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March 26, 2015

Mike Brey

Pat Connaughton

Jerian Grant

Demetrius Jackson



MODERATOR: We're joined now in the main interview room by Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey; student-athletes Demetrius Jackson, Pat Connaughton and Jerian Grant. We'll ask Coach Brey to make an opening statement, please, and then we'll take questions first for the student-athletes. Coach?

COACH BREY: That was reminiscent of a lot of games we've been in, second halfs, it kind of reminded me of the North Carolina game in the ACC championship, we take the lead, call timeout, not a lot of drama, not a lot of strategy, and we come out of that with a great will, continue to defend and then we got into one of our offensive rhythms that nobody else in the country can do. And so we did a great job defending them. We did a great job not letting them get going from the 3-point line. Three for 18. That's been the story of our six wins in the postseason. We've really defended the arc well.

MODERATOR: Questions first for the student-athletes from Notre Dame. There's one in the center.

Q. For Demetrius, Demetrius, you're getting better every single day that you're at Notre Dame. Tonight's probably the high point of your time at Notre Dame. What was the low point in your development, maybe where you were really down and you were questioning things?
DEMETRIUS JACKSON: Just when I wasn't handling my business on and off the court, I knew I could be doing better so it was a great lesson for me to learn, definitely learned from it and move forward from it.

Q. For Jerian, talk about your mentality at halftime and how you played different in the second half and what was the difference?
JERIAN GRANT: Just figuring how they were playing me, it took longer than I would have liked but once I figured out how they were guarding the ball screens and denying me up top, we really got into a rhythm to play our game.

Q. Pat, when you guys go on those offensive outbursts like that, what do you think sparks it? And what's the feeling like on the court as that's happening as you hit a couple of shots and get going?
PAT CONNAUGHTON: Our defense definitely sparks it. When we're in that timeout, like Coach said, it wasn't about strategy, we talked about defense, about getting stops and getting out and running. That's the fun way to play and that's the way that we're at our best on both ends of the floor. So with defense, that definitely sparks it, and then going through it, it's like, you know, it's something that you just feed off of, it's like blood in the water, you feel it and you want to keep getting stops so you can keep running, it's something you can't get enough of. It is something that we pride ourselves on, and it's something that we're in that moment, we feel like we can run with anybody.

Q. For Demetrius, I know what you're saying about defense, but it seemed to me like your one of the best passing teams in the country, and Wichita State talked about all the passes you made for easy layups. How critical was that, especially after they got the one point lead?
DEMETRIUS JACKSON: We really do a great job sharing the ball, finding a great shot every possession. The guys step up and make huge shots. It's a he really fun way to play when we play the game that way so we want to continue doing that and continue getting better.

Q. For Jerian, when you guys are on a run like that, can you sense that it's affecting the opponent and that you're kind of maybe crushing their will, so to speak?
JERIAN GRANT: Yeah, a little bit. When we get on those runs we're just playing. I feel like when other teams try to counter us, they play a little quicker, kind of get out of their rhythm and try to counter our offensive attack, which is almost impossible to do, so we definitely feel that and we just like to keep going and keep playing.

Q. Pat, that stretch when it was 67-56, you hit a 3 from the corner and then Vasturia came back with a 3 and suddenly the lead went from 11 to 17. How important was that stretch in the outcome of the game?
PAT CONNAUGHTON: Extremely important. We always talk about not being satisfied, whether it's with a win or whether it's just a possession in general. For us to not be satisfied with an 11 point lead because there was so much time left, they're a fabulous team and they make runs and they can score in bunches just like us. We want to make sure that we continue to play our game, and when you have an open shot, you know with these two guys to my left and right, they're the best at finding you and getting you open shots so you just have to step up and knock them down.

MODERATOR: First question for Coach Brey?

Q. Coach, in regards to Demetrius, go back to September 2012 when he verbally committed to your program. Do you remember that day and what it was like?
COACH BREY: Yeah, because his recruiting was drama, you know? We were kind of waiting and waiting and waiting. It was an important get for us, a local kid, being able to keep him home. It didn't go as quickly as I would have liked, but at the end of the day I think the support of his families and being close to us, and I think he saw how guards have a lot of freedom to do their thing, watching Jerian when he was in high school, that certainly was key for our program.

Q. When did you first discover Demetrius?
COACH BREY: Ninth grade. Coach Anthony Solomon got me to watch him in 9th grade, and I remember telling Anthony the next day in the of office, he's a defensive halfback playing basketball right now, and to see how far he has come with his basketball skill level, his shooting, he really couldn't shoot it as a 9th, 10th grader, but where he's really improved is his decision-making with the ball. I think it's a lot him, I think it's also a lot playing with Jerian Grant. When you watch over and over day to day, the decisions Jerian makes with the ball, I think he's a great teacher in the flow of things.

