Notre Dame Basketball

Mike Brey Notebook | 2.14

February 14, 2019

Notre Dame basketball head coach Mike Brey spoke on Thursday afternoon as the Irish prepare to head to No. 4 Virginia on Saturday. 

On getting two wins to start February:
“We’ve won two of three and that feels a little bit better. We have a huge challenge on Saturday. It’s the one game we felt we didn’t really fight and dig. We’d like to redeem ourselves on that front.” 

On Saturday’s game against Virginia:
“It was the one time we didn’t fight. We hung our heads. We played really well down there last year. It was a great college game. It’s a great atmosphere. We’ll start the lineup we’ve been starting. Unlike the last game where the lineup was different. It was Dane (Goodwin) and Nate (Laszewski) in there. This group moves it better and has a chance to score it better.  

“If I had to do it over again, I would have started differently against Virginia to give us a chance to handle the ball against their defense.” 

On making up ground against Virginia:
“They are really good. We have to score. If we can get some stuff in transition – we made a run in the second half when we cut it to 12 and they called timeout. It was in transition. We got a couple stops and got down the floor and we didn’t have to play against their set defense. That would really help us.

“Control tempo – we don’t play real fast, but just downshifting our gears even more. If it’s really ugly and in the 40’s, you’re in it and we’ll take it. That will be fine with us.” 

On junior guard Nik Djogo’s role:
“He’s comfortable. It’s his third year in the program. Nik used to play a little nervous and even earlier this season when he was part of the rotation. At North Carolina was an example. He was all tight and he traveled a couple times. 

“He’s playing and an underrated defender. His size and how he defends and his rebounding really helps us. When he can score for us, it helps us. He does get to the lane with the drive and he’s a good cutter. Mentally, it’s his third year and he’s not going to let anything bother him. That’s a good thing.”

On goals for the rest of the season:
“We talked about February and we’re 2-1. We have not talked about any postseason stuff. It was a matter of can we make a move and make it interesting in February. If we can make it interesting, then I would start to talk about where they stand in this whole thing. I haven’t talked about what it would take to be an NCAA Tournament team or NIT team. 

“It’s been more day-to-day and about if we can make a little move in February and be better. We have been better in February.” 

On steps taken forward this month:
“The one thing about this group is they come in every day and their coachable. I think our leadership has been great. It’s easy to lead when you’re 8-2 or 7-3, but when you’re 2-8 and swinging, it puts more pressure on your guys. 

“John Mooney has evolved into a very solid, stable and calm guy. He is who he is every day. He’s helped in that sense. We have great kids who come in and they are open to coaching.” 

On junior guard TJ Gibbs:
“I thought he active defensively. He got his hands on stuff and had some steals. I thought he enjoyed playing. I talked about smiling while he plays. Anyone who smiles in the midst of the game, it diffuses. He’s had the weight of the world on him and he’s played that way at times. 

“He and Prentiss (Hubb) were really good together. For us to beat anybody in this league, those two guards have to be good with the ball, good defensively and score for us.”

On balancing Gibbs mindset:
“I spent a little more with him the last two weeks. I knew he was feeling it. The reason he is feeling it is good stuff because he wants it so bad for his team. He’s had a lot of different chemistries to try and manage this year. I feel for him a little bit at times too.” 

On what is different since the last game against Virginia:
“Any time you win a couple, guys feel more confident. Confidence has been a thing that was waned through a tough January. Some of that is inexperience, so as much as the leader is telling them, they are good, but when you actually do it and get a league win, they feel better about themselves.”  

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