Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey sits down for an exclusive four-part interview marking his 10-year contract extension. Part one focuses on Brey's reaction to the extension and the future of the BIG EAST Conference.
Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey sits down for an exclusive four-part interview marking his 10-year contract extension. Part two focuses on Brey's time at Notre Dame, his reflections on the program and the changes at ND since he started.
Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey sits down for an exclusive four-part interview marking his 10-year contract extension. Part four focuses on Brey's tenure at Notre Dame, the program's success and a look back at some of his top players.
Jack Cooley and Tom Knight each post 14 points for the Irish, who finish at 25-10.
As Notre Dame enters a new era with its entrance into the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2013-14, perhaps no person is better prepared to navigate the Irish program into its new basketball home than Mike Brey. A Rockville, Md., native, he grew up a Maryland Terrapin basketball fan and his first head coaching job in the collegiate ranks was as an assistant coach at Duke for eight seasons.
For the past 13 years roaming the Irish sidelines, Brey has steadily, and with little fanfare, put his stamp on the Notre Dame basketball program. Over the course of his 13-year head coaching tenure, Brey has built a program that is respected for its consistency on an annual basis. One of the most well-liked coaches in the college game today, he is most admired by his coaching peers for the teams he produces and the manner in which he goes about his business.
In some ways, Brey's career has almost come full circle since the announcement in the fall of 2012 that Notre Dame would be making a move to the ACC. As Notre Dame alumni and fans get used to the idea of the Irish playing in the ACC, in many ways, it's even harder for Brey to fathom as well. As he has pointed out on many occasions, never in his wildest dreams could he have imagined himself "coaching in the ACC at Notre Dame."
Over the course of his 18-year head coaching career and his 13 seasons with the Irish, Brey has quietly amassed an impressive resume that includes 13 20-win seasons and 11 NCAA tournament appearances and nearly 400 career wins. He has a program that he can truly call his own and one that defines his coaching style and character.
Throughout his tenure at Notre Dame, he has been applauded and commended for the style and grace with which he runs his program and for the loyalty that he displays each and every day in carrying out the University's unique mission of educating its student-athletes.
Brey's commitment and the foundation he has built have not gone unnoticed. In June 2012, the University rewarded him with a new 10-year contract that will run through the 2021-22 campaign.
Since his arrival in July of 2000, he has worked steadily and diligently to build a nationally respected basketball program. Brey's accomplishments are striking when one considers the emphasis that is placed on the term "student-athlete" at Notre Dame.
Respect has followed Brey throughout his head-coaching career, but each of the last four campaigns -- 2009-13 -- have defined his coaching style. His Notre Dame teams have compiled a 97-41 (.703) record and were 48-24 (.667) in BIG EAST play. Both of the win totals represented the most wins in program history during a four-year period both in overall games and in conference play.
In Notre Dame's final season in the BIG EAST Conference in 2012-13, Brey engineered his squad to a program-best seventh consecutive 20-win season as the Irish finished with a 25-10 mark (matching the second-highest season win total under Brey) and posted an 11-7 record in league play. Notre Dame's conference regular-season record marked the fourth straight year and ninth time in 13 seasons that Brey guided his team to 10 or more conference regular-season wins. The Irish also advanced to the semifinals of the BIG EAST Championship for the fourth time in as many seasons and owned the distinction of being the only conference team to advance that far in the tournament four consecutive years.
This past season also marked a milestone for Brey as he became the fourth all-time winningest coach in the history of the BIG EAST. And while the conference landscape has shifted, he certainly became a fixture in a conference that proved to be one of the most dominant on an annual basis. Brey guided the Irish to a 136-84 (.618) record in regular-season play and an overall 146-97 (.601) mark that included tournament games. His 146 BIG EAST wins were fourth only to those of Syracuse's Jim Boeheim (416), Connecticut's Jim Calhoun (309) and Georgetown's John Thompson (231).
The campaign also produced one of the most scintillating victories in program history -- a 104-101 five-overtime thriller at home against Louisville on Feb. 9, 2013, that marked the longest game in the history of Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center as well as the longest regular-season contest in BIG EAST history.
Forward Jack Cooley garnered first-team all-BIG EAST honors while guard Jerian Grant was a second team honoree. In all 13 seasons coaching the Irish in the BIG EAST,
Brey had at least one player earn all-conference honors.
