Notre Dame Basketball

Mike Brey Notebook | UNC Preview

November 4, 2019

Notre Dame basketball coach Mike Brey spoke on Monday afternoon as the Irish prepare for Wednesday's season-opener at North Carolina. 

On guard Rex Pflueger starting:
"I still think he'll be on a minutes count and I would say 20. He's getting better. Our feeling is we'll start that way. 

"When you play them, the first thing you start with is transition defense and defensive rebounding. They're famous for 50 years of pounding the offensive boards, getting the ball in quick and playing up-tempo.

"Not that we want to play slow, but we want to change some tempo and defense on them."

On playing in Chapel Hill:
"We have played well in that building. We've won once in that building. Johnny Mooney is Larry Bird in that building. We're certainly going to need to ride him." 

"They played in some tough road atmospheres so I'm expecting them to come out of the gate excited and ready to compete." 

On practice intensity ramping up with ACC opener:
"I'd be interested to ask Roy Williams on Wednesday, but I think everybody's practices have been a little more focused because of how we're starting the season. In a lot of ways, it's been a nice teaching tool to remind them like, 'Hey fellas, first game of the season.'" 

On preparing team for UNC environment:
"Sometimes you have a tendency to play to the crowd and a little fast. They're going to have a run in a building like that. On the road, when the crowd is rolling and they're on a 8-0 run, for us to be poised and have a poised defensive possession or a calm offensive possession, we have to be calm and not try to answer back right away.

"I'm banking on some experience. This nucleus of guys has been in some atmospheres. It's not going to be new territory like it was last year for many of them." 

On what he knows about his team following two exhibitions:
"I'm pleased with how we guard and that we've hung our hat on it and we take pride in it. When you do have a team of older guys, they learn how to play defense together. They don't get out of position or commit dumb fouls. 

"We're going to have to do that on Wednesday in that atmosphere. That's the one thing we have done.  The completion of the defensive possession with a block out and defensive rebound is the big challenge on Wednesday. If we can get it, it'd be nice to get out and run. 

"We're still good with the ball. I don't care who we play this year. Can we just not play against a set defense that much? We haven't shot as well in Joyce Center as we have here in our practices. I'm banking on us getting on the road, being loose and letting it fly." 

On concern of shooting problems:
"I don't even bring it up with our guys. When you have guys with a good stroke and have shot a pretty good clip through 20 practices, I think you can overanalyze. It's no different who can't make a free throw but has a good stroke and might be a funk. 

"If you overcoach it, then you're thinking too much. We've let them work themselves out of it. They spend time with (Ryan) Ayers getting shots up. If you have a great shot, you better let it fly. I will say in the locker room if you have an open look and turn it down on Wednesday, I'm taking you out of the game. Let it rip." 

On potential impact from Juwan Durham against UNC:
"He only played 13 minutes last year, but he had three blocked shots. He was playing on one leg after the Virginia Tech bone bruise. 

"The one thing they have is big bodies. They like playing two big guys even though they downshifted against us before and played a fourth guard. They bury you deep with their big bodies. We have to get up on the high side and Juwan can't get buried. There are going to be 250-pound guy in there. 

" Having him back there to erase some stuff, our position defense is key. Our defense and different matchups on Cole Anthony will be key. He makes them go." 

On UNC PG Cole Anthony:
"He pushes it like Coby White. He breaks the pattern and looks to make a pay like Coby White. He breaks the pattern and shoots his jump shot like Coby White. It's a similar preparation. He's coming downhill on you and we're going to need to some help on ball screens."

On Anthony telling Notre Dame he wasn't coming:
"Thankfully they went through Coach Humphrey and didn't break my heart.  We recruited him and he visited here. He's a neat kid. I enjoyed getting to know him and I've known his dad, Greg, for a while.

"The last two months down the stretch, I felt we were fading. I appreciated Greg calling Ryan Humphrey and saying they were going in a different direction." 

On Justin Pierce's recruitment:
"That was a heartbreaker. I was in the Pittsburgh airport. It's funny how things work out. Don't get me wrong, he's a good player and he would have given experience. 

"They way our group is going, it would have knocked back a young guy for a year. I really went back and forth with it. We certainly wanted him. 

"Does that knock a (Nate) Laszewski back? Does that knock a (Robby) Carmody back another year or even a Juwan Durham? 

"We know the scouting report on Anthony and him." 

On sophomores ready to separate and take over:
"You've seen in the two exhibitions, Dane Goodwin is more aggressive. I want him to be more aggressive than he is now. He's more comfortable hunting his stuff and we're running some stuff when he gets in. We want him to go for it. He has to score for us.

"Nate is also in that role a little bit. I give Nate credit the other night. He got in foul trouble and last year he wouldn't have made that three in the second half. That was a big bucket for us. He can go and get you 15 really quick. 

"Those two guys, I'm waiting for them to do more. Carmody is the same thing, but I'm still getting familiar with his game because he was out for so long. 

"I like where Prentiss (Hubb) is. I thought Prentiss was picking his spots, making plays and making shots. We have a really good young guard who will be one of the best in the league for it's over. 

"Chris Doherty is active and with the big bodies we're going to see, we have to get him ready." 

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