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Men’s Basketball

Brey to coach against familiar faces versus Howard

| Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Head coach Mike Brey will see a few familiar faces on the sideline Tuesday night when his team tips off against Howard. Howard’s head coach, Kenneth Blakeney, was an assistant under Brey at the University of Delaware. His assistant coach is former Irish player Eric Atkins who graduated in 2014. Atkins was a major part of the 2010-2011 team that received a two-seed in the NCAA tournament. Atkins also served as video coordinator for the team after his graduation.

“Both of these guys are like sons to me,” Brey said of Blakeney and Atkins.

Brey said some of his most successful years at Delaware were when Blakeney was there, adding that he spent a lot of time talking to the Howard AD to help Blakeney get hired.

He added he was sad to see Atkins leave Notre Dame, but was happy he had the opportunity to coach under Blakeney.

“You got to go coach. You have to go get experience. Maybe you come back here someday after you get some experience, but I think it was a natural to get down there and get the coaching experience,” Brey said.

Brey said he was pleased with his team’s performance against Robert Morris this past weekend, and he hopes they can build on this momentum in their game against Howard.

“I love the fact that we have a lot of games coming at us,” Brey said. “We need to keep being on the stage and under the lights.”

Brey mentioned the positives he saw in the offense against Robert Morris.

“We have been good with the ball, but we just haven’t really made shots until the other day. We have been really good at moving and sharing the ball,” Brey stated.

Brey also spoke to the sportsmanship of the defense.

“We are unselfish in the sense that we are rotating and helping each other and we are coming in and taking charges,” Brey said. “We have done a bunch of that.”

He also talked about the mature play of his guards this year, noting the development of senior guard T.J. Gibbs. Part of this success can be attributed to the development of the players around Gibbs, he noted.

“He wants a big bounce-back year. He had a down year last year, but he was babysitting all year with all our young guys,” Brey said. “Our young guys are not the children that they were last year.”

Brey talked about Gibbs’ ability to shoot and take care of the ball, as well. 

“I like that he’s taking his jump shot. He’s not turning it down,” Brey said. “He takes care of the ball, and I hope he feels good, because I think he has found a nice rhythm right now.”

The play of sophomore guard Prentiss Hubb so far this year has also been impressive, Brey said.

“He gave us some good stuff last year when we threw him to the wolves. He’s really the quarterback now,” he said. “He feels that he is the voice, and when you have [graduate student forward] Rex [Pflueger] and T.J. endorsing you, I think that really helps.”

Emily Smierciak | The Observe

Irish sophomore guard Prentiss Hubb contests a shot during Notre Dame’s 92-57 win over Robert Morris.

Hubb’s shooting has also improved, and he is now fully recovered from his ACL injury from high school, he added.

“I think he’s stronger and healthier. He was able to get stronger and improve his body,” Brey said. “I think his lower body is better, because now it’s been two years out of that ACL injury and it’s not even an issue any more. Also, being confident and feeling he belongs more … has helped his shooting.”

Brey said he hopes Hubb can continue to be confident with his mid- and long-range jump shots.

“It’s such a mental thing, when you feel good from out there,” Brey stated. “And right now, he’s feeling good and not turning stuff down. I love how he is our quarterback.”

The Irish will look to add their second win of the season over a Howard team that has struggled in their first two games of the season, losing to Division II Washington Adventist by three points and George Washington by double digits. The game will tip off at the Joyce Center at 7 p.m. on Tuesday.

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