The previous season in 2011-12 campaign may have been one of the most remarkable seasons in program history as Notre Dame faced uncertainty when star shooting guard Tim Abromaitis, a three-time BIG EAST Scholar Athlete of the Year honoree and all-BIG EAST selection, went down with a season-ending ACL injury. With a young and inexperienced team that also was finding its own identity following the graduation of three starters from the previous season, Brey orchestrated one of the greatest coaching jobs in recent memory as Notre Dame finished with a 22-12 mark and 13-5 record in BIG EAST play, good for third in the final regular-season standings.
After suffering five losses during the non-conference portion of its slate and owning a 3-3 mark through the first six games of the conference season, Notre Dame rattled off a school-record nine straight BIG EAST victories that began with a 67-58 upset of top-ranked and previously unbeaten Syracuse on Jan. 21, 2012. It marked the first win for an Irish team over a No. 1 team in 25 years and the first-ever by a Brey-coached team. Midway through February, the Irish entered the rankings and climbed to as high as 18th in the ESPN/USA Today rankings.
Also among the featured wins of the season was a 67-65 double-overtime victory at 10th-ranked Louisville that marked the first win for Notre Dame over the Cardinals in the Bluegrass State since 1958.
Notre Dame became the talk of the college basketball world as it went on to earn a third consecutive NCAA tournament appearance and third straight trip to the semifinals of the BIG EAST Tournament. It also was the eighth time in 12 seasons that an Irish team had won 10 or more BIG EAST regular-season games. Cooley garnered second team all-BIG EAST honors, in addition to winning the conference's most improved player award. Grant was named to the league's all-rookie team. Brey himself was honored with the Jim Phelan Coach of the Year award.
The magical and surprising success of that campaign followed one of the greatest seasons in Notre Dame basketball history in 2010-11. Brey earned national praise and admiration from the college basketball world after leading his Irish squad to a 27-7 record. The 27 wins during the regular season were the most-ever in the modern era by any Irish team, and no college basketball team in the country grabbed more headlines or was talked about more often on a daily basis than Notre Dame.
The Irish also finished second in the final BIG EAST regular-season standings, matching a program-best 14-4 mark during the 18-game conference slate and advanced to the semifinals of the BIG EAST Championship for the second consecutive year. Notre Dame also was 8-3 versus ranked opponents with the eight wins representing the most in a single year by an Irish basketball team.
The Associated Press honored Brey with its national coach of the year award, while the United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) also honored him with the Henry Iba award that the organization gives out annually.
Brey also was named the BIG EAST Coach of the Year for the third time in five seasons (also won the award in 2007 and 2008) and with that became just one of five coaches in league history to win the award on three or more occasions. Brey joined an elite list of individuals to win the award three or more times -- four-time recipients Jim Boeheim and Jim Calhoun and three-time honorees Lou Carnesecca and John Thompson.
Beginning the season unranked in 'the fall of 10, the Irish captured the Old Spice Classic during Thanksgiving weekend with victories over Georgia, California and Wisconsin and rode that momentum for the remainder of the season that culminated with a final No. 5 ranking in the Associated Press poll, the highest for a Notre Dame team in more than 30 years.
Brey's squad grabbed the attention of the nation with its 56-51 victory over No. 2 Pittsburgh at the Petersen Events Center on Jan. 24, 2011. The victory was the first-ever in six appearances at the Petersen Events Center and snapped the Panthers' 20-game home win streak as Notre Dame handed Pittsburgh just its 12th loss in 157 home contests.
His squad completed an undefeated season at home for the third time in five campaigns as the Irish finished with a 17-0 mark. Over the last seven years, Notre Dame had the most BIG EAST regular-season wins (54) at home and ranks second nationally with a .929 winning percentage (117-9 record).
Notre Dame nearly made a sweep of the BIG EAST top honors that season as Ben Hansbrough became the fourth Notre Dame player (third under Brey) to win BIG EAST player-of-the-year accolades, while Abromaitis was named the league's scholar athlete of the year for men's basketball for the second time in as many seasons.
In 18 seasons as a head coach, Brey owns an overall record of 384-194 for a .664 winning percentage and a 285-142 (.667) mark in 13 campaigns with the Irish.
During the 2009-10 campaign, Brey reached three milestones as he earned his 300th career win, his 200th victory at Notre Dame and his 100th BIG EAST win that includes both regular season and tournament games. When he earned his 100th league victory, he became only the sixth coach in conference history to accomplish that feat.
