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Notre Dame Basketball

Mike Brey Notebook | Post-Syracuse

February 23, 2022

Notre Dame basketball coach Mike Brey spoke following the 79-69 win over Syracuse on Wednesday night. 

On the win:
”I thought our defense finally was able to guard a really gifted offensive group, especially his sons.  Gosh darn it, they're good players. I told Jim before the game, your sons are really good players. 

"You have 19 assists and I thought we were really efficient against the zone. Made some good decisions and believed we were going to win. This group believes they're going to figure out a way to win. We couldn't get away from them, but we made enough plays to win it. 

"We've all talked and laughed about Hubb wanting to take big shots. The lowest, worst percentage shot maybe in the history of Notre Dame basketball, but it's in the air and I'm kind of like, you know, this is probably going in because this guy has such good karma around him and believes. That's who he is. 

"Paul Atkinson Jr. was fabulous. He was really good. He was able to get inside that zone and make plays. When you have 19 assists and only seven turnovers playing against - for Blake Wesley against this zone for the first time - very impressive. Very impressive as far as shot/pass faking, moving. Cormac Ryan, we've got him emerging comfortably offensively. 

"For Nate Laszewski to give us 17 (points) and 27 minutes when all he did before this game since the Wake Forest game was go to shootaround for five minutes today. He wasn't even in every possession with the white shirts. Give him a lot of credit. 

"To get to 13 league wins, 20 wins, neat group. I know the Blue Devils had a barn burner and we're still chasing. We're in the chase to keep us focused on the day-to-day." 

On if he felt Nate Laszewski was going to be able to go before the game:
"He ate something in pregame meal. We had the IVs in him. Nixon, our trainer and doctors, did a fabulous job. He is really a tough dude. 

"I didn't know we'd get 17 points out of him, but I knew we needed him to get his feet set and make some shots over the zone, which he really gave us." 

On Blake Wesley and Paul Atkinson facing the zone for the first time:
"I'm so proud of Blake. I've had a lot of young guards be completely paralyzed by the zone - sometimes until their junior year, senior year. For him to just be calm and poised - now again, when you're out there with your sidekick Hubb, he kind of helps you. Talk about quarterbacking the top of the zone and doing his thing. 

"For Paul, I didn't know if we could feed him as much as we did in the post. That was a benefit. We even had him up at the foul line catching it. We told him as we told (John) Mooney and different guys to really get on the offensive boards against the zone. He was really good in that sense."

On Prentiss Hubb: 
"That was a clinic. A clinic offensively. I'm not going to get a shot, I don't care. Watch me direct us. He's always been pretty good against the zone. We've had a couple wins in the Dome because he's been good. 

"That was an absolute clinic by a point guard. Move in there, you get to the foul line, he's talking at the timeouts, 'Blake, drive it. You don't have to shoot it. Drive it.'

"Then he's picking up Joe Girard. I thought what helped us was we picked up 3/4 court and zig-zagged the ball handler a little bit. I thought he did a great job of that. That's exhausting. 

"He's so fun to coach. What a winner. What a leader." 

On feeling if the team would play well against the zone:
"The book on us is come after us and physically guard us. Skilled guys, get up on them, bump them, contest them, switch it and make them work. 

"Now, all of a sudden, you have skilled basketball players who don't have anybody in their face for 60 possessions. That's like vacation. You get 19 assists because the group is skilled. 

"We had different guys at the foul line. We were just playing basketball the right way. I told our staff before the game, don't talk to our guys offensively. Don't overcoach them. Talk to them about defense all you want, but we'll figure it out. We'll move them around and we'll get the right guys in the game." 

On the team being able to hit late-game free throws over the course of ACC play: 
"It's really mental. You believe. This is a battle-tested group. The seniors took their punches as freshmen and through their careers. They really believe. 

"Paul and Blake added to that nucleus and they're great believers - how to win, want to win and (want to) finish. We've always been a good free throw shooting team and we've always been pretty darn good at the end of games. That's been an unbelievable weapon for us. 

"I'm shocked when we miss any free throw - any of our guys. I'm like pissed when we miss a free throw. I just think everyone who plays can make free throws." 

On the luxury of being able to count on the team to make free throws:
"You never look out there and say let's get him out of the game because they're fouling at the end. We had our two big guys in and one of the assistants asked if we should put another guard in. I said they're going to make free throws. 

"Now they've experienced icing a game from the foul line. If you're a group that can't make a couple, then it starts getting tighter. This group has been really confident that way." 

On how satisfying this win was after last year at the Carrier Dome:
"I thought about that one a lot this week because that was a low point for us. We played for 25 minutes against the zone like we did for 37 minutes against the zone tonight, but then we couldn't handle pressure. 

"They never really got to a place where they were really pressing us a lot. We've exorcised a few demons from last year and that's another one tonight." 

On being able to win tonight's game with rebounding:
"It's a special group that way. They really smell it. When you're getting loose balls in that second half - and you know what helps us, when we're playing in front of our student body and they're loud, it helps us and affects the road team.

"We've been in those situations - Virginia Tech - where the students are behind you. 

"Cormac Ryan nose for the ball. Paul Atkinson Jr. nose for the ball. Nate Laszewski, Blake Wesley, we got more guys that have a great nose for the ball. Even Hubb has gotten a better nose for the ball when it's loose. 

"Our two new guys can really hunt the ball down. Cormac Ryan can hunt a ball down." 

On the team being good in repeat games this year:
"When I think about Georgia Tech, we had to escape with an overtime win. We're going to see a lot of zone again. Maybe not if we had 19 assists. I don't know what Josh (Pastner) has up his sleeve. We did play against a lot of zone down there.

"I kind of look at it as we have two more home games for our fans. One for our student body because spring break is the Pitt weekend and I don't think we'll have many of our students. I just want to really finish it for them. They've been great and they've really helped us believe." 

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Mike Brey Notebook | Post-Syracuse

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