The relationship between Mike Brey and Martin Ingelsby has taken on many roles during the past 18 years. From player-coach, to assistant coach-head coach, to competitors, they’ve consistently remained friend and mentor. Saturday, the two coaches will reunite on the same sideline in the same arena where both Brey and Ingelsby began their head coaching careers.

Their bond began when Brey, the Delaware head coach from 1995 to 2000, was named to lead Notre Dame’s program in the summer of 2000. He then met with Ingelsby, entering his senior year with the Irish, to discuss the team he was about to take over.

“I’ll never forget it, we went to the pizzeria on Route 30 and we spent an hour and a half talking basketball,” Ingelsby recalled. “We just connected. I think he came in at a good time, our team had taken some punches, but he put the program back on the map. That’s where our relationship started and developed. It’s funny...when I go home, I drive by that pizzeria and I have a flashback to 2000.”

Brey also remembers that afternoon well.

“Martin went through the team like he was the head coach - discussing strengths, weaknesses, schedules and the Big East. I drove back to Newark that night and knew he was a steady senior point guard. That was a great place to start in my first year.”

As the lone senior on Notre Dame’s 2000 squad, Ingelsby had an important year ahead of him and knew that Brey needed him to be a leader. Both Ingelsby, a team captain, and Brey were a steady influence for each other that year. Notre Dame hadn’t been to the NCAA Tournament in 10 years but advanced to the second round of the Big Dance that season after winning the Big East’s West Division title, something that Brey attributes to Ingelsby’s leadership.

“It was a great first year and Martin basically quarterbacked the whole season,” Brey said. “He was really poised when it came to handling the ball and was the ultimate ambassador. He knew how to distribute the ball to keep the team happy. After the seventh game, my 13-year-old son said, ‘Dad - just don’t take Martin out of the game ever because I think the whole building and I are really calm when he’s on the floor,’ and I agreed with that.”

Coming from a basketball family, Ingelsby knew that he wanted to get into coaching following his senior season. Brey wanted Ingelsby to stick around, so Ingelsby interned in the department and shadowed the program for a year before returning home. He wasn’t there for long when an old teammate of Brey’s called about an assistant coach opening at Wagner.

The Seahawks won their league and advanced to the NCAA Tournament during Ingelsby’s first and only season with the program. Following that year the basketball operations position became available at Notre Dame, and Ingelsby returned to his alma mater to work under his mentor for another 13 years.

“I had my hands in a lot of different areas, and each year Coach Brey gave me more responsibility and valued my opinion more,” Ingelsby explained. “It took some time for me not to be a ‘yes man’ because I had such great respect for him that I felt like everything he said was the gospel, but I got more comfortable in my skin as an assistant coach. He made me a better basketball coach, a better teacher, and a better educator, and I think I made him a better coach.”

Brey and Ingelsby led Notre Dame to a school-record seven consecutive 20-wins seasons from 2006-13, but the program really took off during Ingelsby’s final two years in South Bend.

The Irish captured the 2015 Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament title, made their first Elite Eight appearance since 1979, and posted the second 30-win season in school history with a 32-6 mark.

Despite losing two backcourt players to the NBA, Notre Dame followed with another outstanding campaign in 2015-16, advancing to the ACC Tournament Semifinals before making its second straight Elite Eight appearance.

During the spring of 2016, an opportunity arose when the men’s basketball head coach position opened up at Delaware - Ingelsby’s “dream job” after hearing Brey speak so highly about his time in Newark.

“Coach gave it a glowing recommendation. It’s a great place with great facilities, community, and tradition. I remember calling him when I got the job and he was so proud. He thought this would be a great fit for me,” Ingelsby said.

Both coaches speak glowingly of one another. Ingelsby instills what he learned from Brey into his own coaching, while Brey admires Ingelsby’s coaching personality.

“I think his style, his philosophy, and his system really fit our personnel during my senior year,” Ingelsby said. He made practice fun, but it was hard and he held us accountable. He’s the ultimate player’s coach and has unbelievable perspective. The relationships he has with his players are really important and that’s something I really try to bring to the table here at Delaware.”

“After one year I sense he’s gravitated into a certain style, and kids will want to come to practice every day and be around him,” Brey remarked. “He smiles with them some days, he’s not barking at them all the time and he holds them accountable, but makes it an enjoyable experience. I think it’s going to really pay dividends long-term.”

Those dividends have already begun to pay off. Ingelsby’s first recruit, Ryan Daly, was named the CAA Rookie of the Year and earned a spot on the All-CAA third team last March, while setting UD freshman records for scoring and rebounding. With a promising freshman class joining Daly this year, Ingelsby clearly has the Blue Hens headed in the right direction.

Saturday's encounter will be a unique game for both coaches, as Brey has only faced a former coach once in his 30 years of coaching. This will be his first contest facing a former instructor on his home court.

“I’m certainly glad to come back and bring my team. I know it will be good for Martin and the Delaware program as it’s building. I’m thrilled that we worked it out,” Brey stated.

There will certainly be a lot of emotions in the Bob Carpenter Center this evening, celebrating a Blue Hen homecoming in more ways than one, as the Blue Hens take on a top ACC squad.

“It’s going to be a great opportunity and a surreal moment to have Notre Dame in the building and to celebrate everything that Mike has meant to this program,” Ingelsby said. “It’ll be a special moment for us. We’re both competitors and we’re going to do everything we can to put our best team forward.”

Brey and Ingelsby maintain a great relationship and connect weekly, and prior to the game, Ingelsby plans to connect with his former boss and the Irish players, some of whom he helped recruit.

As close friends, Brey and Ingelsby will put their feelings aside for a couple hours tonight, before resuming their roles as friend and mentor tomorrow.

Story written by Summer Haran, UD Athletics Communications Student Intern