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    FIGHTING IRISH

    FIGHTING IRISH

    Jan. 21, 2012

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    Notre Dame Head Coach Mike Brey

    Opening Statement...
    "That was fun. I'm very proud of that group. I'm very honored to be their coach. They prepared really well this week. They prepared like they believed they could do it, and I'm thrilled they could deliver. I thought our poise was great, even when they put some pressure on us and we made some mistakes. I thought certainly we really controlled the tempo, which was the key. To see them in the 50's scoring wise was great to see because we're not going to win a game that's in the 80's with them. It was a total team win, and I'm thrilled for our group. Our fans and our students really led to making us believe. The energy in the building is as good as I remember in my 12 years, and it only makes us four and three in the league, but we'll take it."

    On the offense...
    "We did a great job of executing with single digits on the shot clock. That's not far into us. We started being very passionate and using clock and controlling tempo two years ago when Harangody went down. So it's a page from that book, and we used it last year at times, certainly at Pittsburgh we did. We used it at Louisville. We played the same way against Louisville's zone as we played here. I was trying to make some comparisons because we had success and really controlled that tempo. They tried to speed us up with the press, and Syracuse did the same thing. So we're confident in that, and we believe in controlling tempo, and we're really poised at the end of a shot clock. A couple of those threes with four and three on the shot clock, those are really daggers when you play defense for 32 seconds and a three goes in."

    On how much fun it was so see the fans rush the court...
    "That was awesome. I don't remember the last time we rushed the court, but there are a couple memories of that. They deserved it. They were great. They helped us believe. When the building is electric like that we believe and we never feel tired. You don't feel tired when it's loud and rocking. Our guys today, they were kind of running themselves. They did a heck of a job. I though Scott Martin was fabulous leading us."

    On what they did differently this time in comparison to UCONN...
    "I think we made some more shots. I felt we're a better shooting team than our numbers said, but certainly Connaughton knocking down a couple early. The law of averages says [Alex] Dragicevich should just be shooting the heck out of the ball for us. He didn't miss many shots the last two days of practice so I felt good about him. When you're making some shots like that it gets you believing a bit more."

    Notre Dame Player Quotes

    Jack Cooley o Jr. o Forward

    On beating the no. 1 team...
    "I can't even describe this right now. They were 20-0. I can't put it to words how amazing this is."

    On going after loose balls...
    "That's just what we do at home. We get our energy off of our fans. We play off of what they do. They've always been great at home and that's why we always do so well here. We couldn't let them down. We had to go out and play our hardest."

    On sustaining their play in the second half...
    "We came out with energy. This was a great opportunity, and we didn't want to squander it away. We rebounded really well the second half. We knew we had to play hard."

    Jerian Grant o So. o Guard

    On the win... "We were getting the looks that we wanted. We knew that we could get what we wanted on their zone. When they would get on a run, we would just slow the pace down."

    On going against their zone...
    "Jack [Cooley] was able to take it into the paint, and it caused them to work to shut him down. We were then able to get passé through the zone to score."

    On the mood in the locker room after the game...
    "Everyone was excited. No one has ever experienced something like this before. It's a moment everyone is going to remember for the rest of their lives."

    On what it gives the team going forward...
    "It gives us so much confidence, whether we are at home or on the road. We know now that we can play this well, no matter who we play. This is definitely going to jump start something special."

    Alex Dragicevich o So. o Guard

    On what the team takes out of this...
    "We want to take in all the good things and work to get those feelings back again. This is probably the best win of my career so far. I'm glad I'm only a sophomore."

    On handling the lead...
    "We just said that we had to stay aggressive and stay motivated."

    Eric Atkins o So. o Guard

    On talking about past no. 1 wins before the game...
    "We watched a video last night of Notre Dame beating no. 1 teams in this building. Coach [Mike Brey] stressed that it can be done. We knew we had to believe, and we were able to get it done tonight."

    On beating the no. 1 team...
    "None of us have ever beaten a no. 1 team before, so practice is going to be a little awkward, while everyone gets off of their high horse. I really don't know how it's going to be, but we have to enjoy the moment because it won't happen too many times."

    On when he knew they were going to win...
    "It was when Jerian [Grant] was on the free throw line one time. It was coming down to 1:30. I didn't want to think it was over until then because they are such a powerful team. Until that point, I didn't think it was over, but when I felt it, it was a great feeling."

    On Fab Melo not playing for Syracuse...
    "Not having Melo may have affected them, but at the same time, we have not had [Tim] Abromaitis for the entire season. We did what we had to do."

    Scott Martin o Sr. o Forward

    On the end-of-game celebration...
    "I was yelling a lot in the pile. This is why you play. You dream about this as a little kid, seeing it on TV growing up with fans rushing the floor. I can't put it into words. That was unbelievable."

    On scoring through Syracuse's zone defense...
    "Coach Brey and the rest of the coaching staff did a great job with us all week getting us prepared for the way they play the zone. In the middle you get slapped and hit, but thankfully we didn't turn it over too much and got the win."

    On the team's defensive performance...
    "Not really until the end were we really worried about the three-point shot. When you're up about ten, you want to limit those opportunities. You can live with a two sometimes and we rebounded well enough to win. Like I said Coach Brey did a great job getting us ready so we knew where the holes might be."

