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Notre Dame Basketball

Mike Brey Notebook

October 15, 2021

Notre Dame basketball coach Mike Brey spoke to the media following Wednesday’s practice. 

On if there is an Alpha on the roster:
"When you think of our returning guys, Prentiss (Hubb) is the guy who has the most presence and voice. He's also been the guy that's probably made the most big plays in clutch situations. 

"I think Nate (Laszewski) has developed a little more into a voice and Dane (Goodwin) - they're never going to be vocal guys. 

"Cormac (Ryan) has always been very vocal. Trey (Wertz), Dane and Nate - their personalities are going to be similar. Cormac and Prentiss are louder. I'm still trying to figure Paul (Atkinson) out a little bit as he fits in." 

On if he needs an Alpha on this roster like Ben Hansbrough:
”We could use it maybe by committee. I don't know if anybody here is going to be like that. That was a unique Alpha. Grant and Connaughton were unique guys for us. I don't know if we'll get one like that, but with all the veteran guys we have, I think there can be a little bit of a committee theme with all of them.” 

On being an old team:
"It was interesting as the day went on (ACC Media Day). One of the themes was none of us know who anyone has anymore between COVID and not having a Media Day, transfers, one-and-done and roster changes. 

"Anthony Solomon asked me a month ago what Louisville was like. I said, 'I have no idea.' We actually used to have a whiteboard with returners in the league, what's coming next, incoming - we don't even have that anymore.

"It's funny. By noon, the media people were like, 'Ya'll have a lot back.' It was almost like a lightbulb went off. 'You got a lot back and you got that guy from Yale, who I watched.' I said, 'Just shut up. Leave us alone up there in South Bend.' 

"We've had a lot of old teams, but this is the most experience we've ever had back. That always gives you a chance."

On grad transfer forward Paul Atkinson:
”He's a basketball player. What's neat about the two of them together as our starting bigs is they can really run. Paul can really run. He's got footwork and hands around the bucket. You can throw it into him 1-on-1 and he can go get something pretty consistently. He's also a great passer. 

"He's an old player. He knows how to use his body defensively, he can rebound, but there is quick feet and quick bounce. He has a feel for the game - left hand around the bucket. I'm very impressed with him. 

"He had a lot of catching up to do because he didn't play last year and he didn't even have a weight room. He came here 20 pounds under his weight the year he played and was Co-Player of the Year. He's gotten his strength up playing with our guys.

One of the things I was selling to him all last fall was he was going to come plug in with veteran guys who play the right way. He's been excited playing with our guys because they do want to throw it to him down there. 

"Our returning guys know they have a weapon there, so they look for him." 

On team chemistry with Atkinson:
"When you have an old guy who has played a lot of basketball, who can run, score - we've always been at our best when we've also had a guy to throw it to in the post and we can flatten a defense and can get a bucket 1-on-1. Paul has the ability to do that, but he has the ability to pass it. 

"I've been really impressed with his rebounding in traffic. He's bouncy. He gets his outlets out. I think he and Nate have enjoyed playing together. I try to play them together a lot these first 10 days, so they get familiar with each other. 

"We can also substitute a guard and take one of those guys out and downshift. We'll continue to do that. 

"The Ivy League doesn't have any resources and they didn't even have basketball. He's got a practice facility, a trainer, nutrition, strength training and it's blown his mind. I think it's blown his mind like this is really cool at this level.”

On rotation:
"(Blake) Wesley will play. If we had to play North Carolina tonight, I feel really good about seven. We'll rotate in everyone today through a white shirt. 

"JR (Konieczny) is close too. That's a matter of which one of the big guys, if we needed another big guy. 

"It's kind of where we're at. I do like the fact our numbers are up, so our competition in practice and intensity is good for longer periods of time. You actually have a six-man white shirt (team) and you can sub a guy. That's something we didn't have and that hurt us. Our rhythm is better.

On freshmen Blake Wesley and JR Konieczny:
“We signed them in November, yet they couldn't come to campus. They couldn't come to a game and I couldn't go to one of their games. I would see updates on the local news. You guys would have clips and I'm going, 'Wow. He looks better, but I haven't seen him live. He hasn't been in my building.' 

"I think I teased about meeting them at the mall. 'Let's just run into each other at Smoothie King.' It was weird. They both have come in and they love to compete and play.

"Blake is really a guard. He sees the floor, plays the right way and he has shot it better than I thought. He can shoot it early. He loves to guard and loves to compete. 

"What's neat like with Paul, these old veteran guys know we need him. Prentiss really likes playing with him. We need him." 

On JR Konieczny:
"He's getting stronger. He reminds me of (Tim) Abromaitis. Just kind of a young colt running around a little bit. He flashes. 

"I think he's learning how to pass and cut. All he ever did was catch, face and score over everybody. He did that pretty good. 

"He's got to learn how to play with other guys and pass it. A defensive stance is a challenge for him, but he loves to compete. You get into a scrimmage and all of a sudden, he'll score eight in a row because he's just a scorer.

“He could still be growing. He's got 12-15 (pounds) on him. His body looks better. He's going to be part of the rotation too. Both of our local guys will be playing for us. They've added to the competition in practice.”

On surprises from freshmen:
"I think because I didn't have any interaction with them, they probably would have been playing pickup in our gym all spring and fall of their senior year, but they didn't because of COVID. I kind of lost track of their development. 

"When they first walked in, they're bigger. They both have great size and they're guards. Their edge - I couldn't pick that up through highlights. It was a long time before I saw what showed up on campus. Tony (Rolinski) has had them in the weight room and they're stronger, older and better.

"It was just so weird. They're my neighbors, yet I didn't see them for a year face-to-face. They have a really bright future." 

On the relationship between Blake Wesley and Prentiss Hubb:
"Prentiss helped us recruit him and made him feel comfortable because he came up a lot when he was a junior before COVID and played with our guys and hung out. 

"Prentiss actually sought him out at times during the summer and they worked out together at The Barn with JR. There were a lot of workouts at The Barn I wasn't supposed to know about, but I heard about. 

"That was our gym away from the gym, if you know what I mean. That was a great spot. 

"Prentiss is secure enough, as you saw with Trey Wertz, and gets off the ball. He's done that with Blake and can go spot up. He's been good with him." 

On team chemistry:
"We got a neat group of old guys. We need to earn a spot on selection Sunday and play better defense. It's not complicated. I think we know what to do on the offensive end and we're learning how to play with Paul. These guys know how to play and I think they play the right way and move the ball. 

"We must make strides on the defensive end and then earn it through a very tough schedule, especially early. Very tough schedule."

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