Wednesday, October 31, 2007
#31 Rob Kurz- 6-9 / 232, Lower Gwynedd, PA-
Tom Noie stole my idea for an article, so I'll just have to wing this one.
The Irish have one returning senior this year, two-time captain Kurz. Rob went from talented, but little known forward to one of the best players in the Big East with a quality season last year. Kurz averaged 12.6 points and 8.0 rebounds in 28 minutes per game in 06-07.
Kurz's main contribution this year will be his presence in the paint. He must work with Luke Harangody to create scoring opportunities inside and spread the defense. In addition, his rebounding ability will end scoring opportunities on defense and help create second chances on offense. As the tallest starter, even undersized at 6'9", Kurz must be physical enough to deal with must taller opponents such as 7'2" Georgetown center Roy Hibbert. Coach Brey will have to drop into zone defense to make up for the overall lack of height in some instances, but the emphasis will be on Kurz in man-to-man.
In addition to his inside game, Kurz is an accomplished shooter from outside. Last season he made 21 of his 49 attempts from beyond the arc. While he may not get lots of opportunities, Kurz has shown the ability to make the big three when asked. His overall game is the most polished on the team, fitting for the lone senior, and he will be required to play to the best of his ability in order for the Irish to win some big games this season.
Tomorrow I'll preview the season as a whole. Friday the Irish open with an exhibition game against St. Ambrose. It's not top-notch competition and it doesn't count, but it will certainly be exciting to see the guys in a game for the first time this year. Until then, have a happy Halloween.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
#23 Kyle McAlarney- 6-0 / 196, Staten Island, NY-
2006 was a year to forget for K-Mac, and it had little to do with his actual performance on the basketball court. Marijuana charges and a University suspension cost him half his season. Before leaving the team, Kyle averaged 10.3 points and 5.4 assists in 29.8 minutes per game while starting the first 12 contests. Perhaps his brightest moment was scoring 20 points in leading the Irish to their best nonconference win of the year against Alabama.
What's next? Now that Mac has returned, he has competition for the starting point guard spot in superb sophomore Tory Jackson. Thankfully, Coach Brey has shown the willingness to pair two natural point guards together in the backcourt. While a Jackson-McAlarney pairing matches the two most talented guards on the team, previous combos of PGs have produced mixed results. Jackson and McAlarney must be able to share the spotlight in order for the team to perform at its best.
Kyle might be sharing ball control responsibilities with Jackson, but he brings much of his own talents to the floor as well. Hitting 46.4 % of his shots from three-point range last year showed his immense shooting ability. He must be able to convert his outside shots to make up for the loss of Colin Falls' 15.3 PPG. If McAlarney stays humble, makes his shots, and keeps away from jail, he will pick up right where he left off and lead the team to many wins this season.
Monday, October 29, 2007
#44 Luke Harangody- 6-8 / 251, Schererville, IN-
Though injured and scheduled to miss the beginning of the season, the big sophomore looks to add to a superb freshman season. About 20 pounds lighter than last year, Bamm-Bamm has slimmed up and worked on his technique under the basket.
Last season, Harangody averaged 11.2 points and 6.2 boards in 20.6 minutes a game. When healthy, he will see much more action this year. His strength and fearlessness enabled him to adapt to the rough Big East style of play quickly. Harangody has surprising quickness for a player of his size, which will certainly improve with the loss of baby fat over the summer. He can run the floor and is no liability on defense.
This year, Luke will be expected to provide an added threat down low for the Irish in addition to senior Rob Kurz. He must recover from his injury fully and be ready to take another year of punishment crashing the boards. In addition, he will need to add different post moves to his trademark baby hook in the paint. This should come naturally with time, but the sooner Harangody learns to play like an upperclassman the better Notre Dame's chances will be of making a strong run in March.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Saturday, October 27, 2007
#42 Ryan Ayers- 6-7 / 210, Blue Bell, PA-
Ayers has ridden a sweet outside shot and strong fundamental defense to the starting small forward spot this year for the Irish. Playing in 30 games last season, Ayers averaged 2.9 points and 1.4 rebounds in 11.9 minutes per game. He connected on 37.5% of his shots from three-point range.
