinois. We have a little bit of a height advantage. Maybe it will help us keep the lane closed down and give us time to close out.
We'll see how effective it is. It is going to be a good match up either way. Everybody has their own strengths and weaknesses, and hopefully we can use that to our strength.
MIKE DAVIS: They do a very good job of dribble driving, dribbling the ally and trying to get in there to kick the shooters. So I have to do a good job and Tis has to do a good job. All their guys have to do a good job of stopping ball and closing out the shooters because they have good shooters, like Stanback and Willis and those guys can shoot the ball very well, because we have to do a good job closing out and keeping in front of us, because they can close out to the basket, so we've got to be in control and close out the hot hands.
Q. Obviously, you were disappointed with the finish in the Michigan game. But when you got the bid on Sunday, did that clean the slate for you and put that out of your minds?
DEMETRI McCAMEY: Oh, yeah. In the regular season, it's over with. The Big Ten season, that's over with. It's new life right here. I've been watching on TV games all day, and there have been major upsets and things like that.
So it's a new season. Anybody could beat any team on any given day now. So the better team is going to win a game, tomorrow who comes with the most energy and executes down the stretch and makes plays to win the ballgame.
MIKE TISDALE: Yeah, coach always emphasizes it's really three seasons within a season. You have the non conference, the conference, and the postseason. This is our new like Demetri said, this is a new season for us. We're trying to accomplish something. In March anything can happen, so we're looking forward to it, and it's going to be a fun trip we hope.
MIKE DAVIS: Yeah, what these guys said. It's a new season. We forgot about that Michigan game. There is nothing we can do about it now. We're rooting for Michigan now. Representing the Big Ten well. So we'll just go out here and do our job and take care of business, because we're very capable of doing so. We've just got to go out there and do it.
Q. Is there a team in the Big Ten that kind of reminds you of UNLV?
MIKE DAVIS: We kind of compared them a little bit to Purdue in terms of their pressure and the way they get after you. They're going to run two guys to Demetri. They're going to bump which means the guy's going to guard him 94 feet up the floor. I don't think they have the greatest defenders at Purdue, but the pressure wise they remind us of Purdue. They run real well. They've got athletic guys. All five guys can run the floor and score, so it kind of reminds you us of Purdue.
DEMETRI McCAMEY: Even with the guards, they're going to make sure they pressure me the whole time, the whole game. They switch different guys. They're kind of small, so they have a small four man that's going to try to cause mismatches for us and try to take our bigs off the dribble and get to the basket or create open jump shots for their shooters. So I think Purdue is a good team.
MIKE TISDALE: I'm not going to change it up. I'm going to go with Purdue as well. Again, with the pressure and the way they play defense I think is what we focused on. A lot of times in the Big Ten they get after you, pressure you, bump you, foul you. That's what we've focused on the last couple of days, and I think that's the way to go.
THE MODERATOR: Pleased to have with us Coach Bruce Weber, if you can give us an opening statement and comments about the tournament and tomorrow's game?
COACH WEBER: We're obviously excited to be here and be part of it. Going into last weekend, you know you felt pretty good, but you never know, especially after last year probably one of the last ones that did not get into the tournament. So hopefully a new life for our guys after an up and down season.
We have a very tough opponent in Nevada, Las Vegas. A team that is very aggressive, very athletic. Great quickness, and will be a big challenge for us. But that's what you get in the tournament. As we've seen today, crazy games already, and hopefully we can add something to the craziness.
Q. Going to a game like this when you have three kids like they do at the 5 who all do different things but not anything great. In preparing, is it more difficult to prepare for that or than if they had a kid who had 20 10, and you knew the ball was going into him every time?
COACH WEBER: I'd rather have what we're going to prepare for. Obviously if you've got Juwan Johnson and he's getting 20 10, that's tough to deal with because you know he's pretty much going to get that. He's gotten it all year.
But you know Stanback is a good player, Will you've got some guys that are very good. Our key is not to let those guys be major factors if that's possible. Obviously, if they get points in the paint, it's going to cause us trouble. In transition, in the paint, dribble drive, that's where they're successful at.
Lon does a great job of isoing, trying to get mismatches that he feels he can take advantage of.
Q. You said it's been an up and down season. Has Demetri McCamey's play determined how well your team plays and what do you think he's got to do to be successful against UNLV?
COACH WEBER: Any time for the most part most teams if the point guard plays well, you're usually going to play well. That is the key for us. He's our senior, done some unbelievable things. I think 1,600 points, 700 assists, second person in Big Ten history to do that.
So he's done some great things numbers wise, and we need him to play well. There is another stat, it's like we're 16 0 when he has six or seven more assists. So when he passes the ball and that will be the key tomorrow you say what is the key? He's got to take care of the ball. We have to take care of the ball. He's got to get it to the open man.
When they come and trap, they jam up ball screens, whatever they might do, he's got to make the good decisions and get it to the right man. Then we've got to make shots. You know, that will be so important for us. It's been a key all season. When we make shots, we're a pretty good team.
Q. Is there one guy for UNLV that you see as a key player for them?
COACH WEBER: I think if any of those, the other guards. Marshall or any of those other guys that come in off the bench, if they have we talked about the big guys. If some of those other guys have big games, it's going to take it tough on us, there is no doubt.
You know they're pretty consistent, they get their transition, they get their steals out of their pressure, and then they'll hit a couple of shots here and there. But if somebody steps up big off the bench, I think that could be a tough thing for us to deal with.
Q. Going into tomorrow, you will have played one game in the last 12 or 13 days. Does that concern you when your team's pretty much used to playing two games a week?
COACH WEBER: Well, it's pretty much the same for everybody. It takes you a little while to get going. We tried to get right at it. We lifted weights last Saturday after losing to Michigan on Friday. We thought we'd keep our minds off the selection and practice hard before it on Sunday, practice hard Monday, backed off on Tuesday, a lot of preparation, weights and shooting. Then yesterday was kind of an in between.
Now, today we just went for 35, 40 minutes and shoot here. You've just got to keep fresh. This is it. New life. You heard the players talk about it. Come with some fresh legs, fresh minds and see what happens.
Q. You've talked about how your guys have to play hard but not be up tight about this. Do you sense that they're loose right now?
COACH WEBER: Our team is a loose team, there is no doubt. It's just that when we there were a couple of games during the season where we lost tough losses. Now you come back and you could see we were uptight.
Actually, Michigan at home about a month ago, you could feel it and sense it. You could even feel it from the fans. It just seemed like the air was thick and nothing was happening, and you had to kind of breakthrough that.
The key for us is when we get the gut check parts in games. You go through six, seven games this season and they all had the same script. We'd lead by 1, lead by 2, lead deep in under 4:00 minutes deep into the game, and now you've got to make plays.
I think we'd stand and look at each other. Who is going to make it? Who is going to make the play? I'd try to emphasize, just make the defensive play. If you make the defensive stop and they don't score, we still win the game. We've been ahead in almost all of those games. That's why we tried to focus that.
If you look at our schedule, we have played I got to believe as many tournament teams as anybody in the country. 18 games against NCAA Tournament teams. We've played the Top 4 seeds. We have eight games against Top 4 seeds. From Ohio State two games, we beat Carolina as a 2, you played Texas, you played Purdue, you played Wisconsin, and we competed with those guys. Beat some of them, competed with them, overtime. So we're good enough. We've just got to find that new life and hope some balls bounce our way a little bit. Maybe March will be good to us.
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