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    FIGHTING IRISH

    Feb. 11, 2012

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    Notre Dame Head Coach Mike Brey

    Opening Statement...
    "I told our team, that's as good of a win as the previous two Saturdays because of what we deposited in the bank. DePaul has had a rough go of it, but they were going to play loose. They are really hard to guard, and they were rolling today. I loved our poise to get out of here. It was an escape game and it had that feeling the whole time even early in the first half. Maybe our energy level wasn't great, and we couldn't catch a pass there for a while. Again, I'm proud of our group and we'll rest tomorrow and get back to work Monday. I came down off the Morgantown high real quick because I knew what we were going into here. We talked about it last night with the guys. It's the ebb and flow of league play, and I'm very proud of them to get out of here with a win. We showed some poise because every time we looked like we had some breathing room they were right back on us. Eventually, you can't control tempo and you have to outscore them, and we did enough to get out of there tonight."

    On the human element of playing the game...
    "We were very human today. For us to try to figure it out and get out of there and do enough to win, I'm really proud of them. We took another step forward. I'm really impressed with DePaul. They just have a lot of guys who can put it in the basket. They don't turn it over, and man do they speed you up. It wears on you and it exhausts you."

    On the inside offensive performance...
    "They gambled so much, and I'm really proud of Jack [Cooley]. He was obviously a man down low in Morgantown, and I told him we needed him to do it again. For him to do that back-to-back says a lot about his maturity and focus as a player. But we felt we could go inside, and that was a key for us. At times he was really fatigued and we kind of used him as a ball screener. And then Jerian [Grant] was really able to make plays. Jerian has been making winning plays for us during this stretch."

    On the backcourt duo of Jerian Grant and Eric Atkins...
    "Well they really believe we're going to win. We've not had a backcourt like that in our history. I'm excited we've got them around for a couple of years. When they sense the moment, they've made big plays for us."

    On playing with a target on their back...
    "I guess we've got it now. We played at times with the weight of the world on us. I think the one thing about Wednesday is I could get their attention because [Rutgers] beat us. That's the last time we weren't poised and we were probably a little immature at times. Since then we've been on a great streak and we get to come full circle against Rutgers."

    On controlling tempo...
    "It was hard. We burned it a little bit at times just to rest, but at some point in the second half we were going to have to score to escape. Our guys were confident like Eric and Jerian going off the dribble."

    Notre Dame Player Quotes

    Jack Cooley o Junior o Forward

    On his angry streak in the first half...
    "I was a little upset, and I let it get the best of me. I got thrown into the basket. I have to play through that and keep going. I have to allow it to help me play better."

    On the team's slow start...
    "In the first half we didn't have that fire under us that we had in the other games. They are a really good team. We just need to get that fire lit under us from the start, and luckily we got it in the second half."

    On using the inside game to help them score...
    "That was the goal from the beginning to get it inside and force it down their throat. The guards have been doing a phenomenal job of feeding the post this season. It allowed me to score and get a nice little run going."

    Eric Atkins o Sophomore o Guard

    On what the team has done to improve...
    "We've been doing a good job day-in and day-out in practice and being focused on each game. I give [our wins] to our preparation."

    On the hopes of breaking the top-25...
    "It's really an accomplishment for us, especially coming from where we were in conference play. It really does feel good to have our whole season turn around like that. I'm happy with where we're at."

    On being 9-3 in the BIG EAST...
    "It feels really good. It's a comfortable spot to be in, but we still have a lot of work to do with a lot of game left in the BIG EAST."

    On the team's confidence level...
    "I think our confidence is sky high. We just need to stay focused. If our confidence gets too high, we start boasting and bragging. We just need to keep getting league wins."

    Scott Martin o Senior o Forward

    On the team's attitude...
    "We haven't played as a favorite, especially in a BIG EAST game, since the beginning of the season. It's a different role; it's a different mentality, but when you get out there you just have to go hard and play as well as you can, especially on the defensive end."

    On being down in the first half at home...
    "Coach (Brey) talks about poise, and I think we were very poised in that situation. We didn't panic and methodically worked our way back. We never lost sight of what we were trying to do out there."

    On staying poised...
    "It helps to have that early lull and deficit at home because we know the crowd will be behind us. They helped us push through spots and gave us the momentum to roll through the tough start."

    On being overconfident...
    "I think we thought we would stretch it out more than we did. That was our mistake because this is a BIG EAST game, and they have some guys that can score the ball. That comes with our inexperience at being projected the winner of the game. It's something to learn from. Thankfully we still got a W."

