Notre Dame Basketball has been incredibly consistent under Mike Brey, but will the Fighting Irish need to take a step back in 2018-19 in order to improve down the road?
Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey has undoubtedly established himself as one of the best coaches in college basketball, and he will have a job in South Bend as long as he wants. The Fighting Irish have not undergone a true rebuild since the early days of the Brey era, and have not missed the NCAA tournament in consecutive seasons since 2004-06. But the piper eventually comes for all, and well, Irish fans, that rebuild could be coming down the pike this year.
Since the start of the 2006-07 season, Notre Dame has made the tournament 9 times in 12 seasons, only slipping below .500 once (rather remarkably, ND has never been worse than a seven seed in those 9 NCAA appearances). And even when the Irish did miss the tourney, extenuating circumstances often put Brey on the outside of the tournament bubble.
In 2013-14, Notre Dame fell to 15-17, completely collapsing after Jerian Grant’s academic suspension prior to conference play (though the Irish were just 8-4 with Grant, so it’s unclear if they really had a tourney team anyways). And last season, after seven postseason wins over three consecutive tournament appearances, a myriad of injuries – specifically to star Bonzie Colson – sent Notre Dame spiraling towards the NIT.
The 2008-09 season was Brey’s only truly disappointing campaign in his last dozen years. Notre Dame entered the season as a top-10 team, and moved as high as seventh in the AP Poll. But seven straight losses in January and February (which did include five road games and six top-20 opponents in the heyday of the old Big East) tanked an otherwise promising season loaded with veteran talent.