Interviewing Kevin Coble, Big 10’s 2nd Leading Scorer

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By Paul M. Banks

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Northwestern sophomore forward Kevin Coble has the two highest individual scoring games in the Big Ten this season. He’s the first Wildcat to have two 30 pt games in the same season since Evan Eschmeyer over a decade ago. He also has more total rebounds than anyone else on the team despite missing the first nine games. He missed the entire pre-conference schedule to return home and be with his mother in Phoenix while she underwent cancer treatments. The personal story of Coble and his mother has been covered by numerous media outlets including espn.com, USA Today, and Big Ten Network. Coble also led the Wildcats in scoring and rebounding last season, becoming the first freshman in school history to do so. I caught up to him after the Indiana game, where he set a new career high with 37 points on 12-16 shooting from the field, 5-6 from 3pt.

On having a lead late in the 2nd  half the past two games, only to see it result in defeat……

“When we were down in Iowa, we had our lead and then we lost it, and ended up losing the game. It’s hard; it’s added to our frustration that’s been our season so far. For us to rebound like we did against teams like Indiana was really a positive step for us.”

Commenting about when Coach Carmody pulled him aside and told him that he had not been playing up to his potential lately…….

“He and I talked at the shoot-around today, just kind of joking around with each other, and he pulled me aside……you know it’s been frustrating. It’s been a tough year, emotionally, physically for me. Obviously I haven’t been playing like I wanted to. Tonight was a nice step for me, I think. I was telling Coach it’s not that hard, just come up to me and talk. It was nice for us; hopefully that can carry over.”

On how Indiana’s D.J. White took over the game, what parts of his game NU was able to limit and the other parts of the game that couldn’t be contained…..

“Defense and rebounding. You can’t always control offense and what your shots are gonna do and how you’re gonna play in that sense. DJ took advantage of us when we were in Bloomington. It’s near impossible to contain him, but we did as good a job as we could.”

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On how much livelier and exciting the atmosphere was for the Indiana game…

“It’s great. I wish every game would be like that. It just gives a different sense to the play. We go to these other schools, and we have our great fans here. It’s just exciting. It’s more fun to play like that as opposed to an emptier gym. So it’s great that all our fans came out, the students. People give them such a hard time all the time — why they’re not coming out. That’s on us too, we have to play so they want to come and watch us. So hopefully we did a little bit of that tonight.”

On how Northwestern played their best game of the conference season against the conference leader and how it could carry over to the rest of the season…(what’s interesting about this is how the Wildcats finally got their first conference win in the next game at Michigan)

“Everybody hit a big shot. It wasn’t just necessarily me. It was a fun stretch of basketball there for the last ten minutes of the half…they would come down, hit a shot, we would come back and answer it, back and forth as opposed to some of those other games where we let them go on long runs, 12- 2, 14-4 runs. That did us in. We didn’t have that tonight; that was great for us. Everybody just raised their play tonight and we deserved to win this game. We’ll still do our same thing everyday, working, and finally, maybe it’s coming together a little bit.”

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And how the near upset of #13 Indiana was a game with a very different feel than the other losses during the Big Ten season…..

“There was a different feel. We still felt like we were in control. We were doing all right. They still were going to make their runs; they’re a very good team. To have them up 6 isn’t the end of the world for us. We maintained our composure. We had a couple different chances to win. It didn’t go our way.”

On whether or not basketball is a release from the stressful year he’s had off the court and how he can find a way to focus on the game without other distractions bothering him……

“There are  a lot of emotional and physical demands of playing basketball, of playing games like that every night. I try to make it a release, just not become focused on a lot of the external things. Tonight was one of those nights that I was able to block it out. That’s something I really need to examine: how to make sure that I keep the two separate.”

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