Home, Sweet Home

Notre Dame will go for its 45th straight home win and 21st in the Big East on Saturday against Connecticut. Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey credits his players and the fan base for keeping the streak going for almost three calender years.

By the time Notre Dame takes to the Joyce Athletic and Convocation Center floor for Saturday's contest with Connecticut, 1,064 days will have passed since the Irish last lost on the court.

Notre Dame has claimed 44 straight home games since an 80-72 setback to Marquette on Feb. 25, 2006. That stretch includes 20 Big East Conference games, which ties the league mark set by Pittsburgh from 2001-04. ESPN's College Gameday crew will be in town as the Irish go for 21 and the league record in a primetime game against the Huskies.

Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey acknowledged the odds of the Joyce being the setting for such a lengthy streak hit him last year when he heard the surprise in ESPN announcer Jay Bilas' voice.

"I think at that time maybe we had the second-longest winning streak and he was going down and he goes, ‘Notre Dame, God that surprises me,'" Brey said, recalling the mention by Bilas. "That kind of said it right there.

"I think college basketball, quite frankly, is a little surprised that we have 45 in a row and I know the league is probably shaking their heads and going, ‘How the heck do these guys have 20 in a row in this league?'"

But they do and Brey gives a lot of the credit to the support from the home fans.

"Our fans are really proud of that. Like they are invested in this thing and feel ‘Coach we're going to keep that thing going,'" he said. "I love that we've got that kind of mentality with our fan base."

Brey has admitted in the past that the streak has weighed on him, but he does not want to use the word ‘burden' anymore.

"A fairer word would be distracted a little bit by it. Just a little distracted by it," he said. "I think you want to continually deliver and have your group ready to deliver here.

"It's tough enough preparing for the teams in our league and then you feel you want to keep that going. I think that's probably psychologically where I get at times."

Not that Brey minds the extra pressure.

"I'm not wishing it away, don't get my wrong, it's just I think sometimes as you prepare for a team, that enters into my mind a little bit," he said. "Of course for our guys, it's helped them and if it's helping them, God bless them. That's all that matters."

The faith the players have in playing at home outweighs any negative psychological effects from their coach.

"The more important part of it is, it's a confidence thing for our group and that's more important than the coach being distracted by it," said Brey.

Juniors Luke Harangody and Tory Jackson have never lost a home game in their careers and have not shied away from pointing that out, something that Brey enjoys hearing.

"[It] is unbelievably bold to say it. I love that Harangody and Jackson talk like that," said Brey.

Notre Dame joined the Big East Conference for basketball in 1995, but the Irish did not register a winning record in the league until Brey arrived in 2000.

"I'm honored that our name will show up, at least as tie right now, in the record book in this league given how we started in this league in the late-90's, to be up there with Pitt with 20 in a row," he said. "It's been great for our program."

One more win would be even better for the Irish as they would be by themselves in the record book, but more importantly would put the Irish back on track after dropping consecutive conference road games to fall to the middle of the league standings.

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