Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

Postgame Quotes: Nebraska vs. Northern Illinois

By NU Athletic Communications

Nebraska Head Coach Tim Miles 
About the three-point attempt for NIU at the end of the game
“Yea, I’m glad they didn’t make it. That game needed to end.”

On the situation at the end of the game to defend the three
“Too early to foul in that case. I don’t like it when you have 7.6 on (the clock). I just worry about, as they come down, and now it’s at four or three (seconds) if you pick them up and they get a chance to get into their shooting motion. Let’s just trust our defense and trust. I’m not saying that we wouldn’t foul, but I just think in that case that’s what we should do.”

On the trust he had in his defense down the stretch
“I felt better, and I felt confident in our zone. I felt confident in our man. What I didn’t want was to double the post. I didn’t want to have to get into rotation and that’s what we would have needed to do. But I didn’t think that was going to solve the problem. So, I thought maybe one way to stop them was maybe to go some zone, and we caught them in a lineup, a lineup without a bunch of shooters. So, we were lucky to get some stops with some shooters in there.”

On it being too close for comfort in the end
“I’m very disappointed we let them back in the game, but more the way we let them get back into the game. We got careless. We we’re starting to worry about the highlight plays and missed some free throws. We just had some turnovers that were uncharacteristic of this team. At one point, I swear we had something like 7 assists to three turnovers and then it ended up at 10 assists and 16 turnovers, and that’s just bad basketball. You can’t afford to play like that and be successful. Just the way it was once we got a lead disappointed me, but you know, those guys needed to be in a game like that. Loss aversion is a big deal. If you’ve ever read the book Scorecasting when you think you’ve got the game won, you take ownership in it and here they come and all of a sudden you see performance change. Our guys need to understand that you need to stay on the attack, stay aggressive and you have to go out there and do your job.”

On what troubled NU with the way Northern Illinois played defense in the second half
“Really did about the same man-zone kind of mix, but they pressed us a little more in the second half of course and sometimes press slows you down. I’d say that factor slowed us down. But at the same time, I think that with them coming back we got a little jumpy, and we wanted to slow down and that’s a natural tendency in guys to just ‘okay let’s calm down and just stop’, but we’re best when we are on the attack early in the possession and can attack. I tried to run more motion early, but I thought it was mixed results until we made that whole run probably six minutes into the first half. And then when it just hung at eight or nine the whole time, I’m like this is not good. We’re not stretching this out and even when it got to 13 it didn’t feel like we stretched it out a whole bunch. (Northern Illinois Head Coach) Mark Montgomery has done a real good job. He took over the last RPI team and then last year they played in a lot of tight games, they played in a few of two-or-three possession games and they are smarter and playing better and they’ve done a nice job. He worked for (Michigan State Head Coach) Tom Izzo for a long time and you can see that Michigan State mentality in those kids and they are going to have more success than people predicted this year.”

On the foul trouble the Huskers got into
“Yea, we have to have those guys in the game. We have to be able to play well and play hard without fouling. We didn’t do that. Shavon was essentially a non-factor because he was either with fouls or out of the game. I put him back early because I trust him but he fouled out four seconds after that and that was a mistake on my part of course, but I just trust that kid.”

On the bigger spark plug: Deverell Biggs or Leslee Smith
“Well tonight I’d have to give it to Deverell Biggs. Leslee has been more consistent. Deverell’s biggest issue has been defensive discipline. He’ll just kind of go on his own page and you can’t have that. That’s why he is where he is. Offensively, he really brings a lot to the table. But we’ve got to get him locked him defensively. And we’ve got to get Tai Webster locked in on both sides, too. I don’t think he played a very good game tonight. I think he will get better. But that’s freshman growing pains and you have a week off of school, you get in that mind frame, that laissez faire thing and I think he’ll be better, but Deverell was really the spark tonight.”

On Webster beating himself up after missing free throws
“You could see his body language out there. The guy’s sighing, breathing deep, he’s got his hands over his head. But, I felt like I would just let him twist in the wind. I brought him in after one of them and told him ‘Tai, it’s just statistically impossible you are going to miss the next two, so just shoot them with one motion and you’ll make them and you’ll be fine.’”

On the importance of a game like this before two big contests next week
“I would have liked to play better and be ready for next week. But this is just the state we are in. We’re a team that is going to learn slow but sure. I’m glad we hung on to win the game. I was disappointed we didn’t finish the game out when we had our biggest lead and have it end up bigger than that. We just got to get everybody on the same page and we’re not. We have to get there sooner than later because it’s a huge week. Miami of Florida, Jim Larranaga is a great coach. He is a Hall of Fame-type guy and he’s already made adjustments with his team and he’s playing a different way than he’s started off the year. He’s going to consistently win in his league and it’s pretty interesting to watch. Greg McDermott is doing a great job over at Creighton and they have the team of a lifetime. That team is as good of a Creighton team and I’ve watched Creighton forever and I’m not an expert but that looks like a great, great team.”

