Nebraska Press Conference Quotes
March 20, 2014
Tim Miles, Terran Petteway, Shavon Shields
March 20, 2014 - SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by University of Nebraska student‑athletes, Shavon Shields, Terran Petteway. We'll take questions from the floor.
Q. Terran, did you expect the culture to change at Nebraska as quickly as it did when you decided to transfer from Texas Tech?
TERRAN PETTEWAY: I did, but it wasn't all because of me. It was because of the coaching staff we've got. Those guys, the things they do day‑in and day‑out, even though they have families, they still dedicate a lot of time to us and to the program and to our players too. So I did expect it.
Q. What made you think that things would change as fast as they did?
TERRAN PETTEWAY: When I first got there, it was like everybody was willing to work. There was nobody that did not like working or did not like having workouts. We would always call coaches for extra workouts, extra practices, extra shooting, anything we could do to get better. Once I seen that, I knew it was going to be good. It was just a matter of when.
Q. Terran, what's it like for you to come home? Is it a pretty cool experience for you?
TERRAN PETTEWAY: I've got family coming Friday, so it's going to be fun, real fun.
Q. Shavon, I wonder if you could talk about the challenge of Baylor's zone defense and how you're going to have to try to shoot them out of it tomorrow?
SHAVON SHIELDS: Yeah, they're super long and sitting back in that zone. They've got a bunch of long athletes who are really talented. So we've got to get it inside. Can't settle for jumpers and just kind of work it inside and be aggressive.
Q. Terran, I wonder if you can go through how you ended up at Nebraska. What happened at Texas Tech that made you decide you wanted to leave, and who recruited you up there that kind of stuff?
TERRAN PETTEWAY: Things didn't go well for me at Tech. I don't want to get too much into it. I moved on from it. The reason I went to Nebraska is because Coach Miles and Coach Smith were one of the first coaches that recruited me out of high school at Colorado State.
So once I put in my request to transfer, they were the first people I called. I asked, did they still want me to play for them. They said yeah, and there was no more talking after that. I went to Nebraska, signed my letter of intent, and that's how it got done.
Q. Now that you guys are here, what do you guys do to handle the moment of an event like this and just keep guys focused in your role as team captains?
SHAVON SHIELDS: I just think enjoy the moment and stay in the moment because you don't know if it's going to come again. So just stay relaxed and don't blow it up more than it has to be blown up. At the end of the day, it's just another game that we need to prepare for and execute in order to win.
TERRAN PETTEWAY: I think like what he said, we ought to treat it like another game. It's the NCAA Tournament and our first time being here. But we've still got to treat it like another game. Because if you get overhyped and think about it too much, that's when you start messing up on game planning and your overall play. So we've got to be calm and do what we do every day.
Q. Wanted to ask real quick, what are you guys doing‑‑ because I know you're in the tournament and it's really serious. What are you doing to stay relaxed and stay chilled out?
TERRAN PETTEWAY: Really we've got a lot of jokesters on the team, so we've been cracking jokes a lot. So we're trying to do what we do every away game. Not trying to take it too serious. Everybody's not all serious on the plane and all serious on the bus; we're still having fun.
SHAVON SHIELDS: He pretty much hit it. We haven't really changed anything from our normal road routine. So it hasn't really hit me yet that we're at the NCAA Tournament.
Q. Obviously it's well‑chronicled that Nebraska has never won an NCAA Tournament game before. I wonder if you could just talk about what it would mean to the program if you were able to be successful while you're here?
TERRAN PETTEWAY: It's another step forward to where we want to be. We've already made the tournament. Now getting wins in the tournament, like making a deep run, that's pushing forward where we want to be for the program.
SHAVON SHIELDS: Yeah, it's really big. I don't think a lot of people thought we were going to be in this position this fast. So for us, I just kind of think we're learning as we go on. We just need to execute in order to win. I don't think we're really putting pressure on ourselves to win, because we weren't a part of the program for the first hundred years or so. This is just our time in the program, and we want to put a mark on it.
