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Leaders Performance Podcast: Matt Painter & Mike Brey

Two college basketball head coaches delve into the practical challenges when building a winning culture around a team of young athletes.
John Portch

Mike Brey, the Head Coach of the Notre Dame men’s basketball team, remembers the time a player came into his office and closed the door. Most of the time, he says, a player who shuts the door is about to divulge some misdemeanour from the night before. Not this time. “This player said, ‘Coach, I really think you’re selling us short’ – he flat out called me out,” recalled Brey onstage at the 2017 Leaders Sport Performance Summit in Chicago.


By John Portch

Brey had publicly spoken of reaching the NCAA tournament but the player thought their ambitions should be grander. The grin on his face throughout this retelling indicates that any consternation on his part was short-lived. In fact, as he says, “this was good stuff right here.” There is a nod of approval from Matt Painter, Head Coach of the Purdue men’s basketball team, who spoke alongside Brey.

The ‘good stuff’ in question was this demonstration of a team-first ethic and players empowered to take responsibility on behalf of their teammates. A younger, less confident Brey may have been immediately placed on the defensive but instead the team rallied to go deep in the Big East.

“I’m all about you if you’re all about us,” Painter tells potential recruits. Beyond the promotion of the team above all else, the duo also discussed:

  • The importance of older players in setting the tone of the locker room;
  • Why parents needs to be weaned off the college and the coaches;
  • Why healthy cultures are found in environments where people are willing to challenge each other;
  • The value of video sessions as a sanctuary where strength in adversity can be nurtured;
  • Why coaches need to be wary of players leading a team in the wrong direction.

Previous Episode:

Leaders Performance Podcast: Eric Ernst

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