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March 26, 2016
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey and student-athletes Demetrius Jackson, Zach Auguste, Steve Vasturia, Matt Farrell and V.J. Beachem. Coach, an opening statement.
MIKE BREY: We're thrilled to be back in this position again a year later, with a chance to go to a Final Four. We know we play a team that I think is playing the best in the country right now. They seem to have put it all together. And we certainly saw it up close and personal in Washington D.C. in the semifinals of the ACC Tournament.
But I love our group. I love our will to win. We have found ways to continually make things interesting and we're excited about the challenge tomorrow.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes.
Q. What is it like for you guys to be playing UNC at this point, after you've seen them in the regular season and the ACC Tournament?
DEMETRIUS JACKSON: I think it's really good. We played this team before. In my career we've played them a bunch of times. So seeing some of the same faces and they've got a great team. So it's going to be a great challenge for us and we're really looking forward to it.
ZACH AUGUSTE: Yeah, definitely, I think we're looking forward to playing them again, kind of finishing business. Last time we weren't able to get the win versus them, so we're looking to have some unfinished business.
Q. Demetrius and Zach, last year Duke won this tournament with three one-and-dones. This year, it's a lot of veteran guys -- you guys, Brice Johnson, Michael Gbinije, all these veteran guys on the ACC teams. What does that say about your teams in the ACC this year versus the Duke, with the one-and-dones last year, and did you guys ever wish you were one-and-done? Would that have been your ideal goal coming into college?
DEMETRIUS JACKSON: I'm really thankful to be in the position I am. I'm a junior now. We've got some older guys. So I've been with this group for a while, and we've just kind of grown together. And we just try to get better every single year, try to get better every single game, every single practice. So it's been a joy to just continually just get better and have fun doing it.
ZACH AUGUSTE: Definitely I think I agree with Demetrius. It's been a blessing. And being here and having four years under my belt definitely helped me mature and grow as a man and as a basketball player, especially handling stuff both on and off the court. So I'm thankful for the position I'm in.
Q. Steve and Zach, a lot of people talked about the last time you played Carolina, obviously in the ACC Tournament and whether it's revenge. How do you kind of take that game and use it going forward or ignore it going forward?
STEVE VASTURIA: I think we can learn a lot of things from that game. Like Coach said, they're playing at a really high level right now. But I think we are as well. So especially with one day to get ready for them, we're so familiar with what they do and they know what we do. So I think mainly for us just going out there and focusing on what we do best and playing with nothing to lose and that should be good enough for us.
ZACH AUGUSTE: Yeah, definitely, just using that as motivation, what happened last time. And just trying to focus on getting in big win.
Q. Steve and Demetrius, I'm sure there's almost next to nothing at this point that you guys don't know about this North Carolina team. But when they shoot from the perimeter the way that they did against Indiana and get that many points on the scoreboard, does it at all change how you guys get ready for them?
STEVE VASTURIA: Yeah, that makes them even more difficult to guard. Everybody knows how hard they are to defend in the post. They've got a lot of big bodies. But they can shoot the ball as well. So it's going to be a challenge for us to keep them off the glass and out of the paint but also a challenge contesting jump shots. And I think we're capable of doing that and as long as we can contest shots and keep them off the glass, we should be in pretty good position.
DEMETRIUS JACKSON: As one of our assistant coaches says, you've got to do both. You've got to guard the 3-point line, you've got to guard them inside, you've got to keep guys from going off the dribble, and you just got to play defense. It's really going to come down to effort and heart, hustle, getting on the floor, flying around for loose balls and just really going for it.
Q. Matt and V.J., last night when coach hurt himself, did you notice that? And what was your reaction to that that he's going to play in pain there at the end and get you through to the end?
V.J. BEACHEM: No, we didn't really notice it until after the game, right before we came in here for the media session. But it just speaks to our team toughness, just him being our coach, just fighting through the --
MIKE BREY: You're starting. (Laughter).
MATT FARRELL: I didn't see it at first. I think everybody thought it happened when we were all jumping on him after the game. But I know on the bench, with about 13 seconds left, I saw him limping a little bit. I didn't know if he was tired or whatnot. But, just like V.J. said, we have fun with each other. It shows our toughness and we're just enjoying it right now.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you. Questions for Coach.
