July 07, 2008

ND Hoops Update

As far as I'm concerned, it is NEVER too early to discuss Notre Dame basketball. I know football season is approaching, but let's get a little rundown of what has been going on lately in the world of ND hoops (don't worry ND football fans, there will be plenty for you in the near future).

First, congrats to Coach Brey on the new extension to 2014-15. I'll admit to being a Brey apologist, but I think we have the most underrated coach in the country. Brey is on the verge of doing big things at ND, and it's time to get on board and show him some support. I'm looking right at you, ND administration. Get the man the facilities that he deserves, and we might start seeing some blue chippers trickling into this program. It is borderline miraculous what he has been able to do in luring players to South Bend with the resources that he has had to work with. Brey is an asset to this university, and it is time for the school to start treating him that way.

Quick recruiting update - We've been on this Ryan Kelly kid for quite some time, and it looks like he's now emerging as a top 20 recruit. I'm sure that Duke and UNC will come calling, but it would be great to steal this guy out of their backyard.

Mild concern on the current roster. Carl Scott broke his foot, so I don't know where he will fit in this year. He probably isn't looking at huge minutes this year anyway with Hillesland and Ayers ahead of him, but I am hoping that he finds a niche on this team at some point. Just watching him in the warmups at the South Florida game, he's an impressive athlete. Probably the one guy on the team with game-changing athleticism.

Who is starting at the three and four now that Kurz is gone?? Will Ayers slide back in to the starting lineup or is there going to be some sort of "big" lineup with Hillesland and Zeller. Can Hillesland play the 4 if Ayers started at the 3?? Should Zeller be starting?? I'm not seeing that, but I also don't really like Zeller as a 6th man for this team. I'd almost say that I like Nash to become the new sixth man with Zeller also coming off the bench as a 3rd big man. Throw in Peoples as a 3rd guard and maybe Abro coming off the bench, and that's a decent bench.

Scheduling update - For years and years, ND fans have been complaining about the weak nonconference schedules that have hurt our RPIs and our NCAA chances/seeding, but things have taken a dramatic change for the better this year. In retrospect, I am ok with how the schedules have played out the last couple years. Brey was guiding younger teams in need of a confidence boost, so it made sense to get some wins under our belt before conference season. We started out a little slow last year with the losses to Baylor and Georgia Tech, so playing a bunch of tough OOC games could have put us in a serious hole.

With the veteran team returning, Brey and the boys have seriously amped up the schedule. I like the move. This team has been playing together for three years now, so we should be ready to go right out of the chute.

Quick rundown of some of the scheduled OOC games:

at Loyola Marymount -

A fairly interesting game before heading out to Maui for the Maui Invitational. Should be a good warmup for us to get ready for Maui, and it would be a decent RPI win in the weighted system for road games. Considering that we have had problems on the road in Big East play due to a lack of experience on the road, I like that we set this game up to get our feet wet away from home. It's been a few years since we played a mid-major on the road, so hopefully we are ready to play.

Maui Classic -

Obviously, this tournament is going to be a great experience for "our guys" (to borrow a Mike Brey phrase) with Alabama, Indiana, North Carolina, Oregon, Saint Joe, and Texas in the field. Wow, it would be great to make a run in Maui and prove that we are a legit top 5 team. Are we the second best team in this field?? UNC is going to be ridiculous this year, but we can beat everyone else. Would love to play UNC in the final.

Ohio State - Color me fired up!! Just mark your calendars now for that December 6 doubleheader with ND-OSU and IU-Gonzaga. WOW. We might have to get a weisnd.blogspot.com road trip together for that one. I'm definitely getting tickets. Looking forward to seeing Lucas Oil Stadium in person.

OSU should be a great matchup for us.
Freshman point guard - Crater
Freshman center - Mullens
Freshman wing - Buford
6'4 power forward who has the body of a shooting guard - Lighty
sophomore shooting guard - Turner

Harangody is going to score 35 against Ohio State, and Tory/KMac should light them up. With our experience, we should be able to win this game comfortably. Good game for RPI purposes.


WOW. Probably the marquee game on the schedule. 3 straight Final Fours on their resume, so it could be a tough task to go to Pauley Paviloion and beat the Bruins. A win here would be unreal and probably put us into the #1/#2 seed conversation.

Conference schedule:
St. John's
Seton Hall
South Florida
at Connecticut
at Louisville
at St. John's
at Cincinnati
at DePaul
at Pittsburgh
at Providence
at Syracuse
at West Virginia

Looks like we have "two fer" games with UConn, Louisville, and St. Johns. The Big East didn't do us any favors this year. Not an easy slate by any stretch, and Brey mentioned in the South Bend Tribune that we have an "A" schedule this year. I guess you had to figure it was coming with all of our success the last couple years. It'll be interesting to see if we can break the Big East consecutive home wins record. Gtown, Louisville, and Connecticut look like our toughest home games this year.

Bottom line, the schedule is going to be much tougher this year, but it will work out really well for us if we are as good as we are all hoping. If we do well in Maui, play UCLA tough, win the other games and put together a 13-5 type year in the Big East, we are in great shape for a really high seed. I won't even broach the #1 seed talk at this point, but it is fun to think about.

Now is the time to get on board with ND basketball. If you wait any longer, you're missing out. This program is set up for a Sweet 16 (and beyond??) type run this year, and there looks to be very little drop off with Hansbrough and Martin coming in for 2009 to go with Harangody. and Tory Jackson.

1 comment:

Jeremy said...

I figured you'd be all over this story Doug. Its certainly never too early for some ND hoop.

I know I've been an outspoken Brey critic over the years, but I'm starting to come into the light. It seems like he's got an idea of the type of player he wants for his system and he's obviously had success getting them lately. I'd like to see him make a bigger splash in recruiting but agree that facilities need to be addressed immediately. Also - I'm still a little gun-shy when it comes to the big recruits. Even 3+ years after leaving campus, I've still got a bad taste in my mouth from the Thomas-Francis era.