March 8, 2018
Jamie Dixon: Good one for them. Obviously two really tight games, about as tight as you can have it, two NCAA tournament teams playing in March. So obviously a great game for a Big 12 tournament. You look at the numbers, about as even as you can have. Rebound numbers are the same and field goal percentage the same and they got to the free throw line, you can see the difference there. We played good. I thought we could have played better. I'm proud of our guys. We played hard. I don't know that we finished it off as good as we had. We had a good lead and just didn't get it done down the stretch. I'm disappointed to have that lead and let it get away from us, but we know why it did and we're going to learn from it and get better for it.
Q. Alex, what did you see coming down court at the end of regulation you were able to find Desmond for the game-tying 3-pointer? Alex Robinson: Everybody collapsed on me and I saw Kenrich and Desmond over there and the guy was closing out on Kenrich, so I skipped it through the corner to Desmond.
Q. Alex, the free throws at the end it looked like you looked to the bench. Was that maybe to get your form down? What kind of advice were you trying to get at that point right before you stepped to the line and then just moving on from that. What's the process of trying to get over that and look ahead? Alex Robinson: I think the whistle blew or something like that. So I was just seeing what we were going to do, or if Coach was going to call something or anything like that. Looking forward. Just gotta move on and continue to work and get better and learn from the situation.
Q. Describe K-State's defense. They seemed to be in your face at all times and they hold you down below 70 points all three times you played? Kenrich Williams: They do a good job of just pressuring the ball, denying sometimes. Sometimes they're in the gap. They're a good defensive team and that's a good reason why.
Alex Robinson: Like Kenrich said, they're a sound defensive team. They're always in gaps and things like that and communicating on defense.
Q. Just trying to defend them in the post how difficult was that today? Mak had a pretty good game for Kansas State and I think he tied his career high and he's a mismatch problem. They haven't had that kind of presence in the paint. Talk about how he adds something to their offense and defense. Kenrich Williams: He does a good job of getting in open spots, getting easy dump-offs, getting himself open. Defensively he's long. Plays good defense.
Q. Was his mismatch a problem for you though? Kenrich Williams: No, he wasn't.
Q. For both of you, I'm wondering how big of a swing of emotion is it to go from the euphoria of tying the game and going to overtime and then to lose so narrowly in the quarter finals of the tournament? Alex Robinson: Well, I mean, it just didn't go our way. We've got to keep fighting and looking forward and get ready for the tournament now.
Q. For both players, you guys both had great games. What do you take from your performances today and how do you take what you learned today into wherever you play next in the postseason? Kenrich Williams: Well, it's going to be like this for the rest of the year, for the rest of the games left. We know it's lose or go home so we're going to go out and play hard. Just do what Coach says, offensively and defensively.
Alex Robinson: Like Kenrich said, get back in the gym and get ready for the tournament and focus on the next game.
THE MODERATOR: Guys, thank you for coming. Questions for Coach?
Q. You mentioned that you figured out what didn't work down the stretch, why you guys weren't able to keep the lead. What can you pinpoint there? Jamie Dixon: Couple shots we took and turnovers. Bad shots we look at as turnovers, and they got to the line. They got to the foul line. We couldn't let them get more free throws than they got and they got more than we got. So I think those are the things that stood out.
Q. What are the next few days like for you as you plan for Selection Sunday? Jamie Dixon: You get a day off tomorrow and prepare. Everybody is in the same thing. Somebody is going to lose tomorrow. Three more will lose today. So one day off, another day off. It's not a big difference. So you prepare, you get ready, and we've played guys a lot of minutes. So in some ways that can be productive, and we'll try to get better. We will watch some film because we had a 9-point lead and we let the thing get away and we've done that a few times, especially on the road and call it what you will, but we've done that. We did it in the last game against Tech, too, as well. We continue to put people at the line when they have trouble scoring against us, and that was the case here again. Call it what you will, but they're getting more free throws than us and eventually that's a bad thing.