Brey's 200th win with the Irish came in Notre Dame's first BIG EAST game of the season when his team defeated Providence 93-78 on Dec. 30, 2009. With the victory, he became only the third coach in school history to reach the 200-win plateau. Only George Keogan (327 victories from 1923-43) and Digger Phelps (393 wins from 1971-91) own more wins than Brey from the Irish sidelines.
He picked up his 300th career win less than a week later on Jan. 5, 2010, at USF when his team pulled out a thrilling 74-73 victory on the road.
Brey's 100th BIG EAST victory was a very special one as it came close to the area in which he grew up -- Washington, D.C. On Feb. 27, 2010, his Irish squad upset nationally-ranked Georgetown, 78-64, at the Verizon Center.
In `09-'10, Brey guided Notre Dame to its sixth NCAA tournament appearance and 30th berth overall in school history. The Irish finished the campaign with a 23-12 record and posted its sixth 10-win BIG EAST regular season with a 10-8 mark.
Fourteen games into the conference regular season, Notre Dame stood 6-8 in league play and was without the services of three-time All-American Luke Harangody who went down with a knee injury in mid-February. Having to reinvent his squad minus its top scorer and rebounder, Notre Dame rattled off four straight wins over ranked opponents en route to advancing to the semifinals of the BIG EAST Championship for the second time in four years and third time in 10 seasons. The Irish dropped a two-point decision (53-51) to eventual champion and Final Four participant West Virginia.
Brey employed a "burn offense" during that final stretch of the season that earned him the praise of his coaching peers and the wonderment of the college basketball world. The revamped tactic established a very methodical offensive style that made the most of every possession.
Selected by his coaching peers as the BIG EAST Coach of the Year in 2007 and 2008, Brey was just the third coach in BIG EAST history -- following Carnesecca of St. John's in 1985 and 1986 and P.J. Carlesimo of Seton Hall in 1988 and 1989 -- to win the coaching accolade in consecutive years after leading his teams to two of the most successful back-to-back campaigns in the program's 107-year history.
His selection as BIG EAST Coach of the Year in '08 marked the third such honor as he was named America East Co-Coach of the Year in 1997 when he was the head coach at the University of Delaware.
Brey engineered one of the most successful campaigns in Notre Dame history in 2007-08 as he guided his team to a 25-8 record (third most wins in school history) and a then program-best 14-4 record in BIG EAST play. The Irish tied for second in the final regular-season standings after being chosen ninth in the coaches' preseason poll. The 25 wins at the time had been the most ever under Brey and most since the 1973-74 campaign when that Irish team finished with a 26-3 mark. Notre Dame also led the nation in assists at 18.4 per game.
Since his arrival, Brey has put his signature on the Irish basketball program. After 13 successful campaigns, he has a BIG EAST Conference championship banner, nine NCAA tournament appearances and a trip to the Sweet 16 in 2003 to his credit. The Irish made history in '07-'08 as they completed their second straight season undefeated at home. It marked the first time in the history of the Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center that a Notre Dame team had been undefeated at home in consecutive campaigns and the first time in conference history that a BIG EAST team finished undefeated at home in back-to-back seasons.
The Irish finished 2007-08 with a 17-0 record at home, following an 18-0 mark (school record for wins) in 2006-07. Notre Dame owned a 45-game win streak at the Joyce Center -- the longest home win streak in school history -- that began with a 66-61 victory over DePaul on Mar. 4, 2006, and ended with a 69-61 setback to Connecticut on Jan. 24, 2009. At the time of the loss, Notre Dame owned the nation's longest home win streak. In addition, with its 88-79 victory over Seton Hall on Jan. 10, 2009, Notre Dame tied Pittsburgh for the conference's all-time home court win streak with its 20th consecutive league victory at home.
A 26-year veteran of the collegiate ranks, Brey was the head coach at Delaware from 1995-2000 and an assistant coach at Duke University from 1987-95.
He has mentored three BIG EAST player-of-the-year honorees during his tenure -- Troy Murphy in '01, Harangody in '08 and Hansbrough in '11. He has had at least one player earn all-conference honors in each of his 13 seasons and has coached 10 first-team all-BIG EAST selections. Notre Dame placed two players on the all-BIG EAST first team in both `07 and '08 and was the only BIG EAST program to have a first-team all-conference selection from 2006-11.
He is the only coach in program history to lead his teams to three consecutive 20-win seasons and three straight NCAA tournament berths in his first three seasons.
As a head coach, 11 of his teams have advanced to the NCAA tournament and have made 16 overall postseason appearances, including five in the NIT.
