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BGI Transcript: Mike Brey, Feb. 8

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Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey held his weekly press conference on Friday just a couple of days before his team hosts Georgia Tech on Sunday.

Check out what Brey had to say below.

Q: What’s it like playing against Georgia Tech where it seems to be a grind every time?
BREY: “They do a great job with their zone, and they have shot blockers back there. They are committed to it. It’s very similar to attacking Syracuse’s zone and that mentality. You have to really work. You have to get some middle touches and we have some different guys in the middle the last time we played. You have to get into the Syracuse mindset that you’re going to play against zone every possession, and you have to pass fake and get into the middle. It’s a little different rhythm.

“TJ Gibbs has been very good against the zone. Prentiss Hubb as a freshman is still learning how to be a guard against zone. We could learn from his Syracuse and first Georgia Tech experiences and be better against it.”

Q: With the way he was last year and the way he is this year, it just seems like there is a different TJ Gibbs.
BREY: “He’s struggling. You try everything to help him. He’s in great shape and has that weight off. For him, he’s had a lot of different people thrown in there with him to try and bring along and figure out how to play off of. Having Prentiss in there does help him, no doubt about it. Rex not being in there hurts him. That was his running mate and toughness guy. He was good Saturday and found a rhythm in Boston, but we couldn’t continue it in Miami.”

Q: In terms of shot selection, do you feel he is forcing some bad shots?
BREY: “He gets to the end of the clock sometimes and has to go. For us, someone has to eventually make a play. That’s where we’re still trying to evolve offensively. Saturday gave you hope and the first five minutes of Miami did too, but after that it was the pits. He has to go and try and make some plays for us and get to the basket. That means he may take a bad one every now and then. Against zone, he has been able to have calmer feet and make some shots. I love his passing against the zone. He is important to have on the floor because he is good at finding the holes in the zone.”

Q: What is your conversation with him?
BREY: “I visited with all the guys as we were flying back Wednesday. He said he has to make shots and make shots. When a guy ties himself in knots like that, the last thing I’m going to do is talk about his shooting and that type of thing. You just try to take the pressure off of him and get him to enjoy the game. Each day is a new slate and have a good practice to be the enthusiastic guy. When he pressures the ball defensively and he’s active, that gets him going a little bit better offensively too. That’s something we have to look at for Sunday.”

Q: What did you get out of the conversations with the guys you mentioned?
BREY: “The basic theme was that I love them, I love coaching you and you’re a good player. We’re back on our heels, no question on Saturday. You win on Saturday and get off to a good start down there and you think you’ll get two in the road and it doesn’t happen that way. It’s a matter of letting them know we’re going to get back to work and to keep investing. Keep coming in and practicing. You’re going to get into the games and get experience. Some nights you’ve looked like you belong in the ACC and other nights you haven’t. But, you’re going to be out there … We got your back. That was the theme coming back. You’re 2-8 and back on your heels a little.”

Q: Where do you draw the line between nurturing and getting pissed off?
BREY: “That’s a fine line. I challenged us a little bit at halftime down there. I thought we were a little soft to end the half. We have really sharp guys that they are their own worst critics. They are very hard on themselves. I’ve got to find ways to keep them moving and keep them confident or repair confidence. That’s a really fine line … When I said ‘youth movement,’ that means there will be some pain. We are feeling some pain. What I’ve tried to remind myself is teach and certainly you can light them up and challenge them when you have to. But, keep teaching because we do have really receptive guys.”

Q: You said pain, but did you think it would be that painful?
BREY: “When we lost Rex, that was a long ride back after a win. Wednesday was painful to watch after the way we played Saturday and started Wednesday. I’m not sure who we are going to start Sunday, but I kind of like the way that lineup has started games. They are flowing, moving and certainly Nik has given us good stuff. He deserves it. That was all of sudden it came crashing down. Give Miami credit. Lykes’ ball pressure started to bother us and we turned it over more than we usually do. In the second half, we had some great looks to try and make a run. I don’t think we made any of them. We had stuff around the bucket too, and then it gets hard to get out of it. We’re 1-1 in February, so we have to hang our hat on something.”

Q: For the young guys, how important are those wins not just for the league standings?BREY: “To see our guys celebrate Saturday was great. They haven’t had a whole lot to celebrate to since the league play started. It was a team win and a lot of guys contributed, which was great. It was short lived obviously. Anytime you can do that it helps a group. If you’re a younger group, it really helps some of those young guys believe. As I told them they came up and visited with me, everyone is going to keep playing a lot. Even if they played bad three games in a row, they are still going to play a lot.”

Q: What went into the decision to start Nik Djogo and what have you seen from him?
BREY: “The way he competed against Duke last Monday. He played two minutes and I thought he was fighting and driving. He competed. It is the third year in our program. He has had an unbelievable attitude because as the year started we were more in a youth movement. But yet Nik had his opportunities to kind of take a spot and he really couldn’t. His attitude was great, and I was thrilled for him. He delivered. I didn’t expect 21 points again at Miami, but he gave us good energy and rebounding. He is important for us as we finish this thing. He gives us some energy.”

Q: How do you balance letting them shoot but when they aren’t falling trying to guide in some other tactic?
BREY: “I think that’s what we’ve struggled with as a staff. How do we help them offensively? Are we in some more sets? Again, Sunday night is completely different because you are playing against zone for 40 minutes. So you have to be good with the ball. Versus man-to-man, how do we help them? It’s funny because the night before the Boston College game, I was talking to the staff and I said what about in something completely different offensively then Saturday we flowed. I’m thinking maybe we found this thing, but I’m back to how do we keep helping them. Feeding the post is good for us and having Juwan back in the post is good. John Has been the only guy there for a bit, but Juwan is good with the ball, has some footwork down there and can score for us a little bit. I don’t want to tell Dane Goodwin and Nate Laszewski not to. You have to keep shooting that thing. We’re going to keep riding it. It’s been a dilemma. There’s no question about it.”

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