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Notre Dame Basketball

Mike Brey Notebook | December 16

December 16, 2021

Notre Dame basketball coach Mike Brey spoke on Thursday afternoon as the Irish prepare for Saturday's game against Indiana in the Crossroads Classic. 

On Notre Dame working through growing pains as a veteran team:
"Probably because things weren't going great and you lost in Vegas. I think when things aren't going well on the offensive end - I don't think you can assume with a veteran team, you're going to be completely there. And I don't, especially with the schedule we play, who was coming at us and where we play. 

"I thought how we helped each other was great because we were home. We addressed it all week. We're better at it. Now, you have to go on the road. Can you do it on the road? 

"We were OK at Illinois. We were horrible at Boston College when things aren't going good. I don't know if it has to do with veterans, youth or whatever. I'm not sure. I think it's a matter of addressing it and your leadership helping you take control of things." 

On being together as team at Illinois, but not against Texas A&M and Boston College: 
"I would agree with that - hanging the head a little bit at times. As the leader, you have to address it and challenge it and kind of let them know, which we did last week. 

"The one thing about here is that you confront it and challenge it because we have great kids. They respond and they get it. We went stretches where we didn't have very good offense, but we got back and defended and rebounded. Now, can we do it in a road atmosphere? That'll be my message today. 

On making last Saturday's win over Kentucky mean something with a win over Indiana:
"I don't know if we can keep coming out of exams and playing this team. It'd be really something great to build off of - there's no question about it to get that one after Saturday. It'd mean a lot as we're still searching and getting confident. 

"Can we rebound like we did the other night? They're (Indiana) old, physical up front and we held our own in that department Saturday. 

"When you're in your home atmosphere, it helps you feel like you can because you have your crowd. We're having to do it in a road atmosphere." 

On momentum from Saturday's win vs. Kentucky:
"Winning the battles in the paint and the overall rebounding, especially the guard rebounding. Our guards came down and helped us rebound.  Our bigs were hand-to-hand combat and trying to keep their guy off the backboard. 

"It's the same situation coming at us with Indiana's bigs and front line. Our transition defense was really good. We were good there. Can we get that first miss enough? We really did a very good job the other night. We have to do it again." 

On balancing exams this week:
"Yesterday, we went and they were on their own a little bit. I'd say 75 percent of the team is done and some of the guys have stuff tonight. That's always a pressure situation here. I don't have to remind anybody - we have semester eligibility here. I'm always a little bit nervous this time of year. 

"I always wait for the Pat Holmes call tomorrow. Usually, it's been a thumbs up. We'll get on the bus tomorrow at 11 and we do have 90 minutes on the court down there tomorrow, which I like. We had not had that. We had to go down and go in there and play. We'll get out of here tomorrow because most of everybody is done tonight. 

On need a confidence lift:
"When you have a win like that, you watch the kids and their body language, how they're moving and how they're interacting with each other. Human nature says you feel a little better about yourself. 

"Yesterday, we tried to scrimmage just so we would play. I thought we were moving good and interacting good. It's amazing what something like that can do for frame of mind. There's no question about it. 

"Now, can we carry it forward in a road atmosphere?" 

On playing Indiana in Indianapolis and it feeling like a road game:
"It's listed as a neutral game. We know their people come out for it. It's is a great day of basketball. Of course, last year, we had no one in the building, but the environment in  10 of the 11 have been really cool. 

"It's their show and it always has been down there. It does have a good feel to it. The atmosphere will have a great feel to it. 

"I look and I go, 'God, that's 11 times coming out of exams and we've had to deal with these guys.'

"That will not happen moving forward scheduling philosophy-wise. People ask about it ending and it was very good for us. There's no question it was good for us. If the field was going to change as it was and my take was Indiana was the first to maybe not want to keep it going, then we felt that if you're not going to play Indiana every other year, then we should look at things different, which we have with the old Big East Catholic schools. Marquette is coming and Georgetown and Villanova down the road. I saw where Indiana has put Kansas in that spot, which is a great game for them. They have to do what they have to do. 

"There was 11 years of it and it was an amazing event. I think the thing everyone has to think about is we're playing like two and three league games in December. It's right up in your face with league play. We've scheduled everybody, but I think you have to be smart about this when you have league games - three of them next year in December.” 

On Indiana: 
"They play a lot of guys. Our scouting report will take a while today with 11 guys going in there. They're old. Their strength is that front line banging away on you. The big guy is a great story how he's gotten better and he's gifted.

"They turn it over a little bit and we have to take advantage of that. Can we get flowing offensively? I thought we were really efficient and when you look, that's how we want to play. 15 assists and nine turnovers. We controlled tempo. We're really going to have to do that.

"They'll pick us up full court like Kentucky. They'll come after us with waves of bodies. When their shots go up, can we do a similar job on the backboard as a group going and getting it?" 

On Prentiss Hubb coming off the bench and not playing at the end of the Kentucky:
"It's not been easy for him, but I think he was over there coaching and he gave us 20 minutes off the bench the other night. He had a nice drive, but didn't make any jump shots. He rebounded, defended and moved the ball. We just have to keep him alive and helping him. 

"The kid has always been a team guy. I think he's handled things pretty darn good. I'm not naive. You have to keep helping guys and helping him to be part of it. 

"No one has helped Blake Wesley understand Notre Dame and college basketball more than Prentiss. It's kind of a unique relationship. He knows we need him and wanted to help him. It's really pure. It could get interesting in other settings, but I give him a lot of credit for that. 

"Saturday, it could be 30 minutes and he's finishing. I looked down the other night as we were finishing and two guys I brought out media day were sitting on the bench. The other group was kind of playing. That's all going to be a revolving door." 

On Blake Wesley's ascension: 
"I think a lot of it is the older guys helping him and guys know we need him and not being messed up about him and his gifts. He made great progress from Boston College to the other night - keeping it simple. and getting stuff in the framework of what we're ding offensively. I thought his choices were better, but we're still going to coach him there. 

"I love the fact he makes a play. He had the courage to make the play. The play before, he threw it away. To come back and do that, I give him a lot of credit. 

"These veterans guys have let him know we need him and to hang in there. A lot of it has been hard. That's a hell of a man to be able to do that when it ain't going great for you and you're not starting." 

On where Wesley can improve:
"I think his defensive attention to detail - the scouting report was to play off Wheeler and he did. He did a really good job of that. I like when he goes in and helps us rebound. That really does help us when he's in there and active rebounding the ball. 

"Just letting it come and not forcing stuff, but when you do have your drive and your playmaking stuff - I think a Blake Wesley is unselfish. He tries to find people. 

"I think he's unselfish and that helps him. Just talking and speaking more. He and I talking because he's quarterbacking a little bit. I'm thrilled for him because he's not afraid and feels he deserves to be in the moment, as you could tell by his body language. It's good to see." 

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