Picking the mind of basketball coach Mike Brey
Fox Sports ... Almost
Reading the same sort of column every week gets old, doesn't it?
The Notre Dame men's basketball team ran its Big East winning streak to five games on Saturday with a 75-67 win at Pittsburgh, completing a season sweep of the Panthers.
But instead of write about the game or what the players and coaches had to say about it, I took a little inspiration from Dan Patrick's "Outtakes" column in ESPN The Magazine and sat down last Thursday for an interview with head coach Mike Brey.
What follows are my questions, denoted with a "TF" before them, slightly condensed because I tend to ramble, and Coach Mike Brey's answers with an "MB" in front of them (it took me three hours to devise this complex nomenclature).
Like any interview, I don't have room to put in everything he said. But, we still get a chance to find out just how "legendary" legendary coach Morgan Wooten is, and, probably more importantly, who would win the one-on-one battle between the coach and a certain All-American.
TF: If you could clone one player you've ever coached, who would it be?
MB: Certainly it would be great to have Murphy around on a yearly basis. I have just thoroughly enjoyed working with him. He's absolutely driving us to this thing [NCAA tournament]. I mean, he'd flush any individual thing down the toilet right now if he knew we could get in this bracket. And he's absolutely driving the group to it."
TF: If Troy Murphy and Shane Battier were ever matched up in a game Duke and Notre Dame play, who would you say would draw the foul on who?
MB: Tell you what, that'd be a heck of a matchup. I have a feeling, I don't know if Mike [Krzyzewski] would have Battier on him much, you know, he'd probably start [Carlos] Boozer on him. But eventually Battier would have to guard him. That would be two crafty guys, as crafty as Murph is offensively, as crafty as Battier [is defensively].
Of course, if we're playing in the Joyce Center, Murph would get all the calls. If we're playing in Cameron, it'd be the other . . . of course, if we meet, it won't be at either one of those places.
That'd be just an all-out great matchup.
TF: I know you were a great scorer (Brey laughs). So how about Mike Brey in his prime vs. Troy Murphy — who's going to the line there?
MB: You know what, he'd go to the line more. I'd really be reaching in a lot. I don't know if I'd get a shot off over him in my prime. He's a little too big.
TF: You've been around Cameron Indoor a lot [as a coach at Duke]. And now a place like the Carrier Dome [at Syracuse] that obviously holds a lot more people, but which to you is a tougher place to play?
MB: Cameron's got a special place. That's some of the thing we want to try to do here when we redo this building [the Joyce Center] to get close to that atmosphere. There's an aura about Cameron, with the students and everything, and tradition. I haven't seen it matched.
TF: Every time you hear about [DeMatha coach Morgan Wooten] on TV, it's always prefaced with "the legendary" (Brey laughs). Does he ever get tired of people always prefacing his name with "the legendary"?
MB: As down to earth as Morgan is, I think he does get tired of that. Morgan is a real teacher, coach, basic guy. That's why he's stayed in high school coaching his whole life.
It's almost part of his name now, which is a little weird. You know, it's like: "The Legendary, Morgan Wooten." [But] he deserves it.
He's done it, man. He's a special guy in teaching and coaching. The kind of guy you'd want your son to play for.
TF: Me and my roommate want to get in to coaching, and we said if we won 20 games a year, it would take us 40 years to even get to 800.
MB: Well, I've always said if I didn't play for him and coach with him, he would have got to 1,000 [wins] a lot quicker. He was carrying me there for three years as a player and five years as an assistant. He may have got in the Hall of Fame four years ago. So I always apologize to him (laughs).
TF: You've coached at a lot of different levels, in high school and college. You've played at both levels. Is there a way that you can now, weighing your experiences, say whether you enjoy playing or coaching more?
MB: Well, I wish I could've played a lot longer. You never want to put the ball away. And I think probably one of the reasons I'm in coaching is because it was the closest thing to continue playing and be around it. But I think as a player, when they take the ball away from you, for me it was right after college, you're disappointed because it's such a part of your life.
I've been into coaching now a long time. I really enjoy it. I enjoy the practice. I enjoy the two hours, the two and half hours on the floor with the guys. That's the fun part, that's the most fun for me.
The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.
All Sports Stories for Monday, February 5, 2001