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Notre Dame Basketball

Brey Notebook: ACC Tournament Preview

March 6, 2017
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Notre Dame has overachieved all season and put themselves in a position to make a big run the ACC Tournament this week. The Irish weren’t predicted to anywhere close to the top of the ACC, and at the end of the season, they earned the No. 3 seed.

The Irish will get a few days off before returning to action on Thursday night, and they will take on the either the winner of Georgia Tech/Pittsburgh vs Virginia.

Head coach Mike Brey knows there is a chance his team will face Virginia on Thursday, but he believes his team is confident as they have played at Barclay’s Center already this season.

“I think you have to start thinking about Virginia, who has definitely had our number,” Brey said of his team's preparation. “In our league, who the heck knows. You really don’t do much in practice specifically to preparation for either group until the day of your shoot around.

“It would be great to get flowing again offensively. In that building up there, we did, so hopefully, we can draw on some of that. We have to get reps with our big lineup. That’s something that is going to be good for us at times and changing gears. It puts two screeners on the floor with two bigs as opposed to one to help some of those perimeter guys again.”

Virginia has yet to fall to Notre Dame in ACC play, so it’s an intriguing matchup on many levels. The Cavaliers knocked off the Irish 71-54 in January, but Brey believes the formula for beating Virginia is simple: Make shots.

“We had some great looks, and we didn’t knock them down,” said Brey. “You have to make shots over the top of them because they jam it in so well. You have to be ready for the pace of the game and fewer possessions.

“I don’t want to overanalyze it. I think one of the reasons we didn’t play well against Virginia at home was because we wanted it so bad. As much as they have accomplished, they haven’t beaten Virginia. I am going to have to keep them loose, and I don’t want them tied up in knots on Thursday if it’s Virginia.”

I am really thrilled for Bonzie and it’s so well deserved. - Mike Brey on Bonzie Colson
The other big news came on Sunday when the ACC announced its All-Conference teams. Bonzie Colson made First-Team, while Steve Vasturia, VJ Beachem, and Matt Farrell received All-Honorable Mention.

“I am really thrilled for Bonzie and it’s so well deserved,” Brey stated. “I think a VJ or a Matt could have been on a 2nd or 3rd team. It’s very powerful to have four of our guys on there. No other team had four guys recognized. We’re really proud of that.

“Those four guys deserve it. The Big Four – we started the season with a Big Three, and it became a Big Four.”  

The Big Four will be rested for the ACC Tournament, and that could make the difference pending who they play. Brey doesn’t believe playing a team that played the day before is a huge advantage, but if the Irish get a team that’s playing for the second day in a row, then there is something they can feast on.  

“I don’t know if the team has played just one game, how much of a difference that is,” explained Brey. “Maybe sometimes there is an advantage early because they played on the floor and had success. I am hoping since we have been on that floor, we feel better about starting on Thursday.

“I think when you catch a team that’s played twice; then fatigue starts to kick in.”  

All in all, Notre Dame is going to be ready to make a run in March, and it starts with the ACC Tournament. The run at the ACC regular season title was a confidence booster for the team but the disappointment of falling short could end up as the catalyst for a run over the next few weeks.

“It was awesome for our program to be playing on the last day and you have a chance with some help to win the regular season championship,” said Brey. “They were disappointed. They really wanted to win and go root for Duke.

“We won a championship on this floor, the Legends Classic. That was a great first step, so we’re coming full circle back and maybe a chance to play for another trophy.”
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