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Notre Dame Basketball

Mike Brey Notebook | Post-Rutgers

March 17, 2022

Notre Dame basketball coach Mike Brey spoke following the thrilling First Four win over Rutgers.

On the win:
”Let me start by saying happy St. Patrick's Day to everyone here. You notice Paul's (Atkinson) shot went in at 12:02 on St. Patrick's Day. Maybe there was a little bit of karma there.

"If there's a better game in the NCAA Tournament, I gotta see it. That was an unbelievable college basketball game. They're really good and tough and fearless. I'm really proud of our group because we just kept hanging in. 

"We've grown a lot in the mental toughness area." 

On where this game ranks in his 22 years at Notre Dame:
”Those were in the regular season and this one is in the real thing. To play like that and to advance, I'm thrilled and I'm really proud of our group. They deserve it, man. They've been just an amazing group to coach. They chased it together since last year. We'll get our legs under us by Friday afternoon, but we'll need some time to do that." 

On the second half matchup games:
”You know what's amazing in a game like that - I can't remember some of them. There were so many big plays. We wanted to press and get a trap and if we couldn't get a steal, we had to foul right away. We got the steal on the inbounds play, which was just an amazing play by Cormac (Ryan). 

"Of course, we couldn't get our hands on a couple loose balls, but we had four guys diving on the floor. It wasn't like effort - and all of a sudden, the one they got and dunked it, I'm like 'C'mon.'

"When Harper threw that one off the board, and he's a great player, but I'm like, 'C'mon now.'

"I love what we did at the end. We weren't going to call timeout. Our guy that can get to the lane the best - we came up and had two ball screens for him. He distorts things. He turned the corner and somebody had to help and Paul cleaned it up great. 

"I thought our defense in the second half was there. I was on them hard. They had 41 at half and they were scorching us. Our D was better." 

On feeling after a thrilling win:
”I'm thrilled. I've been on both sides of this and you talk to the Rutgers coaches and congratulate him because it comes to an end quick. I went to talk to some of their players because they have a heck of a team. They're fearless and man, do they have some guards. 

"You just kind of drink it in. Maybe because I'm more experienced - it's neat to see your kids celebrate because they work really hard and they dream of advancing. They dreamed of getting in the tournament. They dreamed of advancing in the tournament and to see that locker room is really cool." 

On F Paul Atkinson Jr.:
”We felt we could throw it into him and he could score in the low post and he did. For a while there, we liked the matchup as Nate as the only big guy. When he ball screens, they had to make a decision as far as helping off of him. We had some amazing drives after some movement. We really drove it well. 

"Then we came back to two big guys to finish the game. Thank God for long timeouts because you're in there with your staff debating and eventually, I have to make the call." 

On a tournament win sparking momentum:
"Did UCLA win in overtime against Michigan State in this game? Sunday night at my house I said we're going to try and channel UCLA. Talk about coachable guys, huh? 

"I'm damn sure going to convince them over the next 48 hours or 36 that it's our time." 

On F Nate Laszewski:
"I'm really proud of him. He has really grown and on this stage, this was a new stage for these seniors,  Nate, Dane (Goodwin) and Prentiss (Hubb). And I thought they delivered. 

"I was thinking to myself can they deliver? They delivered in the regular season. Can they deliver? I'm really proud that they delivered and were ready to roll." 

On what the win means:
"To win a game in the tourney, I don't care, anytime you win a game in this thing, it's huge. My quote was let's use Dayton as a springboard. I will continue to say that for the next five hours in the air to San Diego." 

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