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Notre Dame Basketball

Notre Dame Flys By Southern Indiana 82-70

November 16, 2022
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Wednesday night was once again the Nate Laszewski and Trey Wertz show as Notre Dame (3-0) cruised past Southern Indiana (1-2) 82-70. 

Wertz led Notre Dame with 20 points while also pulling down two boards and dishing out three assists. The Irish didn’t need too many buckets to turn the momentum, but when Notre Dame did need them, the Charlotte native was there to take and make them. 

"You can start to feel the game start to shift," explained Wertz, who has been in double figures in the first three games of the season. "I think I'm someone with the ball in my hands a lot and the coaches trust me to make decisions. I felt pretty comfortable shooting the shots in that situation. I've been able to knock them down the first three games." 

It’s not a secret Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey values guards, but there is another level of love for veteran guards. As a fifth-year senior, Wertz fits the bill and Brey has given him the keys to the offense to this point in the 2022-23 campaign. 

"Through the years, whether it's Martin Inglesby, Chris Thomas or Chris Quinn or Kyle McAlarney or Tory Jackson, Jerian Grant, I need a guy like that,” stated Brey. “Someone that's running the team and I can talk to. We weren't sure who that was going to be through June.

“With Marcus Hammond out, it's like Trey, ‘We need you and we need 35 minutes.’ He has just grabbed it. He's calm, he sees the floor and I just love his demeanor. I think his demeanor helps all of us stay calm offensively." 

Wertz has embraced the larger role and has produced. The scoring output has been welcomed by Brey, but also by Wertz himself as he’ll be the first to admit last year was a roller coaster. 

"It feels good," Wertz said. "I know last year wasn't the best scoring output that I've had. I think these guys trust me, Coach trusts me and I worked hard all summer. The confidence is there now."  

LAS ASCENDING 
Nate Laszewski wasn’t far behind Wertz as he dropped 18 points and pulled down 10 boards on the night. It was the third double-double in a row and there is a new confidence brewing from the 6-foot-10 forward. 

"Just trying to be aggressive from the start and trying to make a play,” said Laszewski, who started the scoring off on Wednesday with a three.”Definitely trying to stay aggressive at the beginning of the game." 

Notre Dame had all five starters in double figures as Dane Goodwin scoring 14 points, Cormac Ryan chipped in 13 points and JJ Starling finished with 10 points. 

And yes, there are more shots to go around this year as Prentiss Hubb and Blake Wesley are gone and were volume shooters. 

Laszewski is the player Brey wanted to see become more aggressive and even went as far as to pitch it in his conversations with his fifth-year star when the Florida native was debating on staying in the NBA Draft. 

"When you had to explain to him as he was thinking through it - Paul Atkinson, Blake Wesley and Prentiss Hubb are gone,” Brey said. “That's good for you. You played great with them and you loved it. The stage has been cleared out for you to be the star. 

"It took me time to explain that to him. We love all those guys, but they need to go for you to be the guy. I love that he's grabbed it."

It was the right note to strike as Laszewski has embraced being the guy, including stepping up his leadership. 

"He's also really been leading for us,” stated Brey. “He was always kind of a quieter guy when he was younger. He's a man. I love talking to him about what do you think about practice, who do I need to talk to - he's a man." 

DEFENSE
Notre Dame’s first two games weren’t great defensive efforts and defense was stressed heavily during Tuesday’s practice. The Irish responded. 

The Irish led 42-25 at the half, but starter the second 20 minutes slow on the offensive end. In fact, Notre Dame didn’t hit a field goal for over six minutes as Southern Indiana slowly crept back into the game and got as close as 49-41 with 14 minutes to play. 

Notre Dame buckled down to get the game back to an 18-point lead before Brey started rolling in his bench. 

"I think it was a focus for us yesterday in practice - being a little more vocal on the defensive side of the ball as well as dictating what they were doing," Laszewski stated. "Just being a little bit more aggressive on that side of the ball."

The ability to not panic when Southern Indiana made the run in the second half pleased Brey as Notre Dame avoided being in a close game in the final minutes. 

"I'm mentally preparing us for hard games, but I thought we did a great job,” Brey explained. “They put a little bit on us, but I thought we kind of responded and didn't have to get to game situations.”

Brey’s squad held Southern Indiana to 41 percent from the floor, including 33 percent from deep, which was a concern as the Screaming Eagles hit 15 threes against Missouri to open the season. 

"We got up and down a little bit. We were more engaged,” Brey said. “The field goal percentage defense down there around 40 percent is a little more manageable. I am impressed with how we share the ball and calmly play together and how we get to the foul line and use that as a weapon. 

"For the most part, to keep them around 6-7 three-point shots, it's been pretty good for us.” 

Notre Dame was forced to play zone defense in the first two games and that wasn’t the case against Southern Indiana. Brey also wasn’t going to play zone as he was challenged by his staff to let the team fight through any struggles in man-to-man. 

"We didn't play any zone tonight other than the group at the end,” stated Brey. “I think maybe I screwed us up getting us into zone too quick the first two games. I was worried about foul trouble and depth. 

"The assistants were great and said don't let us off the hook. We have to stay man-to-man if we're going to make progress and they were right on that." 

That’s not to say zone won’t be a weapon for the Irish in the future as Brey has his eye on using specific personnel in Notre Dame’s 2-3 zone. 

"We're going to need it and we're going to play it,” said Brey. “I love playing it on the road. I love zone on the road to see if a group can get tight. As Ven (Lubin) and Nate play more together, that's a lot of length back there. 

"I want to put Ven in the middle and get Nate out of the middle in 23. You see what Ven can do back there and let Nate be out on the forward stuff.” 

UP NEXT
Notre Dame will return to action on Friday as the Irish host Lipscomb at 7:00 pm ET. The game can be streamed on ACC Network Extra. 

FINAL STATS

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Notre Dame Flys By Southern Indiana 82-70

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