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Notre Dame Basketball

Mike Brey Notebook | Post-Louisville

February 9, 2022

Notre Dame basketball coach Mike Brey spoke following the 63-57 win over Louisville on Wednesday night. 

On the win: 
"That's a heck of a win. Again, this group has shown great character and being in tough spots and being able to finish games. Just like I talked to them the other day on Saturday when we were against State, I don't think we're going to win by 20 fellas. There's a run coming. We fought it off and thought we were pretty poised, especially those offensive possessions after the timeout. 

"Our defense, we were able to get the first miss. We couldn't get our hands on the ball a couple of times. We're 10-3 in the league and we're doing it without Nate (Laszewski). It's a neat group of guys that kind of believe." 

On the team not being phased by second half runs by the opponent:
"It's amazing. It's deja vu in the timeout in the second half. It's probably the fifth or sixth time I've called a timeout - there's no strategy. It's come on, fellas, we've been here before and they come out and lock in. They get better defensively and they believe. I think they believe it's their time, which the psychology of it is a big, big part of it." 

On the toughness of team:
"I think they're physically tough. They're pretty mentally tough too. Paul (Atkinson) was fabulous and he had to go 37 minutes tonight. The second half, I thought we would just use a timeout if we really needed to rest him. I didn't think he'd come out. 

"I thought Cormac (Ryan) and Trey (Wertz) were fabulous two games in a row. They were just great and just part of it and helping us flow. 

"No. 3 is No. 3. He can shoot two airballs in the first half and put the dagger in you when it's time. Prentiss (Hubb) makes us believe. How he talks to guys when it gets to be anxious like it was - he has a way about him that I think other guys feed off of." 

On Prentiss Hubb's late-game dagger and fearless attitude:
"He's great. I think it was the second exhibition game, Coach Solomon goes, 'Now, I see why you play Hubb 38 minutes.' I said, 'Yeah. He's a little hard to take out.' 

"Even with Blake (Wesley), it's helped take a little pressure off of him. 

"He stirs the drink and leads. He's chasing all this stuff. He's been fabulous." 

On recognizing team is in first place:
"I told our guys, it's awesome. I said, "Take it in stride. When we were 3-1, we started talking about the regular-season championship.' Let's kind of believe this is fate. This is our destiny. This is our time.

"To be in first place and you look at those standings later tonight, that's really cool, especially on February 10th. 

"I'm really proud of the group. I told them through the years, actually, the guy coaching Louisville was on one of my first that had a way about them. When you're a coach and you can ride that and they have ownership and they believe, it's really cool to be around. My motto is don't screw them up, Coach. Don’t overcoach them.” 

On letting Paul Atkinson Jr. attack:
"He's rolling. He's playing great. I didn't tell you guys yesterday, but I think Ryan Humphrey's mentorship has been a key of challenging him, especially from the Georgia Tech game on. We benched him because we thought we needed a little more out of you. He's reacted great. 

"Hubb has always kind of sometimes loud and sometimes quiet, but after him like, 'Paul, this is a different level of bodies flying around.' I think he's really improved defensively. 

"Tonight, he had to do it all with Nate not back there to help him rebound. I think he's really adjusted. He got his body together. He has good weight and good strength now. I also think what helps him is his academic schedule this semester is not as grinding as it was in this master's program in the summer and fall. I was going to ask him that today and I may ask him tomorrow. I think there's a little bit of alright, I got this I'm in the home stretch of getting my master's degree where summer and fall at times, he was like this is coming at me." 

On message to the six main guys with Laszewski out:
"My whole thing was we just played 35 minutes without Nate and won. It's not like foreign territory here. Cormac started the second half in Raliegh, so you're starting and here we go. The only thing we did differently was getting Matt Zona in a white shirt yesterday. 

"Our guys really trust him. Again, we only used him a little bit, but he was fine. It's funny how things happen. Wertz and Ryan are coming off the bench. Everyone wants to start. When you're in the sixth and seventh man role, everyone wants to play more than maybe the guys starting. 

"Now, with Nate down, they get to play more. Darn it if I'm going to mess them up with Matt Zona. No disrespect. Those guys have to play. I thought they were great and they were in their roles. It was almost a little bit of they're getting to a little bit more than the roles we ask them to do when Nate is there and they deserve it. 

"They have said I got it. I'm the sixth and seventh man. I think it helped them get confident. Maybe when we get Nate back, you heard me say after the Louisville game there, I thought we had all seven playing well. Can we get to that point as we get closer to March, where seven are really playing well and really feel how we play?" 

On Cormac Ryan:
"He's always defended and rebounded. He works so hard defensively. Again, there were some possessions tonight where guys tried to get by him. You can't get by him. 

"I think the game has slowed down for him offensively. I don't think he's played as fast. He's seen it better. I think the structure of what we're doing offensively has helped him and he's really coming around with a good tempo on offense. I know he's had some great looks he hasn't made - he's going to make those. That's coming next." 

On building on road success as the first place team in the ACC going to Clemson:
"I think this group really loves playing on the road. They kind of feel it. They like quieting crowds. There's a little bit of a cockiness about them on the road where they love doing it. 

"There's no deep strategy. It's get those legs rested. We have six guys that need some rest tomorrow. We'll stretch them out and we'll practice for 15 minutes on Friday and get on a plane." 

On Nate Laszewski's chances of returning on Saturday: 
"I think it's a long shot. I think he's still a little tender. We're going to have to prepare like he's not going to be able to go. He did a little more today, but cutting, jumping and exploding off that - I'm not sure he's ready for Saturday. 

"I feel very good about a week from tonight against BC. This will be game three and we'll get Zona mentally ready. Those six guys, we'll get them rested and ready to go." 

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Mike Brey Notebook | Post-Louisville

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