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March 17, 2010
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA
THE MODERATOR: We'll get started with the Notre Dame student-athletes. Joined by senior guard Tory Jackson; on his left, senior forward Luke Harangody.
Q. Can you talk about your role now coming off the bench, if you're enjoying it or not?
LUKE HARANGODY: I'm definitely enjoying it. Through the course of the season when I went down, I thought my career with Notre Dame may be over. So to get back on the court again, starting, coming off being the sixth man, it's great. I've accepted the role. You know, I think I'm really taking what I can do for this team. I'll do anything.
Q. When you guys made the switch, when Luke went out, how difficult was it for you guys from a mental standpoint preparing? You had to change the whole game?
TORY JACKSON: I think it was tough the first day knowing that he wasn't going to play. Knowing he wasn't going to be out there. We don't have that power, you know what I'm saying, down there. So it was tough. But I think we did a great job of adjusting.
We have a group of older guys, so that was easy, you know what I'm saying. The guys understood. They knew you take some punches like that throughout the season. So you can't dwell on it.
I think we did a good job of just sticking together. Coming as one. Everybody's doing everything. Everybody's doing the little things.
Q. Did Coach Brey have a hard sell for you guys? How did he present that to you guys? And I guess both of you, if you will.
TORY JACKSON: I think he just did a good job of keeping it simple for us. Keeping it simple. He didn't put any pressure on anybody. The offense that he put in, that slow offense, it gave everybody an opportunity to make a move or to do something, but let it be an open opportunity or open shot or whatever.
Just make sure it's a great shot every time. You continue to play defense on the other end. You can do whatever on the offensive end, just be smart.
LUKE HARANGODY: Yeah, as we were going, I think we were on the road at Louisville, and Coach Brey started to bring this up. Whether I was going to come back or not, we were going to implement this kind of burn offense. Kind of just changed things up a little bit from what we'd done in the past.
As Tory said, he really didn't put any pressure on us, we just had to go for it right now. Nothing could hurt us right now. We're on the road, playing a tough team. We put it in and it worked great that night. We did lose in double overtime, but I think guys started to see what it could do for us.
Q. Talk about after making that NIT run last year, this is the next step, obviously, to get to the NCAA Tournament. Do you feel like that postseason experience last year helped you guys coming into this weekend?
LUKE HARANGODY: Yeah, I do. Last year our team making it to the Final Four, it was a big deal. But me and Tory have also been in this position in the NCAA Tournament freshman and sophomore year. We're used to being here. We've made it to the round of 32 before. So we felt what it felt like to be there. So this is not new to us. We know this feeling and what we have to do to get it done.
TORY JACKSON: Like Luke said, we've been here before. We also have a transfer in Ben Hansbrough that understands the game. So you have three older guys in the lineup that being here, that understands what it takes to win at this level. We've got older guys that were here when we made the NCAA Tournament. So they understand what it takes to get here. You just have to be focused and you have to take care of business night in and night out.
Q. What was your first reaction to the different offense? To the new offense when you found out that was the way you were going to be playing?
TORY JACKSON: I was quiet, man. I was quiet. I'm not going to lie. It was just I've been here three years. This is my fourth year here. So to go from that, the fast-paced on offense, to Phoenix Suns type offense, just run-and-gun, it was different. It was a different pace.
But I really think it made us a better team. The slow-down offense really helped me as a player. I've never seen where a coach like can create something like that late in the season like that and it works, and it works. That goes to show you how great of a coaching staff he has, and how great we are as student-athletes to be able to take that, understand it and work it and do it well.
Q. How does it feel -- what did it feel like when you went from a team that was supposedly on the bubble, Luke goes down, to a 6 seed team. Were you expecting a higher seed? Was it a surprise for both of you guys?
LUKE HARANGODY: We saw the 6 seed pop up. We were expecting around somewhere between 8 and 9, so we were very happy to see that. Coach talked about it. It's a great compliment to how we finished up the season and the run we went on. Especially went into tough road games and in the Big East Tournament as well.
TORY JACKSON: Like he said, it showed how strong our run was. It also showed the toughness of our conference. You go on a run like that in our conference, you get rewarded this way. You get rewarded this way. And I think we still got a chance to build and take that momentum that we had going into this and keep rolling.
Q. Will you be glad when you step away from this type offense?
TORY JACKSON: No, no, no (smiling). Anything Coach Brey throws at me, I'm very excited to have. If Coach Brey was an NBA Coach, and I know he would probably make a push to give me to make a trade just because our relationship is very, very strong.
I love him. I love everything he does. Anything he does, any choice he makes. The bus ride home the other day, he made that choice. I loved it. So anything he does I'm agreeing with 100 percent.
Q. Can you talk about the decision to come back for your senior year ask how tough it was?
LUKE HARANGODY: Yeah, before the season going through the whole draft process, when it came down to it, I went down as far as I could to make the decision. It was tough, I'm not going to lie.
But the fact to come back one more year to play with this group of guys I've been with for four years, it was an easy sell. I wanted my senior year back. I knew 10, 15 years down the road I was going to look back and say, man, I should have came back to be with these guys one more year at Notre Dame. I'm very happy I stayed. I wouldn't change it for anything.
