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    Feb. 8, 2014

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    Notre Dame Men's Basketball
    Notre Dame vs. North Carolina
    February 8, 2014
    Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center • Notre Dame, Ind.

    Notre Dame Head Coach Mike Brey

    Opening statement...
    "[North Carolina] is really good and playing well. Their size around the basket really bothered us. They defended us well again. We turned it over 17 times, and we can't absorb that along with their 15 offensive rebounds. I loved how we got out to a good start. They kind of played really well to end of the [first] half, and we could never get any rhythm or confidence back to end the second half. We made a nice run to make it interesting with four minutes left, but it's disappointing since we got out of the gate well and off to a good start. When you turn the ball over like that and can't calm the paint down, [it's not good]. We weren't going to stop them in the paint. That program has a lot of big bodies, and they always have. You've got to take the edge off the paint if you're going to have a chance."

    On North Carolina's second half defensive adjustments on Pat Connaughton...
    "They did a really good job of contesting [Connaughton]. They denied us and played in the passing lanes a lot today, and that's why we had a lot of turnovers. That's where they've gotten better since the beginning of the ACC season. They are really defending. When you get in the lane, there's not a whole lot of room to finish with the bodies they have in there. I would say a couple different guys really contested him. We probably could have screened for him more off the ball. We did it at about the seven-minute mark, and he got a few to get going, but we didn't do it consistently enough."

    On transition defense problems for Notre Dame...
    "It hurt us. I thought we were good the first 10 minutes of the game, and we really tried to concentrate on it. But a lot of it was turnovers. When you turn the ball over at your own three-point line, you're putting a lot of pressure on your transition defense. [North Carolina] is really good in transition, and they got a lot of easy ones. But again, I think it was an issue of us taking care of the ball. It's not so much us defensively because for the most part our offensive efficiency and rhythm has been hard to overcome. We don't get it consistently. We didn't get it in the first half at Syracuse, but we got it in the second half. We got it to start the game today. We're really searching for a rhythm offensively. And that's probably hurting us the most right now."

    Notre Dame Player Quotes

    Eric Atkins • Senior • Guard

    On disappointing second half...
    "It's disappointing. We had a great start to the game. They were playing at our pace and we weren't turning the ball over. We were being very good and efficient with the ball, but they picked up the pressure at that point, and we started getting sloppy with the ball."

    On struggles against North Carolina's transition offense...
    "When you turn the ball over, it's hard to play transition defense. That was the main key and it's really hard to get back when they have numbers."

    On readjustments for Clemson...
    "We have to compete better on the defensive side of the ball and not let up so many easy baskets. North Carolina had too many easy ones at the rim that we should've been able to defend against."

    On defensive struggles after a strong game against Syracuse...
    "It is tough because we did defend so well against Syracuse, but different teams provide different matchups. I think North Carolina was a little quicker than Syracuse was man-for-man, so it was a challenge."

    Pat Connaughton • Junior • Guard/Forward

    On the team's struggles against North Carolina...
    "It's just a matter of digging down on defense and offense, and taking care of the ball. As a program we've always been known for taking care of the ball, and in these losses we haven't done that, so that's one area of focus. North Carolina is a very good team and we have to give them credit for the way they played."

    On upcoming rematch against North Carolina...
    "We need to focus on the next game. We have to take it one game at a time and keep pushing forward to the last game of the season. At the end of the day, all that matters is beating Clemson next."

    On North Carolina's change of pace in the second half...
    "We just needed to take better care of the ball. Turnovers led to fast break opportunities and a lot of points for them. That was something we were able to control in the first half, but not in the second half."

    On why team has struggled with turnovers this season...
    "If I knew why, hopefully we would be able to limit our turnovers a little bit. It's just a matter of doing the things we normally do, and not trying to overdo it. When you lose some games, sometimes to try to do a little more and it can get you in trouble. It's just a matter of trying to compete harder and play the way we play and that's something we're going to have to focus on during practice."

    Zach Auguste • Sophomore • Forward

    On the main focus going forward...
    "We just have to focus on competing. We are going to go back to practice a couple times this week and focus on competing. Together collectively that is going to have to be what we focus on."

    On energy on the court...
    "We all can give a little bit more. We can try to give a little bit more every day now. We need to be especially aggressive on the glass and I know we got beat up on the glass today."

    Garrick Sherman• Senior • Center

    On turnovers...
    "They hurt, but it's a lot of defense too. If we don't turn the ball over, we may be better on defensive positioning and getting back, but it's just execution and that's what it's come down to."

