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March 17, 2017
Buffalo, New York
Q. Matt, the other day, Mike Brey said that you were better than Bobby Hurley. I kind of chuckled even just now. What was your response to that? How do you take that praise?
MATT FARRELL: It's kind of crazy to hear for me. The Hurleys are unbelievable coaches. He's an unbelievable coach. He was an unbelievable player. So, I take it as a huge compliment. I don't know if he's right, but I'll obviously strive to try to be better than him or try to be even as good as him. He was an unbelievable player and he's an unbelievable couch now. It's just Coach Brey kind of relaying the relationship me and him have, so I'll take it as a huge compliment.
Q. And this is for you, Matt. How have you made the adjustment to being a starter this season, and the fact that you've been efficient with the ball? What have you kept in mind this year as you've helped lead this team to this point?
MATT FARRELL: Just maintaining the same confidence that I played with when I first got my start in the NCAA Tournament last year. Just playing the same way I do, sticking to what I know, and then playing with these guys around me really helps. You know, playing with the guys that I really want to play for, and I think that makes a huge difference. We got guys that want to play for each other, and they make me better on the floor. And just the culture of this program, you know? It kind of all worked out. It was all good vibes going forward. So I'm just maintaining that confidence and trusting the system and trusting the guys around me.
Q. As a follow-up, Matt, as well as you played especially during that one stretch in the middle of the second half yesterday with the steal, the feed and the three-point basket, you were visibly disappointed as you were walking off the floor. After I guess, you know, missing a couple of shots there in the final 25 seconds, how do you use that to fuel yourself moving forward? You guys won, and maybe you weren't at your best in some ways.
MATT FARRELL: Yeah. Personally, I feel like I got to be better down the stretch. Take that hard. I got to make that free throw, and I got to make better decisions down there. I don't think I was upset because we won. I'll always be happy we won. These guys picked me up, doing that all year. We do that for each other. But just use that as motivation, try to get better the next day. That's the good thing about basketball. There's always another game as long as you keep winning.
Q. Two questions. One, it's kind of assumed that today's college players are inpatient when it comes to playing time. I'm kind of wondering, how did you find the patience to stick it out with Grant and Jackson in front of you when you first got to school. And question number two, what have you seen with West Virginia's Jevon Carter, and what do you think the matchup of battling point guards will play tomorrow?
MATT FARRELL: Yeah. I think, as I mentioned before, the culture. Guys in the past haven't been able to play right away in this program. They wait their turn. And fortunately for me, I was able to develop a good relationship with Demetrius, so he was always in my ear telling me to keep working hard. As I said before, it's hard to do that. Anybody that's been in that situation, not playing, it's a hard thing to grasp every day. Like I said before, these guys around me, being around them every day, that really does help. It's just a matter of being patient, like you said, and keep working hard. If you do the right thing, you'll getting an opportunity. I got my opportunity and I just tried to do what I do and I try to play.
As for West Virginia, we know what they do. It's going to be a fun game. It's going to be fast-paced. Their guards are really good. Their bigs are really good. So it's going to be another fun game in March.
Q. Bonzie, how much has the a chronic conversation about what you aren't, because of your size, fueled you for the entirety of your career?
BONZIE COLSON: I'll just say being motivated, being motivated to do what I can do to help us succeed as possible. Trying to lead by example on and off the court, and, just use, what they say, as motivation. Our team, we're focused in on what we can do and how we can be better. I think that's something that is within our program. We don't really worry about what other people say. We lock in and we know what we can do to win games.
Q. Is there anyone that helped you believe that it doesn't matter what mold you fit, you can just play?
BONZIE COLSON: I think growing up, my father was a huge example of always be there for me and just motivating me to be the best player possible. Then coming here and having the great coaching staff, having great brothers and teammates who just push me to be the best player I can be. And learning from guys, former leaders, former captains, of how to lead on and off the court is something that has really helped me to be a good captain and leader.
