Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Basketball

Farrell Embracing Tough Love

January 11, 2017

Matt Farrell has made Notre Dame fans quickly forget about the worries at point guard, as Demetrius Jackson left for the NBA. The junior has led the Irish to a 14-2 record and a 3-0 start in ACC play with his scoring and ability to get the offense into a flow at crucial times.

“I think he’s talked more,” Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey said of Farrell’s development. “He was such a quiet guy when we got him. We used to get on him when he ran the blue team. He’s come a long way in that area, but he still needs to keep growing in that area and being a voice out there.

“That’s an area where he’s better and we have to get him to keep trending that way.”

The leadership role is somewhat surprising, the New Jersey native struggled at times to find the floor as a sophomore. A good NCAA Tournament helped the confidence of Farrell, but it was the trust Brey showed in him as soon as last season ended that paid the biggest dividends.

“We’re two Irish point guards out of the same mold, but he’s a heck of a lot better than me,” laughed Brey. “I made it a priority to connect with him because he was going to be our quarterback. His first two years my connections were with Jerian (Grant) and Demetrius (Jackson).”

That relationship and trust was evident in Saturday’s win against Clemson. The Irish had a bad first half, Farrell had four turnovers at halftime and the offense was far from in a groove.

It kind of felt good to hammer a point guard the other day. - Mike Brey
Brey let Farrell have it. There were things thrown and Farrell said he couldn’t repeat what Brey told him, but the point guard answered the challenge, as he finished the game with 15 points, seven assists and a dagger to put the game away in the second half.  

“We’re still growing and we will talk a little bit before the second half,” explained Brey. “I grabbed him the other day and I challenged him at halftime, but that’s water under the bridge. We talked a little bit more and I think we’re still growing in that area. I want to keep reaching out and making sure we communicate on stuff.”  

The hard coaching is something new to Brey, as he admitted he couldn’t have done that with Grant or Jackson. The tough love is working, as Farrell is averaging 14.0 points and 5.4 assists a night.

“To be honest with you, my two previous point guards, I really couldn’t do that,” Brey stated. “Those guys needed to be dealt with differently. It kind of felt good to hammer a point guard the other day.”

Farrell has a hard-nosed attitude and mindset, as that’s the New Jersey way, but a large part goes to his father, who coached him hard as a youngster.

“He has a mature sense of humor,” said Brey. “I can tease him about a play and he can laugh at it. We talk about Jersey, Springsteen, Chris Christy – we connect on a lot of fronts. We are both East Coast guys. He’s always been mature beyond his years and now as a junior, you can have fun with him and then when it’s time to get to business, everyone knows it’s time to get down to business.

“I know his dad did it to him his whole life. I have a feeling he was hammered. He played for his dad a bunch. My feeling was he could take it, because he was used to it.”
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