Mike Brey breaks Notre Dame’s all-time coaching wins record in victory over N.C. State
SOUTH BEND – It was a moment he might have envisioned as he continued to find success with the Fighting Irish over the past two decades. The circumstances, however, were much more stressful than he might have envisioned.
Just a win away from breaking Notre Dame’s record for coaching wins, Mike Brey saw his best player go down with a broken foot suffered in practice. Bonzie Colson is out for eight weeks, most of the regular season, which makes a run for an ACC title more difficult than it already is as 2018 begins.
Instead of being on the floor to help Brey get his record, the preseason All-American was on the sidelines cheering on his team against NC State at Purcell Pavilion on Wednesday night.
Yet with a record within reach, Brey’s team made his record-breaking win all he might have hoped for.
For one night the Irish easily made up for Colson’s absence in a 88-58 win that gave the coach his 394th win, passing Digger Phelps at the top of the coaching wins list at Notre Dame. They did so not only with the forward out but also guard Matt Farrell, who limped off the court after the first half and didn’t return for the rest of the game.
Still the Irish broke a program record by scoring 48 first half points, the most in an ACC contest, and managed to improve to 2-0 in the conference.
“I guess when I think back and think about the record-breaking game, I’ll think about we lost Bonzie Colson the day before, we lost Matt Farrell halfway through the game, and our group just really responded,” said Brey of his record-breaking web. “Couldn’t have been prouder of the group, given what happened the last day with Bons, really only having one practice to talk about reinventing ourselves a little bit, but just really, really proud of them.”
TJ Gibbs was one of those that helped the Irish make it a great night for Brey as he scored a game-high 22 points, knocking down three of the Irish’s 11 three-pointers on the evening. Four of Notre Dame’s five starters scored in double digits, yet even Farrell managed to get nine points before getting injured as the Irish shot 51 percent from the field.
It made for one of the best evenings in Brey’s 18-year career at Notre Dame, one in which he’s taken the Irish to the tournament 12 times and the Elite Eight two of the last three years. Yet the hoopla surrounding the record is something the coach is happy to have behind him thanks to an inspired effort by a shorthanded team.
“I am glad we got 394 off the board. we can take down those numbers, and we can start chasing some ACC stuff now,” said Brey, who’ll have some work to do to get that done for the next two months.