They said it: Indiana coach Tom Crean and player Yogi Ferrell after 81-76 loss to Wichita State in NCAA tournament:

They said it: Indiana coach Tom Crean and player Yogi Ferrell after 81-76 loss to Wichita State in NCAA tournament:

TOM CREAN OPENING COMMENTS: … As far as for the game, hard-fought game, no question about that, both teams playing very, very hard, the 50/50 balls going both ways. Unfortunately for us the biggest difference was the points they were able to score inside of the paint. When we have been able to keep that under control this year, we have been better and when we haven’t, that’s what we have struggled. A few points off turnovers, we would like to have back, we shot the ball well, you come into a situation and shoot 50% from 3 there is no argument on that part of it but we gave up too many easy baskets and VanVleet did an excellent job of controlling the game for Wichita State. He broke us down some in our coverages, but he was also able to find the roll. They did a better job than we did of finding the roll in the pick-and-roll because we felt we could run a lot of middle offense, ball-screen-type of offense, which we did, but we had a harder time dealing with their length, finding that roll man and, again, they were able to get more points in the paint. To me, we will watch the film and see different things but bottom line is I think that’s the biggest difference in the game for us. I’m proud of our guys, the way they have persevered is a great word for us right now. I wouldn’t call it a mantra, we’re not trying to make a T-shirt, but the bottom line is that’s what our guys have done all year long. They have persevered through adversity, persevered through different trials, and they did some things that not a whole lot of people expected them to do. Unofficially picked 11th in the league and they get into the NCAA Tournament with a 10th seed as the youngest team. We’re not happy with the outcome today, certainly we could have played better, but I have zero disappointment in the way these guys battled, competed, got better and persevered throughout the season.

Q. For Yogi, even with the points you guys were giving up inside, you guys kept hitting three after three. Were you thinking for most of that second half that that was going to be enough?
YOGI FERRELL:
No, I mean, we never knew it was going to be enough. Our offense was hitting a couple of shots at the end of the day, we should have been playing better defense. They scored so many points inside. If we could have got more stops in a row, which is what we wanted to do and knocked down a couple of shots, we could have been right there.

Q. Tom, I know it’s difficult in the moments right after a loss, but what would your expectations be for next season? You mentioned a young team. What would you think this team could do next year?
TOM CREAN:
You said it all first, it’s too early to think about that, but my thing would be that we continue to build on the things that we do pretty well, and absolutely be obsessed with getting better at the things that we struggled with. We’ve got to get a lot stronger. We’ve got to have a more consistent — we just got to build consistency. We’ll leave it at that. I don’t have a lot of deep thoughts on that one yet, but we have to build consistency in all the areas and improve and stay on course, because I think they got a lot better during the year. Our record didn’t always reflect it in some of the games, but I’m with ‘em every day, so I’m going to stick with being the judge of it. And I don’t get to have an opinion and insights — I can have an opinion. I have insights into this team because I’m with them every day. I like where it’s headed, but there is no question that we’ve got to continue to improve in not only in the basketball areas, but certainly the strength areas; and being able to, I would say, the biggest thing right now is putting more multiple stops together, because when we did that, we were a pretty good team. When we didn’t, it got a little harder for us. Off the top of my head that’s where I am at. I wasn’t ready for the checklist at the end of the year.

They said it: Purdue coach Matt Painter and player A.J. Hammons after Thursday’s 66-65 loss to Cincinnati in second round of NCAA tournament:

MATT PAINTER’s opening comments: First of all, I want to congratulate Cincinnati. Obviously, they were able to hang in there when we got that lead in the last minute, and make some plays, make their free throws, and get the game into overtime. Just a hard-fought game. We had all the opportunities in the world, and that’s why it hurts as bad as it does because we knew we put ourselves in position to win and we didn’t make the necessary plays. That hurts. The guys in our locker room really battled, and they were really good on the glass. I thought we did an excellent job of attacking their zone. We simply just struggled making open shots. We had to do a better job of helping our interior players by knocking down some shots, and it just wasn’t our day. But our guys did a great job executing. They did a great job rebounding the ball. We had some breakdowns, and that cost us, but give Cincinnati a lot of credit.

