Blog Entry

Brey's new goal: Make it interesting

Posted on: February 12, 2009 11:30 pm
Edited on: February 12, 2009 11:39 pm

The phone rang late Thursday, I answered it, then asked one simple question.

How you doing, man?

"I'm a helluva lot better now," Mike Brey said, and you really could hear it in his voice. "To say we needed that is the understatement of the year."

What a difference a win makes, huh?

Just four days after flying home from UCLA following a 26-point loss -- "That was a long flight home," Brey said -- Notre Dame flipped the switch, the script and the college basketball world upside down Thursday night with a 90-57 victory over No. 5 Louisville. Technically, it was the same Notre Dame team that had dropped seven consecutive games (five by double-digits) to fall completely off the NCAA tournament bubble, but it didn't look anything like the same team, not with Luke Harangody (32 points and 17 rebounds) dominating, Kyle McAlarney and Ryan Ayers (five 3-pointers each) sinking shots and the Irish as a whole playing defense with a purpose (Louisville made just 39.0 percent of its shots).

Notre Dame led 17-4 early and was never challenged.

Still, Brey continued coaching.


Because he wanted his players to not only recognize what was happening, but why it was happening.

"I kept telling them, 'This is our identity,'" Brey said. "I wanted them to remember it."

Regardless of how the rest of the season goes, I will forever believe Notre Dame is a victim of its schedule more than anything else, that if it played in the SEC West it would be 18-5 and ranked in the Top 25. Nobody will ever move me off that statement. But the reality is that the Irish play in the Big East, and that's a lot different than the SEC West, and so even with this huge victory they are 13-10 overall with a 4-7 mark in league play.

In other words, we're still a long way from talking NCAA tournament.

Which is why Brey didn't spend Thursday night dreaming about running the table, and, honestly, he never even mentioned the NCAA tournament. Instead, he simply enjoyed the good feeling that the 33-point victory created, then asked his players to embrace what is a reasonable challenge, all things considered.

"I told them to just try to get another win," Brey said, "Let's get another win, then try to make this thing interesting."

Category: NCAAB

Since: Oct 16, 2006
Posted on: February 14, 2009 7:59 am

Brey's new goal: Make it interesting

This team is too talented with Harangody, McAlarney, Jackson and others to have a losing streak like that. Hopefully, they can keep that momentum going after beating Louisville. The must win games on the schedule but difficult will be at Connecticut & West Virginia. Brey was right this team was going through identity theft. The Notre Dame that we're used to seeing wasn't playing Notre Dame basketball. To lose to garbage teams shows their identity was lost. We'll see if this is the beginning of a run to get back to basics or if beating Louisville was a one-night show. I would like to see the Irish in the NCAA.

Since: Nov 15, 2008
Posted on: February 13, 2009 6:01 pm

Brey's new goal: Make it interesting

tennessee - 2 seed - Lost to UNC in Sweet 16, Lost to Louisville, not North Carolina.

Since: Mar 20, 2007
Posted on: February 13, 2009 4:15 pm

Brey's new goal: Make it interesting

I completely understand what you are saying, and I admit this is a down year for the SEC, but we have this conversation every single year at this point.  And every year there is a "suprise" run by an SEC team.  I am an LSU fan admittedly, but that fact proves my point.  To the rest of the country, we came out of nowhere in 2005 to make the Final Four.  Florida's first championship was a suprise etc.  Let's wait and see, like every year, how the tournament looks after the first two weekends.  In all likelihood there will be another "suprise" SEC team in the mix.


Candidates to make that "run" include Mississippi State with its three point ability, LSU with its defense, Marcus Thornton, and seniors, South Carolina is streaky, and if they get hot look out.  Kentucky is down but not out, but they are immune, because of history I believe, from the "SEC sucks" banter generally.  I don't think Florida has much away from teh swamp this year but I would never count out Donovan.


But back to the original story, Notre Dame has lost to plenty of bad teams to justify their not being ranked.  For a "professional" sports journalist to blame a team's conference affiliation as a justification for the failure of said writer's preseason picks is pretty lame.  Didn't Parrish know what conference the Irish were in when he made his bad picks?

Since: Aug 19, 2007
Posted on: February 13, 2009 2:28 pm

Brey's new goal: Make it interesting

Skreffty, the SEC bashing is exclusive to this year only. That's because this year's SEC might be on of the worst BCS conferences in recent history. The league has zero top 25 teams and even the NCAA tournament hopefuls (Kentucky, Florida, Tennessee, South Carolina, LSU) aren't all that great. Those five teams are a combined 6-8 against ranked teams this year. And we haven't even addressed the rest of the conference. Georgia is dreadful and one of the worst BCS teams in the nation. Vanderbilt, Auburn, Alabama and Mississippi wouldn't be anywhere near .500 in any other conference. I don't know what to think about Arkansas-- they've tanked in SEC play but looked good before that.