Q. For Shavon, Baylor had to win 10 of 12 to make sure they get in the tournament. I think you guys finished strong winning 8 of the last 10. What have you taken from having to play kind of play off postseason basketball for the last several weeks?
SHAVON SHIELDS: I think we just focused on what we needed to do and what we can control. That's really allowed us to go on this run. I don't think we put a ton of pressure on ourselves like we have to win this game. We have to win this game. It was more if we play hard, play together, play for each other and play unselfish, I think we'll be all right. That's kind of what led us to go on the run.
Q. You've played against Brady Heslip a couple years ago. What do you remember about him and how dangerous is he?
TERRAN PETTEWAY: Really, he's one of the best shooters in the country. He's shooting over 47% and he shot over 200 threes. I don't know anybody else that's doing that. He's a pretty good shooter. I remember playing him as a freshman. He was a good shooter then, and he still is now. We've just got to get to him and try to contain him on those three‑point shots.
Q. You made an interesting comment there about people maybe not expecting you to be this far along in the transformation. Does that give you a little bit of relaxation? Maybe doesn't make the pressure as much that you guys were in here playing with house money?
SHAVON SHIELDS: Not really. I don't think we look at it like that. We just kind of look at it as we're a team trying to play together and win games. I don't think it should be like blown out of proportion like that. We're just trying to execute and win.
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by University of Nebraska head coach Tim Miles. We'll ask Coach to make an opening statement.
COACH MILES: We're excited to be here. I know it's been a long drought for Nebraska. Our first trip in 16 years, I guess. Lee, you're the historian. Is it 16 or 15? 16. Our fan base is really energized, and we're just really pleased to put Nebraska back in the national tournament and go out and compete well and see if we can find a way to beat the Baylor Bears.
Q. It's only taken you a couple years to do this. Did this come as a surprise at all that it came this fast?
COACH MILES: When we were 1‑5 in the league I wouldn't bet you any of my money that we were going to make it. I just think that our guys really bought in. Once we started establishing ourselves, we had this little two‑game run at home where we beat Minnesota. We had already beaten Ohio State, and then we beat Indiana. I think just beating the blue bloods, you know, like Ohio State and Indiana, now you start thinking our guys, hey, we can do this.
I thought what was really interesting was that early in the year we looked like a bunch of guys trying to outscore the other team. By the end of the year, we were one of the better defenses in the Big Ten. We were number two in conference‑only games behind Ohio State.
If you would have told our guys that in November, November 22nd when we were getting our butts kicked in Charleston, South Carolina, they would have said, you're nuts. What sport are you talking about? So I think it's great that we've established an identity. We understand we have to win with defense. They're a hard‑working group. They hustle, and we've just found enough offense to be successful.
Q. Are you handling things exactly the same way that you did two years ago when you were here? What did you learn from that experience that can be beneficial for your guys this time?
COACH MILES: Well, I've been in the Division II national tournament. I've been in the NAIA days, they were great. You went to one site, 32 teams, five games in six days to get to the National Championship game. Those were‑‑ now you had to get ready all differently. This is a piece of cake compared to that stuff.
So, yeah, I just think I feel like we come into this with a business mentality, but I want the guys to enjoy the moment. But the idea is just not to get distracted. We practiced really well the two days before we got here. But now here comes the distractions. There's all kinds of fans. There is all this stuff, this great media stuff. And it's easy to get distracted, and it's easy to get ‑‑ start thinking about the other stuff. But when one of your players like Terran Petteway comes up and says, Coach, tonight 8:00 you're taking our phones, I think that's a pretty good mindset of one of your leaders on the team. A guy that's been voted captain by his teammates that they are locked in and they're here to win. That's what we set out to do.
