Notre Dame played six times in 13 days, starting with the Maui Invitational in November through Saturday's game at Lucas Oil Stadium against Ohio State.
Now the Irish get a rest, playing just three games over the next 24 days, with all three at home. Head coach Mike Brey thinks that it will be a good chance for his team to get its legs back and for guys like Luke Harangody to get healthy.
"It's usually the cycle now where we get out of the gate and play a lot of games and then around the holidays we're shutting it down a little bit," Brey said. "I thought it was important because our last week of classes here are as intense, sometimes more intense than exam week. So it was probably pretty good to not have a game this week. It was also good to not have a game this week because I think we needed to get some juice back in the wheels."
With final exams starting next week at Notre Dame, players will get the chance to come in and get some individual work in around their tests.
"I like the exam week time. Guys can come in and work on some things," said Brey. "You can get your body refreshed and hopefully you can end the segment before Christmas on a positive note and guys can get home and see their families and get a little bit of a blow before we really get into it."
But the Irish still have those three non-conference games to play before heading home for the holiday. Notre Dame will host Boston University this Saturday and have six days off before hosting Delaware State next Saturday and Savannah State on Tuesday, Dec. 22.
Brey hopes to get some things accomplished in the three games before heading to DePaul for the conference opener on New Year's Eve.
"Early this week was to get our energy level back up. I think that was waning a little last week and probably rightly so with all of the stuff we've been doing," he said.
"Guys off the bench, Zeller and Peoples and Nash to get confident. Finish up the non-league season on a good note a little bit like they did in Ireland," he said. "They came into the season really confident because of how they played in Ireland."
Another thing that Brey wants to see is his team get stronger at rebounding, but admitted that will probably be a year-long issue.
"I think for us a recurring issue is going to be…keeping people, the athletic ability, out of our lane and off of our backboard," he said. "I think we're going to keep coming back to that and it's things we have to emphasize in practice and they have to talk amongst themselves to see if we can limit that. We're never going to completely shut that down because there is some amazing athletic ability we play against, but can we calm it down a little bit like we did in the Texas game, quite frankly?"
The extended practice time will also give the team a chance to work on its free throw shooting after making just seven of 13 in the loss to the Buckeyes. Brey said that his staff will not be tinkering with any techniques, but just wants his team to get some work in.
"Not to get into great psychological evaluations, but reps in practice is what we need to do here through the break," he said. "The one thing about not playing a heavy schedule like we just went through is guys have more time to get reps."
Brey said at this point in the season and in players' careers it is difficult to make any drastic changes to their free throw strokes.
"You've got to be careful with technique. The only thing you can maybe tweak a little bit is routine. ‘Why don't you try three dribbles instead of two?' Just to change a little," Brey said. "A lot of them do that on their own… By the time they get here there's been so many reps of doing that, there's not a whole lot you can do, sometimes even in the offseason."
Brey said that his staff probably made the most progress with Nash on his free throws this offseason.
"He has a little bit of a fling of a shot. He's worked on it and he's been in there and he's got reps and he gets with the assistant," said Brey. "I'm much more confident in him from the line than when he first got here."
The coach is still trying to get Harangody to use his time at the line as a chance to get a breather, especially after banging with big guys at both ends of the court, but the junior forward's competitive nature makes it tough.
"That's a work in progress always with him because he's always this way," Brey said. "I think we've got to keep coaching him on that."