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March 8, 2012

Eric Atkins

Mike Brey

Jerry Colangelo

Pat Connaughton



Q.  Talk about what you got out of this game, such a close, contested finish.
ERIC ATKINS:  Think we just got out of it a toughness.  We were poised down the stretch, especially on the defensive end, knowing who to help off of, and just rebounding.  They're a huge team inside.  They usually beat up people on the boards, so I think that we definitely got tough on the boards tonight.

Q.  Eric, what's your confidence level like when you hit that shot?
ERIC ATKINS:  I tried to be confident all throughout the game.  I really didn't hit anything all game, though.  But coach gives me the confidence to just keep playing, keep shooting.  You know, I got the balls thrown to me, and I just knocked it down.

Q.  Mike, have you ever been involved in a stranger final few seconds of a basketball game?
COACH BREY:  No, that was very unusual.  We threw the bomb to Pat Connaughton, and he got fouled.  I turned to Coach Solomon, I go, "this is getting wild."  But proud of our group.  That's a little bit how we played all year, like that's a little bit of when it gets down to those last two or three minutes of really believing.  You know, I hadn't really seen that much the last three games.  During our nine‑game run we stole many like that, and it's nice to see.  Maybe we can keep that recipe going.

Q.  You guys have been to the semifinals a bunch of times in the tournament but never made it to the finals.  What about this team makes you believe that you can end that run?
COACH BREY:  Well, I really believe this group, of all my teams, is most equipped to get to Saturday night.  It's something we talked about in our program for a while.  It's the next step.  I think our program has been extremely consistent and solid in the BIG EAST, but playing on Saturday would mean a lot, and I think this group has really digested it.  Of course we played the same guys who stopped us from getting there last year in Louisville, and every time we play them it's never regulation.  The last six, seven games, it's unbelievable.

Q.  How much did what you guys have been through help you tonight down the stretch?
ERIC ATKINS:  Think it definitely helped a lot, especially we believed that we can win, get into overtime.  I know I believed that we can get it done.  I don't think we've lost in overtime yet.  So I just believed in our team, and we stayed poised down the stretch.

Q.  For both players, you only had four baskets in the second half.  How do you keep plugging through that and thinking we're going to score?
PAT CONNAUGHTON:  I mean, we wanted to focus on defense.  We knew they were a defensive power house, and we wanted to show that we could play just as much defense.  So I think the shots may not have fallen, and to make them down the stretch when the shots weren't falling at the beginning of the half, the beginning of the game, really kind of shows that we have an extra gear and we have a clutchness about us.
ERIC ATKINS:  We're going to have to score more baskets tomorrow.  But I think we did a good job just staying poised and believing in each other, especially getting to the foul line.  Once we got one‑on‑one, we wanted to keep attacking the hoop.  We're going to have to shoot better tomorrow.

Q.  You've played these guys before so you know what's coming, but how much of a grind is it to just stick with it?
PAT CONNAUGHTON:  Well, we knew they were a different team than when we played them the first time.  They went on their win streak.  But we also knew we were a different team.  I think just going to the game we were just talking about defense because they had the reputation of being that defensive team, that team that holds teams to 40 points, and we wanted to show that we could play defense, too, because we held them to 49 points at our home gym when we beat them.  They do play very good defense, and obviously it disrupted our shots at the beginning of the game.  But because we all picked each other up and had each other's backs we were confident down the stretch even if we weren't making them at the beginning.

Q.  How important will it be to offset Louisville's fast pace and everything, especially playing such a very intense game?
COACH BREY:  Yeah, well, they'll really try and speed us up.  They always do.  The game double overtime down at Louisville, they were after us the whole game, but we controlled the tempo really well.  That will be our challenge here tomorrow night because they'll really come after us and try and speed us up.
Our team ball handling is one of our greatest strengths.  We're really going to have to rely on that.  And sometimes we're going to have to attack pressure and just reset and catch our breath.

Q.  How important was it for your guards and your wings, especially Pat and Scott Martin to rebound?
COACH BREY:  Yeah, I was on Jack the whole game.  We're going to need more than that tomorrow night to stay alive.  But our guards were fabulous.  Coming down and helping us there, Pat was great, and Scott Martin‑‑ Scott Martin was a double‑double guy against them last time.  He was 15 and 13, and I talked to him about we're going to need that again.

Q.  Pat, a couple pressure free throws there.  What were the thoughts going through your head?
PAT CONNAUGHTON: It was just make them.  I was thinking back on the UConn game, and I was just going through my routine, just like we practiced.  Go through your routine and don't think about what the free throws mean.  They're free, you should hit them, and obviously I failed to hit one of those.

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