Q. A.J., when their center went out, did you feel like the momentum had shifted in favor of your guys and that was something you could build on?
A.J. HAMMONS: Yeah, I felt like the momentum changed a lot. We just tried to keep pounding the middle because they only had like one big left. We just tried to keep it going in the middle. The momentum, we had the whole game. We just had to finish the game off.

Q. Coach, what have you learned about your team? What has been the big lesson?
COACH PAINTER:
No question about it. We’ve had these struggles during the season, just taking care of the basketball, making a free throw. The necessary things that you have to do. When you have a group of guys that have changed your culture — we had a really good culture for about a six-, seven-year period. Then took a couple steps backwards. These guys have been huge with that. Their effort was unbelievable tonight, but our execution at times was not. We’ve got to do a better job of taking care of the basketball, knocking down your free throws, and then keeping them out of rhythm on the defensive end. We weren’t able to do that, especially at the end. We had a lot of things that happened — it wasn’t a lack of effort kind of thing — that got to a point where we still could have finished the game out. Their intent was to make those plays, and we just weren’t able to do that. Hopefully, in the future we can be better, and you learn from it because we put ourselves in a good position tonight, and we didn’t capitalize.

Q. Matt, what were your thoughts when (Octavius) Ellis was ejected from the game and how your team responded to that?
COACH PAINTER:
I didn’t see what happened. He threw an elbow or something like that. I didn’t see it. But I thought we had an opportunity, without their leading scorer to be in the game. Any time you lose your leading scorer, I thought that kid that came in and backed him up, I thought he played great. He had some key plays, especially late in the game and overtime. He got a golden opportunity to play well, and he helped his team win. But we had that stretch right there where we had a couple of wide-open shots. We got the ball inside, and we got nothing for it. I said earlier, it’s very bizarre because all we kept doing is executing on the offensive end and getting good shots and missing. We don’t normally take that many 3s, but we just kept getting wide open and moving the basketball and just getting standstill shots. So we just continued to be positive and say, hey, we’ve got to drive the ball. We’ve got to get the ball inside. But that’s what we ended up getting a lot. They weren’t quick threes, outside of maybe a couple of them. In hindsight, you say, you shot the ball on the perimeter too much, but I thought our guys did a really good job.

Q. How would you sum up the season after the rough start from where you came?
COACH PAINTER:
We have great guys. We faced some adversity, and we had a couple of really good nonconference wins, and then we had a couple bad ones. Our guys didn’t hang their head. They kept fighting. We really improved on the defensive end. So I thought we had a good year. Obviously, you like to win in the NCAA Tournament after getting here, and you put yourself in a position to do so, and it hurts. But I thought we had a good year. It’s more than just that. It’s building on it, and we got a lot of the right guys in our locker room.

They said it: Indiana coach Tom Crean and players James Blackmon Jr, Yogi Ferrell and Troy Williams previewing Friday’s game against Wichita State

Indiana coach Tom Crean and players discuss Friday’s game against Wichita State:

Q. Yogi, as you look at Wichita State, what are some of the things that they present that make them a difficult match for you guys? What makes them good?
YOGI FERRELL:
One thing about their team is they’re a very solid team. They’ve got basically five solid positions, and that’s what makes them such a great team. They start junior and seniors, so they’re obviously a lot more experienced than we are. They’ve got great 3-point shooters; they’ve got great post presence. Like I said before, just a great experienced team.

Q. Seems like everyone is talking Kansas/Wichita State on Sunday. You guys hearing any of that? You feel like you’re being slighted at all?
JAMES BLACKMON:
We haven’t been paying too much attention to that. We’re just trying to read into what we can do on this game and we’re focused on Wichita State and we want to get the win and play against Kansas.
TROY WILLIAMS: We heard about it, Coach told us about it. We don’t see each other as a local team or a local act, so we’re just going to put up a great fight against them.

