March 11, 2008
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey and sophomore forward Luke Harangody (Schererville, Ind.) captured the BIG EAST Conference's top awards on Tuesday night as Brey was named the Oppenheimer Funds BIG EAST Coach of the Year while Harangody was selected as the BIG EAST Player of the Year.
The announcement of both awards was made at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York, N.Y., on the eve of the 2008 BIG EAST Championship presented by Aéropostale. Selected by his coaching peers as the league's Coach of the Year for the second consecutive year, Brey becomes just the third individual in BIG EAST Conference history to earn the honor in back-to-back seasons. Only Lou Carnesecca of St. John's and P.J. Carlesimo of Seton Hall copped the award in consecutive seasons. Carnesecca was the recipient in both 1984-85 and 1985-86 and Carlesimo was an honoree in 1987-88 and 1988-89. The award also was the third coach-of-the-year honor for Brey during his 13-year career as he was named America East Co-Coach of the Year in 1997 when he served as head coach at the University of Delaware.
Picked to finish ninth in the BIG EAST Preseason Coaches' Poll, Notre Dame finished tied for second with Louisville in the final conference regular-season standings and earned the No. 3 overall seed in the upcoming BIG EAST Championship. The Irish, 24-6 overall this season, finished 14-4 in conference regular-season play. It marked the best record for an Irish team since joining the league in 1995-96 and the most conference wins in school history.
Notre Dame enters the BIG EAST tournament ranked 14th in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today polls, the highest rankings for an Irish team since the 2002-03 campaign when that squad climbed to fifth in early January. The Irish have had unprecedented success in BIG EAST Conference play each of the last two seasons. After a 16-14 overall record and 6-10 league mark in 2005-06, Notre Dame finished 24-8 and 11-5 last season. The 11 wins a year ago matched the most by an Irish team since 2000-01, Brey's first season at the Irish helm.
The 6-10 BIG EAST mark in '05-'06 has marked the only losing season for an Irish team under Brey in conference play during his eight-year tenure as Notre Dame started off with an 1-8 record. Since that time, Notre Dame has gone 30-11 over the last 41 regular-season contests for a 73.2 winning percentage.
The Irish made BIG EAST history this season when they completed their second straight season undefeated at home. It marked the first time in the 40-year history of the Joyce Center that an Irish team has been undefeated at home in consecutive campaigns and the first time in conference history that a BIG EAST team has gone undefeated at home in back to-back seasons. Notre Dame finished out the season 17-0 at home in '07-'08 and ran its Joyce Center home win streak to 37 games, the second longest active streak nationally and just one shy of the school's all-time home win streak. The Irish also have won 18 consecutive BIG EAST games at the Joyce Center, a mark that is just two shy of the conference's all-time home court win streak (20 games held by Pittsburgh).
Brey has guided Notre Dame to five 20-win seasons during his eight-year tenure and 10 or more wins in BIG EAST play on five occasions. He owns a 166-84 (.664) record and is 265-134 (.664) in 13 seasons as a head coach. Brey's Irish teams have registered an 80-50 (.615) record in BIG EAST regular-season play and are 83-57 (.593) including conference tournament action. Notre Dame's 24 wins this season equal the most for an Irish team under Brey (also had 24 victories in 2002-03 and 2006-07) and are the most during the regular season since the 1973-74 campaign.
Harangody becomes the second player under Brey to be selected as the BIG EAST Player of the Year (the other recipient was Troy Murphy in 2000-01). Brey has had at least one player named to an all-conference team in each of his eight seasons. He has mentored eight first team all-BIG EAST selections, including Harangody and Kyle McAlarney (Staten Island, N.Y.) this season. In fact, only Connecticut had multiple first-team all-conference honorees this season as the Huskies also placed two on the 11-member team.
In 13 seasons as a BIG EAST member, Notre Dame now has had three player-of-the-year honorees on four occasions (Pat Garrity in 1996-97 and Troy Murphy in 1999-2000 and '00-'01).
Harangody, named to the BIG EAST All-Rookie Team last season, was a unanimous first team selection after not being selected to one of the league's preseason teams in late October at the conference's annual media day. He is the first player since Caron Butler of Connecticut in 2001-02 to win the league's top honor as a sophomore.
Harangody became just the second player in BIG EAST history to lead the league in both scoring and rebounding in the same season as he averaged 23.3 points and 11.3 rebounds. The only other player to lead the conference in both categories was Murphy during his sophomore season in '99-'00 as he averaged 21.7 points and 10.3 boards. Murphy also led the league in scoring during his junior season ('00-'01) as he averaged 22.8 points per game. Garrity led the BIG EAST in scoring in 1997-98 when he netted 24.1 points per game.
Harangody netted 30-plus points in three conference games and 20-plus points in 13 outings. He scored 40 points against Louisville in a loss on February 28 that marked the first 40-point performance by an Irish player in a BIG EAST game. He also had 12 double-doubles in conference play and 17 overall. In 30 games, Harangody has averaged 21.0 points and 10.3 rebounds and scored in double figures in all but one game. He heads into BIG EAST tournament play owning a career-best 28-game double-figure scoring streak.