March 19, 2015

Recap | Box Score | Notes | Photo Gallery

Thursday March 19, 2015
Pittsburgh, Pa., Consol Energy Center
Second/Third Rounds 2015 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship

PDF Quotes: Notre Dame | Northeastern

Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Quoting Demetrius Jackson | Sophomore | Guard
On the play after picking up a loose ball and making an impressive move to the hoop:
“We had a bad turnover and guys hustled down. We should’ve done a better job getting back, but Jay and Pat [Connaughton] did a great job scrapping that one out. The ball was kind of loose; I picked it up and did some of the things I can do.”

On the connection between him and Zach Auguste:
“He’s just a big and easy target for me. Just to be able to throw it up to him, he has big hands. We’ve been working together for so long. Going back to last year after practice we would work on the screen and roll. We’ve been working for a really long time on things like that.”

On the full court pass at the end of the game from Pat Connaughton:
“I could barely see the ball, but I was trying to do my best to save it. We should’ve made a better play and I should’ve caught and then knocked down the free throws. Luckily Zach [Auguste] did a great job picking me up on the next possession.”

On his vision:
“I’ll be fine for the next game. It was a little hard to see on that play. I’ll be fine for the game.”

On the last defensive sequence:
“I wish we weren’t in that situation. We’ve been in that situation plenty of times so we don’t panic. We stay poised and composed. Guys stepped up.”

On the focus at the end of the game:
“Guard our man. Guys are smart. Coach sometimes doesn’t even have to say that, guys just know to do that. We just did a great job defending.”

On what head coach Mike Brey said after the game:
“We just beat a really good team. They’re a really great team. No matter the name on your jersey, those guys really competed hard. They have some really great talent. It’s a great win for us and the first one is always the hardest.”

On recognizing if Scott Eatherton was on the floor:
“We see things like that. Like I said, guys have a really great IQ and they just pick up on things like that. We just knew that we had to play defense. That’s kind of been the story for us this post-season.”

On what it feels like to move on in the tournament:
“It’s really special. It’s my first time and it’s the first time for most of us. It’s really special. We did a great job today and we beat a really great team. We get another chance to play a great team and play better, that’s the best part.”

Quoting Steve Vasturia | Sophomore | Guard
On feeling nervous:
“No its cool, we did play here [NCAA Tournament] last year. I think everyone was just ready for the opportunity.”

On how Northeastern gave Notre Dame trouble:
“They are a good offensive team. They can move the ball and knock down shots; they have size too, so a lot of credit to them for playing the way they do.”

On halftime pump up talks:
“We knew we had to get stops on defense. We weren’t playing to our ability on the defensive end but the second half we got some stops and outlets and got transition too, which is our bread and butter so we knew we had to lock in on defense.”

On how important the win was:
“Its huge, every time you get a win in this tournament it’s big time. You want to move on and advance and we did that today.”

On what to look for on Texas and Butler:
“They are playing right now, so we’re going to watch some of them. We have to be ready for our next opponent no matter who it is. We have to come out with a lot of energy and play our game.”

On potential threats for either team (Texas and Butler):
“They are both really good teams; they both had really good seasons. They can really score the ball and that’s what it takes to win this tournament. They are really talented so we’re going to have to put our best game forward.”

Quoting Bonzie Colson |Freshman | Forward
On Northeastern having nothing to lose:
“We knew they were going to come out strong. They have really good players that can score.”

On what was said at halftime:
“We just stuck together and said ‘hey we have to play our game, we have to defend how we usually do and score.’ And we did that a little bit in the second half.”

On being in the NCAA being in the back of their heads:
“We all were excited about having a chance to play in the tournament.”

On what Notre Dame already knows about Texas and Butler:
“Texas is a pretty athletic team, Butler is a smart team. They make the NCAA tournament every year so we’re all excited to watch that game.”

On preparation:
“Scout, and continue to do what we’ve been doing.”


MODERATOR: We’ll take an opening statement from Coach Brey, then questions for the student-athletes, dismiss the student-athletes, questions for coach.
COACH BREY: We beat a really good team today. A really good team. That’s a great win for us. They were really hard to guard. But I thought we had really key defensive possessions to escape with a win and I’m really proud of our group. We couldn’t get away from them. I think both teams kind of tried to — did take the 3-point line away from each other. So it made for an interesting game. Both of us used that as a weapon.