From 1997-2003, Brey guided his teams at both Notre Dame and Delaware to six consecutive 20-win seasons. His 1999-2000 Blue Hen squad and 2002-03 and 2006-07 Irish teams posted 24 wins, registering 24-8, 24-10 and 24-8 records, respectively. He was honored in 2003 by the NABC as its District 10 Coach of the Year.
The 2006-07 campaign proved to be one of Brey's finest coaching efforts as he took a squad that was picked to finish 11th in the BIG EAST preseason coaches' poll and guided that team to a 24-8 record and 11-5 mark in BIG EAST play following a 16-14 record and 6-10 campaign in league play the previous season.
The Irish finished fourth in the final conference regular-season standings to earn a first-round bye in the BIG EAST Championship and advanced to the semifinals of the tournament for just the second time in school history. The 11-5 BIG EAST mark at the time matched the best record and most wins by a Notre Dame team since becoming a league member in 1995-96.
Notre Dame also was the only team in the BIG EAST to finish the season undefeated at home (18-0). It marked the most wins at the Joyce Center since its opening in 1968-69 and the third undefeated season for an Irish team at home during the regular season.
His recruiting impact has been felt on the Notre Dame program with the enrollment of McDonald's and Parade All-Americans -- Chris Thomas in the fall of 2001, Torin Francis in 2002 Luke Zeller in 2005, Cameron Beidscheid in 2012. Demetrius Jackson and Steve Vasturia in 2013. In addition, Thomas and Zeller, both Indiana natives, won the prestigious Mr. Indiana Basketball award and are the only two recipients of the honor to come to Notre Dame. Beidscheid was named Mr. Show-Me as the top high school player in the state of Missouri.
Regarded as a true gentleman in the game today, Brey traveled to Kuwait in May of 2007 as part of Operation Hardwood IV, an event sponsored by the United Service Organization (USO) and Armed Forces Entertainment. For the Irish head coach, being amongst the service men and women proved to be a life-changing and powerful experience.
In '08, he was the recipient of the inaugural Skip Prosser award named after the late Wake Forest head coach and one of Brey's closest friends in the coaching profession.
NCAA SUCCESS AT NOTRE DAME
Prior to Brey's arrival, Irish teams had not received an NCAA tournament bid in more than a decade. Before the berth in 2001, Notre Dame's last back-to-back NCAA appearances were in 1989 and 1990.
Brey's teams have faired well in their nine NCAA trips. In '01, as the No. 6 seed in the Midwest Region, Notre Dame defeated No. 11 seed Xavier, 83-71, and then dropped a 69-56 decision to No. 3 seed Mississippi.
Earning a No. 8 seed in the South Region in '02, Notre Dame dismantled No. 9 seed Charlotte, 82-63, in the first round before falling to top-ranked and defending national champion Duke, 84-77, in second-round action.
In '03, Brey and the Irish were focused on getting past the first weekend of basketball in March. Ranked for most of the season, Notre Dame earned a No. 5 seed in the West Region and played its first two NCAA games at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis.
The Irish escaped with a 70-69 victory over No. 12 seed Wisconsin-Milwaukee in its first-round game and then beat No. 4 seed Illinois 68-60 for their first Sweet 16 appearance since 1987.
Notre Dame made its fourth appearance in seven seasons under Brey in '07 by earning an at-large berth as the No. 6 seed in the Midwest Region.
In '08, the Irish received an at-large bid as the No. 5 seed in the East Region and earned a first-round victory over No. 12 seed George Mason.
After its run at the end of the `09-'10 season, which saw the Irish win its final four regular-season contests and two BIG EAST tournament games, Notre Dame was the No. 6 seed in the NCAA South Region.
The Irish earned a No. 2 seed in `11 in the Southwest Region that matched the highest seed for a Notre Dame team since 1981 and followed that up with back-to-back No. 7 seeds in the South Region in '12 and West Region in '13.
MAKING NOTRE DAME INTO A CONFERENCE CONTENDER
Brey guided the Irish to tremendous success in the BIG EAST Conference, leading his teams to a 136-84 regular-season mark for a .618 winning percentage. In 11 of the last 13 seasons, Notre Dame has won nine or more games and posted 10-plus wins in nine of those campaigns. The Irish also won 10 or more games in a program-best four consecutive seasons from 2009-13.
Prior to the '05-'06 campaign, Notre Dame and Syracuse owned the distinction of being the only two schools to post winning conference records from 2000-05. Before being named head coach prior to the start of the 2000-01 campaign, Irish teams were just 35-53 (.398) in their first five seasons in the league.
