Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Depth Difference

As mentioned before, Coach Brey's unwillingness to play more than 7 or 8 guys is related to the amount of talent on his bench. Take a look at the minutes and (Scout.com) recruiting ratings from players in Monday's game.

Notre Dame-

Jackson- 43- 4 star
McAlarney- 44- 4 star
Ayers- 39- 3 star
Hillesland- 27- 3 star
Harangody- 45- 4 star

Zeller- 24- 4 star

4- 4 star players
2- 3 star players


Sosa- 22- 4 star
Smith- 17- 4 star
Clark- 43- 5 star
Samuels- 26- 5 star
Williams- 43- 4 star

McGee- 26- 3 star
Knowles- 23- 2 star
Jennings- 19- 4 star

2- 5 star players
4- 4 star players
1- 3 star player
1- 2 star player

Simply put, there's a talent gap. It's easier to comfortably go eight deep when you can keep at least four highly recruited guys on the court at all times. Rick Pitino is more comfortable playing a McGee or a Knowles knowing that the rest of the players will pull them up.

When you sub Peoples in for McAlarney or Jackson, you play a lineup with only two real offensive threats. From a pure talent-out-of-high-school view, it's a midmajor squad at that point.

Take it for what you will. Personally, I'd like to see more of Nash and Scott but doubt it will happen. I'm just trying to outline why I believe Coach Brey has his substitution philosophy.

Additionally, a couple of comments have been made about Brey's recruiting and development. I wouldn't take one case (Jonathan Peoples) and attempt to apply it across the board. Some players on the team haven't developed to the extent hoped (Zeller is also an example of this), but there are also plenty of other cases. Luke Harangody is the best example of this. Harangody wasn't a huge recruit (13th best center in his class) but developed into the best player in the best conference by his sophomore year. That indicates good recruiting tactics (finding a diamond in the rough) and pretty solid development (at least in this one case). McAlarney's another guy who a lot of teams passed on originally.

It is very hard to recruit at Notre Dame with the academic standards and playing second fiddle to football, but Coach Brey has done a very adequate job in that respect. Not great, as shown but our lack of landing big-time recuits, but decent considering the circumstances.

With transfers Hansbrough (two-star recruit) and Martin (four-star) entering the fray next year along with expanded minutes for Scott and Nash, I think we might be a little deeper even with the loss of four seniors. Hopefully one of the four recruits can also contribute.

That's enough for tonight. Mull over all that information if you wish and post a comment accordingly. Hey, I hate the short bench as much as everyone else but there is a reason for it.


Anonymous said...

How much of Harangody's development was due to Gene Cross (now head coach at Toledo)? By contrast, how much development has been made by Ayers, Zellar, Peoples, Hillesland with the remaining assistants?

Anonymous said...

It's hard to win an NCAA title; lots of great coaches and teams don't. It's almost as hard to win a Big East title. Those are the goals , but not the standard to judge by. Look at Muffet with the women's team. They are a perennial top four team in the Big East, and a perennial Sweet 16 team, even through some devastating injuries (Limdsay Schraeder, Devereaux Peters twice). You can't say that about the men, and there's no real reason why you shouldn't. We should be doing better.

BlackandGreen said...

Cross was a fantastic assistant and certainly played a role in Luke Harangody's development. His replacement Solomon is every bit as good, though he works more with the guards.

Sean Kearney's really the guy who is in charge of the forwards. He also helped Troy Murphy and Ryan Humphrey get to the NBA.

Cross and now Solomon primarily focus on recruiting. Rod Balanis is in charge of the backcourt. Overall, I really like our coaching staff. It's no coincidence guys like Solomon and Cross have used ND to become head coaches. Kearney could have had a mid-major program long ago if he wanted to leave.

I'll go into recruiting and development in more detail tomorrow, but overall it has gone both ways.

Good- Chris Quinn, McAlarney, Jackson
Poor- Chris Thomas, Peoples

Good- Harangody
Average- Ayers, Hillesland
Poor- Torin Francis, Zeller

And you can add names to both lists. For every Luke Zeller that comes in highly touted and flops, there's a Harangody who comes from nowhere to tops in the Big East. Likewise, for every little-known player like Chris Quinn who rises to the NBA, there's a Chris Thomas.