But I thought both teams defended that arc and made it a different kind of game. We were able to get stuff around the basket. We’re thrilled to advance. I told them in the locker room, it’s a lot like our first game in Greensboro, the Miami game. It was really hard. Let’s see if we can get on a run like we did down there after a hard first game.

Q. Zach, what’s going through your mind when you’re at the free throw line there with two second left?
Zach Auguste: I just needed to step up and knock these two down so we can be in a place where we don’t have to worry too much. I got to the line. My brothers encouraged me, trusted in me, believed in me and I just knocked them down.

Q. Zach, there’s been a recent history of dominant big men coming through Notre Dame, Luke Harangody and Jack Cooley and now you step up on the bright stage and perform so well. How are you able to do that?
Zach Auguste: It’s not just about me. I give a lot of credit to my teammates and my brothers. I got great passers, great distributors. Got to my right, Demetrius did great with the ball in transition. They find me easy buckets.

Q. Zach, what’s going through your mind on the final offensive possession outside on the perimeter, leading by two?
Zach Auguste: Had to lock in, do whatever it takes to win, get the stop.

Q. And the same of you, Jerian. You’re digging in on the last possession. You’ve, I’m sure, watched the NCAA tournament for a long time. You know how the crazy upsets go at the end. What are you thinking there?
Jerian Grant: Just to make a play. You really don’t want them to get a shot up at all. I’ve watched the NCAA tournament and crazy things happen. So I just wanted to be able to make a play and try to get the ball.

Q. Also for you, Jerian, close game like this, judge a book by its cover from afar, people will make assumptions maybe about the way Notre Dame played. How do you think you guys played, given the score, given the moment?
Jerian Grant: We played well. That’s a really good team. They’re coming off winning a championship. They play offense really well. I think we defended the way we needed to and we ended up getting the win.

Q. Coach, Northeastern had it hard on the pick and roll. Was that something you looked to exploit?
COACH BREY: That’s what we were going to get, because they took away our shooters. They did a great job of taking away the 3-point line. That’s a big weapon for us. When you have Zach rolling, that’s why he had the night. I give our team credit to know let’s keep doing this. We don’t have to shoot threes tonight.

I thought Jerian and D and Steve really hit him on rolling situations all the time. I also love how we drove the ball. That’s a continuation of what we did in Greensboro, attacking the basket, driving the ball. We got to the foul line. That was a key for us, getting to the line too.

Q. Mike, how did their pace on offense change the way you guys had to approach your offense?
COACH BREY: That was going to be a hard game, because they’re hard to guard, number one. They’ve got really talented offensive guys. They run good stuff. Now you’re playing — they’re almost burning the clock a little bit. I said at halftime to my staff, it reminds me they’re burning on us a little. So that’s a real test mentally for your group, because you’ve got to play defense for 30 seconds and then you’ve got to come back down and if you quick shoot, you’re going back and playing defense again. I thought in the second half we did a good job of also being patient and methodical and getting stuff and maybe even resting a little bit on offense. When you guard that over and over again in man-to-man, it’s hard to guard. They really move well. You’re showing on the ball screen. But for us, I thought a key tonight for us was we caused 16 turnovers. We thought our ball pressure could affect them, and that — well, it saved us, obviously. We turned over the last possession to escape.

Q. Mike, Jerian made the two steals at the end and he did a whole lot of stuff he does every single game. How big is it to have him just make plays when things break down?
COACH BREY: He is the ultimate play maker. I’m proud of him because he didn’t get off to a very good start. He threw a couple into their band, one into our band, a little bit of everything. He kept plugging. That’s where he’s really matured as a player. Then you have Demetrius Jackson. The thing that’s evolved the last month is we have two guys who can make plays off a ball screen. Not just one like it was maybe the first three quarters of the season. So Jerian Grant is the ultimate, key, live in the moment guy. I got on him because I didn’t think he was engaged defensively as much on Walker and they closed the gap on us. But he did make two big steals to kind of get us to escape.

Q. Mike, how much did you emphasize getting in transition because when you did, that’s when things really seemed to pick up?
COACH BREY: Tim, that’s a key for us. You’re trying to sell your team. If you get stops, we get to run. You know, that’s been a real weapon for us. I thought it was a weapon at a really high level in Greensboro, and it was today. We got to the basket, we drove it. We were in attack frame of mind. We must continue to do that to stay alive in this tournament.