Q. Maybe we'll start with Steve on the match-up. The number one turnover-forcing team in the nation. What do you see?
STEVE VASTURIA: Yeah. They do a great job of forcing people to get out of their comfort zone. I think their defense creates and turns it to their offense, and that's something that they're really known for. I think the way we play, we do a great job handling the ball, give credit to Matty and our guards to make great decisions. So for us I think for us the challenge is just going to be making sure, making the right decisions and not rushing. I think that's something we've been very good at all season long, so just taking our time, making the right decision, and I think we'll be able to get some good shots.
Q. And, Matt, you're going to be in the middle of that. Have you ever faced a defense like this?
MATT FARRELL: Yeah, you know, we've kind of compared them to Florida State a little bit. Being in the passing lanes, contesting full-court pressure. I think there's is a little more difference, a little more havoc, I would say, or reckless, you got guys everywhere. So, we just need to stay poised with the ball. We need guys to be receivers. Everybody that's on the floor needs to be a receiver. We need to be strong with the ball.
Q. Bonzie, if you can comment. What allows you guys -- I mean, one team made 40 turnovers. You haven't made 40 turnovers in the last six games combined. What do you think allows you guys to have so few turnovers?
BONZIE COLSON: Yeah. I just think within our program, that's something that we like to do. We like to not turn over the ball, be strong with the ball, and I think playing teams like Florida State and Louisville has really helped us prepare for games like this, where they press. They deny the perimeter. I think playing those ACC games really helped us to play the games like this.
Q. Steve, what lessons as a team do you feel like you guys have taken away from the Elite Eight runs the last two years, and personally how do you feel, if at all, your mental approach has changed this being your senior year?
STEVE VASTURIA: I think obviously the last two years, having that experience has helped us a lot. I think you saw yesterday first round, close game, we were pretty poised. We've been in those situations before, and I think those two losses in the Elite Eight drives this team, especially since the end of last year. The three who are up here, and the guys in the locker room knows what it felt like to lose, and that's kind of pushed us this year to try to take it a step further, and I think we just have to continue to take it one game at a time.
Q. Inaudible question.
STEVE VASTURIA: Yeah, I'm just trying to enjoy it and soak up all the experience of the NCAA Tournament. I've been lucky to be here the past three years. Coach Brey always talks about not to take it for granted. Not everybody has an opportunity to play in the tournament. We've had a couple good runs. It's been a great season. We've had a lot of huge wins. I just want to continue to play as long as I can, and that starts with tomorrow and trying to get to the next round.
Q. Matt, how would you describe Thursday's crowd in terms of Irish support?
MATT FARRELL: We love our fans. We feel like we got the best fans. Crowd starting piling up, I think in the second half, a lot of Princeton, a lot of West Virginia people, so I'm sure a lot of people seemed to be pulling for the upset. But we love our crowds. They always travel well. They're always really supportive, and there's been a couple games where we played in Greensboro for the ACC Tournament and the whole place was blue, and we have our little spot behind the bench and they're just as loud. So we appreciate everything they do. They know that, we know that, that we appreciate it.
Q. Bonzie, how typical of a comment is it, a team like Notre Dame, sometimes it's like the Yankees fans, seemingly everywhere all over the country. How common is that when you go play road games and neutral side games when there's a large Irish contingency?
BONZIE COLSON: Like Matt said we love the fans. We feed off the fans' energy during the game. It's great when we're coming, getting ready for the game, heading to the bus, and the band's playing our fight song, and the fans are cheering and clapping. I think that gets us motivated and gives us a lot energy to play well. We play for our family, we play for the fans, for the University. So it just helps us play with that edge.
Q. I was just in your locker room. There's a TV in there and guess what it's tuned into. I'm wondering amidst all of your preparation for the games themselves, if you're also able to be fans of March Madness and if it's like us, like most of the people watching, if it's a cool annual event to you guys beyond the fact that you obviously get to play in it?
BONZIE COLSON: Yeah. This is something we've all been watching our whole lives. We've got a lot of friends from many teams, friends that we've grown up playing in this game. We're texting each other, we talking about the games, seeing when they play, trying to tune in. This is a great culture for our basketball, just watching games. We're way into it, watching different experiences, learning from the game. I think it's something that really helps us bring the culture together.
