My 55 Years of Irish Basketball Viewing
by coldwaterirish (2019-02-07 14:21:43)
Edited on 2019-02-07 14:22:15

It has been both my delight and my distress to follow ND men's basketball since my front row seat in 1965, beginning with games played at the iconic Old Fieldhouse. I have seen and witnessed the best of times and the worst of times. Please recall Digger's first and last years.

What seems most troubling about this year's roster is that it lacks the senior leadership that has become a characteristic model of Brey's program. Looking over Brey's tenure, the better teams always have featured strong play from the senior class. Obviously, the diminished contribution of an influential senior class is a big problem for Brey this year.

Brey's brilliance has been with the slow, progressive development of the players on his roster. He rarely inserts a first year player into the rotation, with few exceptions made for "elite" players such as Torian Francis and Chris Thomas. Indeed, Jack Cooley, for example, rarely played his first year on the roster. Many other examples can be cited to confirm this coaching development strategy used religiously by Brey.

Brey does not relish one and done players. He wants at least three and preferably four years of development from his players.

This year's season is an outlier for him. He has been forced --- for various reasons, including some that are his fault with regards to recruiting and scholarship distributions --- to overplay the first year players and they as a group are playing exactly like we should expect to have first year players play in Brey's fluid system that requires intelligence, crisp passing, positioning, and occasionally the use of intense defensive pressure. None of those positive characteristics are featured on this year's young roster.

So, it is what it is. A junior who has too much pressure applied without the crutch of senior leadership, literally a non-existent senior class, a brittle transfer with potential but meager performance minutes, and a scrappy stable of first year players who had no idea the game would be payed at this speed in college and did not have even a preseason to bond and develop chemistry among them.

This year is a disappointment but no one can argue that it is a surprise. And, Pfleuger would not be the solution if he had not been injured. He is a good player but not the calibre required to carry a team, such as a Pat Garrity, Troy Murphy, or Jerian Grant, for example.