COACH MENZIES: Excuse my voice, I’ve got a little illness here I’m trying to get over, all the cracking. That’s my cover for crying in the locker room, I’ll say I was sick.
I just want to say, first of all, I want to give Tom and his squad credit. They played phenomenal basketball tonight, shot the lights out, 7 for 13 from the three and 64 percent in the second half. And that was with some good defense. I thought we fought and fought.
His sets are hard to guard after the first 10, 15 seconds. Usually get you on the secondary action. So they did a good job at that.
So I was really proud of the way we played, obviously. I thought that my guys played really, really hard. But we just lost to the better team tonight. They were the better team. They shot it better. We out‑rebounded them. But at the end of the day you’ve got to take care of the ball in championship play. And we did a horrible job in that arena. Some unforced, some forced.
When you’ve got 13 turnovers at halftime and you’re only down seven, all was not lost. But they responded and they came out and played very well in the second half.
So I just want to say also I’m going to really miss my three seniors, Hamidu Rahman, Wendell McKines, and Hernst Laroche. They’re my family. And I’ll miss coaching them.
Q. Talk a little bit with Zeller and how tough he was inside there, especially about midway in the second half they just kept feeding him and he was able to make some tough shots.
WENDELL McKINES: He’s a good player. He’s a great player, actually. He kind of struggled in the beginning of the game and looked like his teammates just believed in him, kept feeding him and he responded.
Q. You guys usually win games by winning on the glass, by getting to the foul line, you obviously win the rebounding battle, but only got to the line ten times. How did that happen, and how did they keep you from getting to the line and winning more the rebounding battle?
HERNST LAROCHE: They took us out of our game. They took us off guard. And they did a good job, you know. And give credit to Indiana.
COACH MENZIES: The free throw line, I didn’t ‑‑ I mentioned to one of the officials that we led the United States in free throw attempts and he said, Oh, really? Then we got a couple of calls after that.
I don’t know, that’s one of those things where you have to adjust to the officiating. If you’re not getting certain ‑‑ things are called, they’re calling the game a certain way, you’ve still got to keep going. You’ve got to keep crashing and keep doing what we do.
And I thought we had a little lull there as far as being aggressive in our rebounding. Because they did a good job. They knew we were a very good rebounding team. So they were hitting them. If I go back and look at the film, I guarantee there’s maybe one or two possessions where that ball went up and someone didn’t put a body on Wendell, because they knew. That’s respect. That’s game prep. And they did a good job of it. And you have to give them credit.
Q. It seemed like every time tonight you guys were trying to put together a run where you got a couple of baskets back‑to‑back and get momentum they would come back and shoot that momentum down. What did that do for your confidence tonight?
WENDELL McKINES: Nothing. We’re confident, we’re a confident team. The better question is: What did it do for their confidence? Our confidence never, never adjusted.
COACH MENZIES: Kept them motivated is what it did.
Q. They got that huge lead. Talk about first their offensive patterns. They really looked like old school basketball clinic.
COACH MENZIES: Right.
Q. And then the way you guys fought and just kept trying to battle back. You had to be really proud of the way they kept fighting.
COACH MENZIES: Yeah, we haven’t had any quitters in a long time. It was good to see our guys just persevere and play through being scored on and just coming back and still giving it your all. That’s tough. It’s hard to do.
We started to splinter there for a moment when I think the reality was they had a pretty sizable lead and our guys were nitpicking at each other. And then they came back together, which is what I wanted to see, and we finished as a team. We started as a team.
And I think as you mentioned, Tom does an excellent job in half court offense and speed game transition, as well. They beat us in the first half early. They got that lead off mostly transition, open 3’s. Caught Zeller a couple times in transition, as well. They do what they do and they do a good job of it.
Q. Just like to get your thoughts on how you see IU matching up with Virginia Commonwealth with the unique style that VCU plays?
COACH MENZIES: Well, I think that’s going to come back down to the team with ‑‑ I don’t know how many guys Shaka has that are actually playing, I don’t know how many returns he has on that team. But I think the reason they won that first one today, just looking at it for a little bit, is they had some guys that really played within themselves when they needed them. After Wichita State made a run at them, they played within themselves and showed a lot of tournament experience during that winning time. That can bode well for them.
But I tell you what, if IU shoots the ball the way they did tonight it could go in their favor, as well. They’ve got some guys that are playing hungry right now. They’re like a wounded animal losing Verdell. And they bonded together. It made them stronger, I think. No knock on Verdell. I thought they really played great as a unit, they played to their strengths, they played within their roles. We’ll see how that shakes out. It will be a great game.
Q. How was Jordan Hulls able to get as many open looks as he was and how much confidence momentum did that give them?
COACH MENZIES: I thought he got a few of them in transition. Us trying to get back and worry about Cody. This was really kind of the focus, the way he runs the floor so well. And then getting back out to Hulls was difficult at times.
So they had some really transition 3’s. You’ve got to give the kid credit, we tried to go zone for a couple of possessions. We played two or three possessions and I think he hit two 3’s in that stretch or at least one, I know for sure.
You’ve got to give up something to get something sometimes. And they got that two‑headed monster working like that, it’s tough to battle back.
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