Q. Yogi, problems in the off-season and this season. In what ways do you think your team has grown up and become more accountable to one another?
YOGI FERRELL:
I think one of the ways we have grown up is when we took that trip to Montreal, I felt like as a team, getting to know each other and getting to know each other better, coming together. We have had our off-the-court problems before, but I felt like we’ve came a long way from that. When I listen to all the outside really, we’re just all staying together as a team, not reading articles with our names in it, not listening to what anybody says. Just listening to our coaches and teammates. That’s the only people that really help us.

Q. Coach, when the Selection Sunday came, Bill Self says Wichita State being a 7 blows him away. Do you get that?
COACH CREAN:
We looked at Wichita State as a great program. I didn’t get caught up in the seeds part of it. We just know that they’re a great team. Seeds, they’re relevant to some, but to us, they’re really not. If we spent too much time talking about seeds and all that type of thing with our guys, that would defeat the purpose. They’re excited to be here. They know the opportunity. We know what we are here for and we know that Wichita State is a great program. That’s the bottom line. No matter what they’re seeded, they’re an outstanding team, and they are deserving every year of the champions that they are, because they find a way to do that in the nonconference; they find a way to do it in the conference, they find a way to do it on the road. Again, when you have that kind of toughness, especially on the glass, I mean, you can go back to some of the close games they’ve had, and it comes down to that loose rebound, that 50/50 ball, that loose ball on the ground, the next pass, they play the game so thorough. That’s what we’re more focused on than anything else.

Q. Coach, talk about the Fred VanVleet and Yogi match-up.
COACH CREAN:
I think it’s more about the Wichita State and the Indiana match-up, personally, because everybody is going to be guarding different people, and I’m not sure how they’ll match up. I’m sure Gregg wouldn’t trade Fred for anybody and I certainly wouldn’t trade Yogi for anybody, so let’s sum it up that way. Both high-character winners. I don’t know Fred; I know of him, but I know Yogi. He puts winning first, extremely tough, smart, makes his teammates better, defends at a high level and I would imagine that’s describing Fred, the one I’ve seen on film. Like I said, I can’t give you personal knowledge, but the one I’ve seen on film, that’s what he looks like to me.

Q. Tom, your players talked a little bit about the experience and Wichita State having more NCAA Tournament experience. How do you kind of approach that as a coach? Is there a way you can help them through that, if that’s a factor?
COACH CREAN:
There is really nothing we can do about that. Yogi is the only one that’s played in NCAA Tournament games. Hanner was here, but he really was not a factor like he is now. So we can’t do anything about that. It’s been all year long, we’ve got to control what we can control. That’s easier said than done, it sounds like “Coach speak” but it’s really something you got to try to get out of them every day and try to help them understand that every day. And now it’s the opportunity we have to come out and play with great energy and make sure that our execution is right. They will make it hard, they will make it hard for us to score, I don’t think there is any question about that. We fully expect to be pressured, and certainly as a coach that’s a concern because I think their pressure is really good. To me, when that shot goes up, it’s not going to — we’ve got to be able to match that toughness, and they have tremendous, real toughness. There doesn’t look like there is any trepidation, any nervousness, any of that when they play. They’re a very, very confident group. And for one day we’ve got to have that same level of confidence like that. Hopefully our league and nonconference schedule and things like that prepare us for that. But they’re one of the upper-echelon programs because they have one of the great teams every year. Obviously Mark Turgeon got it rolling there, and Gregg has just built upon it in such a big way. So we have to do a great job of just matching up with them on that toughness and execution level more than anything else.

He said it: Purdue coach Matt Painter on NCAA tournament

Purdue coach Matt Painter, looking ahead to Thursday’s NCAA tournament game against Cincinnati:
Q. When you have a team that doesn’t have NCAA Tournament experience as a group, what are some of the things that you try to emphasize for them that are most important going into that first game?
COACH PAINTER:
I think just sticking with what our guys are – the strengths that they have going in to the game. I think, if you sit around and talk about the big picture and not talk about the actual game, you bring it into play. We have one guy with NCAA Tournament experience but not at Purdue. I would say the best thing for us is the fact that we’ve lived on the bubble here for three weeks. I think that preparation and kind of that pressure, if you want to say that, is the best thing to help us because we’re a loss, two losses away from not being here, which everybody that’s in this neck of the woods, they can say the same thing. But for us, when we don’t have that type of experience, I think that’s really helped us. But really just keeping our focus on playing to our strengths and trying to stay away from our weaknesses.

