Mike Brey’s re­turn to the Bob rouses fond mem­o­ries

Newark Post - - SPORTS -

NCAA Tour­na­ment and one to the NIT, made the Bob the place to be dur­ing the win­ter months.

But as the say­ing goes, all good things must come to an end. Brey flew the coop when he was of­fered his “dream job” to coach the Fight­ing Irish. UD bas­ket­ball hasn’t been the same since.

Even in 2014 when for­mer coach Monte Ross led the Blue Hens to the CAA cham­pi­onship and a berth in the NCAA Tour­na­ment, he did so with a group of play­ers who were as well known for their off-court sus­pen­sions as their bas­ket­ball skills. That team just didn’t have the same Blue Hen feel as those Brey-coached teams did, on or off the court, nor in the com­mu­nity. Ross choos­ing to not move his fam­ily to the Newark area when hired didn’t help cre­ate that Blue Hen fam­ily feel­ing, ei­ther.

The fact that the “Brey feel” is start­ing to re­turn un­der cur­rent head coach Martin In­gelsby shouldn’t come as a sur­prise since In­gelsby played for one year un­der Brey and then coached with him for 13 sea­son. Be­fore In­gelsby was hired by Delaware, Brey called him “a bet­ter ver­sion of me when I first went to Delaware.”

From what I’ve seen so far as a sports­writer and an avid UD fan, Brey’s state­ment was an ac­cu­rate one.

While at­ten­dance at the Bob is still a work in progress – de­spite an in­cred­i­ble turnout Satur­day, stu­dent sup­port is still pa­thetic on most game days – the Hens are play­ing smarter and more as a team than they have in years. On the court, it’s an up-tempo brand of bas­ket­ball that in­cludes all the fun­da­men­tal skills and tech­niques any par­ent would want their bud­ding young player to watch.

Off the court, In­gelsby is en­dear­ing him­self to fans of all ages. It’s re­fresh­ing to see his wife and three kids, and even his par­ents, sit­ting be­hind the UD bench clad in blue and gold on game days and to know that when they head home, it’s to a nearby neigh­bor­hood. While that has noth­ing to do with the suc­cess, or not, on the court, I think it speaks vol­umes about In­gelsby’s com­mit­ment to Delaware. It’s the same com­mit­ment Brey’s fam­ily made.

I’m not naïve enough to think In­gelsby will spend his en­tire head coach­ing ca­reer here. But when he does move on – How many more years will Brey coach at Notre Dame? – I’m hop­ing it will be a cel­e­brated de­par­ture like his men­tor’s was, when Blue Hen fans were more thank­ful and proud of what Brey ac­com­plished than an­gry about his in­evitable pro­mo­tion.

After the game, In­gelsby com­mented on the at­mos­phere: “It was elec­tric in there. I hope the peo­ple that were in the build­ing tonight are ex­cited to come back and watch us.”

Time will tell if they do. But for one cold win­ter night in­side the Bob, it sure felt good to have Brey back in town, and that spe­cial feel­ing that came with it. Jon Buzby

One day after Blue Hen fans learned of the death of the Uni­ver­sity of Delaware’s most fa­mous sports leg­end, it wel­comed back another all­time fan fa­vorite.

Tubby Ray­mond’s un­ex­pected pass­ing on Dec. 8 shook Blue Hen Na­tion. But just as the NCAA Hall-ofFamer would have re­quested, Blue Hen fans didn’t let the somber news im­pact their mood Satur­day night at the Bob Car­pen­ter Cen­ter when for­mer UD bas­ket­ball coach Mike Brey led his No. 9-ranked Notre Dame team onto the court for pregame warmups.

Brey was greeted with a stand­ing ova­tion by a packed house and mod­estly re­sponded with a dou­ble thumbs-up ges­ture, ac­knowl­edg­ing the fan base re­spon­si­ble for sell­ing out the Bob 22 times dur­ing his ten­ure. COUR­TESY NOTRE DAME ATH­LET­ICS UD men’s bas­ket­ball coach Martin In­gelsby, left, served as an as­sis­tant coach at Notre Dame un­der Mike Brey for 13 sea­sons.

UD won the tip and Ryan Daly’s layup cre­ated an erup­tion not heard in this build­ing since Elena Delle Donne’s team won a game to ad­vance to the Sweet 16. The noise con­tin­ued through­out the first half as the teams were tied sev­eral times, and the Irish never led by more than eight un­til a last-sec­ond 3-pointer put Notre Dame up by 11 head­ing into the locker room.

It was an at­mos­phere sim­i­lar to Brey’s five sea­sons at UD, when UD men’s bas­ket­ball tick­ets were al­most as tough to come by as they were for Satur­day’s game. Amer­ica East Con­fer­ence foes would come to the Tri-State area and al­ter­nate play­ing games on Fri­day night and Sun­day af­ter­noon in Newark and at Drexel Uni­ver­sity. Game days and times were very fan and fam­ily friendly. That lux­ury, along with the fact two of Brey’s five teams went to the

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