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Northwestern Basketball Practice Notes: Feb. 27

Chris Collins, Bryant McIntosh and Alex Olah spoke Friday on a variety of topics, including Olah's new block record, how many threes McIntosh has made in a row and of course, the zone.

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Bryant McIntosh, who was out on the practice floor 15 minutes before any teammates joined him:

On the upcoming Illinois game: "We've got to handle ball screens better because that's a lot of their offense. It's something that we guards have to take personal, on that end. Just getting through them and that will take them a little bit out of their offense and what they want to do."

On how many consecutive threes he has made in practice: "42."

On how many consecutive threes he has made in practice in front of teammates: "24."

On playing Indiana, the team that wouldn't recruit him: "Early on, I had a little bit of nerves. But I think that once the game started getting going, I think I was alright."

On changes within the team since the winning streak: "Coach started a clean slate. He's made some huge changes for us and I definitely think it had paid off if you look at how we've played on both ends of the floor. He's changed how we practice, we are a little bit more loose in practice and everything and then in the game, he made some big in-game adjustments, going to a 2-3 zone which I think has paid off quite a bit for us."

On how the 2-3 zone has helped: "It allows Alex to stay closer to the basket. He can play more minutes. He is the quarterback and he doesn't have to come outside the paint and I think that's big for him so he doesn't have to worry about staying with the quicker guards on ball screens. That's what's paid off the most."

Alex Olah:

On his blocks record: "It's cool to be the all-time block leader. It's a good accomplishment. I hope I can still build on it, I still have one more year. It feels awesome."

On the zone: "The guards trust that there is somebody behind them who can protect the basket. I'm the voice down there. I'm kind of the quarterback of the defense, like coach says. I always talk, I tell them what is going on behind them where they can't see and I protect the basket."

Chris Collins:

On JerShon Cobb: "JerShon is out tomorrow, unfortunately. We've been targeting hopefully him being ready for senior night." Senior night is Tuesday against Michigan.

On the upcoming Illinois game: "They're a tough team. Now they're even better because the first time we played them, they didn't have [Rayvonte] Rice so now adding Rice back gives them another scorer, another proven, really good player at this level. They're always very well prepared. John [Groce] does a really good job game planning, having his team ready to play and they're really good with their energy at home. When you watch them on film, they really feed off their crowd and have a little bit more pop, especially on the defensive end. It'll be two good teams playing well."

On potentially introducing new wrinkles in the zone defense: "It's just like man to man. You prepare the best you can for what teams have done against it and then, like anything, the more you play something, the more comfortable you get in the rotations. Every game we've played, teams have added a few wrinkles to try to throw against it and we've had to adjust on the fly during the games. Some things have been very successful against it and we've made some adjustments. That's kind of how it goes when you're playing zone. This has simplified it for our guys. For a young team, I think it's really helped our guys."

On Tre Demps' new efficiency: "Early in the year, he wanted to play well so much, sometimes he could force it a little bit and now he's letting the game come to him. He's a lot more efficient. He's taking good shots. He's learning how to trust his teammates more, when people do double him or take him off his spots."

On the team's new energy: "A lot of teams, this time of year, they're wanting it to be over and the thing I'm excited about is our guys aren't. They're excited. They want to keep playing. It shows how far we've come throughout the course of the season."

On the music the team plays now during practice: "I like when they play some of the old-school R&B kind of stuff. Some of this new rap stuff, I don't understand some of it so it's definitely the players who choose it."