Q. What did you learn from the film from the tournament game? Do you watch it, burn it, is it an aberration?
MIKE BREY: I misplaced it. That's been misplaced. Those are ones that you burn, you don't go back to. But certainly you have to learn from it. And we've talked about it a little bit here in practice. We just were not very good with the basketball, a team that -- we were a team that's been really good with the ball throughout the year. But that game we were not.
And you give Carolina credit. I think they've stepped up their defense. It was hard to make a pass the way they contest in passing lanes. And we're going to have to be better finding people. I'm hoping Matt Farrell in the lineup to start the game helps us because we have another ball handler on the floor. We didn't start that way in Washington D.C., and that's kind of helped and taken a little pressure off Demetrius that we have another ball handler on the floor to start a game.
Q. Mike, what were you doing in 1978, and how often has Digger reminded you that he got into the Final Four in 1978?
MIKE BREY: My big brother, Digger, reminds me -- he'll remind me weekly what happened there. '78, I was a freshman at Northwestern Louisiana. I had just left Morgan Wootten, but certainly remember watching those Notre Dame teams. And Coach has become a good friend. He's still there, he's got more time on his hands now that he's not doing TV. So he's around practice.
And the one thing I like about him is, I mean, he is the one guy around there that sat in the same seat. So I can have some conversations with him, and he can relate to some of the things you're going through.
Q. Roy Williams pointed at you had success at Notre Dame before you joined the ACC. Can you figure out if being in the ACC has been a factor at all in the postseason runs?
MIKE BREY: Yeah, I think it's helped us. You know, personally I've been excited about coaching in the ACC. Now, I love the Big East. And we had a heck of an identity in that league, consistently. But growing up in Rockville, Maryland watching Lefty Driesell's teams, I grew up an ACC guy, certainly coached in the league as an assistant.
So for me it was -- I tell people this all the time, this is how crazy expansion was -- is or was. If you ended up coaching at Maryland you'd be in the Big Ten now. I stayed at Notre Dame I'm coaching in the ACC. And that's crazy, but it's awesome, because I certainly like going back through the southeast.
It's definitely helped our recruiting. Certainly when you get to play Duke and North Carolina regularly, you gotta play them first to have a chance at beating them. You've got to have them on the schedule. Fortunately we've been pretty good against them lately and it's given us unbelievable credibility, not only in the league but nationally. And I think it's given us confidence then to do the stuff we've done the last two years.
Q. You talked the other day about seeing a ranking where you were ranked 16 out of 16 teams here?
MIKE BREY: We're ranked ninth of the final eight, but I still -- (laughter) -- I thought I saw that. But we're still the toughest team left. We're the toughest team left in this thing. But I think we'll be picked ninth.
Q. Do you think -- sounds like that, from this you all agree that Notre Dame is often overlooked as a basketball program. Why do you think that is? And do you think you need to get to the Final Four to earn that national recognition?
MIKE BREY: Well, we have a quarterback controversy going on right now in South Bend. My gosh, people may be tuning in a little bit tomorrow night. You know, I think we've had a great basketball identity. We really have. We always were consistent in the Big East, but you know we never made the deep run. We had one Sweet 16.
The last two years I think has given us great credibility. I think in the basketball world, I firmly believe this in the basketball community, I don't think there's a program more respected than our program. No program -- how we've done it, how we've gotten guys better, how we've built it, our style of play, and I'm really proud of that.
Q. To follow up on Dana's question, what's the psychological tack you'll take with your team in regard to that ACC game against Carolina? Do you ignore it? Do you address it? Do you remind they've lost three times?
MIKE BREY: Drawing an analogy last year Duke beat us by 30 in Cameron, and we turned around and beat them in the semifinals of the ACC Tournament. I've kind of used that analogy a little bit. And these guys have been -- they're really -- they're really tough and resilient. I think they'll move on. And as a coach I just want to try and help them a little bit more make some passes. That's on me to help get us in a little bit better position offensively.
Q. Two of the four ACC teams used to be in the Big East, to follow up Mike's question. Last time four teams from one league were in the Elite Eight, was the Big East in '09. Did you and Syracuse bring something to this league that it didn't have before? And how would you compare this year to that '09 Big East run?
