Tag:Mike Brey
Posted on: January 27, 2012 10:00 am

Somehow, Brey has Notre Dame in the mix - again

By Jeff Goodman

Just about every year, Notre Dame coach Mike Brey enters the season hoping to make things interesting. He knows what he's up against in South Bend, going up against guys named Boeheim, Calhoun, Pitino, Huggins and even Dixon and Wright for a chance to earn a spot in the NCAA tournament. 

It's not an easy task. 

This year it became more than just interesting when Brey's top player and one of the elite guys in the Big East, Tim Abromaitis, went down with a season-ending injury after playing just two games. 

"If you told me we'd be 5-3 in the league after Gonzaga made us look like a JV team for 40 minutes, I'd have fallen off my chair into the showers," Brey said. "But that's what's so great about our game and the length of the season." 

Especially, Brey maintains, in the Big East. 

"You just have to pick off a few," Brey said. "You don't have to win them all, but if you win the right ones, you can be in the discussion." 

Well, Brey and the Irish have picked off Louisville and Seton Hall on the road -- and got a huge one last weekend when they handed Syracuse it's lone setback of the season. 

"As proud as I was of our guys Saturday against Syracuse, I was even more proud of them against Seton Hall," Brey said. "They had every reason not to be ready to go after what happened Saturday. Fans were still talking about our Syracuse game, but we figured out a way to win on the road against an NCAA tournament team." 

Now Notre Dame, the team that lost to Georgia back in late-November and also couldn't get past Maryland in early-December, has made its way into the discussion. Brey said that it's taken time to get accustomed to being without Ambromaitis and a few other guys. 

"We had a dysfunctional November and December," Brey admitted. "Abro was in and out, Scott Martin (ankle) missed three weeks of practice, (Jack) missed the Maryland game and Atkins missed two games, It was crazy." 

What's nuts is that we're talking about Notre Dame, even after losing the potential Big East Player of the Year, being in the mix for the NCAA tournament. Brey said he wasn't expecting to hand the keys over to his sophomore backcourt -- Atkins and Jerian Grant. However, that's exactly what he's done and the duo has responded. 

"We've never had two guys with that kind of speed and athleticism in the backcourt," Brey said. "It changes us on both ends of the floor." 

And Cooley is starting to become known for his play on the court instead of his facial comparison to ex-Irish star Luke Harangody. He's averaging 12.9 points and 9.8 boards in league play. 

Next up for the Irish is a trip to Hartford and a matchup against UConn on Sunday. But Brey is smart enough to realize this game won't define Notre Dame's chances to make the NCAA tournament for what would be the fifth time in the past six years. 

"Two years ago, we went from 6-8 in the league and a flat-out NIT team to a number six seed," Brey said. "That's what's great about our league. But on the flip side, a few years back we lost seven in a row. It can bite you quick, but you always have opportunities." 

Posted on: December 1, 2011 3:53 pm
Edited on: December 1, 2011 5:04 pm

Where does Notre Dame go from here?

By Jeff Borzello

Back in 2010, when star forward Luke Harangody missed five games due to injury, Notre Dame drastically changed its offensive system.

Mike Brey’s troops went from being an up-tempo outfit to a more methodical group, using the “burn” offense that slowed teams down and played a half-court game. The Fighting Irish started playing games with 55-60 possessions instead of 65-70, and subsequently went on a winning streak that sent them to the NCAA tournament.

While Tim Abromaitis was not the scorer and rebounder Harangody was, his ACL tear is still a huge loss for the Fighting Irish. That was evident on Wednesday, when Notre Dame was blitzed by Gonzaga en route to a 73-53 loss. With the increased defensive attention, Eric Atkins struggled, going 2-for-9 from the field with six turnovers. Scott Martin didn’t make a field goal and the team as a whole was 2-for-14 from 3-point range.

Ignore the fact the Irish were 0-2 this season without Abromaitis (he was suspended by the NCAA for playing in exhibition games three years ago and then redshirting). They are clearly a much more dangerous team with him in the fold; he stretches the defense with his 3-point shooting ability and is also arguably the team’s best rebounder. Moreover, he was one of two senior leaders on this team.

Without Abromaitis for the rest of the season, where does Brey go from here?

There’s no Tory Jackson or Ben Hansbrough on this team, no one player that can put the rest of the team on his shoulders and carry them to wins. Everyone knew it would be a rebuilding season, even with Abromaitis. But with him on the team, there was a fighting chance for an NCAA tournament berth.

Brey still has some pieces. Atkins is a playmaker that can get to the rim and score, while Jerian Grant has been a promising asset during his first season on the floor (he redshirted last season). Freshman Pat Connaughton has shown a consistent ability to knock down outside shots, and Harangody clone Jack Cooley is a very efficient rebounder down low.

