The Northern Kentucky Norse took on the Kentucky Wildcats in the first round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament. Here is what NKU head coach, John Brannen had to say after the match up in Northern Kentucky’s first NCAA Tournament appearance.
Again, no video, per the rules, apparently.
Brannen: “Obivously, we got the draw. We knew we had a tremendous challenge on our hands. I talked to our guys about whenever you’re in your first NCAA tournament game or conference tournament game, your intensity and how hard you play will be more impactful than if you advance.
A lot of times, the best teams typically advance once a tournament goes on. For us, it needed to be a situation where we out-competed Kentucky. I’m not saying we did that. The first half, it went back and forth a little bit. I thought we didn’t quite get our legs underneath us. The first media, had a little gassed, and had to get control a little bit.
From there, we did a great job at executing our system and doing what we do. Just didn’t make shots. We were the best shooting team in the Horizon League the entire season. Tonight was not our night from the 3-point line. I’d liked to have seen what happened if we had made a few more.”
Q. Coach, getting within a possession there in the first half, and then De’Aaron Fox has six straight that sparks a 13-0 run for them at the end of the first half. What do you recall of that period there? It seemed like the legs did get under you a little bit, and then he kind of helped push that.”
“We talked about that, taking a hit. Kentucky is elite. We knew we’d take some hits and knew they’d go on runs. When you play a top team like Kentucky, you can’t let them have 18, 19-0 runs. The way to stop that is A. Making shots and B. Going down and getting a few stops. Our guys showed tremendous character and toughness to come back from that. That could’ve ballooned to 20, 25, 28. It didn’t. That speaks to the guys to my right.”
“Coach, what did you think of Carson’s toughness, specifically, going in as guys that were than him throughout the second half?”
“Throughtout the season, that’s who he is. That’s our second core value. Carson’s moved the needle toughness wise as much as anyone else in the program. I knew he’d have a great second half.”
“Coach, what did it mean to have Lavone (Holland) seemingly willing you baskets in the first half and continuing that in the second half?”
“He’s dynamic, so his ability to break off the bounds, put it in the land helps out offense, helps guys like Drew (McDonald) and Carson (Williams). Puts them in a position to score. He’s a great point guard. Lavone has gotten better from the day hes gotten her in every facet, from his toughness level, to his consistency level, to his commitment level to his teammates.”
“Q. Coach, with your team being such a young team, how is this experience going to benefit you for the next year, two years, three years?”
It’s huge. We become more hunted. We were picked to finished seventh in the preseason. Didn’t have any great expectations going into the year. In order to have success in the postseason, you’ve got to be there and get a taste of it. They’ve got a taste of it. Guys with teams that advance have been here before and experienced it. We’ll stock in it when we get back. We’ve got a tremendous group coming back, and hopefully we’ll continue to be committed to each other as much as they were this year.”