Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Basketball

Mike Brey Notebook: Saint Peter's

December 28, 2016

Notre Dame will start its second season on Saturday afternoon at Pittsburgh, as ACC play is finally here. The Irish knocked off a pesky Saint Peter’s squad 63-55 on Wednesday night and Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey was pleased with his team’s defensive effort.  

“I liked how we defended,” said Brey. “I thought we talked better in the second half. We made some key offensive plays when we needed to, but we threw it away a little bit. We will have to be better with it starting on Saturday.”


Through 13 games, the Irish are 11-2, which is a pretty good considering the losses of Demetrius Jackson and Zach Auguste. Brey is also pleased with where his squad is as they head into ACC play.

“I give us a B+,” stated Brey. “I think we’d be in an A-range if we go Purdue or Villanova. I think we have done very well. If you would have told me 11-2 after the guys we lost and after my first practice in the summer, I would have signed up for that.”  

While the Irish will head into conference play with an 11-2 record, Brey knows that is likely to change and Notre Dame will take some lumps over the next couple months.

“Here’s the other thing, you go from playing 11-2 basketball to probably not playing 11-2 basketball,” explained Brey. “Everybody has to be ready for that. Fans, players, here’s where we are. We have to scratch and claw.

“I think our fan base has seen it’s about surviving.”


Entering Wednesday’s contest, the Irish were 126th in the country in rebound margin and that’s an area Brey knows his team will need to improve. The defensive boards help the Irish offense, as getting the ball out quickly after a miss can really allow Notre Dame to control the offensive flow more.

“Can we defensive rebound enough and can we get enough stops to get out in transition to take pressure off our half-court offense,” Brey asked. “When we can get an outlet to Matt Farrell – some of our best offensive basketball has ben when we can get a rebound and outlet to Farrell and we starting rolling and attacking. You have to get stops consistently to do that.”  


Two big streaks ended on Wednesday night. The first was Matt Farrell missed his first shots from the charity stripe this season and Rex Pflueger had his first turnover(s) of the year.

“We got all the streaks out before Saturday, so no one is protecting anything right now,” laughed Brey. “I probably should take Pflueger’s scholarship because he threw two away.

“We’re in a fist fight for two and a half months. Let’s just go grind.”  


Up next for the Irish will be a road trip to Pittsburgh, who is also 11-2. The high-flying Panthers have two big-time scores in Michael Young (22.2 ppg) and Jamel Artis (20.0 ppg).

“They’re playing a little free flowing and attacking,” Brey said of Pitt. “They can really score it and our defense will really be challenged. They play a little bit of zone, but they have two guys getting 20 a night. Of course the opener here last year, I don’t think they missed a shot for 20 minutes.”

Brey also knows his team will be up for the challenge, as Notre Dame likes playing with the world against them.

“They’ll be another level of edge,” said Brey. “The one thing about our group is that we have played well away from our building. We have liked getting out and having our backs against the wall. It’s a nice trait to have given that you have nine tough places to deal with coming up.”
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