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Notre Dame Basketball

Mike Brey Notebook | Post-Nazareth College Win

October 29, 2021

Notre Dame basketball coach Mike Brey spoke following Friday's 87-37 exhibition win over Nazareth College (N.Y.)

On the win:
“We had the uniforms on, sat on the same bench and tried to get a feel of a rotation a little bit. (Trey) Wertz will be back on Monday - twisted his ankle a little bit. Good to sit on the same bench and get a feel for it.” 

On defensive effort:
"I think the communication - our talk is better. Our positioning is better. Certainly, physically, it was a mismatch, but they ran their pattern. A lot of these exhibition teams come in and run their stuff. It's almost a defensive drill every possession. We're trying to keep it out of the middle. We're moving our feet and I think we do a better job, which we've better after them about. 

"Again, physically, we should be able to move our feet on these guys. The attention to detail to do it was there. Our defensive rebounding, which has always been suspect, is still a little interesting. 

We're working on the offensive end. It's a neat group of kids. They share it and move the ball and play the right way. They were sharing it even that group at the end. We have another week before the next one. We'll get Wertz back on Monday and keep grinding." 

On measuring defensive success:
"We have not done as much with 'kills' because we've spent more time with our breakdown drills on positioning, communication and where we want to send the ball. You heard 'Ice', 'blue', 'corral'. We have a new language that started in June. 

"We had 10 practices in the summer and 20 to date as of yesterday. We've had 30 and we've been grinding them up with these habits. The carryover from what we've been talking about was really good. They're trying to do everything we're asking them to do, especially on the defensive end. 

"We really haven't got into live 'kills' because we've stayed with some 4-on-4 with stance, some shell and communication drills. Kills would be better than stop-scores because of what we're trying to do overall defensively." 

On freshman G Blake Wesley:
"He just really feels he belongs. He's so confident and it started day one in summer school. I didn't know him very well because we signed him and I could never see him. He couldn't come up here and play pickup, so how good is he? I thought he was going to be good. After three practices in the summer, I was like, 'Wow.'

"Feel for the game, willingness to defend, unselfish and a great passer. He gets to 15 (feet) and shoots it. There's a great vibe about him. As you can see, he's an early substitute and heck, he could be a starter before it's over." 

On Wesley being the rare Notre Dame player who can create a 15-foot jumper for himself:
"He's OK there. When he gets to 15-18 feet, he does a really good job. I like him up top when we have Cormac (Ryan) and Prentiss (Hubb). He's using the ball screen and they're spotting up with their feet set. They're fine because they know he finds them and they get open looks. 

"He's really able to throw over the top of stuff. Very pleased with him." 

On making sure to get Wesley on the ball and being the primary ball-handler at times: 
"That's key for us. We love him. You know what's great? That happened naturally with Prentiss this summer. That's how good of a teammate Prentiss is. He knows he needs him to do what we want to do. 

"A lot of times this summer when they played together, he'd give it to him and go down the floor and get his feet set. It was never a battle of who was going to be the point guard. It naturally happened. 

"We love him up there because he sees over the top of stuff and throws it across. We want him with the ball. I love rebounding and blowing it out. Cormac, Prentiss, Dane (Goodwin), Nate (Laszewski), and Paul is still new, know we need Blake. They've done a great job of helping him." 

On Prentiss Hubb and Cormac Ryan:
“One of the things I have been impressed with is something we've addressed through the summer and preseason - Cormac and Prentiss together. Less banging away and just moving it, catching it and shooting it. Both of them have really grown in that. They've done it in practice and they did it tonight. 

"They're just so effective when they don't over-dribble. Prentiss knows and I think Blake has been a great relief. Trey is a little bit of that too. Trey was able to handle for us last year and Prentiss can get off the ball, catch and shoot or catch and drive."  

On being able to build on a lead:
"They were physically overmatched, but they're old. I'm looking at their roster and they are all 22 years old. It's not like they were kids. 

"I think you have to say our defensive positioning is better than it's been in a long, long time and the emphasis of it. 

"We were 21st in offense last year and I think we can be even more efficient when you don't over-dribble, especially when you add Paul, who we can throw it to and he can do stuff - and Blake. 

"There's carryover and I'm pleased with carryover. Now, we have to come back tomorrow and stay on them with it." 

On a healthy Elijah Taylor:
"Wasn't that neat to see? No one knew Paul. Nobody really knew Blake other than people in town who knew Blake and JR (Konieczny). Paul and Elijah Taylor are complete mystery men, for the most part, especially Elijah. 

"If he can do dirty work, pound, get up on the boards and fly around, we're going to put him in the game to do that. He has shown really in the last week before this game that he's the first big sub right now. 

"I wanted him comfortable and confident subbing in there and I think he can help us because we don't have anybody built like that. Not a lot of other people have a guy built like that." 

On F Paul Atkinson Jr.: 
As you can see, the game comes easy to him. He has a feel, he has feet, hands around the bucket and a really good defensive rebounder -really good rebounder on both ends. He's only shot in 20 practices three threes. He rose up for that one tonight and I guess I gotta let him take it moving forward. 

"We made a concerted effort to throw it in there. It was almost (Luke) Harangody-like. If he's 1-on-1 and I had to grow him in this - go to work. He was almost like, 'I don't want to be selfish.' 

"Now, if they help, he's a hell of a passer too. You add him and Blake to some veteran guys who have played, I'm excited about who we can be. A lot of work to do, but I'm excited about who we can be." 

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Mike Brey Notebook | Post-Nazareth College Win

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