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March 15, 2012

Eric Atkins

Mike Brey

Jack Cooley

Scott Martin


THE MODERATOR:  We'll take questions for the student‑athletes.

Q.  For any of the players, kind of can you talk about what this season has been like especially considering you have the injury to Tim early on, and then you were 11‑8, and then got things going and got yourselves here.
ERIC ATKINS:  I think the season has been really fun for us.  It's been an up‑and‑down kind of a roller coaster year, especially with Tim's injury.  But I think we really found ourselves probably in late December, and we really got things clicking.
JACK COOLEY:  To have a year start off in that sort of fashion where we didn't have Tim and lose him right away is kind of ‑‑ almost seemed unfair for really our team.  But then to do what we did and pull it together so well and go on that nine‑game win streak in the Big East is just huge and it was a pretty fun year.
SCOTT MARTIN:  I feel like it was two different seasons almost before Tim got hurt, and the way we prepared, and the way we game planned and stuff.  And then after Tim, we kind of had to figure things out again and regroup and go from there.  So I think it was just a lot of hard work and dedication out of us that paid off.

Q.  Can you talk about your impressions of Xavier's back court, Tu Holloway and Mark Lyons, and what kind of challenges that presents for you?
ERIC ATKINS:  Both guys are very talented; they can score in bunches.  And it's a challenge for Jerian Grant, and I because they really want to get into the lane and create for other guys, so we're going to have to be really good on the ball screens and contain them in one‑on‑one situations, but they're both very good players.

Q.  Scott, you might be the only guy with experience against Xavier.  Can you talk about that and maybe how that‑‑ does that help you at all coming into a game?  It was quite awhile ago when you had that experience.
SCOTT MARTIN:  I definitely think it helps because you can look back on it and they run similar stuff.  And the thing that leaps out of my mind from that game was that it was boys versus men there, and they were men and we were young and they just took it to us.  They were physical and that's the kind of game we're expecting tomorrow is them to be physical and come right out at us.  So we just want to match that physicality and play our game.

Q.  Talk about your impressions of Kenny Frease and Xavier's front line.
JACK COOLEY:  From what I've seen, I watched some film clips on them and I saw that he's just a big physical‑‑ he's a skilled big, extremely physical.  He's very good at the duck in and just they have a pretty good front line, and I'm going to have to work hard against it tomorrow in the game and just out rebound them.

Q.  A common denominator in your last three losses has been shooting, especially from the 3‑point line.  Could you talk about how important it is to your game to be clicking from behind the arc tomorrow?
ERIC ATKINS:  I think that's huge just for our whole team, not just myself.  3‑pointers do really get us going.  We hit a couple and everyone seems like their confidence goes up a little bit.  So we are going to have to shoot the three well to do well in the game tomorrow and in the tournament.  We have been practicing a little bit more on that, so.

Q.  I know that you guys are a different team than last year, but what do you think this team maybe takes away from their tournaments experience last year or in previous years?
SCOTT MARTIN:  I think that even the experience of just being there last year helps us a lot.  And guys know what to expect and now how things are going to be, just with the day‑to‑day situation, the routine and all that sort of thing.  So I think that will help us and hopefully calm the nerves a little bit.  I think we got a little tight last year and that was a problem for us.  So this year we're just focused on having fun, going out there, staying loose, and knocking down some shots.
THE MODERATOR:  Okay, guys.  Thanks.  We'll take an opening statement from coach.
COACH BREY:  Great to be back on Tobacco Road.  It's been awhile.  But very, very proud of our team after going through some tough stuff with injuries and Abromaitis' injury in November and December to earn a 7 seed in this tournament.  We know we play a heck of a basketball team in Xavier tomorrow night.
THE MODERATOR:  Questions for coach.

