Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Basketball

Brey Vows To Shake Up Irish Lineup

January 22, 2020
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Mike Brey sounded no horn of desperation Wednesday night after his Notre Dame squad’s latest gut-wrenching setback.

But Brey, unprompted, vowed an upcoming change to the Fighting Irish’s starting lineup. They visit fifth-ranked Florida State (16-2, 6-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) Saturday.

“We’ll head to Tallahassee, I think we’ve got to start the game differently,” Brey said. “I think we’ve got to change it up, change our starting lineup. I don’t know who we start, but I think we’ve got to just do something different and start the game differently. The smaller lineup gave us good stuff again. They kind of were part of the surge to get back in it.

“I think when you’re searching, you just change it up to change it up.”

Clearly, Brey’s options to tinker with the Notre Dame lineup are severely limited. With Robby Carmody out due to injury and the Irish not at their full scholarship allotment, as well as the mid-season transfer of Chris Doherty, Brey has essentially been forced into a seven-man rotation. Fifth-year senior Nik Djogo plays either extremely sparingly or not at all, as was the case in Wednesday’s 84-82 loss to Syracuse.

Sophomores Dane Goodwin and Nate Laszewski again sparked off the bench for the Irish as the duo combined to score 26 points, including a combined six 3-pointers.

Prentiss Hubb, who helped fuel Notre Dame’s January 4 win at Syracuse with 22 points in 39 minutes, had just eight points on 3-for-10 shooting in the rematch.

“I thought Nate had a presence tonight,” Brey said. “He’s getting better. He got to the backboard, he rose up and shot the ball. He handled the ball well. Nate had a presence tonight, he is getting better and those sophomores are key for us.

“If we can … we need to have all three of them play really well on one night. We’re still kind of waiting on that, but they’re going to get their opportunities and they are our future. I don’t mean this season, but next season.”

REMEMBERING A LEGEND

Morgan Wooten, Brey’s former coach and mentor at DeMatha Catholic High School, and a 2000 Naismith Hall of Fame inductee, passed away Tuesday night.

Brey both played for and served as an assistant coach to Wooten at DeMatha, where Wooten captured more than 1,200 victories, sent more than 100 players to major college basketball and tutored a dozen future NBA players.

“I was so fortunate that I was around him as a young person; he was my teacher and coach, and then I was his assistant,” Brey said. “I draw on those experiences every day.

“He was a positive guy, a great confidence-giver of young people. I mean, many of the things I watched him do on a daily basis, I do. And so we’ll miss him. He’s been hurting; God bless him I think it was a blessing that he was able to pass.”

Wooten had visited Brey last season at Notre Dame, a trip Brey quickly pointed to Wednesday night.

“I thought it was neat that we had him here last year,” Brey said. “My last memory was him over in the Morris Inn in the lobby where we had the reception. He had a glass of red wine, he had a soft chair, somebody brought him almost like a recliner, and he’s holding court, telling stories.”

After the Fighting Irish gave up 84 points in the loss to Syracuse, including 26 points to Elijah Brooks, Brey joked he might hear once more from Wooten.

“I may get a text from Heaven tonight,” Brey said. “‘Mike, remember the 1-on-1 drills we did at DeMatha where you keep your man in front?’ I may get that tonight, and God bless it, I deserve it.”

Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim likewise praised the legendary Wooten.

“I was an assistant coach, and I went down to see him play, they had Adrian Dantley and I was excited to go watch him play,” Boeheim said. “We were recruiting their sixth man, I think.

“But the first four guys come out of the locker room to do warmups were 6-11, 6-10, 6-10, 6-9. And I’m going, ‘No wonder they’re beating everybody.’ They’re warming up and these guys are 10 feet above the rim. At that time, you didn’t know anything. You didn’t know like today. Today, I’d know everybody on the team and his mother and everything.

“So the game starts, and those four big guys, they went and sat down. They never got in the game. Adrian Dantley was the biggest guy on the team and they’re up 32-2. Against a really good team. Those four big guys were like Kenny Carr, Vern Allen, Mike Morton. They didn’t play, they were young, they were not ready yet (per Wooten).”

BOEHEIM PRAISES MOONEY

John Mooney turned in yet another double-double as he paced Notre Dame with both 21 points and 13 rebounds --- his 15th double-double of the season and 12th in a row.

Recently, Mooney was surprisingly excluded from the mid-season list of the 25 finalists for the John Wooden Award.

Boeheim spoke out.

“I don’t get involved too much in stuff, but if John Mooney is not one of the top 25 players in the country then I don’t know anything about college basketball,” Boeheim said. “Literally nothing. It’s absolutely a joke that he’s not one of the top 25.

“And I was just going to say that, but I’ll mention Elijah Hughes is pretty good, too.”

 
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