Dec. 22, 2011
Minnesota (12-1, 0-0 Big Ten) 63, North Dakota State (8-3, 1-1 Summit) 59
Williams Arena - Minneapolis, Minn.
December 22, 2011
Minnesota Head Coach Tubby Smith
On the game:
“Certainly this was one of those heart stoppers for us, like Maverick and Rodney said, we knew it was going to be a real battle if we didn’t (play hard). North Dakota state was going to bring out their best.”
On coming out slow in the first half:
“You just can’t simulate game-type speed, game-type intensity. You can see the fatigue set in early on our players because we just haven’t been getting it up and down the court like this.”
On Maverick Ahanmisi’s game tonight:
“He was on tonight. He played well. He played with a lot of poise. He played under control. He had one turnover that was a bad turnover but he was able to do some other stuff and help us out a lot.”
On Ralph Sampson III:
“He’s finally getting to the free throw line. Seven out of eight, we need him to do that more often. And when he does that, we really need to play off of him a lot more. He’s an excellent passer and I think he got enough touches tonight to be honest with you. There were times where it should have gone inside but it didn’t.”
On pulling out close games:
On if he was surprised at NDSU's rebounding:
"It just means that we’re a team that can fight through adversity and we’re a mentally tough team. We know how to stay calm. If we’re up on points, we hold the ball and take down the time and just keep control of the game."
"Yeah, a little bit. I felt like we were boxing out pretty good. They ended coming up with a lot of loose rebounds and a lot of long rebounds. That’s what I am going to have to work on...."
On hitting two three-pointers early:
"That really gave me confidence but other than that, I mean, our bench was really helping us out and they were just helping us, telling us what to do on the court, things like that, telling us how it’s going, telling us little things we don’t see or plays. That really helps a lot too."
On stepping up while Andre Hollins recovers from an injury:
"I feel like I can step in and fill that role, but I mean, we’re a team, so we’re going to need everybody. And being a Big Ten player, we’re really going to need to step up. Everybody’s going to have to step up."
North Dakota State Head Coach Saul Phillips
“It still feels hollow – losing stinks, there is no way around it. We had a lot of talk in and around Minneapolis the last couple days. We read the paper, you know: ‘It’s a tune-up before the Big Ten.’ And honestly we thought we were a little bit better than that. We thought we had a chance to come in here and win. I don’t hear any of that from Tubby and his team, and I don’t think anybody was trying to offend us by saying that, but quite honestly, we haven’t done anything in the past to do anything but be tabbed as a warm-up for Minnesota. We’re working toward changing that. We took a step towards that tonight, but ultimately it feels hollow. “
On matching up athletically with the Gophers:
“We’re athletic and our athletes are young. That gives us optimism for the future. We have guys that can make plays above the rim. We have guys that can run. A lot of that is a direct result of being able to recruit after being able to make an NCAA Tournament. A lot of these kids were recruited right after that Kansas game down in the Metrodome a couple years ago. I think my assistants did a wise job of selecting players. I think a lot of these kids have really bought into the dream, and that helps. Right now, we’re younger than some junior college teams, but again, the loss doesn’t feel any different because you’re young. That’s not an excuse. That’s our five out there, it doesn’t make any difference what age they are.”
On comparing Minnesota to the harder teams they’ve faced this season:
“They’re right up there. They’re athletic. Rodney can just jump out. They’ve got big guys. They’re probably one of the better defensive teams we’ve played so far. That caught us by surprise. It was unexpected for us right away, but we got a little better in the second half. They’re right up there at the top with the better teams we’ve played, they’re 12-1.”
On keeping up with the Gophers throughout the game:
“This is my third year, and this is the best team I’ve been on so far. We have a lot of athletes, play a lot better defense, and our record shows it. 8-3 with two losses to BCS schools. A lot of times this year we’ve been able to shut schools down defensively. We didn’t come up here expecting to lose. We came up here trying to win. We’re a very confident team. I don’t care who we play, we aren’t expecting a loss.”
On keeping up with the Gophers throughout the game:
“We have a lot of playmakers that can get a bucket when we really need one. That helps us out in crunch time.”
On what he takes away from playing a Big Ten school:
“I look at it as a good thing that we can go in there and play with anybody in the nation. It shouldn’t matter if we’re a mid-major school, we’re going out there trying to win every game. We’re playing, not just stepping on the court just to be here.”