Press Conference: Miami after loss to Notre Dame in ACC Tournament
COACH LARRANAGA: I think Notre Dame deserves an awful lot of credit. They played an outstanding first half. I didn’t think they were ever going to miss. They really found the open man and really shot it well. We ended up playing zone for the last 25 or so minutes of the game, and we haven’t zoned, I think, since Kennedy was president. We just, we haven’t zoned, and we made the adjustment. I think our players responded to it very well. At halftime we switched zones to try to get better match ups on their threes. The guys did that. We came back very, very well. I don’t know if we ever took the lead. I know we tied it, but I think we made that a one point lead at one point in the second half, but they responded. They made their free throws. I know it ends up 19 for 27, but I think most of the free throws in the second half they made in like the last ten minutes. So they get the credit. I think my guys get the credit for not hanging their heads at halftime, and coming out and battling and not putting themselves in a position to win the game and disappointing to come up short.
Q. Coach, it was an amazing comeback in the second half early there. Is the halftime conversation about X’s and O’s? Or is the halftime conversation including fighting for our postseason life?
COACH LARRANAGA: It was two things. One, we had to talk about the zone because we hadn’t played it in a very long time. We had a talk about our adjustment in the offense. We needed to establish more of an interior game. We did that. But my last message to them was we’ve been here before. We were down big at Florida early in the season, came back and won. We were down big at halftime to Virginia, came back and put it into overtime. We can put ourselves back in the game, but we’re going to have to do the things we planned on doing from the start and that is play much better defense and score the ball better. We did both things, and found ourselves in a very tight ballgame with five minutes to play.
Q. Angel, can you give us a sense of where you found your motivation through injury and everything else with kind of in a way your season on the line?
ANGEL RODRIGUEZ: Well, you know, it was basically the frustration of not playing was my motivation, especially late in the season. It’s a lot easier to go through an injury early in the year when you know there are a lot of games left, but at this point of the year it’s pretty challenging and frustrating. Even though I really enjoyed my team getting two wins in a row without me. But as a competitor, motivation basically came from just not being on the court and not being able to help my teammates play in a game.
Q. Coach, do you feel like fatigue had anything to do with playing last night and then coming from so far behind that once you caught up that you may run out of gas?
COACH LARRANAGA: I didn’t think so. We’ve had some guys with colds. Tonye Jekiri had been sick on Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday. Started to feel better actually last night. The exercise and the running actually helped him, and I thought he was fine today. Some of the other guys like Manu was under the weather on Tuesday, but I thought he worked through it. I don’t think fatigue was the factor. We played a very, very good Notre Dame team who can really score the ball. I thought we would shoot the ball much better against them. We shot like 34% in the first half, 38% in the second half. We were 1 for 10 from three, and that’s not really who we are. When we’re not shooting the ball well, it dramatically impacts our defense.