Monday, February 22, 2010

Notre Dame Basketball

Often an afterthought in the 1990's, the John MacLeod era produced minimal stars and no NCAA tournaments. Matt Doherty had one season on campus and went 22-15 with a trip to the NIT finals before North Carolina came begging. Mike Brey brought a Duke pedigree, and mid-major success to Notre Dame. The problem it seems is Mike Brey also brought a mid-major mindset to Notre Dame.

Advancing to the Sweet Sixteen is a huge deal for mid-majors while at Notre Dame it should be accomplished more than once every 23 years. Making THE TOURNAMENT should be a near annual thing in South Bend and there should be little doubt instead of watching Selection Sunday with crossed fingers every year. Mike Brey seems to have built teams that would win in the MAC and the Mountain West, but struggle against teams in the Big East. Even that is arguable since losses to bad teams have become commonplace the last few season (Loyola Marymount, Seton Hall at home this year, at St. Johns last year and at Seton Hall and Rutgers this year).

To compare Mike Brey to a football coach is to compare him to Bob Davie probably. Bob snuck into a BCS game where they got embarrassed, Mike snuck into the Sweet Sixteen and got embarrassed by Arizona. His basketball teams seem to not know how to win close games and with the players he recruits are regularly in close games. His reluctance to play freshman leads to sophomores barely being ready to play in the Big East. Harangody forced his way into the line up and Tory Jackson benefited from a marijuana suspension for KMac. He wasted Tim Abromaitis' sophomore season to a red shirt because he wasted his freshman season with minimal minutes. Does anyone really think Abromaitis wouldn't have been the difference between last years team being in THE TOURNAMENT as opposed to being in the NIT.

Jack Swarbrick may have waited a year to long to change his football coach and can't wait any longer with his basketball team. The expectations surrounding next years team will be as low as they get, perfect for a new coach. Young players and players that have gotten minimal minutes will surround Abro, Ben and Nash, hopefully a new coach will spring life into a program that is danger of falling back into the 90's disaster. Mike Brey sprung to his own defense by comparing his team to the worst ten years of Notre Dame basketball. That screams to me of desperation and trying to save his job. Mike Brey would be better served as a head coach of a mid-major where making the tournament is a big deal, if Notre Dame isn't careful they are close to becoming that school.