THE MODERATOR: We’ll start with an opening comment from Coach Matta.
COACH MATTA: Well, obviously a tremendous win, and as we just talked in the locker room, we weren’t as mentally ready to play the game as we should, and I think I’ve been trying to sugar coat it with the guys, but 10 days off at this stage, we didn’t have especially defensively, the things that we needed to do, the adjustments we needed to make throughout the course of the game. To their credit, they kept playing obviously until the buzzer.
Hopefully this game can shake us some of the cobwebs out and get us back on track. I thought at times we did some great things. I thought Michigan played really well. Douglass got going, Harris got going, Sims was going early, and proud of them for continuing to play, and obviously he hit a huge shot there at the end, and we’ll play again tomorrow.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for David and Evan.
Q. Evan, with only 2.2 seconds left on the clock, was the play we saw the only play you guys had drawn up, you just get it down as quickly as possible and get it off before the clock expired?
EVAN TURNER: Yeah, definitely. I think, as coach said, did a great job drawing up a play. Kind of similar to a play from last year except it was from the opposite side. It was just a play where it somebody trapped me I could throw it up the courts. It was a great play, and it was a good shot, and we had a little bit of luck.
Q. I have a question about that play in particular. You see a lot of teams when they have 2.2 seconds kind of rush up a shot. Have you worked on that in practice knowing that 2.2 seconds actually is kind of a long time where you can take a few dribbles?
EVAN TURNER: 2.2 seconds is a long time. They did a great job throwing the pass. Jeremie Simmons did a great job of creating a diversion and I was just trying to get the ball up and get it in shooting range and keep my follow through, and it went in.
Q. Evan, your release came with .2 seconds on the clock, so how conscious were you of the remaining time as you were coming up the court?
EVAN TURNER: I was really conscious. I was very conscious. What my coaches told me, you probably only have two dribbles, so I knew by my second dribble I had to get it up, and that was pretty much it.
Q. Did you think guys would kind of swarm you on that play? Everyone knows who you are, but did you think you’d have to face a double or triple team there?
EVAN TURNER: Honestly I thought they were probably going to crash or something like that. The whole game they were swarming me. They gave me one good look. I guess being open, it felt a little bit free. I had a lot of time to shoot the ball. I felt like I was in the gym by myself.
Q. Evan, again on that shot, have you ever hit anything like that from that type of distance in that situation before?
EVAN TURNER: Maybe just playing around with my teammates. You know, last year and this year after practice we just sit in the gym and shoot half court shots. But definitely when I go to the gym at night, sometimes I’ll just shoot deep sometimes, but it’s just a joke. But it definitely went in, and you can’t really practice for those moments, you just have to come out and come ready.
Q. Dave, I think you guys were up 51-38 with just a little bit more than ten minutes left. I just wondered if you could explain a little bit about how maybe what Michigan did to come back, and was it also like Thad said, just a little bit of you guys not having played in ten days and maybe not being used to a game situation in that long?
DAVID LIGHTY: You could say that, but you’ve got to give Michigan credit. They never gave up. They kept playing and kept coming at us. I think they hit like two back-to-back threes in that stretch, and I mean, that gave them a lot of confidence.
Like I said, they just kept attacking us. They came ready to play. Like coach always says, when our minds are right, our game is right. We’ve just got to get our minds right now.
Q. David, what did you think when you saw the shot leave Evan’s hand?
DAVID LIGHTY: I was sprinting behind him as fast as I could, because I thought they were going to double team him, so I thought I was going to be open. But when it left his hands, it just felt like it was floating up there forever pretty much, and when it went in, I felt like I was at a loss for words pretty much.
Q. David, the talent that you’re bringing to the floor, is it nice to be in a position where everybody else is focusing on somebody else on your team and leaving you in the situations that you’re in, because it seems like from an outsider’s perspective that you’re bringing a lot to the table?
DAVID LIGHTY: Of course, he’s a great player, so you have to draw double-teams towards him or he’s going to hurt you every time. He makes things a lot easier for all of us out there on the court. If I get the ball on a wing or something like that, it’s kind of like one on one, and I like to penetrate. So I try to take my man as much as possible.
Q. This is an NBA environment here. How did you like it?
EVAN TURNER: It was cool. Coming to the Big Ten Tournament is always fun, and a lot of passion, a lot of action. It’s March time, so it’s the most fun time of the year. You know, it’s cool. I liked it a lot.
Q. For both Evan and Dave, just the idea of what this shot and this win, the opportunity it gives you to come back tomorrow. As coach talked about, maybe this is the wake up call that you guys needed for this game and the rest of the season. What will you guys as leaders tell the rest of the guys after this?
DAVID LIGHTY: I would say it’s a wake up call. Watching games yesterday, watching Syracuse go down, you know, watching Kansas go down to the wire almost and things like that, it’s kind of like we almost did the same thing pretty much. We have to get our minds right. It’s kind of like second life, second wind for us. So coming out tomorrow with our minds right is going to be very important.
EVAN TURNER: Yeah, I just think this is a game to shake the cobwebs out. We really got back in game mode. I think there’s not much to be said. We know we really have to finish off the game and keep our foot on the pedal now that we have the opportunity to do so. That goes without saying, and we definitely know what we did wrong. We just have to come back tomorrow and really keep executing.
