Oct 10, 2013, 9:40 AM EDT
Mike Franz, the official 2013-14 men’s basketball beat writer for the In The Paint blog, is currently a sophomore at Holy Cross College. Over the course of the year Mike will bring you insight from within the student section, interviews with Fighting Irish players and stories from inside the team circle. You can follow Mike (and the rest of the Notre Dame student beat writing staff) on twitter at @JrNDBloggers.
It was media day for the Notre Dame men’s basketball team here at the Purcell Pavilion today. With reporters buzzing around the complex trying to get as many quotes from players and coaches as they could, today was a realization that the first regular season game is only 30 days away.
To begin the 2013-2014 media day, Mike Brey held a press conference where reporters threw Coach Brey an array of questions that varied from the earlier practice schedule and the move to the ACC, to how Demetrius Jackson is coming along in practice.
In all the chaos of questions being asked to Coach Brey, the one thing he said that really stood out for me was when he spoke about moving from the BIG EAST to the ACC.
“I don’t want to reinvent the wheel here,” Brey said. “People have been asking me are you going to change your style of play since you’re in the ACC? Well last time I checked we’ve got a style of play here that has been really consistent and effective, especially in this building. With a core of veteran guys who are accustomed to play a certain way, we’re going to play our way.”
This year the Irish may be labeled as an underdog in many match-ups this year – possibly against Indiana, North Carolina and Duke.
“We’ve always been good in the mode of an underdog,” Brey said. “It almost has been what the program has been long before I got here. We’ve kind of relished at it and played that pretty well. Those three Big Ten games in eighteen days are a real challenge, but some of our non-league games are extremely challenging, including Delaware, Bryant, Indiana State, Santa Clara. We’ve got more dangerous games like that than we’ve ever had here. It [being an underdog] is familiar territory for us and we’ve played pretty darn loose that way … The key is, when we’re supposed to win, to still play loose and that’s something we’ve really done well here to keep the home record so well.”
Mike Brey sounded very confident about this upcoming season. Having been an assistant on the bench for Duke under head coach Mike Krzyzewski, Coach Brey knows what the ACC is all about. Today he said when he went to Chapel Hill, N.C. last year to make the announcement about the change in conferences, a lot of the ACC media came up to him and said, “Hey, welcome home.”
This is a conference both Brey and a pair of assistant coaches, Anthony Solomon and Rod Balanis, are familiar with and if people think Coach Brey and this team are going to use this first year in the ACC to just feel out the conference and take it easy are extremely mistaken.
Coach Brey believes there is one main question that he deals with on a daily basis, “Can we deliver in year one and earn a NCAA Tournament bid is my soul focus.”
Coach’s players agree with his game plan going into the team’s “rookie” year in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Senior guard Jerian Grant stated, “We need to keep our identity. We can’t try to change up too much and try to score 100 points like everyone else in the ACC. We have to keep our identity and continue to play Notre Dame basketball.”
Their chance to play and show everyone in the ACC what it means to play Notre Dame basketball begins in 19 days with their first of two exhibition games to kick off Notre Dame’s 2013-2014 campaign against Indianapolis in the Purcell Pavilion.
The team has the talent. They have the right attitude. And they have, in my opinion, one of the best if not the best “players’ coaches” I’ve ever seen, with Mike Brey. All that is left to do now is keep practicing and working towards that goal of an NCAA Championship bid.
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