Postgame Quotes Notre Dame at Louisville

first_img(Malik Williams has given you defense, rebounding, that’s been consistent. When he’s able to score in the paint like he did, what does that add?) “A lot. He’s never been truly a back-to-the-basket kind of player and he’s come a long way. Again, some of the interior players that he’s going against every single day don’t get scored on by many. He’s a one-trick pony if he sits on the perimeter. We need him to be versatile, and it really starts with his energy level because he can keep balls alive, he can get offensive rebounds, he can get stick-backs, there’s nothing that’s stopping him from doing that. We tried to position him on the floor in our offense a little differently today to try to take advantage of some of the things that he can do – slipping to the rim, get him running on ball screens towards the basket, rather than out from the basket, getting him to offensive rebound from outside-in versus inside-out. It’s tougher for him because he’s not the bulkiest guy in the world, but he’s a difference maker on the defensive end.” Notre Dame Head Coach Mike Brey (On helping team stay together during difficult season) “We kept battling there. It’s a great group of kids. They have taken some big punches in this league—that’s what happens in this league. Luckily, we’ve come in every day, they’ll come back tomorrow and work. We got a chance at an NCAA tournament team (Clemson) again on Wednesday. We’ve not beaten anybody in the upper division. I said, ‘We need to get one of those teams before this thing ends.’ But, it’s a great group of kids that work, but they’re back on their heels a little when you’ve been punched like we’ve been punched in this league. It’s a league of men. One thing I’m impressed with what Chris has done with his program is he’s stayed old in his first year with the grad transfers. There’re some dudes out there, and we’re in a different rotation, and many times, it showed up out there on plays at the basket, plays in the lane, loose balls. Certainly, a big summer of strength training for our program. ” Story Links (On whether Christen Cunningham’s ability to take over a game is innate) “I think he knows. I think he can sense that some of their ball screen coverage was opening up where he can get into the lane. They weren’t being very aggressive with their hedges and so I think, he’s smart enough to figure out that, ‘Hey, I can attack now. If they are going to drop their foot, if that big guy is going to drop his foot, I’m going get in the lane and either make a play for myself or my teammate.’ I think once he hit one or two at the basket, you could see his confidence coming out. Again, when your point guard has a boatload of confidence and is playing downhill, it’s a lot easier at those other four positions to play the same way.” (Notre Dame has been able to stick close to some very good teams. Talk about the defensive game plan for D.J. Harvey and T.J. Gibbs.)  “That’s what I said to our team. An outsider may say, ‘Hey they are having a subpar year in comparison to what Coach Bray has done for so many years because of the injuries.’ What I see is a team who is playing well as of late. Just like Boston College, they were playing well. It’s a one possession game at Virginia with 20 seconds left in the game. Florida State, much like us, they were in charge of the game virtually the entire time. So, we felt like Notre Dame was coming in with a lot of confidence and playing their best basketball of the season. They had nothing to lose, and they probably look at us and see the box scores we’ve put together the last few games and say, ‘Hey, we can get one. It says a lot about our team. We’ve been a really good defensive team ever since the Pittsburgh game at Pittsburgh, and it’s why it’s allowed us to have opportunities to win. We haven’t always won, and I know that, but at the same time, it’s given our team a chance to win, to be in one possession, two possession games down the stretch.” (On V.J. King’s increased playing time today) “He’s played better in practice. Again Dwayne hasn’t played as well, and as much as Dwayne’s given us all year long, he’s still getting his shot, he’s still playing. You know that feeling when it’s like, ‘I know I can help, I need to help’ He’s been working like a dog in practice, in a good way. Although he didn’t shoot well at Boston College, he provided some really good minutes, did some good things, continued that effort in practice. Again, you play well in practice, you’re going to get your shot in the game. You do well in the game then your opportunities get extended, and he put himself in a great position these last couple games.” (On limiting Louisville to only two 3-pt. field goals while allow 50 percent shooting) “You would think if you handle the arc like that, it would be a better game, it would be a closer game. We knew they like to shoot the three and they made a bunch of threes. So, we got out to shooters, now you give up stuff around the bucket, you’re more vulnerable around the bucket. Those count too, and they can’t blow you out, for the most part, you can kind of hang around. But for us, in the second half, I think we had it at five, six, five, six, seven, five, six, and then, we aren’t able to get a defensive rebound or make enough free throws to get it to one possession and make it interesting. It’s really been our offense all year. We can’t find a third and fourth scorer. We score 61 points all the time, like ever. Even in practice, every day, it’s always 61. We can never get that sucker to 70. It’s unbelievable, it’s unbelievable.” (On the team’s reaction to the play of VJ King) “Well, I think what you saw was guys that love their teammate. It’s just genuine. When VJ scored, I think everybody on our bench was up. You feel like every point, with where our team has been offensively the last four games, is a relief in and of itself. But when a guy like VJ, who has gone through a lot, sticks to the end and makes such an effort to get the ball, I just think that the love his teammates have for him is genuine and you can see it in that moment.” (What is a caveman drill?) “Anything that requires some physical toughness. It’s not all pretty pick and pop threes. It’s put your boxing gloves on and get in the paint. Figure out a way to get the ball.”  