I’m really proud of my team to come in this atmosphere and beat an NCAA tournament team here. I was a little concerned about how sharp we would be- we haven’t played in eight days. I thought we responded great. I thought we were really good against their pressure which is the first thing you have to deal with. I thought we got stuff in transition that got us confident. And I thought overall, between zone and man, we really defended well.
I thought Steve Vasturia’s job on Rozier was really a key tonight because he is the guy that has to jump start them out on the perimeter. We’re already in the double-bye, they’re fighting for one. For us, we talked about it being another resume win for our NCAA tournament resume. I’m glad our guys responded to that.
What it says about the team when Jerian Grant and Pat Connaughton only get two points in the second half
I thought Demetrius Jackson is kind back in gear. He’s struggled a little bit lately – he did against Syracuse. I thought he responded well and Bonzie Colson just keeps climbing the ladder and getting more confident and being such a key guy for us. We played a big a little bit tonight, played the two big guys, which I think is something we have to look at. Everybody really contributed, we’ve got a heck of a group. I’m glad we’re still hungry even though we have the double-bye locked up. I was a little worried about that. Certainly we will be hungry Saturday because we want to send the seniors out the right way.
On the defensive pressure in the first half and the three-quarter court trap
We call it `23-extended.’ It’s just our zone extended. We got to zone pretty quick; I watched the Duke game and zone bothered them a little bit. We got to it before I think the first media timeout and then we started to extend it. Then all of the sudden you’re attacking our zone after you break it with maybe 23 seconds left on the clock. So I think that’s something that can help us. I thought we did a good job of playing both. I told them with seven and a half minutes to go to win the game, we would have to play man-to-man, dig it out, block out, and rebound. And I thought they really responded well to that.
On Demetrius Jackson struggling at home and playing well on the road recently
I could care less, because we only have one more at home, and I told them in there, we have nine wins away from our building, and certainly after Saturday, everything that counts is away from the good old Purcell Pavilion. So right now, I’m going to ride that road thing and not over-analyze the home thing.
Is it tough to take Bonzie Colson off the floor?
Yeah, I think the only time I take him out is he’s fatigued a little bit, he plays so hard. But it’s a beautiful story, it’s a kid that was really confident. You’ve heard me say he’s been able to deliver like this because his attitude was so good the first half of the season when he wasn’t playing. He wasn’t whining, he wasn’t complaining. He cheered for (Austin) Torres and Zach Auguste more than anybody. So then when you call on him, I think you’re pure, your mind is clear, and you can deliver. The one thing he’s done, he’s energized the rest of our players. Our guys love having him in there.
On the offensive approach
I thought we drove gaps a little bit more. We ran more of our man-to-man stuff against their zone and their matchup. I think you can over-analyze zone. I always worry about over-coaching it. So we got into our man-to-man stuff and that kind of got us attacking. But I thought Jerian, Demetrius, and Steve drove the lane hard tonight. We got to the foul line. We were able to kick and make plays. Those guys driving the ball is a key.
Did this win get them back on track?
Yeah I don’t know. That’s kind of over-analyzing it. You do want to have momentum going into the postseason. I knew we’d be very focused to play on Saturday against Clemson with celebrating two of the best seniors we’ve ever had. I was worried about this one. I think we haven’t competed in a while and we love the road atmospheres. It gets loud. I don’t know if I’ve had a better team at staying poised in a tough atmosphere. They made runs on us, we called a timeout, we came out and kind of got away from them again. I love that trait because we are going to need that after Saturday.
On Notre Dame’s road wins in the ACC
Wasn’t I the guy that said it’s harder to win on the road in the ACC? Yeah I was whining about that before we joined the league. To get to 7 league wins in this league on the road, man I’m really proud of our group. But you know, our guards have been there all year and tonight they were fabulous. They were really good. When you have good guards, you’ve got a shot to have fun in March so that’s what we’re hoping for.
How Louisville is different without Chris Jones
They’ve lost some scoring punch and some defensive resilience. He’s a guy that, their press is better when he’s in there. And then he scores the ball, that’s a big loss. And I was really impressed with how they played against Florida State. I still think they’re going to be a really tough team in the NCAA Tournament because they’ve got size and the press is eventually going to get to people and it’s hard to deal with it.
Again, Grant taking the ball out of bounds for us tonight is something we kind of debated. I thought that helped us because we had it in our key guy’s hands right away and I don’t know how many times he threw it long, which were just really heady plays that loosened them up a little.
On Louisville’s 11-0 run to start the 2nd half
I thought we were a little out of character offensively. I really got on us in the timeout. As easy as we were flowing in the first half, we put our head down, we shot it quick, and I think Jerian got a little crazy. I think he was tired. That’s why I stole some rest for him. But I thought we regrouped and what helped us was we were able to get stops and then run. When we’re playing smaller and they’re playing two big guys, it’s hard to find us in transition and we got some easy stuff in transition to kind of get us confident again.
On the close games with Louisville
Rick and I were teasing about that. It’s been an amazing match-up. I think I mentioned I was here recruiting in the AAU event the last weekend in July and of course we didn’t see you guys (Louisville) last year and I don’t know how many Louisville fans came up and said “Alright coach, we’re back in the same league. That means overtime.” There have been some great match-ups, thrilling games. For us to win twice here, I think we’ve won two of the last three here, it’s good for our program. It’s an endorsement of our program.