Notre Dame Basketball: Fighting Irish in unfamiliar rebuilding situation for 2018-19

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NEW YORK, NY – NOVEMBER 22: Head coach Mike Brey of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish looks on against the Northwestern Wildcats in the second half during the championship game of the Legends Classic at Barclays Center on November 22, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

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.

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