Last season's preview is here.
We didn't get the production expected from this year's senior class, so it's back to the drawing board. Luke Harangody has hinted in interviews that he will be back (I'd be shocked if he wasn't) and Tory Jackson returns to run an offense that sees some talented newcomers.
Projected Starting Lineup-
PG- Tory Jackson
SG- Ben Hansbrough
SF- Scott Martin
PF- Ty Nash
PF- Luke Harangody
Sixth Man- Carleton Scott
Question Mark- Joey Brooks
Tory returns to lead the team one final season. Ben Hansbrough should fill Kyle McAlarney's shoes nicely. A pretty good shooter (41% from beyond the arc as a freshman, 36% sophomore year at Mississippi State), Hansbrough will also add bring a little more athleticism and defense, two things Kyle lacked. He will get more shots than McAlarney as well, who was shut down most of the season. Jonathan Peoples will be a backup once again.
Scott Martin, the fourth best small forward recruit in the country a couple years ago, should get first crack at starting small forward. He played pretty well as a freshman at Purdue and I really like his upside. Carelton Scott should finally get some playing time and it will be interesting to see how he performs. He is the best athlete on the team and could be a big difference maker on both ends of the floor.
I put incoming freshman Joey Brooks as the question mark. He led Strake Jesuit to a very impressive run in the Texas state playoffs this season and has mentioned in interviews his willingness to be a lockdown defender next year. We certainly need that. If he can devote all his energy to being the defensive stopper, he has a chance of cracking the rotation.
With Hasheem Thabeet probably leaving for the NBA and possibly DeJuan Blair as well, Luke Harangody has a very good chance of getting back to being the best player in the Big East next season. He should benefit with more playing time for Ty Nash. Nash is a much better rebounder than was Zach Hillesland and can help out on the offensive glass when Harangody steps back to hit those 10-15 footers. I think this year's team would have been much better with Nash in the starting lineup, but we'll get a good chance to watch the pairing next season.
Jack Cooley and Tom Knight could help out right away in the post and Mike Broghammer may turn into a pretty good player as well. All reports are that the four recruits are a little undervalued by the scouting services and should be good fits for the program. Harangody really needs some help in the paint, so one of these guys could see some playing time next season.
All in all, I think we'll be better next season. At the very least, I'm willing to try the unknown after the disappointments of the past six months. Our best player returns, we get a bit of a boost in athleticism, and more toughness on the boards. Mike Brey teams have consistently outperformed low expectations while caving to big hopes. Hopefully next year will be a return to the NCAA and an overall improvement in the basketball program.
Thanks to everyone for your support and loyalty this year. It has been a very long and difficult road and I, for one, am ready for a break. While the season has been a rather negative one, things never got too out of hand here. I'll be back in October for regular posting, perhaps sooner should anything unexpected pop up. Enjoy the break from Irish basketball and let's see a resurgent football team lead the way for Notre Dame athletics in the near future.