Hens’ Ingelsby getting down to business

 

New Delaware men's basketball coach Martin Ingelsby was an assistant coach for former Delaware basketball coach Mike Brey for 13 years at Notre Dame. (Notre Dame sports information)

New Delaware men’s basketball coach Martin Ingelsby was an assistant coach for former Delaware basketball coach Mike Brey for 13 years at Notre Dame. (Notre Dame sports information)

NEWARK — Martin Ingelsby had been involved in countless recruiting visits.

But never as a head coach.

The new Delaware men’s basketball coach admits it felt a little strange last week when he had his first recruit in with the Blue Hens.

“I used to get the video ready for Coach (Mike) Brey and let him do his spiel,” said Ingelsby, referring to his former boss at Notre Dame. “I’m like, ‘This is my turn now. I’ve got to put our best foot forward, sell our program, who we are, and really connect with this kid and his parents.’

“I’ve been excited about it but I was like, ‘It’s here now. You’re in the thick of this — in with two feet.’”

Indeed, with Delaware not hiring the 37-year-old Ingelsby until May 25, the first-time head coach has had no choice but to hit the ground running.

He’s got his work cut out for him.

This is a program that’s gone a mere 17-43 since going to the NCAA Tournament two seasons ago — including 7-23 last winter.

Ingelsby, though, has started the process that he hopes will get the Blue Hens back on their feet.

He’s already landed two recruits — three if you count sophomore Chivarsky Corbett, who Ingelsby convinced not to transfer to Texas-San Antonio.

The two high school recruits who have verbally committed are Ryan Daly, a 6-foot-4 guard from Archbishop Carroll, and Jacob Cushing, a 6-foot-8 swingman from Illinois who was originally headed for Cal Poly.

In trying to mold Delaware in Notre Dame’s basketball image, Ingelsby is going to have to drastically change the way the Hens play.

A year ago, Delaware’s shooting percentage of 40.2 percent ranked the Hens No. 322 out of the 346 teams in Division I last season. They scored just 66.2 points per game, which put them at No. 307 nationally.

And UD lost its two best offensive threats in senior Marvin King-Davis and Kory Holden, who transferred to South Carolina.

Ingelsby said he’s looking for “guys that are highly competitive, that are tough. They come from winning programs and guys that play the program the right way — guys that are unselfish, that can make open shots; team guys, winning guys that will do anything they can to help their team win.

“I think you can never have enough shooters in your program — guys that can really make shots,” he added, “I think that’s something that we will really have to go out and identify and find those great fits for us as we build this.”

With Delaware taking over two months to hire a new coach, there was no telling how many players might be left by the time Ingelsby came on board.

Holden and Corbett (apparently) had already transferred and several other players were granted releases from their scholarships just in case. But those releases were misconstrued in some media reports, saying that those players had already left.

“At one point, as I was following this, you thought they’d only have four guys on the team,” said Ingelsby. “It was dire for a little while.”

In the end, Ingelsby only had three open scholarships to give out when he was hired. That means he’ll have to coach the returning players to play his style of basketball.
But he said he’s looking forward to the process.

“I kind of love the nucleus of guys that we have returning,” said Ingelsby. “I’m excited to really watch them play. I told some of these guys as I met with them before they got out of here, ‘When we practice, I just want to split up the teams and watch you guys play, and get up and down, to give us a feel for who we are.’”

Of course, all of the coaching won’t be on Ingelsby’s shoulders. Last week Delaware announced the hiring of three of his assistants: Former James Madison assistant Bill Phillips, Corey McCrae, who was an assistant at nationally-ranked DeMatha High and Pat Rogers, who was the videographer at Notre Dame.

Having also played a year at William & Mary, Phillips already knows the Colonial Athletic Association. But he also knows Ingelsby — the two were teammates at Philadelphia’s Cardinal O’Hara,

They’ve have been friends for over 20 years.

“He’s one of my great buddies,” said Ingelsby. “He was the first call I made. And, as I was going through the interview process, it was like, ‘Hey man, if I get this, I need you on board right away.’”

“Coach Ingelsby has a great vision for this program and I’m ready to get to work and help him realize it,” Phillips said in a UD press release.

“Coach Ingelsby is one of the brightest young coaches in the country and I look forward to helping him take the UD program to new heights,” echoed McCrae.

Of course, only time will tell when or if Ingelsby can turn the Hens back into a contender to make the NCAA Tournament.

It doesn’t always happen overnight.

In former coach Monte’ Ross’ first season, Delaware went just 5-26 with a depleted roster.

Ingelsby said he’s not looking to cut any corners on the road back to respectability. But the competitive side of him would love to prove everybody wrong.

“I said (to the players), ‘What a great story would it be if we keep getting better throughout the season and we’re playing our best basketball in February and March,’” said Ingelsby. “I said, ‘Nobody’s going to expect anything out of us. We’ve just got to come in every day and work.’

“We’re probably going to be picked ninth or 10th in the CAA. I said, ‘What a great position to be in.’ They ate that up a little bit. We can go out and prove people wrong.”

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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