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Northwestern-Michigan postgame press conference notes

How exactly do you put that game into words?

A Nathan Taphorn full-court pass and a buzzer-beating Dererk Pardon layup gave Northwestern a 67-65 win over Michigan on Wednesday night, sending Welsh-Ryan Arena in a frenzy and helping boost the Wildcats’ NCAA Tournament resume. The win was Northwestern’s 21st of the season, a school record.

Here what Michigan coach John Beilein, Northwestern coach Chris Collins, Nathan Taphorn, Vic Law and Dererk Pardon had to say afterward:

John Beilein

  • On the final play: “It had to be an absolutely perfect pass...Pardon’s not going to make that shot unless it’s a layup. Putting a man on the ball this time backfired for us. It reminds me of that Christian Laettner shot.”
  • On the strategy to not call a timeout on his team’s last possession: “With 10 seconds to go, my feeling is to let them play basketball. We did get a good shot, and Zack [Irvin] just didn’t get it to fall.”
  • On Northwestern: “I think they’re really good. If you have a .500 or better record in this league, you’re a really good basketball team.”
  • On Scottie Lindsey and Vic Law: “If you look at their numbers [Lindsey and Law], they haven’t been making open shots. Tonight, they really played well and made those shots. Chris [Collins] ran some great actions.”

Chris Collins

  • On beating Michigan: “What a great game. They’re all veteran guys and they’re so well-coached. I respect what Coach Beilein has done.”
  • On his mindset during the play: “It takes exceptional things sometimes. Coach James drew up the play, he’s like our special teams coordinator. Some of the assistants said we should play for overtime, but my instincts said no.”
  • On if Taphorn could solve a certain Chicago football team’s roster hole: “Don’t the Bears need a quarterback?”
  • On Taphorn’s heave: “We’ve never even practiced that play. Fortunately, there were a couple of timeouts so there was extended time to explain it. Guys got in the right spots, Nate threw a great pass and Pardon went up and finished it.”
  • On this week’s practices: “A couple of days ago, I challenged them and told them there was pressure. Anything good in life involves handling pressure, so we’re not going to skirt it anymore.”
  • On his family’s support: “[My dad]’s actually on the air right now doing the Boston-Cleveland game on ESPN. I know his phone was down in his pocket the whole time. My wife was here, my kids were here and my mother was here.”
  • On Vic Law: “You guys know, he’s been struggling with his jumpshot. He got a short pull-up the first play and then a layup. I thought he had a lot of energy tonight...He was the local guy who jumped on first and said he wanted to be here. For him to lead the charge today was great.”
  • On comparing the final play to the famous Christian Laettner shot which helped Duke beat Kentucky in the 1992 NCAA Tournament: “After the fact, I did. It was kind of surreal when the ball was up in the air. I was a little worried and thought it was going to go out of bounds and give the ball back to them...I felt like Jimmy V back in 1983, running around and looking for anyone to hug.”

Nathan Taphorn

  • On The Pass: “That was a play I’ll always remember, especially with it being my last week at Welsh-Ryan...We always mess around with those types of passes in practice. My goal was just to get it to the corner of the backboard, and I did.”
  • On what the win means for him, personally: “It’s a big night. Really surreal, still kind of settling in. I really couldn’t think of a better way to go out.”
  • On his immediate postgame reaction: “I was actually the guy that took Dererk down. I gave him the biggest hug and then I just felt a rush behind us.” That would be Northwestern students rushing the court.
  • On the plays that have stuck with him throughout his career: “[That Notre Dame loss] goes through my mind just about every day...When we lost to Michigan in the Big Ten Tournament last year, I went under a screen and then Duncan Robinson hit a three...Those two will always resonate with me.”
  • On assessing his time in Evanston: “This four years have not been the easiest, and I knew that coming in. but, grinding it out to this point has been awesome.”

Vic Law

  • On what the importance of the win: “This is the game that I committed here for. When I committed, everyone said there’s no culture there, why would you go there. I mean, how could you not be excited for this game.”
  • On his role in the final play: “My job was to just be a safety valve and get open. As soon as Dererk caught it, I was waiting for him at halfcourt.”
  • On him needing to get off to a good start: “In this game, it was important for me to go to the basket early. It’s hard to get in a rhythm when you start a game 0-for-3.”
  • On the team’s initial gameplan: “We knew that if we were going to get our offense going, we had to attack the rim.
  • On the Welsh-Ryan atmosphere: “This game has been sold out for a month now...Every time I play here, I feel like we have a lot of people supporting us. We have a homecourt advantage.”

Dererk Pardon

  • On the final play: “Coach James told me to set a double screen for Bryant [McIntosh] and Scott[ie Lindsey]. When i saw the ball coming out of Nate’s hands, I thought it was going out of bounds. Then, when I caught it, I realized the rim was right there.”
  • On what he did right after the shot: “When I shot the ball and the buzzer went off, I just ran and felt Scott grab me. Then, I was on the ground and after that, it was all a blur.”
  • On Vic Law getting back on track: “This was great for Vic. We just told him to stay confident. Once we said that, he knew what he had to do and he just executed.”