Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Time to shut the doors | by Pat

Unfortunately, it has come to this and The Fieldhouse is going to be shut down. Thank you for all of the emails, comments, and visits to the site, but I just haven't been able to give Notre Dame basketball the attention it deserves. To have the blog just sit here and not be updated gives the impression that ND hoops isn't worthy of constant coverage or fan interest and nothing can be further from the truth.

And while I'm upset that I don't have the time to keep this blog going, the fact that people have been annoyed at the lack of updates here lately makes me happy that fans are again interested in ND hoops and eager to learn more about the team. Honestly, this is a fantastic year to follow Mike Brey's crew. Nearly written off as a dead man walking in the off-season, Coach Brey is rightly in the running for Coach of the Year awards with the attitude and production transplant he has given this team. The older players, Falls, Carter, and Kurz, are chipping in in all of the right ways while the younger guys like Tory Jackson, Zach Hillesland, and Luke Harangody are adding energy, much needed defensive help, and maturity beyond their game experience. The whole team is playing solid defensive, the bench is much, much deeper, than in years past, and there is an undeniable passion in the players when they are on the court. This team is a joy to watch and I can't wait to follow them all the way into the NCAA Tournament this year.

Luckily for Irish fans, there are many places on the net to continue to still get a fix on Irish hoops. Obviously, the South Bend Tribune is a must read for coverage of the team. Colin Burns and Steve Wiltfong also do a great job covering Irish hoops on IrishEyes, which also features articles from Kevin O'Neill, who wrote for this blog last year.

Blog-wise, Notes from the Geetar is a great read on the current state of the program while both Rakes of Mallow and the newly formed Black and Green blogs have done a great job running down the day to day performance of the Fighting Irish basketball team. Definitely check out all three sites.

Message board wise, the best daily back and forth on Notre Dame basketball can be found, in my opinion, in The Pit on ndnation. It's a long running site with plenty of passionate fans ranging from those who cheered for ND before Digger stepped foot on campus to current students filling the Leprechaun Legion and rooting for Brey's bunch.

Again, I apologize for running such a crappy blog about a subject that deserves much better. In the future I will go back to sticking an occasional hoops post in over on BGS, but for now I think the best thing to do is to shut down the blog as opposed to leaving a rarely updated mess. Doing something half-assed is never the right solution.

Thanks again to everyone that stopped by. Keep up the interest in the program that is giving all indications now of being back on the right track and I'll see you on some of the previously linked blogs and message boards. Go Irish.

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Saturday, December 09, 2006

And we're back... | by Pat

Sorry for the delay folks, but the real world intervened. New jobs, a case of the flu, and the birth of a new child (congrats KevinC!) have kept us all pretty busy lately. Now, to catch up on a wild and woolly three and a half weeks of Irish hoops....

When we last tuned in, things weren't looking great. The Irish had lost to Butler of all teams, but more disappointing than the actual loss was the fact that Brey fell back into the short bench habits that have hurt him in the past. Following that nadir though, the team has shown remarkable resilience and have worked their way back up to heights that, quite frankly, not many anticipated.

The Irish rebounded from the Butler loss to put away Lafayette 92-66 in the consolation round of the pre-season NIT. The short bench issues of the game before disappeared as nine different Irish players saw at least 16 minutes of playing time. The Irish also dominated the boards, another past weak spot, by not allowing the Bulldogs an offensive rebound until the final few minutes of the game.

A cupcake game against The Citadel followed and ND made sure the game was never in doubt by jumping out to a 40-12 halftime lead and turning that into a 74-50 win. Freshman Luke Harangody continued his strong play by not only posting his fourth straight game in double figures, but by also outscoring the entire Citadel team in the first half, 16-12. For his efforts, Harangody was then named Big East Freshman of the Week. And once again, the substitutions flowed freely as eight Irish players were on the floor for 17 minutes or more.

