Key Match-up: Bernard Robinson Jr. vs. Luke Jackson
Jackson is the Ducks’ leading scorer (at 21.1 ppg), rebounder (at 7.3 rpg),
and assist man (4at .6 apg). At 6-7 215 lbs. he’s a bit bigger than Robinson
and has good inside-out ability. It will be important for UM’s lone senior
and best defender to stay out of foul trouble because Jackson will probably have
a greater advantage over any other defender.
GBW Key to Winning: Perimeter defense
Michigan has struggled at times during the season in this area. It had gotten
better in the postseason, but the Rainbow Warriors had a little more success
against the Wolverines in their last contest. Oregon touts three players that
shoot over 40% from the 3-point line in Jackson (73-165 44.2%), Andre Joseph
(65-145 44.8%) and reserve James Davis (85-203 41.9%). If Michigan cannot limit
the efficiency from deep, they will face an uphill battle.
On why his team is playing better at this point in the season:
The biggest thing is defensively we’re playing a lot better and I think
it’s giving us an opportunity. We’ve always shot the ball pretty
well, but were doing a much better job defensively than we did in the middle
of the season.
They are a very very good basketball team. They are a young team that’s
coming of age. I think they’re playing their best basketball right now.
They are extremely athletic. Tommy has done a great job of coaching them, particularly
the young players with the way that they’re playing right now. They’re
going to be a tough opponent for us. We realize that.
On how Michigan compares to previous NIT opponents:
They’re different because they’re big, long, and athletic. They’re
going to do some things that are going to cause us some problems with the way
that they play and some of the things that they do. We’re going to have
to neutralize some things. But they do present a whole different set of problems
for us. They’re very similar to a combination of UCLA and CAL and those
types of programs in our conference…the difference being that they’ve
been playing in a tougher Big Ten conference, so they have themselves battle-tested.
On if Bernard Robinson Jr. is similar to Luke Jackson:
He’s like Luke in the fact that he’s the senior and he knows what
it takes to get it done. He’s been here before in situations and big games.
He plays with a lot of confidence and he’s a very versatile player. So
he’s very similar to Luke Jackson with what he means for us and does for
us. He does the same for Michigan.
On the exposure Oregon gets in NYC from the billboards they’ve
put up and playing in the east:
Mainly we’re given the opportunity for people to look up at some of those
billboards and find out who we are and where we’re at. We’re here
and we have a chance to play in a great environment. It’s kind of neat
after coming here last year and playing Cincinnati over in the Meadowlands.
It wasn’t a very good game...but to come here and see Ridnour’s
billboard up and now to come back here and play… it is kind of special
for us to have our program back here in the east.
On Daniel Horton and what they’ll have to do to stop him:
I can’t tell you what we have to do against him but he is a player, to
me, that can really score the basketball. I think he has kind of made the difference
for them. He’s starting to shoot better and do some things that’s
giving them more weapons. He’s a very good basketball player and is obviously
someone that we’re going to have to do our best to contain.
On if Horton will play this game with added incentive because Kent
cut him from last year’s USA basketball team:
I think that there are a lot of players out there that have the opportunity
to play with USA basketball. I think that what they’ve got to do is look
at it as an experience and see that they’re one of the top players in
the country and that they had the opportunity to be invited to camp and go through
the process. Whether or not he’s going to have a little more incentive
is a question that will have to be put to him. He had a great opportunity to
be with us and play with us a couple of years ago and did a great job. He just
didn’t make our squad last year. So he had one year with us and one year
On the similarities between Bernard Robinson Jr. and Luke Jackson:
We refer to Bernard as ‘Mr. Everything’ for us. At one point he
was leading our team in scoring, rebounding, assists, and steals. He’s
our 2nd leading scorer now, but still close to being the leading scorer. I think
Luke Jackson does that and probably then some for their ball club. So I think
that you’re looking at two of the better all-around basketball players
in college basketball. And when I say basketball players…what I mean is
I don’t think either one of those kids are one-dimensional or pigeon-holed
into a position. They are kind of throw-backs to a player that is a very skilled
basketball player. They do it all. They play all over. They also both happen
to be left-handed which is kind of ironic.
On the toughest losses from the season, and if Michigan State is the
one that hurt the most:
It would be hard for me to put it at one. That would be one of the few that
I’d have to choose from. That was certainly a loss that we had at home
that we thought we played very well in. They came back. It was such a great
basketball game. I thought they played tremendously down the stretch. But we
had some other losses. We lost to Indiana at home. We lost to Boston University
at home. Those were our three home losses during the course of the season. Honestly
I’d even have to look at a couple of the losses on the road where we thought
we played well and were right there to win the game but couldn’t get it
at the end. So I think the State game would be one of a handful that I’d
have to deliberate and make a tough choice about.
On if he thinks two more wins would have gotten Michigan into the tournament:
I’ve been asked that and I wish I had the answer. I don’t know.
Maybe that wouldn’t even have done it. The fact is that we had a number
of good wins that put us in this tournament. To advance and have the chance
to play in the semi-finals here is a significant achievement for our program
and our team at this time.
On if he looked back at games he coached against Kent when he was at
Seton Hall and what Michigan should expect:
I haven’t looked back at that. It was a few years ago with different
players and I was at a different school. But I think the thing you know about
playing Ernie Kent and his Oregon ballclub is they’re obviously very well
coached. They have a team right now that I believe is efficient and is as explosive
offensively as any team we’ve seen all year, so we’re very concerned
with their offensive power. I think that’s been one of the trademarks
of Ernie. He’s been a terrific coach in that regard. He plays a very up-tempo
fast paced style of basketball and they shoot it very well.
On what playing in the postseason means to his team:
I think it’s obviously given us a sense of confidence that we’ve
been able to advance in the postseason. I think that anytime you make postseason
play, it’s a significant achievement. You look around and there are only
eight teams left in college basketball right now. We’re one of the fortunate
ones to be included in that category. So I think to advance in the postseason
bodes well for your program and it certainly bodes well for us because we’re
very young. I try not to harp on that (being young). I’m hoping that it
will give us a lot of confidence in the future.
More on Luke Jackson:
I’m very impressed with him. I think he’s one of the very best
all around players that you’re going to see in college basketball. There’s
nothing he can’t do. He plays with a savvy that is beyond his years. I
love that about watching basketball players and he’s one of the ones that
I’ve seen do that as well as anybody. He’s a big time player. He
does it all. He’s a great passer. I think one of the things that you look
for in players is can he make others better and he certainly has the ability
to raise the level of his teammates by his play…. and not just by his
scoring. I think sometimes you see those 40 point games and that’s high
production for him which is great, but the impact that I’ve seen him have
from watching tape is he can really make other people that much better than
they are. I think that’s the mark of a very special player