Feb. 10, 2011
By Tyler Wooten
CARBONDALE, Ill. - Southern Illinois (11-14, 5-9) will travel to Creighton (15-11, 7-7) for a 7 p.m. game on Sunday at the Qwest Center in Omaha. The game will be televised on ESPNU at 7 p.m. CT.
Head coach Chris Lowery met with the media before Thursday's practice.
Q: "What has to be different against Creighton this time around?"
"We led for most of the game. We took some bad shots, and transition defense killed us in the last three minutes where we gave them some wide-open looks. We went into overtime and unfortunately we didn't finish plays off, and I think they were perfect in overtime. Finishing the game -- which, has kind of been the theme all year -- is something we didn't do."
Q: "What are your concerns with their front court without Gene (Teague)?"
"We struggled with them with Gene. A lot of it had to do with our transition defense that we gave up. That was just when he was coming back. The number one thing is that we just can't let them run wild -- we really have to challenge everything they do. We just went against a massive front line at Wichita, which is much bigger than theirs and has much more depth."
Q: "Can you talk about your own mismatch with Cartlton (Fay) and (Mamadou) Seck against them?"
"We have to utilize Seck's rebounding and pushing the basketball. We get a lot of transition stuff and he just brings it. Obviously, Carlton can space out and there's more driving angles, and we kind of took advantage of that at Wichita with Seck and him playing together."
Q: "Doug (McDermott) has really had a strong season for them -- what does he do really well?"
"He's very smart and efficient. He doesn't take bad shots, he takes shots he knows he can make. That's unusual for any true freshman to understand where you can make shots from and only take those shots. When your dad's there, they run a lot of plays for him, too, so that kind of helps. He's a good player, and he's been a first team All-Conference type of guy as a freshman."
"I think it has made us get locked in. I hope that's what the case is because we were very disciplined at Wichita. A lot of it had to do with them just getting away from here and believing in themselves, and that's the thing we have to continue to convey to them: trust yourself, trust in the system of what we're trying to do, and go from there. We know Carlton and Mamadou can score for us, but when you get 11 and eight from (Jack Crowder), we need that. One of those guards has to be in double figures with somebody else knocking on the door."
Q: "Can you talk about the change in Kendal (Brown-Surles) running the point?"
"There's more room there. He's taking advantage of it and he's playing with a level of confidence, and that's how we envisioned him being as a sophomore, as the guy who's going to run our team, the guy who's going to break people down, penetrate and pitch, and in the last two games he's really done that."
Q: "What are your concerns with Antoine Young? He's had some big games this season. Do you guard him differently this time?"
"Last time John (Freeman) did a great job on him. Unfortunately, John fouled out because he took some fouls guarding him. He (Young) is really playing well -- I think he's 24 and 20 (points) in the last two games. He's a scorer at the point, he looks to get things done. But you look at his assist-to-turnover, it's phenomenal in the league. He's just doing a great job, and it helps when you're throwing it to 55-60 percent field goal shooters and throwing to those bigs down there, and they're finishing. He has obviously matured into a really good player."
Q: "You talked about it being a 'six-game season.Did you essentially tell them to forget about everything and go play?"
"I think we did. We said we were 1-0 to make them focus on what was at hand. We've played with a good pace. If we can keep them at that pace and keep them going that way then who knows what can happen for us the rest of the way."
Q: "They score well at the stripe -- how important is it to keep them off of the free throw line?"
"It's important, but they're big. They play smashmouth basketball. They try to get everything on the inside or on drives, and we have to do a better job of taking charges and being in position so they see us in there before they try to throw it in."
Q: "How is John (Freeman)'s wrist?"
"X-rays were negative yesterday morning, so that's a plus. But, it's swollen and stiff. He has class today during our practice time. He's done some things earlier today, and he'll come back later to do some more stuff. We're just trying to keep him and his body at a high level and kind of let it heal itself. hopefully by the time we get to Creighton."
Q: "What does he mean to the short bench with the variety that he gives you to do some different things?"
"His leadership, he's older, he understands and he's done a great job all year long of being consistent and safe. He understands the plays that need to be made. Obviously, we're going to make sure he's healthy first, and then just get to the game."
Q: "How is Justin (Bocot) with the knee and the ankle?"
"I think he's better -- we hope he is. He's slowly but surely coming back. At this point, he's going to try to practice again today and see how it goes."
Q: "Has the morale of this team changed since that win?"
"I would hope. Anytime that you've struggled and you get a victory in a place where most people probably counted you out, I think mentally it helps your players."
Q: "Can Diamond (Taylor) play another 35 minutes?"
"He's going to have to at this point. He hasn't scored, but he's done the other stuff, which we needed him to do as a defensive stopper. He got a steal on their best guard late, which helped us to stretch the lead out. He's playing minutes and he's learning how to play on the fly, and that's good for him. We've waited all year for him to get valuable minutes, and now he's doing that."
Q: "He's a pretty good slasher -- has he taken advantage of his opportunities?"
"I think he has and he hasn't. I think he's still nervous. He's been off a year and a half, and that has a lot to do with it. But, the easiest thing for you to do is blend in when you're not comfortable with yourself, and I think he's tried to do that a little too much offensively."
Q: "The games are running out -- how important is it to get this one to try and stay out of the play-in game and get a split?"
"We're not even talking about that. It's a new season for them and we don't even want to think about that stuff, we want them to think one at a time and have some confidence going into Creighton. Other people are ahead of us. You can catch them if you take care of business."
Q: "Have the suspended players done what you want? Will they be eligible after this game?"
"They're not on the team right now, they're suspended. We'll just keep it at that."