Mick Cronin Quotes Previewing the Nebraska Game

Dec. 26, 2013

Mick Cronin Previews the Nebraska Game
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Dec. 26, 2013

On what Nebraska does well that worries him:
“Post Christmas basketball is a little different. That’s why (with) the game before conference I like playing a team from a major conference like Nebraska out of the Big Ten because they are going to be big, strong, physical, and well coached. Being bigger and stronger is not enough from here on out. You have to execute and you’ve got to play smart get to the foul line get defensive stops and got to be physical. So I expect a typical Big Ten type opponent that is very physical.”

On Nebraska’s ability to score:
“They are average about 73.4 points a game. (Terran) Petteway is a very good player, very versatile guy. He can score inside and out. He makes five free throws a game, makes a couple of three’s a game, so he is a tough match up. He can score in a lot of different ways. He plays a couple of different positions for them as well, so were going to have to have some different people on him whether it is Shaq (Thomas) Jermaine (Sanders) or Titus (Rubles). It depends where they have him on the floor.”

On if the defense is back to where he wants it to be:
“I told everybody and people want to worry about offense, but our problem is defense. In our two losses we averaged giving up 53 percent from the field and since then we’re averaging 30 percent. We beat a team that could be a Top 10 team in Pittsburgh and won two other games easily because of our defense. So our defense have been great the last three games and that’s the key for us. Jump shots come and go. Offense can come and go, but your defense has to be your constant. I think that’s not just us, I think it’s any winning team in sports.”

On how he is able to have his team play great defense in the past few years:
“I think the one thing you learn in coaching is teams that defend win and teams that do things that other teams won’t do (win). You have to learn that is why you win. I try to give our guys all the time the same ‘winners know why they win.’ They do successful things that aren’t easy (to do). That’s what separates you. At the end of the day, everybody has scholarships but what is going to separate you from your opponent? Everybody has scholarships and facilities, fan support maybe at different levels, but if you don’t defend, you’re not going to win and also you have to rebound and take care of the ball on offense and share the ball. So it’s a three-fold process, but it has to start on the defensive end.”



On if it is a constant battle to emphasize defense:
“You can never lose sight of what is the most important thing to give yourself a chance to win. When you’re building a program, to me, that’s got to step No. 1. Because before you learn how to win, you have to learn how to not lose. If you make it easy on your opponent, if your opponents get easy lay ups and wide open shots, you can expect to lose because they aren’t just going to give you that stuff. The top 50 teams in basketball don’t give you lay ups. They don’t give you wide open shots. They scout you. They prepare and take away your strengths. They keep you off the foul line as best they can. They don’t turn it over so you don’t get transition. So you have to do the same thing to them and it becomes like the Pittsburgh (game) at times. You have to win ugly. But when you talk about our defense, as it’s gotten better we have gone to the NCAA tournament. It’s the reason why we win.”

On if it’s the players' mentality is to make the extra pass or if they have changed some things:
“We’ve talked a lot about it. I think early in the year we were able to score without making the extra pass because the officials were blowing the whistle in the first 12 seconds of the shot clock and now that’s not happening. Now you have to execute better and it’s one more pass throwing five instead of four, throwing six instead of five. Throwing the extra pass on the fast break to make sure you get the layup. But I think it’s contagious. I’m a big believer in that passing is contagious. Just like taking bad shots is contagious. Guys start playing unselfish and it becomes really contagious. Everybody has a lot more fun and you score a lot more points. I think our guys are starting to realize how important that is. Because the defenses have improved that were playing against. That’s why I didn’t like how the games were being called early because it just wasn’t realistic. You weren’t just going to throw one or two pass and get fouled every possession. It actually stopped sooner than I thought.”