The key player going forward for Notre Dame will be Scott Martin. He’s a versatile 6-foot-8 forward who has played multiple roles since transferring from Purdue and then injuring his ACL. He can knock down 3-pointers and also rebounds. In Abromaitis’ absence at the beginning of the season, Martin stepped up, averaging 13.0 points and 5.3 rebounds in the first four games. However, on Wednesday night, he struggled immensely, going 0-for-6 from the field and scoring one point.

He needs to become a senior leader and help lead the young perimeter group into Big East play. While he’s not as talented as Jackson or Hansbrough, he needs to be the player who lights a fire under this team without their star shooter.

It’s going to be difficult, but there is still some time to figure things out before conference play.

As we all know, Brey has reinvented his team before.

Photo: US Presswire

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Posted on: November 25, 2011 6:20 pm
Edited on: November 25, 2011 6:40 pm

Notre Dame's Abromaitis tears ACL

By Gary Parrish

Notre Dame announced Friday that senior Tim Abromaitis tore his ACL in a morning practice.

Now his season -- and almost certainly his college career -- is over.

"Tim Abromaitis is one of the great stories in college athletics and represents everything that is good about college basketball," said Notre Dame coach Mike Brey. "We are all disappointed for Tim because of all that he has meant to our program. He has been such a big part of our success over the past three seasons. Tim is such a special young man and an unbelievable representative of Notre Dame both on and off the basketball court."

Abromaitis was a lightly regarded recruit who turned into an All-Big East performer. The 6-foot-8 forward played just 3.3 minutes per game as a freshman, redshirted the following year, then averaged 16.1 points and 4.7 rebounds as a sophomore and 15.4 points and 6.1 rebounds as a junior. He was averaging 14.0 points and 7.0 rebounds this season.

It's unclear whether Abromaitis could get a sixth year of eligibility, and Brey told CBSSports.com on Friday that it's also unclear whether Abromaitis would even want one considering what he's already accomplished academically. Abromaitis graduated from Notre Dame with a degree in finance in May 2010 and received an MBA from the Mendoza College of Business in May 2011.

"We can put the waiver in for a sixth year, but what does Abro want to do will be the question," Brey texted. "There is nothing left to challenge him academically here anymore."

Photo: AP
Posted on: October 24, 2011 7:09 pm

Video: Mike Brey stage-dives into crowd of co-eds

By Matt Norlander

Channeling his inner metalhead, Notre Dame coach Mike Brey decided "F it, let's do this" and gave up his body to the Irish undergrad faithful at Friday's football pep rally.

Brey gave a brief speech on his team before taking his majestic flight. He landed safely, and as you'll see. The victorious fist pump is spectacular as well, but soon after, he's sucked up by the crowd, never to appear again.

One last thing: beware the BREYBELLLY.

(H/T, Searching for Billy Edelin)

Posted on: October 11, 2011 1:56 pm
Edited on: October 11, 2011 2:32 pm

NCAA's ruling on Abromaitis violates common sense

By Gary Parrish

Students ought to be able to trust campus officials.

We can all agree on that, right?

Whether it's a counselor or a professor or even a men's basketball coach, a student should be able to take that person's word as gospel and know that whatever they're being told about a decision being made is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Which is why the NCAA's decision to suspend Tim Abromaitis from Notre Dame's first four games this season is disappointing, because the mistake that caused it was clearly a misunderstanding of a rule that could easily be misunderstood, and Irish coach Mike Brey -- not Abromaitis -- is the one who misunderstood it.

As my colleague Jeff Borzello pointed out earlier, Abromaitis played in two exhibition games as a sophomore, then sat out the rest of the season as a redshirt. That's the mistake. Because though the NCAA allows freshmen to play in exhibitions and still redshirt, it does not afford sophomores, juniors and seniors the same opportunity. The rule is written clearly in the book, but surely you can see how Brey might've got confused because, let's be honest, how often are sophomores, juniors and seniors redshirted at the high-major level? Brey probably didn't understand the difference in the situations because he never had to understand the difference in the situations. So Brey messed up. And he acknowledged it. And it was obviously an innocent mistake ... but the NCAA still opted to suspend Abromaitis for the first four games of this season, and that just isn't right.

Yes, I understand ignorance is no excuse.

I get that.

But I also believe common sense should always trump everything.

And Abromaitis having to pay for something that's so meaningless and not his fault seems to violate common sense.
Posted on: September 22, 2011 12:25 pm
Edited on: September 22, 2011 12:36 pm

Brey wants Irish to remain in Big East

By Jeff Goodman

If Mike Brey has a vote, he'd like to remain in the Big East.