Just take a look at some of the non-conference losses. Alabama lost to Mercer, LSU lost at Utah by 30, Vandy lost to Illinois-Chicago, Arkansas lost to Missouri State, Kentucky lost to VMI, Ole Miss lost at New Mexico by 32 and lost at Southern Miss, Mississippi State lost at home to San Diego and Charlotte, and the list goes on.

Nobody is bashing the SEC because of any bias. The SEC is simply a very poor league this year. Notre Dame may have been an overrated team coming into the season, but I'd almost argue that the Irish would be one of the best teams in the SEC this year. Just compare ND's schedule to the top teams in the SEC. The Irish have played 10 top 25 teams (four of those teams were in the top 5). Florida has played 0 ranked teams. If you give any SEC team that type of schedule, they'd be out of NCAA tournament consideration too.


Since: Oct 24, 2008
Posted on: February 13, 2009 1:07 pm

Brey's new goal: Make it interesting

Notre Dame would be 18-5 if they were in the SEC West. That's hilarious!!! Disclaimer - I'm not an SEC fan and I do agree that the SEC is down this year. Let's be honest GP you don't really believe that you just don't want to be wrong about Notre Dame because you hate being wrong. Since ND is 8-3 OOC you believe they would be 10-2 in the SEC West, even though they losses to St. Johns (138), Cincinnati (50), and a home loss to Marquette (26). Which would be comparable to losing to Alabama (135), South Carolina (45), and a home loss to Tenn (23). Based on your logic they would have won one of those games and gone undefeated against UK, Florida, LSU, MSU, Vanderbilti, and Ole Miss.

Sorry but I'm not buying what you're selling. Notre Dame has been volatile all year long. It's no secret that when McAlarney, Ayers, and Harangody are playing well they are a top 25 if nto top 10 team, but these guys look just like my 401k - Up one day and down the next!

Since: Jan 26, 2009
Posted on: February 13, 2009 1:02 pm

Brey's new goal: Make it interesting

Give it up Gary, I could name 10 teams that would be ranked if they played the SEC West that are not ranked at the moment. The fact is they are just an average team who would finish just mid pack in the Pac 10 or Big 10. Obviously Louisville didn't bother showing up. They have 0 chance to run the table with a road game at Connecticut and would be lucky to win any of their remaining road games. Enough about Notre Dame, they have no chance to save their season.

Since: Nov 27, 2007
Posted on: February 13, 2009 12:16 pm

Brey's new goal: Make it interesting


I don't think it is bashing.

last season is most relevant to the conversation.

6 SEC teams in the NCAA's

tennessee - 2 seed - Lost to UNC in Sweet 16, Vandy 4 seed, lost to Sienna in 1st Round, Miss State 8 seed, lost to memphis in 2nd round, Arkansas - 9 seed and lost to UNC in second round, Kentucky - 11 seed and lost to Marquette in 1st Round, Georgia 14 seed and lost to Xavier in 1st round. No elite 8 teams, no final four teams

To say that Notre Dame would be 18-5 in the SEC West or whatever is fair and reasonable when you consider who they have beaten and who they have lost too this year.

The SEC will get their deserving teams into the dance, and we will see how they do this year. The SEC is mostly in the East my friend.

Since: Mar 20, 2007
Posted on: February 13, 2009 11:37 am

Brey's new goal: Make it interesting

It never ceases to amaze me how year in and year out the SEC gets so bashed in basketball.  Its like some kind of psychological revenge the writers get after football season after their beloved mid-west and East coast teams inevitably fall out of title contention.  One hears all the time how the SEC, which has won 2 of the last three championships, is a fooitball conference.  Uh oh, thats obviously bad news for the basketball conferences lol.  But since the writers always get it wrong I simply find solace in the facts.  The might ACC has only 1 final four participant in the last 3 final fours.  Ditto the Big East.  The lowly, basketball impoverished SEC has three.  So when parrish spouts the same dribble year after year one would think at some point, they would rely on what history and evidence suggest rather than what they want to happen.  The only way Notre Dame, with its inability to defend or play physically, would be 18-5 in in the SEC West is if they hadn't played a conference game.  LSU or Mississippi State would dismantle the Irish with tough defense.  But as long as the writers NEED Notre Dame to be good for a customer base they will ignore what is going on down on the court.  I guess thats why the SEC, when it wins it all, does so from the lowest average starting seed.  Thats probably also why LSU is the lowest seeded team to make the final four.  That what perennial underestimation, lack of knowledge, and lazy journalism does.  It allows for the annual "upsets" as SEC teams tear through the brackest like a hot knife through butter...

Since: Sep 7, 2007
Posted on: February 13, 2009 12:03 am

Brey's new goal: Make it interesting

If Brey can keep things interesting for the rest of the season, the students will love Brey and his turtle-necks forever. The game tonight saved us from a full case of depression

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