Q. You talked about how whatever Coach Brey does you're 100 percent?
TORY JACKSON: Yeah.
Q. How did he win such total support from you?
TORY JACKSON: He won it a long time ago. During the recruiting process the things he showed me, even watching back then when I was in high school, I always paid attention to how he communicated to his players, how close he was to his players.
He was a guard back in the day. So I've seen a few film clips of him, so I don't want to talk about how old school he was back in the day, but he was the man. So just watching him back in the day I knew we'd have a great relationship.
I think it exceeded what I expected coming in here. I love him like a father, and I think that's why we gel so much. That's why I understand what he wants as a team, as a point guard. As his point guard, I understand what he wants.
Q. What school was he playing for in the film clips?
TORY JACKSON: I seen like some old high school clips. Yeah, I don't want to talk about that, though. Because he was the old shorts, the short shorts back in the day. It was like the size of my tights now. So he was old school. He was handling the ball like crazy though. He was the man.
Q. Does he talk much about where he played college basketball, and do you know where he played?
TORY JACKSON: No, he don't mention that at all. He don't mention that at all. I don't think he wants to especially how my post-up game would be towards him. If he ever mentioned college basketball and us going one-on-one with each other, you know, he might have to break out the old shorts so he can prove me wrong (smiling).
Q. Neither of you know where he played?
LUKE HARANGODY: He played at George Washington.
Q. Before that?
LUKE HARANGODY: Somewhere down here (smiling).
TORY JACKSON: Somewhere down here (laughing). Somewhere.
THE MODERATOR: We'll start with Head Coach Mike Brey. Few thoughts on your preparations coming to New Orleans, how the practice has gone, and then we'll take some questions.
COACH BREY: We're thrilled to be in this tournament. You know, you can't take this for granted to be part of this. And our senior class, you just talked to some of them. To go three out of four years is very powerful.
We feel we're playing pretty well at the right time. We've won six of seven. We've gotten into a good rhythm at the right time of the year. Our preparation for Old Dominion is like preparing for a Big East game because they are built and they are old, and they're physical like the Big East teams we've just had to play 21 games against.
Q. For us to have been as close to your program as some of the guys here. Would you walk us through the deliberations and the anxieties that when Luke went down, how did you come to pass with this new burn offense?
COACH BREY: Well, he goes down against Seton Hall February 11th. He kind of tries to talk us into -- he misses the St. John's game that weekend. We lose and we're going to Louisville, and he has myself, the trainer, and everybody talked into that he's going to be able to come back.
At that point we've lost a couple. Our backs are against the wall a little bit, and he we thought he was coming back. We talked as a staff, and I thought about it a lot. Even last year I thought about it a lot, slowing down offensively. Our league has become so fast, and we've added more fast teams with the expansion of the league it cuts against a little bit how we play, because we've been one of the leading scoring teams in the league through my tenure. But to survive, I felt we had to try to do something different.
So going into the Louisville game, we thought we were going to have him back. We talked about burning clock and slower possessions and being, I guess you could say, overly patient would be a way of also talking about burn.
Well, then in the shootaround in the Louisville game, he can't go. So we move forward with that. It's pretty productive for us. We lose in double overtime there.
But that was a little bit of a moral victory for us, and we needed one at that point; that we played and competed against a pretty good team in a tough atmosphere without him. We had the bye weekend to kind of keep working on what we were doing offensively.
At that point it looked very slim that Luke would ever come back. We kind of started to prepare that way. Just didn't look like he was going to come back. Bone bruise was going to take too much time. Then winning against Pittsburgh playing that style I think was certainly a jump start for us.
We get on a nice run without him. Carleton Scott gets to start. There's nothing like starting for a young player to give him even more confidence. Tyrone Nash becomes more of the focus in the low post. I think that made him more confident.
Then he gets a second opinion, and now we've got him coming back. Well, I never wanted to announce that he was done for the year, because I always thought something would come out of left field, and it did. The tricky part was getting him back into the mix in Milwaukee or do we do it in Milwaukee? Do we wait till New York? I went back and forth on it.
He practiced two days before Milwaukee, looked good, and we decided to move forward with it. But I think it had to be made clear to our young front line that they're still starting. In our team meeting Friday night I said: You guys are starting. Luke's coming off the bench. We need him now to move forward tomorrow against Marquette and in the postseason.
I think it says a lot about Luke Harangody as far as with all he's done for our program to say, Coach, you know, a week ago I didn't know if I'd ever play for Notre Dame again. I just want to help the team. Let me come off the bench and do what I can do.
I think it says a lot, and that's been very powerful, too.
Q. For the game tomorrow you expect everything to continue as it's been with Luke coming off the bench? I know he's been playing about 25 minutes a game. Do you think he'll get to a point where he can go 30 to 35?
COACH BREY: I think we're open to that. You kind of see how the game goes. But as far as bringing him off the bench, that's our plan to keep going that way. He played 24 to 25 three nights in a row. I think that took a little bit of a toll on him.
