Knock out and ‘Jersey Boys’ keep Notre Dame focused

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With Pitt having been eliminated from the Big East Tournament, the talk in the media room at MSG centers on Notre Dame. Specifically, can this team earn a one seed in the NCAA Tournament?

Notre Dame, however, isn’t concerned with where they stand in regards to NCAA Tournament seeding. In fact, head coach Mike Brey doesn’t even seem to be concerned about playing basketball.

“I took these guys to Jersey Boys on Tuesday not so much for the entertainment or the culture,” Brey said, “I wanted them to see the best actors and chemistry and how a group plays off of each other because I believe that’s what they’ve done this year. So we were like Jersey Boys tonight we were all doin’ our thing.”

It worked, as Notre Dame put on one of their most impressive performances of the season in beating Cincinnati 89-51. If the final isn’t impressive enough, Notre Dame gave up 17 offensive rebounds and forced just 10 turnovers.

And they still won by 38 points.

That will happen when you shoot 56.1 percent from the floor, hit nine threes, and turn the ball over just five times with 22 assists. That is what’s so dangerous about Notre Dame this season. They play so well together. They are unselfish, they make the extra pass, and the only time the offense gets stagnant is when it is in the game plan.

When Luke Harangody was injured last season, Mike Brey implemented what he called the Burn Offense, where the Irish would dribble out 25 seconds of the shot clock before running Hansbrough off of a high ball screen. This season, Brey used the offense when the Irish went into the Peterson Events Center and knocked off Pitt.

While the Irish aren’t using the burn anymore, the principles of the offense have played a role in why they have been so effective and crisp offensively this season.

“The Burn has been a great teaching tool for being patient offensively without having to say ‘Burn'”, Brey said.

That offense has been what has carried the Irish to the brink of a No. 1 seed. But, like I said, they aren’t thinking about that.

“The media is the only one focused on No. 1 seeds. We don’t even think about it,” Ben Hansbrough said after the game.

And how could the Irish possibly focus on the NCAA Tournament when they have kids games to play.

“To stay loose starting with the Villanova game we play knock out at the end of our shootaround,” Brey said. “I’m involved I knocked Carleton Scott out before the Connecticut game and when I got behind him in line today he was nervous.”

“Just for the record,” Scott replied, “Coach was shooting free-throws and we were shooting 3-pointers. That’s why he beat us.”

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @ballinisahabit.