March 30, 2012
NEW ORLEANS, La. — Notre Dame men’s basketball head coach Mike Brey, who engineered one of the most surprising seasons in program history, today was honored as the 2012 recipient of the Jim Phelan National Coach of the Year Award. The award was presented by collegeinsider.com at the Marriott Convention Center Hotel in New Orleans, La.
Brey, who last week was named the ’12 National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) District V Coach of the Year for the second time in as many seasons, guided the Irish to a third straight 20-win campaign and third consecutive NCAA tournament appearance as Notre Dame finished with a 22-12 record and third-place finish in the final BIG EAST regular-season standings with a 13-5 mark (the second-most conference wins since joining the league in 1995-96) after the Irish were picked to finish ninth in the league’s preseason poll.
Last season, Brey was the recipient of the 2011 Associated Press Coach of the Year award and also was honored with the Henry Iba Award presented by the United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) in recognition by that organization as the nation’s top collegiate coach.
The Jim Phelan Award is presented annually to the top Division I coach in college basketball. The award is named after Jim Phelan who coached his entire career at Mount Saint Mary’s University. He led the Mountaineers to the 1962 NCAA Men’s Division II Basketball Championship. When he retired in 2003, after coaching for 49 years, he amassed 830 wins (overall record of 830-524) in more than 1,300 contests spanning all divisions. In those 49 years, 19 of Phelan’s teams posted 20 or more wins in a season.
The award has been presented annually since 2003. Previous recipients of the award have been: Stew Morrill (Utah State) in 2011; Jamie Dixon (Pittsburgh) in 2010; John Calipari (Memphis) in 2009; Bo Ryan (Wisconsin) in 2008; Tony Bennett (Washington) in 2007; Ben Howland (UCLA) in 2006; Tubby Smith (Kentucky) in 2005; Phil Martelli (Saint Joseph’s) in 2004; and Mark Slonaker (Mercer) in 2003.
Notre Dame became one of the surprise stories of the 2011-12 campaign considering the youth of this year’s team and circumstances of the season. Following the departure of three starters from last year’s record-setting 27-7 year, the Irish’s chances of an NCAA tournament return were dealt a severe blow when preseason first-team all-BIG EAST pick Tim Abromaitis tore his ACL in late November and was sidelined for the remainder of the season.
Notre Dame headed into the BIG EAST season with an 8-5 record, and following its first six league contests, the Irish were 11-8 overall and 3-3 in the league. Brey’s squad stunned the college basketball world when Notre Dame knocked off top-ranked and undefeated Syracuse, 67-58, at home. The victory was the first of a record nine-game BIG EAST win streak that saw the Irish climb to as high as 18th in the ESPN/USA Today rankings and also earned Brey his 250th career win as Notre Dame’s head coach.
The Irish advanced to the semifinals of the BIG EAST Championship for the third straight year and finished with a 5-5 record versus ranked opponents during the season. In addition to the win over the Orange, another highlight for the Irish was a double-overtime (67-65) victory at Louisville that marked the first win by a Notre Dame team in the state of Kentucky since 1980 and snapped a 16-game losing steak to the Cardinals in the Bluegrass State. A second straight win at Connecticut also proved to be one of the featured victories during the record-setting nine-game BIG EAST win streak.
The third-longest tenured coach in the BIG EAST Conference and three-time coach-of-the-year honoree, Brey ranks fifth all-time in league history with 133 victories. He owns a 260-132 mark with the Irish for a .663 winning percentage and has an overall 359-184 record (.661 winning percentage) in 17 seasons as a head coach.
Brey’s Notre Dame teams have earned eight NCAA tournament appearances during his 12-year tenure and produced nine 20-win campaigns, including its current stretch of six straight seasons with 20 or more wins. In eight of his 12 campaigns, the Irish have won 10 or more BIG EAST regular-season games. Notre Dame is the only BIG EAST team to play in the conference semifinals each of the last three years.
Brey also has guided Notre Dame to the most single-season wins at home and best winning percentage in BIG EAST regular-season play at home. Since 2006-07, the Irish are 47-6 for an 88.7 winning percentage. Notre Dame also has the third-best overall home winning percentage over the past six seasons with a 100-7 record (.935).