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March 18, 2011

Keith Dambrot

Zeke Marshall

Steve McNees


Notre Dame – 69
Akron - 56

GREG GREENWELL: From Akron we have head coach Keith Dambrot and student-athletes Steve McNees and Zeke Marshall. We'll start with an opening statement from the head coach and take questions from the student-athletes.
COACH DAMBROT: Well, I'm disappointed we didn't win really. I thought we competed hard enough to win. We played good enough defensively to win, I think, against a pretty good offensive team. We just didn't shoot the ball well enough to win really.

Q. Steve, I guess the shooting woes, was it their defense? Were you rushing things a little bit? What was the problem?
STEVE MCNEES: We got pretty good looks. Throughout the whole game, we got pretty good looks. Just they weren't falling how we'd like.

Q. Zeke, the playing inside, what was it like for you inside?
ZEKE MARSHALL: It wasn't any different. Playing in the MAC, it's not any different. I think I tried to shoot a little too much more than I was comfortable with. That might be a reason. Who knows? I didn't shoot well.

Q. Steve, you guys were down four at the half. You made a nice run to get back into it, and then the first five or six minutes of the second half, they immediately pulled away. How frustrating was that?
STEVE MCNEES: It wasn't too frustrating. At that point, there was a lot of game to play. We were still very optimistic, and we sure as heck weren't going to stop fighting.

Q. How tough was it to go inside, get shots inside, and not get them to drop? Particularly you, Zeke. It looked like they really wanted to pound the ball -- wanted to take the ball inside and get some shots off.
ZEKE MARSHALL: Are you referring to me getting shots?

Q. Yes.
ZEKE MARSHALL: I didn't really feel them play any different when they had their big guy in, their bigger heavyset guy. They just tried to -- he tried to muscle me, and the other guy tried to just use quickness to try to get the ball. So it really wasn't anything different. Just I wasn't making the shots.
I have four two-foot layups I missed in the early part of the game. So it's not really -- I don't really recall their defense that caused me to miss. It was just me missing.

Q. Steve, can you talk about the season in general.
STEVE MCNEES: You know, we had our ups and downs as a group. We came together and won some games when it mattered for us. We're very disappointed that we weren't able to win today.
Getting here, it wasn't good enough for this group. So we're very disappointed, but I'm sure, when we look back on it, there's a lot of things to be proud of.

Q. Coach, it looked like you really wanted to take it inside, really went to Zeke quite a bit. Just wasn't there. Can you kind of speak to that. Was that really the game plan?
COACH DAMBROT: I told the guys before the game that the headline after the game was going to say mid-major pounds Notre Dame inside. That was our game plan. We felt that was the best opportunity we had to win.
We felt like we could go inside on them and have the best chance. We didn't think we could out perimeter them or out individual them, but we thought we could get shots inside. We got plenty of them. We just didn't make any of them. That's a tribute to them. They're an awfully good team.
We just had to play a little bit better offensively to be right there, nip and tuck at the end. We just didn't get enough out of McKnight, Nikola, and Zeke inside. I think some of it was them and some of it was us.
They're not huge in there. They're huge everywhere else, but not there. And so that's about the size we played against most of the year.

Q. Coach, can you talk about how the nine-point run to start the second half changed things for you and how it happened.
COACH DAMBROT: It didn't really change anything for me. I told our guys, when I called the time-out, look, this has happened to us all year. We've had bad moments. We've overcome adversity all year long. We're going to have another chance to get back in the game, win the game. We just have to continue to not let them get spurts and play a little bit better.
You know, we fought back. We just couldn't put enough baskets together on a continuous basis to win. That's what a mid-major has to do to beat a high major with a seed that high is you have to shoot the ball better than that really. We felt like we got good shots even from the outside that just didn't go in for us tonight.
We thought we could score on them, but we just didn't. I thought it was going to be a bigger challenge to guard them, and we actually -- we did a decent job guarding them really.
You know, as bad as Zeke was offensively, he changed the game again defensively. They had trouble getting into that lane and scoring, and he was in their head a little bit. Even though he had four blocks, he changed a bunch of other shots.
We've got a lot to build on. We want to take that next step with this program. It took us 1 out of 4 MAC championships and then 2 out of 5 to get there. So maybe it's going to take us a little bit of time to win in the NCAA Tournament. But I refuse to let anything bother me at this point because this team was 12-10 and showed tremendous, terrific resiliency.
So we were right there. If we played a little bit better, it could have been an interesting game. And my hats off to Notre Dame. They played well. They do a lot of good things. Terrific coach.

Q. What bothered you the most about them?
COACH DAMBROT: I think Scott Martin got it going on us. When you're guarding him with a 6'2" guy and he's 6'8", it's difficult. It reminds me where I had LeBron in high school, and we're playing Oak Hill Academy. And our 6'1" guys guard a 6'9" guy. That's a little hard at times. So our margin of error is a little smaller than their margin of error.
We try to pump our guys up and say, look, we've got to use our size to our advantage. We need to get underneath them, pressure them, not let them have free looks. They're an old school motion team. If you let them look around, they can pick you apart. We don't see that much anymore. We hadn't seen any motion teams all year. We prepared hard for it.
I thought, when Abreu and Quincy Diggs quite in there, we were able to pressure them a little bit more.
GREG GREENWELL: Thank you, Coach.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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