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Notre Dame Basketball

Mike Brey Notebook | Summer Wrap

July 20, 2022

Notre Dame basketball coach Mike Brey spoke following the final practice of the summer. 

On sophomore JR Konieczny’s ankle injury:
“It’s been tough for him, because he’s been in and out with this ankle. He’s going on that East Coast All-Star team that’s going to go to Spain on August 1st. I said, let’s get him healthy for that. We’ve had a lot of guys go on that and that’s a key experience for him. 

“His summer will be to go and play with this group and get some confidence.” 

On the summer: 
”Our four new guys, you can see it, especially the freshmen. Marcus is a man and knows how to play. Those three freshmen hit the ground running and are very ready to help us. The big three is the big three. I told those three guys when they got through it all and came back, the Celtics had their Big Three and we have our Big Three - (Nate) Laszewski, (Cormac) Ryan and (Dane) Goodwin. Who can play with that group? 

“JJ (Starling), Trey (Wertz), Marcus and Ven (Lubin) has been impressive as a young big. WE’re going to need a young big to be a good player. Matt Zona, I guess he iced some playing time when you make a shot like that. As a junior now, keep it simple and give us some minutes. We know how to play and it’s a matter of getting the young guys caught up with some of the young guys.” 

On forward Nate Laszewski:
“As you could see right there, he’s aggressive offensively. Now, there are enough shots to go around when Wesley, Hubb and Atkinson leave the building. There’s more of a platform for him. He’s been more aggressive, even to the point when he was thinking about do I go or stay? If he comes back, you can take a bad shot. Goodwin sure does, so why don’t you? He’s so coachable, laid back and fun. 

“The three of them are really men and know how to play. He’s just really aggressive. He’s going to go for it and hit more shots. I love that he’s done that. There’s no questions through 12 practices he’s taken a lot of shots and that’s a good thing. His percentages have been off the charts, but the first step was to hunt his stuff more.” 

On freshman JJ Staring:
”You saw Starling is certainly physically ready to do it. It’s a similar dynamic fitting in with old guys last year. He’s really easy to play with. I’ve been impressed continually with how good of a passer he is. I did not know that. 

“We recruited him hard in the spring and summer, but in the summer, he had to take every shot for the City Rocks, so I never saw any playmaking. When I started going down to La Lu in the fall, he was seeing the floor and he’s led us in assists a couple times. I think he’s got the body to get to the bucket. He gets into the paint and makes plays. He loves to defend. He’s very ready and those three old guys know they need him - a similar dynamic to the old guys knowing they needed Blake. They’ve been good with him.” 

On freshman Ven-Allen Lubin:
” Lubin has been really impressive. We’re going to need him. One of the young bigs needs to step forward with Nate. He has been the one. He’s probably been the most consistent all summer. Good passer. He’s got length and he can block a shot and can rebound. He’s going to be a key.” 

More on Lubin:
“He’s really mature, focused. The body type is a beautiful basketball body. I always defer to Tony Rolinski, because he has them three times a week for six weeks. And he texted him after the third time, ‘I love our freshmen.’ They’re just workers. They come in. He gets after them. They’re just workers. Really all four of them with Marcus, there’s no immaturity that’s been added to the group. It’s pretty business-like. You watch. They want to play. They know how to play. I showed clips. I titled it, ‘Playing right.’ That’s the phrase I use. I showed great sharing of the ball. There was like 10 clips of us just moving it. Yesterday we had 18 assists and only 3 turnovers. Just keep hanging our hat. I think JJ and Marcus, which are new guards, they get it. They feel it.”

On freshman Dom Campbell:
”Dom is really getting in shape. This has been the most taxing physically on him. He’s fighting through it and come a long way. I’m interested to see where his body is by Oct. 1. We tried to get him here in January - not to play him, but to redshirt him because he had enough credits. I thought we could really jump-start his conditioning, but his school wouldn’t allow it, which I understand because they want him to graduate with the senior class. 

“We would have been even further ahead, but he’s got that low post wide body. You can throw it to him. I’m intrigued to see where he is Oct. 1st.” 

On guard Marcus Hammond:
”Just New York City - quick off the dribble. I think what he’s learned, he’s never played with that guys that can pass to him for an open shot. He’s was the guy at Niagra that went in and found guys or went in and scored. Now, he’s like there are other playmaking guards. It’s almost a shock when he’s open, but as far as guarding, he has those New York City defensive hands. He gets his hands on stuff. He’s fast and he can get to the bucket. He’s 22. When you have him and Wertz as fifth-year seniors, those guys are old and they know how to play. 

“This is the most aggressive Wertz has been. Would you start maybe two freshmen? Lubin and Starling? That’s a consideration. You have the two guards coming off and Zona would be No. 8. That’s from the summer 

On forward Matt Zona:
“He’s really done a good job with his body. He's got himself in shape and knows who he is. Keep it simple. We have guards. Up front is where our young bigs, especially Lubin and Zona. We know Nate will be there. Lubin and Zona have to give us stuff, and I think they can. I really think they can. We’re not too far when you have a whole bunch of guards. We’re always a substitution away of downshifting too. Dane is whatever, the 4 man. JJ could be the 4 man. Wertz could be there. That’s why we played that way in that one period. We’re moving.

