Notre Dame’s Mike Brey: His Best Coaching Job Ever?

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Call it Ewing Theory Part Deux. When leading scorer and rebounder Luke Harangody when down with injury in 2010 midseason, Notre Dame Coach Mike Brey rallied his college basketball team out of a losing streak and into a solid NCAA Tournament berth with a few adjustments.

The major adjustment was shifting to the burn offense, which although extremely boring to watch, limits possessions and equalizes talent disparities. When his star player Tim Abromaitis went down for the season with an ACL after he played just two games, Brey had adjustments to make again.

I wrote off the Irish, as did everyone else. Yet here they are with a 6-3 Big East record, and a fantastic tournament resume. How was Brey done it?

Brey was named the 2011 BIG EAST Men’s Basketball Coach of the Year in 2011, and it may be tough to expect his colleagues to vote him that honor a second straight year. Even though he might be doing a better job of “doing-more-with-less” in 2012 than he did last year. He’s certainly the league’s coach of the month for January after his Irish knocked off a third ranked opponent in the month Sunday at Connecticut. Notre Dame’s January wins at Louisville, against #1 Syracuse (the first loss of the season for the Orange) and at Connecticut make January the sixth time a Notre Dame men’s basketball squad has beaten three ranked opponents in a single month.

They just beat a very talented UConn team loaded with NBA talent, and they did it with….who? Cuz Ben Hansbrough and Tim Abromaitis are long gone. The alpha on this team is point guard Eric Atkins, a high upside Baltimore product who’s becoming a floor general in his sophomore year. Second banana is Jerian Grant and that is a miracle when you consider what an afterthought he was this preseason. This kid has established himself in practice to shoot way up the depth chart and become one of the team’s vital cogs. Then there’s Baby ‘Gody, Jack Cooley who’s developed into a force inside, and Scott Martin, a key scorer and rebounder.

But mostly this team is doing it with defense.Notre Dame set team records in their win over a very decent Seton Hall team by allowing the Pirates just 15 field goals, and 42 points.

So once again, Brey is cooking up a very healthy, delicious gourmet meal despite having mediocre or worse ingredients to work with. Will he get coach of the year again? Probably only if he gets some wins in the NCAA Tournament. Last year’s team was ranked as high as #4 and headed into championship week in the mix for a #1 seed. However, they choked and couldn’t even make it past the second round of the tourney.That needs to change in order for Brey to truly get more accolades.

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net, an official Google News site generating millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports

A Fulbright scholar and MBA, Banks has appeared on live radio all over the world; and he’s a member of the Football Writers Association of America, U.S. Basketball Writers Association, and Society of Professional Journalists. The President of the United States follows him on Twitter (@Paul_M_BanksTSB) You should too.

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