When Tom hired me, Coach Osborne, I said this is what we want to do. We want to exceed expectations. We want to go to the NCAA tournament and win. It's never been done. It can be done. I've won in a lot of tournaments, but not in the NCAA, so I'm looking forward to one for me too.
Q. The more Baylor film you watch, do you feel better or feel worse?
COACH MILES: It depends on the second. They are so talented and have so much length, and they can make plays you don't anticipate. You think you've got a lay‑up, and all of a sudden they're blocking it off the backboard and going down and Brady Heslip hits the three, and you're like wait, wait, wait. We just ran a great play. Now we just lost five points. So there are just some things that you have to overcome mentally and deal with, and there is no doubt that's not going to go away.
I think Coach Drew has done a really good job with these guys. They've adjusted their zone and gone away from their man‑to‑man mostly. I expect to see a little bit of man. But they're playing a lot of zone. They change their zone depending on if you watch them play Iowa State, it looks one way. You watch them play Texas, it looks a completely different way.
I'm curious how they'll play us. We have a couple of different plans of attack depending on what they're doing, I think we'll be ready for it. It will help us, obviously, if we threw in a few outside shots on occasion. But we're excited about the match‑up.
Q. You're in this tournament like someone mentioned earlier, essentially on house money. You weren't expecting, necessarily, to be here. Does that make it easier or more difficult to plan for these games given that there wasn't a whole lot of expectation for this? And how do you parlay that into getting your team ready?
COACH MILES: The one thing about expectations is perception is reality, right? So as you look at expectations, we don't expect you're going to be very good. We don't expect you're going to make it. So it just depends on how you handle that. So with our team, we always have goals. Let's forget expectations. Our goal was always to make the NCAA tournament. Though it looked like when we were 1‑5, we were going to have to win the Big Ten tournament to do it. It was an interesting moment when John Beilein came out and told me I think you have as much talent as anyone in the league.
You look at your wings, and when I expound it‑‑ first of all, there are some guys that drip in your ear and tell you it's raining. They patronize you. John Beilein is not that kind of man. He comes and says you look at your wings, and you look at this, and I really like this guy, and you start looking at your team a different way sometimes, because as a coach, you only see your weaknesses. As fans when they're 1‑5 it's like here's the same old, same old.
So expectations, I think really can skew you the wrong way. But your goals are what you strive for. Your attitude every day is what really matters. Our goals never changed even when we were 1‑5. We wanted to be in the NCAA tournament.
So now that we're here, that hasn't changed. We know we want to win when we get here. So I really commend our guys. I don't think they've been on the happy‑to‑be‑here ride. I think they're like, let's do this, and let's show everybody we've got what it takes to win.
Q. When did you first know that Terran Petteway was as competitive as he is? Do you have any specific story or remember anything about that?
COACH MILES: I think last year in practice when he just drilled us every day on the scout team was a pretty good idea, muscle memory, you know, like a bad golf swing, right? That's like what I've got going that way.
But I remember seeing one of my assistants, I can't imagine he won't get 16 points a game in the Big Ten. He's going to get six in transition. He just accelerates so well. He's going to get fouled and make four or five foul shots, and he shoots all the time. So he's going to make a couple shots. So right there he's at 16. I just don't know how he doesn't do it. It's just a matter of how effective he is. If he makes good decisions with ball handling or whatever it might be.
You know, what's funny about him is he really hasn't gotten better at it, but he gets better at it every game. So he's terrible the first half and phenomenal the second half. Against some teams he's not very good. Against the top 50 teams, I think one of you guys wrote about how good he is. Against the top 50 RPI teams in the country, his numbers are ridiculous. So he's an interesting character that way. I haven't quite figured all that out. But I'm just glad we're playing somebody good. We've got no choice any more, so I'm figuring he's going to play really good.
Q. It's well‑chronicled that you guys have never won an NCAA tournament game. You're 0‑6 in your previous visits. What would it mean for the program and for you to be able to crack that streak tomorrow?