MIKE BREY: Well, I thought at media day in Charlotte, and when I was asked about -- I thought this had the feel of those years in the Big East, especially '09 when we were getting eight, nine -- one year we got 11. I really felt it had that. And not only Syracuse, but Pitt, Louisville, Syracuse and Notre Dame, I think, has added great depth and power to the league.
You know, the great thing about -- I used to say this about the Big East and I'll say it: The good news is -- the good news is you're in the Big East or that you're in the ACC. The bad news is you're -- but you always have power games there -- resumÃ© games. They're always there. And you don't have to get them all. You get the right ones, get that thing to about 10-8, let's get half the league in.
That's why -- when I was in the Big East, it was, oh my God, you're in the Big East. Well, 4th of July, when I'm at my beach house down the road here in Rehoboth, I can say, wait, if I get to the top nine, I'm in. Okay, my sanity is pretty good then in the summer.
But the ACC my first two years we only got six bids. Now, fortunately one of the years we got them. I'm thinking if we're only going to get six bids I may be back at Delaware. So I love that we have set a tone for depth like the Big East.
Q. You've had a remarkably efficient offense ever since you got to Notre Dame, and a consistent offense, too, consistently good. In your view, how has your offense changed over the years, how much different is it now than when you first got to --
MIKE BREY: We've always hung our hat on assist-to-turnover and taking care of the ball. That's why the rash of turnovers lately has kind of bothers me. But we've been good there. We recruited guys with a high basketball IQ, they're good with the ball, our big guys are good with the ball. And so you can play with unpredictable movement. You can flow. You don't have to run a pattern. And I think guys get better in that situation as they grow.
This team is different than all the other teams I've had, because when we played Colson and Auguste together, we're more powerful up front than we've been. We've always usually had one big and a stretch 4 and maybe we haven't been the most physical group in the paint at times. But Bonzie and Zach together, they had 20 offensive rebounds against North Carolina in South Bend, and we'll need them to be really good tomorrow night.
Q. Is it more a player-driven system or is it more about the actual system?
MIKE BREY: I think it's player-driven. You kind of tweak it to what you have. And we've always had guys who can make shots, so your spacing is going to be good. We've always been able to stretch the floor. You can talk about spacing, but you have guys out there that can't make a shot, no one guards them and the lane's jammed up.
So we've always had enough threats on the floor. So the floor is open and you have good spacing if you have a post guy -- Harangody, Zach Auguste, Bonzie -- that go to work. Or you have what we've had, Demetrius and then Jerian Grant, guys that can slice and slash, too, but you've got to have some shooters so that floor is open and they respect them.
Q. This is not your father's ACC when you were an assistant at Duke. As Coach Roy Williams just said, the top half of this league this year has been off the charts. What's it say about North Carolina, they've been able to navigate, win the regular season and the tournament?
MIKE BREY: I think it shows the power that they have. And they're old -- it's funny, so many people talked about you're in this position last year, you're playing Kentucky -- Kentucky was young. Kentucky was young. I always felt good about that one. This one worries me more because they're men. They've been together a while and they've played. And they really have played like veterans.
Different guys have stepped up. I think the key has been their defense. And I think it started shortly after the game in South Bend. I hear their kids talk and I hear Coach talk, it's kind of been then when they got after it defensively, and it sure has -- but if you can win both in this league this year, my hat's off to you.
Q. You referenced Coach Wootten earlier. You were around him obviously as a player, as a young coach, what has that done to shape who you are as a coach all these years later?
MIKE BREY: You know, he's just the ultimate educator and teacher. And I was so blessed to play for him. I was at his camp when I was 10 years old. I was around him then, go back and coach with him right when I left GW. I still draw on the stuff I learned as a high school coach and a high school assistant and even a classroom history teacher there: The relationships with players, getting to know them.
He was such a confidence-giving guy. And that's a theme that I've really tried to -- and then he used to have -- it was kind of a corny saying, but it was a great saying. He used to say this when we worked for him at camp: Be the kind of coach that you want your own son and daughter to play for. And you know what, I try and live by that all the time when I'm dealing with these guys. I was very, very lucky to be with him.