MATT FARRELL: I think it's all part of being in the tournament and that experience. You get to watch these other games. You get to see all these crazy games, the buzzer beaters, stuff like that. Like Bonzie said, a lot of us have friends out here playing, too. We're always talking and seeing how they're doing. It's a fun atmosphere. We do have the loosest coach in America. We got TVs on, we just hang out and have a good time.
Q. I want to follow up on that for Bonzie, well, all of you, what impressions do you have of the tournament so far? Are there common themes? What struck you when you watched these games?
BONZIE COLSON: Yeah, I think all of the games are great. Just tuning in, walking in, watching them. Enjoying the game and not taking them for granted. The game's been fun. Hasn't really been any upsets, I don't think. Just paying attention, watching the games.
Q. What do you get out of it, Matt?
MATT FARRELL: It's a tournament of champions. It's obviously really fun to watch. Every team in this tournament is capable of winning games. It's a fun time. It's a time for basketball fans to just really enjoy, and just sit down and watch it. I think it's the greatest sporting event that we have. It's a lot of fun to watch.
STEVE VASTURIA: Yeah. I would just say the one thing from watching yesterday, is every single game is a close game. You're not going to see many blow-outs in this tournament. Like Matt said, every team has had a heck of a regular season. They probably won their league, and they are all coming down to the wire. I know yesterday they played early, so we got to watch pretty much the rest of the games for the day, which was cool. And just to see guys hitting big shots, making plays, and especially the guys in our conference who we've played against all season long. And watching them go against other conferences, I think it's pretty fun.
Q. First, happy St. Patrick's Day you to guys. I was wondering Bonzie if you could talk about the matchup with West Virginia, first of all as a team and secondly individually how you think of them.
BONZIE COLSON: They're a team that's defensively oriented. They press the whole game. They defend. They have some three-point shooters, have drivers. So it's going to be a fun game, and I think going over their scout, we played teams like that who can really defend and can really deny up to the perimeter. So I think playing in the ACC has really helped us.
Myself, just sticking with what I do, trying to be the best rebounder I can out there, grabbing all the rebounds, just playing within myself, staying in character, and motivating my teammates as best I can so they get to do things they want to do as well.
Q. Steve, the fact that it is St. Patrick's Day and you guys are the Fighting Irish. Is there anything that you guys do that's special to celebrate the day or anything like that?
STEVE VASTURIA: No, not so far, I don't think. Maybe if we get a win and go back to South Bend and enjoy St. Patrick's Day there. But nothing -- just try to enjoy the holiday.
Q. Inaudible question.
STEVE VASTURIA: Yeah. You could say that.
Q. Matt, I wonder if you could expand on the loosest coach in America? What makes Mike so loose?
MATT FARRELL: How about this? He comes into the locker room right after he gets off the court and puts on a green hoodie and said he has to get into St. Patrick's mode for the media. We've got a game tomorrow, we got to the Sweet 16 game, and this guy is worried about what he's wearing for the media.
It's an atmosphere and he creates an environment, where you're having fun and you've got guys that want to win and want to play for each other and the coaches, and I think that's really powerful.
Q. What's your experience been like in Buffalo? Granted, there's a large number of Irish fans here. This is a big St. Patrick's Day city. Have you guys had any weird experiences with Buffalonians coming up to you, and whether it's words of encouragement and what not, Bonzie?
BONZIE COLSON: There's a lot of snow here. There was a lot of snow, so I think it's kind of similar to South Bend, a lot of snow on the ground. But, I mean, fans have been great here. We're enjoying it, not taking it for granted. We're going to the hotel. There's cookies, there's snacks for us. We feel like we're home. We're just having fun. We're enjoying it, and we're having a good time.
Q. Have you guys done anything fun, Steve?
STEVE VASTURIA: Yeah. We went out to eat the first night we were here, probably one of the best steaks and lobster bisque that I ever had. It was SEAR?
BONZIE COLSON: SEAR?
STEVE VASTURIA: Yeah, it was really good. I think we're going to go grab some food tonight. Yeah, just trying to take it all in and enjoy the town.
