Senior guard Glynn Watson Jr., junior forward Isaiah Roby and head coach Tim Miles met with the media following Nebraska’s 70-60 loss to Ohio State at home on Saturday.
The loss was the Huskers’ fifth in their last seven games and dropped the team to 13-7 on the season (3-6 in conference play). Here’s what they had to say about it.
Guard Glynn Watson Jr.
On the team's energy to start the game?
“I think we started off slow. We didn’t play with a lot of energy. We made our run, but it wasn’t enough. We just have to get better.”
Forward Isaiah Roby
On the flow of the game?
“They were just getting what they wanted easily. We were too at first, but they started locking up better than we did, that’s how they won the game.”
On how the team feels following another tight loss?
“Just knowing that we’re blowing opportunities. We know every game is going to be tough this season. We’re just getting less and less opportunities to make a name for ourselves. It’s just wasted opportunity.”
Head coach Tim Miles
On making sure this slide doesn’t snowball?
“Right now it feels to me and looks to me like we just can’t get out of our own way. I thought we looked like a frustrated team and a team that’s just mentally not focused on ‘Hey, let’s play with great effort, let’s play with great energy.’ We’ve seen these guys play so well, but we can’t brain-freeze ourselves … We can’t have that.”
On whether the team is playing tight?
“I think so. Like Isaiah said right away, we’re just blowing opportunities and I think they feel that way during the game. We tried to just get them to focus on doing the little things. For instance, it felt to me like there or four times at least the ball hits the rim, we had three guys and we’re just looking at the ball. When you’re looking and not acting — how’s it go? There are people that make things happen and there are people that wonder what happened, right? It looks to me like we wondered what happened.”
On why he thinks the team is tight?
“They want to be special, they want to go to the NCAA Tournament, they want to do exceptional things.”
On whether they talked about how to deal with these expectations before the season
“Yeah. We talked about it. I thought we were in a good place and if you look at the way we started the year, 11-2, we were. I’m just trying to think of when I thought it kind of arrived, so to speak. Probably Michigan State. So much was made — and rightfully so — of that game. That was a point in time when there was a lot on the line and we didn’t rise to the occasion that night.”
On what he can do to get things back on track?
“What I wanted to do tonight was get the bench more involved. I got them 52 minutes and you saw the production. That’s what hurt us in the first half — we knew we needed that to be able to survive in the second half.
“So, we need more bench production. Does that mean we need to feature some of those guys instead of our main guys at different times when they’re in the game and things like that? I don’t know that we’ve done a great job of that, to be able to get Nana Akenten an open jumper here or there. We’ve run things for him but not on a regular basis. So more bench production is one of them.
“That’s, right now, to me, when I look at things, a huge drop-off. The fact that we didn’t get to the foul line tonight, especially in the first half, we didn’t shoot a foul shot — I’m not sure when the last half that happened for us was. You also look at, OK, we’re 4-for-12 at the rim, they really don’t have a shot-blocker. Wesson’s got like nine blocks on the year or whatever it might be. So you look at, OK, why were we not very effective at the rim?”
On whether the rebounding disparity says more about Nebraska or Ohio State?
“I credit Ohio State. How many misses did they have? Thirty-four? So what’s 14 divided by 34? Forty-one [percent]? Our goal is 26 [percent], so for us, we want to allow 26.
“So let’s say that’s their game plan — they’re going to run up, rebound, do all that — so let’s say now they’re going to get a third [of their missed shots turning into offensive rebounds] because they’re just selling out on some things and we’re going to get some transition on the other side because of it.
“But… I think it’s us.”
On fans hitting the panic button?
“When I get to my kitchen at home I’m going to hear the same things that you read on Twitter. Nobody’s happy. I want them to be upset, but I want them to hang in there with us because I believe in these guys and I think e can do it. We’re going to get them to rally, try and regroup here quick. What I told them after the game was ‘Nobody feels sorry for you.’ Wisconsin will not come in here and feel bad. They’re going to come in here ready to slug it out, and we have to have the same mentality.
“I understand why fans would [be upset], but at the same time, we’ve got a lot of equity that we’ve built over the course of the season. It’s the course of a full season, but a double and a triple-bogey don’t make anybody feel very good.”
On whether they put too much into the Michigan State game?