The Irish then squared off against Irish alum and former Brey assistant Billy Taylor and his Lehigh Mountain Hawks. The Irish offense kept up the hot pace with a 93-87 victory that saw Rob Kurz hit a career mark in points. Lehigh built a lead that stretched into double figures in the first half, but the Irish battled back and took the lead for good with just under 15 minutes to play. There was some concern that speedy Lehigh point guard Jose Olivero was able to consistently shake Irish defenders on his way to 32 points.

One final tasty treat showed up on the Irish doorstep in the form of the Winston-Salem State. An easy 90-45 victory followed that again saw nine different Irish players hit the double digit mark in minutes played with no one getting more than 25 minutes. Rob Kurz continued his hot play with 18 points and 10 rebounds.

Finally, the easy part of the Irish schedule was over and a ranked team had shown up in the opposing locker room in the form of the 23rd ranked Maryland Terrapins. The game started with the Irish falling behind and working to keep the game close, which they did as the first half ended with ND only down by three. The deficit grew to 7 before the Irish ripped off an impressive 25-7 run, spurred on by Kyle McAlarney who scored 8 straight at one point during the run. The Terrapins tried to rally back and re-take the lead, but the Irish held strong down the stretch and came away with an upset 81-74 victory in the BB&T Classic. And showing that things have changed from the Butler game, Brey kept going to his bench in a close game against a tough opponent. Eight different players saw at least 12 minutes of playing time and the scoring was very distrubited with four different players hitting double digits in points. As a key part of ND's upset win and 3-0 week, Rob Kurz was named to the Big East honor roll, which highlights stellar play by Big East members during each week.

The Irish were riding high with a lot of optimism and confidence, but a threat in the form of #5 ranked Alabama came into South Bend with the type of long, athletic team that has always given Brey's teams fits. With ESPN coming into town and giving most of the nation their first look at the revamped Irish, everyone was getting excited for the game. Vitale gave a special shoutout to fans about the game while the ND Promotions department planned a "Black Out" night were fans were encouraged to wear black to show support for the Irish. (It sounded a bit silly to be honest, but didn't look bad at all on TV)

Once the game started, 'Bama showed just how athletic they are by dominating on the boards and throwing down a few dunks that shook the JACC. But ND never backed down and even survived an offensive drought by picking things up on the defensive side of the ball. Key in the game was the play of freshman Tory Jackson who came off the bench to slow down the Crimson Tide's stud point guard Ronald Steele. Quick guards had given the Irish trouble earlier in the year and the move of having Jackson, along with Russell Carter, slow down Steele was excellent coaching. Jackson and Carter also combined on a Carter steal followed by a Jackson reverse to tie the game up at 49 with 30 seconds left in the half. Excellent team defense kept 'Bama from getting a good shot off and the teams headed off the court all knotted up.

In the second half the Irish kept shooting lights out, especially Russell Carter who put on a show. On defense the Irish switched to more man-to-man defense which certainly helped cut back on the number of Alabama rebounds. Also, ND stayed in the game by converting points off turnovers. In the first half, ND out-scored Alabama 11-4 in points off turnovers and that increased to a 18-5 margin in the second half. That alone largely accounted for the fact that with 5 minutes left in the game, ND enjoyed a comfortable 10 point lead, 85-75.

But then Irish fans all over the nation started to have uncomfortable flashbacks to last year as Alabama scored a quick handful of baskets aided by back to back Irish turnovers, their first in nearly 20 minutes of play. Suddenly there were 3 minutes left and the Irish were desperately clinging to a 3 point lead.

What followed was one of the most exciting and enjoyable Irish runs that I can remember. Game hero Russell Carter nailed a three pointer to stretch the lead to six. Zach Hillesland then stole the ball down low and Carter stepped up once again by drilling an outside shot setup by a great dribble move to create separation. Back on defense, Luke Harangody stripped Steele and drove the length of the court with two 'Bama defenders closing in fast. In a athletic move not expected out of the bullish Harangody, Luke fended off the defenders and converted the layup while getting fouled. He hit the free throw to give ND an eleven point lead.

Russell Carter then stole the ball for ND's third straight defensive forced turnover which lead to two Colin Falls free throws and the rout was on. ND tacked on four more points and Alabama hit a three to reach the 99-85 final score.

