Tom Noie has an article in the SBT today, and just in time. Cubs are done and ND football has a win (thanks to McLeod Bethel-Thompson), but is still a year away from being anything decent. Time to look ahead to the winter months.
As usual, Noie does a solid job breaking down the squad. His first point of interest is whether a Jackson-McAlarney backcourt will fare any better than Quinn-Thomas did. A simple response is that the Irish made the tournament without McAlarney, so his addition merely adds to an already successful rotation. Noie correctly indicates that Jackson is the pure penetrator between the two, while Mac has the additional ability to shoot outside. Hopefully Tory will be able to become more of a threat from distance, keeping defenders guessing. As long as neither develops a shoot-first attitude, a la Chris Thomas, this should be a great pairing th next two years.
Noie then talks about Luke Harangody's slimmer frame. Bamm-Bamm showed the ability to take contact down low last season. Hopefully losing 15 pounds will enable him to play with added finesse without losing his physical side.
Ryan Ayers is the big question mark this season. How will the junior react to a starting role in 07-08? Ayers looks like a tall, lanky Russell Carter but plays more like Colin Falls. With a great touch from beyond the arc, he can be deadly when given the opportunity. However, I have to think that Zach Hillesland has the better overall game. If Ayers cannot connect consistently with his shots and provide help in all facets of the game, his playing time will be the most limited of the starters.
Ty Nash has also been impressive during the summer and could also press Ayers for playing time. For a freshman, he has impressed Noie with his build (6'7", 220) and ease of play. Listed as a guard with the makeup of a point-forward, he could wind up playing behind Ayers with the larger Hillesland backing up Kurz and Harangody.
Noie notes the lack of national respect for the Irish program. Unfortunately, the weak non-conference schedule for Notre Dame will keep anyone from noticing until Big East play begins. That's a long time from now...
Chew on that for a while, it's not too long until we have some real information to report. October 13th is first practice.