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March 17, 2013

Eric Atkins

Mike Brey

Pat Connaughton

Jack Cooley

Jerian Grant

THE MODERATOR:  We have Mike Brey here and following Mike we will have Jack Cooley, Pat Connaughton, Jerian Grant and Eric Atkins, we will take questions from those on the phone first and then we've got people here as well.

Q.  Mike, just generally, what do you think of the seeding and the challenge of trying to make that Sweet 16 given who you are face and go where you're at?
COACH BREY:  We're excited.  To show up in that bracket again, I never want to take these days for granted.  Our senior class, all they've known is the NCAA Tournament, quite frankly they're spoiled, maybe they have no idea how other programs live.  Certainly a great challenge in Iowa State Too, I compare them to Villanova, a Pittsburgh or a Marquette, they're a really good team.  They shoot the 3‑point shot so much I've made a little bit of a comparison, I'm thinking in my mind when we played Villanova they were coming off the wins against Louisville and Syracuse and they were shooting the heck out of the ball and we really had to defend the arc and we did and won a game.  I think you're going to have to be ready to guard the 3‑point line against an explosive offensive team.

Q.  I don't want to get too far ahead of yourself but they're explosive, you're playing in Dayton, where Ohio State is, how much of a challenge is it going to be to make your way to LosAngeles?
COACH BREY:  I don't want to talk about‑‑ I think we're getting ahead of ourselves.  Our program needs to win a first‑round game.  I know Ohio State, we can't think of that ahead, Brian.  Last year this group did not win a first‑round game, we want to do that and then we will reconvene and try and figure it out.

Q.  What goes into being good at defending the arc and defending a team that can score like them?
COACH BREY:  I think team awareness.  We've been pretty good at that as a group.  We're able to digest a scouting report and for the most part, you know, make teams more 2‑point shooting teams, chase people off the arc.  Overall we have been good when we have had to take away the arc and I think that Villanova game would be a reference point for us and I will use that with our team starting tomorrow.

Q.  Mike, you talked this year about Pat adding to his overall game and obviously he's coming off a heater in NewYork.  If the 3‑point isn't falling for him like it has been the last three games, you know early on in this NCAA Tournament game, what did you want from him?
COACH BREY:  He's got to always defend and rebound, he can run the floor, still drive and have an impact on it that way.  If he's got open looks we need him to take them.  Obviously that was a weapon that helped us.
I feel he's moving forward as a shooter in the best frame of mind that he's been in, after what happened in NewYork.

Q.  With Sherman and Knight kinda picking up the slack, Cooley didn't have a problem with what he wanted in NewYork happen, but those two alternate big nights when what did they give you and their confidence level right now?
COACH BREY:  I think both of them are really confident.  I think we have Sherman back in a great frame of mind, Tom has been solid the whole year and an unsung hero, with Scott Martin going down and we throw him in the lineup, I'm proud of how he's delivered for us and there are nights when Zack Auguste is a guy flyin' in around there but it's nice to have all four of those guys and we're going to need all four on Friday night and beyond if we keep goin'.

Q.  Did the flu make its way around the team or is it just and you Jack affected by that?
COACH BREY:  Yeah, just me.  You know, it was just me for the most part.  I got hit‑‑ bad timing.  I sound worse than I feel.  It was congestion, but I'm feeling better.  I do like the fact that we don't play until Friday because I think sickness or not we're all still recovering from three late‑night shows in NewYork with a lot of intensity and energy invested, we can use a day or two to kinda just get our legs under us before we crank it back up again.

Q.  Mike, congratulations.  Generally speaking, and I guess in regard to your team, with so much going on this week, in your experience what is the key for a coach keeping a team within its personality so when they take the court they are who they are at the most important time of the year?
COACH BREY:  I think you've got to remind them, you know, what has got us to this point and I think we need to spend some time, David, over the next two days watching film of us in NewYork.  I thought we maybe found a little different or another gear on the offensive end of the floor and I thought our body language and confidence was at an all‑time high.
I would like to kinda' see if we could jump off the back of that a little bit through this week and take it to Dayton.

