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Notre Dame Basketball

Mike Brey Notebook | High Point Win, Flu Bug & Defense

November 16, 2021

Notre Dame basketball coach Mike Brey spoke following the 70-61 win over High Point on Tuesday night. 

On the win:
"We had to kind of defend to escape and win, especially the way they got started - and (John-Michael) Wright got started. Cormac (Ryan) was fabulous. 

"What's even more fabulous is how he just embraces that role. It does affect him offensively and I think all our guys are affected a little bit offensively because we're working really hard on the defensive end. I love that right now. That's OK. We'll figure out how to play and shoot it with tired legs. 

"I thought the second half we did a better job. We had some smarter offensive possessions and certainly, we were looking to get Paul (Atkinson) touches. 

On the flu bug:
"Paul and Dane (Goodwin) didn't even practice yesterday. They had flu symptoms on Sunday and we didn't do a lot in practice. I hadn't seen Paul in two days, so that's pretty good rolling out of bed having a fever on Sunday. I give them a lot of credit because this morning, I was wondering what we were going to get from them. We got a lot from them." 

On shots not falling because of defensive emphasis:
"It's interesting. Overall, we're working defensively and I love that. It's a fine line. We're such a good passing team and we get really good looks - sometimes almost too early. What do you want to tell the guys that you've wanted confident shooters for the last five months? Not to shoot it or drive it this time? Sometimes you can't drive it. 

"We aren't the most athletic driving team until we get you a little tired in the second half and move you around a little bit. The way we offensive rebound with the two bigs this year - I've come to the point where getting a shot is better than a live ball turnover - getting something up on the rim. 

"You make three more passes and turn down a Dane Goodwin three after three passes? You may turn it over. I've come so far as getting a shot and maybe just an OK shot - at least you got something up there.

"I think we have to find some balance. I thought in the first half we couldn't establish Paul and I thought he was feeling the cobwebs of missing two practices. 

"I jumped him a little bit at halftime. I'm learning how to coach him. I told him, 'You're fine now. Let's go.' He was pretty good. He got sweating and I thought he looked really winded and rightfully so. 

"We established him a little better in the second half. When he's in a rhythm, we're more efficient offensively and we didn't really have that in the first half." 

On F Paul Atkinson Jr.:
"He's really good. We talk about our recruiting. You could tell why I was in July, August and September recruiting mode in November and December of last year. We had to get that guy. That guy was more important on game day than games sometimes because I didn't know how many we were going to play. 

"Getting him on January 20th, he was key for us and thankfully, he saw it too. We're going to plug him in with some veteran guys on the perimeter who play the right way. I think he saw that and it's worked out really well. 

"The quickness to the ball. I was calling one set and Prentiss said let's get him a touch. Thank you. Agreed.

"He's learning how to slip some ball screens and get some stuff. He's just so crafty around the bucket. Defensively, he gets his hands on stuff. 

"Really, he and Nate are anchoring us back there on a couple possessions - I'm more excited about that. We have a presence back there. That's where we were very lacking before with this nucleus. Hopefully, we can build on that." 

On what he learned from challenging Atkinson at halftime:
"He's really focused. He's got a great way about him. I don't see him ever being nervous by how he carries himself and watching him before the game now that I've coached him in a couple games. 

"I just jumped him a little bit at halftime and I said, 'You're not sick anymore. Let's go.'

"There's a great maturity about him. He's a man." 

On F Nate Laszewski:
"He's always been a great unselfish defender. What he's doing is helping his team. I give him and a Cormac credit. They've really bought into we're going defense, rebound and for him to rebound and defend the way he did - then he hit a big one up top. He doesn't have to hit four in a row. 

"I think he's learning how to play with this group and what this group needs. I loved the mindset that if it's not going for me, I'm going to do stuff on the other end of the floor. 

"Those seven guys know they're going to play. We tried to keep guys as fresh as possible even though it was hard to take Paul out of the game and get him a rest. I used a timeout or two to rest some key guys because I didn't really want to sub for them right now.

"Just keep working on the defensive end, helping each other and rebounding. We'll figure out how to be more efficient offensively. I think at the end of the day, we'll make 70 percent of our free throws. We weren't very good there, but just stay down and we play a heck of a program on Monday night, who runs their stuff and comes at you. 

"I told them we held them to 61 points and 52 points. They talk about seeing if we can keep them in the 50s. We're more than halfway there mentally if they're trying that." 

On PG Prentiss Hubb struggling the first two games:
"You look at Prentiss and when things get a little hairy sometimes, he's got the cojones to go do something. Now, it may be a turnover sometimes, but it's not like my man isn't trying to make some stuff happen. 

"I do think he's really picking his spots better with this group and I think Paul really helps him being able to throw it into the post. 

"He's talking. He knows our system. He's talking in the timeouts. I think he's loved having other weapons with him offensively." 

On defense in the second half:
"Not really any adjustments. I thought the combination of defending - I thought after the first four minutes, we defended really well. He (Wright) was rolling early and got going. We put Cormac on him and I thought Paul and Nate were great really helping on ball screens and hanging around with him until he gave it up. We talked about don't just hedge and get back. Stay up on him and make him throw it to someone else to score. 

"Both of those guys I thought were great. Nate is fabulous at that. Defend, rebound, swing the ball and maybe you'll have 21 one night and eight the next - just play like a man. You've been through it all. I thought he was really good in that frame of mind." 

On ramping up the intensity with the Maui Invitational on the horizon:
"I would have loved to have played again on Thursday. The way it worked out is fine. We'll get in some practice reps and get going. 

"Now, it's coming at us. Nobody can say anything about our schedule with what's coming at us now. I love it. I think this is great and let's go and see what we have out there. This is an amazing challenge for us. 

"This old group should be thrown into this. Let's go. I kind of like that this was a hard night. I bet you Monday is going to be hard.  At least, we've been down now and you have to figure it out. 

"We're always honored to be in the Maui. It's a lot of great memories of the team we took out there last time. It's a neat event and I'm sure Vegas will do it right." 

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