Notre Dame Basketball

Mike Brey Notebook: NIT Tournament

March 11, 2018

Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey spoke on Sunday night about the selection to play in the NIT Tournament. 

On missing the NCAA Tournament:
“I’m heartbroken. It wasn’t unexpected after I saw Davidson win today. I was very realistic about what could be coming. After a season of gut punches, it was another gut punch today.

“I prepared them for the NIT over the last month. We were very realistic about how this could go given where we were and our resumé. Kids are amazingly resilient. We’ll prepare with all these new rules, which will be funky. 

“I’m proud of them and hurting for them at the same time.” 

More on NCAA Tournament:
“Notre Dame basketball has been the talk since Wednesday. We’ve had unbelievable public relations. It’s too bad we couldn’t get in that tournament to keep playing. I’m thrilled they talked about our program. 

“I do know we were fairly and thoroughly analyzed. I gotta believe the selection committee was tired of looking at our stuff because it kept coming back at them in different ways.

“We were in. The A10 championship knocked us out.”

On turning the mindset of the team around:
“Ask them. It’s on them. It’s not me getting them It’s them getting them now. It’s our senior class.

“We’re going to have fun with the NIT. You know the character of these guys. By tomorrow at 2:00 p.m. when we practice, they’ll be ready to roll. They lifted a little bit after the selection show, and they were in a little bit of a funk, to say the least.

“I told them it was Spring Break and I didn’t have anything better to do. Let’s play and see if we can get back to New York.” 

On Syracuse getting in:
“I don’t want to get into comparing. I know we beat them on their floor. I guess they had a better strength of schedule and that got them in. I don’t have the energy – it’s almost kind of a fitting end to how our season went. 

“We’ve had all kinds of heartbreaking things happen. On the most important day, it was a heartbreaking day.

“When I got back on Friday, I put on the board and told them ‘We’re facing a realistic fact we could be the Maui champions on the front end when we’re healthy and the NIT champions on the back end when we’re healthy.” 

On message to the team:
“I had a team that was devastated they didn’t get in, and they lost to Holy Cross here. They weren’t interested, and it was a tough end to a season. I know when they came back for reunions, they said they wished they handled it better.

“I used Ryan Ayers team as an example that lost seven in a row and got all the way back to New York and lost in the semifinals but made the most of the NIT. I’m hoping this group will be a little more like Ayers group.” 

On playing at home:
“We’ve got very reasonable ticket prices. Hopefully, we can get our fans out to see us. Our fanbase has identified with this group with all they’ve been through. We don’t have our students in town, so that’s a little bit of a dagger. 

“It’s not going to be the same crowds that we had for ACC season, but that’s the way it goes.” 

On senior class:
“They worked themselves back to ‘Here is the NIT reality.’ This group has had ownership of itself for a long time. It’s one of the reasons we were so resilient and stayed together. They’re going to make the decisions on preparation.

“There’s no motivational speech by Coach right now. It’s our senior class wanting to do this thing or not.” 

On team health:
“We’re actually healthy. (Rex) Pflueger feels better. Bonzie is back in shape. It’s kind of fun watching us move around because we’re healthy again. I’d love to see us finish on a nice run.” 

On playing the season out:
“These seniors have to play it out. It’s their team. You don’t do anything different there. This is a group trying to get back to New York. 

“To have an NIT banner hanging up when they come back to think about the year they went through will kind of be a neat thing. I think they’ll be ready to attack it.” 

On rule changes for the NIT Tournament:
“It’s going to be fun. It’s going to be things that will be discussed possibly down the road. The wider lane, which I think is good. It helps to officiate the post a little more. There isn’t the banging so close to the bucket. 

“The line being further out will be interesting. The four quarters is interesting. The women have done it. Everyone plays quarters but college basketball, so I’m interested in doing it. I’ve been a big fan of our 20-minute half.

“The offensive rebounds will speed up the game with the shot clock going to 20 seconds.” 

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