Maui Jim Maui Invitational Game 6: Iowa State 84, Illinois 68
Iowa State – 84, Illinois – 68
Illinois Fighting Illini Press Conference with:
Brad Underwood, Aaron Jordan and Alan Griffin
MEGAN GODFREY: Take questions for the players.
Q. Alan, do you want to break down what happened between first half and second half and how things
ALAN GRIFFIN: First half, felt like we all executed. Second half they came out a little more aggressive, we let the game get away from us.
AARON JORDAN: We didn’t do what we had to do, we didn’t stick to our principles and how we know we can play, we got to transfer that going down the road.
Q. Aaron, what makes Talen Horton-Tucker difficult to deal with? He went off in the second half?
AARON JORDAN: I would say just play good as a whole. We didn’t play so well, we didn’t stick to our defensive principles, deny on the wing, it’s a team effort guarding anybody it doesn’t matter whose name is on front of the jersey, whose name is on the back of the jersey, it’s a team effort.
Q. Alan, last couple nights you have gone off a little bit and had some nice moments. Just what have these last two games been like for you, what are you seeing and how have you been kind of feeling?
ALAN GRIFFIN: I felt good, my teammates got me going and I knew I had to stay ready to come bring some fire power off the bench and play my role.
MEGAN GODFREY: Coach, your thoughts?
BRAD UNDERWOOD: Well I felt great at half. I thought we were, we withstood foul trouble, I thought we came out extremely flat and lacked some energy, but we withstood it. I felt good. Giorgi was never a
factor in the game. And then it was a trend in the second half. We come out of the locker room very
poorly and I think we pounded every nail into the new floor here in the Maui Civic Center. We just quit
moving the ball and then it became not about doing our system and what we do, it became everybody breaking everything off and then at the defensive end give Talen a ton of credit, give Iowa State a lot of credit. The guy I feared the most hurt us, probably as much as anybody, and that was Jacobson. Those two guys were exceptional tonight.
Q. How can you take what you’ve learned these first two games in Maui to improve the team for tomorrow for the season?
BRAD UNDERWOOD: Yeah, I just think that, you know, when you’re playing four freshmen a lot and you’re putting Adonis who hasn’t been in our system, you’re putting him into play, I think every experience is a new experience. I mean it’s maybe not the character I want to see today and yet we have got to be able to learn from it and understand that, yeah, last night was an emotional high and then it was an emotional low and you have to find that median. Quick turn around, most of the time that doesn’t happen, I mean we were back here in, I don’t know what time we got to bed, midnight? So you’re back in the gym in eight hours and with just a little film work. But they had, they didn’t have that much difference either. But again, I thought we did, we did enough of the right things the first half to just not carry over the second half, we got to get that figured out.
Q. I think most people will sit there and go what if with Talen. Obviously you guys battled Iowa State at the end there and there’s history with your staff and Iowa and them, what did you see from him tonight? Seemed like he had a chip on his shoulder.
BRAD UNDERWOOD: Well he’s really good. I mean let’s give the young man credit. He’s a guy that is
going to have every opportunity to be Freshman of the Year in that league, he’s a guy that 240 pounds, now he might be a mini version of Zion Williamson in terms of not six eight and 280, but six three or four and 240 and he’s physical, he’s great with the ball, he gives them an exceptional presence offensively because he can relieve pressure from a ball handling standpoint and he’s physically strong enough to go battle on the glass and do those things. But he was terrific tonight, knew he would be, again, that’s going to be an exciting team as they move forward.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about the 7th place game tomorrow that’s a heck of a 7th place game against Xavier?
BRAD UNDERWOOD: Yeah, Xavier was a 1 seed last year. A 1 seed. And they have got guys back from that team. I haven’t seen a lot of them yet, but that’s a team, and most importantly it’s a program that has such a long history of success and there’s pride, it will be a heck of a game and you’ve got to throw character and attitude and all of that stuff into a game to find out who is going to show up. We knew when you get in this field that there’s going to be three really, really hard games and now we get a 1 seed in last year’s NCAA tournament in the 7th place game. And as I’ve said all along, it’s a great opportunity and we’re going to rally and do everything we can to play our best.
Q. How is Alan taking advantage of his opportunity?
BRAD UNDERWOOD: Yeah, he’s been great. Alan spends a lot of time in the gym. Alan work, he’s
dedicated, he’s, for him it’s still trying to figure out the defensive end, he wants to be aggressive, he’s got a habit we have got to get him out of. Every time he reaches he gets beat off the dribble and getting him out of that. But he goes to the boards, he’s offensively very gifted, he’s going to be a young man that’s going to have a great, great career. He’s going to score a lot of points because he’s an elite sure and we have got to continue to find opportunities for him.
