#18 Notre Dame Fighting Irish: College Basketball 111 in 111

notre dame cheerleading

Welcome to The Sports Bank’s third annual college basketball season preview series.  Two years we looked at 99 teams in 99 days.  Last year, we were slightly more aggressive and expanded to 111 teams in 111 days and will do so again as we look ahead to the 2012-2013 season.

We will rank the 75 power conference teams and top 36 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order.  We’ll break down rosters, transfers, incoming freshmen, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.

Mike Brey continues to produce results as Notre Dame Fighting Irish head coach.  With pretty much everybody back from last year, ND will once again be a major player in what figures to be their final year as members of the Big East Conference.

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Notre Dame Will Be Tim Abromaitis’ Team This Season

tim abromaitis notre dame

Notre Dame basketball had an unexpected breakthrough season last year, even though it ended very poorly. They had the second best record in the Big East and were just one Big East tournament win away from probably securing a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Of course, there was the disaster upset to #10 seed Florida State very close to home at Chicago’s United Center. Still it doesn’t take away from all that the team accomplished last year.

Last year’s Big East Player of the Year Ben Hansbrough is now playing professionally in Germany.

However, Tim Abromaitis is still in South Bend, and he’s a nightmare match-up due to his ability to stroke it from deep and use his size to back down defenders in the post.

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#34 Notre Dame Fighting Irish: College Basketball 111 in 111

cheerleading

Welcome to The Sports Bank’s second annual college basketball season preview series.  Last year we looked at 99 teams in 99 days.  This year, we are being slightly more aggressive and expanding to 111 teams in 111 days.  We will rank the 74 power conference teams and top 37 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order.  We’ll break down rosters, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.

In losing Luke Harangody, expectations were lower for Notre Dame last season.  However, their veteran line-up rose to the challenge, finishing with the second best record in the Big East and earning a number two seed in the NCAA Tournament.  With three starters gone from a year ago, the Fighting Irish are again flying under the radar heading into the 2011-2012 season.

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99 in 99: #39 Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Notre Dame basketball

The Big East is once again stacked this year.  Eight of the top 39 teams in my “99 in 99” college basketball preview rankings call the conference home.  Notre Dame comes in at #39 despite losing four-year starters Luke Harangody and Tory JacksonClick here if you missed teams #40-#99.

You can also check out Paul M. Banks’ story from the Irish’s media day.

By: David Kay
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Notre Dame taking on Kentucky in SEC/Big East Invitational

notre dame cheerleader

Notre Dame men’s basketball team is scheduled to meet Kentucky at Freedom Hall in Louisville, Ky., on Wednesday, Dec. 8 as part of the 2010 DIRECTV SEC/BIG EAST Invitational.  The Irish will be making their first-ever appearance in the major college basketball event.

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Northwestern-Notre Dame Private School Battle for Chicago’s Heart

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By Paul M. Banks

Welcome to the Chicago Invitational Challenge Live blog day one. It’s both an invitational and a challenge. Not just an invitational, nor merely a challenge, or tournament. But a challenge and an invitational. The fun started at noon today with the mid-majors going at it, but the action ramps up with Iowa St. vs. Saint Louis. Where it’s currently 30-27 ISU.

This is actually a pretty good undercard bout as the Cyclones boast two players who have a very high chance of going in the first round of the NBA Draft: forwards Craig Brackins and Marquis Gilstrap. And SLU has former ESPN analyst and coaching legend Rick Majerus at the helm. He’s spent most of the first half here at the UIC pavilion pacing back and forth in front of me. And at approximately 7:30 we’ll move on to the main event, the title fight, Notre Dame-Northwestern, the battle between two of Chicago’s most beloved private schools. Never mind the fact that ND is a longer drive from the Second City than Champaign, and in another state and time zone from Chicago, this will truly be a match-up between two Chicago teams. Here at the “Chicago Invitational Challenge”

In the words of the Black Eyed Peas, “Let’s get it started in here! Let’s get it started in HAAAHHHHH!”

ISU-SLU 41-31 14 min left.

Attendance here is…a bit sparse. As are pretty much all holiday tournaments. Mostly because everyone plays on an out of town neutral court, so it’s harder to get people to travel. But  that’s truly a shame, as some of the basketball that’s played at these things is about as good as you’ll find all season. It’s still early, I’m guessing more people will come for the battle between “the two schools full of private snobs, and elitists,” or whatever people say to deride these two schools with a very high tuition. After my experience at the Bears game earlier this month, and at every Cubs game I’ve ever attended, I think elitist and snob is a complement. Pro sports, or at least the people who ended up sitting next to me at Cubs and Bears games, could learn a thing or two from the “snobs” and “elitists”. Maybe that’s why I like college sports so much better than the pros, less people on parole (or will be someday) in the stands next to you.

Or simply Bears fans are utterly disgusting sometimes…then again you heard what a Notre Dame fan did to Jimmy Clausen. And from what I hear, Clausen provoked him. Gives a new meaning to the term “Fighting Irish.”

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If I knew how to photoshop, I would put Clausen’s head on the leprecaun, with two black eyes, and have him lying on his back.

alright enough with the distractions, Iowa St. has opened a bigger lead on the Billikens now, and they’re threatening to turn this into a route. Both teams are undefeated and unranked currently, but the ‘Clones are the only team that looks like they should be ranked right now. Reigning Big 12 player of the week Craig Brackins leads the way with 15 pts so far, ISU 56-SLU 43, 4 min to go.

