One on one with Coach Mike Brey about the state of the program
Notre Dame men's basketball opened conference play on the road and lost to Virginia Tech 81 to 66. The 10th ranked Hokies just proved to be too much for the young Irish team. The Irish suffered a big blow when the only senior, Rex Pflueger, tore his ACL at the Crossroads Classic. Head Coach Mike Brey sat down with Allison Hayes to discuss the state of the program.
Allison: We look at this season and it feels very different this year than it has been in years past. Notre Dame always has experience, has seniors, and this year you had one and now Rex is gone. How has that changed the way you coach this season?
Coach Brey: I think we mentally prepared or I mentally prepared even in the summer that we were going to be younger than ever before in my 19 years, with only two returning starters back in Rex and TJ and that we were committed to developing, I think the theme was 'Youth movement is here' and we're going to play them and we're going to be patient and deal with them. But now with Rex out, you have firmly become the youth movement. And we still have to keep grinding and building and trying to get guys confident but the one thing about it is, for the young guys now with Rex down is there's even more minutes for them.
With Lone Senior Rex Pflueger out for the season with a torn ACL, the Irish are now relying on freshmen Prentiss Hubb, Dane Goodwin and Nate Laszewski to step up.
Coach Brey says this group has a ton of potential.
"Somebody said to me in New York, the day of the Oklahoma game, 'They're going to be really good when they're juniors.' And the other theme has been, 'The future is bright.' I would like the future to be like this afternoon, in practice, or the Syracuse game or the Boston College game. But I have to kind of remind myself that we are in a slower process with this group than other groups, but a sharp group of kids. They're very businesslike, so there certainly is a lot to work with, there's just youth," Coach Brey said.
Throughout all of the challenges, the ups and downs over his 19 years at Notre Dame, Brey has earned the title 'the loosest coach in college basketball.'
"I'm a little tighter inside than everybody thinks. But for the most part, and maybe it's the high school teacher and coach background in me, is to enjoy the journey and let kids know that they're going to have fun and get kids confident. And I think for young people to get confident and play with a free mind, they can't have someone yelling at them every 30 seconds when they make a mistake. The kind of young men we get here are such high achievers, both academically and basketball wise, they're so hard on themselves when they make a mistake, I'm trying to loosen up a little bit and smile. So that's a little bit of the role I feel here, with the kids that we get. Can we enjoy the journey? Certainly we're firm and we challenge them when we need to do that but can they enjoy it and be confident and play with a free mind?" Coach Brey said.