Notre Dame basketball coach Mike Brey covered numerous topics when he sat down for a question-and-answer session Monday.
Brey, who is entering his 10th season with the Irish, talked about the Joyce Center renovations, some NCAA issues, recruiting, what some former players are up to, reports he has gotten from the players about how the summer went and, of course, his thoughts about last season and the upcoming season.
Here are some highlights from what Brey had to say about this season, the summer, last season and what some of the former Irish players are up to from the nearly 45-minute Q&A.
For the first part of Brey's Q&A session, click here.
After opening the 2008-09 season as a top-10 team, Notre Dame ran into some hard times midway through schedule.
A seven-game losing streak from Jan. 12 to Feb. 7, capped by a non-conference road loss to UCLA, all but ended the Irish's chances to reach the NCAA tournament.
Despite the struggles of last season, Brey said Notre Dame's image is still strong among high school players and coaches.
"The program in basketball is very well respected," Brey said. "Because we are on TV so much (23 of the Irish's games were televised last season), that is what is digested more than NIT vs. NCAA. The TV thing is the biggest thing that is brought up."
The Big East schedule still has not been released.
Brey said the Irish should know their league slate sometime next week. The Big East schedule came out Sept. 8 last year.
"We know our repeat opponents, obviously," Brey said. "Connecticut still has players. Don't let anybody fool you. Cincinnati is very good. South Florida is good too.
"I think in our league, the top of the league has come back to Earth a little bit. The back end of the league has gotten better too. I think it is jammed up in the middle a little more than it has been."
In addition to facing the Huskies, Bearcats and Bulls twice, the Irish will play host to DePaul, Pittsburgh, Providence, St. John's, Syracuse and West Virginia. Notre Dame's road games include trips to Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette, Rutgers, Seton Hall and Villanova.
No matter the sequence the Irish will face Big East opponents; Brey said he knows it will be another tough season of league ball.
"Our league is about survival, man," Brey said. "People outside of our league are scared of our league. When I talk to head coaches in the summer, they are like, 'Man, your league, I don't know …'
"I don't know if any other league by coaches is followed like ours. Other coaches turn our league on for entertainment. They watch 'Big Monday.'"
One scheduling change for this season will be when Notre Dame plays host to UCLA.
The Irish traveled to play the Bruins in the middle of Big East play last season, but UCLA will not be coming to Notre Dame during the middle of the Pac-10 season.
The Irish will square off with the Bruins on Dec. 19 at the Joyce Center.
"Given going into the new building and that UCLA was the original dedication game for the Joyce Center in '68, I was OK with getting them back a little earlier," Brey said. "Maybe that can be our dedication game. It certainly isn't our first game, and we couldn't work it out for it to be our first game. I would like to look at that like our dedication game. I wanted them here early with our new building.
"The way things are now, I don't think we can afford to play another non-league, high-profile game during the Big East season. I have an open mind, but it would take some real hard convincing for us to play somebody in the midst of (the Big East season)."
While coaches cannot work out players during the summer, that doesn't mean the players are not preparing for the season.
The Irish are fortunate to have a large senior class to organize summer work. Brey said seniors Luke Harangody, Tim Andree, Tory Jackson and Jonathan Peoples have been taking care of business over the summer.
"We've been very fortunate to have really good seniors to help teach a little bit over the summer," Brey said.
Notre Dame is also fortunate to have new faces that are seasoned college players. Scott Martin, a transfer from Purdue, and Ben Hansbrough, a transfer from Mississippi State, sat out their mandatory season last year and will suit up this season. Plus, junior forwards Tim Abromaitis and Carleton Scott are expected to get more playing time after waiting their chance the previous two seasons.
"We are still kind of old, maybe in a sneaky way," Brey said. "You lose four seniors, and people would think they're really young. Hansborough and Martin have been in college basketball a while, and Abromaitis and Scott are in their third year in our program. They are not 18 years old.
"There is still experience there, which is always helpful in college basketball. There are a lot of new guys to be intrigued about for people to watch."
Brey has also heard good things about the Irish's four freshmen - forwards Mike Broghammer, Thomas Knight and Jack Cooley and guard Joey Brooks - from his players.
"They've been impressed by Thomas Knight because he is so skilled," Brey said. "The like Jack because he screens and rebounds. I like Jack because he screens and rebounds. Broghammer does a little bit of every thing. Joey has had is moments from what I've gathered from our older guys."
Brey is also expecting a big year from Tyrone Nash, who averaged 11.3 minutes last season.
"I almost think of Nash as one of the seniors now," Brey said. "I think of Nash and the seniors as guys who are very experienced and have done it on the big stage."
Brey went over what some of his former players are up to in basketball.
Kyle McAlarney will sign with a club team in Israel, according to Brey.
Luke Zeller e-mailed Brey and said he has a bone bruise which is slowing him down. Zeller is in Japan.
Ryan Ayers is working on a deal with a team in Spain, Brey said. "Nothing is official yet," Brey said.
Zach Hillesland had shoulder surgery in August. Hillesland could play for a team in Europe by December or January when teams are searching for replacement players.
Colin Falls is playing in Europe, and Chris Thomas has a three-year, $1 million deal with a team in Spain, according to Brey.
Torin Francis is playing in Greece.
Rob Kurz is getting close to signing with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Brey said.
"I talked to (Cavaliers general manager Danny Ferry)," Brey said. "They have a lot of guys that attack the rim. Between the big fella (center Shaquille O'Neal) and (LeBron James), they need a forward who can spread the 'D' a little bit and knock down shots. I told them (Kurz) can do that."