Words don't really do that final run justice, so I highly suggest you watch it. Thanks to und.com for putting that up on the web.

With back to back wins over ranked teams for the first time since 2002 and again excellent use of the bench (8 player with double digit minutes once again), Coach Brey and his young Irish team are really riding high. A slew of easily winnable games await the Irish before kicking off the Big East regular season. Not only that, but Butler has also been a surprise team and the Irish loss doesn't look so bad as Butler is currently has an RPI rating of #1. The wins over Maryland and Alabama are absolutely huge for ND's NCAA tourney resume and with the relatively easy Big East schedule (no Pitt, no UConn), the Irish are poised to make a serious run at not only a tournament berth, but a decent seed.

Granted, the season is still young, but the 7-1 Irish have already shown that they will fight for rebounds, play solid defense, share the load in terms of scoring and minutes played, and most importantly, not wilt when things get tight at the end of the game. I don't know how the rest of the season will play out at this point, but I can say that this team is a lot of fun to watch and Coach Brey is working extremely hard to correct the mistakes of the past few years.

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Déjà Vu | by Pat

I think we all recognize this one by now. The game gets tight, the clock winds down, and the Irish fail to grab victory from the jaws of defeat. More depressing than the game itself, is the familiarity with this type of game.

Things hadn't started like this though. In the first two exhibitions game, the Irish appeared that, just maybe, there were signs of turning a corner. Against Rockhurst, the Irish won 79-44 and saw 9 players all play more than 10 minutes. In the next exhibition game against a similarly overmatched Bellarmine, once again the team concept shone through in an 87-55 win. Players were having fun and it seemed like the bench would be a key weapon all season with no absolute "go-to guy".
"I think they kind of like that -- let's see who's the double-figure guy tonight," Brey said. "That's a great frame of mind to have right now."

The Irish insist they have no problem relying on different guys each night out. That nobody looks to lead the team in shot attempts. That team basketball, where the rotation is at a solid nine, all of whom could see double-figures for minutes, can work.
The first game of the regular season continued the theme that perhaps this young team had the right mix of chemistry and hustle to perhaps surprise many this season. Against a IPFW team that returned most of the starters that only lost by 2 to the Irish last year, ND dominated in a 92-49 blowout.

And not only did the Irish win big, but again they all seemed to be saying the right things.
That the Irish have done that thanks to a change in philosophy. Instead of leaning on his starters for 37, 38 minutes a game, Brey has extended his bench to include a solid rotation of nine. No starter played over 30 minutes Friday. That allowed everyone to attack the basket and defend in waves of fresh legs.

"You're able to rebound better because nobody's tired," said Brey, whose team out-rebounded IPFW 54-28 and received 35 points, 25 rebounds, five assists and three steals from reserves. "We're beating people down the floor. Again, it's fresh guys.

"I tell them, 'Don't pace yourself. Play your spurt and we'll get a guy in there fresh.'"
But then, it all seems to have come crashing down with the second game of the season; a close loss to Butler in the first round of the pre-season NIT that not only will ultimately impact ND's strength of schedule (ND now won't face Indiana and possibly other high stature programs) but also brought back many of those old issues that for a moment appeared to be a thing of the past.

Defensively the Irish had a hard time switching over to defend against Butler shooters like A.J. Graves who hit a career high 8 three-pointers on the way to 28 points. And all of the promises of the deeper bench appeared to vanish as only 6 players reached double figures in minutes with four of them (Carter, KMac, Falls, Kurz) playing over 30.

Perhaps the worst thing to come out of the game though was this quote by Coach Brey.
"We've kind of been four-year guys, and if you hit us at the right time, we're pretty good," he continued, and now he was explicating how his program resembles a midmajor. "But we've got to wait for our guys to grow up in our program. That's a little bit of the school, the kind of kids we attract. A guy who wants to hit it for one year and go, two years and go, he's probably not going to choose us.

