March 24, 2013 // Basketball

Another Early Exit

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Jerian Grant, Notre Dame NCAA Tournament 2013

Mar 22, 2013; Dayton, OH, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish guard Jerian Grant (22) defends Iowa State Cyclones guard Chris Babb (2) during the second round of the 2013 NCAA tournament at University of Dayton Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

DAYTON, Ohio – A Notre Dame coaching staff and team that has struggled in the NCAA tournament in the past, continued to do so again Friday night as they dropped another opening round game to the Cyclones 76-58. In what seemed like an Iowa State home game, the Irish were outhustled, outplayed, and outcoached all night long, and all one had to do is look at the scoreboard to understand the complacency that seemingly envelops this Irish Men’s program.

While few thought this squad was built to make a deep run in this years tournament, even less expected the type of effort that was on display by the Irish inside Dayton Arena. Notre Dame fans saw their team get shown the door in the first round for the third time in four years, and are once again left with more questions than answers.

In his twelve years Brey and his teams have been invited to “dance” eight times in his time as Irish coach, but he has compiled just six wins over that span. Yes, it is understood that Notre Dame is a football school first, and every other sport comes second, but fans who follow the Men’s hoop program have made it clear that they are tired of the lack of success in post-season play. The Irish have now been ousted in the last 4 years by teams that were seeded lower than them, as Washington State was the last team seeded higher to beat Notre Dame (WSU#4 ND#5) in 2008.

When asked about his team’s consistent struggle in the NCAA tournament, Brey said “I really would think it’s the next step for our program. We’ve been so consistent in the regular season, and we haven’t been able to do much here. That’s what keeps me up at night and keeps me trying to figure out how we can be better at it. That’s the unfinished business. This is a hump we can’t get over yet, but we’ll keep trying to figure it out.”

So while people may think that Brey is oblivious to what is going on, he is not. The problem is he is still talking about eventually taking the next step after 13 years, but how much more patient does he expect the fans of his program to be?

For those of you who think it’s time for a change though, you can put those thoughts to rest, because it is not happening anytime soon. Jack Swarbrick, vice president and director of athletics at the University of Notre Dame, loves Brey, and as one of the head administrators, he should. The men’s program has made it to the NCAA tournament six out the last seven years and he is a leader of one of the athletic programs that rank as the best in the country in graduation rates, based on Graduation Success Rate (GSR) figures released by the NCAA.

So the Irish bid farewell to the Big East and NCAA tournament all in the span of a week’s time, and will now prepare to join the Atlantic Coast Conference on July 1st of this year. Some would say that Notre Dame was never a team built to compete in the Big East, and their style of play is a better fit for the A.C.C, but has that really been the problem? The Irish have averaged just under 11 wins a year in conference play, and have finished in the top half of the conference 11 out of their 13 years with Brey as head coach. So we fail to see how joining the ACC will bring a different set of results come tournament time in the upcoming years.

Notre Dames struggles in post season are real, and there are real reasons they have such little success. They rarely look prepared on the court, or off, and tend to look overmatched by teams and coaching staffs that have less talent and less experience, but more heart. One day this may change, but after 13 years of such mediocrity, is that really a reasonable expectation?

Comments to this Article

  • joe soens commented on March 24th, 2013 at 8:48 pm

    Ok, so you state the reason why Mike Brey will not be released is because he graduates all his players. They’ve always done that. So you keep a coach because he wins 20-21 games a year, with 2-3 of those being quality wins. Do you not realize that by this teams defensive performance annually, that they will never, never, seriously compete for a conference title or a deep run in the NCAA tourney. The only way that will ever happen is when ND recruits faster more athletic players that can play championship caliber defense. After 13 yrs of watching sub-par defensive performances, it’s never going to happen under Mike Brey.

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  • Damian commented on March 25th, 2013 at 8:05 am

    The next step for the program. What? The next step. 15 years ago just getting into the tournament would have been a big deal. When Brey first got to ND, getting in was a huge deal. I’m sorry, after 12 years (most years getting into the tourney), getting in isn’t cutting it anymore. It’s sad, but I’m not surprised they lost to Iowa State, a team that ND should have handled pretty easily. This is what they do. For ND, getting in the tourney is their only goal. I can tell Brey right now what the problem is. Insufficient use of the bench for one. The starters are burned out by tournament time. The second is he needs to make the team a bit more dynamic. Everyone knows how ND is going to play. They’re very predictable.

    I really think if Swarbick were just to put a little pressure on, you’d see more success from Brey. He knows the game, I think he’s just complacent. He knows there’s no pressure so why change. I think if Swarbick were just to say to Brey that they expect a better performance in the tournament, and make Brey sweat a little, he’s readjust his strategy. A few years back the media thought ND had a legit shot at a sweet 16 (some said maybe even an Elite 8) and they were knocked out by the 2nd round. It just ruins an otherwise decent season. Who cares about your record or your success in the regular season when you lose in the 1st round? In a way, it’s actually embarrassing.

