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Notre Dame Basketball

Notre Dame Hoops Rolling with the Punches of Pandemic

January 6, 2021

Notre Dame basketball coach Mike Brey has tried not to show frustration this season as college basketball maneuvers the COVID pandemic. In fact, Brey has gone out of his way to show gratitude for playing games, even after losses, but on Tuesday, there was a little bit of irritation as the Irish had a sixth game canceled.

The Irish were set to host Georgia Tech on Wednesday, but the ACC announced the game would be postponed due to COVID issues with the Yellow Jackets. 

"This is our sixth cancellation," stated Brey. "It's been issues in the other programs. We've tried to recover. As we speak, we're trying to get Western Michigan down here. It's convenient, regional and was a scheduled game we tried to pull off back in December." 

Western Michigan won't travel to Notre Dame on Wednesday, so I guess that would be No. 7, but Brey is open to what the Irish did over the weekend. 

Notre Dame was set to travel to Pitt and ended up in Chapel Hill as the Panthers were unable to play. 

"As we move forward, in a perfect world, it would be great to say let's try and do what we did on Saturday - matchup ACC opponents," explained Brey. "For example, Florida State has a bye week this week and we have a canceled game, but Florida State is on a pause. Not that we would have been able to do that by tomorrow night - we're getting good at this." 

Brey also gave credit to the ACC for allowing Notre Dame some flexibility to try to schedule teams like Western Michigan. The flexibility could become significant moving forward as Notre Dame isn't located in 'ACC country' and the Irish can take advantage of regional programs if future games are canceled or postponed. 

"I appreciate the league gave us the green light to play people regionally," Brey said. "Again, where we're located in our outpost here in South Bend, we might need a little more flexibility to get games in than people on Tobacco Road or the Southeast. That means a Western Michigan, Butler, DePaul, Valpo - regional bus ride situations we need to keep in mind." 

Cancellations have impacted every program and it's affected how Notre Dame prepares for games. Brey no longer spends hours in the film room studying the next opponent as it could be a waste of time. 

"I watch a half of the other team we're supposed to play, not a whole game or two games," Brey explained. "Then I have whoever has the scout pull out some offensive and defensive clips. 

"In fairness in basketball, other than the Wake Forest coach who is new, so we're going to be playing Carolina - we know how they play. We know how Syracuse plays. Everyone knows how we play. We have memory, books and video. We have North Carolina breakdown tapes and drills. We have all that. The league is not crazy as it would be in football. There's no question. But in basketball, it's a quicker turnaround and you can adjust. We're not spending the usual time on watching film of our opponent. Six times now, that's been thrown out the window at the buzzer." 

Brey also admitted less scouting has paid off on the recruiting trail. Notre Dame landed a massive grad transfer addition earlier this week in Yale power forward Paul Atkinson Jr.

And while Brey couldn't talk about Atkinson due to NCAA rules, but he was fired up to land a veteran big man with an NBA future. 

"I'm thrilled," said Brey. "I've done less scouting and more recruiting the last six weeks. It has damn sure paid off.

"I'm happy how I invested my time. We're really excited, especially when you think about who returns and plugging this young man in. Hopefully, by the end of the week or early next week, I'd like to talk to you more in-depth about his game and him and the whole bit." 

Up Next: Notre Dame will travel to Virginia Tech on Sunday for a 6:00 p.m. tip. 

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Notre Dame Hoops Rolling with the Punches of Pandemic

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