Notre Dame looking forward to ACC challenge
BY LaMOND POPE Sun-Times Media March 23, 2013 9:20PM
Mike Brey says ND’s move to the ACC will help take his mind off the Irish’s loss Friday. | AP
Updated: April 25, 2013 7:22AM
DAYTON, Ohio — It won’t ease the pain of a second straight second-round exit, but Notre Dame will attempt to move on from its tournament loss by focusing on its move to the ACC.
“The history of our program has not been good in this thing, I’m aware of that,” Irish coach Mike Brey said after the 76-58 loss Friday against Iowa State. “We strive to do better in it. I still feel we have some pretty good momentum. We have good players coming back.
“It’s funny: What will take my mind off the NCAA tournament will be trying to figure out who we are in the ACC. And that’s probably a good thing.”
Notre Dame officially joins the ACC this summer.
“We had this earning a bid out of the Big East down to a science,” Brey said. “We haven’t advanced [in the tournament]; that’s a whole other issue. How do we earn a bid out of the ACC? That’s going to be the interesting thing next year.”
Notre Dame’s philosophy for its nonconference scheduling will change.
“If you look at the strength of the Big East,’’ Brey said, ‘‘we’ve always been able to play our way into the tournament through the strength of the Big East. The ACC has not had that power.’’
Georgia Tech and Boston College are the known repeat conference opponents. The Irish could learn the other two in about a month.
“You may not have as many shots at good wins as you had in the Big East,’’ Brey said, ‘‘so what do you do with your non-league? Those are all things we’ve been talking about as a staff, and I think we really have to think about it. That will be a neat new challenge. That will kind of get you motivated and thinking differently here quickly after we decompress a little bit.”
Notre Dame has plenty of time to think about all that after committing 17 turnovers — 14 in the first half — on Friday. Notre Dame came into the game averaging 11.1 turnovers.
“All season, it felt like we had a team this year that could make a deep run in March, and I really believed that,” guard Jerian Grant said. “We picked the worst day to have our worst game.”
Three of Notre Dame’s top scorers, including Grant, are eligible to return next season.
“There’s a lot to work with,” Brey said. ‘‘I love what we have coming back.
‘‘I’ll say this, I like that I’m going into a new league with this team — and older guys — as we try to figure out how to earn a bid out of the ACC.”