Back to the Hen house: No. 9 Notre Dame visits Delaware

Coach Mike Brey will return to his old stomping grounds for the first time in 17 years when No. 9 Notre Dame visits Delaware on Saturday night at the Bob Carpenter Center.

Brey guided Delaware to a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances and an NIT appearance in five seasons from 1995 to 2000. He left for Notre Dame before the start of the 2000-01 season and has not returned to coach at Newark, Del. — until now.

“It’ll be a little weird, quite frankly, walking in that other door and sitting on that other bench,” Brey said to the Delaware News Journal.

But Brey will not have much time to relax during his return to Delaware. He is focused on fixing recent flaws at Notre Dame (7-2), which is coming off of a stunning 80-77 loss at home against Ball State on Tuesday night. It marked the first time Ball State has knocked off a ranked opponent since 2001.

The Fighting Irish have lost two of their past three games and are almost certain to slide when the next rankings are revealed.

Delaware (4-5) also is in a funk after losing its past three games against Yale, Navy and Buffalo. The Blue Hens are coached by Martin Ingelsby, a former Fighting Irish point guard and a longtime assistant under Brey at Notre Dame.

Ingelsby remains close with Brey, his former coach and mentor.

“I kind of reflect back on my time with him and how Mike would handle situations,” Ingelsby said to the Delaware News Journal. “I always say, ‘What would his tone be? What is my tone with our group? Positive? Negative?’ You’ve got to keep teaching and coaching. I’ll shoot him a text, I’ll give him a call. ‘Hey, what do you think? Our guys are doing this. How can we handle this? How can I motivate them a little better?'”

Delaware will have its hands full trying to stop Notre Dame power forward Bonzie Colson, who leads the team with 19.6 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. Colson has scored in double figures in 26 straight contests.

Guards Matt Farrell (15.7 points) and T.J. Gibbs (13.6 points) also are averaging in double figures for the Fighting Irish. Gibbs has been particularly dangerous from 3-point range, where he is shooting 52.5 percent (21 of 40).

The Blue Hens are led in scoring by guard Ryan Daly, who is averaging 17.0 points. Guard Ryan Allen is next on the team with 12.3 points while guard Kevin Anderson is averaging 11.8 points.

This is the second all-time meeting between the schools. In 2013, Delaware visited South Bend and lost 80-75.

Brey’s move from Delaware to Notre Dame has proved to be a huge success. He has amassed 389 career victories with the Fighting Irish and is five wins shy of moving past Digger Phelps as the program’s all-time winningest coach.

“You take the job and you’re just hoping you can survive,” Brey said to the Delaware News Journal. “And to be here as long as we’ve been here and the chance to be the all-time winningest guy, it’s really powerful, man. I’m really lucky. I’ve had really good players and really good assistants.”