    On gaining confidence shooting the ball...
    "I don't think we really needed to build anyone's confidence because we always believed in ourselves. Everyone else doubted us, but we knew we could hit big shots."

    Pat Connaughton o Fr. o Guard

    On the performance of Jack Cooley...
    "Jack was unbelievable. He does so much stuff that doesn't show up in the statistics. He beats guys up in the paint, and really presents a huge presence in the middle. Jack has really stepped up for us. He shows his will to win just as much as anyone else, and that really helps us with losing [Tim] Abromaitis and the other injuries we've had."

    On what the win means for Coach Mike Brey...
    "We all love Coach Brey. That's a huge part of why we've had success. Each and every one of us would run through a wall for him."

    On the post-game celebration...
    "It was amazing. I've never been a part of anything like this. You see it all growing up when No. 1's get knocked off. We wanted to experience that today. One of my best friends hoisted me up and found me right away. It was an unbelievable moment seeing Eric [Atkins] hoisted up there as well. It was great to accomplish that."

    Tom Knight o Jr. o Forward

    On believing the team could get the upset...
    "I had a feeling we could do it all along even when we were going through the scouting reports. I thought we might be able to outwork them tonight. I've never been a part of anything like that before, so just to see it happen, there aren't many words for it. I think all this might be a dream right now."

    On getting into the scoring column early in the game...
    "We just went out there and played. There's always going to be holes in a zone. We were able to find some in the middle of the paint, and we definitely used that to our advantage."

    Syracuse Head Coach Jim Boeheim

    Opening Statement ...
    "I thought Notre Dame came out from the beginning and they really moved the ball well. They got some good looks and knocked them down. We got in a hole that we really could not get out of but we battled back. I thought we played as hard as we could and as hard as we tried we could not get a key rebound, which has been a problem for us and tonight it was a big problem. The opening half I thought we had some good shots, some good looks, but we could not get anything to go down and when you do not make anything it's very difficult. I give Notre Dame a lot of credit. I thought they played extremely well and they did a great job on the boards. [Jack] Cooley was able to get the ball inside and score. We just could not make shots to get back in the game. I have to give Notre Dame a lot of credit for that."

    On Notre Dame's three-point shooting and Syracuse's perimeter defense tonight...
    "They [Notre Dame] moved the ball very well and I do not think we did as good of a job as we have been doing on the perimeter. That was a big key in the game. They made threes and we did not."

    On how tough it is to play defense against Notre Dame's burn-style offense...
    "It is not tough at all actually, it is a good thing for us. It gives us an opportunity to wait and in the last ten seconds of the shot clock I think you do not wind up getting as good of a shot. The problem was that when they did that we did not get the rebounds. Probably six times we had a good defensive possession and Notre Dame put a shot up at the end of the shot clock and we did not get the rebound. One time we had three guys there and did not get the ball. You have to rebound in those situations. If you give them a long possession and then they miss and they get the rebound, it is just not a good thing."

    On not getting many turnovers and how that affected Syracuse's transition offense...
    "You are not going to get very many turnovers on the road. It is unusual to get turnovers on the road. We have not gotten them all year. You might get a few more turnovers at home but on the road there are never many turnovers or fast break points. We have shot the ball really well on the road this year. If you look at games like NC State and Providence we shot 60 percent from the field and we did not shoot the ball very well tonight. When you go on the road, you better shoot the ball well. I thought our defense was not great but it was okay. We have to make some shots. You are not going to win on the road playing offense like that."

    On whether or not the environment in Purcell Pavilion affected Syracuse's performance...
    "Every place we have played this year has been tough. Providence was tough. NC State was probably the toughest place we have been all year. Environments do not beat you. We did not shoot the ball well and they did. Fans have not beaten us yet."

    Syracuse Player Quotes

    Kris Joseph. o Forward

    On Fab Melo not playing tonight...
    "I just needed to play hard and go out to do the things he was going to do like rebounding, blocking shots, stuff like that."

    On guarding a physical player like Jack Cooley...
    "Well it is really the same for anybody. You just have to go out and play hard. You have to get big on the ball, and that's it."

    Scoop Jardine o Guard

    On Syracuse's poor shooting...
    "It was just one of those games. You know we did not see the ball go in for us, and it's hard to play well when you are not making shots. And that's what happened to us tonight."

    On Syracuse not scoring any transition points...
    "We did not play any defense. You know our defense usually leads us into transition. Tonight they did a great job. We had nine steals but it was not nine steals that could get us into transition. For the most part we did not see the ball go in for us at all. So like I said, it is hard to play your roles when you are not making shots. Tonight was one of those games where we did not make shots, and that is why we lost."

    On Fab Melo not playing...
    "It did not change anything, but it is always tough to play without a starting guy; a guy who has been there for us all year on the defensive end, changing a lot of shots and getting us going with some dunks. It is hard, but for the most part that was not the case tonight. You know, we missed him truly, but we needed to make more shots regardless. I mean we shot something like 4-for-19 from long range? That is pretty embarrassing."

    On using the full-court press to speed up Notre Dame's pace...
    "Yeah every possession they wanted to go under 10 [seconds on the shot clock]. They were living and dying with one shot, and we gave them offensive rebounds and we cannot do that."

     

     

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