Louisville head coach Chris Mack(Opening statement) “I’m happy for our group. This league can steal your confidence, rob you your confidence at times. Playing some of the best teams in the country. Social media can rob individuals of confidence sometimes. I don’t care if you say ‘put it away.’ Kids have grown up with it. I’m really happy for our group. They’ve worked hard the entire year. From the time those guys arrived on campus and worked with our staff, to be able to go out on senior night the right way… being able to face all the adversity, some will say ‘self-inflicted, not playing well.’ Like I said. This League can rob you of your confidence at times. And for our guys to be able to respond the way they did today, I’m really happy for them. I’m happy for our three seniors who chose Louisville in a very, very tough time. A very uncertain time. To provide the stability they have, both as players, and more importantly as people. So, we recognize we got one more game, obviously not here. On the road against one of the best teams in the country. It feels good. I know in our guys there’s a sense of relief. A feeling of monkey is off our back. And now we press forward and we start playing a little bit better like we did today.”(About the message to these guys over the last several days, and then what it ended up being today on the court.) “Well, it’s funny because, I think all along, for the most part, we’ve played pretty well defensively. We’ve been, over the last three or four weeks, a top 15, top 20 defense statistic-wise. But the ball hasn’t gone in. We haven’t scored 60 points in a game the last four games. And that’s not something I’m used to. Like I said in the opening statement, you get robbed of confidence sometimes in this league because of the different styles you play against, the terrific defenses you play against. But I thought our energy level on defensive was terrific. I still think we have to work through some mental demons on the offensive end, to be quite honest. We still go 2-for-22 from the three-point line, and again, and yet we almost score 80 points. So we were doing something right and I think a big part of that was the energy on the offensive glass and just our ability to get to the lane a little bit more today. Like I said, confidence is an amazing thing in sports.”(Speaking of confidence, talk about the game that VJ King had.) “Great. I’m happy for him. VJ’s been wanting to play more. He’s wanted to play better when he had his opportunities. It’s hard to describe how good of a kid he is. I know people only see him as a basketball player, so the struggles he’s gone through to be able to play as confident as he has the last couple of games – he’s given our team a boost in energy. I’m hopeful that the confidence issues he’s had in the past… just play all out. And I think he’s done that. He’s given us a tremendous boost on the offensive glass. If you look at his numbers from last year, he never offensive rebounded. And regardless of how he’s played this year, he’s done that. And I just think that’s a more aggressive VJ. We need guys to step up when others aren’t playing as well. I cannot say enough about his character. And that’s not lip service. I can’t say enough. He never hangs his head. He never talks about this coaching staff behind their backs. Never talks about a teammate ‘well, I would do this’, he just… he’s raised amazingly. And he’s an incredible person. I’m just glad it’s working out in the last few games for him.” (What have you done specifically for V.J’s confidence when he’s not playing against Duke and Virginia here?) “I think it’s not so much what a coach will do for somebody’s confidence. I really think that’s tough to say ‘Hey, I’m going to inject you with some confidence.’ I think it comes down to V.J. finally having enough. He came up to see me and said ‘Coach, I want to play and I want to do whatever I can for the team to win. I’m not asking for you to play me 30 minutes a game.’ I think that’s the first time all year that he’s really put himself out there like that. Again, when you have the type of character he does and the type of ability that he does, I thought I owed that to him.”center_img (Opening Statement) “They’re an NCAA tournament team. I thought their physicality in the lane and being a little older than us in some spots won out, and we were so bad from the foul line in the second half and we’ve been overall a pretty good free throw-shooting team. If you’re going to make it interesting, you’re going to have to hit those free throws. Impressed with their physicality, and I know they maybe hadn’t played as well, but I thought they played very well today. I know they didn’t shoot it well, but they played well today.” (On Louisville assistant coach and former player Mike Pegues) “He always had a great feel for the game. I’ve always said, ‘If it weren’t for Mike Pegues, I wouldn’t have the Notre Dame job.’ I rode Mike Pegues hard at Delaware, and two of our guards were here in town and we got together last night, told some great stories. I think what Louisville is lucky to have is they have a great teacher. Mike is a great connector with young people, and I think he’s a brilliant young coach. He’ll be a head coach, if he wants to be, very soon. But, the big guys, in this program, are lucky to have Mike because he’s played inside, he has great footwork and hands, but he’s got a way of connecting with young people. I’m very, very proud of him. But man, did he make me look good when I was a younger coach and had more hair.” (On performance of junior guard T.J. Gibbs) “I think the guards that they put on him—and he draws the best defender—the guards that they put on him really got after him and take him away, and that’s been the case a little bit. He got loose a little bit in the second half there, but for the most part, T.J. Gibbs has been first in the scouting report and they’ve really kind of taken him away. They try to get us going there in the second half, and then, they started defending him again. He’s the key for us. When he can get going, it helps us.(On recruiting V.J. King) “Well, in D.C., we go back there a lot, you know it’s been a good town for us with (freshman guard Prentiss) Hubb and Harvey from there. We didn’t do much with him and I think Louisville did a great job of getting on that early and getting it done pretty early, if my memory serves me correct. But, saw him a lot and was always really impressed with it, and I’m not surprised to see him blossom. It gets to be very mental and I think for him, you’re seeing a guy getting more confident. It’s the ebb and flow of the season, trying to keep a kid confident. I’ve got a couple of guys that I’m trying to keep them believing and confident when you’re having a tough stretch.” Print Friendly Version (What kinds of things did you do inside to get that kind of advantage? I think it was 46-26. What was the emphasis there?) “If anybody’s been at our practice, it seems like all of our practices are open lately, we have just been warring it up. We do some caveman drills to try to bring out that toughness, that fight, and this group hasn’t been used to that. I’m just a firm believer that you earn what you get and you get what you earn. If you shoot 2-for-22 you figure out a way to get those 20 misses. You figure out a way to limit another team to one shot. Punch them in the mouth, figuratively and go get the basketball. I think our team took some steps forward, really the last couple of games. We didn’t play very well offensively but we got 18 offensive rebounds at Boston College and then we followed it up today by winning the battle of the glass by 19. Which is where we need to be.” (On junior guard V.J. King’s impact on Louisville) “He is a slashing, driving…and obviously, he’s on the upswing. It sounded like he had a tough January or whatever, but he’s really a gifted guy. V.J. King and (Notre Dame sophomore guard) D.J. Harvey come from kind of the same spot, and they’re both guys that, when they’re in attack mode and getting into the lane and feeling good about themselves and confident, they really help their team and it looks to me like V.J. King is on the upswing.” (On Louisville’s rebounding) “It’s been a bit of a weakness of ours, being able to keep people off the offensive board. It’s one of the fears that I’ve had since the beginning of league play, and a lot of it is they’ve got really good athletic ability and quick jumpers that were up on there—I don’t know how many. It’s a little bit of our youth, a little bit of some young guys. We couldn’t squeeze any loose balls down there under our basket. How many times did it go off our foot and they have another possession? If you’re going to have a chance in this atmosphere, you’ve got to get those. It’s been a weakness and a trait of a younger group all year.” (On how Darius and V.J.’s performances change the dynamic of the rotations?) “Two of our better athletes. I know this defensively, both of them can contain the ball when they’re locked in. V.J. specifically in the first half was phenomenal defensively. He’s chesting drivers, those guys are taking bad shots. He’s 6’6, he’s got really good feet, great size and he’s playing aggressive on the defensive end. Darius is a game-changer. He has to be a guy that can be consistent and can be counted on, but there are things that he can do that quite honestly some of his teammates can’t, and that’s what’s been the frustrating thing at times about DP because he’s got it in him and when he has nights like today it’s good to see because he’s continued to battle and get better. (What does it say about Jordan’s growth as a player that he can go 1-for-6 from three and still have 22 points and 11 rebounds?) “I think that he did some gritty things today. Sometimes in Jordan’s short time in college, in the first two years, it’s been one of those things where if his jump shot is falling, now his energy level is up, he is rebounding, he is out on the break. But, if his shot is not falling, it’s a little bit easier to disappear in some of those areas, and I thought he didn’t do that today.  He missed a few threes, some good looks. We ran some stuff for him, but he had an offensive rebound to start the second half, which I felt like in past games, he would be at the 3-point line, watching and hoping Dwayne or Malik would get it. We need to be firing on all cylinders, and Jordan giving that type of energy in other areas is huge for our team. We need that type of growth to continue.” (How recent was that?) “A few weeks ago.” (On the break before Saturday’s game at Virginia) “I do. I do. We’re going to give them off a couple of days. We’re going to lift on Tuesday. You have the mandatory one day off, but I’m going to give them a couple days to focus on their classes, get away from the game and come back and be super recharged and refreshed to start back on Wednesday on the basketball court.”last_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *