Coach McCaffery News Conference Transcript

Dec. 3, 2013

Q. In the second half after they took the lead, you went with a smaller lineup and Devyn got hot. Any correlation?
COACH McCAFFERY: Dev’s run was the difference in the game. We had worked really hard to get a lead. This is a very experienced, incredibly well coached team. You knew they were going to make a run. You just didn’t want it to be that quickly. They erased our lead within the first couple minutes of the second half. We were sideways. We had a layup. Mike turned it over. They get a dunk. So you give them credit because they kept scoring. Dev put us on his back for that stretch. I think what he did was settle everybody else down on our team. I went small because we were zone. If we were staying man, Sherman was hurting. We decided to not double. We’re going with tough twos rather than threes. We felt like if we could keep them under 10 threes, we’d win the game. Didn’t look like a great theory for a while there. I was just afraid to double down. He’s really a good passer. They have four shooters now when they go small. They’re a hard team to guard because they have four shooters and four drivers and a they got a low post guy that can score. They do not turn the ball over. They just don’t. Seven turnovers. They’re going to get a crack. You can’t give them too many second shots. We gave them a few obviously. I’m really proud of our guys and how they maintained their composure.

Q. How much did the crowd help you?
COACH McCAFFERY: Tremendously. I normally sub more in the second half. I left that lineup in there for quite some time. I think the energy level was really helpful.

Q. Did you think the level of play was the same as you had in Nassau?
COACH McCAFFERY: Yeah. Down there we played three high level games. We come back and we play what has been one of the best basketball teams in the country in the last 14 years. That’s what Mike has done. It’s really difficult to do what he’s done from a consistency standpoint. You’re playing a team that has an air about them that they expect to win. They play with confidence. They don’t beat themselves. I said from day one, if we’re going to win this game, we’re going to have to beat them. They’re not going to come in and turn the ball over, make a ton of mistakes. They’re going to share the ball, they are going to make open shots, they’re going to play hard. We had to score 98 to get ’em.

Q. Was it good offense or bad defense tonight?
COACH McCAFFERY: A little of both. I mean, I don’t think either of us played great defense. I think both teams were really trying. I think both teams were really competing defensively. Both teams were mixing man and zone. Both teams have drivers and shooters. They make 8, we make 7. We tend to drive a lot. We got to the free throw line quite a bit. It’s just really talented players going at it. Sometimes it’s hard to stop people.

Q. Three out of your last four games, Devyn has really carried you for a key stretch in the second half. Is he showing maturity that he can elevate your team?
COACH McCAFFERY: I don’t think there’s any question about that. That’s what we all expected from him. He’s done it before. He had one stretch in his career in his junior year where he struggled. But if you look at his collective body of work, he’s always been able to do that.

Q. They had five guys played at least 30 minutes. In a game when they’re pushing, how much does that depth really show?
COACH McCAFFERY: I think it had a great impact. It didn’t seem to me that it affected them like we all thought it would? Those guys were still pushing it. They were still driving it. They seemed to have the energy. I think they’re used to playing those kind of minutes, especially the big three.

Q. How hard is it to beat a team that shoots 51% from the floor?
COACH McCAFFERY: Extremely hard. Unless you’re shooting 57%, you’re not winning (laughter).

Q. (No microphone.)
COACH McCAFFERY: No question. I mean, he’s been terrific. He really has been. I mean, there’s been a couple of stretches where I felt like he was a little tentative. But we just keep encouraging him to keep shooting, keep attacking, keep playing your game. I thought he was great.

Q. In the second half, he seemed to do a lot of everything against the zone. Was tonight a good blueprint?
COACH McCAFFERY: Mike was doing a real good job of changing defenses in the second half, trying to keep us guessing, especially after timeouts. Are they going to be in man? Are they going to be in zone? Now you got to call two plays, things like that. He was playing 2 3, 3 2 and man. They were switching out of their man. It’s like, Treat it all the same, just go make plays. If there is space there, drive it. Keep looking at the rim both as a shooter and find somebody underneath. Mike made a great feed underneath one time for a bucket. Didn’t look like anything was going to open up, and there it was. You just got to go make plays. I think that’s what Mike was trying to do, force us into making plays to see if he could force us into more mistakes. We made more mistakes than they did. We had 12 turns, they had 7. We were not a mistake team for the most part tonight.

Q. After all the traveling you’ve done…
COACH McCAFFERY: I think it says a lot about our team. Without a doubt, that’s the worst travel day I’ve been involved in in 31 years. I’ve never been through anything like that. Quite honestly, I was the only one complaining. Not one player complained. It’s like, Okay, coach, what do we got? Are we going to practice now? We were supposed to be in 5 a.m. We were in at 5 p.m. That’s a long trip now after an overtime game. Nobody complained. Okay, coach, what time is practice? Let’s go. Lock into the scouting report. I think it says a lot about our character.

Q. Any special meaning given your past history at Notre Dame?
COACH McCAFFERY: You know, maybe a little bit. I spent 11 incredible years at the University of Notre Dame. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to go work there. Met my wife there. Had great experiences. Learned a lot. Worked for two coaches who I really appreciate. Coached the game dramatically different and learned a lot. A lot of the success that I have had since then is a result of the experience I got there. I lived there for 11 years. But when you play the game, it’s the next game. So we’re thrilled to win it. I’m excited to win it more for the impact it will have for our résumé. This is a team that is going to be in the NCAA tournament. They’ve been. We want to get in. Well, you better play some teams, you better beat some teams that have been in.

Q. Free throw shooting was good.
COACH McCAFFERY: Yeah, it’s been good. I mean, we got good free throw shooters. We had them on the floor late when they were in the double bonus and they were fouling.

Q. Thoughts on Drake?
COACH McCAFFERY: Tremendous. Been one of the most impressive teams in my view. They go on the road, win their first game. But to go to California and win three in three days, it’s pretty impressive. 6 1 start. Ray’s got ’em going, yeah. Really impressed with them. Thank you.