About Randy Beard

Randy Beard has been at the Courier & Press since 2007 and became the sports editor in 2012. He has previously been a sports editor at the Anderson (S.C.) Independent-Mail and the Tallahassee (Fla.) Democrat. He began his professional sports journalist career in 1976 and has spent his career primarily covering college sports in the ACC, SEC and Big Ten. He's also covered the NFL, the original North American Soccer League and professional tennis and golf. He's covered two Super Bowls, three college football national championship games, dozens of NCAA basketball tournament games, an Olympics, a World Cup and once hung out with soccer legend George Best for two days and sat in a golf cart with Jan Stephenson.

The love-hate relationship between readers and writers

I’ve been doing this sports writing thing professionally since 1976, which is the year I was named the Sigma Delta Chi South Carolina Rookie Journalist of the Year while working as a one-man sports staff, backup photographer and backup news reporter for the Beaufort Gazette.
I’ve won state press association honors in three states — South Carolina, Florida and Indiana. I’ve been named a top 10 columnist by the Associated Press Sports Editors Association. I’ve served as a vice president of APSE and overseen the small newspaper caucus. And, as I like to brag, I’ve spent time sitting in a golf cart with Jan Stephenson. And it was the 1986 Jan Stephenson, too. So yeah, there have been days where it has been good to be me.
Alas, there have been a lot more days when it hasn’t been good to be me.
Having been a sports editor at three newspapers in three states for a total of 23 years, I’ve been accused of being a grad of at least 50 high schools and 15 colleges.
And at the moment there is a group of Evansville IceMen fans who are convinced I hate hockey.
Seriously, that’s not true. When I was the sports editor in Tallahassee, there was an ECHL team, the Tallahassee Tiger Sharks, that my staff covered. I even had a dedicated writer for the team.
But three years after I arrived in town, the Tiger Sharks moved and Tallahassee was no longer a hockey town.
Keep that in mind as IceMen owner Ron Geary makes his threats about moving the team if he doesn’t get a better deal with the city over Ford Center rent.
Guess what, folks? UE isn’t going anywhere. Neither is the USI. Neither are any of the SIAC high school athletic programs.
But the IceMen? Who knows if Geary’s threats are real or if he’s just crying wolf again.
There’s one other factor that sometimes forces us to chase the IceMen when they are at home. It’s simple, really. We only have a five-person sports staff compared to the 11 I had in Tallahassee, so we have to prioritize what we staff at times.
I wish that wasn’t the case, but its the reality of newspaper economics these days. The number of newsroom staff in Tallahassee isn’t what it used to be, either.
But I want to make it clear that I don’t root against any of the teams in Evansville. I also don’t cheer for any of them like a fan. I’m a journalist, and we aren’t supposed to cheer in the press box.
But I would prefer that the Aces, Eagles, IceMen and Otters won. Ditto, for the best area high school teams in each sport.
Losing coaches and players make for grumpy coaches and players, which makes it much more difficult to write entertaining stories anyone will read on the web or in print.
So please don’t hate. And I’ll try to be a little less snarky on my Tweets.

The test of friendship

I’ve got a former college teammate, now Facebook friend, who has much different political views than me.
He’s also way less tolerant than me, posting things from political blogs and other websites that he can’t possibly believe are true but commenting as though he has drank the Kool-Aid. And one of his confounding and absolute views is that all journalists are commie scum who should have their hands and tongues cut off.
And don’t get him started on sports writers who criticize our beloved Gamecocks (and there’s been plenty of that this season).
Anyway, this is the comment he left on my Facebook page after we had a recent political sparring session over my belief that there should be tighter gun control laws nationwide. He essentially called me an idiot to which I had responded that I was disappointed; that I never thought it would get personal between us.
“Your are one of my friends and a teammate but you already know how I feel about journalists in general and sports journalists in particular. Mostly you are all left and I never have claimed to be tolerant.”
I’ve been called worse by readers through the years, and lately by Evansville IceMen fans. But hey, I’ve got thick skin (maybe too thick in the middle).
I still love you Bourne. Next beer is on me at the next reunion.

