Notre Dame coach Mike Brey, player John Mooney, on win over Georgia Tech
MIKE BREY: Well, I am really thrilled for my group. We have had a tough regular season ACC to say the least, and for us to mentally prepare and come down here and understood we had a clean slate, I just thought we got out of the gate with such a free mind. We were flowing offensively. A little bit of the old days offensively. We’ve been in search of that.
And Laszewski goes down, hopefully we can get him back tomorrow. And now you’ve got to hold them off in the second half. And we actually made some plays that we haven’t made all year to kind of hold people off, especially his big bucket to put us up five.
Q. Coach, can you just talk about — was there something you saw on film against their zone or something in particular with the execution in the first half on offense, or was it just baskets falling, because it seemed like you probably had the most success in the first half.
MIKE BREY: Yeah, you know, we’re a good passing team. What’s crazy is, again, we shot a crazy percentage today, but our percentage hasn’t been very good. But our assist to turnover, even with a poor shooting percentage through 18 league games, is good. We’re good with the ball. We don’t throw the ball away. We usually get a shot. We just haven’t made the first shot much.
And I thought tonight, we did. I thought Laszewski on the floor to start the game, you know, having another shooter against the zone stretched it and helped us. He was fabulous in the high post, making decisions, and our guards are really good with the ball. TJ and Prentiss just know where the ball — we’ve got transition stuff which helped us. We got some easy buckets in transition.
Q. John, you got to play basically some point forward almost. What was that like doing that in terms of the offense and kind of being the guy that’s the distributor and maybe the finisher instead of being more of a focal point?
JOHN MOONEY: Yeah, somebody talked, before the game, watching film a little bit last night, was that high post guy is definitely very important to kind of be able to get it there and read. We were moving guys in and out throughout the whole entire game. But yeah, once you get it up there, you kind of just turn it up, face the basket, and I have shooters around me ready to shoot the ball, so it’s easy to pass it to a Dane Goodwin or a Nate or TJ or Prentiss Hubb, and they’re ready to catch it and fire it. Just an all-around great win.
Q. Mike, to go fought first half, you seemed like you’re really moving the ball well, you mentioned getting it into the free-throw line and spreading it out. How close to just what you really wanted out of the game plan did you play in the first half?
MIKE BREY: We haven’t played a half like that all year. It was just really neat to watch us move and cut and handle the ball and score it. We’ve not had a half like that. Of course I told the halftime interviewer, I said, we wait until Charlotte to find ourselves offensively? Come on now, fellas. But we are a good passing team. Like we are good with the ball. We just haven’t made enough of those first ones, and we got confident — you know, we had a good practice yesterday. We played 4 on 4 because I can’t play 5 on 5. I don’t have enough guys. We actually played 4 on 4. And we made a lot of shots in our little scrimmage, and that always helps you. Kids felt good. We’re starting three freshmen. Durham is a new guy, too. For them to come out of the gate in an ACC Tournament game the way they did, I’m really proud of them because we’ve been searching for confidence at times the last three months.
Q. Mike, could you just tell us the extent of Laszewski’s injury, and if he’s not available, what are your options tomorrow?
MIKE BREY: Well, it’s a bad bruise. The X-rays were negative, thank God. They took him up and X-rayed him X-rayed him. We’ll try and get him loose for tomorrow, but the group that played pretty much the whole second half may be the group that whole game. Chris Doherty gave us some good minutes, I think he made a shot off his forehead at the end of the shot clock, it’s a thing we work on with our big guys (laughter), but Liam Nelligan, our walk-on is probably going to have to play a little bit, too.
I hope we can get Nate loose because the Pittsburgh game and today, we’ve been kind of waiting on that from Nate and I was so frustrated when he went down because I think he’s kind of found his game, as has Dane Goodwin, te two of them have kind of found themselves late in the year.
Q. You replaced a lot of guys as you kind of alluded to —
MIKE BREY: Yeah, a lot of men.
Q. And in terms of playing an ACC schedule, do you feel like this is sort of coming to fruition of the experience you guys got in the last part of the season?
MIKE BREY: Yeah, I was so hoping that we could find a little bit of a rhythm down here, after a really tough 18 games in the regular season. We knew we were going to be in a youth movement. We knew that. But for our young guys to play confident down here, this guy has been fabulous. I don’t know how he has any energy left. We have rode him so hard, and he just goes double-double against unbelievable athletic front lines every single night.
I’m happy for the kids because they have invested. They’ve been coachable, and they’ve hung in there even though it hadn’t been as fun a January or February.
Q. Mike, when you’re trying to basically finesse a lead for a whole half and it’s down — you see it shrinking — how much confidence do you have that you can find a play at the end like John’s shot that will carry you through?
MIKE BREY: Well, today was a big day for us in the second half because we’ve been in search of that play. We have played people close in this league, but we have not been able to get over the hump with a big offensive possession. Even making key free throws, a key defensive stop. And for Johnny, first of all, we got it to the right spot, and for Johnny to rise up and do it, that’s kind of new for us. I was proud because we’ve been in search of that.
But the guy that should be shooting it at that time should be this guy.
Q. You’ve had a lot of battles with Louisville. Just can you speak on tomorrow night, you just played them a couple weeks ago and kind of the match-up.
MIKE BREY: Yeah, you know, they’re really good. Chris has done an unbelievable job in year one there. The frustrating thing about our game in Louisville two weeks ago or a week ago was I felt it would have been game situations, but we missed all kinds of free throws in the second half, and we’ve been a good free-throw shooting team for the year.
But we’re going to have to rebound, and we’re going to have to score, and you know, tonight we — I told our guys a couple of the time-outs in the first half, we’re going to score 85, we’re going to score 95, and you’ve got to score against these guys. They’re very good.
Q. John, all-ACC awards came out yesterday. Happy to be mentioned? Do you feel like you were snubbed or a little combination of both?
JOHN MOONEY: No, I mean, I think it’s definitely always an honor to be recognized on one of the best conferences in America’s all team. There’s obviously some great players in this league, probably some first-round and second-round draft picks coming up in the NBA Draft, so it’s awesome to be able to compete against those guys. It’s a testament to the coaching staff and my teammates for helping me all year, making me a better player.
And yeah, no, I don’t think I got snubbed at all, man. It’s always an honor to be recognized.
Q. Mike, I think you had one turnover, and that seemed like a really big part of what you did. Speak to the success you had there.
MIKE BREY: Well, Hubb and Gibbs are fabulous with the ball. They’re in the top ten of the ACC. They’ve been there all year, even though we only won three league games. They’ve been in the top ten assist-to-turnover. They’re great with the ball. Goodwin has really improved with the ball. And what’s helped is our big guys are good with the ball. Johnny is good with the ball, Juwan is good with the ball, Nate better with the ball but our guards were fabulous dealing with that press the whole second half and just being poised.