“We’re a little small, but we can really move and we’re hard to guard. We have some options there. Get this: 12 scholarship guys, six are in graduate school. I don’t know if there’s ever been a stat like that. Half the team is getting a master’s degree. The COVID year has provided that. So the only time we could practice, because the graduate guys are pretty much busy from 9-4, they’re really busy, so we go at 7 a.m. and then roll to class. It’s an interesting group with graduate degree guys.”

On where the emphasis has been in Matt Zona’s game:
“We had someone to throw it to in the low post with Paul. I think we can do that with both of them, and not necessarily will they score. You saw Zona make a nice (pass). He’s a pretty low-post (passer), just flattening it is good for us. I think eventually Lubin can give us some low-post scoring. He’s still playing a little safe, but that’s OK because he’s playing with these old guys. We have to get him ready.

“We run our motion like we used to do with Paul. Let’s run it and let’s get Ven a low-post touch. Read it. If you’re one-on-one, try and turn and get something at the bucket. I think we can really groom that. Whereas Matt, I don’t know if we want him trying to score. He can be a playmaker from there. Ven is our best candidate in that role.”

On Blake Wesley’s fit in San Antonio: 
“He was here yesterday. He came in. He got in at 3 in the morning. He came by. Thrilled for him. He was in play from 16 on and then you start getting nervous. For him ending up with this organization is really good. They’re in a rebuild. So they’re going to be very patient with him. They’ve been thoroughly impressed with him. He has an amazing focus that he was ready. I’m going to go do this. He came back yesterday and he’s been on that three-month hiatus. He’s more vocal. It’s amazing how he’s grown being in that. He verbalizes.”

On Wesley’s growth off the court:
“They really worked on that. You guys couldn’t get much. I never got much out of him when I recruited him. It’s so cool to see, because they worked on that when he was out in Vegas with his agents. Yesterday I’m talking to him and I’m like, ‘Wow, this is not one-sided.’ What is he? 2.2 and 2.8 guaranteed and an option for the third at about 3-something.

“He’ll play. Obviously they traded an all-star guard to kind of make room. I asked him, ‘Have you gotten some time with Popovich?’ He said, ‘Yeah, just a little bit. He walked by my one day and said, ‘Shoot the floater. Keep finding people.’’ That’s all he told him. Shoot the floater more. Keep finding people. Great decision that worked out great.”

On the opening on the coaching staff:
“Obviously for (Ryan Humphrey) Hump, disappointed but it’s an unbelievable move for him on a lot of fronts. Being back home. When I walk in the gym at Augusta, not only am I watching prospects, but I’m kind of bumping some assistant candidates too. It will be a great four days to get a lot of work done on both fronts. We’ve had a lot of people reach out. We’ll take our time in August and do it. Pat Rogers is on the road for us right now.”

On the potential timetable for the hire:
“I’d say be Labor Day we’d have it. Hopefully, maybe even before that. Once we get off the road next week and these guys get out of here, we can concentrate on it. A year ago, we came back with experience with Slo and Tone. You can maybe come back a little young. That’s been on my mind. A little younger, shot out of a cannon, kind of deal. When you have a job open when you’re on the road recruiting, they’ll find you. I hope I can watch games. I’m like, ‘My man, let me watch this game and I appreciate it.’ It’s great. A lot of interest, which is awesome. We’ll have it by Labor Day. Now you’re in the midst of setting up official visits and still checking on some prospects maybe we haven’t. I’ll see a bunch.”

On the hire needing to be a big man coach:
“Not necessarily. I don’t know if you remember one year when I had Zach Auguste and he was younger. To get his attention, I put Slo with the big guys. And I said, ‘I want you to scare him the first 10 minutes of practice.’ Slo’s good at that. Then we’ll have his attention and he won’t be goofy. So Slo can do anything. He’s got the bigs. Tone’s got the guards. We’ll see what the fit is and we’ll go from there. What’s been great with this new rule, Pat Rogers and Ryan Greer can work with guys.

“One of the reasons I hired Ryan Greer was he was working out all the pro prospects at Mark Bartelstein’s (Priority Sports & Entertainment). Mark, the agent, had pro prospects. (Kyle) McAlarney and Kieran Piller are both with Mark Bartelstein. McAlarney’s the main workout guy. They brought Ryan in as a senior. He just finished his senior year. Kieran and Kyle said absolute star, great workout guy. He’s kind of taken Nate and all these guys. He’s kind of a new guy to get them in individual workouts. They respect him, because they knew he did all the stuff for Mark Bartelstein’s pros. He’ll learn the video. I’m not worried about that. I wanted him to do some more individual stuff. Pat’s running everything. He's our ops guy. It could be a guy that works with bigs, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be.”

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