Your five teams have one thing in common
by El Kabong
Edited on 2019-02-07 16:30:54
In reply to: Some additional context posted by ndzippy
The coach(es) on the floor.
I've always felt Mike Brey's best teams at ND had a coach on the sidelines and at least one coach on the floor -- the ass-kicker-name-taker who knew how things were supposed to run and inspired his teammates to run things that way. That player didn't necessarily have to be a senior, but he usually was an upperclassmen. If that player happened to also be among the best performers on the team, that made it even better, because if they were underclassmen or not otherwise top-flight, you could see conflict. That guy's leadership inspired the other players to give their best, which meant we didn't see a lot of performances like the one last night.
In 2014-2015, not only was Connaughton that guy, but he had the best 1a of any team on your list in Jerian Grant. Their leadership helped bring along young players like DJ and Bonzie, and allowed Vasturia to shine. The next year, when they were gone and DJ stepped into the best-player role, it took a while for the leadership thing to take hold (assuming, frankly, it ever did), which is why while that team went to the E8 as well, as you pointed out, they needed more luck to get there.
In 2010-2011, you had Ben Hansbrough as that guy, with Scott Martin as his 1a. They were the examples Grant and Cooley could learn from, and took the pressure off Nash and Abro. When Hansbrough broke down in the postseason, so did that team.
In 2007-2008, there probably were two coaches on the floor in MacAlarney and Kurz. Harangody was one of the best talents, but there was no pressure on him to lead.
For 2002-2003, Matt Carroll & Dan Miller had the role. Chris Thomas was free to show his talent without having to shoulder the leadership burden. That didn't work out so well the two years that followed (for which, as I said below, Latimore deserves a decent share of responsibility)
2006-2007 had Colin Falls and Russell Carter. Same old same old.
The problem with this team is the expansive youth makes it difficult for that guy to emerge, assuming he's there in the first place. Pflueger could be a leader, but he's not up there on the talent scale. Gibbs is an excellent soldier, but as we saw last year when Farrell was sidelined, he doesn't do as well when he's expected to run things. Maybe Mooney can become that guy, but he seems to be more on the soft-spoken side. Then again, this is his first season having to contribute strongly, so I don't have any reason not to believe he could expand his game into at least one of those positions. Maybe Harvey, not having to focus on rehab next year, could focus on that part of the game instead.
The hope has to be one of the frosh becomes a de facto 1A next year in conjunction with Mooney's leadership.