Delaware introduces Ingelsby as hoops coach
— It had been more than two months since the University of Delaware men’s basketball team had a head coach.
That changed Tuesday as Athletic Director Chrissi Rawak announced the hiring of Notre Dame assistant coach Martin Ingelsby.
Rawak herself had been hired only 13 days prior. The University had announced it would fill that void before conducting its search for a men’s basketball coach.
Ingelsby, 37, played point guard for Notre Dame and spent the previous 13 seasons on its coaching staff. He was officially introduced Wednesday morning.
“It’s a great academic institution. Leaving a place like the University of Notre Dame, to be able to attract the same type of student athletes was really appealing – guys that want to excel in the classroom as much as they want to excel on the basketball court,” Ingelsby said. “I know we have our work cut out for us. I know they haven’t had a coach for two months, but it’s a great challenge for us. It’s going to be all about the process that goes into place for being successful and we’re going to take it day by day and try to get better and put my own stamp on this program.
“I think I have a great blueprint for how things are done, coming from the University of Notre Dame in my experiences there as a player and as a coach under Mike Brey.”
Brey served as Delaware’s head coach from 1995-2000, before leaving to lead the Fighting Irish. The Blue Hens earned two NCAA Tournament berths under Brey and appeared in the NIT.
Ingelsby’s senior season was Notre Dame’s first under Brey, who is still held in high regards around Newark.
“One of the things I’ll never forget is, when he got the job at Notre Dame, I was not on campus for summer school. He flew into Philly, he drove up and he talked to me about our basketball program. That’s something I’ll always remember, I love Coach Brey,” Ingelsby said. “I’m not Mike Brey, I’m going to be the best Martin Ingelsby I can. I’m excited for this challenge, we’ve got our work cut out for us. I will use him as a resource as much as I can. I told him ‘Don’t delete my number.’”
Brey still vacations in Delaware and will be in Rehoboth Beach this week. He invited Ingelsby down to celebrate.
Ingelsby repeatedly acknowledged the difficult situation he is walking into. The Blue Hens won just seven games last winter and two of the top would-be returners have announced their plans to transfer elsewhere.
Junior-to-be Kory Holden, a talented point guard who led Delaware in scoring and assists last season, will transfer to South Carolina. Chivarsky Corbett, who along with Holden was named to the CAA All-Rookie Team in 2015, will head to Texas-San Antonio.
Four other players received releases to transfer during the period of uncertainty. If they all remain at Delaware, Ingelsby will have nine scholarship players on his roster. Division I basketball teams are allotted 13 scholarships.
Speculation that former coach Monté Ross would not be resigned at the end of the 2014-15 season led to the program receiving no commitments in the 2015 recruiting class. The two-month period without a head coach puts Delaware in grave danger of a second-straight year without an incoming recruit. Ingelsby is hopeful to land a commitment by the start of the academic year.
“We have to be smart. We gotta do our due diligence on the type of kids we want to recruit, but absolutely, we gotta get one or two or three guys to add to this program and really get them engrained in our community and our culture,” he said. “I’ve got to figure out kind of who we are first before we add to the mix, but definitely, there are guys that have reached out recommending guys. I just want to make smart decisions in that area.”
Growing up in suburban Philadelphia, Ingelsby is connected in the area. It’s a region of the country Notre Dame recruited extensively for talent.
“At Notre Dame, we spent a lot of time recruiting I-95. There’s an edge about kids on I-95, it’s been a focus of ours,” he said. “There’s something about kids in the Northeast. There’s an edge about them, they play great basketball … Growing up in the Philadelphia area and being around basketball my whole life. My dad played at Villanova, he played in the NBA, so ever since I was younger, you always had a ball in your hand.”
He called nearby Baltimore and Washington DC “fertile recruiting grounds” that Delaware needs to tap into.
Ross was fired March 18 after 10 seasons. The Blue Hens went 25-10, won the CAA championship and earned an NCAA Tournament berth in 2014, but it was one of just three winning seasons during his tenure.
The period since the firing has been uneasy for the remaining players.
“There was a lot of confusion. There was a lot of uncertainty. Guys were getting nervous as we were getting down to the end of the year,” rising senior Barnett Harris said. “Relief was the first emotion that hit the locker room. We were jumping around because the news had broke before it was formally announced, so we were all texting each other … We were cleaning up the locker like, ‘Hope Coach likes this.’ We were just very relieved, it was such a weight off our shoulders.”
Ingelsby knows exactly what that experience is like for a college basketball player.
“I told the guys yesterday, I played for three coaches in four years at Notre Dame,” he said. “I have a really good perspective, I understand what they’re going through. Nobody envies that, that’s hard for these 18-22 year-old kids to not have a coach for two months. They’re kind out out there in no-man’s land by themselves, so I give them a lot of credit for being in that locker room yesterday and not leaving. It shows me that these guys really enjoy being at Delaware.”
Meeting the players was Ingelsby’s first oder of business, much to the appreciation of his new boss.
“One of the first things he asked was ‘I want to meet the team,’ and that right there is a message unto itself that his focus and what he’s going to contribute will be about that team and about those players,” Rawak said. “I said a few words, introduced him, then left. It’s his team, his time. He had that moment, which was really important. When they came out of the locker room, they were smiling.”
Ingelsby’s first action was to shake every hand. He was thrilled to see some of the players stick around to work out after the meeting.
“We’re going to have a lot of fun. I want those guys smiling, I want them excited to come to the gym to work. Things are going to be different, they have to embrace that. I think they need that, they want that,” Ingelsby said. “Things are going to be harder. When you go 7-23 like last year, things have to change.”
His first six seasons at Notre Dame were spent as director of basketball operations. Ingelsby was promoted to assistant coach in 2009, a position he has held for seven seasons. The Fighting Irish played in six NCAA Tournaments during that span and have reached the Elite 8 in back-to-back years, advancing that far for the first time since 1979.
“I come from a place where we won a lot,” Ingelsby said. “We got great momentum at Notre Dame and I think that winning formula can be brought to the University of Delaware and our basketball program.”
Follow Sean Grogan on Twitter: @Sean_CecilWhig
Martin Ingelsby was introduced as the University of Delaware men’s basketball coach Wednesday in the Bob Carpenter Center.
Elkton junior midfielder Tyler Durant was named first team AllSusquehanna Division in boys’ lacrosse.