As a three-star recruit at Germantown Academy, Ayers was also recruited by Duke, Maryland, North Carolina, and Villanova. Dad Randy is an assistant coach for the Washington Wizards, playing at Miami, Ohio, and briefly with the Bulls in the NBA.
Ayers will need to step into Colin Falls' role of deep threat. For the Irish to be successful under the basket, Ryan must show a consistent ability to make shots from outside. In addition, Ayers will be an asset on defense. He can use his great wingspan and agility to cover opponents on the sideline. Ryan will probably play the fewest minutes of the starters, due to the ability of Zach Hillesland. However, Ayers' size and shooting allows Coach Brey to use the junior also as a shooting guard if Jackson and McAlarney get into foul trouble.
Friday, October 26, 2007
Zach Hillesland- 6-9 / 233, Toledo, OH-
Our energy guy. Mr. Everything. Hillesland looks to be a force off the bench once again this year. Averaging 19.6 minutes a game last season with 5.8 points and 4.8 rebounds, he played in all 32 games and started four times.
A three-star recruit out of high school, he also attracted some interest from Michigan, Stanford, Northwestern, and N.C. State. He could be a starter next season with two of the other three members of what is shaping up to be the best recruiting class in recent memory for the Irish. Fellow juniors McAlarney and Ayers have already claimed starting positions, while Zeller and Hillesland will likely take over after Rob Kurz graduates.
Until then, Hillesland will continue to see extended minutes off the bench for the Irish. His best attribute is his energy, on both ends of the floor. Some of Notre Dame's best possessions will come with Zach subbing for any one of the starting five. Can play both forward spots and be squeezed into the 2 role if Coach Brey wishes to go big. A fan favorite for his teamwork work ethic, Hillesland certainly is one of the most famous and feared bench players in the conference.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
#20 Jonathan Peoples- 6-3 / 215, Bellwood, IL-
Peoples was a steady hand off the bench last year for the Irish and should serve the same role this year. With McAlarney out during the Big East schedule, Peoples gave Coach Brey some quality minutes when Tory Jackson needed a breather. A three-star recruit, Notre Dame beat out Northwestern to land him two years ago.
Jonathan played in 26 contests last season, averaging 6.4 minutes a game. He should get about the same amount of action, since both K-Mac and Tory can play the point. While Peoples can play shooting guard, Coach Brey is more likely to have Ryan Ayers or others fill in when either McAlarney or Jackson is on the bench.
#40 Luke Zeller- 6-10 / 239, Washington, IN-
Luke entered the program as a heavily recruited prep star. Indiana Mr. Basketball and McDonald's All-American, Zeller was a four-star recruit out of high school. He also received scholarship offers from Stanford, Kansas, Illinois, and Missouri. Needless to say, there were some high expectations for Mr. Zeller. Entering his junior season, Luke has yet to add a effective inside game with his strong outside shooting.
Last year, he started the first 16 games and played in all 32, averaging 3.8 points and 2.2 rebounds in 12.4 minutes a game. He will be the main substitute for Luke Harangody and Rob Kurz down low. If this year's version of Zeller (an inch shorter and somewhat more agile) can contribute steady minutes off the bench, the Irish will be ok. With two very good starters, all we need from Luke is a guy off the bench who can get rebounds and still threaten the defense inside. He has the talent, now is the time to become a legit Big East forward.
Tomorrow I will focus a little more on our key players, starting with 6th man Zach Hillesland.
Last season, Ken Pomeroy included our very own Luke Harangody in several of his blog posts. Today, Pomeroy writes about the sophomore big man in a nationwide article on similarity scores.