COACH MILES: I think it's more because I'm late to the party. I just got here. So I look at it like a great opportunity to‑‑ we just moved to the Big Ten three years ago. We built a state‑of‑the‑art practice facility that several NBA teams have come in to look at and model their own after. We look at our new Pinnacle Bank Arena where we go 15‑1 this year, and if you watch that thing at all at the end, it's as good an atmosphere as anywhere in the country. I mean, it is rocking. It's such a neat time.
Now to take that next step, get to the NCAA and win there, I think we just set ourselves apart from those old ghosts. Save those for the Chicago Cubs. Right? We're our own people, and we're going to do it the right way.
So when I look at things, I think it's just a great opportunity for us to re brand our program, reinvent Husker basketball and let our guys know that all of these guys bought into our program when we had what? Nothing. Just a cool gym, right? The other stuff was all iron and stuff like that. A coach that talked a lot, was a little bit jumpy, good assistant coaches.
But really, they had an excellent school, but no real basketball tradition, and they didn't really care about the spring football game. They wanted to be basketball players, and they wanted to build it.
So I commend our guys for loving that opportunity to be trailblazers and be those guys that are going to put Nebraska basketball back on the map and keep it on the map because that's what we intend to do.
Q. What made you think you could get it done in Nebraska? How much has that first recruiting class helped you kind of get it going?
COACH MILES: Well, I graduated number 7 in my high school class. There were 13 of us. So I'm just not very bright. So I just feel like I can get it done anywhere I'm going to go. It's this blissful ignorance that I'm just sticking with. That's mostly true. Although I'm not below average the way I thought I was. My accountant told me that there are actually six that graduated in front of me and six that graduated after me, which makes me actually average, which I still don't believe that. So I'm going with the mean or the median or whatever the heck it is that I'm below average.
The point is when you look at‑‑ it's been done with Danny Nee, it's been done with Joe Cipriano, and I think I have a won 20‑something in there too, Doc was close, Barry was close, it can be done. When you have the resources at a place like Nebraska, or if you've got a strong fan base, administrative support, and coaches that know what they're doing that can identify, evaluate and develop players, you can get it done.
Our administration gave me everything at our disposal to be able to go out and hire a good staff to recruit those kind of players. Then when you look at bricks and mortar, the training table, nutrition, strength and conditioning, Tim Wilson, our guys, 14 years in the NBA is phenomenal. We've just put together and had this great staff too.
But you can't always do that. Sometimes they don't give you the wherewithal to do those things. When I met with Tom, and Mark, and we talked about the challenges, the thing I talked about was you just can never say no to us recruiting, please. That requires building a strong staff and us being able to go anywhere at a moment's notice.
If you'll do that, we'll be successful. They've been great about it. Shawn Eichorst is a phenomenal AD that says get it done. Find a way. Don't be frivolous with your stuff, be reasonable and prudent because he's a reasonable and prudent dude. Then we're going to be.
But at the same time, when it comes to recruiting and travel, that gets expensive. We're going to go where we have to and do it right.
Q. You were talking about trailblazers. Did you anticipate Benny Parker and David Rivers being part of that core group of trailblazers back in November and December?
COACH MILES: I think they've been a pleasant surprise. I think Benny has been such a spark. He's equally as important as any of those guys scoring 15 or 16 a night. What he does for us defensively, what he does to insight an energy level, and he does, it's just ridiculous the energy level that our guys get from him on the floor making plays, then when he can create transition for us, it's amazing.
You know, Dave got benched because he wasn't rebounding, and wasn't a disruptive force in practice, didn't hang his head. He just kept practicing, kept playing hard. Finally, I just put him back in the lineup, and he really hadn't made great plays in practice. He comes in and he missed his first shot, and his second one just barely crawled over the rim. I forget it was like against Ohio State or somebody. And then he blocks a shot on Aaron Craft early in the second half. And I remember after the game saying, Coach, if Dave would have missed that shot that just barely crawled over the rim, were you going to pull him?
