Saturday, October 31, 2009

Football Wins Big

Not enough time to get a solid post in tonight, but congrats to the football team for a nice victory in San Antonio. Also big props to the Oregon ducks for a record victory over a Pete Carroll USC squad. We'll get back to basketball tomorrow. The first exhibition game against Lewis will give us a good first look at this team.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Taking a Peak at the Big East

We won't face these guys until January (ok, late December), but here are a few things to watch from the other teams in the league.

Is Villanova a legitimate frontrunner? They should be favored in every nonconference game, but a slip-up in Puerto Rico (a three-game tournament with only one other NCAA tournament team, Dayton) could spell trouble. they lose Dante Cunningham, but Scottie Reynolds, Corey Stokes, and Corey Fisher are all back to lead a three-guard offense.

How will Marquette handle the loss of three stars? Dominic James, Wesley Matthews, and Jerel McNeal are all gone, making the Golden Eagles one of the few programs to lose more production through graduation than Notre Dame. The Big East coaches rank Marquette twelfth, but it is hard to see them falling that far. We will really see how good a coach Buzz Williams is in his second campaign as the head man.

How many Big East teams will make the tournament this year? Five are ranked in the AP poll, compared with seven a year ago in the preseason. Seven Big East teams ended up making the NCAA tournament as well last season. If the Irish play to their preseason ranking, they will be right on the bubble come Selection Sunday. Finishing at least in the top six of the conference should be expected for a comfortable automatic bid.

I am travelling down to San Antonio for the football game tomorrow and may not be able to post during the trip, but will definitely get out a full season preview by the end of the weekend. Have a good Friday, everyone.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


After the Maui Invitational, Ohio State, and UCLA last year, Coach Brey has lightened the load for the nonconference schedule a bit this season. The results aren't too pretty.

2009 Pomeroy Rankings of Non-Conference Opponents-
North Florida- 335
St. Francis- 319
Long Beach St.- 174
Liberty- 210
Kennesaw St.- 338
Northwestern- 70 (Chicago Invitational Challenge)
Idaho St.- 190
Central Florida- 136
IUPUI- 178
Loyola Marymount- 320
UCLA- 12
Bucknell- 291

With the exceptions of UCLA, Northwestern, and Central Florida (a solid but beatable mid-major) this schedule will lead the team to a low RPI for little reason. Good RPI-conscious programs have learned to walk the line between scheduling good competition and avoiding an embarrassing early loss.

Take a peak at Gonzaga, a program that has lifted itself out of the mid-major range through intelligent scheduling.

2009 Non-Conference Opponent Rankings-
1-50- 8
51-100- 1
101-200- 2
200-300- 2
300+- 2

While a major conference team like Notre Dame does not necessarily need to schedule as many top 50 programs as Gonzaga, we really should avoid playing the dregs of the world.

Instead of playing upwards of nine teams who will fail to make a remotely competitive go of things in the Pavilion, Coach Brey should be lining up a handful of midlevel Missouri Valley or Horizon League teams. Even a home-and-home with a good midwestern Catholic school such as Dayton would be nice to see. Any game against these teams should be a win in almost every circumstance, but would ensure that the Irish keep a high RPI and the strongest tournament resume possible.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Frontcourt Preview

Luke Harangody is back for one last campaign and figures to finish his career at or near the leader for total points and rebounds in a Notre Dame jersey.


Tim Abromaitis- LaPhonso Ellis has been high on this guy since he stepped on campus, but Irish fans have yet to see much have him just yet. After redshirting last season, the twenty-year-old junior has grown up a bit and seems to have passed Carleton Scott for the starting position. Either way, look for both guys to get twenty minutes a game, a la Hillesland and Ayers. I haven't heard anything confirmed about Abro sitting out six games, can anyone support this rumor?

Ty Nash- This 6'8" bruiser impressed in limited action last year with his hustle. He isn't the most polished player, but should provide good rebounding numbers alongside Harangody. He better improve that awful free throw percentage (54% last year), because he could be an offensive weapon with the ability to draw contact under the hoop.

Luke Harangody- The odds-on favorite to win his second conference player of the year trophy, Harangody struggled a bit last season when his senior-laded supporting cast failed to pull through during conference action. Though his shooting percentage was down, he notched career highs in points and rebounds and developed a very scary knack for hitting open three pointers. Though he gave the NBA a good look, Luke returned and should perform just as well against college opponents this season. If he can repeat his stats, win some more individual hardware, and bring the team back to the NCAA Tournament, he will not only complete his journey into the ranks of greatest Notre Dame players ever but should earn some solid dough in the pros next season.


Carleton Scott- With transfer Scott Martin out for the year, this Scott will figure into playing time left in the injured junior's wake. Like Tim Abromaitis, Carleton has three years of eligibility remaining. While Abro is the better shooter of the two, Scott has the most athleticism of anyone on the team and will likely be a difference maker in good minutes off the bench.

Mike Broghammer, Tom Knight, Jack Cooley- The three freshman have received solid reviews from Coach Brey, but will not get a ton of playing time this year. Cooley is the best of the bunch, ranked 26th among power forwards by He could earn seven or eight minutes a game spelling Nash and Harangody. One of the other two may redshirt.

Scott Martin- Most highly recruited player on the roster out of high school, Martin was expected to make a big impact before tearing his ACL. He will have two more years of eligibility at Notre Dame.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Backcourt Preview

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.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

New Season

Alright, time to get this thing off the ground. With the first exhibition game in a week, look for posts previewing the season over the next several days.

The biggest news this season?

New Lineup- Alumni Dawg Tim Abromaitis holds the inside track to replace Scott Martin at small forward this year. He will face some competition from Carleton Scott, who has seen more recent playing time with Abro redshirting last year. Throw in transfer Ben Hansbrough at shooting guard and Ty Nash taking the start at power forward to help out Tory Jackson and Luke Harangody.

New Home- Check out this Chicago Tribune article on the Purcell Pavilion. More on that after the first game.

New Number- Jackson is #3 this year after wearing #2 for his first three seasons. Interesting.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Irish 8th in Preseason Conference Poll

2009-10 BIG EAST Preseason Coaches' Poll


1. Villanova (10)


2. West Virginia (5)


3. Connecticut (1)


4. Louisville


5. Georgetown


6. Syracuse


7. Cincinnati


8. Notre Dame


9. Pittsburgh


10. Seton Hall


11. St. John's


12. Marquette


13. Providence


14. USF


15. Rutgers


16. DePaul


And Harangody is preseason Player of the Year. Can't put too much stock into these polls, but good to see Luke get some credit. The Irish typically outperform predictions of mid-conference finishes under Coach Brey, so let's hope this year is no exception.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Scott Martin Out for the Season

Huge loss for the team and very disappointing for Scott who already lost a year of eligibility for transferring. Look for Carleton Scott to take the starting small forward slot now, but we lose a ton in depth and talent without the Purdue transfer.