EVANSTON — Chris Collins, Bryant McIntosh and Dererk Pardon met the media after Northwestern's 65-56 loss to Ohio State. There was a lot of talk about Northwestern's shooting struggles, and particularly those of Tre Demps. Both Collins and McIntosh also spoke about how important Alex Olah's absence is.
Here's what they had to say:
- Collins seemed pretty disappointed with his team's performance. "I expected us to play a better game tonight," he said.
- Collins said he thought Tre Demps was "pressing" a bit. "He's gotta relax a bit, and we've gotta take some pressure off of him."
- Collins: "Not having a guy like Alex [Olah], to just be able to drop it into the post and get some offense when things aren't going well has really put a lot of pressure on our two guards. Teams are really going after those guys, and making them take tough shots, and we've gotta find a way to get contributions from other guys." Sanjay Lumpkin and Scottie Lindsey combined for zero points, and Aaron Falzon shot 3-11. "Those are the guys that have to relieve some pressure off the two guards, because there's a lot on their shoulders right now."
- Collins said he thought McIntosh began to press at the end of the game too because he knew Demps had been struggling.
- Collins on Demps: "I thought there were some times where he could've got guys some shots. We want him to be in attack mode, I don't wanna rob him of that, but I think there were some opportunities... This was the second game in a row where he did not have an assist. And really, when he was playing well, not only was he scoring, but he was getting assists. We've gotta get him back to that."
- Collins: "They were really trying to take the three-point line away, so you gotta drive the ball. And when you do drive the ball, you gotta score. They altered a lot of shots, and we were 8-15 at the free throw line."
- Northwestern began conference play with a road win, and then two losses to good teams, just as it did last year. Last year, those losses were the start of a 10-game losing streak. When asked what he learned from that, Collins said, "you can't get discouraged. You've gotta try to avoid the extended losing streaks, where you get yourself really out of touch with the rest of the league... You've gotta stop the bleeding. I don't want to draw upon [last year] too much because it's a new year, new group, but we had a chance to stop the losing streak five or six times, and... we had a number of close losses. The one thing you can learn from experience is, you gotta hate losing, and put whatever you can into that next game."
- Collins on Demps: "All really good scorers go through times when you aren't shooting as well. You gotta relax, and focus on other things. That was a big part of my game when I played, someone who was supposed to make shots. I always found myself, when I would go on a shooting slump, the best thing to do was forget about my shot and try to focus on other areas. Can I get some rebounds? Can I take a charge? Can I get somebody else a shot? Sometimes if you get your focus off of that, the shot comes to you in rhythm and you start knocking them down."
- Collins: "Joey [van Zegeren] and Dererk [Pardon] are doing a great job, but right now, Joey's an activity guy, and Dererk's more of an energy guy as well — offensive boards, putbacks. It's hard to loosen a defense when you can't drop the ball into the post. That's an element of our offense that's been taken away... That's why there's a lot of pressure right now on Bryant and Tre. Teams are forcing them to make plays... They're not only playing against one player, they're playing against two a lot of times."
- Collins said there is no timetable on Olah's return, and said he "highly doubts" Olah will be able to play Saturday against Minnesota. "He's getting better, he's progressing, it's just that we wanna make sure he's in a place where we can't do further damage," Collins said.
- Collins said his team has to be a "blue-collar, desperate team" against Minnesota on Saturday, "because that's what they're going to be."
- Pardon said he often tries to guess where offensive rebounds are going to go. Seven of his 14 rebounds were on the offensive glass.
- Pardon said he's accepted his role as an energy big.
McIntosh looked pretty down, and worn down, after the loss. Here's what he had to say:
- McIntosh agreed with Collins, and said he felt like he was pressing towards the end of the game.
- McIntosh: "Without Olah, it's tough. Tre and I are asked to do a little bit more as far as scoring, and it's tough. Teams are trying to take us away, and they're doing a good job of it, making us take tough shots."
- McIntosh praised the play of Pardon and van Zegeren, but called Olah an All-Big Ten center.
- McIntosh: "It's mental, guys are starting to question their shots, like, 'it doesn't feel right.' It's a mental thing."
- McIntosh: "Towards the end, the last two minutes, I thought I was a little worn down, but I think that's just because we were pressing, and I was pressing on offense a little bit." McIntosh said that it's definitely more difficult playing that many minutes against a physical team like Ohio State. "You take a beating, and it wears you down throughout the game. They were picking me up full court. That's what good teams are gonna do, they're gonna put a guy 94 feet on me, and make me work for it, and over time, that'll take its toll. So we've gotta do a good job of having Tre bring it up every once in a while and relieve the pressure off me."
- McIntosh said it is a bit tough to replicate the pick-and-roll chemistry that he's developed with Olah with van Zegeren and Pardon. "Olah and I have been doing a pick-and-roll now for a year and a half to two years, so we just have an understanding of what one another wants to do with it. And we've played long enough against these teams that we kinda know what they're trying to make us do, and how to counter it," he said.