Blue and Gold Illustrated

January 2020

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Page 46 of 55 JANUARY 2020 47 MEN'S BASKETBALL Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey has insisted all season that he believes this could become the best defensive team he has coached in his 20 years in South Bend. The Fighting Irish (8-3) validated their coach's point with a smothering 75-61 win over UCLA (7-4) at Purcell Pavilion Dec. 14. The Irish defense held the Bruins to season lows in points scored and field goal shooting (34.9 percent). Fierce post pressure also helped Notre Dame force nine turnovers, and tally four blocks and four steals. "How we helped our big guys, our [guards] coming down, we stripped them a couple of times, we forced them into offensive fouls," Brey said. "Maybe we should play that way against every team no matter what the three-point shooters are because it made us active." Couple the good defense with Irish shooters starting to find their three- point touch and Brey might have finally found a winning formula as the games get tougher and bigger moving forward. Notre Dame was 0-3 this season against Power Five opponents before the UCLA win. "We were searching for a Power Five win, to beat a Power Five team," Brey said. "We made some big shots when we needed to — it was a week of growth for us." After tying a school record four days earlier with 20 made three-pointers in a 110-71 win over Detroit Mercy, Notre Dame tossed in 15 more on 39 attempts against UCLA. "We're firing now, aren't we," Brey said rhetorically. "I'm a great guy to play for. We're letting it rip now." Sophomore guard Prentiss Hubb paced the Irish with 20 points on the strength of 5-of-10 three-point shooting. "We talked about how we can't turn down open shots," said Hubb, who added a team-high six assists. "If you turn down open shots it's basically being selfish because we all have confidence in each other to take the shot and make the shot." Sophomore guard Dane Goodwin added 16 points, senior guard T.J. Gibbs had 15 and senior forward John Mooney had 14 points and 15 rebounds for his eighth double-double in 10 games this season. — Todd D. Burlage A program-record 33 assists on 41 baskets against Detroit Mercy — with 10 turnovers — only padded Notre Dame's lead as the best pass- ing team in the country. "When you get 33 assists, I don't care who you're playing," Brey said, "that's pretty powerful." Interestingly, Brey pointed out, Notre Dame has ranked in the bot- tom half of the ACC all season in shooting percentage. "Even not shooting it very well," Brey said, "that shows how good we pass it." All three of Notre Dame's start- ing guards — senior T.J. Gibbs (sec- ond, 3.23), sophomore Prentiss Hubb (third, 2.36) and fifth-year senior Rex Pflueger (10th, 1.89) — rank among the top 10 in assist-to-turnover ratio in the ACC, and Hubb (sixth, 4.7) and Gibbs (13th, 3.8) are also in the top 15 in assists per game. Against Detroit Mercy, Hubb had 11 assists and Gibbs added eight — both career highs. "It's just discipline, being able to make the right plays at the right time and being poised with the ball," Hubb explained. "That came with having one year under my belt, being able to learn the ins and the outs of college basketball." Among the eight rotation regulars, sophomore forward Nate Laszewski is the lone Irish player with more turnovers than assists. Even one of the Irish big men — senior power forward John Mooney — headed into the matchup with In- diana Dec. 21 with 22 assists to only 10 turnovers. "We're all unselfish guys," Mooney said. "If you have a good shot, that's great, but if you can turn it down and get a better one, then that's kind of our MO and something that we are always working towards." ✦ 2019-20 NOTRE DAME MEN'S BASKETBALL SCHEDULE Date Opponent (TV) Result/Time (ET) Nov. 6 at North Carolina* L, 76-65 Nov. 9 Robert Morris^ W, 92-57 Nov. 12 Howard^ W, 79-50 Nov. 15 Marshall^ W, 74-64 Nov. 18 Presbyterian W, 63-53 Nov. 21 Toledo^ W, 64-62 (OT) Nov. 26 Fairleigh Dickinson W, 91-66 Dec. 4 at Maryland# L, 72-51 Dec. 7 Boston College* L, 73-72 Dec. 10 Detroit Mercy W, 110-71 Dec. 14 UCLA W, 75-61 Dec. 21 vs. Indiana& 2 p.m. Dec. 29 Alabama A&M 7 p.m. Jan. 4 at Syracuse* (ESPN2/U) 4 p.m. Jan. 8 at NC State* (ESPN2/U) 7 p.m. Jan. 11 Louisville* (ESPN) 2 p.m. Jan. 15 at Georgia Tech* (ACCN) 8:30 p.m. Jan. 22 Syracuse* (ESPN/2/U) 7 p.m. Jan. 25 at Florida State* (TBA) 12 p.m. Jan. 29 Wake Forest* (ACCN) 9 p.m. Feb. 1 Georgia Tech* (RSN) 12 p.m. Feb. 5 Pittsburgh* (ACCN) 6:30 p.m. Feb. 9 at Clemson* (ACCN) 6 p.m. Feb. 11 at Virginia* (ESPN2/U) 9 p.m. Feb. 15 at Duke* (TBA) 4 p.m. Feb. 17 North Carolina* (ESPN) 7 p.m. Feb. 23 Miami* (ACCN) 6 p.m. Feb. 26 at Boston College* (ACCN) 9 p.m. Feb. 29 at Wake Forest* (RSN) 4 p.m. Mar. 4 Florida State* (ESPN2/U) 9 p.m. Mar. 7 Virginia Tech* (ACCN) TBA Mar. 10-14 ACC Tournament$ (ACCN/ESPN) TBA * ACC game; ^ Men Against Breast Cancer Invi- tational; # ACC/Big Ten Challenge; & Crossroads Classic at Indianapolis; $ at Greensboro, N.C.; ACCN — ACC Network Three-Point Play 1. Great Dane After shooting a combined 3 of 17 from the field and 1 of 9 three-pointers in the losses to Maryland and Boston College, sophomore guard Dane Goodwin was called into head coach Mike Brey's office for a help-me-better- coach-you meeting. Goodwin suggested that Brey be harder on him during practice. "Note taken," Brey said. Goodwin responded with a career-high 27 points on 10-of-13 shooting, including a 5-of-7 effort on three-pointers, against Detroit Mercy. He also grabbed seven rebounds and dished out four assists. Four days later in a win over UCLA he tallied 16 points and six rebounds. 2. In The Trenches Wanting to shake things up after the consec- utive losses to Maryland and Boston College, Brey had strength and conditioning director Tony Rolinski do the coaching one day — in the weight room and away from the court. The training session was fast-paced, rigor- ous and had the Irish coaches working right alongside the players. "That's probably why I'm exhausted," Brey, 60, said with a laugh. "Because I'm faking it for an hour on the Lifecycle [exercise bike] be- cause I don't want my guys to see I'm dying!" 3. Exercise In Longevity Working his 25th season as a Division I head coach, Brey hit another career milestone Dec. 14 in his team's 75-61 win against UCLA when the 20-year Irish skipper took the side- lines for his 800th career game. Creighton's Greg McDermott hit the mark the same day, making them the 24th and 25th active coaches to reach 800 games. — Todd D. Burlage DEFENSE LIFTS THE FIGHTING IRISH TO A 75-61 WIN OVER UCLA

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