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Upcoming Road Stretch To Test Notre Dame

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Joe Raymond

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A 3-0 start in Atlantic Coast Conference play is no reason to rest for the Notre Dame basketball team.

The Irish — ranked 20th nationally by the Associated Press with a record of 14-2 — have a three-game road strength upcoming, beginning Thursday evening at Miami (11-3, 1-1 in the ACC).

Notre Dame then turns around for a game at Virginia Tech on Saturday (2 p.m.), then a trip back south to face Florida State on the 18th.

“That's jammed up,” head coach Mike Brey said of the upcoming schedule. “I know putting the league's schedule together is difficult, but it's interesting that Tech plays at home on Tuesday and we're on the road, and we've got to turn it around. I know they try and make it equitable. I wish they would've thought that one out a little more.

“Anyways, we'll get our legs under us. You don't do much practicing on these days in between. You kind of treat it like we did in the NCAA Tournament, where you kind of have a walk-through and you shoot and you stretch and it's more of a mental day than a physical day on Friday. It's a day to try and get your energy back quickly no matter what happens Thursday night.”

After a 22-point effort in a win over Louisville last Wednesday, junior point guard Matt Farrell had a slow start against Clemson three days later, which Brey attributed in part to fatigue.

Senior guard Steve Vasturia said it’s clear that the emphasis is on keeping the team fresh during quick turnarounds.

“Getting the right amount of rest…coach does a great job of that,” Vasturia said. “Obviously after the last game we had a day to get our legs back and kind of get our minds back. It’s nice we don’t have school or class, a lot of time to relax. Coming back today and having two good practices, we definitely have to prepare to compete again.”

Stretches like the Irish face in the coming weeks has Brey thinking about the long-term health of the players, particularly the high-usage starters.

Senior wing V.J. Beachem is playing a team-high 33 minutes a game, followed by Vasturia (32.8), Farrell (32.3) and junior forward Bonzie Colson (31.1).

“The last couple days we needed to get some guys' legs back,” Brey said. “It's new territory for Bonzie, Matt Farrell and even Rex Pflueger playing the minutes they're playing a couple times in a week, so how we rest them; how we keep it fresh; length of practice, all very much on my mind here because we've got another three games jammed in tight.”

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