THE MODERATOR: Guys, thanks very much. Good luck tomorrow.
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Notre Dame head coach, Mike Brey.
Q. Mike, well, you obviously did come out with a green pullover and happy St. Patrick's Day. What is the feeling today, being it's St. Patrick's Day?
MIKE BREY: Well, can we make this quick? I'm the honorary grand marshal of the parade in an hour. If I can get out of here, I've got to kiss babies, and wave to people. The float I'm on, they say, is awesome. I'm just kidding.
Q. No. St. Patrick's Day?
MIKE BREY: No. It's awesome. There's always a little buzz around our University and our place on St. Patrick's Day. There's no question about it. And figured I would break out the festive green for it, you know? I'll say this, St. Patrick's Day is great when you're still alive in the NCAA Tournament. It sucks when you're not.
Q. It was a stretch yesterday in the first half where you guys converted coming out of time-outs on three or four and got what you wanted. There were a lot of experienced teams in America. Not everyone could execute to that level. Two parter. What's it like to have that ace and what's it take to get to that point to get guys to do that?
MIKE BREY: I think you have to have high basketball I.Q. guys and experience and veterans, and we're an older group, and we're an older group that has won together and we've won together in this tournament. So, I think the concentration and focus level in Brooklyn was fabulous. And yesterday, even though it was not pretty offensively for us, I thought we were very locked in. But we did get some good stuff, especially post-ups for Bonzie out of time-outs. We thought that was really good.
You know, again, this group has played together a lot now, and they know who they are. I give them a lot of credit that they kind of figure it out in our motion, and it's not maybe a specific play all of the time.
Q. Matt just termed you loosest coach in America. I'm wondering if earlier in your career, if anybody referred to you as that or is that something you aged into?
MIKE BREY: I think I was a little more uptight when I got to South Bend in 2000 because I was trying not to get fired. You're trying to survive and build it. Even though -- I would say this inwardly, I was more uptight. I think I always tried to be loose with our guys and not get them uptight. Of course, when you're a little more established, you can really be loose. I have tenure now at Notre Dame, so I'm really loose.
Q. Similar -- we have a rare confluence tomorrow of two coaches who don't wear ties facing each other. I think we know a lot of the back story behind Coach Huggins' decision there. But you got to do it differently because you actually are dressed quite slickly, but without a tie. I know in the past you had another way of dressing as well. I wonder if you can take us through that and your current thinking?
MIKE BREY: Maybe I was the one that got the turtleneck popular. That was my look. And when I got to Notre Dame the first, I said did you really think that through? I said I was in America East. It's a bus league. You wear a sweatshirt on a bus, when you beat Boston University and you bus six hours.
So it was comfortable and I stayed with it until my daughter said Dad, that's got to go. That's out. That's got to go. But there's no way I can put the tie on. You're right. Bob and I were kidding at the meeting and said, we run into each other, two guys not wearing ties. I don't know how the NCAA feels about that, the whole decorum rule, if we'll get a fine, or whatever.
Q. Question about the Irish fan base here in Buffalo, did it feel like a neutral site at all yesterday for you?
MIKE BREY: No, it didn't. I think this town is a good N.D. town. Over 17 years, I've run into people from here that are big N.D. fans, whether alums or subway alums. I hope they can get out of jail by 8:00 a.m. tomorrow to come to our game, because they're rolling today, I can tell you that much. Matter of fact, we have some extra bail money just to make sure we can get them out. We know what happens with the Irish on a day like today.
Now, there's no question in the second half yesterday, it felt like a road game. You know, West Virginia fans, Princeton fans are certainly -- Bucknell fans certainly cheering for Princeton, and that was kind of a road atmosphere in the ACC we had to escape. I think we'll be well-represented tomorrow, though.
Q. With your son going to school around these parts has he told you how Buffalo does St. Patrick's Day parades whatnot?
MIKE BREY: He did a little bit, but the waitress helping us this morning, I said Is it big here? And she went on for ten minutes how it's unbelievable. I'm sure starting today, the bar's open at noon, and we're off and running.
