Here's what coach Jerome Allen, Miles Cartwright and Butler coach Brad Stevens had to say following Wednesday night's game in which the No. 17 Bulldogs topped Penn, 70-57 (see recap):
Anytime you play on the road in Division I basketball, there's a couple things that you gotta make sure you cover if you expect to win, and that's rebounding the ball and taking care of the ball. And Butler's an extremely good team because they don't beat themselves and they play hard, and they cover the little things, they cover the details better than most teams, and for us it couldn't be about a function of effort and enthusiasm and not competing on the backboard, and not taking care of the ball are things we talked about as being essential in us having an opportunity to win and we didn't get it done.
On the defensive strategy and being smaller, missing Fran Dougherty --
Fran's not a tall player in terms of our roster -- I think he may be the third tallest. And it's not about just his absence, I think it's a team sport. Other guys had an opportunity to step up and contribute, and for the most part we got it in spurts. We didn't get it consistently over the course of 40 minutes, and I just think rebounding the basketball on the defensive end is a function of will. I think there are a number of players who have played this game I can document that it's not always about size.
Penn made half its three-pointers, how'd you play offensively?
Offensively I wasn't overly upset, but just an inability to execute... Butler plays the gaps and non-passing lanes, so we knew we were going to be able to get ball reversals, but really the game just came down to just us not having unforced turnovers, not catching the ball and dribbling it off our foot, and rebounding the ball. And I just think with 19 turnovers and giving up 13 offensive rebounds, you're not going to win too many games at Division I college basketball.
On Butler's Roosevelt Jones, who scored a career-high 24 points, getting to the rim --
One thing he does well is he stays within himself, and we talked about -- he had 24 or 25 points, I don't think he took one jump shot, just tried to close out short and make you shoot over the top of us. And it wasn't necessarily the person guarding him, but we defend with five guys in action. So you can't put that on one player per se, just say he did a good job of being physical and picking his spots and doing what he was capable of doing.
On if Penn did anything special to slow down Rotnei Clarke (season low 6 points) --
No, we played the way we play whether we're playing at Butler, whether we're playing at Kentucky, whether we're playing in the Palestra. It doesn't really make a difference who we're playing against, we're going to play pressure defense and halfcourt and get up in guys, hedge ball screens. And I thought their motion offense really didn't hurt us, their pick and roll, misdirections didn't hurt us. They missed shots and they went and got them, and when you give up 13 offensive rebounds, outrebounded by 15, and you have 19 turnovers, it's tough to win.
Still within two points at 42-40, is there something you could've done differently?
I think we came down and took quick shots and then they came back down and hit a three to take it to 45-40. It's all about just having poise and patience and not trying to hit a home run every time right off the bat. I think that comes with time, and we're starting to get there as far as our overall chemistry. At times we play four freshmen, or three freshmen and Greg Louis, and this is really his freshman year because he was out all of last year. So just their overall understanding of the tempo of the game and rhythm, when teams make runs, has to improve.
Offensive rebounds and second-chance points -- what's the game plan to remedy that going forward?
It's like a broken record, with the needle scratch: I told these guys I want us to lose a game because a team is just more talented than us, or just flat-out superior. But we keep losing games because we don't rebound, we don't value the ball. It's not -- I refuse to believe -- that it's a tall task. Rebounding is a function of effort and will -- from Charles Barkley to Anthony Mason to Rob Belcore -- it's just being tough and wanting to be physical and wanting to have a sense of urgency about yourself that you just won't surrender, and that's something that we don't have yet.
Rebounding's a problem, what are you guys lacking?
It's obviously been a problem the whole year. I don't think it's a strategical effort, that's all offensive rebounding is about. [It's] just teams are obviously seeing that they can beat us on the boards, but we just got to have more pride and battle more early and make sure we don't get in such an early rebounding deficit.
Keys against Rotnei Clarke --
We just wanted to be there on the catch. He shoots it from deep and he has a great stroke, and we just try to crowd him as much as we can and try to limit his open looks.
No moral victories, but Butler never ran away until the very end --
We're not into moral victories either as a team, from a players' standpoint we really believe that we can win this game. So we felt that even though they did have those leads that we shouldn't have been in those kinds of deficits. Butler is obviously a great team, we played a great team at home. They had their crowd behind them. So there were a lot of positives from this game that we're going to take away, so we're just going to try and put together as many 40-minute efforts as we can, and that's what it's going to take to win a game, especially against a team like Butler.
How tough was Hinkle?
It's always tough to win on the road, especially for us being such a young team, but I thought in tough spots we tried to stay together as much as possible. And you know there were a lot of positives from this and we're going to try to move forward and get better.
I thought we won the game because of power, the interior guys -- Roosevelt, Kyhle in particular, Andrew as well -- our guards didn't produce the way they normally do. But I thought our guys, three through fives, played really well and kind of carried us tonight.
Anything Penn was doing to get Rotnei [Clarke] off, or was he just missing?
They're a good defensive team. He did a good job with them, but it's the same level of attention that he's gotten every other game. He wasn't as good tonight as he's been, that doesn't mean he won't be great tomorrow, that doesn't mean he won't be great the next day. But he just had one of those days when he wasn't as good as he usually is, and that was pretty evident when he missed those two wide-open ones at the start of the second half right in front of our bench. And obviously we're a little spoiled thinking one of them's gonna go in -- it's got to.
On his team's performance defensively --
Great in the second half. We weren't very good in the first, but that being said if you go back and watch the film, which we will, there will be eight points that were hard shots by Penn in the first half. The one where Hicks shook up Kellen [Dunham] one time, raised up and shot a three, Kellen was right in his face. They had a couple of contested shots right on the baseline that are tough in-between shots, and credit to them, I knew it was gonna be hard tonight because they're really well coached, and those guys run a lot of great stuff. They're getting better every game, and also they've been in most every game, and that's usually the sign of a team that's ready to break through.
On if he expected his team to dominate the boards so much --
The first thing I looked at when I saw Dougherty was out, and I hope he gets better soon because mono -- if it's mono, I don't know -- but it's not an easy thing to recover from midseason, but I think the thing that you notice is that they were getting outrebounded by 8 and then he averaged 8. And so that was certainly an emphasis for us to get to the glass, and I thought it was the difference in the game, the power inside. Not only those guys -- the four and the five -- but also posting rows and just finding different ways to score around the basket.