Notre Dame looks to remain perfect against Loyola Maryland
Marek Mazurek | Friday, November 18, 2016
After winning its first two contests of the season by more than 20 points, Notre Dame hosts Loyola Maryland on Friday night as the Irish look to keep their record spotless.
On Wednesday night, Notre Dame (2-0) nearly doubled up Seattle with a flurry of 3-point shots. The Irish hit 15-of-34 of their shots from behind the arc on their way to a 92-49 victory over the Redhawks. Irish coach Mike Brey said he likes how his team shot Wednesday but knows his squad will have to work harder when the competition ramps up.
“[Our shooting will be] interesting to watch,” Brey said. “That’s something I hang my hat on because we know what a good shot is. And we pass and move and screen for each other, and we know how to play on that end of the floor. We might have to work harder against better teams to get good shots, but I’m confident we can get good shots. Many teams will come out and play us and take away the 3, but then I have confidence we can put it on the floor.”
Notre Dame is currently in a stretch where it will play three games in the span of five days. After the Irish take on the Greyhounds (1-2), the team flies to New York to face Colorado on Monday and either Texas or Northwestern on Tuesday, depending on Monday’s results. Brey said he has told his team this week is a chance to lay a foundation for the rest of the season.
“We’ve talked about a week to make a move and to be really focused this week and every day of practice and the four games that we play,” Brey said. “One down, three to go. I compared it to the move we made last year when we beat North Carolina, Clemson and Louisville. … It’s not that level of competition, but as we get to Brooklyn, we could really make a statement and make a move here early in the season.”
Even with a heightened level of competition on the horizon for the Irish, Brey said he thinks this year’s squad has a good vibe to it after just two games.
“They kind of know who they are, and our competition will change here shortly,” Brey. “The Big Ten official grabbed me and said, ‘You have a great vibe. Your guys really love playing basketball together.’ And that’s quite a compliment. You can imagine how many different teams and vibes he’s around in heated atmospheres, and I let our guys know that.”
Part of the reason for the good vibe? Strong leadership. Brey said this year’s team is ahead of even last year’s Elite Eight team in that department due to the large number of upperclassmen on the team.
“I thought it would move quicker than it would with last year’s group,” Brey said. “Last year’s took some time, but given the makeup, especially the three captains — they were ready to take over. [Junior forward] Bonzie [Colson] was ready to be a voice. I even throw [senior forward Austin] Torres and [junior guard] Matt Farrell in there, even though they’re not captains — these guys really lead, they’ve been around in our program. So we have a group of older guys that have really set a tone.”
When the Greyhounds come to Purcell Pavilion, Notre Dame will have to account for junior guard Andre Walker. Walker put together a 21-point performance in Loyola’s most recent contest game — a 65-61 loss to LIU Brooklyn. Walker has recorded six games with more than 20 points in his time at Loyola.
Brey said the key to taking on Walker, and opposing offenses in general, is to pressure the ball.
“Being able to pressure the ball and zig-zag the ball [is a key],” Brey said. “We didn’t do that with [former Irish guard] Demetrius [Jackson] last year, we couldn’t wear him out zig-zagging the ball handler. But we can do that [this year]. And we have more depth to put in there, so we’re fresh defensively. When you come in with a Torres, a [sophomore guard Rex] Pflueger and a [freshman guard Temple] Gibbs, those three guys are terrors defensively.”
The Irish and the Greyhounds tip Friday at 7 p.m. at Purcell Pavilion.