"We've got an identity and we've worked hard to be a presence in this league," Notre Dame's men's basketball coach told CBSSports.com earlier this week.

"The Big East has been really good for our basketball program," he added.

Notre Dame is coming off a 27-7 season and a 14-4 mark in the league, just a game from winning the regular-season title. In 11 years, Brey has won 238 games and has gone to the NCAA tournament seven times.

Brey also said he doesn't want the Big East to lose New York City and Madison Square Garden as the site of the league tournament.

"We've got to find a way to keep the Garden," Brey said.

Brey is concerned about the program's other sports if the league opted to go in the direction of becoming a league of non-football schools (except for Notre Dame, which remains an independent).

"Our other sports play at such a high level, we need the right competition for them," Brey said. "That's a big, big factor."

But Brey is optimistic it'll work out.

"I'm not sure exactly what's going to happen, but my preference is to stay in the Big East," he said. "We've finally got an identity."

Photo: AP
Posted on: May 8, 2011 12:21 pm
Edited on: May 9, 2011 9:56 am

Big East coaches now in Maryland's sights

Should Pitt's Dixon be Maryland's number one choice?Posted by Eric Angevine

After being granted a contract extension, Sean Miller is staying at Arizona. That means the Pac-12 is safe from further upheaval for a while. The ballooning conference can focus on adding new teams and getting used to a new schedule without having to break in a new coach in Tucson.

That means the conference in the crosshairs now is the Big East, and why not? The always-tough league sent more teams to the NCAA tournament than any other conference this past season, and has become a hothouse for growing top coaches.

Three names come up most frequently now that Miller has withdrawn. Notre Dame's Mike Brey, Pittsburgh's Jamie Dixon and Villanova's Jay Wright are the clubhouse leaders in the search at this point. Each coach has a spotless profile and a bright future, but they're hardly identical.

Mike Brey is reportedly meeting with Maryland officials next (though Brey is saying otherwise, natch, and Gary Parrish confirms) and he's a good choice. Brey's recent South Bend teams have been very efficient on offense, and Brey has done a masterful job of keeping his team relatively old. What does that mean? It means he uses redshirts wisely, so that when a player like Luke Harangody graduates, a player like Tim Abromaitis or Tyrone Nash is ready to step in and lead the team for another couple of years. Brey has a commanding presence, is well-spoken and would bring top-notch recruits to College Park. Brey is also from Bethesda, coached in the ACC as a Duke assistant, and has taken teams to the NCAA tournament nine times (Delaware twice and Notre Dame seven times).

Dixon, on the other hand, has been to the NCAA tournament eight times in just eight seasons as a head coach at Pitt. He's also 45, so he offers a younger version of the tough, grizzled coach Brey has become. Dixon has notched a 78 percent winning mark, which is better than Brey's total. He's never been to an NIT, and doesn't look to go that way any time soon. His teams are known for playing tough man-to-man defense, and he also brings in fantastic recruits. He just lost assistant Pat Skerry to Providence, so perhaps he'd like to make the leap to the well-known Delmarva recruiting grounds and nab an assistant who can help him return Maryland to national championship form.

Finally, there is Jay Wright. Wright, 49, is known for wearing nice suits and teaching a very guard-oriented offensive attack. His bombs-away style would be a pretty radical departure from Gary Williams' style, but that's not the worst news anyone ever heard. Wright has shown a propensity for building strong programs out of mediocre beginnings, as he did at Hofstra and then at post-Steve Lappas Villanova. Wright has been to the Final Four, which counts for a lot, but his follow up teams over the past two years have fallen progressively into the doldrums, with the 2009-10 version of the squad barely getting past Robert Morris and then being destroyed by St. Mary's, and last season's bunch barely making the field and bombing out immediately to George Mason. That apparent inability to capitalize on a supernova season has to hurt Wright's profile a bit. Nonetheless, he's the sort of coach who would bring a lot of hope to Maryland fans who are dying to get back to really competing with Duke and UNC on a regular basis.

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Brey got the first look, but looks to be bowing out of this wide-open search. With a little patience, Brey could find himself as the successor to his former mentor Krzyzewski some day - a move that could be made easier if he's a Domer instead of a recent rival.

Dixon really seems like the gem of this bunch. He's younger, he's experienced amazing success in a short time as a head coach, and he did it at a school that hasn't always been an elite destination. Whether he considers Maryland to be a step up from that or a lateral move may determine whether he even seriously entertains the idea of leaving. At his age, and with his resume, he could easily wait for one of the nation's really plum jobs to open up. Or, he could continue to turn Pitt into one of the nation's plum jobs. Dixon's motives and thought processes are pretty opaque to the outside world. It'll be interesting to see which way he goes.

