No one will be patting the University of Delaware on the back for the time-consuming and expensive coaching search it just performed, but the end result is cause for celebration. In former Notre Dame assistant Martin Ingelsby, the Blue Hens are getting a talented young coach who seems poised to lead a program. He faces a steep uphill battle, but there are a number of pros surrounding Ingelsby that should have the Delaware fanbase excited.
- Brey's top guy: In 1995, Delaware tabbed Duke assistant Mike Brey to lead its men's basketball team. In five seasons, Brey built the Blue Hens into an America East contender and led them to two NCAA Tournaments and an NIT in his final three seasons. In 2000, Notre Dame hired Brey and leaned on then-senior point guard Ingelsby to help the team transition. Now things have come full circle. As part of Brey's bench, Ingelsby has been to the Big Dance in six out of seven seasons, including Elite Eight runs the past two years. He's a key scout, strategist and recruiter with knowledge to pass on.
- Track Record of Player Development: Some of the players that Brey has credited Ingelsby with developing include Ben Hansbrough, Eric Atkins, Demetrius Jackson, Pat Connaughton and Jerian Grant. There are multiple all-conference, All-American and NBA-caliber guys in that group. Ingelsby played as a coach-on-the-floor at the highest level and shares his experience with his team. His enthusiasm and basketball IQ will make Delaware a more dangerous team.
- Philly Ties: Ingelsby grew up in the greater Philadelphia area and starred at Archbishop Carroll High School -- less than 50 miles from UD's campus. The Philly region produces enough talent to feed Division I programs nationwide, and given the immediate competition among local universities, Delaware needs to have a presence in that market. A coach who knows the area and the AAU programs is an obvious plus.
- Offensive Creativity: Notre Dame has been a well-oiled machine the past few seasons. Brey deserves a lot of credit for that, but he is quick to applaud Ingelsby as well. Brey has already assured UD fans that they will see "a fundamentally sound and highly entertaining style of basketball." The Irish are efficient offensively and Ingelsby will have to pull all the strings to improve upon UD's 66 points per game and 40 percent team field goal percentage.
The biggest issue facing Ingelsby right off the bat is the lack of starting caliber players/warm bodies on the current Blue Hens roster. Nine scholarship players remain from last season -- five rising seniors, two juniors and two sophomores -- but four have been granted release if they still wish to transfer. In a best-case scenario, Ingelsby will stay afloat with senior guard Cazmon Hayes, junior wing Anthony Mosley and senior forward Devonne Pinkard -- the three remaining starters from last year's 7-23 squad.
A cloudier projection would be Ingelsby having to fill out the roster with last semester's intramural champs. Should Hayes transfer, Ingelsby will really have to hit the grad transfer and JuCo markets hard (he should be doing his due diligence already). The Philly connection could land him one of the few D1 talents still uncommitted, but that's a long shot.
These are less than ideal circumstances for a rookie head coach to walk into, but Delaware is thinking long term here. Ingelsby will have the whole summer to prepare for the five or more scholarships that open up in 2017-18. He doesn't have to look far to see how quickly a program can rebuild. Towson's Pat Skerry and UNC Wilmington's Keavin Keatts both inherited messes in their first years in the CAA, but systematically guided turnarounds by working the transfer market and pushing the right buttons. Ingelsby is one of three new coaches in the league, and would deserve plenty of praise if he could salvage the situation in Delaware.