Jan. 12, 2001
Is the key to a successful season, the bench?
Many basketball greats believe the key to success is developing a team’s bench.
Mike Brey says no.
In fact, he believes that the “bench theory” is not always the solution. In a standard game, Brey goes to his subs only a few times to give the starters a breather. He usually incorporates the likes of Harold Swanagan, Torrian Jones, Ivan Kartelo and recently added Jere Macura into the mix. None of the four average more than 10 minutes a game.
“Depth can sometimes be a little overrated,” Brey said. “Your key guys have to get key minutes.”
Many critics believe this is where this team’s problem exists and part of the reason why the Irish are currently 7-4. They also believe this is the reason for Notre Dame’s ranking at No. 25.
It is a far cry from last year’s approach and it is one of the things which sets Brey apart from the likes of former head coach Matt Doherty. He frequently rotated in and out of the game a solid majority of his bench. Doherty substituted in Martin Ingelsby, Mike Monserez, Macura and Kartelo. All four registered over 11 minutes of play, coming off the bench.
While it is hard for the Irish fans to get use to, it is equally as hard for the players to adjust as well. All but one starter is logging over 30 minutes per game.
Brey credits the number of minutes logged for the confidence he sees on the court. Sophomore Matt Carroll is part of his example. Brey believes the guard’s confidence has risen based on the minutes he has played. He also sees improved play by Ingelsby based on his minutes as well.
“He [Ingelsby] got his confidence back,” Brey said. “He especially saw some success in the early season. The Cincinnati game was a big game for him, especially playing the whole time and playing against Satterfield.”
Despite a solid showing at the Wooden Tradition in November, Notre Dame’s progress slowed.
Criticism surfaced after two early losses for the Irish. Brey believes that the key to gaining a birth in the NCAA tournament is to insure that the starters gain enough experience in the opening months. However his theory is being questioned, especially with Notre Dame’s current ranking of fourth in the West Division of the Big East.
Coach firmly believes that confidence in his starting five is the key. Heading into the Big East tournament, he wants to insure that his players know that he believes in each of them.
The question is not whether Brey believe in his starters. It is whether he believes in his bench.