Q. When you've had so many of these kind of games, is there a growth process or scar tissue or is there both? Jamie Dixon: I mean, you know, we've gotta find ways -- we've had an interesting season because our wins have been blowouts, we've beat ten people by double digits and we've lost games on the road, couple home ones early, nothing recently and this is semi neutral or whatever you want to call it, but, you know, I go back to the same things, it's the free throw hurting us, today was turnovers. We have been high on turnovers. We were leading the conference in lowest turnovers, lowest in the country, and that's been hurting us now. And ultimately our defense has not been what I wanted it to be. It's improved and it's much better, but it's still not where it needs to be to finish things off when you're struggling to get some. I look at our numbers. We shot 46%, you know, it's only 14 turnovers. We were way up on the rebounds, but it turned the other way in the second half. They were more physical than us, way more physical. That was clear, evident. Their philosophy, what they did to Vlad was clear. We knew it was coming, but clearly more physical than us, especially in the second half.
Q. Building off that, if you ask a Lehman they may not list Kansas City as one of the better defensive teams in the league, but they clearly are. What do they do that gives you so much trouble? Jamie Dixon: We beat them by 10 the other day, so we shot a good percentage in that one. Really the turnovers, I guess. We shot 47%. That's low for us, but not that low. Most people will take that, and we had some foul trouble and there were some situations, and I think we had too many turnovers. But I don't know that they caused them. We've got to finish plays in transition, and I don't know that that's their defense that caused that. Usually it's transition, but we make the free throws. They don't make the free throws. You're asking different questions, and that's what it got down to and we can't get beat at the free throw line. When we've lost we've got beat at the free throw line. It's that simple.
Q. Coach, talk about how Vladimir played and going into the tournament and double figures, your leading scorer? Jamie Dixon: We wanted to get him more touches. They were obviously fronting the post. We knew it was coming. They were physical with him. They threw two bodies, sometimes three at him and that's the thing.
He's gotta get to the line more than four times, considering what they were doing. But he made some nice passes I thought out of the post. Obviously he was 5 for 9, made the free throws down the stretch, so he did miss one. So we have got to continue to get the ball into him. He's a hard match-up especially with our shooting, because you've got to guard our shooters, and he has been passing so well out of the post.
Q. He took one 3 today. Did K-State do anything to keep him from getting the shot? He shot 57% or something. Jamie Dixon: I don't think he's shooting that high, with all respect. He was 0-2. They were both good looks. They didn't go down. He's a good player, and were you talking about Vlad? Yeah, he got a couple good looks and they didn't go down. We shot a good percentage, 7 for 17, 41%. People will take that, 3 for 17, 3 for 15, it comes down to free throws, down the stretch free throws. They got more and made more.
Q. As you await Sunday, how do you think the committee will view you and the rest of the league and what are your thoughts on the quadrant system? Jamie Dixon: It's going to play out here and we'll see. We'll see how the other teams around us do. We'll drop in the RPI we think. But you never know how the other teams around you are. But we were 20, 19 today. We put ourselves in good position. We feel we should have won these two games down the stretch, but we didn't. It's two of the same things, shot selection a little bit late when we had the leads and foul line. Gotta get to the foul line, gotta make more free throws. So we gotta get more free throws than our opponent. That's a big goal for us.
As far as the league, it's the best. I never thought it would be possible to get nine teams in the NCAA tournament, but we're giving it as good of a shot as you possibly can. So it will be a great boost for our conference to get eight, nine, whatever it may be in. It's remarkable. What we did in nonconference was remarkable, and I've been in good conferences. But top to bottom this provides the greatest challenge. It's a great conference, and I think people are recognizing it more and more. Obviously, we don't cover the biggest of cities in the east and west. But I think people are really getting a good idea of how good this conference is. But now we've got to go do it in the NCAA tournament. We can say it and say it, but then you gotta do something about it.
Q. What are you thoughts on the quadrant system? Jamie Dixon: Quadrant system? Let's see what happens first. Just talking about it, a lot of talk and speculation. But it's really the same thing. Just a little different look and things. But with the quadrant you've still gotta pick a metric to use, and so, you know, they're picking the RPI. Depending what they're going to use. So there is still which one are you going to use or how are you going to use them or how many? A lot of things factor in. I know guys like to talk about their indicators and their eye test, but the numbers are about as objective as you can get. We've done real well in that as far as our program, but certainly the Big 12.
THE MODERATOR: Coach, thank you very much.
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