Pete Thamel broke the news last night that Notre Dame will be leaving what’s left of the Big East one year early and start competition as a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference next season. While the Fighting Irish coming to play in the ACC has been in the works for some time, there was always the chance that Krzyzewski or Brey would no longer be coaching at their respective schools when the move finally happened in 2015.
Barring something completely unforeseen, it seems likely that those two will still occupy their current positions, making Mike Brey the first former assistant of Mike Krzyzewski’s to coach in the same conference. While the schedule will clearly be unbalanced, the two will certainly face each other at least once every few years if not more often if they happen to meet in the ACC Tournament. Coach K prefers not to coach against his former assistants (or players), and rarely schedules games against teams coached by them. The reasons for that have never been made public, but the predominant public opinion is that Krzyzewski saw what happened when his 1992 team defeated Bob Knight’s Indiana team in the Final Four en route to back to back titles and doesn’t want to repeat it. No way to avoid it now.
Mike Brey was an assistant on that Duke team that beat Bob Knight, so he knows what went down during that time. Krzyzewski has been through enough battles with fellow coaches that he’s been close with that I don’t foresee their relationship getting too strained by competition. And truthfully, who knows how much of a relationship there is to be strained. Brey has been a head coach at Delaware and Notre Dame since he left Durham, so it’s not like he’s had a ton of time to reflect and connect. Coach K’s been busy as well, clearly. The last public “interaction” the two had was after Coach K won his 903rd game to surpass Knight. Brey recorded a short video congratulating his former lead man on becoming the game’s most winningest head coach. Still, it will be interesting to see the former head coach/assistant relationship morph into one of mutual standing.
Brey’s the only former Duke assistant joining the ACC next year, but one of his Olympic assistants Jim Boeheim will be joining as well. With all of his talk about wanting to go play golf somewhere and having to learn where all the Denny’s are, he may bow out before having to face Coach K in conference.
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