Less than nine months after Brey was named head coach, Notre Dame captured its first BIG EAST regular-season title with an 11-5 record in league play. The 11 conference wins were the most by an Irish team since becoming a league member in 1995-96 as Brey's squad clinched the league crown with a week remaining in the regular season.
Under Brey, Notre Dame was the only BIG EAST school to win 10-plus games from 2000-03 (his first three seasons). The Irish posted an 11-5 record in '00-'01 and 10-6 marks in both '01-'02 and '02-'03. In addition, the Irish were the only league team that played in the NCAA tournament in '01, '02 and '03.
Notre Dame's 21 BIG EAST wins were matched only by Connecticut and Boston College during the two-year period from 2000-02.
Brey's 31 BIG EAST regular-season wins in his first three seasons were, at the time, the third-most (tying him with Rollie Massimino of Villanova) by a coach in his first three seasons in the league.
Despite posting 9-7 records during the '03-'04 and '04-'05 campaigns, the Irish fell short of an NCAA tournament berth on both occasions. Notre Dame was the only team from one of the six major conferences (ACC, BIG EAST, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC) to have a winning record in league play that did not receive an NCAA bid in each of those two seasons.
Notre Dame's 6-10 BIG EAST record in '05-'06 marked the first losing season under Brey. After beginning the conference regular season 1-8, Notre Dame went 5-2 down the stretch to earn a spot in the 12-team BIG EAST Tournament field. The 10 BIG EAST losses were by a combined 35 points (3.5 per game).
The Irish rebounded in '06-'07 to finish 11-5 in BIG EAST regular-season play and advanced to the semifinals of the league championship at New York's Madison Square Garden for just the second time in school history. The Irish earned their semifinal appearance with an 89-83 quarterfinal victory over Syracuse and then bowed to eventual tournament champion Georgetown, 84-82, in the semifinals in what many considered one of the greatest tournament games in conference history. The 12 wins at the time over BIG EAST foes (11 during the regular season and one in the conference championship) marked the most by a Notre Dame team over league foes prior to the 2007-08 campaign when that Irish squad finished with a program-best 14-4 regular-season record.
In '10-'11, Notre Dame's conference win total was a program-best 15 that included the 14 wins during the regular season and one in the BIG EAST Tournament.
PLAYERS EXCEL UNDER HIS TUTELAGE
Brey's track record of developing players has been evident when conference honors have been announced. In each of his 13 seasons, he has had at least one player earn all-BIG EAST honors with 10 earning first-team accolades.
Cooley was a testament to Brey's knack for improving players as he earned second-team all-conference honors in 2012 and was voted the league's most improved player. He went on to earn first-team accolades as the only BIG EAST player to average a double-double in conference play. Grant earned all-rookie team honors in '12 and then was as second-team all-league selection in '13.
Hansbrough became Notre Dame's most recent player-of-the-year honoree when he copped BIG EAST player-of-the-year accolades in 2011 as he was a unanimous first-team selection to become the school's fourth player-of-the-year honoree after averaged 20.7 points per game in league play. In addition, Abromaitis copped third-team all-league honors in addition to claiming the conference's men's basketball scholar-athlete of the year honor and earned first-team Capital One Academic All-America honors for the second time in as many seasons.
In '10, Harangody, who finished as the second all-time leading scorer and rebounder at Notre Dame with 2,478 points and 1,222 rebounds, carved a unique niche in BIG EAST history as one of only 11 three-time first-team all-conference honorees and the only player in league history to average better than 20.0 points and 10.0 rebounds in conference play as he finished off his career with averages of 20.4 points and 10.2 rebounds. Harangody, who became the first player in 2008-09 to lead the conference in scoring and rebounding in back-to-back seasons, finished as the conference's third all-time leading scorer (1,329 points) and second leading rebounder (662).
For the second straight year in '08, Notre Dame placed two players on the all-conference first team -- Harangody and Kyle McAlarney -- and was one of just two schools (the other being Connecticut) that had two players earn a spot on the first team.
The previous year in '07 marked the first time in school history that the Irish had two players earn first-team all-league honors when Russell Carter and Colin Falls were selected, while Harangody and Tory Jackson garnered all-rookie team accolades. It marked the biggest award haul for the Irish in its 13-year history of being a BIG EAST member.
