Notre Dame's Mike Brey left the locker room in Cleveland last season after the Irish were bounced from the Elite Eight wondering if he could ever feel more warmly toward a team he coached.
Then came the 2015-16 team, one Brey found himself adoring even more.
"I felt better about this group," Brey said. "They were unbelievably coachable. Their leadership grew in areas I didn't think they could. ... (They) were better than (the 2014-15 Irish) and tougher than them and I never thought I would say that. It was a fabulous run for us."
Yet it ended in the same place.
Sixth-seeded Notre Dame fell just shy of the Final Four for a second straight season, losing 88-74 to North Carolina on Sunday night at the Wells Fargo Center in the East Region final. The Irish were aiming for the program's first Final Four appearance since 1978.