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?

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Notre Dame Blows Out Villanova on Senior Night 93-72

#9 Notre Dame came out of the gates shooting red hot from behind the arc, and the initial surge set the evening’s tone. #14 Villanova was never able to catch their breath and catch up, as they spent pretty much the entire first twenty minutes with half as many points on the scoreboard as the Irish.

ND was especially fired up for their Senior night as they happen to start all seniors (Ben Hansbrough, Tim Abromaitis, Tyrone Nash, Carleton Scott, Scott Martin). Hansbrough got the biggest ovation of all, as the Purcell Pavilion crowd was extremely fired up all night. Interestingly, Scott, Martin and Abro all return a fifth and final year of eligibility next season.

And the Irish gave the Joyce Center crowd plenty of reason to ignite, as they hit their first five treys and shot 58% (11-19) from three in the first half. Nova, by contrast was just 2-10 from behind the arc, and therefore found themselves trailing 47-27 at halftime.

By Paul M. Banks

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Notre Dame Winning with 3 Cs: Confidence, Cohesion, Chemistry

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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

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Notre Dame Routs USF: Notes and Numbers

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Notre Dame is off to its best start in 30 years in men’s college basketball and gaining confidence with every victory. The eighth-ranked Fighting Irish too their seventh straight Saturday, routing runt of the Big East litter South Florida 78-55 with a balanced scoring attack led by Jack Cooley’s career-high 18 points.

The strong start is the program’s best since the 1980-81 season. The Irish can match their best-ever record through 14 conference games (11-3 in 2000-01) by winning at No. 25 West Virginia next Saturday.

For those of you unaware, Cooley is nicknamed “Baby Gody” because of the fact that he has the same haircut and looks a lot like the just departed Luke Harangody.

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Scott Martin a Key Addition to Notre Dame Resurgence

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In the offseason, the talk around the college basketball program in South Bend was all about personnel losses -most notably Tory Jackson and Luke Harangody- not new additions.

But today Notre Dame’s 21-4 record signifies the best 25-game start under head coach Mike Brey. It’s the first time the Irish have won at least 21 of their first 25 games since the 1980-81 campaign. Notre Dame’s 10-3 Big East record matches the best 13-game start in Big East play in program history. The Irish have secured their second straight 10-win Big East campaign and it’s the seventh time (in 11 seasons) under Brey that Notre Dame has notched at least 10 league victories.

A big reason is Scott Martin, a Purdue transfer who missed the last two seasons, one from NCAA mandated transfer protocol, and a second year from a knee injury. Martin is a 6-8 senior who sees most of his 27 minutes a game at guard.

By Paul M. Banks

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Scott Martin, a Versatile Purdue Transfer, Key Cog for Notre Dame

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One of the keys to Notre Dame’s college basketball season will be how much the Irish get out of Scott Martin, a Purdue transfer who missed the last two seasons, one from NCAA mandated transfer protocol, and a second year from a knee injury.

Martin is a 6-8 senior who sees most of his 27 minutes a game at guard. At Media Day Coach Mike Brey discussed what Martin’s best strength is.

“He really can rebound the ball, that’s something he does but it’s got to be a couple different guys.”

The Irish are currently 6-0 and in order for their record to stay impressive they’ll need to get the most out of Martin, the team’s fifth leading scorer and rebounder.

By Paul M. Banks

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