Chris Quinn, who played for the Irish from 2002-06, copped first-team BIG EAST honors in '06 and was named the recipient of the league's Sportsmanship Award. In addition, Quinn was named a first-team ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America honoree, the school's first Academic All-America selection since 1998. He also was named to the Associated Press honorable mention All-America team.
In '05, Thomas became the first Irish player to earn all-conference honors all four years when he was named a third-team selection. He also was a third-team honoree in '02 and a second-team selection in both '03 and '04. A two-time Associated Press honorable mention honoree, he was named the BIG EAST Rookie of the Year in '02, in addition to being selected to the league's all-rookie team. Thomas also became Notre Dame's first selection to the BIG EAST Championship all-tournament team, while Carter would join him on that list in 2007.
Basketball Times and Basketball News named Thomas, who was part of Brey's first recruiting class at Notre Dame, the national freshman of the year following his sensational rookie campaign.
From 2001-03, Notre Dame produced a first-team BIG EAST selection in each of those three seasons. In Brey's first season, Troy Murphy shared co-BIG EAST player-of-the-year honors and was a unanimous first team selection. In addition, he was a consensus All-America selection for the second time in his career.
Ryan Humphrey followed Murphy as a first-team selection in '02 as he also went on to earn second-team All-America honors from Basketball News. Matt Carroll, who concluded his career as the school's career three-point scoring leader, continued the streak in '03 and also garnered AP honorable mention All-America honors.
David Graves was a BIG EAST honorable mention selection in '02 (the third Irish player to earn all-conference honors that season) as was Torin Francis in '04 in his freshman season. As a freshman, Francis also became the second Irish player under Brey to be named to the all-rookie team.
Notre Dame was one of only four schools (the others were Duke, Indiana and Stanford) to have a player selected in the first round of the '01 and '02 NBA drafts. In the '02 draft, Humphrey was chosen as the 19th pick overall, while Murphy was the 14th player drafted in '01.
In the '10 draft, Harangody became the third player under Brey to get drafted as he was the 52nd pick overall by the Boston Celtics.
THE NOTRE DAME YEARS
Brey's inaugural season at Notre Dame after being named the program's 17th head coach on July 14, 2000, could qualify as nothing short of a whirlwind.
In his debut on the Irish sidelines on Nov. 18, the 51-year-old Rockville, Md., native, led the Irish to a 104-58 victory over Sacred Heart to earn his 100th career coaching victory. Brey guided his team to 19 wins during the regular season, the most by an Irish first-year coach, and also became just the second coach in school history to take his team to the NCAA tournament in his first season. Notre Dame finished with a 20-10 record overall and an 11-5 mark in BIG EAST play as the Irish captured the West Division crown.
En route to the divisional title, Notre Dame notched eight consecutive league wins and five straight road victories for the first time as a BIG EAST member. The Irish also produced three wins over top-10 teams (Georgetown, Boston College and Syracuse) for the first time since the 1991-92 campaign.
His squad finished 19th in the final AP ranking (and were ranked as high as 10th at one time during the season) for the program's first ranking on a national basis since '89.
During the '01-'02 campaign, the Irish finished with a 22-11 record and 10-6 mark in the West Division, good for second place in the final regular-season standings. Notre Dame earned a first-round bye in the conference post-season tournament and advanced to the semifinals of the championship for the first time, after posting its first-ever BIG EAST tournament victory in the quarterfinal round.
The '02-'03 campaign marked just the sixth time at that point -- and first since 1986-87 -- a Notre Dame team had won 24 or more games. In recording a 24-10 record, the Irish defeated five top-10 opponents for the first time in school history. Those victories over top-10 teams also were the most by any school that season. The wins over those schools included a string of three straight (No. 10 Marquette, No. 8 Maryland and No. 2 Texas) in a six-day stretch in early December of '02. It also marked the first time in school history that Notre Dame defeated three consecutive top-10 opponents. After those three victories, the Irish made their season debut in the Associated Press ranking at No. 10 after being unranked prior to that point. It was the third-highest leap in the polls since the ranking began including 25 teams. In defeating the defending national champion Terrapins and the Longhorns, Notre Dame captured the prestigious BB&T Classic in Washington, D.C.
Notre Dame climbed to as high as fifth in the polls and finished the season 20th in the AP ranking and 15th in the ESPN/USA Today Poll. The success for the Irish in the '03 NCAA tournament was notable as the Irish earned the No. 5 seed in the West Region, marking the highest seed for a Notre Dame team since '87. Notre Dame won a pair of games -- 70-69 vs. Wisconsin-Milwaukee and 68-60 vs. Illinois -- to reach the Sweet 16 for the first time since the '86-'87 campaign.