Don Mattingly wants to build an R.B.I. program that lasts in Evansville

Link

No one was more disappointed that Don Mattingly when his plans to launch an R.B.I. – Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities — league fell apart a year ago.
He had connected with a former Babe Ruth All-Star teammate, Dean Hall, and felt that Hall would be an ideal point person to roll out the R.B.I. program because of his connections in the Center City. But somewhere along the line Mattingly said the program “got off track” and he and the board of Mattingly Charities chose to pull the plug and cut ties with Hall.
Even Hall admitted that he didn’t clearly communicate his vision to Mattingly when the two talked about starting a league. Hall wanted to involve as many churches and community organizations as he could, possibly lining up more than two dozen teams in various age groups for baseball and softball. He also made late requests to the Mattingly Charities board for stipends he could offer coaches. He reportedly also sought a salary for himself.
Other R.B.I. leagues have done that, so Hall wasn’t completely out of line with his requests. But he also made the wrong assumption that Mattingly would be willing to write a check to cover all the league expenses, no matter how much they piled up.
“That’s kind of the philosophical problem of it,” said Mattingly, now manager of the Miami Marlins.
Consider it the curse of being both rich and a part-time resident of your hometown. There’s always someone coming out of the woodwork who believes the know how to spend your money better than you.
Mattingly has been dealing with sketchy business proposals in Evansville since his Donnie Baseball playing days with the New York Yankees.
He’s disappointed the R.B.I. league took that sour turn shortly after holding a launch party at the Blush Ultralounge that attracted a lot of community support.
From his standpoint, Mattingly envisioned that the league would start out as a program for younger age groups, involve no more than 50 to 75 players and rely on volunteer coaches.
When he learned that Hall was trying to throw together a much larger program, involving hundreds of players in five or six age groups, Mattingly and his Mattingly Charities board were concerned that their charitable resources would be spread too thin. They had planned to operate on a much smaller budget that would pay umpires. cover field maintenance expenses and give every player a ball, bat and glove.
“I wasn’t comfortable with the direction it was going,” said Mattingly. “It never changed what I wanted to do, it just had to reorganize a little bit. The goals are still the same, it’s just a little different leadership in place now.”
He’s now aligned himself primarily with the Boys & Girls Club of Evansville.
He and wife Lori are also hosting a fund-raising event at the USI Theatre on Thursday night with country singer Toby Keith and former St. Louis Cardinals player Albert Pujols. Sorry, it’s sold out.
Additionally, he has arranged for Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter to speak to a business group on Friday with the money raised from that event going to Mattingly Charities to fund programs in Evansville.
He said the Mattingly R.B.I. league definitely will be launched in the spring.
As for how he managed to line up Toby Keith for the event: Mattingly said he and Keith became friends after the country icon performed at Roberts Stadium in 2009 and he learned that Keith was a fan of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“I’m a bit of an all music fan, but if I’m turning the radio on, I usually end up on country,” said Mattingly. “Whatever city I’m in, I usually end up on country.”
He’ll be relieved to learn that even Miami, with its airwaves jammed with hispanic, hip-hop and rock stations, does have one country station, WKIS-FM – Kiss Country.

They said it: Indiana coach Kevin Wilson and players Nate Sudfeld after Hoosiers beat Purdue, 54-36

Indiana’s 54-36 victory at Purdue on Saturday earned the Hoosiers their sixth win to make them bowl eligible. Where they will go — likely the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium — will be determined this weekend.

But while the opposition wasn’t the best the final two weeks of the season, it’s important to note that the Hoosiers won two games on the road to get to 6-6, beating Maryland 47-28 and then claiming the 18-point win at Ross-Ade Stadium for the program’s third-consecutive win in the Old Oaken Bucket series.

Here’s what IU head coach Kevin Wilson and quarterback Nate Sudfeld, who became the school’s all-time leading passer, had to say after the game.

