Robert Johnson, Max Bielfeldt and O.G. Anonoby met with the media following Indiana’s season opening 88-49 win over Eastern Illinois on Friday at Assembly Hall.
Watch the full press conference below:
Quotes are available after the jump.
Q. Talk about the rebounding advantage tonight.
MAX BIELFELDT: I think just the aggressiveness we went with. We had a lot of guys just crashing out (ph) at all times, and if it wasn’t the four or five getting it, Yogi was in there getting a hand on it; someone else could get it. It was a really good team effort on the boards. It was a lot of fun to be a part of.
Q. What was your mind-set coming off the bench?
ROB JOHNSON: Just pretty much keeping the same mind-set as I had when I was starting. Just trying to come in the game and do whatever needs to be done to impact the game.
Q. Was playing faster part of the plan?
ROB JOHNSON: Yeah, that’s something we want to do this year. We want to play a little bit faster, especially on defense, with the protection we have in the back now with a couple bigger guys. So at times we’ll get up full court and pressure the ball.
Q. What would you say are your strengths?
OG ANUNOBY: Energy, rebounding, athleticism —
Q. Talk about your first career college point came off — how did it feel?
OG ANUNOBY: Felt good. My teammates were really happy for me and Yogi gave me a really good pass. That felt good.
Q. Run right before halftime?
MAX BIELFELDT: I think it was just the whole energy of the place picked up. We got a couple offensive rebounds. We got some big plays by a lot of the guys and just built on one thing to the next. Defense picked up and we were getting stopped. It just all piled on to bring the energy way up and we just rode that and it turned out to be a really good thing.
Q. Rob, what’s the process of integrating a big man into this offense, especially in terms of getting him posted up, fed down low, I know it’s not something you guys were doing a lot of last year. Seemed like a hit and miss thing sometimes. What’s the process of getting him and Max, too, more involved?
ROB JOHNSON: It’s not, you know, totally different. But at the same time, it adds another dimension to our teams. At times where we are on a drill (ph) offensively and we haven’t got good possessions, we try to go down low to the bigs and get them touches around the basket.
Q. Was there more of a defensive focus?
MAX BIELFELDT: Yeah, I think a mixture of good ball pressure, everyone taking their assignments and everyone doing everything they can to win that assignment offensively and playing as a unit a lot of communication, a lot of talking and making sure everyone is doing the right thing at the right time so all five guys are playing one really good defense.
Q. How is it adjusting to the new rules?
MAX BIELFELDT: Yeah, this happened a little bit last year, too. They called it a little tighter these first few games, lightened up last year. But when we were in practice, we adjusted. There was some days we practiced, being a little bit more physical with the defense and some days, like how it was called tonight, we practiced just getting our hands just completely off and trying to create as much legal contact as possible.
So I think we were well prepared for that and Coach has got us ready.
Q. Talk about sustaining play of the starters.
ROB JOHNSON: I think it’s all in being ready to play, especially off the bench. It’s a unique position to be in because you get to see how the game is being played, and like you said, how the refs are calling the game so you get to come in and make adjustments and try to impact the game.
MAX BIELFELDT: I think our mentality this year is really attacking every minute, winning every four minutes, every minute we can. Just really focusing on not letting that drop off. We don’t want to be a team that’s known for having a lull or letting teams back into it or letting anything drop off. We really want to push it a hundred percent a hundred percent of the time. I think just doing that, it will make us a really good team.
Q. How good is the backcourt?
MAX BIELFELDT: We have a great backcourt. I think all the guys bring something different and it’s really fun to be a part of. The backcourt in general is just a really special backcourt that is fun to play with, and I think if they keep up their ability to score the ball and pressure defensively and just play how we played tonight, we can be a really special team.
Q. What was the energy like in the second half?
MAX BIELFELDT: It was good. It wasn’t great. He’s a young guy, really gets — he’s such a passionate player and you have to admire him for that. With the technical foul, that’s just the youth and I think he’s learned from that. Being able to adjust and understand that he’s expected to do that; he’s expected to make those big plays this year. And when he understands that, he’s really going to mature as a player.
Q. Talk about Thomas’ energy.
MAX BIELFELDT: Oh, yeah, he’s got great energy. He loves the game, loves the team. He loves being here. It’s a lot of fun to play next to him just because of all the positive energy he’s bringing.