Q.  Can you talk about your impressions of Xavier?  And when you look at them, do you find a team that's somewhat similar to yours in terms of personnel with the strong back court and a big guy inside?
COACH BREY:  Yeah, there are some similarities and I look at them like a Big East team.  I told our guys after the show when we saw we had Xavier, I said this is going to be a challenge like playing Louisville on the road or West Virginia on the road.  They're a Big East team, veteran guards who really make them go.  Very familiar with Kenny Frease, we tried like heck to recruit him, and really happy for the career he's had.  But there are some similarities with Grant, Atkins, Cooley.  I think trying to defend and control their guards is the ultimate challenge for us tomorrow and it can't just be our guards; it's got to be our team.

Q.  Coach K talked about some innovation I think when you were in the program of just Ferry, Laettner, kind of that bigger four man that could stretch the floor and space.  Can you just talk about how that evolved when were you there and how Ferry was such a significant part in that?
COACH BREY:  Well, we have one of our own.  And we have really used that to a strength to our strength at Notre Dame.  Scott Martin is the ultimate stretch‑you‑out four man.  But certainly when I was there, when you had Laettner and Ferry playing together, both of those guys could step out and face the bucket.  The old three around two motion, you just don't see much any more it's more four around one.  And certainly when I was there, we had guys that do that and it's been something that we have wanted to work with and recruit to at our program.  Carlton Scott last year was in that role, Rob Kurz a couple years back.

Q.  I don't know how much game tape you watched of Xavier, obviously early in the season they were arranged as high as number 8.  They were 8‑0.  And obviously you know what happened with Cincinnati.  They were a different team after that.  Did you go back and look at tape that early and maybe you can help explain the two different teams?
COACH BREY:  I didn't have to look at tape, I remember watching their Vanderbilt game live and being so impressed with how they just stole that win against a really good team.  I saw them‑‑ I watched the Purdue game where they came storming back.  I was with Phil Martelli this summer on a panel with Andy Katz, and he mentioned how they are a dark horse Final Four team and that's what you heard in the preseason.  My Athlon magazine kind of had them as a sexy Final Four pick.  So we know the fire power.  I know they were in little bit of a lull after the incident.  Watching them lately in the A‑10 tournament, I think they're reborn, and we're preparing to play the team I saw beat Vanderbilt, come back and beat Purdue.  I think that's who we have to prepare for.

Q.  You guys, two different situations as far as you guys got off to a 11‑8 start, key injury, they had the situation with the brawl, but what does it take for a team to be able to sort of pull themselves out of that nose dive and get here after everything that could go wrong does go wrong?
COACH BREY:  You have to have great, great leadership.  And I don't know if I have been more proud of a captain like Scott Martin.  Because his partner in leading was supposed to be Tim Abromaitis, and he kind of lost him.  So for him to lead through a crisis early in the season, I think really helped us.  And we had our young guys we committed to them and got them playing time.  They needed to play, they needed to get reps.  Even if we're losing games, they needed to get in there and get reps and I think they grew from that.  But I would really go with leadership.

Q.  To go back to where I was talking about before with your group, just across, was Ferry a fairly unique player with the skill set he had back then or‑‑
COACH BREY:  No, Ferry was very unique.  I coached Ferry in high school too.  And he was a guy that could face the bucket and a lot of ways.  He was more comfortable facing than posting and certainly that became his future in the NBA, but he was really a smart player.  It's interesting, I'm just thinking here off the top of my head, Scott Martin and Ferry were very similar in that they have such a high basketball IQ for bigger guys.  Really know how to play.  Great passers.  Danny was certainly that.

Q.  Your time just at Duke, but when you were at Duke was it unusual for Coach K to allow his assistants to draw up plays at the end of games, did that ever happen?
COACH BREY:  There wasn't a lot of that going on when I was there.  I think he certainly has a very experienced staff right now, a bunch of those guys I recruited and I think that's how you evolve over time as a head coach too.  You're able to delegate.  I know I've become a better delegator the longer I've been a head coach.  Other than drawing up the Laettner play for him, he did all the other ones.
THE MODERATOR:  All right thank you, coach.
COACH BREY:  Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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