Oct. 13, 2000
Mike Brey was named the 17th head men’s basketball coach at the University of Notre Dame on July 14, 2000, following five seasons as head coach at the University of Delaware, His Blue Hen teams made two NCAA tournament appearances and won an unprecedented 20-plus games three straight seasons. Prior to his first head coaching stint, he spent eight years at Duke University as an assistant, helping the Blue Devils to six NCAA Final Four appearances and two national championships. The 41-year-old native of Rockville, Md., played collegiately at both Northwestern Louisiana State University and George Washington University. Brey played for legendary coach Morgan Wootten at DeMatha High School, and also served as head junior varsity coach and varsity assistant for five years beginning in 1982 at his alma mater.
On The Lure of Coming to Notre Dame: This is a very natural fit for me to be here at Notre Dame. It’s a place where my family and I want to be. I have great respect for the tradition of this institution, what it means to be at such a special place and the importance of the great academic and athletic traditions here. While I was at Delaware, I was involved with some other head coaching situations, that were good opportunities, but there were only two jobs that I’ve been in love with, and that’s Notre Dame twice. I interviewed for the job in March of 1999 and missed out on the chance to be the head coach here. I never thought it would come around again, but it did. Being the head coach at Notre Dame is a natural fit for me. This is a long-term situation. There are a lot of people out there who are excited about Notre Dame basketball and the future of our program. I can relate to their enthusiasm because I am excited about being here.
Being a Notre Dame Fan at an Early Age: I grew up in a Catholic household and attended a Catholic high school. While I was growing in Maryland at a very influential age, I experienced and saw the Washington, D.C.pipeline to Notre Dame when many of the great Irish players from the area (Austin Carr, Collis Jones and Adrian Dantley) were coming to school here. I was very much pulled to Notre Dame through that D.C. pipeline. Certainly Morgan Wootten was a great supporter of Notre Dame. He had guys that came here and had great success.
His Training for the Job: This is the job that always tugged at my heart. I pursued this opportunity because it is such a great fit for how I’ve been trained. I’ve been fortunate to have worked in situations where there is an emphasis on both academic and athletic success. Coaching is a natural for me, and I can’t really see myself doing anything else. I played and coached at De Matha with one of the real great coaches in our business in Morgan Wootten. Then at Duke, I worked with another real legend, Mike Krzyzewski. The recruiting challenges I faced at Duke are very similar to the standards we have here at Notre Dame. At Duke, we got both great players and great people to go to school there, we couldn’t recruit every McDonald’s All-American, and not every player was a great fit. We had to be selective in the recruiting process. The national recruiting network that I developed at Duke is certainly the same network that we need to be on here at Notre Dame. At Delaware, even though it was a regional university, it was an institution where there were high academic standards. Through all of my opportunities and training, I feel that this job is perfect for me. It’s a place I want to be for a very long time.
His Relationship with Mike Krzyzewski: First of all, he is a great friend. He has been a great advisor for me in this business and someone who I go to for advice. He keeps tabs on all of his former players and assistant coaches and is always looking out for us. He knows when to call at key times (especially after losses) and the type of advice to give me. Mike has become a very close confidant for me. He has great deal of respect for Notre Dame, and like myself, feels that this is just a great coaching situation.
Describing Himself as a Coach: I’m enthusiastic and passionate about the business and about coaching and working with the players. I hope the young men see that and know that it is very important to me. I really like the relationships I have with my players and taking the time to know the guys one on one. That’s what it’s all about and what really helps put a team together. It’s important for a coach to define roles for his players and to have a good relationship with them. I’m at ease with the type of coach I am and the need to emphasize always how important they are to me. If I didn’t do this, I’m not sure what kind of job I would have. This is such a natural thing for me given, how I was raised with two educators as parents and the relationships I had with Morgan Wootten and Mike Krzyzewski.
Coaching All-American and National Player-of-the-Year Candidate Troy Murphy:
It’s very exciting to be coaching a player of Troy Murphy’s caliber. He’s got the whole package. I’m very comfortable dealing with a special player, and Troy certainly fits into that category. Because of my experiences at Duke and having recruited special guys like Grant Hill, Christian Laettner and Bobby Hurley, I can draw on those experiences I had with those guys. I’m anxious to work with Troy. What makes Troy so unique is that, in addition to being a great player, he is a tremendous leader. He enjoys that role and knows how important it is for him to set the tone. He, as much as anyone on this team, wants this program to take the next step.
The High Expectations for the 2000-01 Irish Team: I like the makeup of our team this year. I’ve inherited a great situation, there is no rebuilding here. We’ve got a group of men who have taken complete ownership of themselves as a team. They were disappointed last year after not getting into the NCAA tournament, and they don’t want to be hanging their head again this year in March. I’ve stepped into a good situation. This is a veteran team that is hungry and wants to be challenged. They know and understand how high the expectations are for this season. It’s an honor to have people taking notice of us in the preseason, but now we have to back it up.