"We could use a marquee guy. We've got a lot of good players here, guys who can develop. Here's who we are, really. When you look at our program, our four guys in the NBA (Matt Carroll, Troy Murphy, Pat Garrity, Chris Quinn), none of them was a McDonald's All-American. Those are the kind of guys we get. The problem is, the league we're in, the league we signed up for … whew, it's brutal."
I do like and respect Coach Brey, but this quote sounds eerily familiar to similar excuse-making and "throw the players under the bus" comments made by Coach Davie and Willingham over on the football side of things. Losing a tight game is one thing. Losing and then not taking accountability is another.

Now, the season is still young and it's possible this game was just an aberration, or perhaps the final kick in the ass needed to really implement some coaching/strategy changes. All hope is not lost, as Zach Hillesland has showed plenty of athletic potential early and freshman Luke Harangody is off to a spectacular start in what looks like will be a fantastic career. But one or two talented players don't make a team, and even the best of players can be limited by lackluster coaching.

Again, it is early. But at the same time it appears to be getting pretty late for Coach Brey. It's time for him to show that he can junk what isn't working and develop a new identity. Sure, the team is indeed young and there will be growing pains along the way. But growing pains and freshman mistakes are almost forgivable. Repeating the same things that have led to losses in years past in the hopes that suddenly they start turning into wins is not.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

A season of questions | by Pat

Back from a long summer's nap, The Fieldhouse is back and ready to cover the Irish hoops program as they open what is shaping up to be a very interesting season with an exhibition game against Division II Rockhurst tonight (streamed live from und.com). But before we get to the upcoming season, let's do a quick review of the noteworthy items that have happened since the last Fieldhouse update.

The Team

Practice started about a short time ago and expectations, at least from the media and fans, aren't too high this year. The Big East Coaches Poll picked ND as the 11th best team in the 16 team conference and the only player to earn pre-season all-conference honors is senior Colin Falls, who was named All-Big East Honorable Mention. Personally, I thought Russell Carter deserved some recognition and I look for him to be named to some post-season lists.

Und.com put up some practice video from an early practice, but really it's too soon to know what fans can really expect from the team. My premature stab at a starting five includes Kyle McAlarney at point, Colin Falls as the shooting guard, Russell Carter at the small forward spot, Rob Kurz at power forward, and Luke Zeller as the center. The thing is, Carter would also be very effective at the 2-guard spot, and Ryan Ayers would add a lot of height and athleticism as a small forward. And what about 6'9 Zach Hillesland, who apparently is the pre-season front-runner for breakout player of the year based on practice chatter and 2nd-hand reports? Oh, and don't forget the four man freshman class either, which includes quick point guard Tory Jackson and hopeful rebounding machine Luke Harangody. As you can see, there are plenty of lineup possibilities with this young team. One hand, that is pretty exciting, as fans get to see which young players step up to replace stalwarts Chris Quinn, Torin Francis, and Rick Cornett. On the other hand, given Brey's tendencies thusfar to play a short bench, fans are curious to see if he will keep it short or go to a deeper pool of subs more often.

One thing that Irish fans do hope to see is an increased focus on defense and hustle. Not that past Irish teams didn't work hard on the floor, but there almost seemed to be an attitude of the best defense is a good offense. Hopefully with plenty of athletic young players fighting for playing time, the Irish won't be near the bottom of the Big East again in many defensive categories.

I hesitate to give a prediction, because honestly I'm not really sure what to predict. I think that the team will be fun to watch, but there will definitely be some mistakes along the way due to the inexperience of many of the players. There is a concern that ND will be pushed around due to a real lack of low post size, so the quick adaptation of Luke Zeller to the low post and Luke Harandgody to the physical Big East are going to be keys to the season. Seeing as how Zeller is the only player on the team over 6-9, he's going to have to his work cut out for him against tall teams. I'm fairly confident in the guard play as Kyle McAlarney has all the traits of a solid floor leader and quick freshman Tory Jackson should provide a quality backup while Colin Falls and Russell Carter will make the shooting guard spot the most experienced position on the floor.