Q. I wanted to get your perspective on playing a team three times during the season and what particular advantages you think it gives either way. Most people tend to think it gives the underdog an advantage.
MIKE BREY: I'm riding that one hard, too. I'm all over that. I'm all over that. At team mass tonight I'll be praying for that, I agree. I don't know. As Steve said, we're familiar with each other. They like to get up and down. We can't get in a racetrack with them.
We're going to have to be able to rebound the ball like we did in South Bend, not in Washington D.C. We're going to have to complete some passes and be good with the ball in the half court. But there's no secrets now. And now you're just trying to -- you'd love to see some guys -- we need some guys to have all-time nights. Crazier stuff's happened, though, especially with our guys.
Q. Mike, are you one of the people that measures relative conference strength based on NCAA Tournament success?
MIKE BREY: You know, I'm not -- I don't know if I've really had an opinion on that. I can't say that I have bragged about that, but I guess I will this recruiting cycle now that you mention it.
I just remember the grind of the Big East and this is the same grind with the depth of this league now. And we're the sexiest league. Everybody talks about our league now and the matchups. We had great energy in DC. It's going to be interesting to see when we bring the show to Brooklyn. But I don't know if I've really hung my hat on that.
Q. Mike, to see your players be as laid back as they were up here, and they have been this whole time on the eve of a big game like this, is that something you enjoy just as much?
MIKE BREY: Absolutely. Hopefully they're getting it from the top. I think we're always going for it and played fearlessly, and I don't want them looking over at the bench when they play.
And, again, it's a nucleus of guys -- this nucleus here -- they played in a lot of NCAA Tournaments now. They've played in a lot of big games. And they've delivered under bright lights. We've delivered on big nights a lot, this nucleus. And certainly there's none bigger than tomorrow night.
Q. You're talking about the ACC being the sexiest league now. Do you feel -- a lot of people have spoken about how, of all the expansions, this one seemed to be driven more by the need to build up the basketball again. Do you feel that like it's done that for those Big East schools who moved there, built up the basketball, not so much the football, for the full-time members?
MIKE BREY: I would think all four of us who come over, except for the guy at Syracuse. He's a big guy, Big East guy through and through. But if you've got him privately off the record, it's been good for all of us, it really has. And, again, I get back to playing the blue bloods, Duke and North Carolina, you get shots at them. It's great for recruiting. It's helped our Midwest recruiting.
When I was in the Big East and I was recruiting kids in Indiana and Ohio, you know, oh, you're playing Georgetown, oh -- whoa, whoa, you're playing Duke and North Carolina now? Well, maybe I'll come up the road from Indianapolis, even though I didn't get Montross, I tried to recruit him at Duke. And he made a great decision. But it's been those two things, really having those two teams and those shots at those programs have really driven the league and has helped all of us.
Q. When Carolina won the national championship in '09 you had played them earlier in the season in Maui and you noticed Tyler up close and personal, his leadership and his refuse-to-lose mentality. And you also coached his younger brother a couple of years later after that. Do you see similar qualities in Marcus?
MIKE BREY: Yeah, I think Marcus has done -- man, has he hit his gear right now? I've always -- he's just a class act. He's what college basketball is all about. And you know what's great, when he wasn't playing well, he was never panicking. He was just playing and making sure his team won.
And I thought he handled that with such grace. And it all comes back around full circle. But there are a lot of similarities there. Now, let's be honest, the Hansbroughs are a different breed of cat, totally different breed of cat. I would love to have Ben Hansbrough back any day. I was scared of him some days. But I loved having that guy, and I know they'd love to have Tyler back at North Carolina. Marcus does it a little more diplomatically.
Q. Do you think you'll have to coach in the boot tomorrow, and have you ever had to coach something that's limiting you?
MIKE BREY: I never had. I told my doc "I don't really want to do this." He said, "We'll talk tomorrow."
I'm fine. Once the game starts I'm moving pretty good. And I'll do whatever. But maybe I just need a seatbelt on the bench so I don't get -- I've got to remember I'm not the 41-year-old guy who got the job in 2000. That's probably -- I need to sit down more.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports