Posted by BrianBoru at 4/1/2009 3:39 AM EDT
In a game that was not nearly as tight as the final score would indicate, Penn State whipped the Fighting Irish. And so the season ends, Notre Dame fans. An especially disappointing season it was.
Hindsight brings me happiness that I was unable to travel to New York City for the game.
It’s doubtful I would be in good spirits enveloped by throngs of Nittany Lions fans displaying boorish behavior towards Notre Dame players and fans. My brother Patrick and his friend Chris – both of whom are Notre Dame graduates – valiantly attended the contest. Watching from my couch it seemed like there were fewer than forty Notre Dame fans in attendance. Evidently ND Nation is not as pleased with an NIT appearance as their counterparts from Pennsylvania. Such is life when lofty preaseason expectations brought with it hopes of distinguished postseason rewards.
Where do the Fighting Irish go from here? I’m afraid you’ve already witnessed the ceiling for this basketball program. More directly, this team is never going to compete for a Final Four – much less a National Title as long as Mike Brey is striding the sidelines. In nine years, head coach Mike Brey has been to just one Sweet Sixteen. Is he the problem? Or is he merely a symptom of the problem? Yes and yes. Brey’s basketball philosophy does not lend itself to sustained success; he’d rather see his team run up and down the court, jacking up outside shots, than impart the discipline required to play consistent defense.
Somewhere Coach K is looking to erase Mike Brey from his record ala Pete Gaudet...
As the game unfolded it was evident to me that, this program, this Notre Dame Basketball Program, was indeed a dead program. Being run out of the gym by a program like Penn State, a program which has never won a season-ending tournament of any kind, should startle Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick the same way it startles ND fans.
Nine years seems like an equitable template on which to judge Mike Brey’s performance. Further, he ought not to be judged in comparison to (former head coach) John MacLeod, whom he succeeded – that baseline makes Doug Moe seem like a great coach.
Outside of his lack of attention given to defensive basketball, recruiting has kept Mike Brey from becoming consistently successful at Notre Dame. Simply put, he is a very poor recruiter. Evidence suggests that Mike Brey does not connect with inner-city kids while on recruiting trips. In order for Notre Dame to get to the elite level on the hardwood, they must be able to target and land better athletes.
Additionally, Notre Dame as an institution must take a long look in the mirror and ask itself: Do we want to compete for National Championships in basketball? If not, then be fair to the kids and drop down to Division 1-AA.
When the composition of your Big East team can easily be confused for a Patriot League team, your program needs a shot in the arm.