Q. Northeastern shot 50 percent or better for the better part of the game. Did you think your defense was playing more effectively than that statistic indicates?
COACH BREY: I think when you look at the turnovers we caused and how we limited them from the 3-point line, I’m not — and we kept them off the foul line, I’m not so concerned about that percentage, especially when you add the turnovers in there. I mean, our ball pressure really affected them at key times.

Q. Coach, you mentioned the transition game earlier. Specifically, Demetrius Jackson, the play that he made, but also following it up with a big three after that. What did you think about his game and specifically the play?
COACH BREY: I think Demetrius Jackson, starting with the ACC tournament, has kicked it to another level. So has Zach Auguste. Both are playing at a high level. Demetrius again an aggressive driver. We’re running more stuff off of him off of ball screens as much as Jerian where we were kind of more predictable just with Jerian the first three quarters of the season.

Q. Coach, Steve had the four steals today. He’s been contributing a lot offensively for you guys lately. Did you have a sense this game it was going to be his defense that was going to be more important?
COACH BREY: When we didn’t have him on Walker, the game got close. I kicked myself. We should not have taken him off, even though we had three fouls because we had that one and then they closed the gap. He is such a position defender. For example, they come out in the second half and run a backdoor play and we steal it. He’s so smart. His body position is so good. When he was on Walker, then they stalled a little bit more.

Q. Mike, you get one off a career scoring high from Auguste, a career assist high from Jackson, all manner of clutch plays from Grant, and yet you’re defending for your lives on the last possession. What does it say about this event and your own recent experiences in this event?
COACH BREY: I am thrilled. I told them in the locker room, we weren’t going to beat them by 15, okay, so don’t anybody walk out of here feeling we should have won by 15. It was going to be a dog fight. But we’ve been in a lot of close games. That’s what I talked to them about in the huddles. We’ve been in games like this. I want us to think about it like an ACC game. We made big-time winning plays to finish it.

Q. Mike, so Zach Auguste started the year, some inconsistent performances. When was the turning point for him?
COACH BREY: He certainly played through the roof against Florida State. I thought that was a real coming out party for him at our place right before Christmas. And then like any player, a little bit up and down through the ACC season. But starting in Greensboro and through today, I just think he’s playing at such a high level, he’s very confident, and his teammates, as he said, boy, they find him. He’s a big, big target when we ball screen and have him roll. When we don’t have him in there, Bonzie or Torres, they’re not quite the big target rolling off the ball screen. As a matter of fact, Jerian got on me about having him out in the first half. He’s like let’s get him back in. I said you’re right, I’ll get him back in there.

Q. I don’t know if you already know this, but a 14 lost already.
COACH BREY: A 3 lost, yeah. I told the people in the holding area, they took the bullet, not us. And I tell you what, we gave a show the first game of the tournament, didn’t we? That was the first game of the tournament. Good for ratings, just like CBS wanted. I’m coachable. I’m coachable. But I’m glad that this 3 escaped and we’ll go back and get some rest and we’re thrilled to be playing here on Saturday.


MODERATOR: From Northeastern, student-athletes David Walker, Scott Eatherton, head coach Bill Coen. We’ll start with an opening statement from Coach Coen. Coach?
COACH COEN: First, I’d like to congratulate Coach Brey. Notre Dame, their basketball program for an outstanding basketball game today. They’re a tremendous team and presented us with a number of different challenges. I thought our team competed buzzer to buzzer. They left it out on the floor, as you would expect in this type of venue, in this type of environment. I just couldn’t be more proud of this group of young men. They never stopped believing in themselves. They took care of each other on and off the court. They pushed each other. They held each other accountable all year long. And they never, never gave in. So I just couldn’t be more proud. I thought, in terms of basketball today, we had an opportunity to tie the game up or grab the lead in the last possession

I think in the NCAA tournament, that’s about all you can ask for. I think what ultimately did us in was we just had way too many turnovers to beat a quality team like Notre Dame.

