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Northwestern-Illinois Press Conference Notes

Chris Collins and John Groce break down Tuesday’s game

Northwestern (20-8, 9-6 B1G) fell to Illinois (16-12, 6-9 B1G) by a score of 66-50 on Tuesday night at the State Farm Center in Champaign, Illinois. The Wildcats couldn’t get anything going offensively despite solid first-half performances from McIntosh and Pardon. With the loss, Northwestern sits a half game above Michigan State in the Big Ten standings. Here are some notes from the post-game press conference:

Chris Collins

  • On Illinois defense: “They did a good job of rotating guys and trapping [McIntosh]. We’ve got to get him some help. I thought they were really good on both ends. Even when they weren’t scoring, we’re a pretty good defensive team, but I thought they were cutting hard, they were screening well. I just thought they were really sharp tonight.”
  • On Scottie Lindsey improving: "He needs to get in the gym every day and keep working. He didn’t do anything for three weeks so I think it’s real simple there, he’s gotta get games under his belt."
  • On moving forward: “We came off of a good home win on Saturday, we had a tough one tonight. We’ve got a few days to regroup and I think you just have to have a fresh approach to each game. I don’t think you can have carryover in this league. I think win or lose, you’ve got to get back tomorrow, get on the practice floor, we’ve got a few days to regroup before we go on the road again against Indiana. But we need to play a lot better, there’s no question.”
  • On the second half collapse: "Bryant was tired in the second half. In the first he did everything and we couldn't get anyone else going. Vic Law was in foul trouble and we couldn’t get anyone else going. His foul trouble obviously hurt us. Isaiah Brown made a couple of shots there in the first half, but not being able to get anyone else established put a lot on Bryant."
  • On the second half cont.: "I think Illinois played good defense, and when we did get some open shots, we didn't make them. We missed a couple of free throws during that drought and some open threes during that drought, and we couldn’t get anything going. But Illinois played good defense, so I think it was a combination of those two.”
  • On Illinois’ younger guys: “Their energy was definitely felt. They’ve got some speed, they got some blocks, they got in passing lanes, I thought they played with some really good spirit. And you saw with some older guys, they sense that this is the end. You can sense an urgency in them. These are the last couple weeks, they want to finish this thing right and keep playing well, and I respect that. I thought they played well, I really do. They were very sharp and confident and did a lot of good things.”
  • On the offense: "We gotta get more baskets out of Pardon, get Law and Scottie going. I've gotta be better offensively."
  • On keeping the team focused: "This time of the year is when you get excited. It's not a marathon anymore. You have three regular season games left and then whatever you earn after that you’ve gotta earn, but I hope that our guys will be excited about that.
  • On keeping players fresh down the stretch: “We’ve got some guys that have been logging a lot of minutes, we didn’t log a lot tonight though. Guys got into foul trouble so they weren’t playing 40 minutes, so I don’t know that it was, we didn’t have that fight that we usually have, and when you play a team that’s fighting the way Illinois is fighting, they’re going to make you look bad if you don’t match that and we didn’t match that tonight."

John Groce

  • On his team’s defense: "Our defense put us in a good position to win."
  • On Northwestern: "I feel blessed, they're a good basketball team. They’re good defensively. I thought our guys from a toughness perspective answered that challenge. We competed on the glass well, and when you defend and rebound well you give yourself a chance. What stood out for me was our defense, our rebounding. I thought we really connected on both ends of the floor."
  • On second half defense: "[Northwestern] missed some they probably usually make. Five made field goals is pretty fortunate there, we just tried to make it as difficult as possible."
  • On Te'Jon Lucas: "Certainly he's got good quickness. What I will tell you is he's a tough dude."
  • On intensity moving forward: "All I've talked about with them is honoring the process. They really answered the bell tonight. When they wake up tomorrow we've gotta take a look at this one, see what we could do better."
  • On building off back-to-back wins: "We’ll have a great practice tomorrow, watch some film. I wish there was some fancy formula but it's all about honoring the process. The bye week definitely helped us but we've still got a long way to go."
  • On Te'Jon Lucas cont.: "He's starting to get more comfortable offensively and just with experience. He has good vision and can pass and he’s good with the ball, but his best attribute, especially after missing summer and fall, is his toughness."

Illinois Players

  • Malcolm Hill on defense: "We did a good job of carrying over from last game. We wanted to make it tough for their better scorers to get easy looks."
  • Maverick Morgan on energy and intensity the last few games: "We haven't changed our mindset, but it's been something that we've been focusing on. Everyone's been working really hard and it's been working for us."
  • Hill on defense cont.: "We did a great job of being physical on defense and it allowed us to play with a lot of confidence on the offensive end."
  • Te’Jon Lucas on his maturity and the confidence his coach has in him: "I definitely respect him letting me play with two fouls, but it was the coach's decision.”
  • Morgan on building on two straight wins: "First off, it's honoring the process. Only a finite number of people know what we've been doing behind the scenes. Taking it one day at a time is when we play best."