Opening Comments -
Needless to say it was a tough night for us. We have to congratulate Butler. Brad and his staff had them really ready to play. More prepared than I had my team ready to play. They were more physical, more assertive and more aggressive, 12 points offensive rebounds in the first half to our zero.
We turned it over, and again, they were physically, mentally into the game so much more, and that is the biggest part of that job to coach and get your team prepared. I think it was so easy last night that they were fat and happy a little bit perhaps to start with.
They really kicked us and then early in the second half we were trying to make comebacks, and they kept making shots. Then we finally got more active. We went small and got some steals and turnovers and we made some shots.
We got it to six, and I'm dumb enough to think we're going to win the game. But you have to congratulate Butler. They make 7 out of 9 from three point range in the second half. It's hard to come back when somebody's making 7 out of 9 from the three point line against you in the half.
But I loved the activity of my team down the stretch. I loved the way they fought. The crowd really helped us. Our people follow us greatly. We're down 24 and make a 3 to cut it to 21, and you would have thought we tied the game up.
We just dug too deep a hole against a very good team. A team that's really well coached and seemed to have everything in sight mentally and physically so much more than we did tonight.
What did you learn about your team that you can take away going forward?
We have to do a better job as a staff getting these guys ready to play, because I did think they were so much more aggressive than we were early. I really did think they were so much more aggressive. The kids talked about setting good, hard legal screens. We worked on that every day.
Well, Butler did it tonight, and we set halfway screens. It started to be a collision and we turned sideways. We set a screen, and they'd come and hit us hard. We didn't hit them very hard.
When you look at it, last year we led the nation in rebound margin, and this year rebound margin is probably 15 or something like that. They outrebounded us by 12 in the first half. We had one offensive rebound in the whole first half. So, to me, that is aggressiveness, and they showed us.
I thought that we'd respond. We talked about it in the pregame that they're going to play really hard. Let's make sure that we match that toughness, and we didn't match that toughness. That's my job as a coach to make sure that I get us to that level.
Do you have a read on which team you guys are? More the team that started this game tonight or the one that came back in the final ten minutes?
I've never had a team quit. One possible exception could have been Florida State, but that's in 39 years of coaching. I knew we'd make a run. Saying when we went small acts like you should give coaching credit, and coach should not get any credit tonight, I guarantee you. We did go small to try to do a little more pressuring, and yet that hurt us a couple times too because we had bad match ups out there and didn't get where we were supposed to be when we did trap a couple times.
But little things I think hurt us. I was really impressed with what we did at Long Beach the other night, because it wasn't going great, but we were tough enough to make some shots and get some stops.
Tonight we showed some toughness, but you've got to give Butler credit. They're really good. They're really good. Brad's clubs are really intelligent. I like their toughness and their intelligence more than their talent, and I'm not trying to put down their talent. But I love their toughness and their intelligence.
I put three things up on the board, and one of those tonight was having the best brains we've used all year. That shows that you're tough. It shows that you're doing your assignment, regardless how little the assignment may be, you should do that assignment to the best of your ability.
To answer your question, I really don't know. I like our competitiveness. I like the fact that we're not going to quit. But as I said, I've never had a team quit. We're probably not nearly as exciting as we were last night. And I hope to Dickens we're not as bad as we were when we were down 29 tonight.
But we've got to learn from this. Not just I think Reggie was talking about doing it in practice every day. I think we do practice well. But on game nights, you've got to step up and be a man on game night. It can't be just how many shots I've got and take the first shots you look at. You've got to be doing what we practice every day.
Biggest thing for me is give Butler credit. We stunk for 25 minutes. Give Butler credit there. They have that kind of toughness and that kind of intelligence, it's pretty darn good. But 7 out of 9 in the second half is hard to beat.