March 10, 2010

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Notre Dame – 68 Seton Hall – 54

An interview with:

COACH Mike Brey: I talked to our guys about given how they played last night with 55 points at half and 109, and given how they beat us in Newark when they scored 55 in a half, that if we could impose our style of play, you know, we can beat them. We’re going to have to do that. We certainly did that. Field goal percentage, defense was great, you know. We limited them of their possessions. It was our tempo.
Luke coming off the bench the most important three days of practice for us was Sunday, Monday and Tuesday because we could get Luke back in even a better rhythm, since he’s been away. Played 11 minutes in Milwaukee. And I think you’re seeing how we’re changing as a team here, even in March. He gave us a great lift. I thought our guards defensively were great. And it was just a heck of a team win.I’m very proud of our guys that we advanced.

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please?

Q. He can still play little bit? He can still help your team?
COACH Mike Brey: The microwave was ready to go tonight. He was ready to go. It was not anything anybody in this room hasn’t seen. We’re going to need that as he was coming back. We didn’t really need it as much in Milwaukee. And maybe he wasn’t quite ready to do all that in Milwaukee. After just a practice and a half. But we had three good practices. And I think he is back in his rhythm at a very key time.

Q. Mike, the job you guys have been able to do the other night in Milwaukee and then again tonight, the attention to detail that you’ve had from the three point line, guarding the three point line.
COACH Mike Brey: We’ve been really good. I thought we were great on Hazell. Abromaitis. John Peoples gave us a couple of good minutes. He defended Hazell and gave us another ball handler against a team that was really chasing us down and coming after us. There was a really good team awareness of the three point line especially Hazell.

Q. Can you talk about how you feel and how you’re coming along and how you felt out there tonight?
Luke Harangody: As Coach said, the last couple of days of practice have been great for me just to get back in the flow. Kind of get my conditioning back up to where it has been. And just get on the court tonight. Hit a couple of early buckets. It was great for my confidence. Going into this game, especially the Marquette game, my confidence wasn’t at the level. I feel right now that I started to get a little bit of swagger I had before the injury, a little more of the confidence. I feel great with the guys out there.

Q. Mike, simple question: What is different about your team now than maybe two or three weeks ago?
COACH Mike Brey: I think the offensive tempo. That’s the biggest change we’ve made. We’ve really been extremely patient, as you can see. And that’s benefited us. Especially when we can get the lead. It puts a lot of pressure on people. You know, you can say you want to play that way. But you’re going to make 18 passes a possession, you have to have guys that can pass and catch. We’re blessed our big guys are real good basketball IQ. You don’t have to guard as many three point attempts if they don’t get the ball back that much. It’s really helped us. It’s made us more efficient offensively. And right now it’s something we believe in because we’ve been riding it pretty good.

Q. Tory, they jumped on you early with the full court pressure. Was there any adjustment other than being stronger with the ball? Did you talk that over?
Tory Jackson: We didn’t want them to make us guard fast. We have to play our tempo. Even though they were running and jumping and slapping and whatever, we still had to be calm and just hit the open guy. After they made that little run, the guys we thought the game was a little better. We slowed down, hit the open guy. And the guys hit the easy buckets.

Q. Tory, can you talk about how well you guys played the first time you played them and how that came from the start of this run?
Tory Jackson: Tell you the truth, I don’t want to look back at that time. Pitt is a different team. They are coming in playing really hot themselves. So we have to go back and look at film and see how we played defensively. And just continue to be the team we’ve been the last couple of weeks.

Q. Luke, you don’t normally have to go back to back nights. How are you going to be tomorrow?
Luke Harangody: I played 24 tonight. I feel pretty good. I think Coach is smart about how many minutes he got me tonight. My body feels great right now. I think he got me in and out of there at times that I needed to get out of there. I think every day it’s just going to get better. I’m just going to ride the momentum off today and into tomorrow.

Q. Can you address the NCAA Tournament picture. Did you feel you were in before this game? Did you feel you needed to win this?
COACH Mike Brey: How about this being promoted as a play in game? Come on. For us, come on. You know what, right now nobody is going to talk about Seton Hall. Just give it a few days. Keep Seton Hall on the board. Just keep Seton Hall on the board. Right I know everybody knee jerks. Give it two days and come back and look at the big picture.
It would have been very hard to keep us out before tonight with what we have. We have three top 12, ten top 100. And you know there is some feel for the game here where you have to get away from numbers and computers. We’re playing well. We’re one of the best stories in college basketball right now, with him coming back. So I do think there’s a human element in that room. My only thing would be take a deep breath before you do anything with Seton Hall, the way this thing is going to play out nationally.