The Coach

I think it's fair to say that Mike Brey is on the hot seat this year. Not that it's burning, but it has been three years since the Irish have made the NCAA tournament and this year doesn't have the early look of a Big Dance season either. There was a vocal set of Irish fans last year who were calling for his job and certainly they will grow in number this year if Brey can't turn things around and show some positive momentum. Honestly, I think getting to the NCAA Tournament and perhaps even winning a few games are about the only thing Brey can do to quiet the masses. I don't know what Kevin White is thinking about the future of the men's basketball team, so it's possible that Brey's job will be safe even if the team, admittedly young, fails to make the tournament. Still, at some point a program has to decide if the status quo is good enough or if the goals and expectations are going to be set at a higher level.

Personally, I'm going to try and enjoy this season, win or lose. If the Irish are able to win games and look like an improved lot, that's fantastic. However, if they struggle and fail to close out close games and generally look like an inexperienced group of undersized shooters, then I'd like to think that the powers that be will recognize the situation and move to rectify it. If they don't, I'll complain then. In the meantime I'm going to assume that the people that matter are paying attention.


One thing that many Irish fans have been clamoring for are improved basketball facilities for the hoops program. Not that better locker rooms and a video scoreboard will make the team play better defense or open the flood gate of 5-star recruits, but it will put the Irish coach on a more even setting with many of his Big East counterparts. The program has lost a bit of its mojo lately, and while coaching is the key factor in that equation, it's a fact of modern college basketball that facilities play a major role.

As it turns out, ND is moving to improve the amenities in the JACC, although for now the early drafts call for more gameday atmosphere changes than items high on the Irish fan wishlist like a new practice facility. Still, the announcement of the $25 million renovation of the South Dome of the JACC is very welcome news indeed. Plans aren't final so I expect a few changes from the proposed drafts and I suspect it's possible that the lack of finality in the plans is also by design. If it comes that ND is in the market for a new coach, the promise of a say in how the University updates the arena. Either way, the fact that ND is moving to update the physical plant is a positive move that helps out the entire program and I'm sure has already helped Coach Brey in recruiting. Speaking of...


Somewhat surprisingly, Notre Dame has four commitments heading into the early Signing Period (early November). The first came in August and then in a whirlwind 3-day span, ND picked up three more players for the Class of 2009. We'll get to the ramifications of the large class in a minute, but first, let's meet the players.
Carlton Scott - This 6-8, 200 pound small forward from Texas was the first to hop on board on August 13th. The athletic forward was a bit of an unknown, as Vandy and Texas Tech were the only other programs to offer, but a broken leg that kept him out his entire junior year and can partially explain that. Described as an emerging prospect, the #12 junior in the Texas Class of 2007 just might see his stock rise even further before getting to campus.

Ty Proffitt - A point guard who potentially projects to shooting guard in college, Proffitt is a favorite for Mr. Basketball in Kentucky after being named 1st Team All-State his junior year. Picking ND on October 22nd, the 6-4, 190 pound guard had offers from schools like Stanford and Western Kentucky and was being recruited by Kentucky and Florida, but neither of the latter got to officially extending an offer.

Tyrone Nash - Just 48 hours after Proffitt gave Brey his word, so did Nash, a 6-8, 220 pound guard/forward combo. Nash is probably the highest rated of the four recruits, even though he is only a three-star recruit according to rivals. Still, he had a rather impressive offer list including Indiana, Kentucky, Marquette, St. Johns, and Seton Hall. Like Scott, Nash appears to be an active player who will be helpful on defense and on the boards as he fine-tunes his offensive game.

Tim Abromaitis - Flying under the radar completely, Abromaitis committed to Notre Dame on October 25th. Apparently ND was his only major conference D-1 offer, although Tim was mainly looking at smaller east coast schools near his Connecticut home. At 6'7, 210 pounds, Abromaitis is still a bit of an unknown to Irish fans. His coach raves about his hustle and work ethic and notes he was 1st team all-state as a junior.
The common theme with these four players seems to be position flexibility. All four seem to be able to handle a few different spots on the court. Proffitt probably will end up as a shooting guard, ala Falls, but his background as a high school point guard is nice to have. Scott, Nash, and Abromaitis all seem like fairly athletic guys and could handle either small forward or power forward. Which one, if any, ends up at power forward probably depends on who can add the most bulk as none of them seem overly bulky now.