Indiana Head Coach Kevin Wilson

Opening Statement:
“Our mantra has been that you’ve got to go hard and go for it, because we have struggled through the years and we didn’t want to get into a game where we are playing not to lose. We just wanted an aggressive mindset. We’ve had some injuries and guys keep stepping up, it was really good to see. I’m proud of the guys to finish with two good road wins and get us to six wins and a chance for a bowl experience.”

On quarterback Nate Sudfeld’s play:
“The last couple of weeks, we had a couple guys out and it shows how good our team is. The key thing is that the line is good, our tight end group is good, and the running game goes which allows Nate to distribute. Nate’s playing good, I’m proud of him. He’s awesome. He may have a chance to be the best quarterback in this league. There are a couple of great ones, but he’s played well. We need to win more games, but he’s playing with a decent group. I don’t know if it’s a great group, but when you put them together it functions pretty well and it is fun to coach.”

On what being bowl eligible means to the program:
“I know how hard these guys have worked. I want these kids to taste some of the rewards for their time and energy. I am just proud of those guys as seniors, those fourth- and fifth-year guys. To me, they had already done a lot, win or lose, and I hold them in high esteem no matter the outcome of the day. I’m just glad we get to spend a few more weeks together.”

On winning three in a row over Purdue:
“I go back to the fact that we are fortunate to have a rival. Not everyone truly does in this game and this sport. We respect their team, their program, and the sport. You want to win with class, and then I told the guys today that at twelve o’clock, we didn’t have the bucket anymore. So, again, I just respect the rivalry. It is about the memories of the week. I respect that we have this rivalry and we are lucky that we get an opportunity to play in this game.”

Quarterback Nate Sudfeld, who now has 7,490 career passing yards and 58 touchdowns
On the running game:
“The running backs did awesome. It really goes to our offensive line for opening up holes and giving me protection. We also have a running back by committee. They all come in and have different strengths. We feel really good about all the guys who come in and run the ball for us.”

On the 71-yard touchdown that gave him the school record for passing yards and put him over 3,000 yards in a season for the first time (3,184 yards with 24 TDs). Against Purdue he had 385 yards and 4 TDs:

“It was a cover-2, so I was thinking play-action to suck the linebackers in and work the slot guy. I peeked at the safety and he was a bit nosey. So, all I knew was I had to get it over the defensive back’s head, and you know [wide receiver Andre] Booker is really fast and then it all worked out.”

Big ‘birthday’ coming up for me

Next Tuesday I’ll be celebrating one of those “best-days-of-the-rest-of-your-life” moments.
I’ve even come to look upon Oct. 27 as my second birthday. That’s the day I had my aortic valve replaced after I had grown concerned about some angina issues and learned I had a birth defect.
At the age of 60, mind you.
Being married to a nurse had made me promise her I would never ignore chest pains, even something as insignificant as indigestion. It explains how I ended up having my gall bladder removed nearly 14 years ago (at least I think it was that long ago).
Anyway, I had never had a problem with stamina until last summer while cutting grass on a hot day, and even then it was only as I was nearly done. But then it hit me when I was walking to the stadium in Bloomington for a Maryland football game at the end of September, lugging a 30-35 pound bag packed with a laptop, media guide, digital recorders, notebooks and assorted accessories.
Since sports writers don’t qualify as big-spending boosters, I had been parked in the back of the lot, but the walk still was only about a half mile. Yet there I was stopping to catch my breath.
The last time that had happened was having to walk up the steep hill from press parking to the stadium at Clemson. And that’s nothing to be ashamed of as dozens of my sports writing comrades will attest.
Understand, I had played college soccer, coached soccer for 25 years while frequently scrimmaging with my teenage players, and had spent the past couple of decades working 50-60 hours a week while still getting in workouts at the gym. OK, maybe not as often as I should have.
Still, I’ve always handled work-related stress as well as anyone. And trust me, this job comes loaded with it.
But I didn’t know what stress was until Drs. Starrett and Wagmeister double-teamed me with the bad news after I had a heart catheterization procedure the week before I was scheduled to fly by to Columbia, S.C. for a University of South Carolina soccer reunion.
I believe it was Dr. Wags who gave me the answer I didn’t want to hear by saying that it was my decision when to have surgery, that I could go to the soccer reunion if I wanted, but I could also have a heart attack while away.
I skipped the trip and had surgery the following Monday, Oct. 27, 2014.
Best decision I ever made, by the way.
The Heart Hospital and its staff of nurses, respiratory therapists, physical therapists and nursing aides are all top-notch. One nurse in particular, Elsie, was there when I woke up and managed to ease my fears that I could survive the trauma Wagmeister had put my body through.
My wife has had some abdominal surgeries (six in 13 months) that have had me skipping more gym sessions than I’d like over the past year, but I’m still better off physically than I had been before the surgery.
So on Tuesday, I plan to celebrate the day, maybe even with one candle on a cupcake. I’ll be 61 plus 1, after all.

