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Notre Dame Basketball

Notre Dame Basketball Coach Mike Brey Gives Update

May 13, 2020

Notre Dame basketball coach Mike Brey joined ‘The Fight’ on Tuesday afternoon as the University raises money for students whose families have been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

On when he realized the season would be canceled:
"It was a very interesting day. We were on the bus to the shootaround, around noon, the day we played Virginia. We beat Boston College on a Wednesday and we were supposed to play Virginia that evening. We were five minutes from the gym to go in and stretch and shoot and go through our walkthrough and my assistant athletic director said they just pulled Clemson and Florida State off the court. So, I yelled up to the bus driver to take us back to the hotel. I got back and spoke to the team. It was really tough because I was basically telling them the season was over.

“I'll never forget the body language of Rex Pflueger, John Mooney and T.J. Gibbs, our three seniors, really shrug because it was over. It was almost like the banquet speech, in the back of the bus, on the way back to the hotel. 

"I can't say all of our guys it came out of complete left field, because certainly there were a lot of things happening that night before and throughout the day. The reality of it ending and we were not going to be able to have a chance to play and earn an NCAA Tournament spot, which would have been difficult for us, but we would have at least been an NIT team, which was also canceled the following week. We kind of were all in shock a little bit. I've never given a speech on the back of the bus like that. That was new territory."

On what he'll miss from the senior class:
"What I love about coaching at Notre Dame is we always have young men going through the program and being four-year guys. We've had a really neat track record of seniors having great years. The three seniors this year for us really had very good years. You remember when you recruit them and you remember when they're freshmen and they have a hard time looking in the eye and maybe communicating with you. To as seniors, the men that they become and I think very prepared to get on in life. 

“Johnny Mooney just had an unbelievable year for us and will have a chance to be an NBA player. This virus has kind of jammed all of that up, but just a great ambassador for our program. 

“TJ Gibbs, another four-year man for us, who had a very good senior year, will graduate and get his degree. 

“And then Rex Pflueger I had over the house on Monday for Mother's Day. Rex, as we know his story, lost his mother to cancer. This was the first Mother's Day that he had without her, so he was over the house with me. He's going to be a double-domer. He's getting his MBA. I'm so proud of him and how he handled everything, especially this last year coming back from a knee injury. I've used him as an example with our younger players. He's a great example of a young man who got everything out of his Notre Dame experience. He made sure he met people in the Notre Dame network. As I mentioned, he got two degrees. He was a heck of a player. He really took advantage of the Notre Dame experience. 

"All three of them want to play professionally at some level. That's all kind of on hold right now through this stuff, but when they do take the ball from them and ask them what else they can do, they have their Notre Dame degree and that's pretty darn powerful."

On staying engaged with the team despite challenges of the pandemic:
"I have become a Zoom ninja in the last few months. I knew nothing about Zoom, but it's the way we communicate as a coaching staff. I just had my team on. Once a week I Zoom with my current players and you know what, they need it. They're struggling, let's be honest. 

"Everybody is, but they missed two months of spring workouts and certainly finishing up academically on campus and weightlifting and us working with them and talking about next season. I'm pretty sure they're going to miss the whole summer as well. I'm trying to keep them upbeat and engaged and talk about the fall. Talk about our schedule and all of those things."

On recruiting over Zoom:
"We're recruiting by way of Zoom. Last month, we could not go on the road to recruit, given the virus. We were not allowed out on the road and it was so interesting — we signed two players by way of Zoom visiting and Zoom interaction. 

"Tony Sanders, a senior from Gulliver prep in Miami and Trey Wertz, a transfer from Santa Clara University, who I had to watch on tape. I really couldn't meet them face-to-face. They could not come to our campus, yet we were fortunate enough to add them to our roster along with the nine returning guys coming back. 

"We're all adjusted. Interesting times. I miss my guys. I'm looking at them last night - They're all up there on the screen. I miss interacting with him. It keeps me going. It keeps our staff going. It certainly has kept me young being around young people."

On the future of college basketball:
"This has really thrown us for a loop, the virus situation. Name, Image and Likeness, I think it's great that a young man could benefit, but in this economy slap in the face that we're going through, I'm not sure what a young man is going to be able to get unless he is a phenomenal talent. An off the charts talent. That all still has to be shaped. Down the road, I think it's great that they are going to be able to benefit from some of that. 

"You talk about the transfer situation. It's almost a rite of spring now, a rite of passage. We picked one off here late in Trey Wertz. Juwan Durham is a transfer, who is in the midst of a very good career for us. It's another pool of players to pick from. I live by this theme. There was a coach at Duke by the name of Vic Bubas in the 60s and he used to say, 'You got to get them, you got to keep them, you got to coach him,' and so I think it's on me to retain my group. 

"Overall, we've not lost a lot of guys by way of the transfer and I'm proud of that. I think it's up to the coach and you can't have a rule for everything stopping guys from transferring. Of course, I just don't see it changing. I see it being even more aggressive. I look at it as an advantage because it's another pool of players for us to recruit out of."

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