Q. Guys, after you get that late turnover, you got the ball with about 30 seconds left, the shot clock’s turned off, take me through the final possession what you were looking for, what you were hoping to get out of it?
SCOTT EATHERTON: We really didn’t expect them to turn the ball over like that. It would have helped if we would have had one more time-out. I think we could have really got a play in. But we — I’m not really sure what happened at the very end. But I think we gave a great effort and I don’t think that that last play is what lost us the game. Like Coach said, we had some unforced errors coming out of the — to start the second half. We didn’t look that sharp. That last play really didn’t dictate the game for us.

DAVID WALKER: I think, yeah, like what he said. We didn’t expect them to turn the ball over and it would have helped to have another time-out. We were going to go to one of our horns plays that we ran the previous three times and they did a good job of defending that and yeah. That last play didn’t dictate the game. So that’s about it.

Q. That last play didn’t dictate the game. In your opinion, what did dictate the game?
SCOTT EATHERTON: Like coach said, I think it was lot of turnovers. A lot of we just fell asleep on some of their actions that we walked through. We knew what they were going to do and there were just a couple times we didn’t execute it. That was really just of the small difference. To beat a good team like that, you have to be really focused and in the game and there was just a couple times when that didn’t happen for us.

Q. David, were you looking for the three pointer at the top of the key when you came around the curl? And then I think you had to give it up to Quincy. Is that the initial thing? Were you looking to shoot the ball?
DAVID WALKER: Yeah, that was the play I was talking about, set a screen for Scott and then come off for a handoff and I was looking to shoot it, but they did a good job of reading that and so I wanted to keep the ball moving and that’s when I swung it to Quincy.

Q. Coach, coming out of the half, Notre Dame comes out with some energy, scores a couple buckets. But T.J. Williams, I mean, it seemed really came into his own in the second half, whether it was getting his own put-backs coming out. That kind of spread energy throughout the team. Can you talk about his effort?
COACH COEN: Sure. You know, T.J., I thought, played a really solid game for us. We needed his quickness and energy on the defensive end to really get some ball pressure on Demetrius Jackson, who is a tremendous guard and got great quickness. I thought he did a good job of that and he did a good job of really kind of getting into the lane and trying to push the tempo when we needed him to.

Q. Guys, you were down 12 with six minutes to go. What allowed you to cut into the lead and what was the mindset when you were trying to get the game tied up tor take a late lead?
SCOTT EATHERTON: I think that just speaks how close our team is. We’ve dealt with that kind of stuff before. We’ve gotten down and had to fight our way back. A key was staying together and supporting each other and staying confident. We knew that this could be our last game of the year, so we didn’t want to leave — we don’t want to leave any lost effort and I think that’s what helped us deal with that kind of run.

Q. Scott, can you just talk about your emotions right now, your last game in a Northeastern uniform?
SCOTT EATHERTON: I don’t think it’s really set in yet. I’m sure it will when I get back to the hotel or something. But, I mean, I’ve loved — I’m really happy that I came to Northeastern. I transferred here. I’ve had a great experience. I got to play under Coach Coen, got to play with Davey, some great players. I watched them win a championship the first year. This year we had two and we almost had an upset. It’s been a great career, I guess.

Q. To feed off that, Scott, also comment on your teammate, Reggie, senior.
SCOTT EATHERTON: Reggie is one of my better friends on the team, and I’m sure we’ll be friends for a while. I’ve never met someone from Alabama, so I’m sure I’ll always remember. He’s been a great teammate and another great captain for us.

MODERATOR: Any other questions for the student-athletes? Gentlemen, thank you. Questions for Coach Coen.

Q. Can you talk a little bit — obviously, you don’t know what’s going to happen in the last couple seconds, but you had the consecutive run of timeouts that were working effectively for you. Do you at all regret not having one for the last possession? Do you look back on that at all?
COACH COEN: Sure. I think we’re always better coming out of a time-out. This team is a team that’s always executed very well in time-out situations. I wish we had one left, but we really had to kind of set our defense to give us that opportunity to be in that spot. We told them with our last time-out what we wanted to run so we had a play call in there. I just got — and we ran that play pretty effectively. You just got to give credit to Notre Dame’s defense for stepping up and making a play. I don’t know if I had the time-out if we would have run anything different or done anything differently. It was just really a matter of execution, ask there was better defensive execution than offensive execution at that time.