Q. Do you think that they have the right level of maturity to handle all the uniqueness that this week brings?
PAINTER:
I hope so. You find out at tip-off. You’ve played – we’ve played a good schedule. We’ve played in Maui on a neutral court. We’ve been in the Big Ten Tournament, obviously, in two games on a neutral court. So you try to do your best to prepare your team. I like our guys. I think we have stuck together. We’ve faced some adversity. We’ve been able to battle that. We’ve been able to overcome a couple of tough losses nonconference, and we played better in conference play. I spoke on it earlier, but getting on the bubble, I think, is the best way to try to fight some of that. You know that you have to win, getting into the end of February, the beginning of March, and then you come in and get really good wins right there, I think that helps prepare you. There’s no substitute for the actual thing. We have a lot of guys outside of one that hasn’t been here. You still have to play hard. You still have to produce. You still have to do those things. But I do understand your question.

Q. Does it help, coming from the Big Ten where defense is such a premium, to play a team like Cincinnati that does so many things well, similar to you on the defensive side of the ball?
PAINTER:
I think that’s a great point because they do have a lot of similarities to people we play. Like ourselves, defense is important. They are different when they play their matchups zone a lot. And they really make it difficult for you to get into a rhythm on the offensive end. But in terms of playing hard, playing physical, and rebounding the basketball, they are a Big Ten team, and they are a top half Big Ten team. I think it just goes all the way back to the days of Coach Huggins and obviously Coach Cronin. When you think about Cincinnati basketball, that’s what you think about. You think about hard-nosed, tough, rebounding, attack you on the offensive end. We have to be prepared for that.

He said it: Indiana coach Tom Crean after 75-69 loss to Maryland

Indiana coach Tom Crean after Indiana lost 75-69 to Maryland in Big Ten tournament quarterfinals:
COACH CREAN, opening comments:
Well, we just went toe to toe with the eighth-ranked team in the country and came down to the very end with them in the last eight minutes of the game. There were three field goals scored until our kid Max Hoetzel hit a three with two seconds to go between both teams.
First and foremost, we understand that we’ve got to play defense at a high level and energy and a hustle game at a high level, and I think we’ve come to Chicago and done that. Unfortunately we’re walking out of here without the win today, but we’re getting better. Our defense has gotten better. We got a lot of really good basketball from a lot of people. We needed to get better inside of the game in the second half, we did. The second chance points in the first half were 13-3, and we held them — we got nine in the second half, they got none, all right, that’s an improvement. We got to the foul line more in the second half.
I’m walking out of here knowing that our defense is getting better, our energy is high. No doubt we missed Hanner today, especially around the rim, and Nick Zeisloft according to the Ken Pomeroy rankings is the Number 1 ranked offense efficiency player in the country. It’s very uncommon for him not to have a good game or back-to-back good games. Offensively he didn’t, but he’s going to keep getting better. We’ve got some guys did some really good things, but unfortunately so did they, and we went against an extremely good team.
Dez Wells is not only one of the elite players in our league, he’s one of the elite players in the country, and for a lot of reasons. He can score, he can pass, he can drive it, he can defend, he can get out in transition, he’s tough, and he makes every one of his teammates better, and that’s a hard position to cover when they have as many shooters and somebody like Melo Trimble and people like that.
But I’m proud of our players. I’m proud of the way we’ve approached the week. I’m proud of the way we responded to a couple of tough games at the end, and with a team like this, the youth that they have, the fact that they’re getting better this time of year is a very encouraging thing for us.

