March 11, 2010
Big East Championship Quarterfinal
No. 16 Pitt vs. Notre Dame, Madison Square Garden, New York, N.Y., March 11, 2010
Notre Dame 50, No. 16 Pitt 46
COACH Jamie Dixon: All right. You know, obviously we're disappointed in the loss. It's a close game that came down to the last possessions. And we just didn't get it done. They seemed to make shots at the end of the clock and they executed well. And we need to do a better job.
To their credit, they're playing well. We're playing well. And that's why you saw a game that came down to the final possessions. You know, we'll get better for it I think. I think we have a couple of days to prepare. We'll get ready and find out who we play Sunday. That's why I told the guys afterwards this is disappointing. But as we know, we need to be ready for Sunday. And that's the most important thing at this point right now.
So congratulations to them. I was happy with how we played. We played hard. We really committed this week. We really got after it and I thought we got better because of it. But the end of the day, we just got to shoot better. We've got to play better. And we had plenty of opportunities to take the lead. And we just couldn't get over that hump. So I'm very proud of how our guys played. I thought we really worked hard. We really focused and came out and did some very good things. But just came up short.
Q. Coach Dixon, talk about how gratifying this season has been surpassing everyone's expectations.
COACH Jamie Dixon: It's not gratifying right now. For us it's disappointing. Every loss for us in our program has always been a disappointment. Right now we don't feel good. I'll speak for myself. I don't feel good. But I'm very happy with our effort and what we did. These kids have given everything they can. And they've been called young, inexperienced all year, but they haven't played like it. I think this will be a good learning lesson for us today. I think this is something we can get better for.
Q. Jermaine, they were able to switch off of you guys defensively. Talk about how they did that. Were they utilizing screens or how were they doing that?
Jermaine Dixon: Well, like you said, they were switching. We kind of picked it up late. And, you know -- I don't know what to say about that. They were switching and they did a good job at it. Still, I think we got some good looks. We just missed a couple of shots we usually knock down.
Q. Coach, and this is probably really for all three of you: How frustrating is it for you playing against that style of play from Notre Dame?
COACH Jamie Dixon: I mean, I don't call it frustrating. You have to be prepared and understand what they're doing. You know it's going to be low scoring. You know it's going to be a low-possession game. You know it's going to be close game. It was those few possessions. There's not going to be any real separation. It kind of went as you might expect. You know, we're in a position to win the game. So I don't say we were frustrated at all.
Q. Guys, could you respond to that? Is it difficult adapting to that style of play?
Brad Wanamaker: I wouldn't say it's difficult. It's something we have to adjust to. I think we did a good job. Like Jermaine said, we missed some lay-ups we should have made.
Jermaine Dixon: I feel the same way. I think we did a pretty good job at attacking them and getting -- driving kickouts or drive to the lane, and feeding our big men. Even going up to try to finish. We just didn't make shots that we usually make.
Q. Coach, two years off the double bye, what effect do you think that has on your squad when you get out there?
COACH Jamie Dixon: I mean, we have to get ready. The league is so good. The teams are so good. I think usually when you get a double bye you think in most situations you're going to get a team that's a big difference in those situations. In this league, that's not the case. You're playing a team -- we're playing Notre Dame. Everybody is talking about how well they're playing. It's just who you get and where they finish. It's such a long year, guys are going to be playing better in January than other teams. And then at the end, the team -- so a double bye had nothing to do with it. It's just a team that's playing well against another team that's playing very well. Probably the teams with the best records down the stretch are playing together in the quarterfinal game. And that's really what you had.
So I think we won eight of our last nine. They won their last four. Those two teams playing in the quarterfinals. It speaks to our league.
THE MODERATOR: Pitt, thank you.
An interview with:
THE MODERATOR: Luke Harangody, Tory Jackson, Tyrone Nash, and here's Coach Mike Brey.
COACH MIKE BREY: I thought we really defended the last seven minutes to win the game, because they defended us. We couldn't get much offensively, so it was going to be us defensively to win. And I thought we were fabulous on that end of the floor.
You know, for Luke to bounce back after traveling when we go to him in a big possession and come back and make the two free throws, just kind of tells you the kind of guy he is.
But, again, we got the tempo we wanted, 50-45. That's what we want.
