March 21, 2013
Q. Start with Eric. Eric, what did you know coming into this week about Iowa State, and what do you know about them now that you’ve seen tape and gamed up a little bit?
Eric Atkins: Before this week, I watched the game against Kansas at their place. I watched them a little bit there, and I really knew that they could shoot the ball from 3 really well.
Watching them some more, I found out pretty much the same thing.
Jack Cooley: I kind of learned the same thing as what he said, that all five positions can shoot. They run the floor very well, and they’re more of a spread you out kind of team as opposed to a four out, one in type of team. They’re just a really good offensive team, and they’re very efficient with the ball.
Jerian Grant: Yeah, basically they like to shoot 3s. We’re going to have to defend the 3 point line in.
Usually, Big East teams like to go inside on you, so you defend inside out. But tomorrow is going to be from outside in.
Q. Jack, is there anybody that Iowa State particularly reminds you of that you might have played this year?
Jack Cooley: Maybe a little bit of we’ve been comparing them slightly to Villanova this year because, when we played them, it was after they came off their two big wins in the regular season. They were the shooting the ball really well. So we had a very good 3 point awareness in that game.
As J said, most teams aren’t oriented with the inside presence that they go to regularly. So it’s been kind of hard to find comparisons of teams we’ve played.
Q. Follow up on that. You said most Big East teams aren’t oriented like that. Does that make this week fun or more difficult because it’s a different style of ball?
Jack Cooley: I think it makes it more fun because the tournament is supposed to create fun matchups to watch and make it more difficult, and you play teams you normally wouldn’t play. This is a perfect example of that where the style is so different than what we’re used to playing.
I think it makes it more fun because sometimes it gets boring having to play against teams that you know exactly what they’re going to do. To kind of get thrown up against someone that you haven’t played against and they haven’t played against is going to be fun to watch.
Q. Jack, when were you guys at your best this season?
Jack Cooley: I think honestly, I think during the end of the season and the Big East Tournament and the couple of games leading up to that, besides the Louisville hiccup, we were playing extremely well.
When we played against Marquette, that was some of our best basketball we played all season. We really started to get into a flow of players really knowing their position and their roles on the team and how to play in order for us to win.
Right now we’re clicking very, very well, and we’re playing our best basketball.
Q. Did you guys get away from sharing the ball and being a little more cohesive than you were earlier in the year?
Jack Cooley: I think maybe we got away from it during the middle of the season, but I think we got back to it with these two guys controlling the ball and pushing their shots around. It really stems from their unselfishness that helps our team play so well.
I think we’ve gotten back to that. I don’t think we ever left it, but I think it’s more in the forefront now at the end of the season.
Q. I’m just curious, all three of you guys, what kind of reaction did you get about the green uniforms?
Jerian Grant: Well, they were kind of love or hate. Some people loved them. Some people hated them. There was really no in between. Either you hate them, or they’re real nice.
Q. What did you think of them?
Jerian Grant: I liked them just because they’re different, and it’s something different. So that’s good.
Jack Cooley: I mean, kind of the same really. I got a lot of people I could tell a lot of people weren’t telling the truth to me when they said how they felt about them.
I personally really liked them, but it is what it is. I’m happy that adidas gave us the opportunity to wear these uniforms, and they’re really nice. I’m glad we’re respected enough to be given such a gift as these uniforms. I like them personally.
Eric Atkins: I really like the jerseys. I wish Obama was on our side about the jerseys. I like them a lot, though.
Q. Are you guys wearing them tomorrow?
Eric Atkins: I think we’re wearing white.
THE MODERATOR: Eric, Jack, and Jerian, thank you for your time. Good luck tomorrow.
We’re now being joined by the head coach of Notre Dame, Mike Brey.
We’ll start with an opening statement by Coach, and then we’ll open the floor for questions.
COACH BREY: Thrilled to be part of this thing. It’s four years in a row, six out of seven for us. I never take for granted being part of this NCAA Tournament.
So thrilled to be involved. I’m thrilled for this group, that this nucleus kind of played together last year and got to the tournament. They’re back again, and they’d like to do better.
Q. How much easier is it the second time around for guys? Just overwhelmed maybe the first time in?
COACH BREY: I would hope, especially for our guards. Jerian and Eric played last year. They played older than they were to get us the bid. And then in the postseason I thought they played their age a little bit, especially the Xavier game.
I think they would really like another shot with another year under their belt and being experienced. Experience helps in everything in college basketball in that you’ve been part of the tournament once. I think it can be a great advantage.
Q. A guy like Jack Cooley plays in four tournaments in four years hasn’t happened in a while. What does that say about him, and then in the context of your program, where it’s at?
COACH BREY: I’m really proud of it, with the consistency of our program to have his class be the first in over 23 or 24 years to do it every year. He’s probably spoiled. I told our guys that, our seniors.
They’re spoiled a little bit because not a lot of people live like that. But for Jack, I’m proud of him. He certainly came to us as a young guy when we had some good older players, but he learned a lot from them.
