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November 9, 2007Beginning next season, the Big East will include all 16 basketball teams come conference tournament time at New York's Madison Square Garden. Currently, only the top 12 teams attend.
"Love it. Love it. It's absolutely the right thing," said Notre Dame men's basketball coach Mike Brey. "This is all about the student-athlete experience. More kids should be part of New York City."
Brey recalled a situation from two seasons ago when the Irish defeated DePaul to nudge the Blue Demons out of the Big East tournament.
"DePaul had a pretty good team and Sammy Mejia had to watch the Big East Tournament from his dorm at DePaul," Brey said. "I didn't think that was right. I thought they had a pretty good year and they deserved to go to New York."
Brey admitted surprise at the change since Big East coaches began lobbying for the expansion just two years ago when the coaches voted unanimously to include all 16 teams in the tournament.
"The (school) presidents wanted us to play everybody (in the league), and I think that's why we went to 18 (conference) games," Brey said. "So I think it's fitting that everybody goes to New York."
There remains plenty of incentive to finish among the upper tier of teams in the Big East. The top four teams receive a two-round bye into the quarterfinals.
"If you take care of your business, you're going to get your bye until Thursday now," Brey said. "Will it get us more bids? I don't know. We only got six teams (into the NCAA tournament) with 12 teams going (to the Big East tournament).
"That 13th team can make it interesting, and maybe you play your way into an NIT bid from that 13th hole. South Florida has been in the league three years and if they don't go to the league tournament three years in a row, that doesn't seem right.
"We're the only league tournament that doesn't move (the location). The Garden is the Big East and is the headquarters. I think kids should experience that."
• Scott a likely red-shirt-Freshman Carleton Scott, the lanky 6-foot-7, 198-pounder from San Antonio, is not expected to participate in game action this season so as to preserve a year of eligibility.
Scott is the only one of the four freshmen who is expected to save a year of eligibility this season.
"I feel strongly that we'll put Carleton Scott in a five-year program unless something really drastically changes with injuries to our other guys," Brey said. "I think it's best for him physically and I think it's best for him academically. I'm like 95 percent (sure). The only thing that changes is if some bodies go down on that front line."
Tyrone Nash has secured the No. 9 spot in the rotation for the Irish. Brey is expected to play guard Ty Proffitt because of his ball-handling and point guard skills. He is currently sidelined with a groin injury.
"I don't think you can ever have too many ball handlers," Brey said. "We lost McAlarney in December (last year)...you just never know. So (Proffitt) has to stay activated."
Tim Abromaitis, the 6-foot-8 inside-outside threat, probably will see some playing time as well.
"Abromaitis is intriguing to me because he is a shot-maker, and I don't know if I want to put a shot-maker on the inactive list," Brey said. "He had a practice the other day where he went 6-for-6 from the three-point line-big-time shots against the white (starting) team. I walked out of there that night saying, 'We may need all hands on deck.'"
Brey said Abromaitis is the only one of the other three freshmen that he would consider putting on a five-year program. Nash and Proffitt will play in 2007-08.