Q. Both of you guys, Evan, I think you said earlier that you had not made a game winning shot like that, but have either one of you guys been in a game ending situation like this, what happened today, whether you made the shot or not?
EVAN TURNER: Yeah, I mean, last year versus Sienna, that game we went back and forth for like the last couple minutes on shots, and I missed a shot last year. So this year I was really fortunate enough to hit the shot.
DAVID LIGHTY: For me, most definitely. My freshman year there was a couple of them. Of course Ron Lewis hitting the three versus Xavier and the tournaments in overtime. Mike Conley hitting a floater to win the Big Ten championship. And then we also had a chance to send it to overtime at Wisconsin when Jamar shot a three. I’ve been in that situation a couple times, but I think this one might be the best one.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Coach Matta.
Q. Coach Matta, it didn’t end up happening, but does anything focus a team that’s supposed to be doing what you’re doing right now by coming out and losing to a team you had no business even being around, other than the rivalry factor?
COACH MATTA: Well, I disagree. I think Michigan is a heck of a basketball team. I mean, you’ve got in my mind, the way that Sims started the game, I mean, that was like an NBA power forward there, and then the way Manny got going, and then the pieces are there. They beat us once this year. You could say we didn’t have Evan, but we were down halftime at our place. Matchup wise, this is hard.
Last year Manny hit the shot on the drive, and we switched, and he shot over a 7 5 wing span over Dallas. That was a heck of a shot on his part.
But you know, and I think our guys have a pretty good understanding of being in this type of environment, that anything can happen. And right now you’re in March. Michigan is playing for more games. We’re playing for hopefully positioning. And a lot of times the hunger may be and I attempted to talk to the guys about this last night, you can’t come over here and just be satisfied with where we are today. Let’s continue to make noise. That was probably the frustrating thing for me in watching the game today. I didn’t think we were as sharp as we needed to be. We bobbled passes, we threw passes we normally don’t throw, we missed screens. But at times I thought we had some great things going, and that was just the I’m always striving for 40 minutes of it, if that answers the long question.
Q. You just mentioned a little bit about positioning. Do you tell your team as far as team goals, do you guys look at the one seed at all as a possibility and say we maybe have to win this tournament or win some more games?
COACH MATTA: You know, it doesn’t. My goal is to play the best basketball that we can, and I think when you get into an objective type of I don’t think they’re sitting over in the Hyatt over there saying, if this happens, this happens, then this you could beat yourself up as a coach to do that. So our thing is let’s just play our best basketball and let the chips fall where they may on Sunday.
Q. I may be ahead of myself a little bit, but what’s the process of talking with Evan about his future? You’ve done that with some other guys before. How does that work with you?
COACH MATTA: It doesn’t work well. (Laughter).
I’m going to give Evan Turner the most credit. He’s very similar to Michael and Greg from the standpoint of all he wants to do is play great basketball. His focus has never wavered. I think Evan and I have a tremendous relationship. I asked him to come to me if things ever went on in his mind. He never has. I think when the season ends, we can sit down and present the information.
So many times people forget how the process works. Stu Jackson and Ned Cohen in the NBA office can pretty much tell you what’s going to happen, and so the outside influences don’t need to get involved. And that’s trust with a player and a coach having that relationship. But we haven’t even talked about it. You can see by the way he played today, it’s not on his mind right now.
And the great thing about Evan, Evan doesn’t want to just play in the NBA. Evan wants to be a great player the day he goes and have a great career.
Q. What was the discussion in the time out after the Harris basket? And is it rather appropriate Evan has done pretty much everything. One thing missing on his résumé is a shot at the buzzer to win a game. How appropriate does it feel that he got that?
COACH MATTA: Well, the time out was 2.2 seconds, and kind of like you said, we were going to put it in his hands. We had an alternate option if it didn’t work. But I told him get it up there as quick as you can. We had guys positioned, I knew we probably couldn’t throw the cross court pass, but it was more of make a play. And he knew how far he could get with the 2.2 seconds, and they gave him a running start, which was good for us.
As far as his check box of that’s definitely one, a half court shot to win a game. Great, great play. The hardest part for me, I was debating in my mind, do we throw it, run a home run and try to loop it in and make a play. I thought we had enough time, and fortunately I chose the latter.
Q. At what point did you realize the shot might actually go in, and were you surprised that Michigan didn’t put even anybody in the backcourt?
COACH MATTA: Um, yeah, I don’t know what they John Beilein has won more games than I’ll ever win, so I’m never going to try to think of what he’s thinking. I’m not that smart. But I think that from the perspective of what was the first part of the question?
Q. At what point did you realize
COACH MATTA: Oh, as he let it go it’s funny because I was so mad kind of at how we had played throughout the course of the game, but as he let it go, I thought, damn, that thing has got a chance to go in. As it kept going, going, going, boom, went in, and obviously I’m not sure it was supposed to go in with how we had played for 39 minutes and 57.8 seconds, but fortunately it did.
THE MODERATOR: Coach, thank you.