If the Terps really want a young tyro with Maryland ties, they could always follow the suggestion of instant legend Grievis Vasquez, who apparently supports a movement to draft 28-year-old Terps assistant Robert Ehsan. It ain't gonna happen, but wouldn't that be bold?

Photo: US Presswire
Posted on: May 6, 2011 10:45 am
Edited on: May 6, 2011 11:07 am

Fruit of Gary Williams' coaching tree is unripe

Where are Gary Williams' top assistants?

Posted by Eric Angevine

Typically, when a long time coach retires after more than two decades at the same school, a comforting list of former assistants is trotted out, to give the semblance of continuity in the coaching search. North Carolina, in particular, has made a science of this, drawing clear lines from Dean Smith to any candidate who has ever come near Chapel Hill. Gary Williams retired at Maryland yesterday after 22 years, but he hasn't left behind much of a list of former coaching associates to ease the minds of his AD or fan base.

The list of possible high-profile replacements includes some impressive names. But it begs the question: is Gary Williams' coaching tree really so bare?

Honestly, the answer is yes, but not for lack of trying.

One of Williams' longest-tenured assistants, Billy Hahn, played at Maryland in the 1970s and was an assistant to Williams for 12 years before taking the head job at La Salle University. Before he could really do much to turn the Explorers around, Hahn became embroiled in a scandal - in which he and La Salle's women's hoops coach were accused of failure to report sexual assault allegations - which ended his head coaching gig after just three seasons. Hahn was out of coaching for three years before Bob Huggins took him on as an assistant at WVU, a position he still holds today. Hahn wouldn't be a top choice regardless, but the heat Maryland AD Kevin Anderson would take if he looked at someone with that particular baggage would make it an even less likely scenario.

The other long-time assistant Williams sent out into the world was 13-year Maryland man Jimmy Patsos. Patsos is about as connected to the local scene as a guy can be. A Massachusetts native, Patsos played college ball at Catholic University in D.C. and coached high school ball at Archbishop Carroll in that same city before moving just down the road to help out at Maryland. When he left, it was to take over Loyola University in Baltimore. Patsos has only managed a 70-82 record at the MAAC school, but his reputation for eccentric behavior may be an even bigger problem. It was Patsos who tried to stop visiting Davidson by double-teaming Steph Curry for an entire game in 2008, leading to a headline-grabbing 30-point blowout loss for the Greyhounds (but hey, Curry didn't score!). That same season, Patsos again drew unwanted attention when he elected to coach from the stands to avoid ejection after several run-ins with officials in a November contest. No winning tradition and a goofy public persona aren't likely to earn Patsos a chance.

In desperation, some turn to Mike Lonergan as an exemplar of a successful Maryland assistant. It's a tenuous, one-season connection, but sure. The only problem is that the Vermont coach seems about to be snatched up by another area school, George Washington. Making the leap from the Catamounts to the Terps would have been a stretch anyway, and there's no way Anderson is going to try to outbid GW on Lonergan, who would be more of a fallback position if the big names don't pan out in College Park. Speaking of local backup options, do you think Jim Larranaga's down in Coral Gables kicking himself right about now?
The other names that come up are a couple of not-ready-for-prime-time players in Dave Dickerson (former Tulane head coach, now an assistant at Ohio State) and Chuck Driesell (son of Terp legend Lefty, current Citadel head coach). Either could be a candidate down the road, but neither is ready right now.

Dig deeper into the time before Williams became Testudo's best buddy, and big names pop up. Rick Barnes (not leaving Texas), Fran Fraschilla (hasn't coached since 2002) and Ed Tapscott (an NBA front-office guy who's had some coaching turns) don't seem like realistic choices, but they do, at least, have ties to Williams. The most promising name from Williams' days as a Buckeye is Randy Ayers, who is currently an assistant with the New Orleans Hornets. A former collegiate national Coach of the Year with fresh NBA ties, Ayers could be worth a shot, even though he's not really a Maryland man.

Aside from Barnes, none of the men mentioned above is a first-call kind of guy. As Gary Parrish points out, the UMD brain trust is much more likely to go for the huge splash by trying to lure the likes of Mike Brey or Jamie Dixon from the Big East. Anderson should aim high right now, he knows that there aren't many jobs in the country that compare to what he has to offer. That means he can let his fan base daydream about young tyros like Butler's Brad Stevens and Sean Miller of Arizona without it seeming patently absurd.

This is likely to be the biggest coaching search of the year, and it will be very public and stressful for Maryland AD Kevin Anderson and the school's fan base. For those of us not directly or emotionally involved, it should be very enjoyable high theater. Let's pop some corn, get comfortable on the couch, and enjoy the show.

Photo: US Presswire
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com