What an up-and-down year it's been. After an 11-2 nonconference record against the one of the easiest schedules in the country, the Irish caught some national headlines with a 70-68 home win against West Virginia. That one really was a shocker. Though it foreshadowed the great stretch run to come, there were a lot of frustrating results on the way. ND went 3-7 over its next ten games and placed itself well off the bubble with a 6-8 conference record. Luke Harangody was lost to a knee injury during this stretch and all seemed to be lost.
Starting with a home win against Pittsburgh, Coach Brey's decision to hit the brakes really saw some good results. Our "Burn" offense led to six straight wins over a few very talented opponents. All of a sudden, the Irish played themselves off of the bubble and into a six-seed in the NCAA Tournament, a result that exceeded my expectations at the beginning of the year. Another frustrating first round exit ended the season on a sour note, however, as the team couldn't buy a late basket against Old Dominion.
Coaching- (C+) The team's struggles led to my calling for Coach Brey's head in the middle of the season. Though I still do not believe that this coaching staff is the right one to take the program to the next level, they impressed by completely changing the offensive philosophy for the most inspiring late season turnaround I've seen in awhile. However, making the Tournament was the expectation this year. Another first round exit doesn't cut it.
Tory Jackson- (B) Not his best year statistically, but Tory showed off his leadership this season. The true heart and soul of the program, this season revolved around him. He will be greatly missed on the floor and in the locker room.
Ben Hansbrough- (B-) He impressed me this year. A more complete shooting guard than Kyle McAlarney, his style didn't always mesh with Jackson, but he provided an offensive threat from the shooting guard slot. On defense, he was one of our best on-ball defenders, but got lost frequently off-the-ball.
Jonathan Peoples- (D) A decent backup point guard who never should have sniffed a starting role. By the end of the year, his contributions were effectively nil.
Tim Abromaitis- (B+) Though he dropped off at the end, Abro had an excellent year. Until a skid over the last four games, he scored in double figures in all but three contests. Very impressive for a guy who redshirted last season and wasn't on the radar freshman year.
Carleton Scott (B) Growing from a guy who couldn't crack the starting lineup into our best rebounding threat with a pretty clutch stroke from three. He could be great next season.
Ty Nash (C+) Respectable season, but nothing flashy. Grew into a serviceable post threat, but was never able to put up big numbers. With Harangody out, it was Scott who carried the team on the glass.
Luke Harangody (C) One of the greatest players to ever put on a Notre Dame jersey, but used this season as an extended NBA tryout. His tendency to throw up bad three-pointers killed our offensive flow before his injury. Gets a decent grade due to his pure statistical greatness.