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Notre Dame Basketball

Confidence High For Pflueger And Irish

November 29, 2017
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Notre Dame winning the Maui Invitational was a big step for the confidence of the 2017-18 Irish hoops team, but it also might not have been a total surprise. 

“The vibe has been great since the summer,” said junior guard Rex Pflueger. “We have a great group of kids, and everyone is coming into themselves right now. It’s been really fun. 

“Getting a championship – we wanted that one a lot, and it showed in the second half. It will be a great start for us going up to Michigan State.” 

Coming out of the Maui Invitational, the Irish jumped in the rankings to No. 5 in the country. Pflueger and his teammates are excited about the respect, but they also know it doesn’t matter much in November. 

“It’s awesome, but you can never be satisfied,” explained Pflueger. “The ranking at the end of the season is the one that matters. 

“What we have done in the past few years is great, but it doesn’t mean anything if we can’t do it again this year.”  

On Thursday, Notre Dame will travel to No. 3 Michigan State for a primetime showdown. The Irish have played in some tough environments, but the Breslin Center will be up there with the toughest places this group has played in. 
 
“It’s going to be exciting,” Pflueger said. “It’s one of the better atmospheres that any of us will play in. A Top 5 matchup, it’s going to be a historic game. We just have to come out prepared and play them like Wichita State.

“They are pretty similar teams regarding size and experience. It should be a fun one.” 

Michigan State will have a significant size and athleticism advantage over the Irish, and it starts with All-American Miles Bridges. Pflueger will likely get the matchup on the 6-foot-7 forward, but it will take a team effort to slow him down for an entire game.

“They are still relatively a younger group, but I think with their big guys and obviously Miles Bridges, they are a good all-around team,” stated Pflueger. “I’m ready to guard whoever.” 

The other factor the Irish will need to figure out on the fly will be getting shots. Wichita State’s defense gave the Irish problems at times, and Notre Dame will need to find ways to score against a team that loves to block shots. 

“They definitely have some more shot blockers than any team we have played this year,” Pflueger said. “Wichita State had some size, so we have to find different ways to score.” 

 
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