Nebraska’s run in the Big Ten Tournament came to an end on Friday afternoon with a 66-62 loss to Wisconsin at the United Center in Chicago. After the game, Coach Tim Miles, senior Johnny Trueblood and junior Isaiah Roby spoke to the media.
Coach Tim Miles
“Well, I'm extremely proud of this group. I'm proud to be their coach. I thought that they fought as hard as they could. And we were in a great situation, late even, chance to tie, go ahead. And we missed on a few plays. And credit to Wisconsin; they did an excellent job all night.”
Q. Do you think fatigue played a role in the last five to 10 minutes?
“Wisconsin makes it look tough anyway. I thought Glynn's legs looked good, and he was the guy we were riding, had a hop in his step all night. Maybe. But our hearts are bigger than that.”
Q. You played six guys in the game. Given the fact they played so many minutes the past two days, what was the thinking behind shortening your bench even further?
“There was no real design. We'd only subbed out of necessity earlier. They were playing smaller. So we were able to play smaller. And that’s why we did it.”
Q. Thomas Allen warmed up with the team before, and then he didn't come out and close —
“We haven't been able to get him on a court and put a ball in his hand. Seemed like a good opportunity to do that, test the ankle a little bit. Really had trouble cutting right now. And so the only way — there's no other gym availability. So this was the best one to be at.”
Q. You guys made Happ look fairly ordinary tonight. Was that one of your main focuses going in?
“Yeah, Ethan was double circled on the scouting report. I told him in the handshake line, I told him, "E, I'm not going to miss you, brother." And he’s such a good player. He does so many good things that you have to attack him. I thought we did a really good job of it. We held him down in points. We turned him over. They actually played around him, it appeared to me, for a while. So I thought we did a very good job. But we have to. I thought that's what kept us around. Because he can take over a game, and then those other guys get loose on you. And they're tough enough anyway. I thought the key to the game was Iverson. He was making outside shots. When he makes outside shots — you know Reuvers is going to make a few. You know Trice is going to make a few. And Trice is very good end game, end clock. We've done a really good job on him. Johnny ended up kind of gambling. And we ended up switching Glynn off of him and he hit Johnny late. But that's what he can do. But I thought Iverson was the big key to the win for them.”
Q. And if this was your last game with this team, how proud of you —
“I'm proud of this group beyond belief, because as a coach — you guys trying to get me to cry, are you? As a coach, you look at what they went through and what they tried to overcome, and to go out and try to beat ranked teams in back-to-back nights and probably Quad 1 or three Quad 1 games in a week or whatever, pretty impressive stuff. I don't know where Iowa was. Maybe they're a Quad 2. But all the same, I just, I told them, ‘I'm proud to be your coach.’”
Q. On the lighter side of things, you always seem to have, fun no matter what you do. In this stodgy, buttoned-down world, you don't take yourself too seriously. It rubs off on your players, even us media guys, we enjoy it. Talk a little bit about your personality. I know it's tough right now.
“Right now, it's not very fun. But, you know, I think in life you just have to enjoy who you’re working with and everything. And I work with — you guys aren't as invested in the team. If it sucks for us, it sucks for you, and I know that. And the same thing with the kids. So you want to be a mentor. You want them to, you want to lead them and teach them. But at the same time you want to be able to have a relationship with them so they know you're with them. I don't think you can be afraid to be just yourself. And I was granted a great deal of independence as a little kid where I could do what I wanted when I wanted as the youngest of five. That's what we do now. Even as an NAIA coach, a D-II coach, a Division I independent, Mountain West coach or a Big Ten coach. So we just feel strong that we're going to put our teams out there and they're going to compete like heck and want to have a chance to be successful. We have a disappointed team, but that doesn't mean that we have to walk around like Pig-Pen. And that's no — I don’t mean to offend Pig-Pen.”
Q. Given the health of the team, have you thought about the NIT and what that looks like?
“I'll go anywhere. If they take us, we’re going. And hopefully we can get some guys healthier. Tom Allen would be the only guy I think we could conceivably add to the roster.”
Senior Guard Johnny Trueblood
On how this run went for the team…
“First of all, there have been floods and blizzards in Nebraska and I know there have been some casualties. My thoughts and prayers are with all those affected. This whole ride has been a lot of fun. I feel sorry for a lot of our guys, but I see a bright future for them.”
On how this season has been with the team…
“I’m just really proud of these guys. We show up every day and work our tails off and it shows.”
On how they are able to compete against tough teams like Wisconsin…
“We’ve got a lot of heart and sometimes that is all you need — working hard and to compete at a high level.”
Junior Forward Isaiah Roby
On ending on a good note…
“I am proud of my teammates, my coaching staff and my team as a whole. We had guys step up and I am incredibly proud of my team for not giving up.”
On his message to the fans…
“We had a great crowd here and we have a great support system back home in Lincoln. They really believed we could win this tournament and we fell short today, but we gave it our all.”