#81 Notre Dame: 2010-11 Basketball Preview
Overall Rank: #81
Conference Rank: #11 Big East Conference
2009-10: 23-12, 10-8
2009-10 postseason: NCAA
Coach: Mike Brey (211-113 at Notre Dame, 310-165 overall)
Notre Dame had an experienced point guard in Tory Jackson and one of the best big men in the nation with double-double machine Luke Harangody. Yet, the Fighting Irish still had a relatively disappointing season, finishing tied for seventh in the Big East Conference and bowing out in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at the hands of Old Dominion. Now they have to make due without the deadly inside-outside threat of Jackson and Harangody.
Key Losses: F Luke Harangody, G Tory Jackson, G Jonathan Peoples
There is no replacement for Harangody in this class, but there may be one for Jackson. Eric Atkins is the most talented recruit headed for South Bend, Indiana and could be the starting point guard from day one. He may not be as productive as Jackson any time soon, but as long as he can hang onto the ball, Notre Dame has plenty of other scoring options. The other two incoming freshman are shooting guards Alex Dragicevich and Jerian Grant, both of whom will battle for minutes off of the bench.
If Atkins cannot handle the point guard duties, the job will fall to Ben Hansbrough. While Hansbrough does his best work off of the ball, he is certainly a capable ball handler and he did dish out 4.4 assists per game last season. Hansbrough is an extremely consistent outside shooter, so having him as a secondary point guard who can spend a majority of his time working off the ball for an open shot would be beneficial. And when Hansbrough is running the point, it does not leave too many options at shooting guard besides the newcomers. The long awaited Irish debut of Scott Martin should happen this season barring another injury, but the transfer from Purdue is 6-8 and most opposing shooting guards would easily get around him off the dribble. But Martin will help lessen the blow of the graduating class with his ability to shoot, rebound and pass and is well overdue for a big season.
Perhaps just as important as the point guard position is trying to replace Harangody in the paint. Tyrone Nash started beside Harangody last season and averaged a solid 7.8 points and 5.2 rebounds. It will be interesting to see how the 6-8, 232 pound Nash plays as the key figure in the frontcourt after playing second fiddle to Harangody for so long. He has the skills to pick up his production, but he will not suddenly score 20 points per game. Carleton Scott will join Nash in the frontcourt. Scott did start nine games last season when Harangody was out with an injury, but he is not much of a scorer. Scott will hit the glass hard and block a few shots, but it is up to Nash to do the scoring in the frontcourt.
Who to Watch:
Martin is an intriguing player due to his size and ability to play on the wing, but that is nothing new to Notre Dame fans. Tim Abromaitis has been doing that for years. The 6-8 senior is best suited to play the small forward position, as he did in 2009-2010 when he averaged 16.1 points and 4.7 rebounds per game. Abromaitis is a lights out shooter who hit over two long balls per game and connected on an extremely impressive 42.9 percent of his three-point attempts. Of course with his size he also does a superb job of attacking the basket and stopping him is nearly impossible.
With Martin and Abromaitis, Notre Dame has a couple big wings who can shoot. One of them, likely Abromaitis, will have to spend some time at the four spot unless the Irish and Coach Mike Brey think they can get away with a backcourt consisting of a 6-3 point guard and two 6-8 wings. While there is a lot of talent on this team, there is a lack of depth yet again and it is difficult to see how the Irish can be better without Harangody and an experienced point guard.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NIT
Projected Starting Five:
Eric Atkins, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season
Ben Hansbrough, Senior, Guard, 12.0 ppg
Scott Martin, Senior, Guard, DNP last season
Tim Abromaitis, Senior, Forward, 16.1 ppg
Tyrone Nash, Senior, Forward, 7.8 ppg
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