Also, look at how ND players do in the pros. A year ago, I would have said Kurz was an "average" developer. Now, he's getting consistent minutes in the NBA. Likewise, no one thought Chris Quinn would cut it in the Association. His work at Notre Dame prepared his mentally and physically for today.

BlackandGreen said...

It's a little easier to recruit women than men (for a variety of reasons), but the point is still well taken.

Having less talent is not an excuse for doing poorly. Each year a mid-major squad with a bunch of scrubs manages to reach the Sweet 16, a feat Coach Brey has only accomplished once. Stephen Curry was a nobody coming out of high school.

I don't write about recruiting a lot for this very reason. We can talk about recruiting and development as much as you want. In the end, the game is decided by who manages to put a round ball in a circular hoop the most times. What makes college basketball great is that anyone has a chance. It's time for Notre Dame to taste some of that, no excuses.

Golden Monkey said...

It's hard to develope players when your playing St. Marys of the Poor and Mac plays 38 Min. and Gody 36. Thats Breys coaching style and has been ever since he arrived. Ditto for all offense and very little defense. You can teach tough defense to 3 star players. Coach Breys record speaks for itself, playing in a great conference with the talent he signs. Thats why he's been named B.E. Coach of the Year twice. Could Pitno recruit higher rated players at N.D.? YES Would he coach here? NO

The bottom line is we do well with what we have to work with. Some things will never change.

MJenks said...

Part of the development of the talent lays at the players' feet, too. You have to have a good work ethic, be court smart, and play well with your team in order to become an outstanding player. Gody seems to have all three, despite being "lower" on the talent scale (as determined by the scouts). Zeller, on the other hand, is lacking in something. I think being Mr. Basketball played a negative on his college development, as if he expected every door just to open up no matter what.

Anonymous said...

Many players do much better than their scout.com rankings once they get to college and many don't live up to them. For the record, the ND bench scout.com national rankings are as follows:

Nash 3 star
Scott 3 star
Peoples 3 star
Abromaitis 2 star
Kopko 2 star
Andre NR

Martin 4 star
Hansborough 2 star

Louisville's 2 star and 3 star (Knowles and McGee) combined for 49 minutes of play, 13 points 8 rebounds, 1 assist and 2 steals.

3 star and 2 star players are nationally ranked players The ND players are just as capable of the production as the Louisville players. But they have to be given a legitimate chance.

BlackandGreen said...

I think it's good to note how a player's attitude does affect his development. Harangody has put in the hours to become stronger down low and develop a consistent 15 foot jumper. Luke Zeller is a great guy and certainly works hard, but has never really gotten past his original aversion to contact.

Anonymous said...

I think when we talk development the more important conversation is about defensive development. I have seen no player get better defensively at ND. You leave defensively as you came in. All the talk of the free wheeling offense means nothing when it comes down to money time. And, someone please tell me how a player remains motivated when they know that they won't be benched? That is a weapon that a coach has to have in his arsenal. Barnes from Texas benched every starter in the first half last night. Pitino routinely benches guys.

BlackandGreen said...

You're right to mention defensive development, because it's something that has not really shown itself.

We play a lot of zone, so it's harder to pick out individual guys than it would be in a total man scheme. I think a lot of our problems stem from a lack of athleticism. Tory Jackson is the only guy in the rotation with anything close to above average quickness for his position. Zach Hillesland is decent, but nothing near a Terrence Williams or Earl Clark. Harangody is pretty athletic, but too small to be a really good post defender.

The end result is that opposing teams can drive past our perimeter guys, we overreact, and someone is wide open for a three.

That said, defense is certainly not the #1 priority for the coaching staff. It's unfair to say they ignore defense altogether, but we definitely do not focus on it as much as a Louisville or West Virginia. The end result is one of the best offenses in the country combined with a very average (compared to the rest of Division 1) D.

Unknown said...

I don't know what's more fun to watch: Notre Dame deteriorate from within as a football program, or Notre Dame stalling out against the elite teams during conference play in basketball. Hey Irish, welcome to the real world: your athletic department is the punchline of countless jokes outside of South Bend.

Anonymous said...

Know this is late, but just was reviewing old posts. Kopko was a 2 star? If he redshirts due to the hand injury, he has 3 years left. Is Brey blind not at least trying to develop what appears to be a free be for the university.