OK, enough playing on words.
Notre Dame coach Mike Brey talked to media members Tuesday morning for about 20 minutes, mostly about his team’s seven-player rotation but also on Saturday’s season opener against UE.
The Irish host UE to kick off Coaches vs. Cancer. Regardless of Saturday’s result, Notre Dame moves on to a final four in Brooklyn of Saint Joseph’s, Florida State and BYU.
Brey on why Coaches vs. Cancer is important to him: “I got involved with it back in 1995 when I was a coach at Delaware. My father is a survivor of malignant melanoma, and that kind of motivated me to get involved with it when it was just very simply the ‘3-Point Attack.’ Since then, here in this community, it’s amazing how the program has grown and how people have embraced it, so it’s something close to my heart. Also, it’s a neat event. It’s great competition – certainly playing an Evansville team that won 16 games last year and has a veteran perimeter. It’s an unbelievable challenge for us on Saturday, and getting to go to Brooklyn to play St. Joe’s and whoever else on the other side of the bracket is also exciting for us.”
Is there a chance Notre Dame could overlook UE? “Not at all. When you look at that veteran perimeter they’ve got coming back – and I talked to our team yesterday before practice – all I know last year is, the opening game this Evansville nucleus beat Butler and beat the heck out of a very good Creighton team. We’re not good enough to be looking past anybody – a team that won 16 games last year that is trending up, I believe Marty’s done a tremendous job building his program and building momentum. I watched tape of them in their exhibition – very impressed with them. We had to battle to beat Cardinal Stritch. Who are we to look past anybody? If we could win, it’s a quality win. Whoever wins Saturday, it’s a quality win for the other one. I think Evansville’s going to get into the Missouri Valley and do a lot of damage.”
Talking about UE’s style: “Marty’s an old coach (Bob) Knight guy. They’ll grind you up. We’ll be guarding a lot of screens off the ball. The interesting thing about Evansville – you don’t see many ball screens because they’re more of a pure motion, Indiana, Knight kind of motion. But there are a lot of road blocks, and their perimeter is really experienced. They’ve got a kid (Colt Ryan) who can really score the ball. He can score it. He can put 25 up easy. When you have really good veteran guards, you’ve got a chance on any night. They can shoot the ball. They know how they play. They’re working in some younger front line guys. It’s a heck of a challenge for us. We can’t be looking to New York. It’s a good, tough first game.”
Two days after playing the Aces, Notre Dame hosts Monmouth: “I won’t do anything with Monmouth until 4:30 (on Saturday). I think for us, especially here early, we just need to get that first home opener against a team that’s a great challenge for us. When it’s an afternoon game you have a little more time. You have time to kind of digest it. The nice thing is, we’re able to get our guys together with class schedules and have a shoot around Monday too. It’s a good litmus test for what’s coming in league play.”