In all 13 seasons under Brey, Notre Dame has advanced to the postseason. From 2004-06, the Irish played in the National Invitation Tournament. His 2003-04 and 2004-05 teams narrowly missed making the NCAAs with the '03-'04 squad finishing with a 19-13 record overall and 9-7 mark in BIG EAST play, while the '04-'05 unit was 17-12 and 9-7 in the BIG EAST. The '05-'06 team advanced to the second round of the NIT and finished with a 16-14 overall record and 6-10 mark in the BIG EAST.
HIS COACHING PEDIGREE
In 18 seasons as a head coach, Brey's teams have won three conference titles.
And while the accomplishments of the past 18 seasons in his coaching career are impressive, one can't help but be captivated by his contagious enthusiasm and genuine sincerity. He's a man whose basketball bloodlines are as impressive as any coach in the collegiate ranks today.
Brey has a true passion for the game. He is an individual who appreciates the bonds and relationships he forms with his players, and a coach who understands the impact he can have on a player's life. He is, in no uncertain terms, a man who cares about the young men he coaches.
Reared in a home with two parents as educators, coaching appears to have been a natural profession for Brey to pursue. Associations with legendary coaches Morgan Wootten and Mike Krzyzewski have molded his philosophy and strengthened his foundation as a man and coach who is destined to continue Notre Dame's return to national prominence.
A former player and assistant coach for Wootten at DeMatha High School and a veteran of eight seasons as an assistant on the bench next to Krzyzewski at Duke, where he helped the Blue Devils to six NCAA Final Four appearances and two national championships, success has been an integral part of Brey's life as both a player and coach.
Having missed out on the Irish head coaching vacancy in March of 1999, Brey earned another shot at the only coaching job he coveted while the head coach at Delaware. When Matt Doherty left for the University of North Carolina in July after just one season, Brey was the man targeted by Notre Dame for the post.
THE DELAWARE YEARS
Brey led Delaware to unprecedented success during his five-year tenure as the Blue Hens' head coach from 1995-2000 including postseason bids in each of his last three seasons. Brey brought to Notre Dame a wealth of basketball experience and all the characteristics necessary for success.
In the span of five seasons at Delaware, he guided the Blue Hens to success never before experienced in the program's history. His five years at Delaware combined to produce a 99-52 record for Brey, including a 60-30 mark in America East competition.
Prior to his arrival at the Newark, Del., school, Delaware had made only two previous trips to the NCAA tournament -- but doubled that total in his third and fourth seasons. In 1997-98, Brey copped co-America East coach-of-the-year honors after his team finished with a 20-10 overall record and won the America East Conference title with a 12-6 mark. The Blue Hens earned the No. 15 seed in the NCAA Midwest Regional and lost to Purdue in the first round.
That campaign signaled what would be the first of three consecutive 20-win seasons for Brey at Delaware, a first in the program's history. In Brey's first two seasons, the Blue Hens were 30-28, finishing with a 15-12 mark in 1995-96 and 15-16 in 1996-97.
In his fourth season at Delaware, he guided the Blue Hens to a 25-6 record, the second-most wins in school history. For the second straight year, Brey's squad won the America East regular-season crown (finishing with a 15-3 record) and tournament title. As the No. 13 seed in the NCAA East Regional, the Blue Hens pushed 20th-ranked Tennessee to the final buzzer, but fell 62-52. In 1999-2000, Delaware finished 24-8 (14-4 in conference play) and received a bid to the National Invitation Tournament, losing to Villanova in the first round.
His teams' on-court success during those five seasons helped set Delaware attendance records as well. The Blue Hens in 1998-99 averaged a record 4,815 fans (in 5,000-seat Bob Carpenter Center), including nine sellouts. Then in 1999-2000, they topped that figure with a 4,989 average and a dozen sellouts.
In Brey's five seasons with the Blue Hens, Delaware ranked as the only America East team to finish in the top half of the league standings in each of those seasons.
Success for Brey's teams at Delaware was not limited to the court. While at Delaware, every senior who completed his eligibility graduated. Mike Pegues, an all-America East forward, was a third-team Academic All-American and America East Scholar-Athlete of the Year for 1997-98.
Still regarded as a popular figure at the University, Brey was inducted into the Delaware Athletic Hall of Fame in November of 2007.
