Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Basketball

Brey Notebook: 2/9

February 9, 2017

Notre Dame almost stole a January road game in Tallahassee against No. 14 Florida State. Turnovers doomed the Irish in an 83-80 loss to the Seminoles and Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey knows his guys are aware of what cost them that game.

“18 turnovers are something we hardly see ever,” Brey said on Thursday afternoon. “I think our guys are embarrassed about that and know we have to be better with it.”

Much has been made about the recent change to the starting lineup as center Martinas Geben has come out for smaller bodies. The goal of the smaller lineup is spacing, but also to help take pressure off Matt Farrell.  

“One thing that helps us is playing smaller and we have more guards on the floor,” explained Brey. “I thought TJ Gibbs gave us great stuff down there and took some pressure. It could be a game where he ends up playing more than he usually plays.

“Playing with our spread motion and with our smaller lineup, it gives you more decision makers with the ball against their pressure. I think that can help us.”

As for the starting lineup against Florida State, Austin Torres and Rex Pflueger have started for Geben over the last two games, but Brey hasn’t decided on his lineup for Saturday.

“I’m not sure who we’re going to start on Saturday,” stated Brey. “Its kind of been a rotating thing. We know the four. It can be rotating game to game and half to half as it’s really kind of been. It’s something to really look at and talk about.”  

Whoever starts will feel the wrath of the aggressive Seminole defense and will need to be disciplined on the offensive end of the floor.

“They kind of take your spirit defensively,” Brey said. “They trap it and it’s almost as if you’re not running much of your offensive principles sometimes. You’re reading and reacting to ball pressure, traps and you have to continually do that. That’s where you’re really, really tested.

“There are scoring the thing really easy too. It’s another team with length and you worry about the backboard. They had 11 offensive rebounds on us down there last month. The first game the story was throwing the ball away. That broke our back.”

The junior point guard has had success for most of this season, but the game in Tallahassee was one of the games Farrell struggled at times. The New Jersey native had six turnovers and just took a while to get into the flow of the game.

Brey knows Farrell can be a wildcard, but he doesn’t want to take away his playmaking ability.

“You don’t want to take his ‘go for it’ mentality,” explained Brey. “I do think he’s been better. We talked about calling off some transition stuff and not forcing stuff in transition. I think he’s been better in that area and more conservative. He’s also been better on that initial drive in the lane, but as you see, sometimes he goes all the way through instead of trying to make a play over all this length.

“I think since the Georgia Tech, I thought he was trying to take everyone on. I think since then it’s helped him. When TJ (Gibbs) plays with him, it takes some things off of him because you have another driving, playmaking guard out there.”

Turning the Corner?
With the win over Wake Forest on Tuesday, Notre Dame ended a four-game losing streak and got a monkey off its back at the same time. It was a confidence builder as the second-place team in the ACC comes to South Bend.

“Are we going to rip off five in a row,” Brey said. “I’m not sure that’s something we talk about. You’re kind of in survival mode now. No question we will feel better going in against a really good team given that we won on Tuesday. We needed to feel good and coming in that locker room. It had been a while.

“I think for us, it will be deal with what happens and keep moving on. With getting your numbers and you’re still in a good position. When I say a good position, I say NCAA Tournament resumè, which is the be all end all. Double-byes aren’t really on my mind. It’s really about what’s the resumè look like and can we get access to the tournament.”  

While the win at Purcell Pavilion was a big one for the team, Brey gave credit to the home crowd for helping his team out.

“Our crowds have been good and our student crowds have been great,” stated Brey. “It will be crazy. This one has been sold out for a while. The other night, we lost a couple and Wake’s not ranked in the Top 15, but I thought we had a great crowd.

“What helped us in the second half, our crowd has been great when we’ve been on defense. We didn’t feel as tired. It was electric in there. They were really dead and worn out, but when it’s really loud in there you don’t feel fatigue.”

However, while he gave credit to the crowd, Brey also noticed many open seats on Tuesday.  

“I’ve always been disappointed when there are empty seats,” said Brey. “I think we have a great product here. Everyone I’ve talked to outside of our local fanbase says ‘You’re fun to watch. You play the right way.’

“I am disappointed when we have that. We need that thing filled. It will take care of itself because Florida State lights everyone’s fire. Georgia Tech and Boston College, we need our fans to beat anyone in this league.” 
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