March 16, 2013

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An Interview With

COACH Mike Brey
Jack Cooley
Jerian Grant

COACH BREY: I love how we we weren’t very good in the first half, and a lot of that was Louisville’s defense. I love that we fought back and had some chances, but just probably too many turnovers at key times. That’s what they do. They impose their will on us too much to really close the gap or think we could win it. They’re very good, very impressed with them. We certainly know them pretty good. We played them three times in our last 11 games.

But I’m proud of our group. I think I didn’t like our first half. Our second half, I did. I loved our other two games. I think we found maybe another gear up here and really at the right time with what’s coming up next week.

Q. Mike, I know you want to look forward to next week. What is it going to be like walking out of here for the final time not being able to get to Saturday?

COACH BREY: I’m very disappointed we could never get to Saturday. I guess I got to say can we get to Sunday afternoon now in the new league or whatever. But I’m thrilled that we played in the semis in such a magical night here.

So a little bit of unfinished business, but we’ll get over it quickly and get ready to prepare for next week. And I can’t say enough about the Big East, man. I don’t think it’s really hit me yet saying bye to O.J. and John and some of the other people, Joe D., and the Big East has kind of made me.

I’ve always said, I’ve been as proud of being a Big East guy as I am a Notre Dame guy. We’ll miss that. I do like the fact that there’s some of those people coming to this new league with us, but unbelievable memories of the league and especially this building.

But enough about that. What else you want to talk about?

Q. Jerian, what did you and Mike talk about arm in arm getting off the court like that?

Jerian Grant: Getting ready for the NCAA Tournament. Coach expects a lot from us going into the postseason, and we want to play hard for him.

Q. Discuss the benefits of the conference tournament. You said your team took it to another level.

COACH BREY: Well, this conference tournament is unbelievable in this setting. Again, we’ve gotten to the semis four in a row. We found something here that I think can help us. We played with a freer mind. We shot it better. We’re shooting it better. I sure hope we can move forward with that.

But I think there’s a confidence coming out of here. We played well against Rutgers. We played a heck of a team at Marquette last night on a neutral floor. And this team is going to be a 1 seed that beat us tonight, we had our chances. We were right there.

So I think there’s a lot for us to feel good about, that this tournament maybe helped get us tougher and more confident for next week.

Q. Mike, if you put it together and make a run, which you’ve been looking forward to in the NCAA Tournament, why would it happen? What would you have to improve upon from now?

COACH BREY: We’ll have keep I felt for the most part here we were very poised, more poised than we were during the regular season, and we were pretty darn good during the regular season. We were mature about stuff. We didn’t hang our head as much on mistakes. Tonight we made a lot of them.

But we didn’t hang our head. We didn’t hang our head when we missed a shot. I kept saying last night it felt like you were coaching men, and I hope we’ve learned that, I talked to them about that, because that’s how we’ll have to be if we’re going to stay alive in the next one.

Q. And what do you have to do better specifically within your game?

COACH BREY: Well, take care of the ball, but we played against a relentless team that turns you over, and we’re pretty good with the ball. We’re going to have to defend and keep it to one and done.

I thought for the most part we did some very good things here defensively. Rebounding has got to be a key here for us. Sure would be nice to keep shooting the ball well.

Q. Jack, why was it so tough offensively? Never really a sort of consistent offense.

Jack Cooley: Their pressure on the full court started us off going fast, and by the time we got settled in our offense, there wasn’t a lot of time left on the clock. Putting that pressure on it kind of helped to eliminate some of the post feeds we were getting the first two games.

All their defense stems from their pressure.

Q. Coach, can you talk about how difficult it is to prepare for that kind of defensive intensity, that pressure they apply.

COACH BREY: It’s tough because you’ve got two small guards in Siva and Smith who can get up and underneath you. Really, for Eric Atkins and Jerian, it’s an unbelievable workout to bring the ball up. They don’t come out of the game much, but against other teams, they can stay pretty fresh for the stretch run. They were exhausted tonight. That’s been the case every time we play them. They kind of wear you down.

Those small guys can really get underneath you, and they’ve got great strength.