Q.  You ended the last four years at the same time but as you mentioned kind of playing differently.  You guys seem to have a lot of confidence whereas last year maybe you didn't end as strong in the semifinal, but you played well against Xavier, did you take anything from these last three years, having a week to prepare and the pluses or minuses of how to approach it?
COACH BREY:  One thing you don't want to do right now is overcoach or overpractice.  You want guys fresh and you want to be injury free and frame of mind is good.  You're right the one thing about last year in the first round, we were playing darn well, but we couldn't finish that thing.  And I know our backcourt would like another shot at that, they know they played young last year in the first round.  They're a lot older now and experienced and I expect them to play like the mature, older guards that they are right now.

Q.  Very quickly, back to Sherman, you see him on a daily basis that was the most engaged most of us watching have ever seen him especially against Marquette, he was an emotional leader.  Did anything change or is playing better the key for him?
COACH BREY:  I think he's playing better, I think he knows I feel really good about him, he's worked his way back.  I think the biggest key is his teammates have told him how much we need them, specifically Jerian and Eric, they're close and I think they have worked on him to make him feel really a big part of things for us.

Q.  Mike you go 13 and 5 last year, you get a seven seed.  What does it say about this team where you go 11 and 7 and you are still a seven seed?
COACH BREY:  You know, it's‑‑ it's funny, I tried to tell our guys, I said, don't look at the projections of being a five or six and think we didn't get what we were supposed to get.
Don't ever look at those projections.  We're honored to be in.  A seven is a pretty strong seed, and I think I reminded them, I said this earlier, you need to erase numbers next to names and understand we're playing Big East games again, big‑time competition especially with Iowa State.  I'm thrilled we're back in it.
It was funny, when it flashed up, I was kinda, there wasn't any‑‑ it's amazing, it's become routine I guess, a little bit.  I was like, well that's interesting, because I know when Ingelsby and those guys saw their name they jumped through the window, almost, it was very businesslike, "okay, I'm going to Dayton, Friday night," it was matter of fact and it's kind of neat to see that but I know we're thrilled to be part of it.
I thought as we went to NewYork our guys felt like, boy, it's time to be more focused than we ever have been, and they were.  I hope we kinda feel the same way as we prepare this week, it's time to kick it up again and I hope we can do the same as we head to Dayton as we did in NewYork.

Q.  Is that focus, does that give you confidence that this team is not going to be worried, like we've‑‑
COACH BREY:  Yeah, yeah, it will be‑‑ it will never be that way for me, I want us to attack and go for it.  If you're playing looking over your shoulder you're dead in the water.
They're‑‑ they have been through enough now this nucleus, where I think they're‑‑ I expect them to come out like they did against Rutgers, have a real feel about it and excited to play and we're goin' for it.

Q.  After ending the season with Louisville and Marquette the way you did, how important was it to come back and play against Marquette as well as you did in the tournament?
COACH BREY:  I think it was very important, there is no question.  We needed a big win in the postseason to kinda get us feeling good about this tournament, there is no question about it.
We're really proud of our group, how tough‑‑ we did a little bit of everything that night and you know what?  We battled Louisville pretty darn good, too.  I thought we needed a big win under our belt to kinda feel, okay, maybe this Marchthing is for us.

Q.  Second half against Cincinnati when you pulled the guards and kinda gave them like a kick start, when you're going in that direction, you're more flexible than you were.  Pretty good timing considering you're playing a team thatmaybe averages 80 points a game.
COACH BREY:  Yeah, we're going to have to score some because we're not going to just shut them down.  I like that our guards have shown they can really get into a gear and go.
As I've said, when our guards are in gear in a great frame of mind we can play with anybody.  You know, we need them to be good.  They weren't good enough long enough Friday night and that's why we couldn't get out of there and they're going to have to be really good for us to advance from Friday.

Q.  You had a chance to look into Iowa State any previous knowledge of their program and what they do?
COACH BREY:  Just know him from being on the road he has done a heck of a job back this his hometown.  They have really milked the transfer thing, you know?  We do thesame ‑‑ we don't do it to that degree, but they have found a niche with transfers coming there, they're older, they give them a second chance and they have continually been older.  I can relate to what he's doing philosophically and they love to score the ball.  I think he's a heck of a Coach especially on the offensive end of the floor, guys play with a free mind and shoot it with a free mind so, our transition defense and guarding the arc are the key.