Q. Mike, I’m just wondering along those lines, how on any level have you ever had to try to reinvent the team like you did this year? And second part, did you reach out to any one in the fraternity and say in this space?
COACH Mike Brey: Never have. Never this drastic a change as far as changing the tempo. We prided ourselves on being one of the leading scoring teams. A real fun team to watch when we’re running and firing, 25 assists. Those days are over. And we felt we started to talk about it. Going into the Louisville game and we thought Luke was going to be back. It was something that we had to do to try to survive. Our backs were against the wall. And we were going to do it with Luke at Louisville because we expected he could play. Now, he talked us into it. He wasn’t ready to play. He tricked our trainer. He tricked me. He needed two weeks. But, we obviously have played that way, he’s watched it, and he and I spent a lot of time talking about him coming back into it. I really didn’t reach out to anybody else. It was kind of our staff talking about you know how we need to play.

Q. Mike, Tory made a play in the first half where he dove for a ball out of bounds and kicked it off to Luke. Can you talk about that epitomizing this philosophy change?
COACH Mike Brey: It’s only fitting that our two seniors tonight they tied, this class tied the all time wins in Notre Dame over a four year period. They got a chance to break it. You can ask Bernie, is it Tracy Jackson and that group that had 92 wins. I see him dive and he finishes for a three point play. That’s kind of who these two guys have been. They’ve been big time winners. And obviously when they showed up in our program, things really changed.

Q. Mike, when Bobby puts Herb back in with two fouls under the 5:00 mark and he picks up that third, was that sort of where this game changed? It sort of limited him to what he was able to do.
COACH Mike Brey: I think that hurt them. We were able to go inside. He could only play so much post defense. I thought Luke and (Tyrone) Nash were really good in the post. And they were limited as far as how physical they could be because of foul trouble.

Q. Mike, can you just talk about how the other guys grew in confidence when Luke was out.
COACH Mike Brey: Yeah, I think it was great for Carleton Scott. Carleton Scott has been coming. Then all of a sudden you get to start when Luke Harangody is down. That’s a powerful thing. And he gets more extended minutes.
I think it was a big step for him tonight, because he gets in foul trouble, and you’re wondering ok, where is his head at tonight? He came back in the second half and gave us a great half and really rebounded. John Peoples gave us great minutes tonight, guarding Hazell. Nash and Scott probably have been the biggest beneficiaries while Luke was out, they got very confident.

Q. Tory, when Coach came to you and suggested this kind of change in game plan, how hard was it for you guys? You’ve been playing the same way for four years and all of a sudden it’s time out, go out and change everything.
Tory Jackson: I thought he was crazy at first. No, I thought it was I kind of thought it was a good idea because it really helped me out as a player. Just slowing down, making the easy plays during the game. If I’m at a scorer’s pace, a place where I can control the game. I think we played better as a team and it definitely helped me out as a player. So I love the decision he made with that.

Q. Luke, the NCAA Tournament was maybe not a reality for you guys just a little while ago. I know it was a big deal for you guys to end your careers with another appearance. Now that that seems pretty likely, how gratifying is it to kind of rally to that?
Luke Harangody: It’s been great to be part of this run right now. And have a chance to put ourselves in that position. As of right now, I think we’re excited we’re in that kind of talk. But I think we’re more excited to play a great Pitt team tomorrow night. And, you know, as Coach has talked to us the past week, Notre Dame really hasn’t done a lot of damage in the BIG EAST Tournament lately. Me and Tory are seniors now, want to go out that way.

Q. Mike, with Luke now as your sixth man, does that change your philosophy on bench scoring being the most overrated stat?
COACH Mike Brey: Great point. You’re right. The bench scoring stat I hang my hat on now more. I’m more into that. But certainly gives us a lift. And we’re not going to change how we play. Yeah, I’ve changed my attitude on that.
THE MODERATOR: Notre Dame, thank you.
COACH Mike Brey: Thanks.

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