Luke is most similar to:
Glen Davis, So., 2006, LSU (12.3)
Wendell White, Sr., 2007, UNLV (12.8)
Craig Smith, 2005, Jr., Boston College (14.8)
Curtis Sumpter, Sr., 2007, Villanova (16.2)
Jamaal Williams, Sr., 2006, Washington (16.9)
Interesting that two of those players are Big East guys.
"Analysis should be about more than comparing mug shots, it should be about comparing roles and production. With that in mind, Luke Harangody's production in 2007 plus more minutes in 2008 will produce stats very much like Glen Davis had in 2006. That might be the best example of the insight that similarity scores can give us."
Mind you, Davis was much heavier, topping out at nearly 300 pounds. Still, this coming from an unbiased source is very encouraging. Getting 17 and 10 from a sophomore power forward would give the Irish great hope for a deep postseason run this year. Since Harangody is less a risk of going pro, the post-Rob Kurz era could also be very interesting.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
#21 Tim Abromaitis- 6-8/220, Unionville, CT
Carleton Scott- 6-7 / 198, San Antonio, TX
On the surface, Scott is a promising, if undersized, prospect. He might need a year or two to grow into his body, but has the best upside of the class. Can play both forward positions. Was also recruited by Georgetown.
Thomas Kopko- 6-0/175, Bubank, IL
Kopko is a freshman walkon who was a two-star recuit according to Scout.com. He has no official ND bio yet and, judging by his picture, he's not happy about that.
Some fun facts: Abromaitis had a brother who played at Yale and father James played for UCONN and the Nets. Nash averaged a double-double his last two years in high school. Proffitt played varsity high school ball in 8th grade. Scott helped his high school team to go their first ever Texas state title game.
So now you know a little more about our youngest players. Tomorrow I will begin a little more game-oriented breakdown of the returners.
1. Georgetown (8) 217
Louisville (8) 217
3. Marquette 191
4. Pittsburgh 170
5. Syracuse 153
6. Connecticut 149
7. Villanova 143
8. Providence 141
9. Notre Dame 122
10. West Virginia 112
11. DePaul 79
12. Cincinnati 62
13. Seton Hall 56
14. St. John’s 52
15. Rutgers 32
16. USF 23
First-place votes in parentheses
2007-08 Preseason Player of the Year
Roy Hibbert, Georgetown
2007-08 Preseason Co-Rookies of the Year
Donte’ Greene, Syracuse
Jonny Flynn, Syracuse
2007-08 Preseason All-BIG EAST Team
*Roy Hibbert, Georgetown (Player of the Year), C, Sr., 7-2, 278, Adelphi, Md.
Jeff Adrien, Connecticut, F, Jr., 6-7, 238, Brookline, Mass.
Jonathan Wallace, Georgetown, G, Sr. 6-1, 188, Harvest, Ala.
David Padgett, Louisville, C, Sr., 6-11, 245, Reno, Nev.
Terrence Williams, Louisville, F, Jr., 6-6, 210, Seattle, Wash.
Dominic James, Marquette, G, Jr., 5-11, 185, Richmond, Ind.
Jerel McNeal, Marquette, G, Jr., 6-3, 200, Chicago, Ill.
Geoff McDermott, Providence, F, Jr., 6-7, 230, New Rochelle, N.Y.
Kentrell Gransberry, USF, C, Sr., 6-9, 270, Baton Rouge, La.
Eric Devendorf, Syracuse, G, Jr., 6-4, 180, Bay City, Mich.
*Scottie Reynolds, Villanova, G, So., 6-2, 195, Herndon, Va.
2007-08 Preseason Honorable Mention
Edgar Sosa, Louisville, G, So., 6-1, 175, New York, N.Y.
Levance Fields, Pittsburgh, G, Jr., 5-10, 195, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
The first nontraditional stat to be introduced is usage or "percentage of his team's possessions that he personally used... Most of the time a used possession involves taking a shot that isn't rebounded by the offense, or committing turnovers." Easy enough.
