March 6, 2007
Mike Brey, who has guided the Notre Dame men’s basketball program to 23 regular-season victories (the most since the 1985-86 campaign) and a first-round bye in the 2007 BIG EAST Men’s Basketball Championship, was tonight named the BIG EAST Coach of the Year. The announcement was made at an awards ceremony at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York, N.Y., on the eve of the ’07 BIG EAST Tournament.
Brey has engineered one of the most stirring turnarounds in college basketball this season as his Irish squad has compiled a 23-6 record this season and is ranked 20th in the Associated Press and 16th in the ESPN/USA Today rankings. Last season, his Irish team finished with a 16-14 record and 6-10 BIG EAST mark.
Picked at the start of the season 11th in the BIG EAST Preseason Coaches Poll, Notre Dame ended the conference regular season with a fourth-place finish after compiling an 11-5 mark in league play. The 11 conference wins matched the most in school history. Notre Dame’s 2000-01 team also registered an 11-5 record in BIG EAST play en route to winning the BIG EAST West Division title that season.
The 23 regular-season wins are the most for an Irish team under Brey and most since the ’85-’86 campaign when that squad finished the regular season with the same win total before losing in the first round of the NCAA tournament. One more victory would match the most wins ever for an Irish team under Brey. Notre Dame’s 2002-03 squad registered a 24-10 record and advanced to the Sweet 16.
Notre Dame heads into the BIG EAST tournament riding a five-game win streak — its second-longest streak of the season — and has four wins over ranked opponents. Earlier in the year, the Irish won 12 straight and were 17-2 following its first 19 games. That marked the best start for an Irish team since 1978-79 when that squad began the season 17-2. The 12-game win streak was the longest for a Notre Dame team since the 1973-74 campaign.
The Irish closed out the year with a perfect 18-0 season at home and was the only BIG EAST team to end the year undefeated at home. Notre Dame’s unblemished record at home marked the third time since the opening of the Joyce Center in 1968-69 that an Irish team finished the year undefeated at home, while the 18 wins were a single-season best. Dating back to last season, Notre Dame owns a 20-game home win streak (currently tied for sixth among all Division I schools).
In seven seasons at Notre Dame, Brey has compiled a 141-76 mark for a .650 winning percentage and has guided his teams to four 20-win campaigns. Since his arrival, he has led the Irish to a 66-46 (.589) record in BIG EAST regular-season games and a 2-6 mark in tournament play for an overall record of 68-52 (.567) against league foes. In Brey’s first season (’00-’01), Notre Dame posted its first-ever winning record (11-5) in BIG EAST play. Prior to his arrival, Irish teams were just 35-53 (.398) in BIG EAST regular-season contests in five seasons.
Under Brey, Notre Dame has registered four 10-win seasons in BIG EAST regular-season play (only Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Connecticut have more) and has compiled a winning record in regular-season contests in six of those campaigns. Only Notre Dame, Pittsburgh and Syracuse have registered six winning seasons in the last seven years.
Heading into the start of the 2006-07 season, Brey had led all six of his teams to the postseason, which included NCAA tournament appearances in 2001, 2002 and 2003. In 12 seasons as a head coach, Brey’s teams own an overall record of 240-128 (.652) and have advanced to five NCAA and four NIT appearances.
He is the only coach in the program’s history to lead his teams to three consecutive 20-win seasons (20-10, 22-11 and 24-10) and three straight NCAA tournament appearances in his first three seasons.
This season, four of his players garnered all-conference recognition. Seniors Russell Carter and Colin Falls earned first-team all-BIG EAST honors, while freshmen Luke Harangody and Tory Jackson were named to the league’s all-rookie squad.
This becomes the second time in Brey’s 12-year coaching career that he has received coach-of-the-year accolades; he was named the America East Co-Coach of the Year following the 1997-98 season. He also is the second Notre Dame coach to win BIG EAST coach-of-the-year honors, joining John MacLeod who earned the league’s top coaching honor in 1997.