Q. Mike, in an era when so many players are leaving early, I wonder if Villanova and even you if you would ever within a national championship, programs like yours with your experience are more equipped to repeat?
MIKE BREY: I think they are. Jay and I's program as you know is kind of built the same way with guys that grow up into the program and get older and aren't necessarily McDonald's All-Americans. I think it's a huge advantage. I think what it's done -- through the Big East and the ACC, we've been very consistent because we've never been too young. We've had guys growing up, we've had -- I call it the junior year light bulb go on, Zach Auguste, V.J. Beachem, guys that are with us for two years, Matt Farrell, you throw them in there, and then as juniors they're really ready to deliver for you.
I tell young catches when you get the job, get old and stay old. Can you get a rhythm to your roster whether you're redshirting, taking transfers, which we've done, to stay older really helps.
Q. Mike you've got a long history from West Virginia from years gone guy. Just some of your memory, good, bad. You've had a lot of success in those runs.
MIKE BREY: We've had great games with West Virginia. This is bringing back a lot of Big East memories all afternoon and last night. I'm thinking about our game certainly against John Beilein, and since Bob has been there. I guess my memory is, how hard the Mountaineer crowd is on us down there. It is one of the most brutal -- I have heard some of the most unbelievable stuff. What I'll do is turn to my assistant and say God, that was a good one. He really ripped me on that one. No.
It's been unbelievable down there. Great games, great battles. The last game I remember, we had that two seed with Ben Hansbrough, we go down there and West Virginia beat us. Jerry West's son is a walk-on. He throws him in the game, he bangs down a three across from our bench, and I said we ain't winning today. Jerry hits a three, let's go home, get ready for the next one. Just great match-ups, Pittsnogle, ball screen, stepping back and shooting the three, Butler, you know, through the years. We played a lot of great games, a lot of great memories.
Q. That was obviously interesting the other day when you compared Matt with Bobby Hurley. I was kind of wondering what have you seen with southwest Virginia's Jevon Carter and how do you see the match-up with him and Matt tomorrow.
MIKE BREY: Matt Farrell is not better than Jerry West. Okay? I just want to be clear on that. I think it's a gray match-up and they played on an All Star team this summer, th East Coast All Stars. They know each other. They were in Italy. They are buddies and went after each other in practice. It's a big matchup.
Carter is a heck of a guard and he's a winner. Big shot taker, heck of a defender. That's a great match-up and the point.
Q. It seems like the players are so phenomenal in shooting threes these days, how has that evolved since you started coaching?
MIKE BREY: It's an amazing weapon now and almost all of us really use it. You know, I guess a great example is you have a three on two fast break. God, we were drilled as young players, you got to get a lay -up. Now guys spot up and fire and there's not even a second thought. I don't ever see a coach yell that's a bad shot if it's the right guy shooting it.
It's an amazing weapon. It's one that we use offensively, and it's one that we worry about defensively. Certainly yesterday was an example of that. How can we limit guys, you know, of making threes again? Our three-point line defense is something we talk about and it's been probably our best this year. That's why it's helped us.
Q. Another unrelated question. You have a very solid fan in the governor of New Jersey, where does that go back from?
MIKE BREY: Delaware. He's a Delaware grad. Chris Christie is a Delaware grad. When he got the job he was just an attorney. Big hoops guy and was real supportive of my program. Now his daughter is at N.D. and is a manager for us. We were great friends when I was in Newark, Delaware, and he was a hoops fan lawyer from New Jersey. He knows more about my team than some of my staff. The guy's unbelievably plugged into our stuff, so love having him around.
Q. Steve and V.J. both gave you a lot of credit for saying they are both kind of soft-spoken kids in their freshman and sophomore year, saying you were really instrumental helping them open up. I wonder if you can talk about what you saw from them from that standpoint when they were young and how they kind of matured?
MIKE BREY: They were really quiet guys and we had good vocal old guys when they were young and I think what's helped them, too, is seeing some of the older guys that have come before them. They saw Jerian Grant and Pat Connaughton lead one heck of a team two years ago. That's the best example ever. Nothing I can tell them is going to get them more ready to lead than seeing that.