I said, yes. And they're like, that would have been the biggest mistake of all time, right? And I'm like, yes. So I'm glad there was a bigger force than any of us that made that ball go in, and thank goodness for it. Thank God for it, because Dave's been a real blessing.
Walter Pitchford, F, So.
On being in the NCAA tournament …
“I have been in this situation before, playing for the University of Florida, but to get to be here with this group and this program, I am blessed to be in this situation and the role that I am taking on with this team, is just awesome. We just have to lock-in and make sure we are focused and ready. We have to make sure we stay humble and look to see when our next game is, our next practice and our next opponent. All the other stuff is just the other stuff.”
On the key to their success…
“We just have to pay attention to detail and what Coach Miles tells us. If we just listen to him everything will be okay. Coach has been a big impact on us not only on the court but off the court. He wants to know what we are doing, as he is a father figure to us. That builds confidence in us and then when we get into practice or tough games we just have the highest level of respect for that man. He has been an huge impact on all of us.”
David Rivers, F, Jr.
On the challenge of facing a team like Baylor …
“It give a player like me a chip on my shoulder that people don’t think we can play with them. We can play with the best of them. They are a good team – long and athletic – and it is just a challenge we have to take on and embrace it and we are ready.”
On the importance of their coach…
“He deserves a ton of credit for our success this season. He deals with a lot of things all season and with our new players and our team being so young he has done a great job with us and giving every player a chance. He kept the same goal in mind the whole season and just told everyone to follow him, the leader, and good things will happen. When good things started happening everyone started realizing this was for real. He can get after us quick and doesn’t mind getting in your face but it is all for the end goal. I really believed that he would change our program based on what he had done at the schools before. Everyone bought into what he wassaying and here we are.”
On turning Nebraska into a basketball school…
“It has been great around campus. All the teachers and a lot of the students say they have been waiting for this time. I get all types of messages – Facebook and text messages – saying congratulations and good luck. It is a great feeling to be apart of something like this and changing the program. It is not something there everyone gets to be apart of, so I try to embrace it and just be humble about the whole situation.”
On San Antonio sites he would like to see…
“I want to take in the Riverwalk and The Alamo.”
Leslee Smith, F, Jr.
On being in the NCAA tournament …
“It is a great feeling. I have never been apart of something like this. I know a lot of my teammates probably have the same feeling. We just want to come out here and show the world that we can compete with the best of them and send a message.”
On the matchup with Baylor…
“I think it is going to be high intensity and lots of excitement in the air. We just have to keep our calm and play the game like we have been playing it. Just play hard.”
On is it a surprise to be here…
“I don’t think it is a surprise. I think we have proven ourselves in the Big Ten conference. They should know now that we can compete with anyone. I don’t think it will be a surprise if we win but more of disappointment to us if we don’t.”
On the challenge of playing Baylor and the physical play…
“I like the physical play. We just have to come out and play hard and not be afraid of their height. We know we are going up against a big team and we just have to compete. They rebound really well. They have a lot of athletic big guys that can shoot and they have a really good point guard.
“With the zone, there are a lot of gaps and I just have to get in those and use my fakes to get around the defense. To defeat the zone you have to get the ball below the free throw line and we have been working on that. It is going to be a physical game we just have to go out and execute.”
Tai Webster, G, Fr.
On showing the world what Nebraska basketball is all about…
“It is a great opportunity for us to show the world what we can do as no one is picking us to win. We have nothing to lose really.”
On being in the NCAA tournament and being from New Zealand…
“We got very few games in New Zealand but the few we did get down there I tried to watch them but we didn’t’ get much of the tournament on TV. This March Madness is crazy. I have never been apart of something so big in my life but it is a great feeling. It is a bit shell shocking really. I am just trying to get my head around the whole thing. I am young so it is a fun new experience for me.