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Player Q&A: Anthony Leal and Gabe Cupps react to Indiana basketball’s 74-68 win against Iowa



Indiana basketball

Indiana basketball players Anthony Leal and Gabe Cupps spoke to reporters following Indiana’s 74-68 win against Iowa on Tuesday night at Assembly Hall.

They spoke about the team’s ability to battle, Leal’s confidence, Kel’el Ware’s impact and more.

Below is the full video Q&A and transcript.

What was it like, screaming on the court, (indiscernible) Malik was emotional when he went down. How did you refocus (indiscernible)?

ANTHONY LEAL: No, I think it’s a way to rally us all together. One guy goes down, we know the next guy’s got to step up. And we’re all committed to winning and doing what we need to do win. Malik goes down, X goes down, we know we have to find a way to win and move on.

Anthony, there’s been times in your career you haven’t had a ton of playing time. Coach just got done saying you never complain, you come to practice, you work. One, how do you keep that mentality? And two, what’s it like to see it pay off in a game like this with career high big 3s key win?

ANTHONY LEAL: In that time of waiting it’s really been great for me in terms of my faith and just growing closer to God and trusting him and his timing.

But I think just really coming to work every day and understanding, like, me just putting this jersey on for practice, even, is more than a dream come true. It’s what I’ve wanted to do since I was first touching a basketball.

So just trusting God and loving my teammates and this jersey and this school.

Anthony, going back to just talking about gutting through and rallying together, your free throws, Gabe hits the 3 late. Just, I guess, do you feel this team learned something about itself when it has to find a way especially when there have been emotional swings, they come back, you’ve got the injuries, the lineups, the rotations are a little messed up because of that? What does a team learn about itself on a night like this?

ANTHONY LEAL: I think it was a huddle we had with maybe a minute and a half. I mentioned we were just here, we were just here against Illinois, tie game or tie or down two, up two, that sort of situation and we weren’t able to figure out how to win. It’s something about this team and how we have a lot of new guys but we’re figuring out how to win. And this was a good step in that direction.

You have a true freshman on your right who just made a 3 with a minute and a half, one point lead at the time. Obviously the winning shot. What does that say about him and how he’s wired?

ANTHONY LEAL: He loves the game. He loves the school, and he works really, really hard. He’s always in here. So it’s just a testament to the work that he puts in and the confidence in himself.

Anthony, you were Mr. Basketball in this state. When you came here, did you expect that you would get more playing time than you have? And the fact that you haven’t until now, how have you persevered?

ANTHONY LEAL: I think obviously coming out of high school everybody has the expectations. I went through a coaching change and tried to stick it out because I love this university and this school.

So just being committed to that and understanding, like I said earlier, that this is a dream come true whether I’m playing 1 minute or 40 minutes. Just to be able to put on this jersey is kind of my mindset and just the love for IU.

Gabe, in an emotional game in some ways you rolled the emotional roller coaster as much as anyone. You had a hand up on their corner shot they made, and then you come down and make the 3-pointer. Talk about the ride that it was to ride this game out and how you kind of kept your composure to get the team through?

GABE CUPPS: I think a lot of it is just trusting in myself and trusting in my teammates. I think one of the most important things that Coach Woodson said to me during that series of events, it’s in the past, you’ve got to leave it behind. Even though he was pretty mad at me, he told me to move to the next play.

I think just me being here is a blessing like Anthony said. So I’m here to work, here to get better. And I think that allows me to trust myself and also for my teammates to trust me. If Gallo doesn’t trust me, he probably doesn’t swing that pass back. Just really thankful for the opportunity and thankful for these guys.

Anthony, Devonte Green always used to always say, you can’t make any shots you don’t take. You’ve been getting more minutes lately, but tonight was the night, when you were open, you shot; no hesitation in that. Any conversations gone on with coaches or teammates in the last couple of weeks to know that when you catch it and you’re open, you need to shoot it?

ANTHONY LEAL: I work out with Coach Hulls, Jordy, almost every day. He’s someone I’ve always looked up to. He’s been good for me in my corner. But I think just overall my teammates give me confidence. They trust me. They know I put in the work to be able to reap what I sow. I think just staying committed to it and having confidence in myself and the work that I put in.

Kel’el was out there kind of gutting it out tonight. He was obviously limping a lot. Coach said he saw some emotion he hadn’t seen before. Curious what your reaction is to what he gave to the team tonight.

GABE CUPPS: I mean, I liked it a lot. That’s the thing we need from him. He’s obviously super talented, super skilled. And a lot of people’s knock on him is that he’s not tough. And I think he shows it in spurts, but once he can be consistent in that — and he showed that tonight — he’s an unstoppable player.

ANTHONY LEAL: And just to add on to that. The last couple of games, whenever he was out, it really took a toll on him, mentally, emotionally. Obviously physically he was out. But he loves us as teammates and he wants to win more than anything. So it was good to see him show some emotion and fight through some nicks and bruises and whatnot. But especially with Malik going down, he stepped up big time for us.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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Drew Rosenberg is staff writer for and hosts 'The Talkin' Bout the Hoosiers Podcast' covering Indiana University athletics. Drew is a senior, studying Sports Media and will graduate from the Indiana University Media School in the spring of 2024.