“We put everything we could into it. I felt like we put everything we could into tonight and it worked against us. We just have to get back, play great basketball, relax, enjoy it some, but play winning basketball.
“Right now I think we’re in a bad place mentally, and I think we’ve been there, too. Maybe it was Michigan State, but at the same time, one game doesn’t define you.”
On whether people looked at that Michigan State game as a defining game?
“Just like they did Michigan last year, right? And that’s great. If our defining games are Michigan in the Big Ten Tournament and Michigan State, those are pretty big moments because they are the elite of the elite. If that’s our defining moment, that’s our make-or-break time, then we’ve done something pretty good.
“If we’re the 17-point underdog and nobody gives a crap and the place is half-full, then we’ve completely screwed it up. Those are the challenges we want and that’s what I signed up for. We didn’t come through those two games. Other times we have — the old No-Sit Sunday.
“We’re going to have more opportunities here, too.”
On whether the tension came from the 2-3 zone from Ohio State?
“I think it's just when things don’t go well. We gave up four straight 3s. I think one of those moments, for instance, we got it back down to seven with four-and-a-half to go and the shot clock’s all the way down and they hit the back of the rim, goes straight up and falls through right at the end of the shot clock, we go down and miss a bonus. Those things, when they happen in couples like that, when you can’t get out of your own way, I think everybody just feels like, ‘Ugh, what’s going on?’”
On what happened on those four 3s?
“One guy, Isaiah over-helped to LeDee when he didn’t need to and lost Wesson. Muhammad, Wesson just nailed Glynn on the down screen and the way the angle is, if he gets that screen, he’s going to get the open look and he made it. I don’t know what his numbers are, but he’s not in the 40s, so I think that was very good execution. And then [Kaleb] Wesson got one on Tanner — Tanner was kind of playing off him a little bit, naturally so. Those are three of them, and I think Muhammad got the other one.”
On whether he was okay with the defense there?
“No, but I will credit them stepping up and making the plays.
“I regret two things. One, subbing out James [Palmer Jr.] at the end of the first half when Amir [Harris] turned it over and it turns into two points. I had decided earlier the next dead ball I was going to get James, just for 30 seconds, 40 seconds. He was breathing hard. And then, of course, it comes on offense, and I should have just kept him in there. That cost us.
“The next one was I had already burned a timeout in the second half and we were sitting on the under-12. It was right there. I should have just, on one of those makes, like after a couple of them, I should have just called timeout.”
On whether he senses fatigue starting to play a factor with the starters?
”I don’t think we would have tonight because they got pretty even minutes in the first half. Like I said, I got 52 bench minutes out of 200 minutes. That’s why I think we lost some of the lead in the first half but we’ve got to figure out ways for those guys to be more productive.”
On if he feels like he’s tried to press all the buttons?
“There’s nothing more sickening for a coach to empty your home arena. I hear the groans. I’m groaning. It just makes me physically sick. We’re not playing checkers. We’re trying to strategically plan what’s going right but at the end of the day I think we have a strong relationship with our guys and I think we need to go out there and get them in a good place and get them past some of the things.
“Like tonight, when we got the lead, three of four possessions one guy has three straight turnovers. Two of them turn into immediate baskets. We’ve just got to get out of our own way. I’ve said that how many times.”
On if there’s something different he can do?
”Well that’s probably what I’ll think about all night tonight.”
On the Coaches vs. Cancer game?
”The greatest feeling today was Avery Harriman’s hug. Seeing Katie Jewell, who’s fighting it, and she’s so valuable to our athletic department. She evaluates transcripts and gives us great information on helping guys and making sure they’re going to check all the boxes to get into Lincoln and be eligible. Brent Bargum fighting it. Coached Division I, Division II at Chadron, we played against him when I was at Colorado State. Anything we can do to help is important.
“My sister lost her husband to cancer, my other sister lost her husband to brain cancer. These are things where whatever we can do to help, we will do.
“The ‘Be the Match’ that Kristin Eichorst started has already saved lives.
“This stinks, this is awful, we hate losing basketball games, but the cause is great and something to be talked about and rallied around.”
On if he’s had a team go into a funk like this?
“Sure. I’ve coached for 24 years. Everyone’s individual. I just need to spend time with these guys and figure out what’s going on. You can’t be afraid of success or failure.”