Earlier in the season Notre Dame boasted the country's longest home winning streak. Unfortunately for the Irish, this season will be more remembered for a disappointing seven-game losing streak.
The good news for Notre Dame is that the streak ended with last night's 90-57 victory over Louisville, the team that started the streak exactly a month to the day before it ended it.
The win helped the Irish avoid becoming the first Notre Dame team to lose eight straight games since the 1965-66 season when the Irish dropped 13 in a row before finishing the season 5-21. Notre Dame also avoided its first three-game home Big East losing since joining the conference and the most consecutive home losses since the 1993-94 season.
As disappointing as the streak was, in their defense, the Irish were victims of a brutal schedule. Of the seven games, five came against teams ranked in the nation's Top 10 and a sixth was against UCLA and the Bruins jumped into the Top 10 two days later.
During the stretch, Notre Dame led only once at the half, at Pittsburgh, and was tied just one other time, at Cincinnati.
Luke Harangody was stellar during the stretch except for the game in Los Angeles. Even with his five-point, one-rebound performance in California, Harangody still managed to average 23.7 points and 12.4 rebounds over the seven games.
But most importantly, the streak is over.
WHERE FROM HERE?: Now the question for Notre Dame is how to parlay this win over the seventh-ranked Cardinals for the positive the way the loss in Louisville resulted in the negative.
"I think this game is going to propel us and it's something to build on defensively and offensively," Kyle McAlarney said.
Harangody cautioned that the team still needs to play together.
"We just have to have great practices and keep doing what we did tonight," he said. "Everyone do their jobs and just keep playing. It's not over yet."
Tory Jackson agreed with Harangody.
"Practice the same way we've been practicing the last couple of days," he said. "No more lallygagging, no more setbacks or nothing. We've got to continue to get better in practice."
Ryan Ayers said that it should be easier for the Irish to play after a win.
"It gives you confidence. I can't describe it, it's just there," he said. "Once you get a win you feel really good with what's going on with your team."
With a short turnaround for Sunday's game against South Florida and a trip to West Virginia on Wednesday, Mike Brey wants his players to remember the feeling, but also he wants them to get rested.
"We've got two games coming here quick. This is a busy week for us. We've got to get some rest. We've invested a lot of energy in this season all ready," Brey said. "Even on Saturday, with an older group that's done it, I don't necessarily need to see what I saw tonight for 45 minutes on the floor. We'll tune it up and let's have that energy on Sunday again."
FAST START EQUALS CONFIDENCE: The Irish came out with more confidence than any of the last seven games and the early success only allowed Notre Dame's confidence to increase as the game went on.
"It was huge," McAlarney said. "We got some momentum and we really dug down and played good defense. We figured them out a little bit, we figured the press out as the game went on. It just gave us confidence."
The Irish did not stop bombing away once the game was in hand either and that should help them bring that same attitude with them into the next few games. Even with a 30-point lead in the second half, Brey left his starters in until the final minutes.
McAlarney told his teammates during a huddle in the second half that they were playing for more than just one game.
"I said, ‘These last eight minutes translates into how we're going to be the rest of the way,'" McAlarney said of what he told his teammates. "We found our identity a little bit and we weren't going to let up for one second. We were just having fun out there."
"It felt so good we weren't going to stop," Harangody said. "We haven't had that in awhile. I think that's going to carry on to Sunday's game."
OUT WITH THE OLD, IN WITH THE OLD: New meant a return to the old for Brey when it came to Notre Dame's starting lineup against Louisville.
After shuffling between lineups for four games, Brey returned to the same five that he started the season with, Harangody, McAlarney, Jackson, Zach Hillesland and Ayers.
It was the first time since the Marquette game on Jan. 26 that Notre Dame began a contest with its original starting five.
Brey joked that he was only messing with the media earlier in the week when he talked about needing to change things up before saying that he needed the starters.
"I was just kidding you guys in Los Angeles. We needed to go back to our starters, it's pretty evident. Just something to talk about," he laughed. "Seriously, that's a no-brainer. We had to go back to our nucleus, you're coming back home. That nucleus of guys has won a lot of games for us and played well together and that nucleus gets us in the offensive rhythm we need to compete in this league."
Nash grabbed six rebounds in 14 minutes without scoring, although he did provide a boost on the defensive end.
Brey acknowledged that he threw Nash out of practice on Sunday to get the team going, but loved what he got from him on Thursday.
"He just happened to be the guy," Brey said. "He was very good tonight. He was physical in the post, he rebounded and he helped us handle the ball against the press a couple of times at key times. He's very good with the basketball and he's good in the low post."
LOOSE BALLS: Bobby Knight called the game for ESPN along with Digger Phelps and Brent Musberger. Knight has been rumored to be a candidate for the Georgia head coaching job and although he is still a commentator, Knight could not help himself from debating calls with an official at halftime… Wounded soldiers from the wars in the Middle East were honored at halftime. Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick presented each of the soldiers with autographed basketballs while the student section chanted ‘USA! USA! USA!' Jackson joked that if the Irish lost the soldiers were going to take them out on the battlefield.. Ayers' father, Randy an assistant with the Washington Wizards, was in attendance.