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    FIGHTING IRISH

    FIGHTING IRISH

    Feb. 4, 2012

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    Notre Dame Head Coach Mike Brey

    Opening Statement...
    "I continue to be very proud of the team that I work with. I think that today we took another step, and I feel that we played like men. We were very cruel competitors when we had a chance to put it away. I am thrilled to see that from this group. We played a heck of a basketball team today. They have Missouri kind of speed, so you know that I didn't sleep very much all week. I think the defensive job that Scott Martin did on Jae Crowder, and that Jerian Grant did on Darius Johnson-Odom was fabulous. They were never really able to explode. Our overall defense was very good, and our rebounding was excellent. I am very proud of my group. I told them in one of the final media timeouts that I felt like I was coaching men today. Last year's team was men. That had a look of more than one fifth year senior on the court. I am thrilled where we are. We will get a little rest tomorrow and crank it back up on Monday."

    On the team's scoring in the second half...
    "We have had two halves like that here. Against Pittsburgh we scored 47 in the second half I believe. Their speed and their defensive quickness really bothers you, but they are going to get a little fatigued because they have to play long minutes. They are down a body, so they couldn't quite sustain their pressure as much as they could for the first 30 minutes. We did a really good job because we passed it so well. We were finding the open guy, and today we really shot it well. I think we are a better shooting team than our numbers have said. Maybe this can jump start us shooting it more confidently from beyond the arc."

    On the maturity of Pat Connaughton...
    "He was grown up when he got here. There was a fearlessness and a belief that he should be really ready. Anybody that stands on that mound and has the game on his shoulders has a psyche that other freshman can't have. He has had the game on his backside many times, so I think that lining up a three or making big free throws really converts over to the court. I think our opponents in the league are still surprised at how athletic he is. He rebounded well today, he blocked some shots, and he was really just flying all over the place."

    On no longer playing the underdog role...
    "I think we will probably be underdogs on Wednesday in Morgantown, but when we come back for the two at home that probably won't be the case. I think that is something that I have to talk to them about on Thursday. The one thing that they're going to get from me is that we are just going for it. I am the loosest coach in America. I am loose, baby. They aren't going to get tight from being around me. I am really excited. That was a cruel way of getting it done today. We were winning games, but that was another step forward in terms of our mentality and our maturity."

    On the tempo of the game...
    "We want to run in some situations. Throughout the game we will talk to them. I thought that today we needed to run just to get away from their pressure. It was hard to make passes against them. In the second half they were really gambling and doubling. We were making the two extra passes, and if we got open looks I wanted us to shoot it fearlessly. I think Eric Atkins has a very good understanding of our tempo. He knows when to speed it up and when to slow it down."

    Notre Dame Player Quotes

    Jerian Grant • So. • Guard

    On the team's recent play...
    "Right now, we're really confident that we can beat any team--we can play with any team. Our team confidence is really high right now, and I'd like to keep it that way because we are playing really well."

    On the team's progression since the beginning of the season...
    "We kind of have a different team [from the beginning of the season]. With Abromaitis back then, he was going to be a 20-point scorer, so now it's just a lot of guys chipping in. It's definitely a different team, but at the same time, we're confident with this team that we have."

    On the play of Pat Connaughton...
    "I think we've given him a lot of confidence. Now that he's in the starting lineup, he knows he's going to get his minutes. Before the season, early in the season, he didn't know if he was coming out when he missed a shot, if he was coming out if he didn't get a rebound, so now he's just taking the shots that are open. Teams, for some reason, were helping off him. I guess they didn't think he can shoot, but he can definitely shoot and get to the basket, so you know it's just a confidence level with him."

    On how the game changes without Jack Cooley on the floor...
    "We play with a different pace when Jack is out. When Jack's out, we kind of go five out, cutting a lot, versus just having someone sit in the post. We have driving lanes for me and Eric [Atkins] and the guys spotting up, so it's pretty easy getting open looks for other guys, and they knock them down. Jack's our main low post, so when he's out, teams kind of scramble around."

    On losing the underdog role and their new expectations...
    "I think it's good for us. We want to be noticed as a team. We want people to talk about us because we think we're a good team, and we think we deserve that now, so we just continue to play with a confidence and continue to win games on the road and at home."

    Pat Connaughton • Fr. • Guard

    On his performance...
    "It was really just a matter of getting out there and trying to win the game. That's what every one of us was trying to do, and I happened to hit some shots, and my teammates found me. We just played together. I hit one three that rolled around the rim about six times, so usually when you hit one of those, you know it's going to be a good day."

    On the recent success of the team...
    "We're just starting to find who each other is, who we are. That's big for us because we are such a young team. All the losses at the beginning of the year and learning how to take a loss and build off of it and get these wins now. I really think if you would ask anybody, we wouldn't have asked for it any other way."

    On his defense...
    "Defense is huge. Defense is something I can control, defensive rebounds are something I can control every game. A lot of times those plays get you in the game, get you feeling good, and there's a lot more than just scoring on the stat sheet. Those are the types of things that win you games."

    On his growth as a true freshman...
    "I'm still a freshman on the stat sheet, but I think I'm feeling a lot better about it."