    On having two strong guards...
    "It takes some pressure off of Jack [Cooley]. He doesn't have to carry the load as much. Those two [Jerian Grant and Eric Atkins] played great and made some big plays for us."

    Jerian Grant o Sophomore o Guard

    On the team's slow start...
    "It's always like that when you play a team that's not in the upper half of the league. They came out here and played the whole game so we had to turn it up. Every BIG EAST team is a good team; they're in the BIG EAST for a reason, so every game we feel like we just have to come out and play."

    On getting better looks in the second half...
    "In the second half I think we set more ball screens and after the first half I read how they were hedging them. So, in the second half when I came off ball screens I could see more things that were open."

    On deciding when it's "winning time"...
    "Maybe halfway through the second half, or at the second T.V. timeout, when the game's close, that's pretty much when you have to put it on. You can't wait for the last four minutes or the last five minutes. During the game you're trying to get a feel for the game, get some open shots here, but towards the end of the game, in the last ten minutes, you have to force the issue a little bit."

    On the technical foul in the second half...
    "That was huge. It was a tie game and we got two free points, and from then on it gave us confidence to do what we needed to do."

    On not being the underdog...
    "When you're the favorite you're going to get the other team's best shot. They knocked down shots and even went ahead in the second half. You know the underdog is always going to come ready to play."

    Alex Dragicevich o Sophomore o Guard

    On staying in the game when not starting...
    "I can't say it's an easy task, but Coach Brey feels out who he thinks is going to help win the game. The approach needs to be the same each game, that you're going to come in and contribute."

    On the team's improvement during the winning streak...
    "I think we're better defensively. We all understand each other's games better. You learn those things throughout the season. Obviously these guys are talented, it's just getting to know each other."

    On Jack Cooley's post play...
    "I've known him since we were 14 years old, and with where he has come from I just couldn't be happier for him. Especially because he puts a lot of work in during the summer; we work out together. He's a monster and he's gotten better every year. That's what you want to see. He provides a lot of support, a lot of comfort."

    DePaul Head Coach Oliver Purnell

    On Notre Dame...
    "We have a lot of respect for their team. I think they are probably one of the top three teams in the league. They do a great job of playing well together."

    on Jack Cooley...
    "Cooley was a handful for us. In the first half, he was someone they played off inside. They did the same thing in the second half. He definitely damaged us all night long. He was a handful. Anytime they drove, they looked for him. We didn't rotate well enough on the inside. He did a lot of damage. The back court players controlled the ball and hit big shots."

    On the positives of DePaul's play...
    "What will be exciting tomorrow is that we can play a lot better. There were so many situations where we didn't guard the middle. We allowed the drive and didn't play pick and roll the way we were supposed to. Cleveland (Melvin), as much as we count on him, can take better shots. As a team, we played better. We have to continue to do that."

    On the play of Brandon Young...
    "I thought he played well. He didn't shoot well, but I thought he played well. He was in attack mode. I thought he was directing and running. He played with much more energy on defense. I thought he played well."

    On his technical foul...
    "I had been giving it to him pretty good, so I guess I got on him a little harder than he wanted. I just thought it was a touch foul in the middle of the floor."

    DePaul Player Quotes

    Donnavan Kirk o Sophomore o Forward

    On what the coaches told the team after the game...
    "They pretty much said we didn't play our best, and they said we've just got to get better. We're not looking for any excuses. We just have to make sure we get back in the gym and get better as a team."

    Brandon Young o Sophomore o Guard

    On how he played personally...
    "Well I was playing aggressive, and I think I was being unselfish. (I was) just working on being there for my teammates and being a better point guard."

    On whether coming off the bench changed his approach to the game...
    "I guess so. I played better. I'm not really worried about starting or coming off the bench. It was [Coach] Purnell's decision, and I don't have a problem with it. Whatever he says goes so I don't really have a problem with that."

    On defending Jack Cooley...
    "He was a big problem. He was down there banging and getting rebounds, and we weren't boxing him out."

    On how the team played as a whole...
    "We weren't aggressive enough like we usually are with other teams. We've just got to play hard for 40 minutes and we did it for about 35. The last five minutes we just gave up."

    On finding something positive to take away from the loss...
    "There is always something positive to take out of every game. We're always competing and fighting and playing aggressive, but we just have to come out with wins."

     

     

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