Q.  I know you like shooting the three pointer but it seems like they take it pretty much ‑‑
COACH BREY:  I would say they take it to a level of the John beeline West Virginia teams so there is some familiarity there.  Like I said, when Nova came to us, they were a 3‑point shooting team and they were feeling good about it.  And we really prepared well and we were good on the arc.  Big guys helping out, guards, all stuff‑‑ not stuff we haven't seen before, but we're really going to have to be aware.

Q.  Mike, some fans are like, oh they should have gotten a sixth seed, and I know you don't really care about that.  Are you happy, though, seventh seed or not, that you're close to South Bend?
COACH BREY:  Yeah, I like that.  I like the fact that it's a bus ride.  We'll get over there Wednesday afternoon, we get back in class here for three days and I like the fact that it's a bus ride.  I like the fact that it's a ride for our fans, too, that we could get some support over there, it's not too far.  I was hoping for a bus ride, quite frankly, because we've been in NewYork for six nights, we went up there Sunday so I'm getting out of the NewYork fog.

Q.  Coach, it's cliche but talk about how the tournament provides everything that gets ‑‑ (away from mic.)
COACH BREY:  There are 68 teams dreamin' big dreams right now and that's what's awesome about this tournament, our guys are dreaming the big thing.  You get a "do over" for guys that aren't playing as well, you want to talk with them about, hey, it's a new season.  I'm going to talk to Cameron about that, we're going to need him if we're going to advance.

Q.  What happened the last time you were in the west region and how far you were about to stand?
COACH BREY:  We got to Anaheim.  I thought of that, when I saw us in the west I was telling Sherm, because he was sitting down in front of me, when we were in the west, it was Anaheim, and it's LA this year, and we got through Indianapolis pretty darn good and got ourselves out west, that has crossed my mind.  Is that karma?  I don't know.

Q.  You will bus up?
COACH BREY:  Bus, yeah, and back in your town I should get suggestions, restaurants and stuff, your Old Town.

Q.  You always talked about Jack and how he has progressed from freshman year to now, what has he done specifically that has helped you guys get that first‑team and what's been going through your mind?
COACH BREY:  I think to earn first‑team he has been that relentless rebounder and playing with a passion.  That‑‑ struggled in NewYork but, man, did he have it the last 7 minutes against Marquette, with the plays he made, it kinda made us believe.  When he plays with that passion and gets on the backboard like that the rest of us get pretty confident and we're going to need that Friday.
THE MODERATOR:  We have Jack Cooley here.

Q.  Jack, Mike talked about this being almost a businesslike reaction when you see your guys names up there.  How would you describe the reaction to being in the tournament and the frame of mind?
JACK COOLEY:  It was a great way to put it, businesslike.  It was the fourth time that's happened and it was just business as usual, really.  For some reason I got nervous and I thought, why am I‑‑ we're not doing anything right now, why am I nervous right now?  And everyone calmed down, it was a great mentality to have, I was happy with how everyone handled it, no one got excited, I was impressed with initially after the locker room, everyone was focused on Iowa State, that's what you have to have.

Q.  Do you know anything about Iowa State at this point?  They like to shoot and score a little bit and that's going to create issues for you defensively.
JACK COOLEY:  I have actually watched them a couple of times because my girlfriend and family are from Iowa and they're big Iowa State fans, ironically, and 10 minutes before we got selected I was like, we're going to play Iowa State, watch, and she was like "God forbid" and it popped up.
I've watched them a couple of times and they're offensively explosive and that's good.  The way our team has been playing defense lately there is no team that's more explosive offensively than Marquette and Louisville and we played well against those teams so I think we'll match up well with them.

Q.  How is that going to be this week with the Iowa State's side of the equation in your general area?
JACK COOLEY:  Before the tournament‑‑ this morning my girlfriend and her family declared if we matched up they would cheer for me.  I was glad that ground rule was set.  No confrontation happens.

Q.  Jack, just wondered your take on how the freshmen handled the Big East tournament and like Mike said earlier about you guys handling the news the way you did today, businesslike, and when you expect from them moving forward in their first NCAA Tournament?
JACK COOLEY:  I think the freshmen have done a phenomenal job really, neither of them showed any signs of being really star struck at the Big East Tournament.  I mean if you're not star struck at Madison Square Garden, then I don't think anything is going to phase you.  No one in the locker room had mentioned anything past the first round, considering they were freshmen, it was really surprising, I was really impressed by that.  I think they're going to do just fine and handle it like it's another game and try and go out there and have fun.

