Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Basketball

Brey Notebook: Virginia

January 24, 2017

It’s not a secret Mike Brey and his squad wanted to beat No. 14 Virginia on Tuesday night, but things didn’t turn out so well for the home team as the Irish fell 71-54 at Purcell Pavilion. The Cavaliers are the only ACC team Notre Dame hasn’t beaten since joining the league and they have the number of the Irish right now.

“They’re really good,” said Brey. “They imposed their will on us. I thought some of the looks we had in the first half from the three-point line were good ones. You have to make those if you want to hang around and we couldn’t.

“I think their system is hard to deal with for us and I think a lot of people have had a hard time dealing with them. I am glad we don’t play them twice. They’ve not been a great matchup for us and we take our hat off to them.”

Brey doesn’t believe his team will dwell on the loss for too long, as they have shown the ability to bounce back after tough losses over the last three seasons.

“I think we’ll move on pretty quick,” Brey stated. “One of the things we’ve been doing after six wins and after two losses is really moving onto the next one quick. I have a lot of confidence in our leadership and where we are at in the picture of things.

“We’re thrilled we are 6-2 in this league.”

After dropping a career-high 30 points on Saturday, senior VJ Beachem shot just 1 for 10 and scored just three points on Tuesday night.  The 6-foot-8 forward got some good looks in the first half that just didn’t fall for him and he never got into the flow he did over the weekend against Syracuse.

“VJ had great looks, but he just missed them,” explained Brey. “He had some really good looks in the first half and that’s the kind of thing that gets him going. Second half, he forced a couple, but everybody did because we were a little frustrated trying to get stuff.

“For VJ to get into his flow, he makes those in the first half and he’s feeling better.”  

It’s not often Notre Dame gets held to just 54 points over 40 minutes and Brey doesn’t think it starts with Beachem’s off night, as the team shot just 3 for 18 from behind the arc.

“I don’t think so,” Brey said when asked if his team struggled shooting as a result of Beachem struggling. “I think our other guys play their game That’s where this team has been better than teams I’ve had in the past. Offensive woes and not hanging their head on the defensive end. I think the accumulation of not getting into a rhythm tonight took its toll.”

As Virginia went up 64-51 with under four minutes to play, the stands at Purcell Pavilion started to empty at a rapid rate. Brey saw it and his team saw it, but they can use that motivation in practice on Thursday and Friday in preparation for Georgia Tech on Saturday. 
“We are quick page turners here in regular season league play,” Brey stated. “The next one is coming at you quickly and you kind of flush it and go. I kind of like that we had our butts kicked. It gets everyone’s attention and intensity up for two great practices, which we kind of need right now.

“You’re into 60-70 practices and we could use two really sharp practices before we play Georgia Tech, who is really good. They beat North Carolina down there and they’re playing well.”

Brey hopes to find a little flow to the offense this week during practice, but he isn’t going to overwork his guys after a big loss. He knows the health of the team is just as important as anything in January, so the Irish will work hard, but only for a short period.  

“We lost a little bit of a practice rhythm,” said Brey. “Wednesday we will use as our off day, so guys can get their legs under them. Then we have two days of reps. Sunday we won’t be able to do much because that’s a quick turnaround, but we’ve had them jammed up where you do lose some lengthy reps. You’re trying to save legs, so it’s a catch 22.

We’re healthy too. I don’t want to get anyone hurt in practice. We’re past that. We do need an hour of going at each other on Thursday.

Notre Dame lost the rebounding battle 38-22 on Tuesday night and including the offensive boards, where they lost 10-2. Virginia scored 15-second chance points, while the Irish scored just two and that’s a key factor in a 17-point loss.

“I thought we needed to go small to help us offensively, so they took advantage of us on the backboard,” said Brey. “I wanted to play smaller and spread it out. Some of our most encouraging offensive spurts were when we downshifted.

“I think they got 15 points on second chances points and that’s where you get burned on it.”

Colson, a double-double machine, only had three boards on Tuesday, but Brey expects him to have a fire on Saturday afternoon.  

“It was a weird night for Bonzie that he didn’t get more defensive rebounds,” Brey said. “He usually closes that gap for us. I have a feeling he’ll bounce back and I haven’t watched a lot of Georgia Tech.”
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