Irish Taking It Day-To-Day

The remaining schedule gives the Irish basketball team some hope for a strong finish, but Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey does not want his team looking to March.

Mike Brey was only joking, but there had to be just a little bit of truth to the answer.

During the head coach's teleconference Tuesday morning, Brey was asked what he would do differently if he could go back to the start of the season.

"Not be in this league," Brey joked.

But there is no joking about the fact that the strength of this year's Big East has been too much for Notre Dame so far. The Irish sit at 3-7 in the conference, losers of their last seven games with Louisville (18-4, 9-1) coming to town on Thursday.

As tough as the league has been, Brey admitted that the non-conference schedule might have been too daunting. The Irish were routed at UCLA on Saturday, 89-63.

"I don't really know how good scheduling UCLA was in the midst of what we played," said Brey. "But my thinking on that was big picture in that I really wanted them back in our building next year with the new look Joyce Center."

A summer exhibition tour of Ireland along with a November trip to Hawaii for the Maui Invitational is also catching up with Notre Dame.

"There's no question, we have some miles on the legs. You're in a position now where you're pacing them, but then you've got some work to do too," Brey said. "Even though you want to work to get a win and try and get something going, you still can't lose the battle and lose the guy in practice trying to prove manhood.

"If you're going to make a move and get some momentum, the key bodies have to stay on the floor for us."

While a run in the last two months of the season resulting in an NCAA Tournament bid is the ultimate goal, it is not one that is talked about much.

"God that's the last thing we really discuss," Brey said. "We certainly know that it's a steep climb and a lot of work to do, yet there are opportunities and people remember how you finish."

It is a balancing act for Brey to motivate his players without letting them get ahead of themselves.

"You've got to continue to give hope while then step back and work on the things that you've got to work on," he said. "You don't spend much time talking about trying to get there, it's more day-to-day."

Notre Dame's position this year is not all that different from the one the Irish were in three years ago when the team started conference play 1-8 before winning five of their last seven games to reach the NIT.

"The one thing that group did was they hung in there and they were as frustrated as this group, there's no question about it," said Brey. "But they hung in there and they came everyday and they were open to us helping them to try and put them in a position to get on a little bit of a run."

This year's group of seniors is able to look back to that season when they were freshmen.

"I think these current seniors have used them as a little bit of a reference point at times in the last week," Brey said. "I feel every bit as good about our seniors if not better with this group than that group."

Brey has taken time recently to be as much as a teacher for the four seniors as he has a coach.

"You have a heck of a teaching moment with four guys," said Brey. "I said, ‘You know fellas, this will be a reference point for the rest of your lives, this year and how you handle it.'

"‘Because you will be running a business when you're 45 or running a team or handling a situation at work or with your family and really the poise and togetherness with how you finish will be something you'll refer to.'"

He has stopped his veterans in the midst of talking X's and O's to talk about putting the disappointment of the season in perspective.

"Just stop for a second and think about how you finish because you're going to think back and, you know what, they get it." Top Stories