Q.  Jack, as your sitting there watching the show, all the sudden do you have to remind yourself that you are going to the NCAA Tournament?  Is there any ‑‑
JACK COOLEY:  Every single year we have been in the last part of the bracket.  My freshman year we were literally the last team put up on the board, so it doesn't help the not being stressed out part, but it is what it is.

Q.  How different is it for you guys when Pat is as hot as he was in NewYork?  You struggled the games coming into that.  How much better is it for you when he's like that?
JACK COOLEY:  It's great to have Pat hitting like that and step up into that role and realize how good of a player he is and fulfill it.  It makes everyone's job a lot easier.  It makes my job a heck of a lot easier because there can't be as many double teams and we can swing the ball and now that he has that confidence our team can beat anyone.

Q.  When you see a team like Iowa State shooting the threes the way they do what pops into your head?
COACH BREY:  I mean, it does impact a little bit because I watch their big men shooting a lot of threes and realizing how different we're going to have handle the ball screens and rotate well and get out on all shooters and even the big men.  It's going to be ‑‑ it's going to affect my game in terms of rebounds, because if I'm guarding a guy on the perimeter it's not going to be that easy to get back in and crash.  So that may have a little bit of affect on it, but we'll take all those things into account and do some good scouting this week and ‑‑ the coaches do a good job of making sure I get used to it.

Q.  When you're playing a 3‑point shooting team do you think, "I've got an advantage now"?
JACK COOLEY:  Oh, yeah, definitely.  I make sure that the post is very‑‑ it's made aware of very early in that game and try and get them in foul trouble early because they can't shoot if they're on the bench with fouls so have to establish that post early because it's hard to get beat up in the post and want to shoot threes when you're getting banged down at the other end so have to establish the post early.

Q.  Do you like the idea that it's in Dayton?
JACK COOLEY:  Notre Dame fans travel really well so that's not as much of an issue but more students will be able to make it because it is on a Friday so they will be able to get down there.  I don't mind traveling, when we travel NCAA we get that nice big plane so plane or bus, whatever, it's going to be fun.

Q.  (No microphone.)
JACK COOLEY:  A little bit, yeah, but we had a very good change from the‑‑ in the Big East Tournament from the regular season so we want to grab those changes and transition into this one.  We made such good strides in that tournament, and the way we played against Marquette, I honestly felt like we could beat anyone in the country that night.  So, I mean, if we can take the things we took from that night and move forward, I think we are going to do great things in this tournament.

Q.  (No microphone.)
JACK COOLEY:  Yeah, I mean, Cam can handle it.  He's a big‑time shooter and scorer, and that's funny you mentioned that, because he wasn't feeling too well today and just trying to get his mind right.  I mean, I've been very happy, as I said, of how our freshmen have acted toward this news and not looking forward at all.  That's the biggest problem you have sometimes with young guys is looking forward past the first game.  And the way that Zach and Cam and Austin have looked at this is a one‑game tournament, and I'm proud of how all of them have been acting.

Q.  (No microphone.)
JACK COOLEY:  I mean, I don't want to give any tickets to any Cyclone fans.  I want to make sure they don't go to the next game.  I'm going to try and help them out.  They're great people.  They've been supportive all year long.

Q.  Jack, I know it was late the other night but your thoughts on scoring over a thousand career points.
JACK COOLEY:  My dad was the one who told me.  I wasn't that aware of it, because I kind of lost it with how our team has been playing lately, and I'm really happy it happened.  I never had any idea after my sophomore year that I would ever come close to scoring a thousand points, that was just how far away that was.  Having the last two seasons finish the way they have, I'm very happy with how my career has gone, and I want to finish strong.

Q.  (No microphone.)
JACK COOLEY:  I remember last year I was on ESPN and I was just like, for jokes, add it up and see what would have to happen.  I remember then I told my dad that and he said, "I already knew that" he was like, "You're probably going to get it," and I was like, "All right.  Thanks for the confidence, Dad."  Eric is pretty close, too, so I'm proud of him and proud of myself, too.