Q. The first half was explosive. It was very– I don’t know how else to put it. And then both teams kind of slowed down. What were the adjustments you made to make that happen?
COACH CREAN:
I think it slowed down on purpose. I think it was a matter of making sure– we need to get to the foul line, okay. And the other thing is we don’t have very good match-ups for Dez Wells, and so it was really we’re going to make sure we’re moving the ball, getting people in movement. If you noticed, they really weren’t guarding Troy very high at all in the first half, and they really backed up and he hit those pull ups when we went into the ball screen. So we wanted to make sure we kept the game in movement so then that we could get into things, the 15-second area, the 13-second area, but still very good running in the break running our early offense.
But I thought our pace was excellent. I thought their conditioning was excellent, our conditioning was excellent, and so it was a matter of whatever the speed of the game called for was fine. But I think at the end of the game, like I said at the beginning, in those last eight minutes, I know there’s some free throws obviously, but in the last eight minutes to have three combined field goals– I believe, I was told that number before I came in– but three field goals in the last eight minutes before a shot with two seconds says a lot about the high level of play defensively, and that’s why I’m proud of our guys. We were going toe to toe with them. They made a couple more plays than we did.
Certainly the free throw situation that hurt us, and nobody feels worse than Troy on that. That hurt us. But we tried to recover from it. But it was just a hard-fought game, and both teams probably intensified their half court defensive efforts a little bit.

Q. How would you describe the urgency that your team played with in these two games here?
COACH CREAN:
I would say it was fantastic, and I’d say it was because they were reenergized. I think we really went home — we were home, I should say, but really looked at what we were not taking care of. It wasn’t about let’s follow the bubble watch and let’s read about how bad we’re playing. Let’s focus in on what we can fix, and the bottom line was the rebounding, and we had to get better at defensive rebounding the ball because we were giving up too many points on second chance points. We were getting some offensive boards, but we weren’t getting the points from it, and we had to clean up some points off turnovers, and we certainly had to do a better job of getting to the foul line.
We hit a little bit of a cold slump, and when you’ve got a lot of shooting and you don’t have that true, we’re just going to throw it down in there and command that double-team type of guy, you’ve got to make sure you’re hitting your shots. We had a couple games where we weren’t. Look at the Northwestern game; we’re flying around, doing an excellent job in the first half. We hit a 10-minute, 9-minute, 11-minute lull, whatever it was, where we just weren’t making shots we were making in the first half. So you’ve got to play through that. That’s our team. Our team has got a lot of three-point shooting, a lot of movement, and we hit a little bit of a lull on that. But we knew we could get better defensively, we knew we could get better at blocking out and rebounding the ball. We knew we could reenergize if we got some rest, and I think that’s exactly what we did, and I think– put it this way: If we’d have won the game, I would have felt great about us having a chance to go into tomorrow no matter who it was, Michigan State or Ohio State because of their confidence level, because of their urgency level, and because of their conditioning level.

Q. What’s the plan for Sunday, and have you ever been in this situation where you’ve got to watch Selection Sunday and not really be completely sure?
COACH CREAN:
No, I don’t have a plan yet. I’m not sure. I’m really not. I haven’t even close to thought that far ahead. I don’t know. I’ve got to start thinking about that tonight.
Other part of your question, I don’t think so. I don’t think as an assistant or a head coach. But you know what, it is what it is. We’re getting better. I love coaching these guys. They have grown up on and off the floor. They deal with a lot, and yet the resiliency of coming in and getting better is constant. They have a closeness that’s been able to develop over the year. It’s growing. It’s growing. It’s not all the way there yet, but where they will– they have started to learn how to hold each other accountable, and they will get on one another to be better, and I saw some of that the last couple days, again, too. I love coaching them, and I’m looking forward to continuing it next week.

He said it: Indiana coach Tom Crean after 71-56 win over Northwestern

Indiana basketball coach Tom Crean after Hoosiers beat Northwestern 71-56 in Big Ten basketball tournament in Chicago:

CREAN, opening comments: We’re extremely proud of the way our players played from start to finish, and in a 40-minute game, you’re going to have some runs, and it’s how you get back to the next run. When you hit a lull — we hit a little bit of a lull, but we reversed it and played right through it. Some of the things we really need to get corrected were second-chance points and doing a much better job on the defensive glass, and in turn doing an even better job on the offensive glass. We didn that. We moved the ball extremely well, but the pressure of our defense, the energy, the tenacity, all those things were really, really strong, and extremely proud of the coaches and the way that they prepared them and the way these guys and their teammates, the way that they played.

