Copyright by Global Electronics Telecommunications, publishers of IrishEyes™
Places ND Fourth in BE
By Alan Tieuli
NOTRE DAME, IN (IE) – Following the disheartening
95-82 defeat to Rutgers Saturday, Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey noted his team needed to "Reel its
focus back in" and not worry about seedings in the NCAA Tournament.
"A lot of people have talked to them about the tournaments,"
Brey doesn't need to be reminded that it was his voice that was
the most prominent when it came to promoting the Irish for a high seed. Brey, live in the ESPN studio on Feb. 13,
proclaimed his team was deserving of a two seed.
The Irish were 19-4 on that day and, at that point, the head coach
was absolutely right. But nothing has turned
out positive since. Two weeks and three days
later, Notre Dame is 21-7 and no better than fourth in its own division, never mind an NCAA region.
Did early success and an emphasis on offense over defense set the
Irish up for this fall?
After losing a fabulous game at
Brey literally shrugged it off, explaining "We're not a
team that really turns you over anyway. "We're more like a defensive field goal
Two games later,
So it was natural this past week to ask Brey if he was concerned about his team's
"I'm always concerned," he said. "But I do believe you look at college basketball, and
teams that can put some numbers up, and are efficient offensively, those teams can hang in
there long enough and are tough to catch. I do
concentrate a lot on that because we are very talented offensively and that's a
Notre Dame took that philosophy into
Why is Notre Dame fourth in the West Division today? Simple math will explain. The Irish are 11th in scoring defense in
the Big East (75.1). The top three teams,
The Irish are eighth in field goal percentage defense.
None of this is a surprise to Brey.
His team led the Big East in defensive FG percentage in 2000-01 – the
year it won the Big East West Division.
Brey admitted this week that it's difficult to focus on
aggressive defense when he has to give long minutes to Chris Thomas and Matt Carroll.
The Irish leaders have been outplayed in recent efforts against the quick,
"I'm not going to waste times with defensive drills,"
said Brey. "But we got to get our guys in the right position and change defenses at
the right time."
Certainly for the Big East it's too late. Shoddy defense has derailed what was shaping up to be a championship season. But results in March are what matter most and will be fascinating to see if Brey's offense over defense philosophy wins out or is altered in the next two weeks.
(Alan Tieuli is the Managing Editor of IrishEyes Magazine and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. For subscription information