The 2014-15 campaign proved to be one of the most magical seasons in the 110-year history of the University of Notre Dame men's basketball program. An Atlantic Coast Conference championship and a run to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Men's Championship for the first time since 1979 highlighted a season in which Fighting Irish basketball took center stage under the leadership of head coach Mike Brey.
For the second-winningest (332 victories) and the third-longest tenured (15 seasons) coach at Notre Dame, last season proved to be one of several milestones for a man who has put his signature and built a program with little fanfare. One of the most well-liked coaches in the college game today, he is admired by his peers for the way in which his teams play on the court and the manner in which he goes about his business.
Last season's 32-6 ledger marked just the second 30-win season for an Irish team. After a disappointing 15-17 mark in 2013-14 (the only losing season in the Brey era), Notre Dame reversed its fortunes with the second-best turnaround in program history. By posting a 14-4 record (matching the most wins by an Irish team in conference play) during the ACC regular season and winning eight more games than it did the previous year after finishing with a 6-12 mark, Brey's squad produced the second-best single-season improvement in the history of the ACC.
Brey's career seemed to come full circle in the fall of 2012 with Notre Dame's announcement that many of its athletic teams, including men's basketball, would have a new home in the ACC. A native of Rockville, Maryland, he grew up a Maryland Terrapin fan, and he also spent eight seasons as an assistant coach on the Duke University men's basketball staff from 1987-95. The run to the ACC Championship had special meaning for Brey as his Fighting Irish won the crown on Tobacco Road in Greensboro, North Carolina. After earning a double-bye in to the quarterfinals thanks to its third-place finish in the final conference regular-season standings, Notre Dame beat Miami (70-63) in the quarterfinals and then took down Duke (74-64) in the semifinals and North Carolina (90-82) in the title game. The victories over the Blue Devils and the Tar Heels at the ACC Tournament were the second of season for the Irish against the pair of two perennial ACC powerhouses.
The Fighting Irish claimed the championship in their second year of membership in the ACC, becoming the first school outside of the league's original membership to win the title in its first or second year. Notre Dame became the third team from outside North Carolina to win the title in the Tar Heel State by defeating both Duke and North Carolina along the way, joining Maryland (1958) and Georgia Tech (1993).
During his 20-year head-coaching career and his 15 seasons with the Irish, Brey has quietly amassed an impressive resume that includes 14 20-win seasons and 12 NCAA Championship appearances, more than 400 career wins and 300 victories at Notre Dame.
Brey truly has a program he can call his own and one that defines his coaching style and character. His overall coaching record stands at 431-217 (.665), including 332-165 (.668) at Notre Dame.
Throughout his tenure with the Irish, Brey has been applauded and commended for the style and grace with which he runs his program, and for the loyalty he displays each and every day in carrying out the University's mission of educating its student-athletes.
His commitment to Notre Dame and the foundation he has built have not gone unnoticed. In June 2012, the University rewarded him with a 10-year contract that will run through the 2021-22 campaign.
Last season also saw guard Jerian Grant receive consensus first team All-America honors, the second time a player under Brey (the other was forward Troy Murphy in 2001) to earn that distinction. A unanimous first team all-ACC selection, Grant went on to win Most Valuable Player honors at the ACC Championship and was named to the John R. Wooden All-America Team. Grant would conclude his career as the only player in Irish history with more than 1,700 points, 600 assists, 150 steals and 30 blocked shots.
Teammate Pat Connaughton also earned distinction under Brey as the eighth player in program history to score 1,400 points and grab more than 800 rebounds. Connaughton, who played in more games (139) than any other Irish player, garnered third team all-ACC accolades and was named to the NCAA Championship Midwest Region All-Tournament Team.
Both Grant and Connaughton heard their names called at the 2015 National Basketball Association Draft with their selections as the 19th and 41st overall picks, respectively. It marked the first time since 1992 Notre Dame had two players selected in the same draft. Grant became the third player under Brey to be chosen in the first round. In all, Brey has seen five of his players drafted during his 15-year tenure.
Since the 2006-07 campaign, Notre Dame has won 20-plus games on eight occasions and produced a 214-95 (.692) record. From 2009-13, Brey's Irish teams compiled a 97-41 (.703) record and were 48-24 (.667) in BIG EAST Conference play. The win totals represented the most victories in program history during a four-year period, both in overall games and in conference play.
In Notre Dame's final year in the BIG EAST 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 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 he 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, the longest active string of consecutive appearances at the time.
That season also marked a milestone for Brey as he became the fourth all-time winningest coach in the history of the BIG EAST. Although 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 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 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 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 2010-11 squad), 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 to finish 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 the Irish over a No. 1 team in 25 years and the first on Brey's coaching resume. Midway through February, the Irish entered the rankings and climbed to as high as 18th in the ESPN/USA Today poll.
