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Notre Dame Basketball

Mike Brey Notebook | Selection Sunday

March 13, 2022

Notre Dame basketball coach Mike Brey spoke on Sunday evening following Selection Sunday. 

On making the NCAA Tournament:
”This was a 365-day chase. It's neat to come full circle and see these guys from last year, a beaten-down group watching the selection show and not being part of it, to being part of it. We're honored. We'll be there early and ready to go in Dayton. 

"I'm very proud of this group for chasing it for a year after watching it last year here." 

On travel plans:
”We'll travel tomorrow. You know what I love, we have to bus. We're bussin'. I'm even thinking of getting two vans when they traveled for AAU. I'll drive one and Anthony Solomon will drive another. I'm kidding. 

"We'll practice here and bus over tomorrow and get a practice on the Dayton floor. No game time yet." 

On emotions waiting through the day:
”I had a lot of flashbacks. I tried to stay away from Bracketology. I was confident at the end of the day that we had done enough and our strength of non-league schedule. 

"Do not underestimate, and I know this from a source close to the committee that we went and played at Howard. It's a quad-four win, but we did that. That was a feather in our cap in this thing. Of course, we could have lost the game and it would have been a dagger. We did it for bigger reasons. 

"But to have the courage or cojones or lack of smarts by me to do it, I think helped a little bit. Texas A&M Corpus Christi wins last night and gets in. You need a little bit of everything. 

"We're thrilled to be part of it. Handed out some sheets of teams that launched themselves from the First Four, specifically UCLA. Everyone had Michigan State beating UCLA last year and all of a sudden, they are in the Final Four. I'm going to channel Mick Cronin and UCLA the best I can."

On being in the First Four:
”You think the road back was going to be easy? The road was going to be hard. Everything was hard. I remember telling Alan a year ago at this time could I sign up for the First Four right now when you're looking up at it and trying to get your momentum back. Of course, you get teased that you're going to be a 10 and get a bye. 

"Sometimes when you get a chance to play - UCLA was a great example - and win a game in Dayton, it can jumpstart you a little bit. I think Virginia Tech had good momentum because they played and won before they got to us. To scratch our way back into this, let's do it." 

On discussions about the start of the Virginia Tech game in the ACC Tournament:
”Saturday, we watched our ten turnovers in the first half. That's very unlike us. We threw it all over the place. We've been really good with the ball through the year. And guys driving by us. That's what we watched. It was hard to watch. It was raw and it was challenging by me to our group. 

"There have been three times I've been really hard on them. The Wednesday practice before the Kentucky game, after the Howard game and Saturday. They've always responded and they'll get a chance to do it again. 

"Somehow, we had 15 assists in that game. I would have never of thought that. We looked a little more like ourselves in the second half against the best team in the ACC. 

"When Anthony Solomon got the job and we were talking in that steakhouse in Fort Wayne to get him back. He said tell me about the league. I said, 'Virginia Tech.' 

"Of course, they've had our number recently. I just thought they're really good. I don't know how they were 2-7, but they came off the mat and they're a really good team. 

"We addressed that and hopefully, we can digest it and be better Wednesday night." 

On the mood of the team heading into today:
”We were uptight. I think everyone was a little uptight. We were tight because we were after them Saturday and today's practice. I was after them. We were probably wondering what our destiny was because we kept hearing we were last in. There was a lot of anxiety. We didn't jump up. We just kind of clapped. We were relieved to see it. 

"We're in it. You gotta have access to do anything. You guys hired me 22 years ago and you weren't in the damn thing for 10 years. I knew what the marching orders were when I got this job. It's great to be back in it and it was going to be a hard path as this one is. It was hard to get to Dayton and it's hard to move forward.

"This group has responded a lot. I don't know if I've ever been prouder of a group to chase something for a year. It was very clear what we wanted to do. For a while, we didn't have to think about it because we were in a regular-season championship race. That might have taken the distraction off of if we're getting in or what our seed is or what do we have to win. To get there is great." 

On Rutgers:
”Seen them play a few times. I love their coach. Really a bright young guy. It’s like an old Big East matchup. We probably played them a bunch of times. I know we played them a lot. We never had much success in The Rac. You were always in the baseball locker room when you played at Rutgers, so I'd always grab a bat and start swinging it around to release the stress a little bit. 

"We're 14-6 against Rutgers all-time. This is an athletic, tough - the reason Rutgers was good in the Big Ten is because they were Big Easting people. They are I-95. This is a flashback to the Big East. I'm glad we don't have to play them in The Rac. Those Big Ten teams got to The Rac and those Midwest kids got on I-95 - they got Big East'd. Our goal is not to get Big East'd on Wednesday.” 

On what it means to him to make it back to the NCAA Tournament after staff changes/etc.: 
”Intense. I think it's been a one-year march to get to March Madness. There were some great conversations with Jack Swarbrick about what we need to do to better and be back in the mix. He's always been such a great supporter. What do you need? What do you think we need to do? We did what we needed to do. 

"I think I said in a previous press conference that it had to start with recruiting. I thought our recruiting momentum from our November signing and just blistering it in the summer through the fall to November signing to sign the three young men we got was the first step in it. Then you could turn to your team a little bit more." 

On meetings with Jack Swarbrick last spring:
”I think my lack of energy has been grossly overstated. I had a face mask slammed down my throat most of last year coaching in empty arenas. I love teaching and coaching. I'm extremely competitive. I'm very proud of our program and how our program is viewed in college basketball. I love that we had seven guys getting degrees that will play in this tournament. 

"Our mission is our mission at Notre Dame. I've always been a big believer in it. It's hard, man. I've always embraced it. Maybe later tonight for about 30 minutes, I'll smile a little bit more. I am going to smoke this cigar and pull up the snow antennas from my driveway. That's always cheerful for me when I can pull them up. I know we'll probably get two feet of snow on Wednesday, but that's how I'm going to celebrate. 

"Thrilled to be part of it. That was the mission when I was hired 22 years ago. We were pretty darn regular until the last couple of years. We keep growing kids and keep working with them. No one was in the portal last spring. Staff was the No. 1 thing Jack and I talked about as we moved forward." 

On the impact of experience on the roster:
”I thought this older group has been very battled-test through their career through this year, especially early. I think that's why we were able to respond and play close games, especially in January when we were trying to make a case. 

"The neat thing about this group is different guys have made big winning plays for us. We've got a number of guys who played a lot of basketball. Paul Atkinson Jr. is the only one who has played in the NCAA Tournament. I'm sure he's talked to our guys a little bit, but he can't play for Yale and Notre Dame in this tournament. Just Notre Dame." 

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Mike Brey Notebook | Selection Sunday

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