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Notre Dame Basketball

Notre Dame's latest on Laszewski; old friends collide

February 8, 2022
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Notre Dame hosts a reeling Louisville squad Wednesday night inside Purcell Pavilion, in the process seeking to inch into sole possession of first place in the Atlantic Coast Conference standings and also reassert its home dominance after last week’s blowout-loss to Duke.

To do so, the Fighting Irish (16-7, 9-3) could be without senior post Nate Laszewski, who’s still recovering from a bone-bruise suffered in Saturday’s win at North Carolina State. Tip is 7 (ESPNU).

“Probably a game-time decision,” Irish coach Mike Brey said of Laszewski, who’s appeared in 113 career games with 55 starts. “I think we have to prepare, we have prepared (Monday) and we will today like we will not have him.

“The MRI and everything came back positively, there’s no structural but it’s a bruise; it’s a pretty good bruise. Knee to the outside of the knee and so he’s tender. Game-time decision. Crazy things happen. He’s tough and he’s durable but I think we have to prepare accordingly.”

Brey’s joking, in fact, that those preparations include a petition for a modified game-format.

“It means we’re going to play four-on-four. I’m going to lobby Mike Pegues (Louisville’s interim coach), let’s just play four-on-four,” Brey said. “The spacing’s better anyway. No, I think all three of those guys that have been on the blue-shirts, and have had a great attitude even though they haven’t gotten a bite of the apple, (Matt) Zona, J.R. (Konieczny) and Tony Sanders, but I think it’s a Zona kind of (game), getting him comfortable (in practice to fill in if Laszewski is out).”

Laszewski is averaging more than 30 minutes per game this season in 22 starts, contributing almost nine points and 7.28 rebounds per contest.

JEDI REUNION

Mike Brey and the Cardinals’ Mike Pegues share their roots all the way back to Hyattsville, Maryland, and prep powerhouse DeMatha Catholic, with Pegues eventually leaving their shared hometown to play basketball for Brey at the University of Delaware.

They’ve oftentimes through the years crossed paths on the recruiting circuit, and Brey steadfastly credit’s Pegues’s star career for the Blue Hens as the foundational element of Brey’s hiring at Notre Dame.

Wednesday night, they meet as head coaches opposite one another inside Notre Dame’s Purcell Pavilion.

For Pegues, Louisville’s interim head coach after Chris Mack’s ouster last month, it’s a chance to stake some merit to his consideration for the Cardinals’ full-time job.

For Brey, it’s an opportunity to guide his team into sole possession of first place in the ACC and continuing their track towards a return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in five years.

“There’s no way I get the Notre Dame job without Mike Pegues, and I tell him that every summer and take him out to dinner on the recruiting trail,” Brey said. “He was an unbelievable player for us. … God was he good; shades of (Luke) Harangody and Paul Atkinson and Troy Murphy. When you throw it in to a low-post guy, who’s just got footwork and hands, and again, I’m the JV coach at DeMatha if it wouldn’t be for Mike Pegues.

“I’m very proud of him. He already had an audition for the head coaching job and did a great job, and now he’s really handling a lot of stuff. … He’ll be a head coach, somewhere, next year – if not Louisville.”

DEMONSTRATIVE DANE

As Notre Dame was first blowing out and then rallying past host North Carolina State last Saturday, senior wing Dane Goodwin was shown on the TV broadcast with a heretofore uncharacteristic yell during in the team huddle during a timeout.

For Brey, the recipient of said outburst, it was a welcome sight.

“He did, he got me. He got me,” Brey said. “It was four years of pent-up stuff that he got out. I challenged him about playing defense and he got right back in my face and said, ‘I am playing defense,’ and I was like, ‘God, I love this.’ He Ben Hansbrough-ed me. Or Troy Murphy-ed me. … I love it. The kind of kid he is, he gets on the bus and says, ‘Coach, I’m sorry about that,’ and I said, ‘No, no, no. That’s OK. I love it.’

“I think it’s an area where he has grown and is comfortable as a senior and captain. He kind of challenged it right back, and I love it.”

 
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