Hoosiers’ collapse against Rutgers was epic

So much for that 4-0 start and dreams of a bowl bid by Indiana’s football team.
While a postseason appearance is still within reach of the Hoosiers, they made that quest much tougher by blowing a 52-27 lead at home against Rutgers last Saturday in a 55-52 loss to the Scarlet Knights.
For all of IU coach Kevin Wilson’s proclamations about having a vastly improved defense this season, the results haven’t shown on the field. At least not consistently.
Now, with a trip to No. 7 and unbeaten Michigan State, Indiana is looking at a four-game losing streak if they can’t upset the Spartans.
If that happens, Indiana would then have to win two of its next four games. That includes home games against surprising Iowa (7-0, 3-0 Big Ten) on Nov. 7 after a bye week and then a date with Michigan (5-2, 2-1) on Nov. 14.
Then the Hoosiers will close out the regular season (and the month of November) with road trips to Maryland (2-4, 0-2) and Purdue (1-6, 03).
Those two games provide hope, particularly because Purdue has yet to win a Big Ten home game for Darrell Hazell during his three seasons.
But a win over Rutgers would have given IU a fifth win and a much easier path to a bowl bid.
Thoughts?

Looking for feedback on new Major League Baseball page

Once upon a time, a sports editor wouldn’t rush to get in line for pats on the back.
Indeed, we’re usually suspicious whenever folks start lining up, figuring they’re just organizing another gauntlet of abuse. But you may have noticed earlier this week — Tuesday, to be precise — your Courier & Press sports section began including a full baseball page each day again.
In doing so, we’re pretty much bucking the trend. For instance, McClatchy newspapers, another chain, made the announcement this week that they wouldn’t run MLB boxes this season.
Newspapers across the country have been striving to make the best use of an ever shrinking news hole. That typically means more local content and less wire service stories.
And less and less national agate.
A few years ago, we quit running all MLB boxes ourselves. However, we have continued to provide our readers with the boxes from the Cardinals, Cubs, Reds and White Sox games. And that’s not bad.
Most newspapers focus on one team, or maybe two, at most.
But this season, timed with our switch from Scripps to the Journal Media Group, I decided to take advantage of the MLB page that a sister newspaper is producing each day.
If what I suspect is right — that readers in the Evansville area have been wanting us to get back to covering all the teams — then the page should be a popular addition to our section.
I’d like to hear your thoughts through comments you can leave on this blog.
I also can be reached at randy.beard@courierpress.com or 812-464-7613.

