Fran McCaffery Press Conference Transcript
March 6, 2012
Matt Gatens didn't make the All-Big Ten first team?
COACH McCAFFERY: I think the thing that you have to look at is, obviously, I thought he was a first team guy. I voted him there. I think that's where he belongs. He's one of the best five players in this league. That said, you look at the first team and say, okay, you take him out and you've still got a pretty good player, whoever that is. There are a lot of good players in this league. There is just no way around it.
Q. What about defensive team, did that surprise you more?
Q. You mentioned Aaron White not being a unanimous choice for all-freshman team; do you think it's because your team hasn't done --
Q. You said Aaron was a lock for the all freshman team, but do you think he had a little more pride that he was named honorable mention because that shows that the coaches are reorganizing him?
Q. Playing Illinois, what kind of challenges does Brandon Paul bring?
If he's really on, like he was I mean, he played well against us, but there are other games where he was spectacular like Ohio State. He's virtually unstoppable.
Q. How important is the rebounding and offensive rebounds? A couple times they had four shots; Meyers Leonard played a big role --
Q. Is there a benefit to just having played them recently?
Q. What about just being the first game that day? Is there any advantage or disadvantage to that?
Q. The headlines out of Champaign have been predominantly negative over the last month. Is Illinois dangerous to you because you know about their talent?
It's not like you look and say obviously they can beat anybody in our league. They beat Michigan State and Ohio State and played fairly well against Michigan. You look at Meyers Leonard, Brandon Paul have gotten recognition among some of the better players in our league. I've always been a big fan of Richardson. I think he's a terrific player and another dangerous scorer. I think Bertrand is a really talented sophomore who is capable of a big game.
I think one of the things that really affected their team at the time I think Maniscalco is a pretty good player, and he's been spending time. But Maniscalco is a fifth year senior, and he gives you another three point shooter. He had a bad foot and he struggled for most of that stretch of time. He's been pretty good since he's been back, so that gives them another guy. We've got our hands full and so does everybody else.
Q. Do you have more players on your team that have played multiple positions this year?
I think we could see Zach or Aaron play some three. Woodbury and Olaseni are probably straight posts. Then you look at the other guards that we have. I mean, they might play multiple positions with Ingram and Clemmons for sure. It will be a little bit of that, but maybe not as much as you think.
Q. What about Kyle Meyer?
He's a ball handling four, ball handling five. He can break the press. You think about Saturday's game and you think about the 1 3 1, and you need guys that can see over it and make plays. You could put him on the baseline; you could put him up top. He can split the gap and try he's really a good passer.
So that gives us probably going back to the original question, we just have a little more versatility with regard to moving guys around and absorbing injury and having the kind of depth to get through a long and grueling season in this league.
Q. What are your summer plans with the players?
I think there is some interest in Gabe playing for the British Under 20 team. That's a possibility.
Q. Seems like when Bryce is playing well, you guys play well --
I do think at one point his confidence was not what it needed to be. We tried to challenge him and then to back off from it to kind of help him through it. But our running game is so much better when he's out there. He's a good late game player so he's feeling the best he's felt in a long time.
Q. What do you think of his confidence?
When we struggled at the first half, he was on the bench in foul trouble. He scored four of the first five possessions against the 1 3 1 when he was out there. It was unfortunate for us and for him.
Q. How's Marble's hand?
Q. How's Eric May doing?
So he's given us what he can give us, and I appreciate that. He's a terrific competitor.
Q. Is Marble's play this season what you expected?
I talked to him about it on Sunday at length, because I just want him to be Devon Marble. Just attack, put your head down sometimes and shoot the ball without thinking is Coach going to yell at me if this doesn't go in? I never say anything to him if he shoots the ball. I want him to go shoot the ball, attack the rim. At the same time make the play for somebody else. It's not about you, and he's never been that kind of guy either.
So defensively is where he he's got to make the jump. Part of that will come with strength and stamina. When you're playing the minutes we asked him to play this year with Bryce's injuries, and by the way the pressure of Jordan Taylor and they'll pressure Soboleski and go on down the league, and Craft, and by the way go get us 15 and play 38, 39 minutes, that's hard to do. But he wasn't able to do that last year. So next year he's got to be a little bit better.
Q. Talk about Marble, he takes those huge shots and turns around like in the game at Wisconsin... so many good plays. Does that show you something?
He's usually pretty confident in himself, but that's what was surprising to me. It was a little concerning to be honest with you because I never had to deal with that with him. He said he was trying to be too perfect. As we all know, this is not a game of perfect, so you've just got to go make plays. If you turn it over, run back and guard your man. If you miss a shot, run back, make sure they don't score.
I think he could be a really good defender. The reality is ultimately he wants to get paid one day to play this game, and they're not going to pay him if he doesn't guard people. That's what I've told him.
Get down, get your feet apart and guard somebody. A great example of that is what Matt Gatens has done for us the last two years. He plays both ends. And Marble relies on his length and his instincts which are really good. So it might be a game that he had a good game defensively with four steals and five steals. But if you look at film, he doesn't lock in defensively like we need him to.
Q. May hasn't been himself?
Like I said, he's lacing them up and giving us some quality minutes, but he's not himself.
Q. What do you say to him going into this off season?
He's got to work a little bit on his perimeter skill and his ability to put it on the deck. His assist turnover numbers have to change, and he knows that.
So it sounds a little contradictory because we're saying he needs to work on his perimeter skills, but his assist turnover numbers have to improve. At the same time, he needs to be a runner, a jumper, a shot blocker and a traffic rebounder. You know, you're not a pick and pop three point shooter. You know, you're not a guy who is going to dribble extensively. But you've got to make a play, throw a bounce pass, make a play and throw a driving kick, which I do think he's worked on and gotten better at. He's got to be even better next year.
I think what we need to see from him is a more consistent player. He was much more consistent last year than he was this year, but this year he was spectacular at times, especially when he's blocking shots. I've said that before.
So he comes back in great shape physically and with the mindset necessary, he'll be a big factor of what we do next year.
Q. At this point in time, what are the chances of you signing a player here in the late period?
Q. Perimeter guys?
Q. Looking at high school seniors and JUCO's?
Q. Coach, Meyers Leonard is a pretty distinct player. Are you trying to play him straight up?
You can put Archie there, you can put Stokes there, you can put Brommer there, doesn't really matter. It's okay, this is what we're going to do, and typically we won't do any one of those things for the entire game. Just try to keep them guessing of what we're doing.
Q. Do you do anything much differently this week in preparing to play potentially so many games?
Q. Do you worry about being four games in four days?
Q. How is it from a physical standpoint to be able to just go move on and on in a tournament like that?
But it's one of those things where if you're playing well and you're playing intelligently and you're defending and staying with the game plan, and your key guys are doing what they're supposed to do and you're getting contributions from the bench, then it can happen. It's possible.
I don't look and say there is not a team in this league that we can't beat. There are some that we didn't beat. Let's be honest. But at the same time, I feel like we can play with everybody that's beaten us and have a chance. You've got to make shots, and you've got to be the smarter, tougher team on that day.
Typically it comes down to mistakes. Who is making the most mistakes? We have gotten better in that area as the season has progressed. We've taken better care of the ball and gotten better shot opportunities with a few exceptions.
Q. Josh played pretty solidly in the Illinois game. Have you figured out what to do with that starting spot?
So probably leaning toward starting Bryce, but they're both going to play about the same number of minutes either way.