Q: is that the best sustained defensive effort you’ve seen from your guys this year or at least in a while?
CREAN:
I’m not sure. We’ve had some really good defensive efforts throughout the
season. Pittsburgh at home, SMU at home. I thought we did some really good things against Maryland. I’d have to go back and really think about it. But for this time of year and in a situation like this, this week to come in here and play that way with the youth of this team that we have and for them to be recharged and energized and doing
what we needed to do defensively and really understanding what we wanted to take away, and the bottom line is, it all starts with Tre Demps. That’s the bottom line. I think he was averaging 14 the first time we played them, he had 23. So really getting after a player like that is crucial, putting pressure on the ball.
But the biggest thing for us is we had to do a much better job when we look back over the last three games if we’re going to find a common denominator. We’re giving up too many second-chance points. We were not making our free throws as much, but more importantly, we weren’t getting nearly as many attempts and were giving too many attempts to the other team. And then we were getting beat a little bit on points off turnovers, and then when you add a Demps situation when we’re giving up too many points to the best player, those are all things that have to be part of the mindset. And I thought our players did an excellent job of, again, locking into that, playing over the time of year and the significance of this part of the season and really locking into what they had to do to get better this week, and hopefully it continues on for us.

Q. How is Hanner, and will he play tomorrow?
CREAN:
It’s too early to tell. He aggravated an earlier injury. He’s being x-rayed, I
believe, here. I love our medical team, so whatever needs to happen to help him, it’ll happen, and we’ll hope for the best.

Q. Do you think you’re in the NCAA Tournament now?
CREAN:
Well, I don’t know. You know, I really don’t know, and no one knows. That’s the beauty of it all. I would think when you look at criteria, I would think when you look at what we’ve done with the RPI wins, what we’ve done with the non-conference scheduling and winning some of the games that we did, who you choose to play, I would hope so. I think when you win 20 games and you end up winning now the tenth conference game in this league, I know it was 9 and 9 during the league and beat some of the teams that we’ve beaten, I would hope so. We’re getting better.
Collin is not all the way back yet, but I love what happens when this team starts to get that jolt again, what they’re capable of on the defensive end, what they’re capable of on the glass, and it makes our shooting so much better. When we’re not guarding as well as we need to, when we’re not rebounding as well as we need to, it puts a lot of
pressure on our offense. That’s what they’re learning and what they’ve learned at different times throughout the year, and I think it showed today.
When their defensive rebounding is at the forefront of everything, that drives our offense to a high level because we’re playing a very good offensive and defensive team today. They wouldn’t have had the finish to the season they had if they weren’t. I love
our capabilities, I love our potential, and I certainly hope that we are, but we have not spent any time talking about that, and we didn’t spend any time talking about it in the locker room in the short time we were together, and we haven’t spent any time
talking about it tonight. It’s all been focused on what they need to do to get better, how we can continue to get better, and then getting ready for each and every game.

Q. Nearly half the shots taken tonight were three-pointers. In general do you think that’s a position where your team can succeed?
CREAN: I’m not sure. I think what worked tonight worked tonight. I think the ball
moved. I think the bottom line for us is that the ball go through the paint and what did we make here, 11 threes? When the ball goes through the paint, whether it’s in a post-up situation, whether it’s in a kick-out situation, that’s the most important thing for us.

I’m back, and now I really do have heart

When I was playing soccer (humor me) at the University of South Carolina in the 1970s, my redeeming quality was an overabundance of perseverance. I managed to score an occasional goal and make a nuisance of myself, mostly to opponents.
At least that’s the way I remember it.

Flash forward to last October when I discovered just how amazing my college soccer career had been. I started having episodes of angina in the summer, which became progressively worse. The one that got my attention, and told me I was more than just a little out of shape, came on Sept. 27 while I was walking from the back of the parking lot at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington for the Maryland-Indiana football game. Married to a nurse, that proved to be the last warning shot.

