Dec. 2, 2008

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Notre Dame vs. South Dakota
Joyce Center – Notre Dame Indiana

Notre Dame Head Coach Mike Brey

On the play of Ryan Ayers
“In practice, I asked him, ‘Where have you been?’ because we need him to be aggressive. His teammates are on him to be aggressive. Because they stayed in the zone I thought he would get a lot of looks.”

On the play of the team as a whole…
“I feel like I should have paid for a ticket. I had a great seat. I told the guys that no matter what the score is we continue to be unselfish. I love to see us pass ball. They did a real good job of finding their teammates.”

“It has been a while since we have been home. That has been a mark during the streak; this team has gotten out of the gate similar to tonight. You let the other team know they are not going to snap the streak when you start out like this.”

On the play of Zach Hillesland
“Zach was fabulous tonight. He was catching the ball and being a playmaker. He has been so good. He only had four assists but he set up so much more.”

On the play of Tyrone Nash
“I am really happy with him. His knee is healthy. When the knee is healthy, the body is active. When he is active, he gives us a lot of energy off the bench. He is a defender, a rebounder. “

South Dakota Head Coach Dave Boots

Opening Statement…
“I appreciate the opportunity to come in here and play a team like that. I have great respect for their program and it was a really good experience for our kids to see a team of that level and they played terrific. Obviously they are over our heads in talent. I appreciate that Mike (Brey) didn’t really pound us. Down 30 at the half and Mike went to a zone and you’re just hoping you don’t get beat by more than that and I appreciate that he was pretty generous to us in the second half.”

On the Notre Dame fast start…
“They can really shoot it obviously and you spend so much effort on (Kyle) McAlarney trying to figure out where he is and it creates opportunities for others. In the second half we got hurt in transition, but they are just really hard to defend.”

On playing zone against a shooting team…
“We tried some man too but that was a disaster. We had no chance in that. The second half I thought we stayed in our base defense a little bit more and they didn’t shoot it as well as they did in the first half. It was unbelievable how well they shot it in the first half.”

On your team’s progress…
“I don’t think we got beat up physically like we did against Cincinnati but this team is so skilled they don’t need to beat you up physically. They are unbelievable passers. They move the ball so quick it is hard to keep up with them.”

Notre Dame Players

Ryan Ayers – Sr. – G

On the importance of taking an early lead…
“I think it was very important because we haven’t played well in this building in a while. We wanted to feed off the crowd’s energy. Last year we had a lot of starts like that and we haven’t really had one this year. It was great to accomplish that without Luke [Harangody].”

On South Dakota’s choice of a zone defense…
“We play so well against the zone defense. We pass the ball so well and we’ve played so much together that it’s easy to pick apart the zone. Zach [Hillesland] does a great job on the high post. We have Luke (Zeller) running the baseline. (Kyle) McAlarney and I had many shot opportunities. We just have a lot of weapons out there and it’s really hard to guard us.”

On keeping the NCAA tournament in mind in the upcoming game vs. Ohio State…
“We are mature enough to know that is a good game to put on our NCAA resume. We are excited to face Ohio State and we know what’s at stake. However, because we’re mature we also know we can’t let thoughts like that get into our heads, putting too much pressure on ourselves, thinking “We have to win this game.” We just go out there and play.”

Zach Hillesland – Sr. – F

On playing without Luke Harangody
“Guys like Ryan [Ayers] have gotten more touches and attempts than they usually would. We’re getting into a bit of a flow. When Luke [Harangody] comes back we’ll try to incorporate this to take some of the pressure off him. Usually there’s double and triple teams going against Luke, so this is good. We have to focus more on rebounding and defending the post when he’s out of there. For me, I’m doing what I can to get my teammates the ball and doing what I can to win. We’d like to see Luke in there Saturday, but we’re going day-by-day to see how he feels. Obviously his health is the most important thing. The season is long, and we need him for the long haul.”

On the importance of a good start in games…
“Last game we came out a little sluggish. In this building historically we’re known for fast starts and I don’t know that we’ve had a faster start than this. Before we knew it, we looked up and it was 20-2. We didn’t even feel like we’d broken a sweat.”

On the shock of having so many open shots…
“I was shocked. Usually you see teams make adjustments as the players hit one or two. It didn’t happen tonight until Ryan Ayers hit seven. They were playing a match-up zone, and I think after our players hit so many shots they should have switched to a man-to-man defense.”

Tory Jackson – Jr. – G

On playing without Luke Harangody
“Ty Nash did a good job of giving us a post presence today. His strong play underneath the basket was key for us. Having him, Luke [Harangody], Luke Zeller, and Zach Hillesland playing down low gives us a great group to control the boards. Now they can’t double team Ryan [Ayers] or Kyle [McAlarney]. Somebody is going to be open. If Luke [Harangody] were here tonight, it might have been even a better day for Ryan and Kyle.”

Kyle McAlarney – Sr. – G

On playing Ohio State on Saturday in Indianapolis…
“They’re a great team; we know that. We can’t let down our guard at all. It’s going to be a pretty hostile environment, but it’s going to be fun. We just need to approach things one game at a time. This could really help us come March, and we know that; we are a pretty mature group. We have to be ready to play.”

On the competition in the BIG EAST this year…
“We look at the BIG EAST standings every day, and everyone, it looked like, was taking care of business and beating the teams they should beat. We need to take care of our business too. Everyone is talking about us getting far in the tournament this year and being ranked so high, but we need to prove it. We need to beat Ohio State. We need to get all of the talk out of our minds. The rest of the BIG EAST is taking care of their business, so we need to take care of ours.”

On South Dakota’s choice of defensive strategy…
“We knew they were going to play zone. I don’t think we’ll see much zone the rest of the year though. The way Ryan [Ayers] shot tonight. It’s tough for teams to play zone against us because we always take the best shots possible. We had so many open looks, it was just a matter of stepping in and taking them.”

Luke Zeller – Sr. – F/C

On the shooting performance of Ryan Ayers and Kyle McAlarney
“We just tried to get them open and get them the ball. I just went in to rebound in case they missed, but it didn’t happen very much. If Ryan (Ayers) hesitates to shoot on Saturday, with the way he is shooting right now, I might have to say something to him.”

On playing in Lucas Oil Stadium on Saturday against Ohio State…
“We’re excited. It’s good to be able to play on a neutral site. We need to be comfortable and confident in that environment. When you play in a different atmosphere, the ball is still round and the rim is still round, so it really doesn’t make a difference. I’ve played everywhere from at home in the cold in my driveway to the Joyce Center to the Carrier Dome to Madison Square Garden. In every place, the ball is still the same and the lines are still the same distance, so it doesn’t matter.”