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Irish In New Territory

Dec. 11, 2000

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – This week provides the Irish a little time to stop and regroup.

Notre Dame is in the midst of finals and weathering a tremendous blizzard of not only snow but of criticism.

After starting the season 4-0, the Irish now find themselves at 4-2, struggling to defeat the schools, which many predict they should handle with little problems.

“I thought we played like we had the weight of the world on our shoulders,” Irish head coach Mike Brey said. “I think we have played that way because of expectations. I told them that there really aren’t any anymore so you might as well relax.”

Expectations are gone. The Irish now are no longer in the Top 10. In fact, Notre Dame dropped ten spots to the No. 20 spot in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches poll.

“I think it is new territory for this group,” Brey said.

Specially, meaning the team is having trouble adjusting to the likes of him as head coach, being ranked and the added pressure.

“I even said this in preseason interviews, being in the Top 25, gave us a false sense of security,” Brey said.

The question is was it too much too fast?

Irish head coach Mike Brey said it was. The Notre Dame program is entering uncharted territory. No longer are the Irish a surprise element in the basketball world. Instead they are supposed to be a determining factor.

Brey plans to take this week and evaluate exactly what needs to be done to make his team a determining factor. The players will spend the week studying for finals and figuring out what went wrong in the past two games.

“The nice thing about exam week is that once you get the guys back you can go,” Brey said. “It is not like you have to rest anyone for a game coming up on Thursday. You have a week to work on things.”

Players will get back to practice on Tuesday. The team will focus on Saturday’s prominent problem, rebounding.

“We gave up 18 offensive rebounds and that is just punishing,” Brey said after Saturday’s loss. “You play a defensive possession for 25, 30 seconds only to have to play it for 25 more.”

Notre Dame has a week off before facing Tennessee Tech on Sunday but Brey does not plan on giving his team much of a break.