Then he was kind of able to carry us to NCAA Tournaments maybe last year and had a big hand in it this year.
The consistency of our program, as we try to kick it to another level, this is a good thing for us, four in a row.
Q. If I could actually follow up with a completely different topic.
COACH BREY: Sure.
Q. Duke assistants, the Coach K tree, not too many guys have been successful over a long period of time, with sort of the exception of you. Any thoughts on why it’s been that way for such a revered program?
COACH BREY: It’s a great question. I’m asked that a lot of times. Certainly, Tommy Amaker has reinvented himself at Harvard very successfully.
Maybe one advantage I had was I played for Morgan Wootten and my experience coaching then with him. Then I played under Bob Tallent, who was a Kentucky Adolph Rupp guy, for one year when I transferred to GW. Then he got fired, and I played for Gerry Gimelstob, who came from Indiana and was a Bob Knight guy.
So I probably had more experiences other than Mike K. Mike K.’s preparation was the ultimate for me, and I’m forever thankful because, when he hired me, he let me get my hands on everything, and I thought he really let me be ready to be a head coach.
But I had more than just Duke background, and I think that was really helpful.
Q. Can I ask one more follow up?
COACH BREY: Hey, it’s me and you, baby.
Q. Chris Collins, I don’t know how well you know Chris. At this point I know you know him from years ago. Any ideas or thoughts about how ready he would be to take on a job? He’s being mentioned for Northwestern.
COACH BREY: I know Chris. I was part of recruiting him when I was there. I stayed in close touch with him. I think he would be very ready to be a head coach, and he’d be very ready to be a head coach at the Big Ten level.
I think with Chris, his initial thing is he’s got great energy and juice, and when you’re taking over a program and you want to rebuild or try and get it to places it’s never gone, you need great energy, and he has that.
Q. You talked about on Sunday how getting ready for Iowa State is unlike everything else in the Big East. Does that make this week more fun or more challenging?
COACH BREY: Great question. A little bit of both. We’ve gone in with a real loose, have fun frame of mind. But our preparation, I’m glad we had an extra day we don’t play until tomorrow and we had a while to digest it.
They’re unique. With five shooters on the floor at times and spreading you out and not much of a low post presence, it’s really an adjustment for us. We played some similar teams in our league, but not anything like this.
I thought, as much time as we had, we needed to prepare for our big guys, not playing a whole lot of post defense, but having to rotate up and maybe switch out on a shooter.
Q. Mike, just curious, what does a five overtime game do for tournament preparation?
COACH BREY: I’ll tell you what. You know what, it’s the game of the year, and still our fans I don’t know, when I went out in South Bend, I grabbed something to eat, I’m at the mall, at a restaurant I don’t really go to the mall. Why did I say that? I never go to the mall because it would be a pain in the butt.
Anyway, that’s all they know we played. They don’t know of any games we lost since then, thank God. They don’t remember the two thumpings Louisville gave us. They remember that one.
You know what it did, though? It really did give us like another level of confidence. It brought Garrick Sherman back, who was not playing for us, and Cam Biedscheid played 50 minutes off the bench. I’ve never been involved in anything like that in college basketball, but it helped us believe a little bit more.
It helped us solidify a spot in this tournament.
THE MODERATOR: Anything further?
COACH BREY: Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: We’re now being joined by Iowa State student athletes Korie Lucious and Will Clyburn.
Q. Korie, obviously, you’ve got a tremendous amount of NCAA Tournament experience, but it’s been a while. How does what you went through at Michigan State benefit you this year with Iowa State?
KORIE LUCIOUS: My 2 1/2 years at Michigan State, in those two years, I did get to the tournament and go into the Final Four. It’s just allowed me to be able to bring a lot of experience to the team. Playing in 11 tournament games, two Final Fours has just opened my eyes up to so much. It shows me what kind of focus you’re supposed to have during the tournament because any game could be your last.
But I’m happy I was fortunate enough to help this team get to the tournament too. So we’re just trying to make a long run.
Q. Korie, are there any specific instances or things you went through in the past, in past tournaments, that you can kind of tell those guys, hey, don’t get so caught up in this, or, hey, watch out for this? Just the kinds of things that your tournament runs have been able to — anything specific?
KORIE LUCIOUS: I think for the most part that we all just need to realize that any game could be our last game, bringing our complete focus, and not getting caught up in the atmosphere. It’s a lot of people here, a lot of things going on around town and in the arenas and stuff. We’ve just got to make sure we keep our complete focus, if we’re eating in the hotel or watching TV, we’ve just got to make sure we stay out of trouble and get our heads focused for every game.
Q. Will, you and Korie both sat out last year, and you’ve only got one shot to make the tournament this year, and you made it. How much pressure is there in the one shot to make a run?
WILL CLYBURN: I don’t feel any pressure at all. We want to take one game at a time and not worry about future games. I think we’ll be okay if we do that, just take it one game at a time and focus on the present.
