Notre Dame Basketball gave Irish fans one hell of a show for the second year in a row.
Notre Dame is a football school. No one is denying that, nor would they ever try. However, that doesn’t mean that Notre Dame fans and alumni don’t appreciate a good basketball program. The standards, of course, are extremely different for both programs, and our own “happiness” of the outcomes of each season varies as well.
Is that changing?
Maybe, or maybe these smaller circles of die-hard Notre Dame basketball fans are getting louder and leading the charge towards real national prominence.
Before we get ahead of ourselves (well at least me) with delusions of grandeur, it’s important to take a step back and take a closer look at the program within the span of the last two years.
Last year, Notre Dame wasn’t expected to do much. They were just starting their second year in the ACC and the first year was ridiculously rough. But, Mike Brey made a few adjustments and had a bit of luck as Jerrian Grant was back for his final year, and he along with Pat Connaughton formed a dynamic duo to help lead the Irish to an incredible ACC Championship and then a spot in the Elite 8. EVEN that loss to Kentucky in that Elite 8 game was amazing as it went down to the final shot against a team that everyone had pegged as unbeatable. (Ironically, it was Duke that ultimately beat Kentucky for the title- Duke… a team Notre Dame beat twice in the season).
So that was fun… right?!
That set up this season and with Grant and Connaughton gone to the NBA, the expectations (which are never really high anyways) were just the hopes that Notre Dame would make the NCAA tourney with a decent seeding. And really… that’s what was happening during the season, but we all started seeing that this team still had the ability to be really good as it beat a team like Duke on the road and number one North Carolina.
Of course, we also saw some of this team’s weaknesses during the final stretch with losses to the likes of Florida State and Miami. The blowout loss to the Tar Heels in the ACC tournament felt like a crushing blow.
This team kept fighting though, and the run to the Elite 8 and finally the loss to those damn Heels was proof enough.
After the game, it was both interesting and great to see so many fans on my Twitter feed voicing their support for the team and their sincere thanks for a great season- and a great two consecutive seasons. Notre Dame fans know what they have with this basketball program and with its leader, Mike Brey.
Irish fans appreciate the effort and they love that there is something more to cheer about in the spring than depth chart speculation on the football team. It sucks that it ended, but the run itself was magnificent. Hopefully one day soon, this team will make it back to the Final Four- and then we’re all in for a treat and/or more heartbreak, but until then, I’m confident that Brey has this machine tuned in for more seasons like this- and that’s fantastic.