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Notre Dame Basketball

Brey Notebook: West Virginia

March 18, 2017

West Virginia (28-8) blitzed Notre Dame (26-10) immediately out of the gate with a 10-0 run less than four minutes into the game and the Irish never recovered in an 83-71 loss. Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey felt the cold start, and the Mountaineers press impacted the game, as the Irish could find any rhythm on the offensive end of the floor.

“I thought our start really hurt us,” Brey said after the loss. “We were in a 10-0 hole. You're kind of digging out against them the whole day. It was hard to get over it. Their style of play is hard to deal with. It wore on us at times. Even though we only turned it over 14 times, four in the second half, it probably caused us to miss some of those open looks. You're going to have to make some open looks after you get it out of the trap, and we probably couldn't make enough of them.”

Brey didn’t have an answer for his team’s slow start. The Irish struggled early with turnovers with 10 in the first half but only had four in the second half for a total 14, which was six below West Virginia’s average.

“The shots we got were pretty good ones,” explained Brey. “We had a little runner in the lane, V.J. with a ten-footer on the baseline. I don't know. I think we were awake and ready to play. I don't think we weren't turning the ball over at that time to give them the 10-0 lead. I think it was, you know, missing some stuff.

“We may have been shocked we were so open because we were really prepared for them to be after us, and they were. We had our spurts of turning the ball over, but 14 against them is -- that's a pretty good day, only four in the second half. But you got to make -- you know, you got to make a few over the top of it. And your question, I thought -- I mean, I didn't expect them to shoot it from outside as well. I thought we could play a little more zone and make them make more threes. They made every big three-point shot, and Carter is a big-time winner. What a stud guard he is. He's fabulous. He's just a veteran winner in college basketball.”

The Mountaineers ability to control the tempo and force the ball into trapping zones was a major key to keeping Notre Dame off balance. Brey was quick to give Bob Huggins props for playing a style of basketball few play.

“They played a little bit of the 1-3-1 you saw, but they were still grinding you, and posting you, and pounding you on offense.

“But I think to go into a new league; I thought it's a brilliant move by Bob, who's a brilliant coach obviously, to put together a style of play that everybody really has to adjust to in league play.”

Brey was also impressed with the type of players West Virginia out on the floor.

“The one thing about West Virginia that's the same, when we played them back this the Big East and more so today, they got men,” Brey stated. “They have men. They have old dudes, and staying old is a good thing in college basketball. They're a little older than us today.”

The Irish cut the lead to four and then seven points a few times in the second half, but West Virginia answered every big shot with a big shot of their own.

“It does break your spirit,” Brey said of the Mountainers answering the bell. “I've got a really mentally tough group, but that was a real mental test today. Because any time we thought we'd get this thing to four or get it to two possessions, somebody hit a big three or they got a putback. It's really spirit-breaking after a while, and it does wear on our group.

“I give our guys credit. We kept fighting, but eventually that really is -- that does a lot of psychological damage, and we hadn't been in one of in a while. We hadn't been in one of those where we were digging out of a hole and trying to come back. We really hadn't been in one in a while."
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Brey Notebook: West Virginia

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