It’s been a while since I’ve thrown up anything on the blog, so with my recent strive to read more books, what better way to tie it all together than to give my two favorite things in one: basketball and Notre Dame.
This book, Keeping It Loose, was an excellent read. Not just for the Irish fans, but for coaches and leaders alike. This biography shows that with focus and determination, goals can be reached. And it all comes full circle in this read with Brey talking about how he was a product of a system that hired from within and his current program at Notre Dane does this now.
Through the beginning of Mike Brey’s life, it wasn’t the anticipated “easy” road to Division I coach. Brey was a quality player at DC high School DeMatha Catholic and was able to get himself a small school offer to play. Through his work and performance, he was able to play the end of his days out at George Washington, thanks to a couple things going his way.
The constant? Brey was coaching every summer back home at DeMatha, even when he was playing. He had a knack for the game and teaching it. His high school coach Morgan Wootten saw this and knew what he had in store for the future.
Post playing days, Brey walked right into DeMatha and coached, just like coach Wootten thought. Fast forward to today and Brey is at Notre Dame, a school he wants to retire at if he is able.
For me, being as big of a fan as I am of Brey, this book shed light on things that I didn’t know that make me appreciate him even more.
Moving to the ACC Conference the 2013 season, Brey was able to make an impact right away. The next two years (2014-2015 and 2015-2016), Brey’s Irish teams made the Elite Eight. They also won the ACC Tournament in the 2014-2015 season. This out a stamp that Notre Dame was an elite program in the college basketball realm and wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
The difference in Brey and his other top-tier coaches? He doesn’t have fancy one-and-done players. He prides his program on finding the “right” guys. Guys who want to play, but also get an education from a top 5 university in the country. Guys who can play, but know building a legacy is time consuming and doesn’t happen overnight.
Guys like Pat Connaughton, Bonzi Colson, Matt Farrell, and Luke Harangody to name a few. These guys all came to Notre Dame with something to prove, but leaving after their Freshman year wasn’t an option.
The program has come so far and Mike is the center of all those reason. Something should be said for an active coach who still has plenty of years ahead and has already become the most winningest coach in ND history passing the hall of famer Digger Phelps.
Continuously, Brey shows the professionalism and respect that was a part of his early apprenticeship in Durham with the great Coach K as an assistant. I find it funny that Coach K now has a huge pipeline of head coaches across the country and Brey is one.
Fun fact: Mike Brey is one of two, TWO, head coaches that was an assistant under Coach K but never played for him.
Now? Most of Brey’s staff at Notre Dame are former players, who understood the game and the staff knew down the road they would be ready to coach other young adults to reach their potential.
The beautiful thing is that in all of this, Brey is still humbled enough to h SERS fans the real reason these young men play this game. That’s to give them a leg up on life, the longer game we all play. He doesn’t get caught up in the one-and-done hype, Notre Dame isn’t on the list of NCAA violators for recruiting players to their programs with finances. He does the right thing and acts the right way.
It’s paid dividends and the fans, opposing coaches, and the university understands that.
All in all, a wonderful read that would satisfy anyone’s time they took to read. There’s a lot that I can emulate in my life that Mike does in his daily life.
I hope I see Coach Brey on that sideline for as long as he wants to.
As always, Go Irish ☘️