The decision to take four recruits, which leaves the next class with only one available scholarship, is a bit interesting. You never want to blame a kid for accepting an offer (who wouldn't take a free ride to ND?), but I'm a bit unsure why the staff went after a 3rd 6'7, 200 pound kid when there were already two in the class. Maybe they all have a different skill sets, but from the admittedly sparse reviews online they don't seem all that different from each other. It will be interesting to (hopefully) hear Brey address this during his Signing Day press conference. Until then we'll hold off on too much speculation.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Past, Present, and Future | by Pat

As the off-season slugs along, here is a rundown of news on Irish players past, present, and future.


Recently departed seniors Chris Quinn and Torin Francis didn't expect to hear their name called during the 2006 NBA Draft and that was the reality as Notre Dame went another year without hearing an Irish player's name called.

Good news followed for Quinn and Francis though as both signed contracts with the Miami Heat to play for the Heat's summer league team. The pair will report to Florida soon as the Heat's summer team starts play on July 10th against a Charlotte Bobcat team that will likely feature ND alum Matt Carroll. Playing alongside Quinn and Francis will be 2005/06 opponents Daniel Horton from Michigan, and Mike Gansey and Kevin Pittsnogle from West Virginia.


Good news for those looking for any sign that the Irish low post presence will be somewhat servicable next season. Junior Rob Kurz and sophomore Luke Zeller are both going to be spending time at the famed Pete Newell Big Man Camp. Zeller will have a pretty busy summer as before the Big Man Camp he will be spending time in China as a member of the Athletes in Action team participating in the 2006 William Jones Cup. Zeller will update his progress with a travel diary on und.com so hopefully there will be some interesting stories in the near future. The roster for the trip shows that Zeller is listed at center and one of only two players over 6'10", the other being Belmont center Justin Herndon, so hopefully Luke will get plenty of time working with his back to the basket and fighting for position in the paint. I'll restate the obvious that his ability to provide a low post presence will be a large key to ND's fortunes next season.


Speaking of low post presence, incoming freshman Luke Harangody is continuing to impress with his work on the Indiana All-Star team. Harangody started things off by replacing consensus National Player of the Year Greg Oden at center for the Indiana team and notching a game high in both points (16) and rebounds (14) for the Hoosiers against the Kentucky All-Stars. In the followup game, Harangody chipped in another 12 points and 4 blocked shots. His impressive play down low earned him accolades from the All-Star coach and should give a glimmer of hope for Irish fans that next year there will actually be a few options when it comes to a low post threat on offense and an ability to grab rebounds in the rough and tumble Big East.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Back to the midwest | by Pat

It's been awhile since the last post so apologies. First things first, Notre Dame's basketball coaching staff is complete. Gene Cross was hired by Notre Dame and will fill the empty spot on the bench left by Lewis Preston's departure to Florida.

My initial reaction to his coaching bio is that he is a very solid hire. Nice mix of experience and familiarity with the midwest. And getting him to leave Coach Leitao at Virginia to come to ND is a good sign to others that ND is still a desirable place to be. What was especially interesting to me though were some of the quotes from Brey and Cross in the articles that covered the hiring.

The first was that Brey hasn't exactly nailed down the exact responsbilities for Cross yet. Lewis Preston coached the big men at ND, but it sounds like, at least initially, Cross is going to help out all over the place.
"That's something we'll work out in the future," said Cross, who hopes to start full-time in the second week of June. "All I want to do is get out there and get the job done."

Preston worked with Irish post players during his six seasons in South Bend. Brey said that Cross likely will work with both the perimeter and post players to begin, a flexibility that separated him from other candidates.
Maybe Brey is reassigning responsibilities throughout the entire staff or maybe he just wants to see if Cross works out better with the outside or inside guys. He has coached both during his 10 year career so neither assignment would be new to him.

