Is Change Coming?

Following Saturday's loss to Connecticut, Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey suggested that he could change the starting lineup for Monday's game against Marquette.

With his team on a three-game losing streak and Big East leader Marquette (17-2, 6-0) coming to town on Monday, Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey is looking at changing things up.

"I'm not sure who we start Monday," said Brey. "We could come out a different way. No matter what, you've got to get some energy back on these Saturday-Mondays."

The knock on the Irish coming into the season was defense and rebounding, but offense was the problem in Saturday's 69-61 loss to Connecticut.

"You've got to score the thing a little bit too, I don't want to be putting defensive guys in the game. We've got to score this thing a little bit," said Brey. "Our offensive guys did a pretty good job adjusting to what we wanted to do defensively against them, we didn't knock down some shots that we usually knock down."

Ryan Ayers struggled to shoot the ball against the Huskies, making just one of 10 shots, while Luke Zeller made only two of six attempts off the bench.

"We need more. We need Ryan. I mean Ryan's got to keep shooting, his percentages say he's a heck of a shooter. He missed a couple, I feel for him," Brey said. "I really thought in the second half he'd bang down a couple, we've seen him do that, to kind of get us going, but he never did.

"Luke Zeller had some looks, he never did. Those two guys making some shots for us, that's a key. They've got to keep shooting, can't tell them not to shoot."

While Luke Harangody, Kyle McAlarney and Tory Jackson are safe bets to be in the starting lineup against Marquette, that leaves Ayers and Zach Hillesland as the two most likely to be replaced, but Brey obviously thinks both are effective.

"We need to put that thing in the basket and the guys that are in there are guys that can score it and Ryan Ayers' percentage bares that out," Brey said. "All week I was on him about being pretty aggressive and I thought he was, God he took 10 shots [Saturday], six threes."

Zeller replaced Hillesland to open the second half against Syracuse and that could the very well be the move again, but Brey likes what he gets from Hillesland.

"Zeller obviously is more of a shot-maker than Hillesland, but Hillesland gets us some stuff," said Brey. "I thought in transition, driving it, he was moving, he was getting us up and down the floor early."

But it seems unlikely that Brey would mention potential changes unless he was leaning that way.

"We'll think about it. Again, I'm not going to knee-jerk because I'd like to see if we can get in a flow and steal a league win right now. It's certainly something to evaluate but you've got to evaluate it quickly because you're not going to practice," he said. "You're not going to go live, you can't go live really [Sunday], you've got to get some rest for guys, but we'll look at it all and talk about it."

Nothing is out of bounds, according to Brey.

"When you lose three in a row, all options are open, to even start the game differently," he said. "That's something I think we have to think about [Saturday night, Sunday] morning as a staff, ‘Do you start differently and change how you come out of the gate?'"

In addition to adjusting the starting five, Brey has to look at giving Tyrone Nash and Carleton Scott more minutes off the bench. Nash scored eight points in just two minutes late against the Huskies.

"I'd like to get them in there a little bit more, at least one of them, maybe in the first half," Brey said. "Certainly Nash and Scott were guys, we've looked at them all week."

But again, minutes for those sophomores may be hard to come by as the Irish like what they've gotten from their top two reserves, Zeller and Jonathan Peoples.

"I thought Jon Peoples gave us good minutes [against UConn]. Lost in a loss, I thought he was good for us, we need that out of him," said Brey. "Zeller is working and banging and doing his thing, he's got to take open shots, he got some looks [Saturday]."

Brey is more concerned with getting a win on Monday than anything.

"Let's see if we can get out of this weekend 1-1 and 4-4 in the league," Brey said. "That's all we're trying to do, but I'm not sure how we're going to start the game."


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