Irish Board For Experience Of A Lifetime

Mike Brey's first time overseas, was back when he was a 28-year old assistant coach on the Duke basketball staff, and he was recruiting a prospect in Germany.

Brey signed the kid, who later transferred.

He wasn't good enough," Brey laughed.

Roughly twenty years later, Brey is giving his current basketball squad an earlier opportunity than he had to fly across the pond and experience new things, as the Notre Dame basketball team left South Bend on Tuesday, destined for Dublin, Ireland, to play in the Inaugural Emerald Hoops program.

Brey spoke with the media before Tuesday's practice, not too long before the team boarded the plane for a seven-hour flight. The eighth-year Irish coach said that 12 of his players had to apply for passports, as this is a new experience for most of his guys. Luke Zeller has been to Australia, and Brey thinks because of his military family background, that Carleton Scott has been to Spain before.

"It's been interesting some of the emails I've gotten from parents saying, which is refreshing, not talking anything about basketball and playing time, but we really appreciate the opportunity our son has doing (this)," Brey explained.

"It will be a trip of a lifetime."

Thirteen players are making the 13-day, six-game trip.

"We're ready to go," Brey stated. His team started practicing on Aug. 4th. "This will be great. This is like practice seven. We get over there, I think we have to get adjusted a little bit to the time change, but we don't play until Friday night against Ireland in Limerick. We'll have two practices, but it's a great trip. I think the guys are excited. I was mentioning, of the 13 kids, only (two) of them has been out of the country. What a great experience, forget the basketball part of it. Just to plug in and be part of the culture and travel and see what it's like."

Every player going was a part, in someway, of the Irish's 25-8 season a year ago. This trip gives a veteran team the opportunity to get a jump start on a year that will have high expectations of a Big East crown and possible Final Four bid.

The fast-paced Irish attack, that led the Big East in scoring and the nation in assists a year ago, will play four 10-minute quarters, have to adjust to a trapezoid lane, a 24-second shot clock, and no goaltending if the ball is off the rim and around the cylinder.

With this exhibition trip on the docket, the NCAA let Brey and his team get to work earlier than the Oct. 15th starting point for everyone else.

"

I'll probably keep emphasizing our system and our unselfishness offensively," Brey said of what he's going to push in Ireland. "We want to keep (that), that's a good thing to do. Be good when we're playing faster.

"Any time you can have a group together like this, it's a bonding situation," he continued. "I think it brings the group together. I want them to have fun. This is going to be a different tone than October and November where we're going to see some things, enjoy ourselves. I want to make sure that part of the element of the thing is in there. And probably just evaluating guys individually, how are they improving."

Reigning Big East Player of the Year Luke Harangody and fellow first-team all-conference selection Kyle McAlarney say they're much improved from a season ago. Tory Jackson, Ryan Ayers, Luke Zeller, Zach Hillesland and Jonathan Peoples round out the regular rotation, and Brey hinted all seven of those guys can look forward to see themselves matched up on the floor in completely different lineups than they're used to, and with new faces like Tyrone Nash, Tim Andree, Ty Proffitt or Scott.

"Because we're so old, our first practice, especially with the seven older guys, was pretty smooth," Brey said of this month. "It would've probably been Oct 15th too, and really with everybody because there is no new faces. As a matter of fact, it's been smoother because the transfers aren't here (Scott Martin and Ben Hansbrough). They'd be running into each other for the first couple of days.

"So all these guys move pretty good through our stuff. But I think you see, I thought the young guys for two straight days as a group, were pretty good. They look more like men than young guys and we have to keep building on that. It's clear our seven veteran guys are really ready to go, in shape and know how to play off of each other. That's what we can try and figure out, can one or two or any of these young guys help us in that area?"

"I think it gives us a chance to make some different lineups and play some different guys, evaluate some things, evaluate some things and you come back in late August and you've got some game film to watch and some practice film to watch, and you usually don't have that."

And like Brey emphasized, college kids don't usually have the opportunity to go overseas as well.


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