Q. Kipper always seems like the X factor. Just where is his mind at right now and what are you
trying to get out of him?
BRAD UNDERWOOD: Well we got to get him going, there’s no doubt we got to get Kipper going. He’s had two really hard matchups defensively, he’s played in foul trouble. But two baskets in two nights is something that we can’t have. I’m sure his confidence is shaken a little bit, he’s not seeing the ball go in. We tried to get him going early and having him shoot technical fouls and things like that early. And there’s a kid who was a 90 percent free throw shooter last year and he’s shooting 50 percent. We need him. He’s got versatility and — I don’t worry about him. I do think that he’s going to have one of those nights, he’s going to have a breakthrough night. And like we say, you got to flip the switch, you can’t worry about it and yet our team needs him to be good.
Q. You mentioned Adonis adapting to the system. It seems like his role and Da’Monte as well, they’re
both getting a more concrete role for things that they do for the team.
BRAD UNDERWOOD: Yeah and I think that will continue. Adonis is still playing himself into shape.
The one thing we can’t have when we put AD in the game is we can’t wait on him all the time. You have to be able to go. And again you’re talking a young man coming off an ACL, but his shear size and his ability to rebound the basketball and do some things and score are needed and we have got to get him where he’s 20 plus minutes a game and playing at the pace we want to play.
Iowa State Cyclones Press Conference with:
Steve Prohm, Jalen Horton-Tucker and Michael Jacobson
MEGAN GODFREY: Start with an opening statement from coach and then take questions for players.
STEVE PROHM: First thing, again, our crowd is phenomenal. This is a great, great event. First time
I’ve been out here and the atmosphere, the teams, it’s really a lot of fun. I’m really proud of our guys to
respond. Yesterday was a tough loss, but a great thing is I think our team grew today because we were in the same situation, about the 10-minute mark up 10 and guys made plays. We had our bench, a couple bench guys step up and do some good things and we beat a good basketball team. Now we got a quick turnaround, got a really good team with San Diego State. So turn it over to these guys.
MEGAN GODFREY: Questions for the players, please.
Q. Did it mean anything specific to you to play this game against Illinois?
TALEN HORTON-TUCKER: I’ll take it every game, going out there and playing hard pretty. Much the
same I would do against anybody else.
Q. Talen, what did Chin and Ayo say to you? What did they tell you after the game?
TALEN HORTON-TUCKER: They just told me good game. Chin told me I deserved it and that’s pretty much it.
Q. Can both you guys just talk about how you came out of the locker room to start that second half? It was really impressive. You guys were down five and then all of a sudden I looked up you were up nine.
MICHAEL JACOBSON: Yeah, I think we just made some adjustments at halftime. We knew we had to
lock in on the defensive end, especially on this one action they were running, we made a little adjustment to it. And I think we guarded it a lot better. I think we were just more locked in on defense. We knew we could shoot the ball, we knew some shots were eventually going to fall, we didn’t know when it was going to be, so we knew we had to stay locked in on D and I thought we did that.
Q. Mike, what’s been the key for your offense not only today, but all season you’ve been putting up pretty big numbers?
MICHAEL JACOBSON: I think just staying patient. I know coach puts us in really good positions and I just try to take advantage of my opportunities when they’re there. Just shoot open shots, try not to force anything. And I think he’s put a lot of confidence in me, it gives me the freedom to make plays, and it’s a huge thing. And I’m just trying to take advantage of what’s there and just don’t force anything. Just do what I do.
Q. Talen, you went up hard to block, I can’t say his name, in the first half, I believe it was. Did he say anything to you or anything like that?
TALEN HORTON-TUCKER: No, nothing was said, just I tried to go make a play on the ball and me having a pretty big body and I just bumped him and he fell but nothing really other than that.
Q. What is your relationship with him?
TALEN HORTON-TUCKER: We’re from the same city. We used to talk a lot when we went to college. We just focused on ourselves. But nothing like close or anything like that.
Q. Talen, I know you’re one of the youngest guys in the country. How have you just been able to start your career this way knowing that you are one of the youngest guys? And how have you played through that?
TALEN HORTON-TUCKER: Age isn’t anything but a number. I just take it every day, learning from what
coach tells me to do and learning from my older teammates. So I just feel like I’ve been prepared to go through the storm and get out of it.
