Fighting Irish Looking For Toughness

In the midst of a four-game losing streak, Notre Dame will try to get back to playing like men. Mike Brey won't be the guy to run to for any backrubs. Tory Jackson said that his team will do whatever it takes even if that means a fight in practice and Luke Harangody understands that the Irish are on the verge of being out of the Big East race.

The Notre Dame locker room remained closed longer than usual following Monday's loss at Marquette, but when the door opened, the message was clear.

"We've got to get tougher," point guard Tory Jackson replied when asked what was discussed.

That theme was carried into head coach Mike Brey's postgame press conference.

The first thing that Brey said was, "Marquette made all of the toughness plays in the last three or four minutes."

Luke Harangody believes that the Irish's current four-game losing streak was avoidable.

"Four in a row, all pretty much tight games that we should win, especially these last two at home," he said. "We need to dig deep right now, we need to dig deep, stay together and find it because obviously it's not out there."

That search began just hours after the loss as Brey said ‘enough country club' and brought the Irish in for practice at 6 a.m. Tuesday morning.

Jackson was clear when he said he wanted to see a different tone in preparation for Saturday's game at Pittsburgh.

"It starts in practice, we've got to fight each other in practice," he said. "I've got to pick it up, everybody has got to pick it up, we've got to do something. We've got to figure out something, whatever it takes. If it takes for us to get into a big fight in practice, do it. We've got to do something."

Brey wants to see that attitude, but will not let it go too far.

"I would more worry about in this league getting somebody hurt," he said of the tough practices. "We compete and we go for it. We max out our physicality many times, that's why we've had chances against these teams.

"We could use a few short sessions where we're just going at it, you just have to be careful about it. You win the battle and lose the war so to speak, but we'll be able to do some of that this week."

Brey will not be the best guy to go to for support this week.

"It's not Cubs Scouts man. We signed up for the Big East, this is tough," he said. "I'm not holding any hands, either grow up and deliver or don't play. That's where we're at and we're going to play Pittsburgh, who is arguably the toughest team in the league.

"I'm not giving massages and telling guys how beautiful they are. Either you deliver or you don't play."

What is perplexing for Brey is that what has cost his team recently was not his biggest concern.

"Going into this stretch I was more concerned about us guarding than scoring, but we've guarded pretty well," Brey said of holding the Golden Eagles and Huskies to 140 points combined. "That should be enough, that's about as good as we've got on the defensive end."

Jonathan Peoples added that missing shots should motivate the Irish to step up in other facets.

"If we're not hitting shots, we've just got to be tougher in other areas. We've got to make sure we get the stop, make sure we get the loose ball, the extra rebound, set the screen, make the hard foul," he said. "We've just got to start doing all the other stuff if our shots aren't falling."

Kyle McAlarney does not believe that the Irish's recent struggles will hurt their confidence.

"I don't think confidence for us is ever really an issue," he said. "I think we just need to keep battling and keep fighting."

But McAlarney did admit that his own struggles (18 points in two games) make his job as a leader more difficult.

"It's hard, especially when you didn't play your best. What credibility do you have if you didn't play your best to try to yell at guys?" he said. "But being a senior captain, that's who I am for this team."

The Irish have very little time to get things turned around.

"It doesn't get any easier, you go to Pittsburgh and you've got another battle on your hands. But it's also opportunity to have a big win, which we're searching for and that's kind of how you've got to look at it," said Brey. "If you don't work on the bench press a little this week, it could be interesting because those guys come after you."

Harangody understands that this is a vital time for his team.

"We're going to see who is going to be a man out of all of us," said Harangody. "We need guys to step up or we're going to fade out of the Big East." Top Stories