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Men’s Basketball: Team left searching for remedy to losses

Chris Hine | Monday, February 9, 2009

LOS ANGELES – For as slow as the unmerciful clock seemed to tick away for Notre Dame during its 89-63 loss to UCLA Saturday, the opposite is true when applied to Notre Dame’s season.

The loss to the Bruins was Notre Dame’s seventh in a row and with it came another missed opportunity for a quality win. The Irish are 12-10, 3-7 in the Big East, and the wins they thought they could hang their hat on, over Georgetown and over Texas, look worse by the day, as the Hoyas and Longhorns are going through rough periods of their own.

Notre Dame has maintained that it is capable of going on an extended winning streak and get itself back in NCAA Tournament contention. So what has to change for that to happen?

“That’s hard for me to say right now,” Brey said. “I don’t know if I have an answer to that right now.”

Irish forward Luke Harangody had a similar thought.

“I don’t know right now. I’m kind of at a loss for words,” said Harangody, who finished with a season-low five points. “We’re not fighting at all, we’re not the team we were last year.”

Brey would elaborate on his answer.

“Somehow you’ve got to come into the locker room and win a game and feel good about yourself,” Brey said. “But there’s a lot of things, things you’ve got to do better before that, transition ‘D,’ battling in the pain more consistently. And we have done that, didn’t do it as much in the second half.

“Staying in character offensively, and screening consistently. I don’t know if we’ve done that against this level of team for 40 minutes where we’ve really helped each other consistently on offense. We do it for maybe three possessions, and then maybe two we don’t work as hard. Work on offense is something that against really good teams we haven’t done consistently.”

Or, as guard Kyle McAlarney said, the Irish need to work on “everything.”

The Irish are desperate for a win right now. To try and save the season, Brey is re-opening every position in practice this week. No one is guaranteed a starting spot, he said.

“I said, ‘I’ll see you in practice tomorrow, we’ll compete for playing time, starting jobs and if that rotates the rest of the year, that’s the way it rotates,'” Brey said.

Notre Dame’s next game will be Thursday, one month to the day that its losing streak began and against the team that started it, Louisville. The Cardinals downed the Irish 89-73 in overtime at Freedom Hall on Jan. 12.

That gives the Irish a few days to lick their wounds, regroup and to work on Brey’s laundry list of improvements. But one thing the Irish won’t be doing before Thursday is feeling sorry for themselves.

Harangody added: “We’re 21, 22-year-old men, we’re not going to feel sorry for ourselves.”

“We’ve been on a heck of a stretch with who we’ve played, that’s not lost on me, but you don’t have time to feel sorry for yourself because here comes another one on Thursday …” Brey said. “It’s going to be hard. Hardest thing we’ve ever been in, in our program’s history, biggest challenge in the history of our program.”

It’s a challenge that won’t get any easier.