Then they saw Demetrius Jackson and Zach Auguste do a job that maybe I didn't expect they could do, being vocal and verbal. So they had come out of their shell. You add Bonzie and Matt Farrell to that, and it's been a nice chemistry of voices leading our team.
Q. We've made a lot all season long about the idea of a quick turnaround, getting prepared for the Mountaineers, and that pressure defense. What has it been like for you guys from the scout with your assistants, to now this 48 hours leading up to tip-off to face a bit of an unorthodox style?
MIKE BREY: I think we tried to compare them to Florida State which we played three times, playing, 11, 12 guys, getting up and getting into you. The game in Tallahassee we lost. We turned it over 18 times. We did not take care of the basketball. The other two times we did. We tried to make a comparison and get back to that kind of prep. I don't want to over-coach it. We have press offense that you work on back in October. You don't want to overanalyze it too much. We need guys to be receivers. I think we can prepare in a day.
I've got really pretty sharp guys and high basketball I.Q. guy, so I think our thing is, you know, when we get through it, are we looking to attack? Are we looking to run offense, and then we have to change defenses on them. We can't play man-to-man the whole game. We got to make them play against something different to kind of maybe change their rhythm, since they change your rhythm with full-court pressure.
Q. Speaking of rhythm. They say they want to speed up opposing teams. Is that a mental thing, physical thing, how do you keep your guys from getting caught up in it?
MIKE BREY: We're not the fastest. If you look at our pace, we have been kind of a situational running team. I think what we do is we've gotten to do a good job when we don't have numbers in transition, we kind of back that thing out and make you guard us for a while. And we're going to have to be disciplined with that. Now that's easier said than done because they're really good in the half court. They face guarding you, they just run and trap you there. So, finding the rhythm in this game, I think, is going to gee a feeling-out process us tomorrow in the first half.
Q. Are you going to sleep easier tonight because you got Matt? Because if you got an inexperienced point guard they'll chew that guy into much?
MIKE BREY: There's no question. Matt, Steve Vasturia, Gibbs, Rex Pflueger, our big guys. Bonzie can bring the ball up a little bit. We don't turn the ball over much. It's a team that doesn't turn the ball over. I think we're first or second or third in the nation against a team that turns people over. So something's got to give. We're going to kick it around a little more than usual, but we have to be great tomorrow overall to win.
Q. Mike, this is almost a follow-up on Matt. I think you may have raised at least some eyebrows here in comparing Matt to Bobby yesterday --
MIKE BREY: Yeah.
Q. -- or two days ago, I'm sorry. What gives you that confidence that he is that type of a player and what do you make of the adjustment that he's made in going from where he was a year ago to where he is now?
MIKE BREY: You know, my comparison is skill set, not honor, skill set, period. And I think his ability to play fearlessly and make plays off the ball screen, which he's had to do all year, and then his ability, to score and make shots, makes him unbelievably valuable to us. He shoots it and he shoots it deep. He can make the runner in the lane. He can get to the hole with his speed and get fouled. He's pretty much automatic from the foul line.
So that why I made the comparison, but also that's why we got a chance to get to the second weekend. We lose Grant and Jackson, two guards to the NBA, the big question mark was who's going to handle the ball for us. And for him to do what he's done, I mean it's just a great story. Really a neat story and glad he's coming back for another year, I think.
Q. Obviously, last night, being a high point of the season for you guys, can you look back and think, you know, the lowest point of the season for you and your team and what you guys did to kind of fight through that?
MIKE BREY: We lost five out of six in the ACC and the fifth was at North Carolina. Remember that game that was postponed because the water in Chapel Hill was so -- everything was screwed up. We played great. We made a comeback, lost to Carolina there. That was five out of six, and we were six and five in the league, coming home to play Wake Forest. We kind of had to make our stand against Wake, and we did. We played very nervous in the first half because we knew how much was on the line to get going again, then we beat Florida State on that Saturday, and we've been on a pretty good run ever since. Again, when you have maturity and older guys and their demeanor is kind of like that, you can handle five out of six without panic.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports