Mike Brey

New Year’s Resolutions: Notre Dame Fighting Irish

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Over the course of the holiday week, we at College Basketball Talk will be detailing what we believe will be the New Year’s Resolutions of some of the nation’s most talented, most disappointing, and thoroughly enigmatic teams. What can we say, we’re in a giving mood.

Who else made Resolutions? Click here to find out.


  • Why it will happen: Mike Brey doesn’t really have a choice but to expand his rotation and give more minutes to Zach Auguste, Tom Knight, and Austin Burgett. With news breaking after Notre Dame’s game against Ohio State at Madison Square Garden that star guard Jerian Grant would no longer be with the program due to an academic issue, Brey has been put in a tough position. The Irish’s bench only accounts for 21.1% of the overall minutes to begin with, and taking Grant’s 35.6 mpg out of the picture makes matters worse. Brey no longer has the option to play with a small line-up like he favored. Auguste or Knight now will most likely move into the starting five.
  • Why it won’t happen: Unless Mike Brey tries to play basically his starting five with just one off the bench, this will happen. I still think Notre Dame has a chance to be decent in the ACC, but they are in a world of trouble as things currently stand. There were already flaws with this team; compound that with taking Grant out of the equation, and things look bleak. The onus falls on Zach Auguste and Tom Knight to really log quality minutes in the front-court — they have both been hot and cold this season.


  • Why it will happen: With Grant no longer playing, Notre Dame will revert back to playing a more traditional three guard, two forward line-up, rather than going small with four guards and a forward. As such, expect Notre Dame to go inside more often and continue featuring Garrick Sherman, along with Auguste / Knight. For a team that shoots collectively 76% from the line, they should be attempting more than 21.5 FT per game. Eric Atkins and Pat Connaughton have both taken more three-pointers than free throws. While they are both proficient from the perimeter, they cannot continue to settle for that shot.
  • Why it won’t happen: The last time Notre Dame got to the line at a high rate was during the 2010-11 season. That year, they boasted a front-court consisting of the dual-threat Tim Abromaitis, Tyrone Nash, and Scott Martin — Nash shot free throws at one of the highest rates in the country. The problem: Notre Dame simply doesn’t boast forwards of this caliber on this year’s team. It’s unrealistic to expect Atkins and Connaughton to all of a sudden become different players. Grant has shot the most free throws — far and away — this season. In his absence, it’s hard to see who will get to the charity stripe regularly.

No. 14 Cal goes 0-2 in Las Vegas Invitational

Jaylen Brown
AP Photo/Ben Margot
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After midnight on the east coast on Thanksgiving, No. 14 Cal blew a 15 point second half lead against San Diego State, allowing the Aztecs to use a 30-6 run to put away the game and advance to the final of the Las Vegas Invitational. That’s the same San Diego State team had scored 43 points in a loss to Arkansas-Little Rock last week.

Not 24 hours later, the Golden Bears were shredded defensively by the Richmond Spiders, losing 94-90 in the consolation game of a four-team tournament they were considered to be the heavy favorite in.

It’s a disappointing two-game stretch for Cal, who entered the season as a Pac-12 favorite and had looked the part for the first four games of the season.

And the issue appears to be on the defensive end of the floor.

Richmond is a good Atlantic 10 team. Terry Allen and Marshall Wood are high-major big men, Shawn’Dre Jones is a jitterbug at the point and Chris Mooney runs a Princeton-esque system that is very difficult to prepare for without a day in-between games. So it’s not really surprising that the Spiders gave Cal a fight.

But 94 points?

On the heels of giving up 44 points in the second half against the offensively-challenged Aztecs?

That’s a problem, one that I’m sure that Cuonzo Martin is going to address this week in practice. Martin has managed to put together a roster that is build for small-ball, with four talented perimeter players surrounding a first round pick in the post. But that’s not the style that he’s known for. Martin played his college ball at Purdue in the Gene Keady days. He cut his teeth as a head coach at Missouri State in the Missouri Valley. His team’s at Tennessee were known for being tough and physical defensively.

That’s how Martin coaches, which is part of the reason Cal had such hype entering the year.

The talents of Tyrone Wallace, Jaylen Brown, Ivan Rabb, Jabari Bird and Jordan Mathews on a team with a coach that gets teams to defend the way Martin does? It’s no surprise that pundits would be optimistic.

But as of now, they have some work to do defensively if they want to live up to that hype.

Tyler Ulis injured as No. 1 Kentucky beats South Florida

Tyler Ulis, Ky Howard
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MIAMI (AP) Jamal Murray had 21 points and No. 1 Kentucky scored the final 15 points of the first half on the way to beating South Florida 84-63 in the HoopHall Miami Invitational on Friday.

Skal Labissiere added 17 points for the Wildcats (6-0), who led by as many as 31. Charles Matthews scored 11 points and Isaiah Briscoe finished with seven assists for Kentucky, now a winner of 37 consecutive regular-season games and 39 in a row against unranked opponents.

Chris Perry scored 14 points for USF (1-5), which has lost 18 consecutive games against teams ranked in the Top 25. Jaleel Cousins added 12 points on 5-for-6 shooting, and Jahmal McMurray scored 11 points for the Bulls.

Kentucky played the second half without starting guard Tyler Ulis, who departed with a right elbow injury after getting hurt while fighting for a ball loose on the floor.

Kentucky announced after the game that the injury was a hyperextension of the elbow and that he will be day-to-day.

The Bulls were within 27-21 with 6 minutes left in the first half after McMurray banked in a 3-pointer only a few feet away from where John Calipari was standing, and the look of anguish on the Kentucky coach’s face was clear.

It didn’t last long.

The Wildcats scored on seven of their next nine possessions and the game was over by halftime, Kentucky going into the break with a 42-21 lead.

It was a reunion for plenty of people on both benches. Calipari squared off with his former assistant Orlando Antigua, now in his second year leading USF. Antigua’s staff includes another former Calipari assistant in Rod Strickland, plus former Kentucky basketball staff members Mike Malone and Dominic Lombardi.

So the staffs have plenty of familiarity. On the court, there was plenty of disparity. Kentucky finished with a commanding 23-6 edge in points off turnovers and finished with 16 assists to the Bulls’ six.