With five players on the floor, a perfectly even distribution would be 20% for each player. By comparing a players change in usage from year to year, it was determined that players increase their usage only slightly over their careers. Example: the average player who contributes for 20% of his team's possessions as a freshman will contribute for only about 21% as a junior. There is no correlation between maturity and a player taking over a game.
Any player who will become a superstar must first contribute a lot as a freshmen, even with limited minutes. It is fair to predict that if Ty Nash "uses" a strong percentage of possessions (25-30%) in his playing time this year, he will be the heart of the offense by his third year in the program. Playing more possessions, he will eventually take the most shots on the team and score the most points. Therefore, by analyzing the amount of possessions a player uses as a freshman, it is possible to discover the budding superstars in the program.
Just something to chew on. Any fans of Baseball Prospectus and Moneyball will certainly enjoy the new site. Tomorrow I will go with something a little more subjective and start breaking down the players on the team. Just my point of view, no math skills required.
Monday, October 22, 2007
Ranked #9 on BigEastBasketball.blogspot.com, the Irish expected to go 10-8 in the newly expanded Big East schedule. The NBE blog always does some great work.
- Mike Brey enters his 8th season as the fifth longest tenured coach in the conference, behind Calhoun, Boeheim, Welsh, and Crean.
- "The Irish return a solid core of players as they try to return to the NCAA Tournament in back to back seasons which has only been done in the 2001-2002-2003 seasons and 1989-1990 in recent history."
- Brey's a nice guy, expectations are high, yada yada yada...
- McAlarney should bring some swagger back to the guard position, plus a great outside touch.
- Jackson was excellent last year in K-Mac's absence and should only improve.
- Ayers must be effective on the wing on offense and defense as the Irish lack depth on the outside.
- Kurz is solid as always at the 4.
- Harangody has the best footwork in the conference.
- Zeller has yet to show enough results with such a huge potential out of high school. Needs to find a comfort zone.
- Hillesland will once again be Mr. Everything from the bench.
- Ty Nash is the most ready of the freshmen, while Scott is extremely athletic and Abromitis plays in the mold of Hillesland.
- Jackson, McAlarney, Kurz, and Harangody make a strong core of starters, but the team lacks depth.
- Ayers and McAlarney will struggle some to make up for the lack of Falls' perimeter play and Carter's athleticism.
- Two games against Marquette, DePaul, and Connecticut make it difficult to match last year's output of 11 wins.
- 10-8, 9th Place
Overall, a very well done piece that gets as close to hitting the nail on the head as one can while attempting to preview all the Big East. I think some of the fears of lacking depth are valid, but am very encouraged with Brey's ability to get newcomers ready for the conference schedule. Both Jackson and Harangody were able to collect enough minutes off the bench during last year's nonconference schedule to have enough confidence to start by the end of the year. Hopefully guys like Nash will get enough opportunity to play before the competition gets competitive.
Overall, if we stay healthy (and off the drugs...), depth will not be as much of a problem come January.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Welcome to the 2007-08 college basketball season! After yesterday's debacle on the football field, it can't come quickly enough. Black and Green is now fully operational and ready for action. To get you ready for the first exhibition game against St. Ambrose next Friday, I will preview the upcoming season over the next two weeks. Enjoy.
Continue with the operation. You may fire when ready...
Saturday, October 20, 2007
Let's talk about basketball. It was great to see the guys in action today. Although it was only an hour, there is plenty of promise.
First, the newcomers. Carleton Scott looks to be a redshirt candidate. He's too small at 198 lbs. to play in the Big East right now. Still, he has a good shot and shifty moves. Bulk him up a little and the guy could be a player. Tim Abromitis looks a little out of his league right now and was unable to contribute much on either end in the scrimmage. Abro won't play much this year, but should improve with time. Ty Proffitt also looks a lot like a freshman right now. Not quite ready for big time, but has a beautiful outside shot when uncovered. He consistently made 5 or 6 three-pointers in a row in shoot around. Ty Nash is the one to watch. He has the best size and ability of the freshmen and seems unafraid of taking the ball to the basket. He looks to compete for minutes. Walk-on Tom Kopko clearly has some talent. He certainly could have taken a scholarship elsewhere if he wanted to.
