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Men’s Basketball: Brey reacts to schedule

Chris Hine | Tuesday, September 11, 2007

This season, the Big East expands its schedule to an 18-game regular season – a move that has changed Irish coach Mike Brey’s scheduling philosophy.

The expanded Big East schedule meant Notre Dame could not schedule as many out of conference games. Brey said he chose not to burden Notre Dame with a heavy workload before January, but feels overall, the schedule is challenging enough given the two extra Big East games.

“With scheduling, I always sit down with [Big East Commissioner] Mike Tranghese who is former head of the committee and [Associate Commissioner] Dave Gavitt and say, ‘Here’s what I’m thinking, what do you think?’ I always sign off on guys that are experts with strength of schedule and strategy,” he said.

“You can’t sit there and say, ‘Boy, we want to schedule so our seed is higher in the NCAA Tournament,’ you better schedule to get in the tournament,” Brey said. “You have to be strategic about a bid and smart about it and not overschedule, especially this first year because it’s new territory.”

The Irish begin with two exhibitions and a game against Long Island before heading to the U.S. Virgin Islands to play in the Paradise Jam tournament. Notre Dame will also take on Kansas State at Madison Square Garden in New York City, but the rest of the Irish schedule is filled with easy wins.

The coach also mentioned that Notre Dame might start up a series of games with traditional foe UCLA in coming years in an effort to play a more challenging early season.

Brey said the soft non-conference schedule this season will be balanced by the 18-game Big East slate, which includes games against all 15 other schools in the league – and two games against DePaul, Marquette, and Connecticut.

“I like that we play everybody. I like our repeat games. I think DePaul and Marquette are naturals for us as repeat games,” Brey said. “So there’s enough on the schedule to play your way in and do your thing. I think when we play everybody, it’ll be a truer picture of one through twelve when we go to New York, and maybe the old schedule won’t convolute who’s first second and third, which can cost people NCAA Tournament bids and has in the past.”

Brey said he hopes the expanded schedule is good overall in the conference and should avoid situations similar to last season when Syracuse won 10 league games, but failed to qualify for the NCAA Tournament.

“First year (of the 16-team Big East), we got eight bids, could’ve argued for nine. We thought Cincinnati should have got in. Last year, only six bids, could have argued for seven,” Brey said. “Is eighteen league games going help us get back to eight bids? If it is, all sixteen coaches will be singing the praises of eighteen league games. If we get six bids again? This is a tough league to coach in if you’re only getting six bids out of sixteen and only twelve get to go to the [Big East] tournament, and it’s not smart for long-term longevity.”

Big East play begins Jan. 3 at home against West Virginia.