The last time the Notre Dame men's basketball team took the floor the Irish were able to escape with a 74-67 home victory over Boston University. But Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey only takes away the positives from the performance, which despite being less than a week ago is already well in the past.
"I'll always take a will to win and a will to find a way to get it done. That's something I'll definitely take no matter what. BU is almost like two months ago now with exams," Brey said. "I take more positives out of finding a way to get out of our place with a win against a good team that was really playing well."
The Irish have two home games left, Saturday against Delaware State and Monday against Savannah State, before Christmas Break and the start of Big East Conference play. With exams this week Notre Dame has not had much practice time since the game against the Terriers.
"Monday and Tuesday they were on their own, it's just too busy with their schedules," Brey said. "(Wednesday), Coach (Rod) Balanis got them through in groups of four and got some skill work in."
Notre Dame's first organized practices as a group will be on Thursday and Friday between exam blocks.
"We'll have (Thursday), we'll have (Friday) and the shootaround on Saturday is important and it's almost a little bit like a practice," Brey said. "You still need some stuff to get into on Saturday afternoon since you've been away from the game and away from the practice routine."
Brey likes to break the schedule into increments and these final two games before Christmas fall into their own category.
"We have three practices and two games in this segment, before we shut it down for Christmas and then it's Big East time when we come back," he said. "I would just like to see us get back into a smooth rhythm of playing together. We haven't played together in awhile; we haven't practiced much together either lately. Certainly, defending, rebounding the basketball, maybe we can get into some zone over the next two games, it depends on how these teams are shooting the ball."
Offensively, Brey wants his guys to play like themselves.
"I thought the first against BU we were a little out of character," he said. "In the second half when our life was flashing before our eyes, we were in an amazing, disciplined offensive rhythm, staying in character and it paid off for us. We need to have that more for 40 minutes no matter who we're playing."
The coach admitted that he would have liked to have another non-conference game between Christmas Break and the start of Big East play, but with conference play starting in December, that no longer seems feasible.
"I would love to have one like we've always had," he said. "I didn't want to take away them from being home with their families on Christmas. So putting a game in on the 27th and keep them here is just not an option."
The Irish will be dismissed after the game against Savannah State and will not have to report back until Saturday, Dec. 27 for practice. But the nine days between games will give the Irish a chance to get after it hard before the start of conference play against DePaul on New Year's Eve.
"Lately, we haven't had a lot of great practice reps. We've played a lot then we're off a bunch. I think we can get back into some two-a-days when we get back the evening of the 27th and clean up some things," said Brey. "We've played in some pretty intense games already. I think we'll be ready to roll when we go to Chicago and understand what we're getting into."
The time off should be a good thing, especially for a team that has already played plenty of basketball going back to a preseason tour of Ireland.
"It's not bad to get away from the game for a little bit and then get back into a routine. This group has played a lot of basketball over the years and again Ireland is something that's on their wheels so to speak," said Brey. "Give them a little time to get their legs under them especially before we start the most grueling challenge in the league that we've ever had."