Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Brey Is Who We Thought He Was

Mike Brey tricked me, I bought into this team and him as a coach because he had stopped comparing his team to the Irish of the 90's. He called for this team to play in the Big East Championship game. He called for a deep run in the tournament. At the half against Louisville in the Big East Semi-Finals everything looked great. Then Mike Brey started talking to the team at halftime and everything fell apart. I have no idea what Brey said in the locker room, but I can only hope that it isn't something he ever repeats to anyone. A 14 point lead seemed like it should be safe and a game on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden was 20 minutes away. Then Louisville remembered that this was Notre Dame basketball and the Wu-Tang Clan could write a song replacing Wu Tang Clan with Notre Dame and Ain't Nothing with Is Something in the title and they wouldn't be that far off.

With multiple football coaches being fired in the previous decade for mediocrity there is no reason to accept it from the basketball team. Every once in awhile Notre Dame makes a run at a conference title and falls just short. Then they fall short of expectations in both tournaments. Then nothing happens. The Purcell Pavilion fails to fill because people smarter/saner than me know better than to designate time/money to go to games and care about this team. I'm sure they want the best for the team and they still root for the Irish hoopers, but they know what's coming at the end.

Now, I don't want to take to much away from a regular season that was as good as it was. A Big East Player of the Year award and a Coach of the Year award show that as well as anything. A preseason tournament win with wins over Georgia and Wisconsin, wins over Gonzaga, UConn (twice), Louisville, and Pitt on the road. They were winning all the close games and blowing out most of the teams they should, but the losses also had something in common they were all double digits on the road. The team that went undefeated at home had issues on the road. This probably should have been a warning sign for the post-season, when no games are played at home.

Will I root for the team and care about wins and losses next year? Of course I will, but there will always be a lingering doubt about the coach until he proves me wrong. Maybe having players in the Brey system for 4 or 5 years isn't a good thing because they become to much like their coach. He has beaten one team from a major conference in the NCAA tournament and even after that win was a blowout loss to Arizona, his only trip to the Sweet Sixteen and that was in 2003. Four trips to the NIT in the last eight years (including a loss at home to Holy Cross), double digit losses in all but three of his seasons. Contending for a Big East championship every couple of years isn't good enough for me and it shouldn't be for Notre Dame. Thankfully there's always ice hockey. Frozen Four anyone?

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