Coming off a stunning win over Michigan two days earlier, the Wildcats were back at practice Thursday, preparing for their Big Ten regular season finale Saturday in Iowa City against the Iowa Hawkeyes, who Northwestern upset in Evanston a few weeks ago. Chris Collins, assistant coach Brian James--who drew up the play that got Tre Demps open for his three forcing double overtime--and Bryant McIntosh, recovering from a sickness, all spoke:
- Collins, on giving James free reign to run the Demps play at the end of the first overtime: "James [who coached with Doug Collins in Detroit, Washington and Philadelphia in the NBA] is our side-out-of-bounds guy. The NBA is a side-out-of-bounds league. He has experience with that and has a million of those kinds of plays."
- Collins said that play was one "we hadn't particularly run" before. He admitted to the importance of the coaches drawing up plays at key moments but noted that "the guys have to know what to do, if you're out of timeouts, without you drawing something up."
- Collins said it took him and his assistants "a couple of hours" to process the craziness of the Michigan game. "We were here for awhile, as a staff, just reliving it all. I've been a part of crazy games, and that was right up there. The shot-making on both sides was incredible. We thought we had control in the first overtime while up five, and then a minute later we were down five. Both teams just came up big and made a lot of big shots."
Full video of Collins' comments, including interesting notes at the end about the zone incorporating some more man-to-man principles:
- James, a veteran NBA assistant coach, coached Chris in high school at Glenbrook North and is one of his top helpers on the sideline. After leaving the high school ranks, he moved on to the big leagues, and said the play he called to get Demps open for a game-extending three was "one I had used before in the pros but hadn't used here this year or since I've been here. Hadn't really tried it."
- James stressed how the play depended on a multitude of factors, including time left, score, who's shooting well, etc. Originally, James had another play in mind but "it just worked out. I was going to draw up a different play, then changed and thought this might work and it did."
- When our own Henry Bushnell asked James if this was a play that could be ran with less time remaining, he said no, citing how "you have to be able to make two passes. The clock doesn't start, obviously, [until someone touches the ball] so you need to be able to make another pass before getting the shot off."
Bryant McIntosh, Northwestern's regular starter at point guard, also spoke. He was sidelined from practice for much of this week with an illness and was clearly not himself in the Michigan game. He said he's feeling much better: "Now, I'm able to eat the past couple of days. I think that affected me, because I was in bed so much, I wasn't able to eat a lot and it affected my energy."
He also talked about the upcoming matchup with Iowa and that he thinks he'll "be ready to go" on Saturday: "We've gotta find shooters. They've been playing well since we played them last--I think they're 5-0 or something--and we have to keep them out of the lane and make sure we rebound."
McIntosh mentioned how the game will be Iowa's Senior Day, meaning the last home game for stud forward Aaron White: "I know, just like our seniors, he doesn't want to lose on his Senior Day. It's going to be tough, going to be a fight."