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    Dec. 11, 2013

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    Notre Dame Men's Basketball
    Notre Dame vs. North Dakota St
    December 11, 2013
    Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center • Notre Dame, Ind.

    Notre Dame Head Coach Mike Brey

    Opening Statement...
    "I was worried about this one and my worst fears came true. They are very good. They are an old, experienced team. You have to be better offensively to escape them. We had some great looks but we really haven't been in a great offensive rhythm beginning with the second half of Monday's game. Credit to them, they made big plays. The big fella' down low is a bear. We doubled a bit early in the game, and they made threes, and then you are trying to trade twos and keep up with them. At some point you need an offensive spurt to escape a team like that, and we never really could get that."

    On offensive problems...
    "Jerian [Grant], Eric [Atkins] and Pat [Connaughton], up until the second half of Monday's game, shot the ball with great confidence. I think they turned down some shots tonight, I think Eric had a couple 15-footers he turned down. We have to shoot the ball. I told them, `Can we just be loose on Saturday and step up and shoot it?' Now Pat had a lot great looks tonight and he is a really good shooter. We could've used a couple more of those to win, but he has to keep shooting them. We even tried to get another shooter in the game, getting Steve [Vasturia] in and he delivered. He's been someone who has been really good in practice and he is a shot-maker and he has good size. Our offensive efficiency though just wasn't good enough to beat a good team."

    On Jerian Grant...
    "They do a great job jamming the lane. Grant couldn't really get any angles to the bucket. He was getting us shots but we couldn't make them. He was starting to kick to shooters like he usually does, but for him not to make a field goal is a big hole in our offense. He's been on a tear, but not so good tonight. I think you have to credit them, they had a couple guys with the strength and length to guard him."

    On number of three-point shots the team took...
    "It really was because of how they guard. They really do jam it in. We were going to have to make some shots over the top. They don't worry about the three-point line as much. They jam it so much, it's almost like playing a tight zone. You have to make a few shots over the top of that thing to get into a rhythm. I bet 24 of the 29 threes we took were probably good looks. You have guys like Grant, Atkins and Connaughton who have good overall percentages shooting out there. I think what happened was after the second half of Monday's game, those guys got a bit sheepish because it carries over. I thought we turned down some 15- to 18-footers. Pat continued to shoot which was great, the way that lane was jammed, you have to take those shots over the top."

    On preparation for Indiana...
    "We're still trying to figure out who we are. We need to get some rest tomorrow, it's been a long stretch now, but we need to move forward quickly and get ready to play Saturday afternoon in a great atmosphere. We'll look at some things defensively. On Friday, you'd like to see a nice offensive rhythm so maybe we'll scrimmage a little bit to get into a rhythm because we haven't been in it for three halves."

    Notre Dame Player Quotes

    Pat Connaughton • Junior • Guard/Forward

    On his thoughts about the game...
    "I think we've got to get better defensively. We didn't get key stops when we needed to and we didn't knock down the open looks that we usually do. And they're a great team, and it's tough to give up 73 points, almost 40 of them in the first half, and expect to win when you're not hitting your shots."

    On the energy of the team heading into the next game...
    "It's got to be good. We've got to come out defending, playing our game. And that's the good part about this because we get to bounce back and play a game right away. But we've got to make sure we come out and we have attention to detail and that we play better than we did today."

    On North Dakota State's offense...
    "They're a very good offensive team and they showed it tonight. But at the same time, if we started getting a little better defensively, maybe they're not as confident throughout the game. And they got confident right off the bat, and that's something that we need to work on."

    On shooting so many threes as a team...
    "I just think they were open shots, shots that we usually hit. They weren't falling tonight, and when that's happening, you've got to dig in that much harder defensively, and that's something that we struggled with."

    On North Dakota State...
    "They're a very good team. They're a great team, and against a great team, you've got to come out with a great effort, especially on the defensive end to start the game."

    Garrick Sherman • Senior • Center

    On the team's defensive strategy...
    "We tried to sag in to start the game but then they started hitting threes, so then we had to just give them space. When someone has six, seven, eight dribbles, it's tough to stop him when he can spin any way."

    On adjustments for Saturday...
    "We just have to play, we need to get our heads clear and play as hard as we can. We just have to turn around and not let this linger into the game on Saturday. We are an experienced group of guys, so we know we just got to get over this one. We have a good opponent on Saturday and it's a good opportunity."

    On getting in a groove down low...
    "They were sagging in on me a lot, so I didn't have as much room as usual. We had a lot of great shots, we just weren't hitting them tonight."

    On how the team needs to improve defensively...
    "That's a good question. We are searching for that right now, we keep letting them get into a rhythm early and I think if we had come out and been a little more aggressive to start out and not let them get into such a rhythm we could have held them a little more. They played really well tonight, and we can't take that much away from them."

    North Dakota State Head Coach Saul Phillips

    Opening Statement...
    "When you hear that we're finally going to have a $40 million new arena and you beat an ACC team on the road in the same day, it ranks right up there with some of the best moments in this program's history. Marshall Bjorklund had an outstanding performance, he carried the team all night, and I'm just thankful for our guys, in particular our seniors who have come close in a lot of games, and I'll be honest with you, out of all the teams that we've played close ones with this year, this might be the best team of them all. Don't panic, Notre Dame fans in the room--the Irish are good, you did not get beaten by a `bad' team tonight--it wasn't your best night and we did a lot of things right, so I don't think I would dwell on that loss."

    On the team's resolve in critical situations...
    "We had some guys really step up and do some things well at pretty key times for us. It was really a great performance by committee--Marshall did a lot for us, but Taylor [Braun] made a couple plays for us defensively late in the game with four fouls, and we've talked about it all along: when the moment is right, you have to step up and make a play for the team. In a game like this, nothing is going to be given to you. We did get lucky, they missed some open looks at times, but I thought we also made things difficult on them. Give them all the credit in the world, they are going to be a very good team in the ACC, I don't feel any differently about that, but Grant is simply not going to have another night like that. When we beat Wisconsin a couple years ago, they had a very good player who was going to the NBA named Alando Tucker who had a three for 21 performance from the field--something has to happen like that for us to be able to win a game like this."

    On his defensive strategy...
    "For one, we really wanted to make sure that we stopped them in transition. Watching their Bryant game the other night, I think it was 26 of their first 39 points that came in transition. They are so good at scoring in transition and it's sneaky at times, because they aren't always just pushing it down the court at full speed. A lot of times they get in space and utilize their shooters. So we wanted to shrink the court in transition and not only get back, but to get back into a spot where there aren't any wide gaps to penetrate into and hopefully that did something to [Jerian] Grant. But I've seen him play enough to know that we haven't completely figured him out yet and that some nights you just get lucky."

    North Dakota State Player Quotes

    Marshall Bjorklund• Senior • Forward

    On Notre Dame not double teaming him...
    "That was their game plan to go one-on-one the whole game and that's what we like, so we tried to take advantage of that."

    On leaving Notre Dame with a win...
    "It feels good especially for some of us older guys. We've had three or four major games that we lost by a last second shot or by one or two points. To come in and get a win, it's a good feel and we got another tough game coming up."

    On being confident coming into the game...
    "We had a good game plan. We had watched them play quite a bit on TV last week and watched a lot of film. We thought we matched up well with them and we had had guys that have been through stuff like this, so we felt pretty good coming in."

    On changing the game plan to get him more involved...
    "Throughout the whole season, we tried to get it in inside as much as possible. We had guys in foul trouble so it wasn't as much as an option. We're always looking inside and we think that's a good option for us."

     

     

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