Given what was expected of Notre Dame this year, versus what they’ve produced, it’s time to talk about Fighting Irish leader Mike Brey as possible conference coach of the year. He has two Big East coaching awards already (’07, ’08), but this could be the best coaching job he’s ever done.
A so-called rebuilding year has turned into a 21-4, top ten nationally ranked season. ND has won its last seven Big East games, matching the second-longest Big East regular-season win streak in program history.
Their overtime win over #15 Louisville this past week conveyed all that has been going right for ND this year.
“The whole team brought a lot of confidence,” said star guard Ben Hansbrough.
“Especially when I had that rebound and I dropped it. It was great to see my guys will their way back into it and continue to fight.”
By Paul M. Banks
They have senior leadership from Hansbrough, and tremendous confidence up and down the roster.
“Mental toughness. We could have easily folded when shots weren’t going down for us, but we found it inside. It starts with Ben [Hansbrough] and works its way down to me. It is something we have inside that we don’t want to lose, especially in this place,” senior forward Tyrone Nash articulated.
The Irish have compiled two win streaks this season of at least seven games. Notre Dame opened the campaign with an 8-0 mark, and currently find themselves on a seven game run. This is the first seven-game conference win streak within the same season since the Irish won a program-record eight straight during the 2000-01 campaign, which was Mike Brey’s first year at Notre Dame.
“I’ve said it many different times, there’s not a better go -for-the-jugular-guy than Ben Hansbrough. When it’s winning time again, he’s making the plays, making the reads on the offensive end of the floor,” Brey said.
The three-game Big East road win streak is the best for the Irish since they strung together five straight league victories on the road during the 2000-01 campaign. Notre Dame is 5-2 versus ranked teams this season. Five of Notre Dame’s nine BIG EAST victories have come against a ranked opponent.
In addition to their confidence, the Irish have played this season with a ton of cohesion and great team chemistry. It starts with Hansbrough and Tim Abromaitis, but role players like Carleton Scott and Scott Martin are just as critical.
“This group has kind of been developed now. They’ve won a lot. Man, is that a heck of a habit to have, a group that believes it can do it,” Brey said before describing how this team has put it all together.
“A lot of things: leadership, chemistry, experience size, and there’s a real good will. We had the winningest class in the history of our program last year, of course Ty Nash is trying to run by ‘Gody and Peoples and Jackson, I’m proud of it, I think our group should be proud if it, and they’re hungry. They’re chasing it down and trying to handle our business like anybody else in the Big East.”
Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net. He doesn’t have a real nickname, but he is also a regular contributor to the Tribune’s Chicago Now network, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker Network, and Fox Sports.com
He does a weekly radio segment on Chicagoland Sports Radio.com and Cleveland.com
You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbank
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