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Notre Dame Basketball

Mike Brey Notebook | February 15th

February 15, 2022

Notre Dame basketball coach Mike Brey spoke before Tuesday's practice. 

On the team not making Wednesday’s game with Boston College about revenge:
"We talked about that. I'm almost trying to get away from the whole revenge thing. First of all, give them credit. I thought they played really hard and well. They beat us up. 

"We didn't have much of an identity. Yesterday I said, how about the identity we've created and developed. That's the one thing that's really kind of cool. This is part of the process of you guys wanting to chase a regular-season title. 

"They remember the ugliest night of the season. We all do. That was a long flight." 

On opponents not being able to get Notre Dame out of its identity during ACC play:
"I think maturity. We have some guys that are older and have played together. I do think we have been able to handle when people get up athletically and pressure us defensively. We've been better with the ball and more poised instead of getting anxious or trying to make a play and turning it over. 

"Probably some of the things we've done offensively helps us with that. The tempo is a little more under control. I give a lot of credit to the veterans guys who have seen a lot through their career." 

On if the team talks about winning a regular season title:
"We kind of started floating that when we were 3-1 or 4-2 or 4-1. I said, why not us. Let's make a run at this thing. 

"You get to eight league wins and keep looking at the standings and say wait a minute. Certainly, when Duke rocked us here, it sets you back, but then you go to Miami 48 hours later and we're back in this.

"The one thing I did say to them one evening after the Louisville game was the 2015 trophy is in there and it's the same size trophy for the regular season." 

On the first Boston College game:
"I'm very impressed with them and what Earl has done. They're tough, old, physical. Their big guys beat us up. I know our bigs and Nate is still recovering and he'll play. I thought Nate gave us unbelievable minutes defensviely the other night. I think we'll start the same with (Cormac) Ryan. 

"They drive the heck out of the ball. We were on our heels the whole night. Every league game for us is hard, I think." 

On the benefit of Blake Wesley not having the battle scars of the veterans:
"I think his mind is so free and he's so confident - and maybe actually feels it's his destiny. That's a good thing. The other guys have had to go through the mud a little to get to different places. 

"Our old guys have been great with him through it all. All of them have understood we need this guy to go where we want to go. He's endeared himself to them because he's such a playmaker and passer." 

On Notre Dame playing its best when expectations are low:
"It's not bad developing when you don't have everyone watching you. Expectations can be hard. Expectations were on us the night of the Duke game. As good as Duke was, I thought that crunched us a little bit. I'm sure we're going to have to revisit that as we get closer to this thing. 

"Those years, we've had older guys and older teams that have been able to digest and have a chip on their shoulder. All of a sudden you win a couple of close ones and how fragile it is in league play, you feel you belong." 

On team finding ways to win:
"They've been able to finish games really strong and different guys have finished for us. A lot of that is experience. The two new guys we added to the old guys have been really good for us. Paul (Atkinson) has been fabulous for us as well. 

"There's a little bit of a belief that it's their time. I want to keep helping them believe that." 

On when Blake Wesley realized his role and managed the ups and downs of the season:
"I think he's always had such a confidence and belief in himself that I did not know when we signed him.

"Even in our practices early, there was 'I am kind of special and they're going to need me and I'm going to do my thing.'

"It's a really cool dynamic to see. It's not like he played on the EYBL circuit and he wasn't a McDonald's All-American. That's a little bit of an it factor thing -a confidence and swagger. 

"He started off right away being able to get places on the floor with the ball that our other guards can't do. I think the guards we have were pissed at it and then respected the heck out of it. because it could really help us." 

On Blake Wesley being able to handle not always playing:
"I give him a lot of credit. We've coached him pretty hard. Shot selection and taking care of the ball are important. If we have to get you out to talk about it, we'll do it. He has not sulked or checked out. 

"There are times he's been out and all of a sudden, he's back in the last 10 minutes making plays. Our assistants are good when I'm plugged into the game. 

"I think Hubb and those guys are like, yo man. You'll be back and relax. Our older guys have helped him stay in the moment with it. 

"That's a maturity most freshmen don't have. He's been more of a man about that." 

On where the Ivy League stands with a possible waiver for Paul Atkinson's class:
"I can't confirm this, but it has to be this. The Ivy League and the NCAA are in cahoots as they should be to protect their current student-athletes. If all of a sudden you say those Ivy League kids get a sixth year and I'm a sophomore at Penn, I could go to Villanova and not only get a fifth, but a sixth. I get that. 

"That's why I think it's crickets when I try to reach out to the Ivy League, NABC, or the NCAA.

"But why not Paul's class? They lost their senior year. Why can't that class - Jimmy Boeheim and Paul and there's more. There's two at Loyola and I think there's one at Howard and there's other athletes in other sports. 

"Could you tailor it that way? And is that the right thing? Isn't that kind of the right thing while still protecting what you have in your league and not opening up a can worms? That's the only thing I can think. Our compliance people have been working it and trying to figure it out. 

"And then does the guy want to come back for a sixth? Paul will have a master's degree, but for the next month, I'd really like to see if we can get to a place where there's some discussion on it and see where we're at. We may run right into a brick wall and they may say this is non-negotiable. Leave us alone. We're going to keep trying.”

On Atkinson's thoughts on a sixth year:
"I have hit him a little about it. Paul's so indoctrinated by the Ivys and restrictions and the lost year. He's like, 'Oh, that will never happen.' 

"I said if we do this, you're not getting another master's. I just want you to be a basketball player and work out. That's what we would do. 

"Our roster is interesting. Our senior night ceremony may take an hour and a half and maybe some of them will come back for another senior night ceremony. We're going to celebrate all of them and we're not going to assume. 

"The seven guys getting degrees is neat. We have a lot of roster management, but so does everyone these days with who is coming back, transferring, we have a lot of work to do with that in April." 

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Mike Brey Notebook | February 15th

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