But practice was good these last couple days because it's getting him back into a rhythm. So kind of play it by ear and see. We're open to anything. But that seems to be a good segment of time for him, 24 or 25 minutes.
Q. 6-of-7 would suggest that you're playing pretty good basketball. Are you the best that you've been this season the way that you're implementing your team right now with Luke coming off the bench?
COACH BREY: Yeah, I do think we're at our best right now. I think we're pretty confident. We feel we're playing well. I was excited that we played Thursday instead of Friday. I want to get back on the court right away and play.
So I think we come here in a very good frame of mind. We know we've got a heck of a challenge, and we prepared for Old Dominion like they're a Big East team. They're old, they've been around. I tried to make the comparison.
We played the Colonial champion two years ago in Denver. In all due respect to George Mason, I mentioned to our guys, they're much better than George Mason. They've led from start to finish. They're old, they're built to make a run this year. So we've got our hands full tomorrow.
Q. Can you talk about when you change the offense, how much convincing did it take for all these guys to buy into it? It's such a dramatic difference?
COACH BREY: It's a dramatic difference. But when you've lost a couple in a row and you're up against the wall, I think you have a more open audience, so to speak.
Really the key for us to sell that is Tory Jackson. Tory is one of the best leaders, if not the best I've been around in 25 years of coaching. And he really runs our locker room and runs our group.
And he has sold my message, really, for the last three years when I'm not around. No matter what that message would be: rebound, defend more, play harder, whatever. He has always emphasized that. So I think he was really a key.
You know, you just can't make that change unless you have guys that are really good with the ball. We've led the nation in assists to turnovers the whole season. And if you're going to make more passes every possession and throughout 40 minutes, you've got to have guys that can do that, and big guys that can do that.
We're fortunate that all of our guys can really handle the basketball. Then in low shot-clock situations we have Hansbrough and Jackson that can do things at the end of a clock.
But Tory was very much a key selling it. Winning sold the rest of it.
Q. Tory talked about how close he feels with you. He called you a father figure. Said whatever decision you make he's 100 percent with it. Why do you think you two bonded?
COACH BREY: You know what, I've been coaching and I've had a bunch of point guards, and I've always been so connected to my point guards. I've used them to talk to the team, even starting back with a guy by the name of Tyrone Perry from the Tidewater Warwick High School, not far from Old Dominion in Delaware. First guy I ever recruited.
But Tory, personality-wise, energy-wise, I think there is maybe a stronger connection than maybe some of the other guys I have. Of course I have Martin Ingelsby on my staff. I felt the same way about him when he ran my team. But he's our energy, our heart and soul on a daily basis. He's our voice.
I do shudder to think sometimes next year in practice when his voice isn't around. I think of that this time of year. But, you know, he comes from a very violent area in Saginaw and it's one of fourteen children, and he's got a great family that's kept him on a heck of a path.
But I just think it's a connection of two guys that meet each other. He can finish my sentences. That's how good he is now. I start something, he finishes it. And I've really had that for three years. So it's really powerful when you have a guy of his presence selling your stuff in the locker room.
Q. What got you to Natchitoches, Louisiana, to play college ball? What do you remember about your days there?
COACH BREY: Yeah, I got mononucleosis my senior year at DeMatha. And the only offers I had were the University of Vermont and Northwestern State up the road. Tynes Hildebrand was the Coach. And I visited there in March and it was really good weather. And I didn't want to go to Vermont. I went down there. I liked the weather. And Coach Hildebrand and those guys took great care of me.
I spent three years there, and I always say if he wasn't let go and I didn't transfer back, maybe I'd be a high school coach in this state. That's what I kind of thought I was on the track to be, a high school coach. My dad was a high school teacher and coach. I was around a family of educators.
But it was a great experience. '77 to '80. Good people. I still have a lot of friends down here. I certainly love the food, and it's good to be back in this city and get some of it.
But I stay in very close touch with all those guys. That's how it happened. A guy from Maryland ends up down there. And, you know, culture change, so on to speak. I did spend more time in South Louisiana than North Louisiana on my breaks. I found out you could have a heck of a lot more fun coming down into Lafayette. Scott, Louisiana, well, there are some good memories there, yeah (laughing).
Q. With the success from the burn offense, do you shelf it after the season? Do you put it into part of your repertoire next season? What is the future?
COACH BREY: That's a great question. Somebody said how are you going to play next year? We're going to play to win in this league. This league is survival now with what we've done and what we've added, it's flat out survival to try to steal a bid.
I think what we've always done is try to evaluate our personnel. Certainly we have a lot of returning experienced guys. And we'll do what we need to do to win in our league and get another NCAA Tournament bid. If that's a combination of both, so be it.
I do think we're built to play both ways. We're good with the ball. We'll have a young point guard next year, but he'll be surrounded with a lot of veterans. Scott Martin comes back off an injury. He's very talented.
I think we'll be able to change gears. But I think this group understands we need to do what we have to do to win in the Big East, and what the Big East has become. So let's revert to that, whatever it is.
End of FastScripts