    On growth of the team...
    "We have a lot of young guys that are trying to find their roles and figure out where they need to be aggressive and where they need to be cautious. It's just a learning experience and they're going through growing pains."

    On difficulties North Carolina presents on offense...
    "They've always been good on offense. That is just what North Carolina does. Every year, you know what you're getting with them and they always run the offense well. The back screens make it tough and all those lobs you have to defend. So they're a good offensive team. We did a good job in the first half keeping everything in front of us but in the second half they got a lot of easy ones."

    On allowing easy buckets...
    "We have to get back and not allow as many transition buckets as we did today. We have to at least give ourselves a chance. If they're going to shoot layups and dunks, we are going to get beat by every team, not just North Carolina. That's one of the things we will have to focus on."

    North Carolina Head Coach Roy Williams

    Opening Statement ...
    "In the second half, our defense was more active and came up with some loose balls and came up with some turnovers and all of a sudden we got our break going as well. We'd like to play a perfect game all the time but you can't do that, but I thought we did some good things and I am very, very pleased. "

    On winning five straight games and if they've found a rhythm ...
    "I never really feel like that. I feel like every day we've got to play the best we can possibly play and I'm never going to be satisfied. We've got big games coming around the corner. I've never been one to look down the schedule and try to see which games we can win or which games we can get or which games we'll lose. We just play as hard as we can play."

    On their defensive success...
    "Well there's no question that turnovers are a big part of our game because we like to run the ball. In the open court we make some good decisions and I think that led to some good basketball and some good shots around the basket. We still gave them too many things inside and had a hard time handling [Garrick] Sherman there for a while. They shoot 50 percent in the second half and we don't like that but we shoot 54 percent. It was one of those games where the ball was going in. But I thought we were more active defensively and came up with turnovers."

    On attacking the ball...
    "A big emphasis for us is keeping the ball in front of us and I think everyone else away from the ball was playing well too."

    North Carolina Player Quotes

    Marcus Paige • Sophomore • Guard

    On team's renewed defensive intensity...
    "We've really increased our activity and effort on defense and are more focused on guarding the ball and keeping guys in front of us so that we do not always need to have other guys come and help. The fact that we have done a better job of doing that has allowed our defense as a whole to become more successful. Guys are not always in scrambles and rotations when we are guarding on the ball better, so that has definitely helped."

    On team's overall play over the five-game win streak...
    "I would agree with what Coach said about consistently playing better--obviously there were a couple of times at the beginning of the year when we were just playing fantastic and I do not think that we have hit that level quite yet. But I do think we are playing more consistently now and getting there in strides. We are definitely taking steps forward."

    On the team's defensive performance in first half versus second half...
    "I think we just were not being aggressively defensively--we allowed them to run their offense and get the shots they wanted with ease. We always talk about trying to take something away from their offensive game plan--take their layups away, or deny the passing lanes, pressure their guards on the perimeter. Once we started taking them out of what they like to do, it allowed us to get more stops in the second half."

    On importance of the pick-and-roll offensively...
    "Even at the end of the first half, we tried to set up some early ball screen action in the offense so that I could come off them and try to create for myself and my teammates. Especially when James Michael (McAdoo) sets the screen, it becomes really tough for them to handle the options we have off of it--the shooter in the corner, or my own penetration, or even James Michael's ability to play in the mid-range area. It is something that we definitely have tried to do more of this year and has been really effective for us."

    James Michael McAdoo • Junior • Forward

    On the team's renewed defensive intensity...
    "I think the biggest thing is probably our sense of urgency on defense. We are just focused on being disciplined and sound, and I think that has a lot to do with our guys one through five playing together and realizing that even though we strive to play perfect defense, we all mess up sometimes, but there are four other guys out there on the court to cover up for you when you need it. We really just try to get the offense out of their rhythm and I think we did that today."

    On the team's recent play in the ACC...
    "We have had the realization that if we want to be great and we want to be noticed, you have to win. It sounds cliché but no matter what we do in practice, no matter what happens, we have 40 minutes to go out and prove that we are better than the other team--it does not matter if we are home or away."

    On younger players maturation on the team...
    "In basketball, you get to know your teammates so well that you know that guys are going to go through peaks and valleys, but it is good to see now that everybody is pretty comfortable out there. It seems like when one guy has a bad game, everyone else is going to try and step up."

     

     

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