Notre Dame Basketball

Mike Brey Notebook | 12.13

December 13, 2018

Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey spoke on Thursday as the Irish prepare for this weekend’s game against Purdue in the Crossroads Classic at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. 

On being better after the last two games despite losing:
“It was a tough locker room in Los Angeles. They were very emotional. I told them they got better, but we don’t have any wins to show for it. Let’s keep grinding and plugging. Since we played Cincinnati, we probably understand who we are, but it’s still a work in progress.” 

On closing out games:
“We are still searching for it, especially away from our building. We’ve been able to close a few out here. That’s where experience comes, and we’re searching for it. Who are we offensively down the stretch? We had some not so smart plays on defense too. 

“We played young and inexperienced both games last week. We just can’t beat good teams away from your building unless we play a little older and smarter. That’s only going to come by with more experience and game situations.” 

On teams attitude after two straight losses:
“For this group, it’s been coming in and teach every day. I have to understand the big picture with this group. As young as guys are, they want guidance. We have tried to come in and find things I need to help them with more. It’s a flush it and move on mentality. 

“That’s how we’re going to have to be with this group all year.” 

On steps to beat Purdue:
“What jumps is their field goal percentage from three. They are a three-point shooting team. They have gone all the way the other way after beating it into the post. Getting out and defending the arc is important. We’ve played a lot of three-point shooting teams we’ve had to chase out, and I’m hoping some of those habits can be consistent.” 

On Purdue guard Carsen Edwards: 
“He’s a great scorer. Matt (Painter) has done an unbelievable job. He was under-recruited and gotten better every year. He’s going to make some tough ones. A lot of guys have to guard him. Do we double-team him off ball screens? I don’t think you can get discouraged when he makes tough ones. He’s just one of those guys.”

On forward John Mooney being named captain: 
“I’ve been proud of John Mooney.  We named him a captain. We talked about it since we got back from Los Angeles. He’s been great as a leader and helping the young guys. I’m thrilled with how he’s playing. He’s getting more and more confident. 

“He’s a new guy in a new role. There’s growth there. We lost a captain in Elijah (Burns), and I appreciated everything he did with the young guys. He was a very good voice in the summer and preseason. Now we lost that voice and Johnny has been doing it and we made him a captain now instead of before the ACC.” 

On Mooney’s role as captain:
“In a lot of our team meetings, I’ll ask there feedback. Johnny is one of the first guys to give me feedback. He’s a junior and been in our program. The one thing about him is emotionally he’s really steady throughout the game. I think that can help as we endorse him as a captain now.” 

On Mooney hitting his stride:
“Here’s yet another guy in his junior year where we’ve asked him to do more, and he’s really delivered for us. The two areas I’m most impressed with is he’s gotten better with the basketball, and he’s a much better defender. He’s really been a good help ball screen defender. Those were areas he needed to get better at.” 

On starting better on offense:
“I think we’re averaging 43 points in the second half since the DePaul game. Can we get some of that in the first half? Overall, we’ve defended well enough to hang in there.  I think a TJ Gibbs is trending the right way lately. He struggled early, and I love how Rex Pflueger is playing. He’s playing solid for us and making shots for us.

“Can we be a little better out of the gate offensively to take some pressure off the defense?” 

On guard TJ Gibbs:
“For him, it’s not rushing and let the game come to him a little bit. Get down the floor and spot up because we do have a good passing group. Don’t run to the ball and go spot up. Don’t turn any jump shots down. He’s turning down some jump shots to shot fake and get into the lane. I think he’s got to shoot those for us.

“He’s probably overly unselfish. He leads us in assists. He loves to pass the ball. Sometimes we want him to take the shot and not kick it to the other guy.” 

On last Power 5 test before ACC play:
“We’ll see if we can get one down there. We’ve been in position the last few years and haven’t been able to finish with two tough losses. It’s a great atmosphere. It’s a sold out building, and the energy is great. You’re always going to play a heckuva program in either Purdue or Indiana. It’s one last Power 5 test. 

“It’s another chance for this group to grow up. We’ve thrown them to the wolves a little bit starting with Madison Square Garden. It’s a little bit of sink or swim, and we’re going to try to help them swim.” 

On Elijah Burns transfer:
“He’s home and will graduate in a week. We’re working on trying to help him get eligible at Siena in January.”

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