Let's take another look at how the Irish stack up this season. First, the guards. Tory Jackson returns for his senior campaign and will be joined by a newcomer with some postseason experience in Ben Hansbrough. Jonathan Peoples should figure in for his usual ten to fifteen minutes per game, while freshman Joey Brooks could see a little playing time on the wing.
Tory Jackson- The flashy veteran ballhandler from Saginaw, Michigan is back for one last run at the NCAA Tournament. Since taking over at the point for a suspended Kyle McAlarney freshman year, Jackson has grown into the heart and soul of the program. Always fun to watch on and off the court, Coach Brey and Co. will hope that Tory is able to show enough maturity as an upperclassman to avoid the mental mistakes that have sometimes plagued his career. A little too small to routinely be a threat at driving to the basket, Jackson nonetheless has had his moments as a legitimate scoring threat while wearing an Irish jersey. His freshman year performance against Georgetown in the Big East Tournament (20 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists) nearly single-handedly put Notre Dame in the finals. He improved his three-point shooting a lot last season and could help out in that category again this year, though the losses of Kyle McAlarney and Ryan Ayers will allow opposing defenses to key in on him more this season.
Ben Hansbrough- A slightly more athletic, better defending version of Kyle McAlarney, Hansbrough brings a slightly different look to the shooting guard slot for the Irish. The younger brother of Tyler Hansbrough, Ben doesn't have quite the hardware (and refuses to save puppies on cell phone commercials) but does have a little NCAA experience of his own. Made 41% of three pointers as a freshman at Mississippi State and 36% as a sophomore. 10.5 points per game and 3.8 rebounds per contest his sophomore season. Has two years of eligibility remaining after sitting out last season due to transfer regulations.
Jonathan Peoples- A career backup, Johnny Peeps should serve the same role this year. He did get a little action in a three-guard look last season, but failed to impress enough to merit a starting nod this year. Shooting percentages were way down a year ago, but hopefully he can return to his underclassman role of knocking down timely three point attempts off the bench while providing a firm hand on the steering wheel when Jackson is on the bench. Not that I expect Tory to see a whole lot of relaxation time this year. Expect Peoples' playing time to decline as the season wears on and Jackson is called on for fourty minute nights.
Joey Brooks- A slasher and good defender, Brooks could be a young Russell Carter. However, he may miss serious playing time this season as Coach Brey looks to an experienced core of players to eat up playing time. Definitely a guy to watch who could make an impact in the future on the Irish wing.