March 22, 2008
COACH BREY: I think you certainly take your hat off to Washington State. They imposed their will on us. You know, the first four minutes we had that thing going up and down a little bit, but after that we couldn’t really get it moving.
I thought they played older, and they are older. Very good defensively. Smart offensively. So they certainly deserve to move on. THE MODERATOR: We’ll take questions for the student-athletes.
Q. Luke, talk about what’s going through your mind now. This was obviously the biggest game of the year for you. To come up this short, how do you explain it and how does it feel?
Luke Harangody: You know, well, coming into this game, we were very confident. We were ready to play. I don’t think there was any doubt about that. But we faced a great Washington State team tonight. Like coach said, hats off to them. Very senior-leading team.
Not much we can say about that. The feeling right now is disappointment, obviously, with myself, with my performance, you know. I kind of feel like I let the guys down. You know, just wasn’t my night.
Q. What happened? What did they do defensively out there to cause you, to slow you up?
Kyle McAlarney: Well, we didn’t shoot the ball very well in. In the first half we had some pretty good looks and they just didn’t fall for us.
Like Coach Brey said, they’re a very good team, a veteran team. We can use this game and learn a lot from it. In the off-season, we’ll probably use this as motivation and off-season workouts.
Today they just got us. Defensively they were better than us. Like I said, you know, that’s going to be used as motivation in the off-season.
Q. Kyle, it seemed like you could never get in transition tonight. What were they doing? Were they getting up into you right away or… ?
Kyle McAlarney: Well, a couple times, you know, they just got back and they played very good defense. We went on a little run in the second half there due to our rebounding and transition game. But we can’t get out in transition if we can’t get stops. They were really flowing offensively and they were really in a good rhythm.
So it was very hard for us to get out in transition.
Q. Kyle, when you look back on this game in July, what will you remember about it?
Kyle McAlarney: Well, I mean, it was disappointing, you know. For me, you know, it wasn’t my best performance. I know the other guys feel the same way. Like Luke said, you kind of feel like you let the other guys down. It’s very hard to deal with. Very hard to end the season like that.
Like I said before, we’ll use this as motivation. Me personally, I’ll do the same thing. Coach Brey said to me before, they’re a veteran group. We can learn a lot from them. For me personally, their guards are very good. Tory and me can learn a lot from their patience and their demeanor out there.
Q. If and when they do get beat in this tournament, how hard of a game that is going to be just because of their style, the way they grind?
Kyle McAlarney: They’re a very good team. They could go all the way. The way they played us tonight, you know, just shows. We were one of the best offensive teams in the country coming into this tournament. We believe that. I think they knew that. So the way they played us tonight, it just shows the rest of the country how good they really are. We feel like they’re a very good team and they deserve all the credit they get.
I feel like they can go all the way. I know we’ll be rooting for them.
THE MODERATOR: Guys, thank you. We’ll continue with questions for Coach Brey.
Q. You talked yesterday about running after misses and made baskets. You never even got close to that. Did you see on tape people actually being able to do that?
COACH BREY: Well, I think we pushed it a little bit more than you would think, if you would watch the tape. Especially in the first half, we weren’t getting easy stuff. But we got down, especially the first four minutes.
We were not going to be able to — part of me saying that was psychologically. I’m certainly not going to say we’re playing halfcourt, even though I knew we were going to have to play halfcourt against these guys. It is easier to slow a team down, and they did.
I look at 17 three-point shots. I think 12 of those were good looks. In the first half, I thought we had some pretty good looks for good shooters.
We’re going to have to make a couple more of those to feel good about ourselves at halftime. And when you don’t, you go back down and have to guard for 25 seconds, one of the reasons they’re a great defensive team is how they play offense. They wear you down, running you through screens and stuff.
What they did is really established their will and their style. That’s gonna be their strength and probably not ours.
I loved the fact that we fought back, I think we had it at seven with the ball. But, boy, you know, it was a hard — it was a big hole to get out of because of the style.
Q. As well as you played the other day, did you see any scenario where it could just come out this lopsided?
COACH BREY: I think you see every scenario when you’re a coach. There’s no question about it. I’m disappointed it wasn’t a better basketball game, we didn’t have a chance. The knock-out punch came early.
But, you know, again, I tried to get their heads up a little bit. I love the group that I have. I love what’s coming back. I’m excited. We start practice August 1st because we’re going to Ireland. Certainly there’s some thing you can learn and work on, but those guys need some rest right now ’cause this group, boy, they gave us everything they had.
Q. How much did their traps trouble you today?
COACH BREY: Early, I thought we maybe forced a couple. But then after a while, you know, we got looks out of it. There is where the threes came up, when they doubled and we kicked it out safely, probably the last 10 minutes of the first half. We swung it to a shooter who had a look. That’s how you got to make the trap pay.
Ryan had looks that he stroked the other night. Zeller, we got to hit a couple of those. Rob, we got to hit a couple of those. That’s who we are. We shoot the ball well.
Why didn’t we shoot the ball well? Number one they play defense, number two you’re a little tired because you play defense against them for 25 seconds. I would have loved to play more zone tonight. But when you’re in a hole, you’re not playing zone against them. You would have had to have more control of the game and maybe the lead to rotate D. I think we played one possession of zone and then we were digging out of a hole the rest of the game.
Q. Could you comment on the experience of coaching Rob Kurz for the last four years. That was the last time.
COACH BREY: I’m glad you asked that. I got a little emotional in the locker room just congratulating him. I know it probably wasn’t the best of nights for him. I told him yesterday at practice, here is a young man who scored a thousand points at Notre Dame. You look at the company he’s in on that list, it’s staggering. He’s a guy who came to us 200 pounds, mono, a broken jaw. He’s a great story. I wish we could have extended his season. I will always be indebted to his leadership, how he set the tone as an example of a worker in our program, a guy who made himself better.
He’s got a really bright future making money playing this game somewhere. We need to start working on that for him next week. He will go to Portsmouth, by the way, so that will be a good follow-up.
Q. We talked about it being a two-year experience with this group. People say you’ll be better next year. Losing Rob Kurz makes that very difficult.
COACH BREY: I don’t think you can ever count on that. One of the things is everybody’s head going to be the same? This group has been fabulous. I think maybe we had two bad practices all year. I just told them that in the locker room. They’ve been unbelievable. It’s a great class to teach every day.
But, you know, guys change. Are we gonna still chase it as a group? You’re right, that’s a big loss right there. The little things. The screening. The dirty work. The defense. You just don’t plug in and move on.
So I am concerned about that. I need to squelch that. Let’s take a deep breath and figure that out. We’ll know in Ireland. We’ll know by August 20th. But that’s a big loss.
He’s a Notre Dame man. I’m very proud of him. I’m excited to see the opportunities he gets professionally because he’s an interesting guy.