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Brey setting up to win at the Golden Dome

SPECIAL TO ESPN.COM

June 1, 2004
Recently I was hanging out down in the Florida Keys at the Cheeca Lounge getting ready to address a group. While there someone mentioned to me how, as a fan, they were concerned about Notre Dame football. The gentleman said he thought 6-6 wouldn't make it for Tyrone Willingham and company.

Mike Brey
Coach Brey has put together an impressive lineup.
Well, he was talking football and I started to think about the round ball game. Very quietly, Mike Brey has put together a roster that is going to be dynamite, like in the days when my buddy Digger Phelps had it rolling in South Bend.

Next year, if everything goes well, the Irish will have a solid team that will be ranked early. If Torin Francis can stay healthy after back problems plagued him last season, watch out. If Chris Thomas can perform like he did at the end of last season, like an All-America, the Irish will be tough. Notre Dame added a major impact player on the interior in Arizona transfer Dennis Lattimore. His presence could give the Irish three star players in the lineup.

Brey also has recruited a solid class of juniors for the future, including Ryan Ayers out of Pennsylvania and big man Luke Zeller from Indiana.

Should anyone be surprised? Brey has always been a workaholic. He was as an assistant for eight seasons under Coach K at Duke and was part of six Final Fours during his tenure. He also was as a head coach at Delaware.

Brey has done a solid job since arriving in South Bend. Something tells me that over the next decade, he will make some big, big noise. He represents everything Notre Dame is about. Certain coaches have a way of fitting in, just like Coach K at Duke, Roy Williams at North Carolina, Rick Pitino at Louisville, Tubby Smith at Kentucky, Lute Olson at Arizona and John Chaney at Temple. There is no question Brey will be in command at South Bend for many years to come.

By the way, as a big Notre Dame football fan, and the parent of two daughters who went to the Golden Dome, as well as a season ticketholder, I am worried about the Fighting Irish on the gridiron, too. I can't wait for the opener against Michigan. Oh wait, I'm supposed to be talking about hoops, baby!

It's nice to have time off, but I can't wait for next basketball season, baby! Watch out for the Irish. They will be a solid team in the Big East.

Dick Vitale coached the Detroit Pistons and the University of Detroit in the 1970s before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in 1979 (he has been an ESPN analyst ever since). Send a question for Vitale for possible use on ESPNEWS.

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