Q. Coach, just a wee bit of history here, it's not since '78 has a Notre Dame team gotten this far. That team got to the national Semi's. Talk about I don't want to say securing a place in history, maybe that too dramatic, but getting deeper in the tournament than any team in 37 years?
COACH BREY: Again it's huge. I think the biggest thing was, I was thinking about it all day, I just don't want it to end for this particular team because this group has been so energizing and so fun to be around with the two seniors here setting the tone, I was thinking if we don't -- like I don't get to interact with them on Friday if we don't get it done. So I thought about it more in that context. I'm sure whenever it ends I'll be able to look back and it's been an amazing season for us and when you add an ACC championship, and who we went through on Tobacco Road, I don't know if we've had a more special season in the history of our basketball program, but God, I love that I get to go to practice tomorrow with this group again.

Q. 75 percent second half, you guys have done that like four times this season. I'm curious having seen this so many times, when you go 4-of-20 to end the first half, do you know something is coming in the second half?
COACH BREY: I think the law of averages usually does play out for us. Chris, you brought up a good point. Sometimes we can defend but when we get on those offensive rhythms, it does break the spirit a little bit. We really can pass it. I thought what was a key was Demetrius got going and -- he got us going and then we came back around to Jerian and the ball screen, and they were a little tired, they couldn't quite guard the ball screen and we had some great roles from Bonzie Colson and Zach just right down the middle. Now you've got to make a decision, are you going to hug the shooters or are you going to help -- you get put in a Catch-22 and if you have a good passing team like we do, we usually find enough good looks.

Q. Mike, you said when they took the lead, they come down, you watched like seven seconds of the possession and then took the timeout. What did you want to see change offensively?
COACH BREY: I thought about and I said maybe we play this out, and then I kind of had a flashback, whenever people have made a run on us and taken a lead, I've kind of called a timeout. I haven't even -- first of all, the timeouts are so long, I haven't even gone in the huddles. They figure things out, they talk amongst themselves. By the time I get in there, they have some pretty good suggestions and I kind of just used it as a reference point in the North Carolina game in the ACC SFLs. We've been here before. Little did I know it would be another lightening strike, it was a flatout lightening strike just like in Greensboro.

Q. Coach, do you remember how old would you have been the last time Notre Dame would have advanced this far?
COACH BREY: I was a senior in high school and certainly remember Digger's teams and that '78 team that went to a Final Four. Tracy Jackson was a DC guy and, again, you know my DC roots. DeMatha. There's been a lot of Washington DC guys that have come out and played at Notre Dame. So I certainly remember it. I was a total basketball hoops junkie as a senior at DeMatha.

Q. And then coming into this, this tournament, I know there's always pressure, when is Notre Dame going to make it past the first round, make it to the Sweet 16. Now that you've done that, when you guys were coming into this game, did you feel some of that pressure sort of lifted, especially as you would head into the Elite 8?
COACH BREY: You know, it's funny, I've never really felt any pressure that way, maybe because I'm older in my career. I'm extremely secure with who I am in this profession and the program rerun. I certainly didn't want to put any of the past things on this group. So we really talked about this particular group. I do think we played in Pittsburgh a little differently than we played in Greensboro, a little tight. And as much as the loosest coach in America tried to loosen them up, we were a little tight. I thought tonight we were ready to roll and we got out of the gate like we did in Greensboro to start the game and certainly the second half --

Q. When you guys go on those runs, can you sense it on the sideline, and what are one or two qualities that define those runs?
COACH BREY: One of the biggest qualities is do not overcoach your team when they're rolling. Don't call out too many -- let them figure it out. This nucleus really knows how to play on the offensive end and really the 3 that was the dagger, Pat and Jerian just got to the ball screen in front of that bench, they saw it develop. That's one of the things we've done with our offenses through the years, guys have a freedom to play and they are able to be instinctive and be in an attack frame of mind. Demetrius was in an attack frame of mind, so we can get into those flows at any time. And then we do have -- this group is cruel, and I love it, it's a great trait. They're really cruel competitors. When they feel a little blood in the water, as Pat said, at one of the timeouts, they go for it again and I think that's why they're special and playing for a regional championship on Saturday.

Q. Coach, you're like 19-0 when you score 80 points. Your thoughts on trying to get that kind of production against a West Virginia or a Kentucky?
COACH BREY: You're talking about two different preparations. I told our guys if we play West Virginia, it's a little bit Louisville-like. And we won at Louisville and they pressed us the whole game and we were really good against pressure to win on the road. Kentucky is a whole different bag of tricks with their size. But either team, either team we can spread people out, our spacing has really been good and when you have a guy like Connaughton as your second big guy, it's a very, very difficult matchup, and we're able to play that way because then he can go and get 10, 11 rebounds from the undersized four spot. So that could be a challenge on Saturday but we'll cross that bridge when we get to it.

Q. Coach, you just called yourself the loosest coach in America, you don't wear a tie, you're listening to Jerian against Northeastern on how to use Zach. Is that just your personality or were you like that when you were at Delaware?
COACH BREY: I think I've always kind of been -- you know, I want our guys to enjoy the situation. I've always wanted them to enjoy it. I never wanted them walking over to the arena at 3:00 going, I've got to deal with this guy for two hours. And I've been able to balance being firm and getting on them and getting a little psycho sometimes, I do that privately, I don't do that publicly, but I want them to enjoy it and I want us to smile, and I want us to be loose. When I'm doing that, I'm tight inside, believe me, but I can really play that off. I've been doing it for a long time now.

MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
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