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March 10, 2016

Mike Brey

Zach Auguste

V.J. Beachem

Washington, DC

Notre Dame - 84

Duke - 79


THE MODERATOR: We are joined by Notre Dame.

Coach, just a brief opening statement, then we'll go to questions.

COACH BREY: I'm really proud of our group. I think how we defended in the second half was the key. That's the best we played our man-to-man defense all season against a really potent offensive attack.

Then I thought we got into a better rhythm against their zone. Turnovers hurt us throughout the day. But we sure made big plays and big shots.

This nucleus of guys, they've been doing this for a while. That was reminiscent of us in the post-season last year of making a big shot, getting a big rebound, making big free throws.

But proud of our group because we had to defend to get out of there.

I do think Duke was a little tired. They had to play yesterday. It was certainly an advantage for us getting the double bye.


Q. Mike, you obviously enjoyed going through Duke and North Carolina last year to win the title. Does the possibility of being in a position to do that again mean as much a second time around?
COACH BREY: Oh, yeah. That would be really cool again. We've been good against those teams. It's really helped our credibility in the league to do what we've done against Duke and Carolina. It's given us a great identity in the league.

But, yeah, to go through both of them again, to go through Carolina, get to the championship game, it would be huge.

We got our work cut out for us.

Q. Coach, you shot 56% in the first half, and were down eight. Then it got worse. You were down 16. At that point they had more than neutralized you on the backboard. The big games you've won, the glass has been critical. What happened to get your guys on the glass?
COACH BREY: Well, I think getting us into man-to-man and our life was flashing before our very eyes, so we really guarded. Maybe we can start a game thinking our life is flashing before our very eyes tomorrow night.

Usually when we defend like that, we're able to get to the backboard. This guy is unbelievable at controlling a defensive backboard. I don't think anyone is playing better than Zach Auguste in the country right now.

Q. Coach, team really came together in the last 12 minutes of regular play. What did you say to them to get them to click like that? There was something different.
COACH BREY: I give credit to our leadership, Zach, Demetrius Jackson, Steve Vasturia. V.J. is a veteran. Bonzie has been in big games.

What they talked and said to themselves in the huddles out on the court was powerful. This group has complete ownership of itself. I thought our leadership really demanded of each other.

It was fabulous to watch and fabulous to feel. It felt familiar. We've done that before.

Q. V.J., what was it like to hit those three big threes late?
V.J. BEACHEM: We just tried to get some movement. In the first half we were kind of stagnant towards the end of the half. The second half, once we got to moving and cutting, the guys were able to find me and I was able to knock down some shots.

Q. Zach, talk about the battle against Plumlee and Jeter. You had 22 rebounds.
ZACH AUGUSTE: It was tough. Got to give a lot of credit to them. Big bodies, physical, love to battle in the paint. I took that challenge upon myself individually. We talked about it collectively as a team to limit their second-chance opportunities. That's what we did.

Q. Mike, you talked about going through Duke and Carolina. Year after year you guys are here in some capacity or another. Do you feel like you're always going to be the underdog no matter?
COACH BREY: I kind of felt even today, even though we had beaten them four out of five, we were probably not counted on to escape. But it's a nice role, we'll take that. Keeps us loose, keeps us hungry. We'll be the underdog tomorrow night even though we beat them.

We know how to handle that role. We handled it in the Big East. Now we have it in the ACC. It fits well (laughter).

Q. Coach, talk about playing North Carolina again tomorrow night after you beat them in the beginning of the January. Are they different this time of year?
COACH BREY: I think they're better than when we played them. It really comes down to controlling the paint and rebounding.

One of the things that Bonzie Colson and Zach Auguste did during that stretch where we beat them, Clemson and Louisville, especially North Carolina and Louisville with those big front lines, Bonzie and Zach more than held their own against a number of big bodies that came against you. We're going to need the same effort on the backboard tomorrow.

Q. You mentioned the nucleus you had, guys that had been through it. The top four teams in the league seeding-wise had veteran guys. How much of a difference do those guys make in this setting and beyond that?
COACH BREY: Big-time. I thought when we kicked it into gear there, that was a little bit of the personality we had last year: playing fearlessly, going after it, believing we were going to do it. That's the advantage we had.

We have a nucleus of guys that knew how to do it in an atmosphere like this. It's a huge advantage, there's no question. They remembered how it felt to win a championship and cut a net down. I'm sure they're talking about cutting a net down in D.C. which would be great 'cause I kind of like this town.

Q. You're down 16, you go on the 14-0 run. What does it feel like on the court during that time?
ZACH AUGUSTE: I think it was just a matter of resiliency. We huddled up, talked about it. It was easy for us to put our heads down. We came together, knew what we needed to do, stepped up and did that.

V.J. BEACHEM: We had been in situations like that where we were down. We had to start defending. Once we started defending, it was like 14-0. To really slow them down was big for us.

Q. Do you find anything more about your game after they came from 16 down that you might not have known before?
COACH BREY: No. I can't say I'm totally shocked. Again, with the nucleus of guys that return from a championship team last year, there is a great will to try to find a way to win. I have seen that for two years now.

Today was the ultimate backs against the wall. But I'm really not surprised 'cause when they get believing and talking and running themselves, they're pretty darn good.

Q. Zach, did you pick up on the frustration Plumlee was having with the mask and do anything different because of that?
ZACH AUGUSTE: No, I really wasn't focused on that. I really was just focused on trying to have a great battle in the paint, do whatever the team needed me to do to help win.


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