Also among the featured wins that season was a 67-65 double-overtime victory at 10th-ranked Louisville which 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 Championship appearance and third straight trip to the semifinals of the BIG EAST Championship. It also marked the eighth time in 12 seasons an Irish team won 10 or more BIG EAST regular-season contests.
Cooley garnered second-team all-BIG EAST honors, in addition to winning the conference's most improved player award, while Grant earned a spot on the league's all-rookie team. Brey himself was honored with the Jim Phelan Coach of the Year award.
The 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 at the time 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 record, and advanced to the semifinals of the BIG EAST Championship for the second consecutive year. Notre Dame finished 8-3 versus ranked opponents with the eight wins representing the most in a single year by an Irish basketball team.
Brey received national coach-of-the-year accolades from Associated Press and the United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) as the winner of the Henry Iba award. In addition, Brey was named the BIG EAST Coach of the Year for the third time in five seasons (also won the award in 2007 and 2008) to become 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. The list includes four-time recipients Boeheim and Calhoun and three-time honorees Thompson and Lou Carnesecca of St. John's.
Beginning the season unranked in the fall of 2010, 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 in six appearances at Pittsburgh and snapped the Panthers' 20-game home win streak as Notre Dame handed Pittsburgh just its 12th loss in 157 home contests.
His team completed an undefeated season at home for the third time in five campaigns as the Irish finished with a 17-0 mark. From 2006-13, Notre Dame registered the most BIG EAST regular-season wins (54) at home and ranked second nationally during that seven-year span 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.
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 (including regular-season and tournament games). In earning his 100th league victory, he became only the sixth coach in conference history to accomplish the feat.
During the 2009-10 campaign, Brey guided Notre Dame to its sixth NCAA Championship appearance and 30th berth overall in school history. The Irish finished the campaign with a 23-12 record and posted their sixth 10-win BIG EAST regular season with a 10-8 mark.
Fourteen games into the conference regular season that year, Notre Dame stood 6-8 in league play and was playing without the services of 2008 BIG EAST Player of the Year and three-time All-American Luke Harangody, who had gone 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 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 2007 marked the second 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 the Irish 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. The Irish made history in 2007-08 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 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 BIG EAST's all-time home court win streak with its 20th consecutive league victory at home.
A 27-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 had at least one player earn all-conference honors in each of his 15 seasons and has coached 11 first-team all-conference selections.
Brey is the only coach in program history to lead his teams to three consecutive 20-win seasons at Notre Dame and three straight NCAA Championship berths in his first three seasons. As a head coach, 13 of his teams have advanced to the NCAA Championship with 17 of those squads earning postseason berths.
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. The National Association of Basketball Coaches honored Brey as its District 10 Coach of the Year honored him in 2003. The 2006-07 campaign proved to be another 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 the opening in 1968-69 and just 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, 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.
Regarded as a true gentleman in the game today, Brey traveled to Kuwait in May 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 among the service men and women proved to be a life-changing and powerful experience.
In 2008, 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 Championship bid in more than a decade, the last coming in 1990. His teams have fared well in their 10 NCAA trips. In 2001, 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 2002, 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 2003, 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 2007 by earning an at-large berth as the No. 6 seed in the Midwest Region.
In 2008, 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 2009-10 season, which saw the Irish win their final four regular-season contests and two BIG EAST tournament games, Notre Dame earned the No. 6 seed in the NCAA South Region.
The Irish were a No. 2 seed in 2011 in the Southwest Region. That matched the highest seed for a Notre Dame team since 1981 and was followed with back-to-back No. 7 seeds in the South Region in 2012 and West Region in 2013.
Notre Dame earned a No. 3 seed in the 2015 Midwest Region and fell two points short of advancing to the Final Four when it dropped a 68-66 decision to top-ranked Kentucky in the regional final.
MAKING NOTRE DAME INTO A CONFERENCE CONTENDER
Under Brey, Notre Dame teams have won 10 or more games during regular-season conference play on 10 occasions, including a program-best 14 victories three times (2014-15, 2007-08 and 2010-11).
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.
Prior to the 2005-06 campaign, Notre Dame and Syracuse owned the distinction of being the only two schools to post winning conference records from 2000-05. Before Brey was 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 became 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 2000-01 and 10-6 marks in both 2001-02 and 2002-03. In addition, the Irish were the only league team that played in the NCAA Championship in 2001, 2002 and 2003.
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.
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 14 seasons, he has had at least one player earn all-conference honors with 11 earning first-team accolades.
Grant and Connaughton both flourished under Brey's guidance as they combined for some staggering numbers. The duo combined for 258 games played (240 starts), 3,204 points, 1,166 rebounds, 947 assists and 268 steals.
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 in 2013 as the only BIG EAST player to average a double-double in conference play. Grant earned all-rookie team honors in 2012, followed by second-team all-league recognition in 2013.
