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Notre Dame Basketball

Mike Brey Notebook | Post-Kentucky

December 11, 2021

Notre Dame basketball coach Mike Brey spoke following Saturday's upset of No. 10 Kentucky. 

On the win 
"We certainly needed a night like this. Marcus Freeman lights the building up. LaPhonso Ellis. The local guy hits the J to put us up two. You can't draw it up any better. Thrilled for our guys and hopefully, we can grow off of it." 

On his team finishing:
"When (Kellan) Grady threw that one in at the end of the clock, I'm thinking, 'Cmon on, man. Don't we get some karma back?'

"You have to earn your karma. I thought a couple of our defensive stands - that last one, Cormac Ryan, had a great chest on that guy. We were really smart offensively pretty much the whole game. We controlled the tempo.  

You can come down and try to get it out of the big fella's hands, but if he kicks it out and they throw in a couple threes, we're not going to score enough to win. We were absorbing twos - painfully.

"Our crowd was fabulous and helped us believe. We needed to be home. We've been all over the place. I don't know if I was the most strategic with our schedule."

On Blake Wesley:
"He's really special. You start him on a road league game. I don't know if that's fair. Is that child abuse? He wasn't very good and he's playing against old guys tonight. He's a puppy compared to some of the guys he's playing against. 

"There's something about him. There's a special uniqueness about him. He's allowed us to really coach him and coach him hard. I've been hard on him. Coach Solomon has been hard on him. I think his body language and maturity was better tonight. 

"He ran our team. I thought his shot selection was better. Our team shot selection was much better, which was maybe the biggest thing we attacked since last Friday.  We have to swing the ball more and we put a little more structure in our offense, as you could see. We were grinding a little bit more and I think it helps us." 

On Wesley being a South Bend native:
"It was really cool when they do the starting lineups and it says 'From South Bend.'

"When I was recruiting him, I used to tease him about that. Maybe we can get to the point where they just say 'The Bend.' 

"It gave me chills when he was introduced. On a big stage with bright lights, he was obviously not afraid. To bounce back after the turnover, which he was trying to make a play because he's the one guy that can - and then go, 'I'm just going to win this one.' That's special stuff." 

On the final play:
"One of the things we talked about and he can do this - when we get to the end of the clock and we were playing with those four guards a lot - we have good spacing, get it to Blake and let him go make a play. He'll find people too. He just has the ability to do that better than anyone on our team. Trey Wertz is pretty good at that, too, as you saw tonight. He's getting better and strong coming off stuff." 

On Wesley's confidence: 
"I think he's wired like that. He's got great teammates. Those old guys have embraced him and know we need him to do anything. I think the summer and fall, when he would droop a little bit, they didn't let him. We did a better job of that - body language when we had tough plays. That's an area we must continue to be better at." 

On challenging team after Boston College loss:
"Wednesday was not a good day for us. I put it on our leadership how we help each other - our body language, especially through frustrating plays and hanging in there. I thought we really needed some growth in that area and I challenged them on that. 

"I thought we responded Thursday and Friday. At the end of the day, these old guys, it's their team. They've done a good job of knowing how to use Blake and Paul - the new guys. 

"I give a lot of credit to our leadership. I sent them back in on Thursday. I said, go back in the locker room and tell me when you're ready to practice. If you're in there an hour, stay an hour. I'll be here. 

"They came out in about 30 minutes. Sometimes you gotta air it out a little bit." 

On slowing down Kentucky PG Sahvir Wheeler:
"I thought we did a great job at meeting him at 15 feet. He never got anything in transition. Our transition defense was fabulous tonight. Now, you're playing underneath everything and making him shoot it instead of breaking us down. 

"I thought that was Blake Wesley and Prentiss Hubb, but also a team awareness in transition. When he's coming down on you, you need some help to slow it down. That helped us. 

"The big fella (Oscar Tshiebwe) is fabulous. He's more skilled than I remembered. He's making 15-18 footers. We doubled a little bit and tried to get it out of his hands. If you give up four threes, you lose. If Grady gets a couple open looks because you're worried about him dunking, you're going to lose. It's hard to absorb it when it's happening.

"I talked about four-minute segments. They really embraced it. I'm really proud of them." 

On Kentucky shooting 2-for-19 from three:
"I think we were very aware of their threats out there. I think we chased. Grady got that one open one in the corner in front of their bench. The one he made was at the end of the clock. We really chased them off, which leaves you a little naked with the big fella, but those count as two. 

"We've lived by that for like 22 years. If they hit five threes, it's over. I thought Wertz, Hubb, Ryan chasing the shooters off stuff was really good." 

On if aggressive scheduling helped Notre Dame tonight:
"There were times the last 10 days I said why didn't we schedule like Kentucky. We both lost 15 games last year, John (Calipari) and I. 

"I didn't have control over Maui in Vegas or sending me to Champaign or the league going you're opening at Boston College. 

"I looked and said, could there be some middle ground? You come home after 25 days and you have to deal with these guys. We probably are a little weathered because we've been punched in the face a little bit and had to go through some stuff. We had to talk through some stuff. Maybe it helped us. 

"Being at home in that atmosphere really helped us." 

On keeping the clean-shaven look after tonight:
"We need to keep it clean for a while. You have to flip it quick because we go right into exams and those are busy for us. Those guys will be really busy probably until mid-week and I won't get much basketball until mid-week. We have another tough one coming speaking of the schedule. 

"They deserve it. Something to grow from. They're the most coachable group and I'm proud of the steps our leadership took taking ownership of some things this week." 

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