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BGI Transcript: Mike Brey, Feb. 14

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Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey met with the media on Thursday afternoon before the team's practice as they prepare for a road showdown with Virginia.

Check out all of what Brey had to say below.

Q: How’s the week been?
BREY: “Tuesday was our off day. Yesterday we scrimmaged a little bit. You’re coming off a win and won two of three, everyone is feeling a little bit better. Certainly we have a huge challenge on Saturday. That’s the one game we felt we didn’t really fight and dig. I think we’d like to redeem ourselves on that front it seems.”

Q: So, it’s easier to say what they need to do Saturday? Just go out and compete for 40 minutes and see what happens?
BREY: “It’s the one time we didn’t and 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 Dane Goodwin and Nate Laszewski were in there, this group moves it a little better and can score a little better … If I had to do it all over again, I would have started differently to give us a chance to handle the ball against their defense better. That’s our plan.”

Q: How do you make inroads against them?
BREY: “They’re really good, man. We have to score some. When we made the run in the second half last time to cut it to 12 and they called timeout, it was because of transition when we got a couple of stops and got up the floor. Their set defense has been hard for everyone. That would really help us. Then control the tempo. We’re not playing really fast anyway, but downshifting our gears a little bit more. If it’s really ugly and it’s in the 40s, you’re in it and we’ll take that. That will be fine with us.”

Q: Where is Nik Djogo is with this evolution and starting?
BREY: “He’s comfortable and his third year in the program. Nik used to play a little nervous at times and even earlier this season when he was in the rotation. At North Carolina was an example being tight and traveling a couple of times. He’s an underrated defender. His size, 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. He’s a good cutter too. Mentally I think it’s he’s thinking it’s his third year and not let anything bother him and I don’t care what coach thinks … that’s a good thing.”

Q: Where are you with pacing john Mooney through this grind?
BREY: “Monday and Tuesday was good for John when we have gaps like this. Now we’re back on one of those stretches. He’s been smart about getting time off and getting refreshed. We’re not practicing real long this time of year, but it’s just stealing him time the day after a game. Then being smart about what we do with him in practice.”

Q: What kind goals are you setting now?
BREY: “We’ve talked about February. We’re 2-1 in February. We haven’t talked about postseason stuff. It’s a matter of can we make a move and make interesting in February. If we can make it interesting, then maybe I start to talk about where you stand in the whole thing. I haven’t talked what it would take to be an NCAA Tournament team or NIT team. It’s been more day-to-day and in February can we make a move and be better. So far we have been better.”

Q: What have you liked this month from the group?
BREY: “The one thing about this group the whole time is they come in every day and are really coachable. Our leadership has been great. It’s easy to lead when you are 8-2 or 7-3. But when you’re 2-8 and swinging and scratching, that puts a little more pressure on your guys. John Mooney has evolved and has been calm and stable … He’s helped us in that sense.

“What you like about coaching here and when we have rotated seasons like this, thankfully it hasn’t been too many, you have great kids who come in and say coach us today and what do we need to do. They’re open to that.”

Q: What did you see from TJ Gibbs that you liked a little more?
BREY: “I thought he was active defensively. He got his hands on stuff and made some steals. I thought he enjoyed playing. One of the things I’ve talked to him about is you have to smile when you play. For anyone who kind of smiles in the midst of a game, it kind of diffuses things. He’s had the weight of the world on him, there’s no question about it. He’s played that way at times …

“I thought him and Prentiss Hubb were really good together against Georgia Tech. For us to beat anyone in this league, those two have to be good with the ball, good defensively and score for us like they did against BC and how they were the other night.”

Q: How do you balance that with him being a veteran and pulling him to the side more like you would a freshman?
BREY: “I’ve spent a little more time with him the last two weeks and the day before Georgia Tech because I knew he was feeling it. The reason he is feeling it is good stuff because he wants it so bad for his team. Coming back from Miami and I visited with all of them individually, he kept saying he had to make shots. He wants it bad for his group. He’s had a lot of different chemistries to try and manage this year. I feel for him a little bit at times.”

Q: Against BC and Georgia Tech, he turned it on the second half. How does he flip the switch?
BREY: “We were able to move the ball and we were able to get him in places where he could drive it. When we drive it and get fouled, that for sure has helped us. This is a different animal Saturday as far as getting into the lane on them. The one thing they have given up because they do jam it up is shots over the top. That’s been a thing for us that has been hit or miss. To have success against them, you do have to make some shots over the top of their defense. It’s a give you a jump shot type of defense.”

Q: What’s different about your team from the last time?
BREY: “Any time you win a couple and come off a win, guys feel better about themselves and more confident. For this group, confidence is a thing that has waned throughout a tough January going up and down. As much as the leader is telling them they are good and you guys will be alright, when you actually do it and get a league win no matter who it is against, you feel better about yourself.”

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