THE DUKE EXPERIENCE
Prior to taking over at Delaware, Brey served under Krzyzewski at Duke for eight seasons beginning in 1987-88. During that time, he saw the Blue Devils advance to six NCAA Final Fours, four national title games and claim the NCAA championship in both 1991 and 1992. The Blue Devils finished with a combined 216-65 record (.769) during his eight seasons and won 24 or more games in seven of those campaigns.
During his tenure at Duke, he recruited and worked daily with four of the greatest players in that program's history -- Danny Ferry, Christian Laettner, Bobby Hurley and Grant Hill.
THE DEMATHA YEARS
Prior to entering the collegiate ranks, Brey spent five seasons as an assistant coach at his high school alma mater, DeMatha High School in Hyattsville, Md., under Wootten before taking the assistant's post at Duke. He served as DeMatha head junior varsity coach and varsity assistant beginning in 1982.
During those five years, DeMatha combined to finish 139-22 while claiming four league crowns and two city titles -- as well as a number-one ranking by USA Today in 1984.
As a player, he played for two seasons at DeMatha and helped the Stags finish with a combined 55-9 record. Brey received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from DeMatha in October of 2003.
An Active Member of the Coaches vs. Cancer Program
IN THE COMMUNITY
Mike Brey's dedication and involvement with the Coaches vs. Cancer (CVC) Program continues to produce record-setting numbers in the South Bend and Michiana areas. Notre Dame ranks as a leader among universities and colleges across the country in funds raised for CVC and the American Cancer Society.
Since '02, Brey and his wife Tish have raised more than $2 million for the South Bend/Michiana community's fight against cancer. The couple has always been generous with their time and support for the program dating back to when Brey was the head coach at Delaware. While at the Newark, Del., school, they were actively involved in the CVC cause and helped make Delaware one of the top fundraising schools in the country.
Brey was the recipient of the 2003 CVC Champion Award, given annually by the CVC National Council and the National Association of Basketball Coaches. He has been a national board member of the Council since February of `03.
He and Tish have been honored with several awards for their efforts in the community and were recipients of the `07 Franklin D. Roosevelt Award presented by the March of Dimes for their volunteer service to the South Bend area.
In September of '09, Brey was among five head coaches to travel to Washington, D.C., to participate in the American Cancer Society's Cancer Action Network Leadership Summit & Lobby Day on behalf of the health care reform with regards to cancer research.
AN ATHLETIC FAMILY
A standout guard in college, he played three seasons at Northwestern Louisiana State (now Northwestern State) from 1977-80, leading the team in assists and steals all three years. He still ranks fifth at the school in all-time assists with 311, while his 180 assists during his sophomore season in 1978-79 ranks as the fourth-best single-season total in school history.
Brey played his final collegiate season at George Washington, transferring to the Washington, D.C., school following the 1979-80 season. After sitting out the 1980-81 season, he averaged 5.0 points and 4.8 rebounds in his senior season with the Colonials. He served as team captain and earned team MVP honors in his only year of competition at the school.
Brey hails from an athletic family that still remains actively involved in high school and collegiate athletics. His father Paul was a high school athletics director in Maryland, while his mother, the former Betty Mullen, was the women's swim coach at George Washington, and perhaps the family's most accomplished athlete. She attended Purdue University and swam for the AAU team in West Lafayette while attending school. For a time, she held the world record in the 100-yard and 100-meter butterfly events and competed with the U.S. team at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne, Australia. She still competes in masters swimming events and is a member of the Indiana Swimming Hall of Fame, located in Indianapolis.
His mother also was a Purdue majorette and was present in Notre Dame Stadium on Oct. 7, 1950, when the 19th-ranked Boilermakers upset the top-ranked Irish 27-14 in football. In addition, her brother Jack Mullen played guard at Duke on that school's first Atlantic Coast Conference championship team in 1960.
Brey's younger sister, Brenda, swam competitively at LSU and is a physical education teacher in the Rockville area. His younger brother, Shane, was a former high school standout at Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda, Md.
Brey served a four-year term as chair of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Rules Committee and was elected to the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Board of Directors in April '08.
He also received a Notre Dame honorary monogram in December of 2006. Brey will be inducted into the George Washington University Hall of Fame in January 2014.
Born March 22, 1959, Brey is a 1982 graduate of George Washington, with a degree in physical education. He is married to the former Tish Schlapo, formerly a volleyball standout at George Washington and assistant volleyball coach at Delaware. The couple has two children -- Kyle and Callie.