    It’s just really sad. It would almost be better to win the NIT than to lose first round in the NCAA tourney to an inferior team. At least you’d have something. Sad and disappointing, that’s all ND fans have right now. Especially since most of us fans knew this is how it would end. Maybe the Lady Irish can give us some love.

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  • fred mnkes commented on March 25th, 2013 at 10:29 am

    They ought to fire jack swarbrick. It’s a shame we have to witness this kind of performance year after year. Brey is complacent, and will remain so as long as he has swarbrick backing him. I find it hard to believe that the priest running the university are so stupid that they would put up with this nonsense.

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  • Edward Joe commented on March 25th, 2013 at 1:07 pm

    In my opinion as long as Mike Brey remains our head coach, we will continue to under perform in the big dance. He just doesn’t bring the physical players that are needed on order to compete. How many time we get out rebounded? Also, our style of play is to predictable, as soon as we are down on the scoreboard we basically relly on the 3 pointer. IN his 12 years, where is the inside game?

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  • Shazamrock commented on March 25th, 2013 at 2:01 pm

    When ND recruits basketball players, I think they give them the old
    Apollo’s Creed:

    “Stay in school and use your brain.
    Be a doctor, be a lawyer, carry a leather briefcase.
    Forget about sports as a profession. Sports make you grunt and smell.
    See… be a thinker, not a stinker”

    [Reply]

    JC replied on March 25th, 2013 at 4:12 pm

    Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

    God loves Shazamrock! The only person on this board who can make you laugh when you want to cry!!!

    Hahahahahahahaahahahahahahaha!

    Kudos Shaz!

    [Reply]

  • Livonia Steve commented on March 25th, 2013 at 4:39 pm

    The Irish Basketball program is a disgrace. It lacks athletes, speed and
    coaching. Unless the administration changes it’s focus and wants the program to go deep into the NCAA we will continue to experience the same results. I seems to me that Coach Brey is recruiting to graduate his players and not recruiting to compliment his style of play.

    I may be wrong but I’m not sure Coach Brey has a style of play, which may be the problem. Other upper level programs (Duke and Indiana) seem to be able to recruit athletes and graduate their players.

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  • Damian commented on March 26th, 2013 at 11:36 am

    It seems ND seems so focused on football (not a bad thing) that they forget you can have a good basketball team too. Ohio State and Florida both won national championships in the last few years and they are football schools too.

    Not saying ND runs a NC caliber team (though they should at least aspire to that level of play), but there’s no reason they can’t make a sweet 16 or perhaps an elite 8 run some years. They are on the cusp. They get in the tournament almost every year. Brey just needs to make some changes if they are to make a run.

    It would almost be better if they never got in. To get in year after year and knowing you are going to be knocked out in the 1st round is so frustrating. Foolish me, I actually thought they could beat Iowa State. Boy was I dumb.

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  • Ed commented on March 26th, 2013 at 11:53 am

    Where is it written that the only man in the universe who can coach at Notre Dame is Mike Brey?Swarbrick,this is part of your legacy too.Better start a fire under Brey.

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    Shazamrock replied on March 26th, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    “Where is it written” ???

    I believe it is chiseled in that giant stone that sits near the main entrance to the university.

    You know the one… it starts out “Rest in Peace …. ….”

    Not sure lighting a fire under this guy would do much good. He has already been torched so many times there is not much left that is still combustible.

    I say we just scatter his ashes behind the cafeteria and start over!

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  • duranko commented on March 26th, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    Brey is a travesty. His statement about “men” and “boys” after the Iowa
    State game was shameful, not manly, and unlike Notre Dame.

    I sat in the Old Field House and watched Arnzen and Whitmore upset a
    terrifying Houston team with Elvin Hayes Don Chaney, Melvin “Savage” Bell
    Leary “the Tree” Lentz and other large mammals.

    I was in the Convo for the bookends of the 88 game UCLA streak.

    I was in the Convo for the defeat of hitherto unbeaten San Francisco
    with Bill Cartwright, James Hardy Winford Boynes and Chubby Cox.

    This is the Notre Dame mantra: “What tho the odds……”

    Look at what Muffet McGraw overcame in getting the upper hand against mighty UCONN.

    I haven’t watched a Notre Dame basketball gam, even on TV, in five years.

    Brey is an embarassment, weak, craven.

    One of my most successful salemen used to have a t-shirt he loved to wear.
    It said “If you think you can
    Or if you think you can’t
    You’re RIGHT!”

    Brey doesn’t think he can.
    I KNOW he can’t.

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  • Damian commented on March 27th, 2013 at 8:33 am

    Didn’t Swarbick say he expected more from the men’s bb team with the move to the ACC? Not sure if he meant it though.

    They just don’t seem to care about men’s bb these days. Admin has the attitude “Hey, we get into the tourney most years.”

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