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UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME BASKETBALL MEDIA CONFERENCE


March 11, 2012


Jack Cooley


Q.  Coach Brey talked before the Big East Tournament about how important Pat's play and Alex's play was going to be, and we've come back to how important Jack Cooley's play is going to be.  What do you take away from the tournament in New York, that experience moving forward?
JACK COOLEY:¬† I mean, just in the tournament I had‑‑ I played all right, but I really didn't play as well as I think I could have.¬† There was a couple of‑‑ against South Florida I really got taken out of my element during that game, and I really realized that just my teammates are going to keep giving me confidence throughout the game and I've got to make sure I step up to help them and help our team win and just realize how important my role is on this team.

Q.  Have you seen a big difference in how teams have prepared for you and play you defensively compared to maybe early January?
JACK COOLEY:  Yeah, I mean, they've just been a little more physical.  A lot of the players joke around at like free throws and said my coach told me to just run into you.  I'm like, okay, I don't like your coach anymore.  But they've just been a little more scouting heavy as I heard coach say earlier, that they're just trying to play me defensively a little more different.

Q.  Do you find yourself literally having people pounding on you?
JACK COOLEY:¬† Yeah, there have been possessions where I've literally turned to my defender and I was like, come on, dude, we're both out here to play basketball, what would you do if I did that to you.¬† Dieng in the last game actually, I said that to him and he apologized.¬† I found out he's a pretty nice guy.¬† So then like‑‑ some players, really no one means it in angst, even though it looks bad.¬† No one means it to be hurtful.¬† It's just something you've got to deal with.

Q.  How has that changed your game?
JACK COOLEY:  I realize I have to be a little more smarter and more protective.  Sometimes there are plays where if I make them and I get hit the wrong way I could end up getting hurt, so I have to be a little more protective of myself and be a little more patient and wait for my spots a little longer, after a hit or something, just go up with the ball and maybe be a little more stronger.

Q.  Your role has significantly changed from last year to this year.  I remember talking to you in the locker room after a loss against Florida State.  Do you remember that feeling still to this day and does it motivate you?
JACK COOLEY:  Yeah, I really hated that moment.  It was a dark time.  I was really upset and actually lashed out at a photographer at one point during that.  I hate the feeling of losing.  I hate the feeling when the season ends and just seeing the seniors and friends leaving.  I don't want had a to happen again, and the tournament is a big deal and I hate losing.

Q.  How is it this year being one of the main guys, one of the starters?
JACK COOLEY:¬† I mean, it's kind of surreal to see how far my role has definitely changed from last year.¬† It's just‑‑ I know I have to just step up and play well.¬† Everyone is going to step up well and everyone handles pressure extremely well on this team and do fine.¬† I just know I have to do my part to just help our team win.

Q.  When you see Xavier, do you start thinking I've got to guard Kenny Frease?
JACK COOLEY:  It actually got me a little more excited because I always like a challenge of playing a good big guy.  Kenny Frease is no exception.  He's a great big guy.  I remember, I watched one of their games earlier in the year and I thought it would be fun to go up against them, that team, and see how we match up against them.  Ironically now we play them, so we get to see.

Q.  A lot of guys have talked about (inaudible).  Balancing that against just not being happy to be here, how does that balance out?
JACK COOLEY:¬† Everyone always looked at the Gonzaga and said, how can that team be so different from now.¬† To be a 7 seed compared to that point in the season where we just‑‑ it just kind of shows our mentality, that we don't accept anything.¬† At that point we could have just been like we've lost a bunch of games already, we could be satisfied with losing in the Big East, now the tournament, now we went on a nine game winning streak and we had a great season, and now we want to prove that again in this postseason, we made it after working hard in the season, good job, guys, or we can do what we're going to do and have a good run and play good basketball and play well.

Q.  (Inaudible.)  Can you recreate that or do you feel like you have to create something else?
JACK COOLEY:  I mean, I think that we can create that.  I don't know if it'll happen the exact same way, but I know everyone is going to step up big during this tournament.  Everyone is going to play fine.  Hopefully we can get that air of invincibility back and start playing some good basketball again.

Q.  Have you seen a big difference in Scott since the beginning of the season?
JACK COOLEY:  I mean, I think maybe in the early part of the season there would be something that would go on that Scott maybe wouldn't comment on, and now as the season has gone on Scott has had more of a role in everything that's gone on.  He's putting in insight, which is great.  He's a smart guy, great leader, and become more of a role in the plays and more what's happening with the team.  It's really good to have someone who knows so much about basketball you can always turn to, and just having that resource is huge.

Q.¬† Do you think it's something he's come up with or that's‑‑
JACK COOLEY:  I mean, it's pretty good because sometimes like during a game you'll get all excited and forget what defense you're in.  Scott always remembers what defense you're in.  He's just always there for you.  He always explains the different coverages and how to guard them.  He's great like that.

Q.  What was the point for you, not for the team but for you individually where the sleeping giant woke up and you became what you became?
JACK COOLEY:¬† It happened‑‑ insanely I was in a hospital bed when I was watching the Maryland game, and after watching that game I was extremely disappointed how I had been playing this season, just said enough is enough, and from that point on, I'm not going to allow anything to really affect how I play, I'll make sure I change the game and not allow other teams to affect how I play.¬† After that point it really just changed.¬† I've got my confidence back.¬† The team and my family have played a key role in helping me get my confidence, and that's been huge.

Q.  Coach talked about playing loose.  Can you talk about that?
JACK COOLEY:  We do a pretty good job of playing loose.  Some teams don't have fun out there, and we always have fun out there, and we're good at having fun.  We're good at playing loose.  But we've just got to make sure that we focus on that during the tournament and not let anything affect us.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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