BRUNSWICK – Sometime Sunday, before his real work begins, New York Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride will place a phone call to Maine.

Gilbride won’t be talking about how Eli Manning can avoid the pass rush of New England Patriots nose tackle Vince Wilfork, or how his receivers can get open for another Super Bowl-winning catch. Gilbride will want to know how the Bowdoin men’s basketball team did.

“The last two weekends, in the afternoon the phone is ringing and it’s Kevin,” said Tim Gilbride. “He’s asking ‘How’d it go this weekend?’ Both times it’s a couple of hours before his game.”

Kevin Gilbride, 60, is the brother of Bowdoin College men’s basketball coach Tim Gilbride, 59. And on Sundays during the basketball season, Tim can expect a phone call from his older brother no matter what the Giants are doing that day. Blood is thicker than football.

The Gilbrides are from southern Connecticut, where most football fans are Giants fans, but that isn’t why Tim will be nervous, cheering for New York.

“I won’t relax. It’s family. Like anyone watching their kid play,” Tim said. “Our family is very close and I’m very close to my brother. Just hoping it goes well.”

Kevin and Tim were the oldest of seven children, four boys and three girls, growing up in a three-bedroom, one-bath house in West Haven, Conn.

“Boys in one room, girls in another,” Tim said.

Close quarters and to this day, a close family. When the Giants play the Patriots in the Super Bowl on Sunday, six of Bernard and Marie Gilbride’s children will be in Indianapolis.

“All but me,” Tim said. “I have to work.”

Bowdoin has a basketball game Saturday at Williams College in western Massachusetts. Then Tim must begin preparing for a home game Tuesday against Bridgewater State.

It’s what the Gilbride brothers do — prepare and coach. Kevin has been directing the action since the two were kids.

“Kevin liked to organize games all the time in the backyard. He was the quarterback and called the plays,” Tim said. “The typical older brother. As the next in line, every now and then I would get frustrated that everyone was listening to him.”

But there was someone both boys listened to — Bernard Gilbride, a high school math teacher, as well as a football and basketball coach.

When scouting an opposing team, he would take his sons along.

“I’d be sitting with him,” Tim said, “and he’d say ‘Watch this lineman and tell me what he does.’ What a thrill that was, to be with him.”

While the Gilbride boys were healthy, the family had to deal with an inherited, life-threatening disorder known as Autosomal Dominant Polycystic Kidney Disease (ADPKC). Bernard Gilbride carried the gene for the disease, so his children had to be tested — a painful process involving fasting before a test that involved injections of dyes, and then X-rays.

“The needles were so huge back then,” Tim said, holding his hands several inches apart. After the exam the fast would be broken at a nearby breakfast spot. “We looked forward to the pancakes,” Tim said.

The disease claimed Bernard Gilbride at age 45. Kevin and Tim don’t carry the disease, although Kevin survived kidney cancer in 1993. But a brother (Matt) and two sisters (Laurie and Maureen) have ADPKC and received kidney transplants.

Tim has had his own health issues, surviving prostate cancer. The Gilbride brothers and sisters always stay in touch, as they will by gathering in Indianapolis this weekend. While Tim and his wife Lisa won’t be there, their daughters, Molly and Marcia, are going. But not their son, Mark. Mark Gilbride also is a coach. He will be busy as head basketball coach at Clarkson University.

Both Kevin and Tim knew they wanted to coach and did so right after college, Kevin in college football, Tim as a high school teacher and basketball coach.

Tim eventually moved to the collegiate level and became the women’s head coach at his alma mater, Providence College. He moved to American International College as an assistant coach, then took the Bowdoin job in 1985.

“When we first came here, we were trying to decide if we were going to buy a house or not, not sure how long we were going to stay,” Tim said. “It didn’t take long for us to realize we loved it here in every way.”

Now in his 27th season, Tim has a career record of 378-277, including 14-5 this season. While Tim has stayed put, Kevin has been a journeyman. After six years as an assistant coach at three schools, he also returned to his alma mater — Southern Connecticut State — to be the head coach.

After five years and a 35-14-2 record, Kevin went to the pros, first as an assistant coach in the Canadian Football League, then to the NFL with stops in Houston, Jacksonville, San Diego and Buffalo, before joining the New York Giants in 2004.

It was with the Houston Oilers that Kevin got into his well-publicized tiff with Houston defensive coach Buddy Ryan, who threw a punch at Kevin during a game because he disagreed with his play-calling. In San Diego, Kevin received his only head coaching job in the NFL, but it was short-lived, going 6-16 in less than two seasons.

Kevin’s coaching style on offense relies on a sound quarterback and he didn’t have one in San Diego — football fans may remember the name of a failed quarterback prospect, Ryan Leaf.

In New York, Kevin works with one of the league’s best in Eli Manning. Kevin has been credited with Manning’s development in the Giants’ “option offense,” which gives Manning the freedom to change plays against certain defenses.

Kevin is known to tweak a play during a game, which he did on the Giants’ last pass of the Super Bowl in 2008, when Manning threw to Plaxico Burress for the winning touchdown against the Patriots with 39 seconds to go.

“That was fantastic,” Tim said, “although people around here didn’t think so.”

True, most root for the Patriots in these parts. Tim Gilbride will cheer for the Giants.

His loyalty is not to the team but to family, and to a man who will call his younger brother on Sunday.

Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: KevinThomasPPH