Junior Forward Leslie Smith 

On Adjusting After The Start
"I think the problem was we just were not paying attention to the scouting report and guys got into their comfort zone. I think we finally just played more of what they told us to do, play on their right and left shoulder, and eventually we got some misses. We didn't finish the plays. They got some offensive rebounds that transitioned into some easy buckets, so that was one problem that we couldn't handle right away." 

On The Foul Trouble
"It changes things a little bit because you cannot play as aggresive. You have to let guys have their way a little bit more and it takes away a little bit of the aggression. Shavon and I were out, and he ended up fouling out right when he got back into the game, so it really does that that aggression out of the game. So you have to play a little bit behind."

On Coming off the Bench
"Coach Miles and I had a meeting before the Charleston Classic, and I told him I really liked coming off the bench. We don't really have a lot of bigs that can come in and have an impact on the game. So, I told him I don't mind coming off the bench and being the energy guy and getting the rebounds and scoring a little bit, I just want to play that role." 

On Moving Forward
"We are going to take this game as a learning point and see the mistakes we made as well as the good things we did and make some corrections. We will have to get better in these next coming days and get ready for Miami and Creighton."

Sophomore Forward Terran Pettaway

On The Mood In The Locker Room 
"It was not down, but we do know that it was an ugly win. We have to stay with it and get better. It was not a pretty one that is for sure, we are not too down or not to happy. We just have to grind through it and that is what that game was, a grind, but we found a way to get the win."

On The Difference Between The Halves
"We came out too laxed, too careless. We have to come out with the same intensity that we do in the second half and then I think we will be alright. There are still things we have to work on but we will get it."

On The End Of The Game
"Always when it is a single digit lead, three points with eight seconds left, that is too close. I don't think anybody would be comfortable with that lead."

On Switching to Zone
"A little bit, but I think we adjusted to it a couple of possessions down. It through us off a little bit but we figured it out."

On Team Foul Trouble
"We keep getting the little 'ticky-tack' fouls. We will take a hard good foul, but not those 'ticky-tack' ones. That is what is hurting us right now. We have to keep our hands off them when they are driving. Especially with that new rule, no hands on them when they are driving. We just have to get used to that."

On The Next Few Games

"I think this game is just getting us ready for our big games next week. We have two big games with Miami and then Creighton who is ranked and Doug McDermott, who is one of the best in the nation. So we just have to practice next week and get ready for them." 

Northern Illinois Coach Mark Montgomery
On the comeback
"Good things started to happen when we hit our free throws. We were down, and I thought we had good shots but unfortunately we couldn't make them early. I never felt like they (Nebraska) got away from us. Even though they got up 13 on us, it was a possession here and a possession there. I thought we really out played them in the first 10 minutes of the game. But unfortunately they were up at halftime, but I like how our guys hung in there, big-big jump with Threloff coming off the bench. They were having trouble guarding him inside, getting 18 points, which were huge." 

On the opening 10 minutes of the game, what went wrong when NU had a 8-2 run
"Their players made some plays and unfortunately we didn't respond, but I thought we responded great in the second half. Credit our guys. When you look at the box scores of all the other non-conference opponents that have come here, they lost by 18+ points. We had a chance there with I don't know, eight seconds to go, to tie the game and force overtime. Our guys didn't back down. We hung together and we overcame some adversity. We just need a bounce here and a bounce there and it would have been really interesting."

On if the game was called a little tighter in the second half
"Well they were calling it closely and that is how they are going to call it this season. I thought it was fair on both sides, you know you  just want more on your side, you know one more call, one more charge, one more foul. But you know what, we got to the foul line 28 times and they went 33 times, and anytime you can go on the road and rebound--which was a big key, that was 33 (38) to 38. I thought at halftime, we had 10 turnovers and we ended with 16. Four of our turnovers were in the first half, a few charges and a hook in the post, so it is an interesting game but I thought our guys battled." 

On playing at Pinnacle Bank Arena
"Well I don't know about you, but when you have 15,000 people here yelling at you, you know how officials can get, they can let the crowd get to them and that affects you. When you have people in the building, our guys hung in there and battled. They gave themselves a chance to win in our first true road test. In the MAC conference, there are not too many places where you are going to be playing in front of 15,000 people. I told our guys after the game I thought they battled for 40 minutes. They set the bar. This is the bar that it doesn't matter if we are playing home or away, we are going to battle for 40 minutes to give ourselves a chance to win." 

On Nebraska's bench points
"Well Biggs sat out the first few games, and Smith really got going down in Charleston, we know he was going to be a big body and probably their biggest body on the court. He made some good plays around the basket. Coming in, we had a bench and they had a bench and they had some capable guys, I thought we stood up and played as hard as we could. I just think our defense kept us in it. In a tough environment, all you can ask for is with five minutes to go, you are in reach to steal the game. We had our chances, after we got it to one, unfortunately the basketball gods were not on our side today, they hit their free throws to close out the game." 


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