Overall, there was great team communication and chemistry in the practice. Rob Kurz is the leader of the team, being the lone senior. Tory Jackson certainly has the confidence to step up and take over, however. If he and Kyle can stay humble and play together, they will form a scary tandem in the backcourt.
A few bumps and bruises to deal with: McAlarney and Kurz were held out of most of practice due to sore ankles. Kyle's icing was cut short due to an injury to Zach Hillesland... yet another rolled left ankle. Hopefully all three are not seriously hurt, although it doesn't look like there is anything to fear.
Ryan Ayers showed some great defense with his long wingspan. Luke Harangody played hard down low when given the chance, using his left hand all practice. Sean Kearney spent some time one-on-one with the big fellow, working on his ball skills a little. Nice to see that Bamm-Bamm hasn't lost much physicality even with losing 20 pounds.
Gene Cross spent most of practice with a group of recruits and families. I really like his ability to connect with the players. He's going to be a heck of a head coach when he gets the chance.
All in all, a very encouraging day for basketball. This has the potential to be a very good season, although we won't know for sure until January.
Friday, October 19, 2007
Walking around the Joyce Center today I did get the opportunity to speak with Kearney and Gene Cross a little. Both extremely outgoing gentlemen. Cross mentioned his cautious optimism for the season but was certainly excited about our prospects. Kearney went a little more in depth with Luke Harangody's situation, mentioning nothing will be certain until the cast comes off. Until then he is confident that Kurz, Zeller, and Hillesland will be able to hold down the post positions.
Mark Sanchez will start for the Trojans tomorrow at quarterback. Let's hope he hangs out with McCleod Bethel-Thompson on the weekends. I must say that most of the Southern Cal fans I have talked to so far have been civil. I haven't seen any with horns on their heads... yet.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
A little off topic, I spoke to a Georgetown grad who's already planning on buying tickets to San Antonio. It would be nice to see the Irish disappoint him at the Joyce, but the only game this year is in D.C.
And Mike Coffey has some insights on how to bolster our Non-Conference schedule. Pretty good stuff, but the schedule's already set. I'd rather focus on staying undefeated until January.
Look's like Joey Harrington's out as starting quarterback for the Falcons, so there's no longer any reason for to care about pro football. I wonder if it was confusing having a Pitino and a Petrino at Louisville last year... nevermind.
EDIT: Note the cool little label at the bottom of this post. This year you can look forward to other neat additions to this blog. Aren't you excited?
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Time to take away Kelvin Sampson's phone and send him to his room, the oft-investigated Indiana coach has struck again. Sanctioned by the University, the team will lose a scholarship next season and Coach Sampson can forget about his scheduled $500,000 raise. But haven't we heard this story before? The NCAA punished Oklahoma for 577 unauthorized phone calls made during Sampson's tenure. Fran Fraschilla has this to say about Sampson's troubles.
When you hire a guy with this kind of track record, you have to be prepared for the consequences. Unfortunately, Indiana is unwilling and/or unable to break ties with Sampson over the current issue. Not that I envy the school's situation. On the verge of a great season, this is the last problem any serious program (especially one with a rather clean history) wishes to deal with. For some feedback around Bloomington, click here.
Forget recruiting, sanctions, and everything else... it's time to focus on real basketball. College Hoops Net has a nice breakdown of the upcoming season. Hopefully Saturday I'll be able to give you a breakdown of the scheduled public practice. Hope you're enjoying your last few days off before the season starts, we hit the ground running in November.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
In other big news, the season tickets arrived in the mail today. You can look forward to another great year of analysis from yours truly after every mathup this season. 23 days until the first exhibition game against St. Ambrose.
Sunday, October 07, 2007
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.