PHILADELPHIA – When Mike Brey arrived from Delaware 16 years ago, he inherited a 6-foot-0 point guard by the name of Martin Ingelsby from Berwyn, Pa.
It was upon Ingelsby’s quiet leadership and steady, fundamentally-sound play -- and the offensive explosiveness of Notre Dame’s No. 7 all-time leading scorer, Troy Murphy -- that Brey built his first Fighting Irish squad, which won the Big East West Division with a 11-5 conference mark.
After a brief stint as an assistant coach at Wagner College under Derek Wittenburg, Ingelsby returned to his alma mater – where he earned a bachelor’ degree in marketing from Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business in 2001 – to serve as Brey’s coordinator of basketball operations. He was elevated to a full-time assistant coaching position in 2009.
Ingelsby was assigned the scouting report for the North Carolina Tar Heels, who the Irish take on in the East Regional finals Easter Sunday night.
“The one thing we’ve talked to our guys about is we’ve got to do a better job of taking care of the basketball.
“In the game that we beat them at home, we only had two turnovers whereas down in the ACC tournament, we had 17 turnovers. So that’s one of our biggest keys on the offensive end, as well as controlling tempo.
“North Carolina is a team that likes to get up and down, and they play really fast. They put 101 points on the board against Indiana (Friday) night. We’ve got to do a good job of controlling tempo when we change ends. We have to slow them down and try to make it a half-court game.
“As far as their three-point shooting and exchanging threes for twos, that’s a strategy that we’ve discussed. Marcus Paige made four threes within the first five minutes of the Indiana game, some momentum shots to really get them going.
“That’s how they broke open our game with them in the ACC tournament. Paige made a couple, (Joel) Berry made a couple…So taking away the three-point line is something we’ve really got to consider in exchange for two-point shots. With Paige making shots now, it’s kind of pick your poison as to how you want to defend them.
“The 31-point loss to North Carolina is behind us. Our guys know we haven’t played our best basketball game for 40 minutes, and that game only counts as one. They kicked our butts.
“But at the five-minute mark (of the first half) in the ACC tournament against Carolina, it was 23-22. We had some mental lapses on the offensive end, some turnovers, and some quick shots really hurt us.
“Our guys are excited for the challenge. It’s a great opportunity. We’ve got nothing to lose. We’re going to go for it. But we do have to control tempo and make good decisions on the offensive end, and really try to slow them down.
“It’s a situation similar to last year when we went down to Cameron (Indoor Stadium) and got our butts kicked in the regular season by Duke. We put that behind us, watched some film of when we played well against them at home, and our guys were ready to go. We went into the ACC tournament and got a great victory against them to advance to the championship against Carolina.
“Transition defense is key. They love to play fast and get up and down quickly. Your offense plays into that. Can we slow them down and really get some good shots? We probably have to be a little methodical on the offensive end.
“We’ve had success picking up the pace in recent weeks, so we’ve got to pick and choose our spots when to go. I do think you can get some stuff in early-offense, but they’ve got to be really good shots. We can’t take questionable ones, quick ones, because that leads into transition, and they’re so fast and good in transition.
“We’ve got a great challenge on the backboard with our frontline. With us starting smaller, it puts a lot more pressure on Steve Vasturia and V.J. Beachem to get down there and get some rebounds. We’ve got to collectively, all five guys, get down there and dig some out.
“Their pressure really hurt us in that last game. Their contesting in the half-court really hurt us and sped us up, so we’ve got to do a better job there. With Matt Farrell on the floor, he gives us another ball-handler to help us ease some of that pressure.
“They’re playing as well as anybody in the country right now. You cannot argue that anybody is playing any better than North Carolina. They’ve got great balance, they’re really scoring it from all levels, and their perimeter really stepped up.
“We know we’ve got our hands full, but our guys will be ready for the challenge.”