Feb. 24, 2003

Recap?|? Box Score

Connecticut Player Quotes

Freshman forward Rashad Anderson

On coming off bench. . . .

“I just came out ready to play like I always do. Coach [Calhoun] has confidence in me. I come out ready to play every game; that’s my mentality. Fortunately, my teammates today were able to get me the ball at the right time.”

On play of Marcus White (14 rebounds)

“Marcus is just an animal on the boards. In practice, sometimes he’ll get every rebound for ten minutes. It’s just amazing; I don’t see how he does it.”

On the importance of win

“It showed everybody in the country that we’re not a fluke team, and we deserve to be in the NCAA tournament. We can win on the road against anybody. We needed to get this win to certify us getting in the tournament.”

Sophomore guard Ben Gordon

On Notre Dame’s second-half comeback . . . .

“The first thing I said when I went into the locker room at halftime was, ‘They’re going to make a run because they’re a good team, so everybody just keep the composure.’ Chris Thomas just took the game over single-handedly and got the other players involved and that’s what really brought them back.”

On penetration . . .

“I felt they were overplaying me sometimes to one side so that gave me the go-ahead to go right by them and create for my teammates.”

On the play of Rashad Anderson

“Rashad was tremendous in the first half. He really sparked us. I really admire how he doesn’t have a conscience, and he’ll just shoot it every time. That’s what we need.”

On 12 team turnovers

“Usually, we have a lot of unforced turnovers. Tonight we cut that down and every time we kept the ball we did something good with it.”

On the difference in the game

“They were kind of worn out, and that was due to our defense and the way we pushed the ball. Their having to run with us every time and try to catch up with us definitely wore them down.”

Sophomore center Emeka Okafor

On the game . . .

“We came out and played hard. They made a real good run, but we just kept our poise, kept collected and pulled off the win.”

On Notre Dame’s front-court challenges

“People are going to try to test you, and I haven’t failed a test in awhile.”

Notre Dame Player Quotes

Senior guard Matt Carroll

On Connecticut’s offense . . .

“They played a great game. They hit big shot after big shot, especially in the first half. They had an answer for everything. We had it back within two points, and I thought we were going to get over that hump. Unfortunately, they always had a big shot right when we were coming back.”

On Notre Dame’s defense

“We needed to put some points on the board, especially when Connecticut scored that many. They scored 46 points in the first half, which is too many. It’s hard to win a game against Connecticut because they are so good offensively and they’re not going to slow down.”

On Connecticut’s defense

“They were very good on defense. They’re very athletic and quick, and they forced us to take some shots we wouldn’t normally take. I was taking a lot of shots off the dribble. I give them a lot of credit.”

Senior guard Dan Miller

On Notre Dame’s second-half comeback. . .

“It’s hard to hold a lead in a big game. We put ourselves in a great situation, getting it within two points with five minutes to go. They hit some tough shots and we didn’t capitalize when we had a chance. We did our best to fight back, but they pulled it out on us.”

On losing at home . . .

“This ruins our perfect home streak, which hurts, but we have to put this one behind us. We have to get ready for Rutgers and learn from our mistakes.”

Freshman forward Torin Francis

On Notre Dame’s offense . . .

“In the beginning, we started off slowly. They were hitting all their shots and we weren’t aggressive enough on defense. When we came in at halftime down 15, so we were playing catch up for most of the second half.”

On Connecticut’s shooting . . .

“They hit big shots. We tried to match them shot for shot, but they were quick. We had some trouble on defense, and that just built on to their run and their momentum.”

Jim Calhoun Postgame Quotes

On playing Notre Dame . . . .

“I knew they were a tremendous team. I knew we were going to have to play well. I knew were going to have to accentuate the things we do well.”

On their game plan . . .

“We thought the advantage we have is our team quickness. We thought we could spread them open. Once we spread them, we thought we’d get the ball inside to Emeka [Okafor].”

On Torin Francis

“Francis is going to be a wonderful player. But he’s a freshman and handling Emeka [Okafor] is a difficult task, especially a freshman.”

On Mike Brey

“We have great respect for Mike and what he’s done here. He was kind to me before the game, and even after the game he was terrific. That’s the kind of classy guy he is.”

Mike Brey Postgame Quotes

On the game . . . .

“I take my hat off to the University of Connecticut. They were very ready to play. That’s the best first half we’ve had to face. They really shot the ball well. We weathered it as best we could. I’m very proud of our work; it gave us a chance in the second half to come back and put us in a position to win. We were down at the half by a large margin. For us, I don’t want us hanging our heads walking out of this locker room. We have a couple of days to get some rest, but Connecticut played very well and deserved to win.”

On the defense

“We were very concerned about transition defense. They got to us a little bit there, but when we finally adjusted and took away some transition, they made three-point shots. We did a great job in the second half playing a little bit of zone and changing the tempo, but they made good buckets every time.”

On fighting from a deficit

“There was a lot of time left when we got to within one possession and two possessions [of tying the game], but that’s a big hurdle to get over. We’re a very good basketball team, and we played against an offensive team that was in the groove tonight. When you get into a situation like we were at halftime, it’s just war on the mind. We have a great group. They thought they were going to come back and put themselves in a position to win so they are really shocked right now.”

On the upcoming game

“I’m glad we don’t play until Saturday. We need a little time off; this was a tough stretch for us. I think they’ll be fine, though, and Rutgers will be a tough challenge on Saturday.”

On opponents targeting Notre Dame every game

“Well, they come after us now after what we did in early December. I think, for the most part, we handle it very well. We’ve held people off against their best efforts. It was a tough game for Connecticut, but it was a tough game for us too. We invested just as much as Connecticut did, but they played very well tonight.”