    Jack Cooley • Jr. • Forward

    On beating Marquette...
    "Marquette is one of our biggest basketball rivals, so to put them away like this was satisfying. This was a huge win. It wasn't equal to the Syracuse win, but it's close."

    On the team's play today...
    "I honestly don't think we have played a bigger second half than we did today. It was our team stepping up. The plan was to get the ball inside, but when I went down with foul trouble, everyone else really stepped up. We kept rebounding. Everybody knows how to play now."

    On Pat Connaughton's play...
    "He is phenomenal in the things he does and with his athletic ability. He even apologized after throwing the ball ahead of me on the two-on-one fast break. He is just a great player. He is huge on the court."

    On what's next for the team...
    "The only thing better than beating Syracuse and Marquette at home would be going to the hardest place to play in the BIG EAST, West Virginia, and get a win there. It's impossible to play there. To go in there next week and get another win would be huge."

    Eric Atkins • So. • Guard

    On the team's offensive breakout...
    "We didn't know that was going to happens, especially a team that pressures the ball like they do. We've had trouble with that in the past. Breaking out offensively like this was a little bit of a start, but once we started, it was great."

    On the keys to today's win...
    "We were able to get stops on the defensive side of the ball, which allowed us to get on a run a couple of times and get a couple of easy buckets. We did well in the first half and really broke it open with Pat hitting threes. It was a great team effort."

    On being a half place out of second in the BIG EAST...
    "From the start of the season, no one thought we would be here. Being half a game out of second place feels goods. Now we have to keep it rolling and keep scoring like this."

    On the surprises of the game...
    "I was surprised when the score was 70-51 today, but with the way we've been playing defensively, it was not as surprising. A lot of times we are able to take a team's main player out of the game. If we can continue to do that, we're going to win a lot of games."

    Scott Martin • Sr. • Forward

    On having the fan's support...
    "From the Syracuse game on, it's been a madhouse. We appreciate it when they come out and support us. We try to play hard for them and give them a good show. Today was a fun day. They were crazy today. It was probably about the loudest I've ever heard it."

    On the team's spread out scoring...
    "It speaks to the team and how unselfish we are. We are able to get everyone involved. We're not worried about who is the first or second option, whoever is open shoots it. I was open today, so I shot it. Everybody hit big shots today. We just go out and attack as a team."

    On his defensive play today...
    "I go out there and play hard every possession. I had a challenge on my hands with [Jae] Crowder today. I was excited and ready for it. I was happy with the way I've played defensively. He's a very good player, and I am thankful we were able to keep him out of his flow today."

    Marquette Head Coach Buzz Williams

    On Notre Dame's three point shooting...
    "You can't win on the road when teams shoot it as well as they did [11-22 3-Pt]. I thought they played really well, and we couldn't guard them off the bounce. They repeatedly put us in rotation, which is why they shot as many three's as they did. That's why they shot as many uncontested shots as they did because we couldn't guard the bounce."

    On doubling down on Jack Cooley...
    "I thought he played well in the first half, and he picked up the two fouls on Jamail [Wilson] within the first two and-a-half minutes. I thought we adjusted that from that point on. I think he was in foul trouble a little bit and didn't play as many minutes as he normally does. Again, if they throw it to the post and you double the post, that forces rotation. It's the same principle when it happens higher on the floor and they beat you off the bounce. It forces rotation as well."

    On having opportunities to stay in the game...
    "I thought [the score] was always teetering back and forth early in the second half. I then tried to keep it close by calling [a lot] of timeouts. I was just trying to keep it in contention, but they just continued to beat us off the bounce. We were scrambling around and that's why they had 22 assists. A lot of those 28 makes were uncontested shots. 11 of the 23 shots were three's so that tells you they force rotation a lot."

    On the play of Notre Dame freshman Pat Connaughton...
    "I think that was a career high in almost every way for him - minutes, points, assists, rebounds, steals, blocks. He played really good. That's a heck of a [stat] line right there."

    Darius Johnson-Odom • Sr. • G

    On difference between first and second half...
    "I was getting good looks, I shot the ball about six times. I can't control if I miss them. I have to be more aggressive."

    On the defensive end...
    "Once they got in the paint, we had to rotate out. They made 11 threes which didn't help us at all. Rotating didn't help us. We let them into the paint too many times."

    On being shorthanded due to injuries...
    "We are in good enough shape where we can handle that. We are a good team and we can control ourselves. We let this one get out of hand. We have enough games left where we can control."

    Vander Blue • So. • GG

    On his play in the first half...
    "I'm just trying to stay aggressive and help my team out. Coming into a game like this we need everybody on our team to try and get this win. Unfortunately we didn't do that but I just tried to go out there and play as hard as I can."

    On team rebounding...
    " [Rebounding] is a big thing. With Davante [Gardner] being out we lost a lot on the boards. I know that I have the ability to chase the out of bounder and just to give our team the extra possession means a lot."

    On defense...
    "I have to credit Notre Dame. They made some big shots and tough shots. They got it going. A team like that, you have to get them uncomfortable. I wish our defense was off but we weren't."

     

     

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