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Northwestern-Illinois press conference notes

Chris Collins said the turnovers down the stretch cost the Wildcats.

Photo by Ian McCafferty

In what was a sloppy game throughout, Northwestern fell 68-61 at the hands of in-state rival Illinois Tuesday night, suffering what could potentially be a costly blow to the team’s resume at the end of the season. Bryant McIntosh scored a game-high 21 points, but it took him 20 shots to do so. The Wildcats were 6-of-20 from three and turned the ball over 14 times in the defeat. Here’s what John Groce, Chris Collins and Dererk Pardon had to say after the game:

John Groce

  • “Obviously that was a heck of a game. They're really good. They play both ends offensively and defensively. I feel very fortunate for us to win. You can't control outcomes, but I did tell my wife today that I we’d play well based on our preparation and our mentality.
  • On winning after losing three straight games in a week: “What we were missing a little bit last week was some shot making. The ball went in, that always makes you a little bit better.”
  • On the staying in the game after a cold-shooting opening new minutes: “I thought the key stretch of the game was the beginning. Our defense continued to work, and that gave us the chance to hang around.”
  • On Te’Jon Lucas: “I thought today was his most complete game, he worked really hard defensively all game on a really good offensively player in McIntosh.”
  • On Michael Finke: “Finke earned more minutes today. He was great with his hands, he was active. He made timely shots for us, he was locked in defensively.”
  • On bench production: “Our bench was huge. I thought we got contributions from everybody that played today.”
  • On the importance of the game: “Obviously its a rivalry game. At the same time, its an important game for us after last week. We just didn't make shots last week.”

Chris Collins

  • On the loss: “Certainly a tough loss for us tonight. Give Illinois a lot of credit, they made a lot of plays in the last three minutes. We got the three-pointer there out of the timeout, and give them credit for hitting a big shot, but I think we had five turnovers from that point on. We just weren't able to finish the deal. I thought our turnovers were really costly, we weren't able to get a shot at the basket the last few possessions there. Tonight wasn't a great night, gotta just keep playing, plugging along.”
  • On Bryant McIntosh: “Theres a lot on him now. Take 16 points out of the lineup thats gonna happen. I thought he played admirably. Im sure there was some fatigue involved at the end.”
  • On the team’s mentality throughout the game: “We just kept saying relax, its a long game. I actually felt good going into the half, that it was tied up.”
  • On the players after the loss, and the Big Ten: “They're down. They put a lot into this game, they wanted to get back on the winning track, but that didn't happen. We also started 1-2 in the league. Everybody is good. When you don't play well you can lose to anyone. I just think we need to play smarter, I thought our effort great. With Scottie out your margin for error is smaller.”
  • On the team’s offensive execution: “I just thought we took some rushed shots. I think we just put our heads down and got some tough shots. When we did execute I thought we got good looks. For a while we just didn't hit shots.”
  • On Sanjay Lumpkin: “I played him more as a wing in the second half. I thought he played hard and well defensively, but we gotta find a way to get more out of offensively.”

Dererk Pardon

  • On the players’ mentality going forward: “We have to keep our composure, Its a long season.”
  • On the team’s offensive execution: “Coach Collins does a good job of calling the plays, we just gotta execute them. Sometimes you just don't hit shots.”
  • On the shooting of the Illinois bigs: “They hit some tough shots. Sometimes you just have to tip your hat.”