I mentioned it during my physical a week later and a murmur was detected by nurse practitioner Kelly Traylor. That set off the chain reaction of an echocardiogram, a heart catheterization and then open-heart surgery.

Not only did I need two bypasses, but I learned at the age of 60 that I had a bicuspid aortic valve. In other words, my valve only had two flaps to manage the blood flow instead of the normal three.

Before having to be replaced by pig tissue, those two overworked valve flaps had done quite well in allowing me to play and coach soccer for more than half my life. And I know I wasn’t exactly easy on them, either.

I was given a choice of booking surgery within days of my cath or putting it off for a couple of weeks. Because I had planned to attend a reunion of my teammates that weekend, I was tempted to put it off.

But Dr. Lee Wagmeister has a way of bringing his patients back to reality. He said it was my choice, but “you could have a heart attack and end up getting surgery in South Carolina.”

I skipped the reunion and had my chest split open on Oct. 27 – exactly a month after I finally suspected something wasn’t right.

I’m forever indebted to Dr. Wagmeister, Dr. Scott Starrett and the nursing and rehab staffs of The Heart Hospital at Deaconess Gateway. And yes, I had the loving support of family, friends and former teammates.

I received encouragement from about a dozen former teammates, but there was one in particular that took me back in time and had me slipping on a Carolina soccer T-shirt the morning of my surgery.

It came a few weeks before my surgery from another “doctor.” Bob “Dr. Dirt” Heath was the no-nonsense captain my first two years with the Gamecocks.

“You know the thing that ALWAYS impressed me about you was that you NEVER gave up.”

Anyone who saw me play might question that characterization, but it was nice of Bob to say it. It motivated me going into surgery and again entering cardiac rehab, and now I’m within 15 to 20 pounds of reaching my college playing weight again.

I’m going to get there. I’m not giving up now.

They said it: IU’s Wilson, players after 31-27 upset of No. 18 Missouri

INDIANA HEAD COACH KEVIN WILSON
Opening Statement:

“Guys played hard. We made good plays at the end. Good win, Good team. Our team’s got a lot to grow and gain on it. It’s nice to finally play hard and get on the right side.”

On if he changed the game plan with Markus Golden out…
“No, I mean it made it easier, he’s a great player. We didn’t really change because they have more good linemen than him. The second team guys always come in (and play hard) so we just tried to be aggressive and attack.”

Can you talk about Tevin Coleman and what happened after you got him back to the locker room…
“He cramped up. We got a couple IV’s in him. This game was probably the most humid we’ve had for the year. Our guys have to eat right because those things build up, but our trainers did a great job. They IV-ed him up. Great job by our trainers. A lot of our guys were going down. Those weren’t faking deals. I mean at the end, I got a little ancy and we needed to go fast. We have to do a better job with our nutrition.”

Final drive and your timeout…
“It was huge as a matter of fact. I did not like the look and called a timeout. I didn’t like the look on the bench from our guys not playing. You could tell who had been sitting around waiting and watching. We told them at halftime, we couldn’t win and we couldn’t lose. All we could do was play and that’s all we wanted to do. Dig deep and play as hard as you can. We kept fighting at the end. We played hard enough to be on the right side by one play.”

WIDE RECEIVER SHUN HARRIS II
Put into perspective of how this win feels…
“It was an awesome feeling , we were working hard for so long, all fall camp we were working hard, it was just like `Wow this is an amazing feeling.’ Of course I can’t take the credit because it takes 10 other guys , I can’t throw the ball to myself. I like to come in an tone everything down. I don’t like to get to hyped, honestly. It’s a result of hard work. We have been busting our butts during the summer. It’s a great stepping stone, but of course we have a lot more games to go.”

RB D’ANGELO ROBERTS
On what happened in that last play…
“My coaches told me to roll with velocity and get in the end zone, so that’s what I did. We are all running backs, we all practice the same, we all have hard practice habits, so when Tevin caught cramps, and I had to come in for a little while, I had to step up.”

On what it means for Indiana to beat a Top 20 team…
“To us, we just came out to play hard and make up for the errors we made last week. Right now, we have another opponent and that’s what we are worried about.”