The second thing that I noticed was that Brey is really being open about looking to Cross for his input on the ND program. It really does sound like Brey is trying to shake things up within the Irish basketball program.
He also plans on soliciting advice from Cross on how the Irish do things, as new blood breeds new ideas in a program.“How are we going to get used to his strengths is something we are going to learn over the summer,” Brey said. “When you bring guys in with experience, you want to hear their thoughts, how they do it. I’m always open to Gene, here is what we do, what do you think.
Finally, one of the things Brey said about Cross really seemed to reinforce the recent push to land kids from the midwest.
“I’m looking forward to using his experience in Chicago,” Brey said. “With the way the Big East has changed, and at times you look at our roster, we’ve been strong in the Midwest. We really need a good base in this area.”

Obviously the program will still go after the best players regardless of location, but I do like the push to establish a bit more of a foothold in the midwest. The program isn't all that strong right now, so battling other Big East and ACC powers on the east coast isn't always going to be successful. But with a roster full of local kids like Zeller, Harangody, Jackson, Falls, Hillesland, and Peoples, I think building up a solid core of midwest players is a good strategy.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Home Improvement | by Pat

When Kevin White sat down with the media to give a mini-state of the athletic department address, he managed to get a few words in about the basketball program. Before talking about the long-awaited JACC upgrades, he did address his views on last season's struggles.
“Who isn’t frustrated?” White said. “The guy that is most frustrated is Mike (Brey) and our players. We have a very high set of expectations for all our programs and we’re not going to back down from that. Some days are better than others, but we’re not going to overreact.

“I think we’re going to continue to try and create a positive trend line and find a way to realize the expectation that is in play. None of that is subject to review and we’re not going to redo the calculus on that. That’s what we are committed to."
Now, the second paragraph is positively Willingham-esque in its ability to use a lot of words to say very little. It's pretty clear that this upcoming season is going to be a very important one for Brey's career, but the real question is; just how high are those "very high set of expectations"?

As for the long overdue JACC renovations, White spelled out some of the proposed changes as part of an overall athletic facilities overall. The "Athletics Master Plan" is a long-term $100 million investment in facilities for all of the Notre Dame sports teams. Already $21.25 million has been spent building the Gug for the football program and currently the golf teams are watching as a new $2.1 million indoor practice facility is being constructed.

White highlighted that $40 million has been earmarked to update the JACC, with $25 million going into the South Dome, the "hoops" dome for the directionally challenged, and $15 million for the North Dome, home of the hockey rink. The $15 million for the North Dome reportedly will mainly go into building a more permanent 4,000 seat home for the hockey team.

Many Irish fans (and players I'm sure) had hoped for a new practice facility to be built adjacent to the JACC, but that doesn't seem to be in the current plans. What White did reveal is that preliminary plans to modernize the aging basketball facility.
“We think it’ll represent a pretty significant face-lift,” White said of the proposed Joyce south renovation, which would include an expanded lobby, new chair backs, a new club room on the second level and state-of-the-art ticketing. “We’re working hard to make it our next project.”
I would hope that those plans also include a new centrally located video scoreboard and a new basketball court as a new ticket office and expanded varsity shop, while perhaps needed, aren't going to thrill too many recruits. Should the renovations interfere with an upcoming basketball season, at least one location is already hoping to host a few future Irish games. The Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne had great success with the Irish NIT game against St. Louis in 2004 and is looking forward to the next ND visit.

Memorial Coliseum General Manager Randy Brown said he hopes Notre Dame considers Fort Wayne as a potential replacement site for games, if necessary, while the Joyce Athletic Center is improved. No date has been announced for the renovation.

“We haven’t talked directly about it, but we’ve had some ongoing discussions,” Brown said. “They know they draw here, they really want to be here and they have a great Notre Dame presence in the marketplace. The relationship our staff has with their staff will also help.”

As the plans came about five years ago, I would hope that some modernization of the blueprints is one of the reasons for the delay in a publically announced start date. Whatever the reason, it is good to hear that things are moving forward. But as colleges are breaking ground all the time on new basketball facilities, hopefully ND will be able to join them soon.