Sports writer Tom Noie looks back on Coach Brey's career at Notre Dame
Notre Dame Men's Basketball Coach Mike Brey broke the record for the most wins in history of the program. South Bend Tribune sports columnist Tom Noie spoke with Allison Hayes about Coach Brey.
Allison: You've been covering the Irish now for 25 years, 20 just with basketball. So, you've really been here to see that transition to where Notre Dame men's basketball was as to where it is now and seen Coach Mike Brey make his debut at Notre Dame.
Tom: Mike Brey comes into the program. The third coach in three years and you're trying to figure out, okay, how long is this guy going to stick around? Is he going to be here one year, two years, five years because before he took the Notre Dame job, he was a guy who was always mentioned for a big time job, coming to the University of Delaware. So he gets here and he said I still remember when he walked in the door he said, 'I promise to give you guys ten good years.' Now, he's on 18. Mike Brey wanted to be a guy that put his stamp on his own program. He's done that at Notre Dame.
Allison: He absolutely has. You've seen him throughout those years. I can imagine you have quite a few fond memories maybe not so fond memories as well. But what are some of those that really stand out to you?"
Noie: Ok. There's two. One off the court. One on the court. On the court obviously 2015 the ACC Championship, when they beat Duke and North Carolina on back-to-back nights on Tobacco Road. Like you're so focused on getting your deadline story, you don't really think about it and say - 'Did Notre Dame basketball really win an ACC Tournament Championship?' And seeing Mike Brey on the floor of Greensboro Coliseum that night. His parents were there. His mother, unfortunately, would die the following week during the NCAA Tournament. His dad passed away the following year. But to see him there, with his parents and to celebrate on Tobacco Road where he spent nine years as an assistant. That's one memory that I'll always have. And then off the floor. My wife and I adopted a little girl from China in 2007. It was August 2007, we were getting ready to go to China for 15 days. It's right after the July evaluation period. So all of the coaches are either decompressing that or on vacation. I get a phone call. One message saying, you know what 'Good Luck in China. Safe travels. Bring that girl home. Hope everything works out okay.' That message was from Mike Brey. So he and I have had our differences, but at the end of the day, he's still a guy that cares a lot about people and the working professional relationship that we've had for 18 years, it couldn't be any better. Anywhere I go Big East, Atlantic Coast Conference all of the writers say 'I wish I could work with your guy because he's the best.'
Allison: He is. You know, I can share a story like that too. When I had my daughter, he called to congratulate me on that. I've had some trials and tribulations in my life and he was there to let you know that he's thinking about you and I think that's really cool and unique about Coach Brey - in this field, in this day and age a lot of times, coaches are just wrapped up in everything they've got going on. So, it is cool to see someone who takes the time to see someone else and what they're going through. You know, one thing that I think Notre Dame, or at least Coach Brey has done so well is sort of overachieve in a sense. They've always kind of been that underdog and embrace that role. What is it about Coach Brey that makes him a good recruiter? He's getting these players are staying for the long haul and then be able to overachieve sort of to say with that talent that he has."
Noie: He's a sort of guy that understands what the University of Notre Dame is all about. The mission. The academic and athletic balance, He's not going after the guys that are looking to be in college one year and be a top 5 NBA draft pick. He says 'I'm going to take guys that want to be here, that want to go on the 5 year plan, that want to get an education and oh, by the way, they're pretty good basketball players.' So, 3-star guys, 4-star guys let them be here for 4 or 5 years, grow their game, develop their game, stay old and then we're going to win 20 games a year and 10-11 games in the ACC.
Allison: Throughout this process, getting ready for this special show on Coach Brey, I talked with a lot of college coaches, like Coach K they're saying Notre Dame is lucky to have Coach Brey and I think South Bend is lucky to have you covering the Irish for all of these years. So, hopefully we'll have you another 20, 25 years on top of that."
Noie: 40 years in basketball. We'll have to see about that.
Allison: Thank you so much for joining us and being a part of this special show.