On whether or not he was thinking he would need to go up in the air to score the winning touchdown…
“To be honest, I was prepared to run somebody over, because I noticed a lot of people were on the ground, so that point in time I figured I might as well jump, because I have a forty inch vertical, why not use it.”

On why he prefers to run down the middle opposed to the outside…
“I consider myself more of a downhill runner , so I really don’t prefer to run outside, but as far as running downhill, I can see holes that I know I can make tackles out of.”

LINEBACKER TEGRAY SCALES
On the feelings that come with beating Mizzou…
“From our standpoint, it’s not a surprise that we won, but it was a big upset in reality. I think we’re very excited to know we could do that.”

This week in Big Ten football

Clearing my mind and notebook heading into another weekend of college football in the Big Ten:

Indiana coach Kevin Wilson was disappointed in the body language he saw on the sidelines of last Saturday’s back-and-forth game with Bowling Green that the Falcons won 45-42 with a touchdown in the final seconds.

He recalled that back in his college days at N.C. State when he was a walk-on lineman, and despite filling in admirably when the starting center was hurt in a game against Wake Forest, it wasn’t good enough to win him the job. The coaching staff moved a defensive tackle to center the next day because they didn’t think Wilson could do the job in a few weeks when the Wolfpack played Clemson and William Perry.

“I loved my role. That was my role. I would take my role today,” said Wilson. “That’s what we’re talking to our guys about. Embrace your role, understand your role, because what we need for this thing to really take off …”

One reason it apparently hasn’t taken off in his mind is some players being too focused on how many snaps they are or are not getting compared to teammates.

“I thought we were just a little sulky. We didn’t need that right right,” said Wilson. “We need our mind on our job, what we could control.”

— Indiana running back Tevin Coleman enters Saturday’s game at No. 18 Missouri leading the nation in all-purpose yards (237.5) and rushing yards per game (218.5). The Hoosiers have the nation’s third-best rushing attack with an average of 345.0 yards per contest.

— Coleman has set an IU record over a three-game span with 652 yards. He has scored a rushing touchdown for the Hoosiers in 11 straight games. If he does it again Saturday, he will tie Anthony Thompson for the school record of 12.

— Ohio State freshman quarterback J.T. Barre became the 13th QB in Big Ten history to pass for six touchdowns in a game in last week’s 66-0 blowout of Kent State.

— Encouraging sign? Indiana is 6-3-2 all-time against Missouri, including a 2-1-2 record in Columbia.

— Another encouraging sign? Since 1997, Purdue is 5-0 in games when facing a non-conference opponent after playing Notre Dame.

Next challenge for Boilermakers is unbeaten SIU

Purdue coach Darrell Hazell believes his Boilermakers finally showed some competitive desire in last Saturday’s 30-14 loss to rival Notre Dame – a contest that will be the last against the Irish until 2020.
Never mind it was only for a half. Purdue led 14-10 until Everett Golson broke loose for a go-ahead touchdown run in the final seconds of the second quarter. Still, the Irish had trouble putting the Boilers away. It was a 24-14 difference heading into the fourth quarter.
“That’s one of the things I mentioned to them right after the game. The energy, effort, the intensity, the volume you played with,” Hazell said of what he told his players. “All those things, you got to play that way each and every week. Doesn’t matter who you’re playing.
“That’s showing respect for the game. Whether you’re playing Notre Dame or Southern Illinois, doesn’t matter, you have to play with a high intensity level.”
Purdue is back home to face unbeaten SIU (3-0) on Saturday and needs to even its record to 2-2
SIU quarterback Mark Iannotti was named the College Football Performance Awards’ FCS National Quarterback of the week after he threw a school-record six touchdown passes in a 50-23 win over Southeast Missouri. He completed 15 of 21 passes for 225 yards.
“They definitely try to get it out of their hands quickly, throw the bubble, throw the quick hitches to the outside. They throw a lot of screens,” said Hazell. “I think their game plan is probably going to not have him drop back too much, probably roll out on the edge and try to put pressure on us that way.”