They Said It: Huskers Talk 80-76 Win Over Butler
Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

They Said It: Huskers Talk 80-76 Win Over Butler

March 21, 2019

Nebraska defeated Butler on Wednesday, 80-76, in the first round of the NIT. The win was Nebraska’s first in the postseason (not including conference tournaments) since 2008 when the Huskers beat Charlotte in the first round of the NIT. 

After the game, Coach Tim Miles, senior Johnny Trueblood and junior Isaiah Roby spoke to the media.

Coach Tim Miles

Opening statement:

“I just want to thank the crowd. What an amazing night. That was so fun. What a great crowd and a lot of energy, and you could see it really affected the game. I just, personally and our team, appreciate it so much. I just want to say thank you to our fans.”

On Isaiah Roby’s matchup against Butler:

“Isaiah, James and Glynn, they’re really important. If they’re not going to score, we’re not going to score. We just thought that Isaiah’s versatility at the four or five would be an advantage. He’s a little bit stronger than McDermott and a little bit more mobile than their two centers, Fowler and Brunk. Just if we could move him around some. A lot of times when he gets going, then some of the other guys feed off that. We knew we didn’t have an advantage with the guards at all; Aaron Thompson’s really fast, Kamar Baldwin’s just a playmaker, unconventional kind of guy. Then you’ve got Jorgensen who can make bombs and then of course McDermott is more of a stretch-four. They really spread you out. I thought LaVall did a good job of going middle screen-and-roll. It’s hard when they’re making 3s and you feel like you need to be in helping on the roll guy or the drive, it puts a lot of pressure on your defense so we had to go zone. Isaiah really carried us for a long time int he first half for sure.”

On Nebraska’s 1-3-1 zone:

“There was no concern; if we didn’t go [zone], it wasn’t going to last long. We had to go zone. I thought the times they scored, I think they tipped an outlet pass or stole it there, and two ffensbe rebounds they scored on at different times, one early, one later. I thought Christina David made some hustle plays that way late. But really, it’s a tough zone to pentrate, especially with your two long guys in there. But we were fanning out to the shooters. They got us a couple times but I thought it was good for us. And then you don’t exert as much energy in the zone and that’s important for us too. It was good for us tonight, and they haven’t seen it that much and it’s short turnaround, so you know you might be bale to play it more. That’s always good in the postseason.”

On guys getting tired:

“I keep looking for a guy to be tired, and Johnny sometime gets his tongue out there a little bit, but the rest of the guys look really good to me. It’s a good problem to have if you’re a college kid — play too much.”

On his concern after falling behind early:

“I think we were behind every game in Chicago. We were behind Rutgers the whole time, I don’t know about Maryland I guess, but I know we were behind Wisconsin the whole time. I just thought, ‘ugh here we go again, we have to dig out of a hole.’ If you’re going to get down, get down early.”

On how proud he is of the team:

“The crowd was amazing. I thought there was great energy. PBA carries that energy well, too. Butler came out with a better edge than we did. We knew they could shoot the ball. I don’t know that tape does them justice. They’re faster than they look on tape. We eat telling our guys they’re a very fast team and they can turn you over also with those guards. They’ve got greta length and quickness and they can really shoot it. Then all of a sudden you give up your first seven 3s or whatever and they’re like ‘Oh, Coach, that’s what you meant.’ I thought that we warmed to the fight. I think we got it squared away by halftime, finally, but we couldn’t get over the edge for a long time. Really, that was kind of the motif the whole last five games, really.”

On what is working for the team that has allowed them to succeed at the end of the season:

“I think the biggest thing is just what I said in Chicago which is you’ve got your three main guys [Watson, Palmer, Roby] that have accepted these role guys unconditionally. There’s a few mistakes here and there, maybe one of those guys makes like Thor or Johnny or even Brady and they don’t evaluate, they don’t judge. They know what their strengths are and they work from a position of strength. I think that’s really important, first of all. Second of all, the fearlessness of the guys on the bench that are coming into a new role and embracing it. I think that’s really important to do. I thought Johnny for a little while was a little bit worried about a couple things and I was like ‘Johnny, man, you’ve got nothing to worry about, just go.’ Even when Thor gave up the 3 in the second half after I threatened him pretty good at half time, I’m like ‘Thor, you just have to be ready to go back in.’ ‘Did you think you covered it? ‘Coach I was all over him,’ and Jorgensen hit a really tough shot. I want those guys to be able to play fearlessly, I think it’s great.

“Honestly, there’s this weight of expectation, there’s this disappointment, and you finally kind of get to the rock bottom, quote-unquote, and then you bounce back and you find small victories as a team, as a coaching staff and build up from there. We try to stay positive with them, stay aggressive and never quit and keep fighting. That’s what we’ve done and that’s what the kids have embraced and they’ve done a phenomenal job.”

On the uncertainty of his position:

“I love coaching Nebraska, it’s been a blessing to be the coach here. Barry’s here, he knows what it’s like to coach in this arena, Barry I really appreciate you being here and bringing Butler in. We thank you. You’re on the [NIT] committee and we thank you for believing in us to be in the tournament. But honestly, these are tough jobs and it’s a big-boy business. I’m not evaluating the situation, it’s not fun to be talked about the way they’re doing it, but I’m just going to do my job and that’s what you can do. I believe in our guys, we’re making strides and we’re never quitting, we are staying positive, we’re always fighting to the end. I feel like I’m on a campaign trail here and we’re going to keep doing it, no matter what.”

 

Junior Forward Isaiah Roby

On the slow start and bouncing back:

“They came out hot and we came out kind of lackadaisical. Like most games we come out slow, we weren’t doing the game plan, we were giving them easy stuff and they took advantage of everything we gave them. Later in the game we started to execute the game plan better.”

On how the team approached tonight’s NIT game differently than last season’s NIT game:

“Last year, we felt like it was a letdown to be in the NIT because of the season we had, winning 23 games, fourth in the Big Ten, I’m not going to lie, the locker room was down about playing in the NIT. This year, we went to Chicago and we feel like we earned our spot in the NIT. This year we are definitely playing to win it all.”

On what he saw in the first half to allow him to have a big game:

“The coaches really challenged me to be aggressive. They thought I had a really big mismatch and they just told me to be aggressive and take advantage of that, so that’s just what I did. My teammates got me in the right spots and obviously later on in the game everybody else started getting rolling too. It was a lot of fun.”

On how the team is playing different now than they were a couple months ago:

“I would say it’s obvious even on the court. I give credit to guys like Johnny [Trueblood] bringing a spark to the team, they’re doing the dirty stuff. He’s getting offensive rebounds and that’s going to spark our team. We are playing with a different type of edge right now and that’s what’s helping us win these games.”

 

Senior Guard Johnny Trueblood

On Nebraska’s donation to the Red Cross:

“First and foremost, the donation I heard was like 28-thousand-something and that’s awesome. That really shows that Nebraskans stick together. That’s what we want to implement with our team. We’ve got six, seven guys so that’s what we’re trying to do.”

On the importance of getting this first win out of the way:

“Like he said, we came out slow and I think that was kind of just from we fought hard in Chicago for three straight days and then had kind of a tough loss against Wisconsin that we thought we should have won. To come out and we were down 14-2 and battle back, we finally got in a groove and just shaking that rust off from Chicago really helped.”

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