Notre Dame Basketball

HOOPS: Mike Brey Talks Summer Practice

July 7, 2017

There doesn’t need to be much said about returning point guard Matt Farrell and power forward Bonzie Colson at this stage in their career. Thursday’s practice was the first chance to glimpse into what Notre Dame’s future could look like with freshman DJ Harvey officially on campus.

The 6-foot-6 forward flashed his athleticism and smooth shot, but head coach Mike Brey knows there is a long road ahead for the former DeMatha (Md.) star.

“He’s learning to slow down a little bit, and it’s his third practice,” Brey stated on Thursday evening. “You saw he is getting crushed by screens. It’s a new area of development when you come from high school to college. Our big guys screen well, so he’s a little sore after practice.

“He competes, and our old guys are helping him. That’s part of our culture.”

While Harvey goes through the freshman growing pains, Brey also needs to accelerate his learning curve. Harvey will be part of the Irish rotation this season and needs to grow up fast.  

“We’re going to need him to be in the rotation,” explained Brey. “It’s clear we have to get him ready. Bonzie, Matt, Austin, and Rex have done a good job of nurturing him so far this summer to get him ready.

“He needs to be a key guy for us.”

Another new face is 6-foot-11 forward/center Juwan Durham, who will not see action this year due to NCAA transfer rules. Brey has made sure to cater Notre Dame’s six summer practices to maximize chemistry and educating the new additions.  

“We have two new faces and 10 experienced guys that know the routine and know what we do,” said Brey. “They know how we play. It’s an advantage to them to come in by osmosis by playing with the veterans.

“We never put them on the same team. We split the new guys up and let the four other guys show them how we play on both ends of the floor. It’s a great advantage to be able to do this six times during the summer.”

The experience of Brey’s squad will make the transition easier and will carry over once the summer session is over.

“Matty, Bonzie, and our seniors have set a great tone,” said Brey. “I love what Austin Torres has given us. He’s the grandfather out here. He’s been here five years and done a fabulous job of communicating. He has really taken leadership to heart.

“We are going to keep his role the same. What’s great about Austin Torres is he knows who he is, knows what he brings and is consistent with it every day and he will be a key guy for us, again.”

Not many knew what to expect when Farrell started last season in a starting role. The New Jersey native quickly gave Notre Dame fans something to talk about and made his impact on a national level by average 14.1ppg and 5.4apg.   

“There is nothing like having experience there,” Brey said his returning point guard. “He certainly sets the tone. He is a really confident guy. We have to get him to hunt his shot. He has to be a scoring option for us earlier in the shot clock.

“Last year with VJ and Steve, he could defer a little bit. If he has an open look, he has to take it. I have really been on him when he turns down shots.”

Colson had a chance to leave for the NBA but returned for his senior season in South Bend. Much like Farrell, Brey wants his power forward to hunt for his shot and be aggressive on the offensive end.

“You saw me get on him,” explained Brey. “He has to take open 15-18 footers instead of turning them down. Go ahead and take the open shot. We feel good about his face-up jump shot and even his three-point shot is becoming part of the arsenal.”

While it’s probably too early to form expectations for the 2017-18 team, Brey knows one area he will have to monitor closely.

“The one thing I noticed about our group after the first practice is that we have a lot of high-strung guys,” said Brey. “I don’t want to take anyone’s edge away, but with VJ and Steve, they were the settling forces. I am wondering who is going to be our smoother it out guy and maybe I have to be it.

“The biggest challenge for me will be keeping them loose when we have disappointment when we don’t play well or lose. This is a group that is really hard on themselves, so I have to help them think about the big picture.”

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HOOPS: Mike Brey Talks Summer Practice

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