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Mike, I know it's similar to the five games you won before. What did you learn about your team tonight in this type of atmosphere bouncing back after last night?
COACH MIKE BREY: I think it started in Milwaukee, because that's where our poise was really tested and our mental toughness. We were down twice there, you know, and then last night against Seton Hall. I think it really developed in Milwaukee in a tough atmosphere to fight out of a hole and believe you could get it done.
Q. Ty, those last couple of defensive sequences when you have two jump ball in there, can you walk us through the mentality you guys had going into that possession, the two stops?
TYRONE NASH: Just get a stop. If we get two stops we win the game. That's what we're usually concentrating on. We focused in, we got in the huddle said, "Let's get the stop and get this win."
Q. Midway through the season after a couple of close losses, the real key is just that one defensive stop you need. Why have you been able to get those defensive stops in the last six games?
COACH MIKE BREY: We probably have more energy to play because we don't have to guard as many possessions throughout the game. And we're confident because we're getting stops in a shorter number of possessions, you know. I think there's a commitment, too, maybe a renewed commitment. Our interior defense and ball-screen defense has been the most consistent since I've been here. I guess when your life is on the line, you know, you're really good at it.
Q. Tory, do you like the new style of play for Notre Dame? And if so, what about it?
TORY JACKSON: Yeah, I love it. I love it. It calms us down. It calms us down. It slows the game down. It gives guys great shots, open shots. A lot of teams don't want to guard for the whole 30, 35 seconds. So it kind of wears them down. And if you are knocking shot after shot down like that, some teams will lay down.
Q. Do you find that when the opposing team finally does get the ball, that maybe they shoot too quick?
TORY JACKSON: Yeah. Yeah. Sometimes they come down and rush it, 10, 15 seconds. Then they have to get back and guard again. If they miss, it makes it more aggravating and more frustrating for them.
Q. Luke, I have a question for you: In the beginning of the year you talked about the NCAA Tournament was the major goal. This one solidifies that. Talk about closing your career with that possibility.
LUKE HARANGODY: This run we made at the end of the season, it was pretty special. These guys have played great without me. Now to make a run in the BIG EAST Tournament is great as well. We're just looking forward to playing as well tomorrow and having the momentum we had tonight.
Q. How is your knee holding up?
LUKE HARANGODY: It's holding up good. I was curious to see how two games in a row would go with my conditioning. I'm still not there yet. But I think every day it's getting a little better.
Q. Coach Brey, talk about the parity of this conference. The lower seeds have won all the games.
COACH MIKE BREY: So much for the double byes, huh? I do think there's some advantage to being able to play a little bit. I thought Seton Hall had an advantage. They were in a rhythm last night. It took us a while to get going. We certainly were in a rhythm early and it helped us. But I think it's symbolic.
How about our league, we had Georgetown, Syracuse was a one versus eight in our league today. I looked at the numbers. It just blew my mind.
The other thing about, you know, you mentioned Luke, it made me think about the seniors. With the win tonight they become the all-time winningest class in the history of our program. Couldn't think of more deserving guys like those two and the two other guys (Tim Andree and Jonathan Peoples) in the locker room.
Q. Talk about your thought process where you had to travel and then you have to come back and hit those two free throws at the end of the game. A situation you've been in before this season.
LUKE HARANGODY: Obviously when I get that turnover I'm very upset. The team puts the ball in my hands in the game. I need to produce in that moment. It was just one of those things, you know, where it happens. And you have to go on to the next play. I didn't put my head down. I said, I'm going to make this up to my team. We got the defensive stop, I got the rebound and said we have to knock these down and make up for it, and I did.
Q. Mike, as far as the new style of play goes, I mean, you had gone with the other style for some time. Do you enjoy coaching this style better?
COACH MIKE BREY: When you're winning, I love it. Really. Absolutely. I do enjoy it. I have evolved into it. I think I enjoy it because we have such high basketball IQ guys and we play it well. The guys we play can all pass and catch. So it's really beautiful to watch them figure it out at the end of a clock.
But certainly, as I've mentioned last night, you do what you need to do to win in this league. This league is about surviving. You know, when we added those teams, you just are trying to survive. It's an adjustment we felt we had to make. Next year I don't know, step back and watch practice for a week before we make any decisions.