Q. Korie, you guys obviously love the 3 pointer. Do you ever start to worry when they’re not dropping early?
KORIE LUCIOUS: Not really. Basketball, you just kind of go out there and play. There’s been a couple games where we didn’t shoot too well from the 3, and we found other ways to win, getting the ball down low, getting to the free throw line, and just trying to get stops on defense.
So just got to put a complete game together. If the 3’s not falling, we’ve got to find other ways to win. Hopefully, the 3s are falling because that’s basically what we like to do. So we’re just going to keep playing our game.
Q. How nice is it to play for a coach that gives you guys that freedom to let it fly?
KORIE LUCIOUS: It’s great. At any position, any time of the game, all five guys have that ability to shoot the 3. Coach gives us all confidence. We all have confidence in each other to shoot the three.
Whenever you get a coach like Coach Hoiberg that allows you to play that style of basketball, it’s always great. That’s what we like to do. So it’s always fun.
Q. For both of you, the differences obviously between the two teams are night and day. You guys are two ball handlers, Bubu’s the other guy that will bring the ball up a lot. How do you control tempo during the game to make sure you’re playing with Iowa State’s tempo tomorrow?
KORIE LUCIOUS: The main thing is we’re going to try to play our game. If we get stops on the defensive end or rebound the ball, I feel like we can get out in transition and continue to play the way we’re capable of playing and the way we’re used to playing.
I know they like to slow it down a lot, use a lot of shot clock. We’ve just got to be patient on defense, make sure we stay focused for the whole 30 seconds, however long it is they take to take the shot. As long as we stay focused on defense and get those rebounds, I think we’ll be able to play our style of ball.
WILL CLYBURN: Basically, just trying to get up and down, get rebounds, and try to catch the break and make the game in our favor, instead of the up tempo game and playing defense for 30 seconds on the shot clock.
Basically, if we defend the rebound and get out on the break, we’ll be fine.
THE MODERATOR: Korie and Will, thanks for your time. Good luck tomorrow. We’re now being joined by the head coach of the Iowa State Cyclones, Fred Hoiberg.
Coach, if you like, you can make an opening statement, and then we’ll open it up for questions.
COACH HOIBERG: Thank you. First of all, I just want to say how excited we are to be part of this great event for the second straight year. Our team was picked very low. We were picked 8th in our conference for the second straight season, and I thought our guys went out and played with a chip on their shoulder and did a great job competing all year to put us in this position.
When you lose your top three scorers, including Royce White, who did everything for us, led us in all five major statistical categories, and also Scott Christopherson and Chris Allen, guys have to step up. That’s exactly what our guys did all year.
Korie Lucious and Will Clyburn, who sat out a year ago, have a lot of experience, and we’re excited to be back in this position.
Q. Now that you’ve had a chance to look at ND a little bit, what do you see in them? What’s going to be the matchup problems?
COACH HOIBERG: I’m very impressed with Notre Dame’s overall talent, with their ability to control tempo, and just their physicality.
We give up size pretty much every night. We’ve been doing it all year, starting Georges at the 5 at 6’7″ and Melvin at the 4 at 6’6″. Will Clyburn gives us a little length at the small forward position, and he’s really been able to help us on the glass.
So the big thing for us, what we try to do all year is dictate tempo. We really try to get the thing up and down the floor.
The thing that we have to do more than anything this year is compete on the glass. If we’re give up second chance opportunities, it’s going to be tough for us to win this one. That and we need to limit turnovers. We need to get a good shot on the glass each and every possession. If we do that, I think we’ll have a chance.
Q. Coach, it seems like all your guys have the green light pretty much on 3s. Is that pretty much the case?
COACH HOIBERG: Well, it would certainly appear that way, I guess. We do like to shoot the 3. We led the nation in 3 pointers made this year, and it’s a big part of our offense.
Again, we’ve got five guys out there on the floor most times that can either make a play or make a shot. It makes it difficult, I think, on the defense, just with the randomness that we have on the offensive end and the freedom that our guys play with.
You look at what we’ve done to Kansas in the two times in the regular season that we played, we scored 96 on them at our place and, I believe, 88 down at Phog Allen.
It’s a luxury to have five guys out there that can make that play. The biggest thing we try to do is space the floor properly. If we do that and draw two defenders, our guys have done, for the most part, a great job of making the right instinctive play.
Q. Do you still have the best range on the team?
COACH HOIBERG: Oh, yes, no doubt.
Q. You guys aren’t necessarily a one trick pony, though. You’ve beaten teams other ways. Do you get concerned, though, for your guys that are out there when the shots aren’t dropping?
COACH HOIBERG: Yeah, but we have won some games when our shot hasn’t been there. The biggest one being the first round of the Big 12 tournament when we knocked off Oklahoma. We did not shoot the ball well at all that game and found a way to grind out that win by attacking the basket. We outscored a bigger team 36 18 in the paint.
So we have been able to win some games even when we haven’t shot the ball well. And I feel our guys have done a pretty good job of when that shot isn’t going to know when to attack, when we need to get to the free throw line, when we need to try to steal some free points.
If our shot isn’t falling, yes, we do feel we have other ways to win the game.
THE MODERATOR: Fred, thanks for your time.