Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Basketball

Brey Notebook: Georgia Tech

February 26, 2017

Notre Dame moved to 22-7 but more importantly 11-5 in the ACC on Sunday night with a 64-60 win over Georgia Tech. It was once again the Bonzie Colson show with the junior forward scoring 20 points and pulling down 11 boards for his 17th double-double of the season.

“He’s playing as well as anyone in the country and in our league,” said Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey. “I think he knew some of our perimeter guys weren’t going offensively. He was smart enough to know it was hard to score with Lammers around the paint so he shot some jumpers and took him outside. He set a great tone for us.”

While Colson was hitting shots from all over the court on Sunday, Brey said it has been the work on the defensive end that has impressed him the most over the course of the season.

“He’s really improved defensively,” Brey stated. “He has come so far as a defender since he got here. He was having to help his teammates get through that handoff on the elbow all night. He talks on defense and he knows what he is talking about.

“He can make an impact on both ends and he did tonight.”

He’s playing as well as anyone in the country and in our league. - Mike Brey on junior forward Bonzie Colson
As Brey mentioned, Colson picked up the slack for the Irish perimeter guys who struggled shooting the ball. In the case of VJ Beachem, who went 3 for 14 from the field, it may have been due to feeling a little under the weather.

“VJ is fighting the flu a little bit,” explained Brey. “He left practice early and didn’t go to team dinner last night. He fought through it today. He was struggling.”

Notre Dame also shot 14-18 from the free throw line and were able to ice the game down the stretch late in the game. The Irish getting into the bonus early was a huge factor as they shot just 28.6 percent from the field in the second half.

“We were able to get to the foul line,” said Brey. “We got to the bonus quick in the second half and that helped us put points on the board. It’s hard to score in the paint with Lammers back there. He’s really a gifted young man.

“We had clean looks we didn’t make. We had some corner shots we didn’t make against their 1-3-1.”

With two games remaining the regular season, Brey says the program is focused on getting a double-bye in the ACC Tournament and not the NCAA Tournament just yet.

“We aren’t looking at NCAA Tournament stuff right now,” Brey explained. “We are more focused on positioning our self for the ACC Tournament. I told them if we get to 11-5 and we’re tied for second and we control our own destiny in finishing in the top four, which is something this nucleus has experienced.

“You have a real shot to get to Saturday night if you get the double-bye. If you don’t get the double-bye, it’s really hard to do that.”
Brey did admit that games like Sunday’s are a good measuring stick for NCAA Tournament prep. He and his staff are able to tell the compare a NCAA Tournament opponent to an ACC foe to give his team an idea of what they are in for.

“One of the things you do when you get that first matchup and really the first weekend, you try and compare whoever you’re matched up against to someone in our league,” stated Brey. “I’ve always tried to do that with our guys. There will be teams with that kind of defense and a long guy in the back that can block shots.”

On Wednesday night, the Irish will host Boston College, the last place team in the ACC but Brey wants Purcell Pavilion packed. It will be the last time Vasturia and Beachem play at home and he wants to send them off the right way.

“Our crowd has been great all year,” said Brey. “Our students have ben fabulous and we need them one more time. I know they will deliver. We’d love to send Steve and VJ out the right way.

“Steve and VJ are two of the greatest winners in the history of this program. Given what they have been part of, total wins and especially what they have done in the NCAA Tournament, it’s a special night for those guys. It’ll be hard for me to watch them go out one last time.” 
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