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Irish Insights


Brey at the podium

Here are some highlights from Notre Dame coach Mike Brey's news conference Thursday as the No. 2-seeded Irish (26-6) prepared to play No. 15-seed Akron (23-12) in the second round of the NCAA tournament Friday in Chicago.

On Notre Dame using a motion offense, which Akron coach Keith Dambrot said was hard to prepare for because it is rarely used any more: That's a good point. I think, you know, our game has evolved down into so much ball screen stuff, and probably a lot of it by way of the NBA. You know, I think it's our personnel and what we've recruited to, a system we've kind of recruited to and have really taught to over time. Guys that usually take the floor for us, we get to teach for a while before we cut them loose.

But I think it's a beautiful way to play. I think in some of our youth basketball -- now you're getting me on a tangent here. We should play quarters where we can't ball screen at all for our young kids, and they can't dribble too much so they have to move and catch. We do that in our camp. But it certainly is conducive to our personnel.

On Purdue suspending Kelsey Barlow before the tournament and the message his suspension sends to the Boilermakers and all of college basketball: Well, as the leader (coach Matt Painter), that's a strong move. You know, it obviously had to be done, and there's a big picture in all this even though short picture you look and, my gosh, we don't get to play them for the NCAA tournament.

The institution I work at has a little bit of a built-in situation like that. You know, at times throughout it's cost us a player, Kyle McAlarney we lost at a key time. But rules are rules, and big picture is big picture. I think I just used Kyle as an example today. He's better for it. He's a better man for it.

It was certainly hard to swallow because we had an NCAA tournament team then. Thank God, Tory Jackson was ready to be the point guard. But when you're in that position, you can't waiver, and you've got to bite the bullet and do what's best. I give Matt a lot of credit for doing what he had to do."

His analysis of Akron: They're a little bit like us. They can spread you out. They've got shooters out there on the perimeter. They use the three-point shot as much at the clip as Louisville does, 34 percent are field goals, which leads the league, Louisville does. And certainly Akron leads the MAC in that area.

And they can throw it inside to big guys who can grind it inside, and if you over bite the help, they kick it out to shooters. They're old. They've played together for a while. They have won together for a while.

And I can't emphasize enough they just cut a net down on Saturday with a magical run through the MAC. Marshall certainly gives them a shot blocker. We played against some size in the big east, but this is a guy that's standing back there.

They really know who they are and play to their strengths, stay away from their weaknesses, and I think that's why they're in the position they're in.

On creating the position of point center for Tyrone Nash and how the 6-foot-8 senior preformed this year bringing the ball up the floor on occasions: You know, we started talking about that, and he kind of liked that back in the spring because he said Coach has a hybrid position for me, a point center.

He really is great with the basketball. He relieves some pressure and can come out and handle the ball and enter the offense, especially when (Eric) Atkins is not in and (Ben) Hansbrough is being face-guarded and hounded like he has been really for five months. We can kind of invert our whole offense, and he's great with it.

He's great with it – you know, he's a great point center from the low post too. People see him handle the ball up top, and certainly that's good for us, and he can enter, and he can bring the ball up. But when he gets a low post touch in our offense, usually good things happen.

On the talk that the talent level in college basketball has diminished: It's a little frustrating to hear that. The phrase that's been out there, there's no great teams. Well, I think we're a great team because we play like a team. I take it a little personal, you know, with – and I'm sure a lot of other coaches in college basketball too.

There's not lottery picks. I don't quite get that. But certainly in the climate that's become college basketball, we found a niche, which we were always kind of building for and always kind of had that rhythm to our roster with older guys. But certainly this year, hey, us and Akron. There's a great example of two teams, kids that have played together for a while, probably got – I know they got a lot of gym rats, I've got a lot of gym rats. I think it's kind of refreshing.

And I think it's kind of the way of the world, the way it's going to be. I bet this tournament is going to be really good even though maybe there's no great teams. You know, that's the theme I've heard.