Q.  What does it mean to make the Tournament four straight years?
JACK COOLEY:  It's huge because one of my main goals picking a school to come to is I wanted to make the tournament at least once, and to make it four times ‑‑ I have a friend at Northwestern and a friend at Illinois who sometimes haven't made it all those years, and to be part of a program who has made it all four years, it's become routine for us to be in this tournament and that's huge to say about when this program is and how great it's been over the years.
THE MODERATOR:  Next is Pat Connaughton.

Q.  Pat, this is a team that likes to shoot the three a lot, they've scored a lot.  What's going to be the level of defensive awareness and where do you have to be aware on Friday night?
PAT CONNAUGHTON:  I think based on their scoring ability we're going to have to defend like we have been practicing to defend all season.  We have had games where we have held teams to 40, 50 points and I think that's what we want to do in order to come out with this win.

Q.  How much baseball do you get into here in March?  It seems like it might be one of those things where there is dabbling going on.  Can you walk me through what if anything you do baseballwise in the winter?
PAT CONNAUGHTON:  In the winter I do some baseball whenever I have free time or whatever.  This is a time where it becomes less free time and hence less baseball because of the tournament and because it's not baseball season yet.  That's something I worry about whenever it comes along.

Q.  You're confident leaving NewYork, now that you can sit back and look at that time, where is that confidence level now and what do you need to do to make sure that your production remains at that level coming up?
PAT CONNAUGHTON:  I think my confidence level is kinda the same.  I think NewYork was a growing point for me and kind of to get over the deferring if I don't make the first two shots and that's something that I think NewYork helped me with and that's something I'm looking to improve on and build on going into the tournament and continuing down the road.

Q.  Pat, after that performance in NewYork you will definitely be a marked man on the scouting report.  Obviously you don't change your approach, but kinda going from, as you said, deferring to others to being a guy that they are going to be very much focused on, what's the key for you starting out the game?
PAT CONNAUGHTON:  Try to use my cutting ability and stuff like that to get an easy bucket.  I think that always helps and that helps our flow on the offensive end in general.  And that shows that I can do more than just shoot the three and shoot behind the arc, and that's something I have to focus on.  If the scouting report says I'm a 3‑point shooter, I have to not necessarily change that but adapt to it and try and find other openings.

Q.  What's a main advantage for you guys to get out of the grind of the Big East and the familiarity of knowing each other?
PAT CONNAUGHTON:  I think one of the big advantages this year is that we did win two games in the Big East, and it was games against two very good opponents, and I think going to the NCAA Tournament this year you win two games to survive, you try to go at each game as win or survive, and I think getting used to that is going to help us moving forward into this tournament.

Q.  Pat, the loss last year was kind of hard to handle, when you go into it this year are you thinking I'm not going to be phased by that?
PAT CONNAUGHTON:  I think when you look at it last year there were guys going through it for the first time, or maybe not for the first time but for the first time as key guys on the team.  So this time I think we're ready, we know what to expect.  You look at the game last year, we were winning most of it, at the end we kinda let it go, and that's something we will be ready for this year.  We will be ready to close.
We know the toughness the teams play with because it is win or go home and when people's backs are against the wall you have another gear that you have and that's something we have to bring to the table as well.

Q.  (No microphone.)
PAT CONNAUGHTON:  I mean, it's great when the ball goes in.  It's something that I think it kinda shows what kind of player you are when you are playing well, when the ball is not going in, when you figure out ways to score or impact the game when you're not hitting your jumpers, and I think that's something that I was happy with over the weekend was I missed my first two shots of one or two of those games, and I was able to continue to shoot the ball with confidence and impact the game in other ways, and I think that's something that I'm going to have to learn from and continue to build on in order to be a better player down the road.

Q.  How did Louisville end up defending you now that they know you are a guy that's going to let it fly?
PAT CONNAUGHTON:  They're conscious of the three and that's something I have to build into my game and something I have to adapt at that because other teams will be conscious of the three and you gotta bring out other dimensions of your game when they do that.  I think there are different ways to do it and there's‑‑ Coach gave me a tape of Mike Miller and how he moves without the ball and that's something I can use from that and use to my advantage going forward.

