In 2015, the Fighting Irish went 32-6, won the ACC Tournament, and made a run to the Elite Eight. It was the first time in 15 years that Brey had guided the Fighting Irish past the Round of 32. They returned to the Elite Eight the next year.
In 2017, Notre Dame went back to the NCAA Tournament after another good year. It was the last time that the Fighting Irish made it to the Big Dance. They went to the NIT in 2018, missed postseason play entirely in 2019 after a 14-19 season, and last year they were 20-12 (10-10) before the ACC and NCAA Tournaments were canceled. They were not likely to make it to the NCAA Tournament last year, and after a 11-16 2020-21 season, they missed it for a fourth straight season this year.
Brey hasn't escaped criticism over the last few years, and some have speculated that the school should move past the veteran coach. Today, he rejected that idea, and confirmed that he'll be back for 2021-22.
Brey is 447–247 at Notre Dame, and has more often than not fielded a very competitive program, both in the ACC and Big East. Still, just two trips to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament in 21 seasons leaves plenty to be desired.
They may have the framework for a big bounce back. Mike Brey is expected to return Prentiss Hubb (14.6 points, 5.8 assists per game), Nate Laszewski (13.3 points, 7.3 rebounds), and Dane Goodwin (11.8 points, 5.2 rebounds) the team's top three scorers, for next season. The team also adds talented Yale transfer Paul Atkinson to its frontcourt.
“We’ll probably be picked a little higher next year, and then it’s a dogfight to go back (to the NCAA Tournament),” Brey told Forbes, discussing the outlook for 2020-21. “I told them, ‘A year from this Selection Sunday, our goal should be to see our name flash up.’ That’s the crossroads we’re at, absolutely.”
If not, it will be hard to avoid the calls for a change, even with all of the goodwill that Brey has built in South Bend.