Hansbrough became Notre Dame's most recent player-of-the-year honoree when he copped BIG EAST player-of-the-year accolades and became a unanimous first-team all-conference selection in 2011. The fourth different Notre Dame player to win the league's top honor, Hansbrough averaged 20.7 points per game in league play. In addition, Abromaitis copped third team all-league honors while also claiming the conference's men's basketball scholar-athlete of the year award. In addition, Abromaitis earned first-team Capital One Academic All-America honors for the second time in as many seasons.
In 2010, 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. He finished off his career with averages of 20.4 points and 10.2 rebounds.
In 2008-09, Harangody became the first player to lead the conference in scoring and rebounding in back-to-back seasons. He concluded his career as the BIG EAST's third all-time leading scorer (1,329 points) and second leading rebounder (662 rebounds).
For the second consecutive year in 2008, 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 2007 marked the first time in school history 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 previous 13-year history of being a BIG EAST Conference member.
Chris Quinn, who played for the Irish from 2002-06, copped first-team BIG EAST honors in 2006 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 an Associated Press honorable mention All-American.
In 2005, Thomas became the first Irish player to earn all-conference honors all four years when he was named a third-team selection for the second time in his career (the other 2002). In 2003 and 2004, he earned a spot on the all-conference second team. A two-time Associated Press honorable mention honoree, he was named the BIG EAST Rookie of the Year in 2002, 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.
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 2002 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 2003 and also garnered AP honorable mention All-America honors.
David Graves was a BIG EAST honorable mention selection in 2002 (the third Irish player to earn all-conference honors that season) as was Torin Francis in 2004 in his freshman season. As a freshman, Francis also became the second Irish player under Brey to earn selection to the league's 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 2001 and 2002 National Basketball Association drafts. In the 2002 draft, Humphrey was chosen as the 19th pick overall, while Murphy was the 14th player drafted in 2001.
In the 2010 draft, Harangody became the third player under Brey to hear his name called as the 52nd pick overall by the Boston Celtics.
THE NOTRE DAME YEARS
After being named the 17th head coach in program history on July 14, 2000, Brey's inaugural season at Notre Dame would qualify as nothing short of a whirlwind.
In his debut on the Irish sidelines the November, he 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 Championship 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 was ranked as high as 10th at one time during the season) for the program's first ranking on a national basis since 1989.
During the 2001-02 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 2002-03 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 Notre Dame defeated three consecutive top-10 opponents.
Following those three victories, the Irish made their season debut in the AP 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 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 2003 NCAA Championship was notable as the Irish earned the No. 5 seed in the West Region, marking the highest seed for a Notre Dame team since 1987. 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 1986-87 campaign.
In 2014-15, Notre Dame ended the year eighth in the AP and fifth in the USA Today Coaches polls. It marked the first time since 1979 an Irish team finish in the top 10 of both final polls in the same year.
HIS COACHING PEDIGREE
In 20 seasons as a head coach, Brey's teams have won three conference titles and two regular-season championships. And while the accomplishments and success of those campaigns are noteworthy, 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 he's 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.
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, Delaware had made only two previous trips to the NCAA Championship -- 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 Deleware, 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 2003.
IN THE COMMUNITY
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 secured for CVC and the American Cancer Society.
Since 2002, Brey and his wife Tish have raised more than $2.5 million for the South Bend/Michiana community's fight against cancer. The couple has always been generous with its time and support for the program dating back to when Brey was the head coach at Delaware. While at the Newark, Deleware, 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 2003.
He and Tish have been honored with several awards for their efforts in the community. The March of Dimes presented the couple for volunteer service to the South Bend area with the 2007 Franklin D. Roosevelt Award.
In September 2009 and 2015, 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 health care reform with regards to cancer research.
In 2013, Brey partnered with the American Heart Association to Create Men of Heart, an initiative to put men on a heart healthy path. He hosts three events each year as part of the initiative, to both raise money for the AHA and raise awareness for men's heart health.
In 2014, Brey was the recipient of the Ray Meyer Coach Award, presented by the Ed Kelly Sports Foundation in Chicago, and was honored by Dick Vitale at his annual gala to benefit The V Foundation. He also was named to the National Advisory Board of the Positive Coaching Alliance.
AN ATHLETIC FAMILY
A standout guard in college, Brey 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 rank 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.
His alma mater honored him in January 2014 with his induction into the George Washington University Athletics Hall of Fame.
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 late 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 butterfly events and competed with the U.S. team at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne, Australia. She 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 mother passed away on March 21, 2015, the day Notre Dame defeated Butler 67-64 in Pittsburgh. He coached that game as a tribute to her and the inspiration she provided to him throughout his coaching career.
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, Maryland.
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 2008. During the 2014-15 season, he will be a member of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Regional Advisory Council.
Brey received a Notre Dame honorary monogram in December 2006.
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 -- and a granddaughter, Olivia Marie.