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Notre Dame Basketball

Micah Shrewsberry Notebook | November 21st

November 21, 2023

Notre Dame basketball coach Micah Shrewsberry spoke ahead of Wednesday's game with Maryland-Eastern Shore.

On the offense being able to move the ball vs. Oklahoma State:
”It was probably two things. One, we just had more of a focus. It’s been a focus of our team. TO use an example I gave our guys about we need to become a more mature team. I used an example of coaching in the NBA, you play back-to-backs. You don’t get a chance to practice. There is no shootaround on those days. We had to learn through film, so before pregame meal, I really sat and broke down each thing. I thought we put it into action a lot better. 

“The second thing was Oklahoma State was the first team that played us traditionally all year. That was it. Sometimes it’s not us. Sometimes it’s who you’re playing and how they defend you. Nobody has defended us traditionally for us to be able to move the ball. We can still be better at it even when people play us in different ways. It has to be intentional by our whole group to make each other better. I thought we did that. 

“We did it in the first half and then we got away from it a little bit in the second half.” 

On JR Konieczny having back-to-back double-doubles:
”I pointed out to him in film on Sunday - he went and got a defensive rebound and it wasn’t even his. He’s boxing out his man and it becomes a long rebound, their big guy grabs it and he runs through it and grabs it. It becomes a jump ball with three seconds left and we get it. I told him the difference between that and there was Western Carolina game where there were two opportunities for him to run through the ball in transition where it’s a 50-50 ball and he didn’t get it. They got a dunk and a layup. Those are winning plays. 

“His physicality went to a different level the last two games. I think he saw the results of that. The energy he played with, the physicality he played with translated to really good things. I think it’s a great step for him, Now, let’s build off it and let’s keep doing it. We’ve seen it in practice. He’s continuing to do it and playing the right way. He’s getting a little bit more confident each time he comes out there. Great building block for him. I’m excited about it and now let’s go do it again and keep helping us win in any way possible.” 

On what the win vs. Oklahoma State meant:
”Any time you have wins like that or any time you have a piece of success, it just builds more and more belief. I talked about it before, but we can be down, we can’t play our best, we can play good and then have a team come back, we can be down in overtime and still come back. There’s things there that they can point to and say we can do this if we do dig our heels in a little bit. For a new coach, new staff, new group that’s together, those small victories really help you. Things you can go back to, right? Maybe it’s South Carolina, Miami, or whoever it is, you get in those situations away from home and you feel we can do this. The doubt starts to leave and the belief starts to come in a little bit more.” 

On what the team learned playing on a bigger stage last week:
”I don’t know. I think game one against Auburn was probably humbling. You’re playing a team that’s bigger, more athletic, aggressive and hungry. We should have been that. That should have been us. That should have been who we are. You have to have that chip on your shoulder. You have to have that mentality every single game because nobody believes in us or thinks we’re any good. Why aren’t we the hungrier team every single time we go out there on the court? 

“If we don’t have that, then that’s what happens to you. You blitzed by somebody. To be able to come back in a short amount of time with guys that played - when you don’t have a lot of depth, you can’t take guys out. Auburn’s dudes were playing even though they played the next night. Our dudes had to play. There weren’t a whole lot of dudes I could throw in there. Johni Broome is still in the game with three minutes. It’s not like I can take (Matt) Zona and Carey (Booth) out and put Thomas Crowe in there. He’s going to get destroyed. Our guys had to play and now they have to turn around and play another game at 4:30 in a short turnaround. 

“It showed what it takes to get ready to play. The mentality you have to have to turn around quickly and go and win the next game. I said in the locker room, there are no excuses for us not to win this game tomorrow. I didn’t know what the result was going to be that next day, but I wanted us to fight to give ourselves a chance.” 

On the status of forward Kebba Njie:
”He did a bunch of rehab stuff while we were there in New York. He’s practiced with us the last couple days. Barring any setbacks, we hope to have him here tomorrow and beyond. We do need him. We need his voice. We need his rebounding and his ability to get us easy baskets in the paint. We can throw the ball inside and he just settles us a little bit. That’s one of the bigger things as we’ve started this season, we’ve gone four games without him. 

“His presence defensively - I’ve been pleased with how we’ve guarded and defended and he’s probably our most important defensive piece that we’ve played without. We’re anxious to get him back. We’ll put him in a bubble the next couple days and hope no one bumps into him.” 

On embracing coaching better and harder with this group:
”We talk about it in the office. This team is going to make us better coaches. There’s no detail that is left not talked about. That’s in every single part. Early in the year, there’s so many things that you want to do as a coach. I talked about how people have played us untraditionally. We don’t have time to work on it because there are so many other things we have to work on. We still have the training wheels on. We haven’t gotten complex defensively. We haven’t gotten complex offensively. We have to use these early games as practices to learn how to be good late and close people out.

“What are we looking for at the end of games? Those are things we have to learn through practice as much as we can, but they have to be game situations. It’s fun for coaches. We get a chance to really dive in, but you also see the growth and I think that’s where the gratification comes in. You see it even if you don’t have the ultimate result you want, you’re seeing growth on a daily basis and that’s where you’re most proud.” 

On the challenge of not overloading the team or advancing them too far:
”A little bit of a challenge. It’s also you want to be good now, but you also want to be good in the future. You want to have a group that understands what you’re talking about. Sometimes I’m saying things at the end of the game and they have no idea what I mean or why we’re doing things. We get back together on Sunday and we have a film session. There are so many things you want to correct defensively or maybe offensively, but it’s like let’s just watch end of the game. Here’s why I’m doing this, so they get a feel for what I’m thinking and now the next time we get to that we should be better because now we’ve talked about it and gone over it. 

“You just don’t get a chance to do that as much once you start playing games. You don’t get a chance to play those three-minute end of game situations. You just can’t do it in practice right now. Now, you have to learn through games.” 

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