If Iggy does return, Aces should be MVC favorite

Marty Simmons swore he hadn’t even heard the rumors about Egidijus Mockevicius possibly considering either heading to Europe for a pro basketball career or beginning his grad school days at another university, taking advantage of the NCAA rule that allows players who earn a degree and still have playing eligibility to step into the starting lineup at another school.
But when Simmons was asked about the rumors on Friday, he said there had been no discussions with 6-foot-10 Mockevicius that would indicate he’s thinking about not coming back for his senior season with the Aces.
“I am confident he will be back next year,” said Simmons.
He went on to say that Mockevicius not only likes his teammates and the other friends he has made at UE but that he enjoys being in Evansville.
“I think our community recognizes how special he is,” said Simmons. “He’s obviously a great basketball talent but he’s a wonderful personality and he’s a wonderful person. I think he’s been great for the Evansville community and I think (the fans have) wrapped their arms around him as well. To see him play so well last night (Thursday night’s CIT championship game) was awesome.”
MocKevicius scored 27 points and had 12 rebounds against Northern Arizona to lead the Aces to a 71-65 win.
“He’s good. He’s made himself better. And that’s the great thing because I think he has another level,” said Simmons. “I think he can get even better.”
If the big Lithuanian does return, it would mean the Aces would have everyone back from a 24-win season except for Jaylon Moore, who was Mockevicius’ tag-team partner in the paint.
The 6-7 Moore was often instant offense at times for the Aces and had a knack for changing momentum in games.
Still, next season’s UE team will have more size with 7-1 Nebraska transfer Sergej Vucetic and 6-7 Willie Wiley, a transfer from Vincennes University, ready to play after sitting out as red shirts.
“Now that they know they are eligible, they are ready to go,” said Simmons. “I think Willie and Sergej will bring vast depth to our basketball team and athleticism and obviously some size. And then Harris Brown, the guard from Indianapolis, is a heck of a player and I think he’ll battle his way in there as well.
“There’s a lot of things that factor into it, staying healthy and so on and so forth. Our guys have to understand that we must continue to improve. We must get better in this offseason.”
The biggest pieces to the puzzle, of course, are D.J. Balentine and Mockevicus. Balentine averaged 20.0 points per game this past season and Mockevicius nearly averaged a double-double of 12.3 points and 9.9 rebounds. They were both first-team All-Missouri valley Conference.
That should make them the preseason favorites to win the MVC in 2016 shouldn’t it?
After all, Northern Iowa graduates 6-8 Seth Tuttle and loses four other seniors who combined for nearly 55 percent of the Panthers’ offense.
Ditto, Wichita State loses Tekele Cotton and Darius Carter and Illinois State will have to replace leading scorer Daishon Knight.

He said it: Notre Dame coach Mike Brey after 68-66 loss to Kentucky in an Elite Eight game:

Notre Dame coach Mike Brey and players after 68-66 loss to Kentucky in a NCAA Elite Eight game in Cleveland on Saturday:
MIKE BREY’s OPENING COMMENTS: What a great college game. It was thrilling to be part of it. It lived up to the hype. We’re extremely disappointed. We really thought we had a great chance of beating them, and I thought we displayed that, but I think you’ve got to give them credit, they made some big plays, they made some timely 3-point shots at key times. And we got a little stagnant offensively, but it’s easy to get stagnant against that length. It takes its toll on you at times but I’m proud of our group, man. We emptied the tank tonight, and that’s all I asked them to do before the game.

Q. Mike, you lost the game, and I’m sure it’s still pretty raw, but how much do you think this game is testimony to the idea that there are no sure things? I think a lot of people didn’t see this kind of game coming.
COACH BREY:
Yeah, I mean, we really thought we had a great chance as the game was going on, you know, I thought we just felt we could win the game. We were very confident. The first half gave us even more confidence. We played such a great schedule and played so many hard games and good teams, I think we’re really battle tested to absorb their punches. I’m really proud of our group. We were a little tired at the end. I used a couple timeouts just to rest us. We were fatigued a little bit because our guys play a lot. Their length at times shrinks the court and it just makes it a little difficult, and it did there a couple possessions at the end of the game.

Q. Mike, I know the last play didn’t have any timeouts, what was the plan, what was discussed?
COACH BREY:
I told Jerian to try to get – can you get to the bucket, maybe you can just get to the bucket. They did such a great job kind of doubling him. He went for the win, I don’t fault him for that. He tried to get something off but I don’t think he could turn the corner. Even some of the shots he took in those possessions that were a little empty, you can say get to the basket, it’s a little harder to get to the basket against these guys, there’s not a lot of room in there. And I thought they doubled him out of bounds and they did a great job kind of riding him all the way to the end. You know, when we couldn’t get the key stop to get it to overtime, that’s where you lose the game really. You’ve got to get that stop. And it was Harrison, I think, right, that made the drive? Demetrius tried to get the charge. You don’t get a stop there, you know, you’re starting to doubt a little.