Q. Bill, if I’m not mistaken, Scott’s sitting on the bench. You’re probably thinking they’re going to foul, you’re going to get him back in the game. With him on the floor for that possession, how would that change in any way as to what happened?
COACH COEN: I think we would have played it the same way. Of course, when you put Davey and Scott in the same action, one of them usually gets open and you saw that Scott got a few layups out of it and then Davey got an open three out of it because the defense has to really choose who they’re looking to take away. So that changes the play a little bit.

Q. Coach, you out-rebounded Notre Dame almost by two. You doubled them and you beat them by 11 on the offensive boards despite the fact that you shot nearly 50 percent. What led to so much success in the paint?
COACH COEN: We’ve been a very good rebounding team all year long. And we’ve been a very good shooting team as well. We typically shoot a little bit better from three today than we did today. But unfortunately, I think our Achilles heel has been our turnovers and when you give an offensive team like Notre Dame extra possessions, it’s very, very difficult. It puts a lot of pressure on the other aspects of your game. I thought we ran our offense pretty effectively. We got on the backboards. We made plays when we needed to. Ultimately, I thought it came down to our ball handling.

Q. Scott picked up his fourth foul with maybe 11 or 12 minutes to go. With the stage of the game, the deficit that you guys had, can you take me through the thought process of what you’re hoping to do, what you’re put him back in? Was it a roll of the dice to put him back?
COACH COEN: We tried to go a little offense/defense. I think we put him back in with about nine to go because the lead started to get a little wider. You don’t want to not give him that opportunity. I thought he had a tremendous effect on the game when he was in there. It was unfortunate he picked up some fouls because he was off to a great day, I thought. And we need him. If we’re going to pull an upset of this magnitude, we have to have our best player on the floor. He ended up playing 24 minutes today. I would have loved to see that game play out if he could play his normal rotation and get 33-35 minutes.

Q. Coach, given the stage that you’re at here and the seeding and the conference that they play in, did you have any fear that they might be intimidated or wide-eyed coming into this? How do you explain that they weren’t?
COACH COEN: This group, that really didn’t concern me coming into the game. Most of these guys, we always, quite typically, try to play the best nonconference schedule we can play and put ourselves in situations where we play against teams such as Notre Dame from high power conferences in the hopes that we’ll have an opportunity to draw on that experience. This group has that to rely on. They’ve been in these opportunities. We’ve played the Georgetowns and the Florida States and so on. So they were excited to play. They were anxious to play. I didn’t think there was any fear factor going into the game.

Q. What was the challenge of defending Auguste underneath and a couple of the block charge swing calls? What did you think of those?
COACH COEN: Well those are tough plays. We try to coach our team up. When you have so many good shooters as Notre Dame has, it really spreads the floor and keeps the paint open so it’s a challenge to guard the paint and get out the shooters. I thought we had a couple of times where we had it played correctly. It’s a timing issue, whether you’ve got to get there and help or cover to a shooter. So that guy has to do both things and it’s a difficult job, especially when you’re dealing with a guard like grant, who is a tremendous passer and has unbelievable vision and has got great ball fakes and pass fakes. So he was able to keep the floor spread and had us cheating toward shooters and really opened up the paint for Zach Auguste.

Q. I know you probably don’t take any solace in what might be a moral victory, but what kind of a statement do you think you made to the people watching across the country?
COACH COEN: I just, my hope is that people would respect our effort today. I told our guys before the game that the result today would be dependent on two things, our effort and our attitude. And if we had a — gave multiple and maximum effort, and we had a positive and aggressive attitude, I’d like our chances with our result. And this group did that.

And also, I’d like to say a little bit about CAA basketball. I think that’s why the tournament is so great. We were carrying the banner for the Colonial, where some really, really good players play, really great teams and great coaches. So we wanted to make sure that we represented the CAA in good fashion and hopefully we did so today.

Q. Coach, I know this loss stings a little bit now. But how excited are you to build off this pretty good are un? Pretty much everyone coming back besides Scott and Reggie and you have a solid recruiting class coming in as well.
COACH COEN: We’ll be excited for the future. Today, this is about this group and what they’ve accomplished over the course of this season and their careers. We had three great seniors in Scott Eatherton and Reggie Spencer and Danny Young, our manager. That’s a really special group. To finish off their careers this portion of the CAA regular season title, a conference championship and a proud showing in the NCAA tournament, I’m certain that the group coming back will look to build on that and continue the proud tradition that is Northeastern basketball.

MODERATOR: Thanks, Coach.
COACH COEN: Thank you very much.