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March 10, 2004

John Beilein


JOHN PAQUETTE: Coach John Beilein.

COACH JOHN BEILEIN: Congratulations to Notre Dame. Just a big shot by Colin Falls. It's sort of ironic. I don't know how many times in my life I played zone, up two, late in the game, but we figured Chris Thomas is on such a roll, it's probably the only way we could keep him from winning the game with a three or tying the game, and make some of the other guys make the shot - make a freshman or a sophomore or a big man make a shot. And they did it. Had some tough breaks early. Couldn't find the basket, which has been a little bit -- has happened to us. Then, all of a sudden, we started finding the basket, stuck with our defense. Ended up taking the lead.

Q. Can you talk about how your team fought back.

COACH JOHN BEILEIN: One of the things that we wanted to really establish here is that we're always going to be a tough out. While we continue to get more -- gain more experience, upgrade our athleticism, do a lot of things that we need to do, we had to be a tough out, no matter what the situation. Don't give in, there's no excuses. I loved that character in the team all year long, that we've done that. This was one that we would have liked to finish and couldn't quite get it.

Q. Can you talk about the last play.

COACH JOHN BEILEIN: We were trying to get either a drive for JD, or something. That didn't work. We missed a layup in the first half. But we got, I think, a few points off it earlier. Twice we scored on it. They blew it up on the left side by denying. Then when we came back to the right side to run it, Joe thought there was a little bit more time on the clock. We didn't want to run an intricate play, we wanted dribble-drive with one quick, like, half-reversal. We never got it. We never got it. We tried to clear what we call an "alley" for Joe. It never really got cleared. He got stuck in between somewhere.

Q. This is D'or's first postseason play. Can you comment about it? Was he nervous?

COACH JOHN BEILEIN: I don't know that. He did play in the NCAA tournament when he was at Northwestern State for West Virginia. It was the first time. I can't tell you whether he was or not; you'll have to ask him. He's made such great strides this year that I think, you know, there's a lot of great, great basketball left in D'or Fischer. I'm sure he wished he'd probably played more and played better. He will in the future.

Q. It looked like when Thomas got his fourth foul, their air went out, you guys got a little revitalized. Did you feel that at that point?

COACH JOHN BEILEIN: I know my air, I got revitalized. Some of the shots he's making, I see what St. Joe's has, a very similar player. You guard him, you guard him, then he'll get you with a little fade-away. That's a major part of their offense. They know how to play now. If you look at all their assists on the team, everybody passes it. Now they stretched our zone like the team IUPUI stretched it with five guys on the perimeter. It's tough to guard all those guys, but we hung around and did a good job.

Q. Is that as hard a loss for you guys?

COACH JOHN BEILEIN: I think, under the circumstances, I mean, I've had so many hard losses, they all run together so I don't know. I'm sure for this team right now, at this stage, this would have been the next logical step, to get to The Garden, win a game, advance, and have a little bit more to hang your hat on in the off-season, especially a team like Notre Dame who is -- forget the UCLA win, which is at UCLA, traveling across country. But winning that Syracuse, beating UCONN without Torin, it would have been a great little notch in our belt. But it's not to be yet, I guess.

Q. Down 16, how did you try to keep the kids...?

COACH JOHN BEILEIN: I thought they were making some -- they were playing exceptionally at the time. We came out, we cut it down to six or four, I think. Maybe we cut it to eight. Then it went right to 16. We won the first four minutes, I know that. Then they won the second four minutes badly. We just stayed calm, "Our shots are gonna drop," they made a couple tough ones. "Just not gonna keep shooting that well," or "We're going to create turnovers, just hang in there." Even though they ended up hitting some nice shots during their run right there, I think we liked how hard they had to work to get it. If that continues, you're going to get a break here or there. We got some deflections. End up starting some things and got some baskets.

Q. What did you think of that three-pointer from Notre Dame? Your kid was playing good defense.

COACH JOHN BEILEIN: The last one in the corner? I was saying, "I wish I'd played man," as soon as it went up. I mean, it looked good all the time. I didn't have any doubt about it that it was going to be on the rim or in and out. The other night against Miami, Darius Rice had a shot like that, hit the back of the rim. It's a thing you got to live with. I got to live with it a little bit. Chris Thomas could have done the same thing off a ball screen or something, he's just so good. I've lost -- coaching all these years, you lose some like that and you win some where it goes in and out, you get the rebound and make foul shots.

Q. Think you have another game left?

COACH JOHN BEILEIN: I know we're going to work very hard to do it. Hopefully, some of the people from the NIT committee were here today, and sees that we've had some tough losses, and some of those losses were during the transition period. But right now, when you look at even the games we've lost, the Pitts and Syracuse, are Top 20 teams. The game has not been lost except in the last three or four minutes. I think we got a chance. I think we got a real good chance. They are a very, very intelligent group down there. They make great selections. We think we (inaudible); so do a lot of other teams.

End of FastScripts...

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