Q. For both you guys. Have you guys watched this tournament in the past on TV, and if so, is actually
playing here in an Iowa State uniform kind of what you thought it might be like?
TALEN HORTON-TUCKER: To me it’s crazy. I’m still young. I watched it really a lot, watching those like Duke games with Austin Rivers playing here and all those older guys. It’s just been crazy, surreal. I’m happy to be here.
MICHAEL JACOBSON: Yeah, same thing for me. I’ve been watching it since I was real little. This is kind of the premier Thanksgiving preseason tournament, so it’s pretty special to be here, something I never thought I would really have the opportunity to do. And now that it’s here and we’re playing and having a little bit of success it’s a lot of fun and just got to keep it up tomorrow.
Q. Talen, when do you know when to take over? There are moments when it’s clear that you have decided you’re going to kind of assert yourself. How do you know when it’s time for you to take over?
TALEN HORTON-TUCKER: I wouldn’t really say it’s just taking over. I just feel like when things are kind of going a certain way and somebody — we need to pick it up a little bit more. My teammates, if they’re not following, I usually look to them for help. But when I need to go, I just go, so it’s not really just a moment when I just need to stay open myself.
Q. Both you guys, Mike, what do you think about Talen right now?
MICHAEL JACOBSON: He’s a lot of fun to watch. Just being out there and being able to play with him, he’s such a good passer and ball handler that he found me on that last play at the end where I got to dunk it. It’s a lot of fun. You got to be ready for the ball and just know that he’s looking, he’s looking to find you and be in the right positions.
Q. Talen, what about Mike?
TALEN HORTON-TUCKER: It’s great to have an older leader and a guy that’s played college basketball and a person to look up to that knows what he’s doing. So I actually appreciate him and actually the rest of our guys, too, because we have a few older guys, so they just teach me and tell me the right things to do.
MEGAN GODFREY: Take questions for coach.
Q. Can you talk about that second half, that run to begin the second half. How key was that and what was the key to that happening?
STEVE PROHM: I think the biggest thing is we got stops and we were able to get out in transition. The coaches, we have a little familiarity with coach Underwood’s teams just because we played against
each other at Oklahoma State. The tough thing is when only player on your team has seen that kind of
defense was Nick Weiler-Babb and you have a short prep. And so I knew he would struggle offensively for awhile until we could kind of get our rhythm. But the biggest thing when you’re going through that you got to score off your defense and I thought we got a lot of transition opportunities and we were fortunate, I thought we grew in the second half better defensively. And it’s a make or miss game too. They had some opportunities from three that we were fortunate they missed.
Q. Has Mike’s ability to score around the basket been a pleasant surprise for you, or is that kind of what you were expecting him to be able to do when you got him?
STEVE PROHM: Yeah, you know what, I really didn’t know. Mike’s recruiting happened really fast, to be honest. So the one thing I knew about him, just looking at him, was that he was a great rebounder. That’s the one thing that translates. I really didn’t know much about his offensive game until he got here and I was around him. And I think he’s really worked to where I feel comfortable with him shooting open threes and 17-footers. And I thought he did a great job in the middle against the 1-3-1 today. When they threw that at us, I thought that was a big key, we really handled that well. But, yeah, he’s got a nice little jump hook. We don’t throw it, we don’t have enough probably package in right now of trying to get the ball inside, but that has to do with a lot of the situations we have been dealing with injuries and some suspensions that we knew we would be playing small a lot.
Q. You won a recruiting battle over Illinois for Talen. What do you think this meant to him today, and what do you think he showed today?
STEVE PROHM: This isn’t about Illinois or Iowa State. This was a great game. Brad’s a phenomenal coach and he’s going to do a really, really good job. He’s won at this level for a long time. And we were fortunate to get Talen. I thought we did a really good job in just recruiting him and making him know that he was a priority. And but that’s what I told the guys. This wasn’t about the Chicago or Illinois or Iowa State. This is both teams right now in November just trying to get better. And Talen has a chance to be a really, really good player. He’s just tapping the surface, like he mentioned, he’s 17 years old, and that’s why some of the times — he reminds me of Deonte Burton a little bit that I coached, that you get 20 e-mails, you get 10 that say, why do you let him shoot those shots? And then you get 10 that say, man, I love watching him play. But I just think if you give him, you just got to continue to instill confidence in him. But he’s a terrific talent and he’s just going to continue to get better.