Q.  When you are facing a team that shoots a three as often as they do, does that impact the way you approach that?  Do you get caught up in the momentum of the 3‑point shots being fired rapidly?
PAT CONNAUGHTON:  I think we have to play our offensive game, take the drives when they're open, the threes when they're open, and the low post shots when they're open.  I think we have been good at finding the man with the open shot and sometimes we pass up the open shot because we don't think it's open enough.
So we've got to be ready to do that, whether it's threes, mid‑range, drives.

Q.  (No microphone.)
PAT CONNAUGHTON:  I think very much more.  My personal opinion it's something that I've been waiting to do, string together a few good games and I think that will help me throughout the rest of the season and throughout the rest of my career, to know that I can do it and not to have the up's and down's and inconsistencies that I have had this year.

Q.  (No microphone.)
PAT CONNAUGHTON:  It was fun because we were winning, and at the end of the day everyone wants to win, and they don't care how it's done.  When we win as a team it's something that's very exciting.

Q.  Is there an added element when you know that you have been one of the maincatalysts to make sure you guys did win those games?
PAT CONNAUGHTON:  It probably makes yourself feel better but at the end of the day a win is a win no matter how you get it.

Q.  How much do you need a win in this tournament?
PAT CONNAUGHTON:  We need it bad.  We need to go into it like‑‑ it obviously is the most important game of the year and it's the most necessary win that we have had all season and since we made it to the tournament, it's not good enough to just make it to the tournament.  We made it last year and we lost heart breakingly in the first round, and now all that matters is that first‑round game.

Q.  Do you remember last year?  Does that fuel you guys?
PAT CONNAUGHTON:  Definitely, definitely.  I mean, it's been going through the head throughout this year, summer, end of last year, whatever it was.  I know it fuels a lot of guys on our team.  That's going to be something that's going to be fun to play with that fuel during that first‑round game.
THE MODERATOR:  Now we have Eric Atkins.

Q.  Eric, Coach Brey said the preparation for Iowa State may look like the preparation for Villanova, the awareness of the arc.  What was the preparation for Villanova and how do you be aware of guarding the arc and all that?
ERIC ATKINS:  The preparation for Villanova was they took a lot of threes, we have to be up on shooters at all times, they use the ball screen a lot.  Those are the three main keys playing against Nova and I think we're going to have to have the same mind‑set going forward against Iowa State.

Q.  What are the challenges in that?  It not every team that jacks up threes like they do, so it's a little different.  What challenge is it when a team relies on that beyond the arc stuff?
ERIC ATKINS:  The challenge is in transition always finding a guy and getting out to him in transition.  Because, you know, with a team that shoots so many threes in transition, those looks are usually open because your normal mind‑set is to run back to the paint and against a team like that we have to find people early and meet 'em at the 3‑point line.

Q.  Eric, can you talk about going into this tournament, it basically being a new season for you guys?
ERIC ATKINS:  We're looking at this as a totally new season.  You know, it's like the first game is the start of something new for us.  I think we're all really excited for it.  Just to get started in the tournament.

Q.  (No microphone.)
ERIC ATKINS:  I don't think I'm going to watch anymore of that game.  You know, that game has definitely been always in the back of my head as a determination to get back to this point and get a win.  I've been excited to get back to the NCAA Tournament all year and I'm just excited that this opportunity is here now.

Q.  (No microphone.)
ERIC ATKINS:  I think it just changes our mentality because we have been here so many times, but last year the fact that we didn't get out the first round, it up's the ante a little bit for this first‑round game against Iowa State for us.  I think we're all approaching it as pretty much a first‑round championship game, it is.  I think that's the only thing we're focused on, and that's what we're going to get ready for.

Q.  (No microphone.)
ERIC ATKINS:  I just think we have to score more.  I don't know if we have to shoot threes as much as we do.  It's a little bit like DePaul.  DePaul didn't shoot many‑‑ I'm not sure how many threes they take but they score the ball a lot and that's one of the games that we go into saying that we're going to have to keep up scoringwise to beat them.  I'm not comparing them to DePaul but how much they score, it's like that.

