Mike Brey’s return to the Bob rouses fond memories
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