Q. Can you talk about the defensive game plan. And aside from Karl, it seemed like Kentucky’s bigs really struggled to get anything going down low?
COACH BREY:
We just didn’t want to give up too many clean looks. We felt we could absorb two point shots from their bigs. Towns was fabulous. Our two big guys, God bless them, they were on their own most of the night. The one time I go zone, Booker hits a 3, and the one time we tell to help a little bit, Ulis hits a 3. So now you’re like, the rest of the game, fellas, you’re on your own, we’ve got to hug these guys because I think we can absorb 2s. I love how we battled on the board against their size. But we have played big teams and we’ve held our own on the backboard and we did that again tonight to give ourselves a chance to win.

Q. So how do you balance the emotion then of playing as well as you did, taking down to the last possession and knowing that this is the end and you lost the way you did?
COACH BREY:
Yeah, I don’t know if it will sink in. I think I was in denial because walking down the hall, I had Auguste and Vasturia and I was talking about next season, that was my way of thinking ahead a little bit. The one thing I did tell them, I said, when we walk out of here, man, we’re champions now, we’re going to get championship rings, this group won a championship and hopefully it’s something to build on and I spent some time with Pat and Jerian, and just thanked them for what they’ve done for our program. I think it will still be a little raw here until tomorrow, but I’ve been in long enough, I’ll be abel able to look back and digest it, and my assistants will probably have some recruiting stuff for me tomorrow, knowing them.

Q. Mike, you mentioned Pat and Jerian, is that kind of the toughest part of losing in this tournament, is saying goodbye to seniors, especially two that have meant so much to you guys?
COACH BREY: Yeah, the one thing I said to them in the locker room, “You know what’s really depressing? We lost the game but we don’t get to practice tomorrow, I don’t get to be around this group.” And that includes certainly our two seniors because it was so energizing and rewarding to be with this team, it was uplifting. I was thinking, walking down the hall, that’s over, you don’t get to do that anymore. But those two guys are big-time winners, and man, have they left a mark for the young guys in our program.

Q. 34 seconds left, sorting through the loose ball. Did you care one way or the other whether it was a jump ball or your possession?
COACH BREY
: Well, I loved that we had it. One second’s a little tough to operate with, and we tried to get something for Jerian curling. The problem is when Cauley-Stein is hot on the ball, there wasn’t a whole lot of room to get anything, and it’s too bad we at least couldn’t get a shot upright there. But I thought the ball pressure of a 7-footer, and wing span on Pat, we just couldn’t get anything. And then you’ve got to be really mentally tough. And this group, they have been all year to kind of flush that and guard to get it to overtime. We’ve done that a bunch, but we couldn’t do it tonight, and you give Kentucky credit.

Q. Coach, you joked about being the loosest coach in America. What are you telling them in the second half when you guys go on that 13-4 run, and also the final minute?
COACH BREY:
We were talking about this is what we’ve done in the second half, we’ve had runs offensively and we’ve played with great emotion and spirit and fearlessness. I wasn’t saying a whole lot. They were talking in the timeouts like, we’re up five, let’s see if we can get it to 10. All things that we talked about through the year. I mean, we gave ourselves a chance, and it’s disappointing because, you know, you really had — you had the thing, you had a great chance to win it. But our guys felt we had a great chance to win it.

Q. Looking ahead to the Final Four, what type of team, what sort of style do you think can give Kentucky the kind of —
COACH BREY:
Wisconsin, did they win? Yeah, that’s a great match-up, that’s a great match-up. Wisconsin’s a little bit like us, they’re skilled and they can spread people out a little bit. They have a little more bulk and frontline size, but they’re really skilled offensive guys, and certainly we were able to get some things tonight. But the size does get to you, over 40 minutes it can take its toll on you and I thought the defensive possessions, as good as Jerian was getting us there, getting us a couple possession lead, it kind of swallowed him a little bit a couple times. But we’ll go down with him making plays because he’s made all the plays for us all year to get us here.

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.