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    FIGHTING IRISH

    Nov. 12, 2011

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    Notre Dame Head Coach Mike Brey

    On team's performance today ...
    "I am very pleased that this team, this group, that is still trying to find itself, had to get through some tough stuff to win a game. I thought we had a lot of different guys make plays for us when we had game pressure on us. I think that is only something you can build on and I hope it gets us more ready to handle Monday night and a very good team."

    On Eric Atkins leading the team...
    "I thought Eric [Atkins] was a man and he sensed what he needed to do. I thought overall we were pretty good defensively. We were searching for that offensive rhythm at times, which worried me and I think he found I got to do some things for us and he did. I thought just his overall demeanor was really a key for us and maybe that is a benefit for having Abromaitis out that he has to do that for us this week even more so to speed up that kind of leadership locked demeanor when we get into league play."

    On Jerian Grant's improvement..
    . "First of all with Jerian [Grant], I mean you can see from the first exhibition it is amazing the improvement. That is what excites me about our team. In the first exhibition, I don't know if he made a layup in the layup lines. He was so nervous. He is carrying us at times. We came out of that timeout and I think we were up one. When we talk about driving the ball he gets the drive and the three-point play. That is big for him and for us."

    On Joey Brooks stepping up...
    "Joey [Brooks] was fabulous. He made big defensive plays. The charge he took was their last real run at us. When you throw yourself into the role of defending first, screening first, getting other people open first and the shot is way down, you usually make it then because there is not as much of an emphasis on it. He took it at the right time. Some of his rebounds were like those were the type of rebounds we are going to need. I was really pleased with him."

    On Joey Brooks being the most confident about his game...
    "Hopefully we can really build on that. I am going to follow up on him tomorrow. A couple of times when I took him out, I said 'You're a man. It is hard to take you out of the game.' In our system, guys that are men, it is hard for me to take them out."

    Notre Dame Players Quotes

    Scott Martin - Senior - Guard

    On getting back out there...
    "It was a lot of fun. Just playing with these guys is a blast. The way we move the ball, and Eric [Atkins] today was unbelievable. He was our rock out there and carried us through."

    On being tired today...
    "I practiced Thursday for the first time in two-and-a-half weeks. So I'm a little out of shape. I was a little tired today. First half was worse than the second half because I got a second-wind and was good from there."

    On getting back offensively...
    "You try to have your defense lead to your offense and get rhythm through that. Offense is so much rhythm at this level. It's hard, but I sure shot it enough to get back into my rhythm."

    On quickness of their offense...
    "They were big and strong. Coach [Brey] said they have Big East bodies. They're strong and quick. We were lucky down the stretch to get good stops and one-and-dones. Jack [Cooley] came in the second half and finished with ten rebounds, which is great for us. He really got us over that hump, making sure they only got one shot and then we could go score."

    Joey Brooks - Junior - Guard

    On gunning for a starting spot...
    "No, we're all just trying to play and get wins. We're one team and believe anyone can step up at any moment. Tonight, it was most of our guys. A lot of guys made plays, and I thought we played great defense down the stretch, which allowed us to get good shots and work their defense down. I think they got tired at the end, which proves how hard we worked."

    On being a contributor to the team...
    "Honestly, everything comes to my belief and faith in what I can do, having confidence in my game. My teammates do a great job of helping me with that by telling me to stay confident and be aggressive. That's something that just comes with doing it. Tonight it worked out, and there will be nights where it won't, but we just have to keep believing and pushing."

    On keys to get over the hump...
    "If you look around the country, there are teams upsetting big time schools. You really have to be ready to play no matter what the school says on their chest. I think that our defense tied us down at the end, and was able to get the separating stretch at the end."

    On what you liked best out of the team today...
    "I love that at one point in the game, it came down to a one-point game-they had battled back. Those are the moments when teams can come together to tighten up or break apart and give the game away. We did a great job of coming together and doing what we had to do."

    Eric Atkins - Sophomore - Guard

    On his big scoring day...
    "I think my teammates just found me today. Coach Brey stressed to me to be aggressive. "

    On what allowed the team to pull away at the end of the game...
    "I think we just focused at the defensive end on getting rebounds and not giving them second chance opportunities."

    On what making the first shot does to his confidence...
    "When the first jumper goes down, you don't think you're going to miss again. I just told myself to keep shooting."

    On assuming more of a scoring role with the absence of Tim Abromaitis...
    "Tim brings a lot to the table in his scoring and rebounding, so I tried to step up and score a little more than I usually do."

    On the team's upcoming matchup with Detroit and their star guard Ray McCallum...
    "I'm actually pretty good friends with him, so I know he's a pretty good player. He can do everything. We're taking Monday as a Big East game for us. They have Big East bodies and Big East talent, so it'll be a tough one."

    On improvements the team has to make...
    "I think we need to focus on the defensive end early. We underestimated this team. We can't do that on Monday."

    Jerian Grant - Sophomore - Guard

    On his first few games of play...
    "It's been good to get a few games under my belt, but I'm good now. It's just playing basketball."

    On Mississippi Valley State...
    "They have five seniors starting, and their big guys were huge, so it was definitely a good test for us going into the Detroit game. It was a good team."

    On playing without Abromaitis...
    "We definitely needed guys to step up and score early, and Dragicevich and Brooks were ready to do it. "

    Mississippi Valley State Head Coach Sean Woods

    On getting two technical fouls...
    "In these type of games, the decision calling started to go downhill for our players. We've been in this situation for the last four years, especially when you are on the road. That's just part of playing away games, and we don't get a chance to play home games until January. I wanted to show our team that you've got to keep fighting. I tried to throw my jacket to one of my assistants, but I missed him and hit my cousin in the back, so I guess that's why they threw me out. The first technical was kind of planned to show my guys that we've got to fight because I don't want them to say anything to the refs. I just wanted to fight for them, and they knew that."

    On his team's performance against Notre Dame...
    "I'm pleased with the effort that my guys had tonight. We need to play a little smarter, and you've got to play over and beyond the call of duty, especially in these kinds of games against a BIG EAST opponent. You really have to have a special night shooting, everything's got to go right and the stars have to be lined up, but when they're not, the effort needs to be there. I thought the effort was there, but it wasn't a great night shooting. Our guys were very excited, and we got lost in the moment at times, but I know we will get better. We're known for our tenacious defense, our aggressiveness especially on the offensive glass and we were missing some of that tonight. You have to give Notre Dame credit because they knew they has to fight tonight, they had to match our intensity, and I thought they did that by keeping their poise. It's a lesson learned for us, and we need to continue to get better because the road doesn't get any easier."

    On the play of Irish point guard Eric Atkins...
    "It shocked me a little bit, but he's a good player. It's his turn now. With the injuries and players they lost from last year, someone has to step up. I think that's the beauty and the mark of a good team. He took advantage of the opportunities tonight, and he really set the tone for his team. He showed his coaches what he can do, and that he can be one of those guys that steps up consistently."

    MVSU Players

    Terrence Joyner - Senior - Guard

    On his expectations for the season...
    "I expect big things from our team. I actually think that we played very well tonight. We are missing our big men now, but I definitely think that we will be one of the best teams in our conference. We were picked to win our conference this year. We have a good team, and we just need to play together and stay poised. We gave a great effort tonight. We just didn't finish a few plays."

    On the positives that he can take away from this game...
    "I think that we played great defense. We didn't turn the ball over that much. I think that we played pretty well all around. They made big shots. We need to play better if we want to beat the big teams on the road."

     

     

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