Q.  Where is the confidence level of this team after the loss against Louisville?  Are with you thinking we're playing better, playing our most consistent basketball going into the game?
ERIC ATKINS:  I think everyone is confident, everyone played pretty well out there in NewYork.  I love the confidence Pat has going for him, Sherm coming off the bench for us is huge and Jerian, and we have to keep that up and for the NCAA Tournament, some other guys are going to have to still step up and, you know, it's going to be‑‑ everything is going to matter a little bit more.

Q.  How do you balance "we have to win a game to get to the second round" as opposed to being tied up in knots trying to get that first game done?
ERIC ATKINS:  Excuse me?

Q.  How do you balance the pressure of needing to win against playing well enough?
ERIC ATKINS:  I'm not sure how much pressure it is to win that game, I just know we all want it really bad.  We all still think about last year's game and not getting out of that with a win, and that really being our only focus.  So we're just going into it as, you know, we have to win but we have to play our game as well.  No extra pressure, but it's the NCAA Tournament so it is what it is there.

Q.  Do you like the fact that you're pretty close to South Bend?
ERIC ATKINS:  For sure.  Our fans can get out there to Ohio and, you know, hopefully we get a good turnout.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you.  We have Jerian Grant.

Q.  Jerian, asked the other guys this, but when a team scores the three like they do and relies on that, what has to be at approach defensively?  What are the key areas of attention that you have to pay to them?
JERIAN GRANT:  Just not give them clean looks.  They're going to make a few but as long as we challenge them and make it difficult for them to get good looks, should be all right.

Q.  We talked all year about last year's first round how do you approach this game?
JERIAN GRANT:  It's like that, guys just not wanting the season to end like it did last year.  Everybody has that mind‑set and everybody is going to be playing really hard.

Q.  Jerian, Jack mentioned a few minutes ago that at some point in the Big East Tournament, especially against Marquette you guys hit your stride and were playing your best ball.  What are you guys doing to be your best in that game against Marquette?
JERIAN GRANT:  I think defensively limiting them to one shot.  When Jack and Tom and Garrick and those guys are on the boards and we can limit them to one shot and run a little bit and get clean looks, it helps our offense.

Q.  And I guess this is probably not something you want to overthink but you won a couple of games with huge deficits and bad starts.  Obviously you're into the game when it starts.  What happens there when a team hits you that hard, and you are able to focus and come back, and how do you avoid that?
JERIAN GRANT:  I feel like when that happens, mostly our offense isn't working.  We're getting stops and playing defense, but just knowing that as long as we play defense we're going to have a chance to win, but offensively we have to be more smooth to start the game.

Q.  Any thoughts or feelings when you see that you're the seventh seed?
JERIAN GRANT:  We really don't think about the numbers.  I guess when you first see it it's like, well, it's a seven, maybe we expected to be higher but regardless of when you play it's going to be a tough team.  All of the teams really have a chance to win so, you know, especially when you get into the middle seed numbers, so we knew it was going to be a tough game regardless so we just look forward to playing now.

Q.  Coach talked about how you and Eric have wanted to make amends for the first‑round loss last year and the challenge of that.  And Eric talked about watching old tape.  How do you take all of what happened last year and turn that into a positive?
JERIAN GRANT:  Just remembering how it felt.  How it felt for our season to be over just like that.  Guys were upset and mad and now here we are a year later having a chance to make amends for it and we're going to play as hard as we can.

Q.  The fact that most of you guys were in a key role last year for the first time in the NCAA Tournament, do you think that may have impacted the way you played in my way last year?
JERIAN GRANT:  For sure.  Like you said it was most of the guys' first time actually playing a role in the tournament.  And we felt like we had the game but in those key situations where we needed to make a play, we kinda didn't, but we're all back and we'll be ready.

Q.  (No microphone.)
JERIAN GRANT:  Yeah, definitely something like that.  We felt like we had the game and we ended up losing it but it was a learning experience and now here we are this year so we learned from it.

Q.  (No microphone.)
JERIAN GRANT:  Oh, yeah, we talked to him, he knows‑‑ he's a scorer, he's going to keep shootin' no matter what, we have to get him goin'.  I feel like he knows that we need him and he knows he's going to be taking a couple of big shots in the tournament so he's fine.
THE MODERATOR:  Thanks, "J."

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