Priorities that need to be addressed for Men’s Basketball if ND is serious regarding its mission statement of playing at a championship level for its sports teams. Men’s Basketball is the 2nd most important sport for FBS schools and should be given very similar support as football (nationwide both sports generate substantial revenue and enhanced branding… basketball has lower revenues but also lower costs). A school has to have a meaningful tradition to be successful in building a program, through one of 3 ways.
1. Have a strong current program (i.e., Duke, Kentucky, UNC, Kansas, Louisville, Michigan St., Syracuse)
2. Build a meaningful program from scratch (i.e., Georgetown in the late ‘70’s in hiring John Thompson and relaxing recruiting standards to land Patrick Ewing. Georgetown had some good starting points in location, its academic reputation with lenient admissions and the right coach for the circumstances).
3. Resurrect a past strong program (those in the process, i.e., Indiana, UCLA…next level Arizona & Marquette…ND could potentially be put into this next level category but ND is not really committed to basketball success).
There are 3 key success factors that need to be in place to have a championship level program. All 3 need to be present or there will not be meaningful/sustainable program.
3 KEY SUCCESS FACTORS:
1. Administrations commitment to success (reasonable trade-offs to the school’s mission).
2. Strong Coach (leadership, X/O’s; development & recruiting).
3. Recruiting (best recruits that are within standards and RKGs…more difficult in this AAU cesspool environment).
There are changes/action steps that ND needs to make to resurrect a strong basketball tradition and take it to an elite/championship level.
ND’s 3 MAJOR ACTION STEPS:
1. Adjust Recruiting Restrictions:
• Limited Talent Pool: ND’s talent pool is limited and the top targeted recruits end up at Duke (perhaps even Stanford when Montgomery was there), or would rather play for a more dominant school with tradition (ND almost broke through before the BE Meltdown #1 when Coach K. stole Paulus & McClure). ND needs to double the size of the pool that they can recruit.
• Football Standards: At a minimum, ND needs to allow the same recruiting standards for basketball as they allow for football. If ND can graduate their football players, then there is no reason why they cannot graduate basketball players with the same standards (although basketball travel requirements are more burdensome than football).
• Other Colleges: ND is negligent if players that can be recruited by Duke and Georgetown are not able to be recruited by ND. The vast majority of recruits that could be offered by Vanderbilt and BC should be able to be offered by ND. If ND builds program tradition momentum then ND should increase their close rates on their top choices. In the ‘70’s and early ‘80’s ND was Duke, before Duke was Duke prior to the BE being formed…in recruiting and the regular season, although Digger did not succeed in the NCAA Tournament.
2. Support the improvement of the program for the long-term:
• Facilities: Provide a practice facility that is on par with other elite programs…it does not have to be the “Best” but it cannot be the “Least.”
• Scheduling: Need to travel to more OOC locations that are strategically located (i.e., rotating NYC, Philadelphia, DC, Chicago and LA) prior to the ACC regular season, rather than maximizing revenue from meaningless patsy home games. Also better locations than South Bend for the players during vacations, and should also increase national recruiting exposure and alumni ability to see the team.
• Coaching Salaries: Increase the budget to attract top flight assistants rather than primarily try to attract former alumni due to their love of ND. ND needs to hire excellent specialists to help them with both recruiting and skills (currently could use a defensive specialist).
3. Evaluate performance in proportion to support to ensure proper coaching leadership:
• Coach Brey: He has over-performed in the regular season and underperformed in the NCAA Tournament (very frustrating). He has not had the support to do much better than he has performed (even though he should have advanced further in the NCAAs when consistently losing to worse seeded teams). Overall we would not do better than Coach Brey under the current conditions. Coach Brey needs and opportunity to perform under better conditions (as stated above).
• The last 2 recruiting classes have been very good in relation to the ND’s potential talent pool. ND needs a 3rd strong recruiting class this year (2 bigs and a possible dual guard as back-up for Jackson if Grant leaves with Atkins next year). Too bad Burgett did not redshirt this past year. If ND recruits as well this year as the past 2, then ND should be in the upper half of the ACC going forward in the future. If ND can increase the talent pool and therefore recruiting results, then ND has a chance to get to the top 3-4 (battling it out with Duke, UNC, Louisville and Syracuse (and Boeheim and Petino should retire soon which can cause an opportunity for ND to advance) and improve upon that with time. The ACC should be the best basketball conference with the former BE members entering the conference.
• If/when the administration makes a true commitment to men’s basketball success as stated above, then Coach Brey should be held accountable to moving the program forward initially to consistent “Sweet 16” levels and then to periodic “Final Four” appearances.