Iowa St. Head Coach Greg McDermott sums up the last game perfectly, “we found a way to win an ugly game, we finally got our offense in rhythm during the 2nd half.” Exactly ISU wins the 65-54. After falling behind in the 2nd half, the Cyclones stopped the Billikens on 9/10 offensive series.

Craig Brackins was a fun interview subject, one of the reporters asked him about his Tweets today. I hyperlinked his Twitter if you want to follow him, but he has to approve each and every one of his followers. If I were him, or in his situation, I would do the same. A lot of weirdoes out there, especially on online.

I have to admit I like the ND band. They play more original music, like Jimmy Buffett “Fins” and Styx “Come Sail Away”.

ND owns the series over NU 63-23-1. and this is their first meeting since 1984, which the Irish won by about 20.

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I hope this game moves at a much higher tempo than the last one. So far, not so much. ND leads 5-4 with 16:10 left in 1st half. So far they seem to be owning the paint on both ends. Stats would not exactly confirm that, but they’re using the superior size and more athletic bigs to intimidate the Cats from getting down low. I think that’s why Bill Carmody started Kyle Rowley tonight. He’s the biggest guy on the roster, even though he’s…well he’s far from leading the team in minutes per game for a good reason.

Northwestern takes their first lead on a Juice Thompson field goal, 9-8 with 13 min left in half. Now that Minnesota has knocked off Butler, NU’s lone loss this season looks a bit worse than it did before Wednesday. That said, they can redeem themselves here by giving #23 Notre Dame their first loss of the season. Good defense in this game so far, and bad shooting at both ends.

TSB readers know what I think of Tyler Hansbrough, well tonight I get to watch his little brother Ben, a two guard for the Irish. A good excuse to put my all time favorite Tyler H. pic. even though I loved Beeker from the muppets, so I hate doing that to Beeker.

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Duke N Carolina Basketball

Shooting getting uglier, but Northwestern takes a 16-10 advantage with just udner 8 min left in half. 6 pts in a game like this is…15 I guess. And what I mean by that is if you lose a game 90-82. that’s a much closer game and a lot better effort than say a 58-50 game. Seriously, the margin is the same, but it makes a difference trust me. We need a scale for this. we need a stat to measure this.

When NU forward/center Luka Mirkovic took and missed a turnaround baseline jumper, I heard someone on the NU coaching staff say “what the hell”? classic.

Even better than Rick Majerus tell one of his players “you gotta watch the f–king press” right in front of me last game.

At another timeout I hear that the new coach at Notre Dame, football I mean this time, will be Bob Stoops. seriously. And of course, every time you mention Charlie Weiss, a fat joke must follow. But I’m a professional, so I’ll let people in the comment threads handle that…if they so desire.

25 all with a min left in half. low-scoring like soccer here tonight.

John Shurna hits a lonnnnnnnnnnnnnng three as time expires to give NU a 30-27 advantage heading to the break. Shurna is starting to maybe come into his own this year. His time spent playing with the under 19 national team is paying off. He’s made a big leap from his freshman year.

When Shurna was at the podium last year, his soft-spoken, quiet nervousness reminded me of Paulie Bleeker (the guy played by Michael Cera) in the indie smash “Juno”. They kind of look alike too. I think at least.

PAULIEBLEEKERSHURNA

So when the All-American team decided to have a “white-out,” naming 3/5 Caucasian players to the first team, for no inexplicable reason, Luke Harangody received more votes than any other player in the nation. The nation? are you serious? the nation’s best player? as Duke Vitale, whoops I meant to say Dick Vitale would say ARE YOUUU SERRIOUSSSSSSSS??!!!!

I just don’t see it. I know this hasn’t exactly been Harangody’s best half ever, as he’s 3-9 shooting for 7 pts so far. Shurna leads the game with 14 pts on 5-10 from the floor. Still I don’t see what all the Harangody hullabalooza is all about.

On the strength of two Juice Thompson 3 pt FGs, NU leads 41-38 with 15:27 to go. You knew the Juice would start hitting those sometime, and that time is now.

I still love the ND band, their 80s music choices are killer. Just heard the “A Team” theme after some “867-5309 Jenny”

46-38 Northwestern now with 13:55 left. A big Jeremy Nash 3 pointer right after a Juice Thompson drive to the hole. The Juice is indeed loose.

juicy

juicefilm

If you believe in “halftime adjustments” and I sure do, then Carmody really has made some great adjsutments in the locker room. Cats lead 50-38 with 11:42 left. Upset alert?

Yes, very much upset alert. The Irish can’t seem to find a way to consistently solve NU’s smothering defense.

Hi drama here as NU’s lead gets all the more slimmer. 57-51 just over 5 minutes to play.

Usually a coach should be happy when one of his players makes a 3. But on Alex Marcotullio’s last 3 bomb, which he made. Carmody looked about as dejected and frustrated as a coach can look.

61-56 Cats 1 min to go. The upset is a brewing, remember in 1995 when no one gave NU a chance to beat ND in football, and they won 17-15 sending shockwaves throughout the sports nerd world? Some dude here has a shirt with that score on it today, and they showed him on the jumbotron!

2009-2010 Big East Basketball Preview: Part 2 of 5

harangody

by: David Kay

Part of two of our week long Big East Hoops Preview continues with the teams that will likely fall on the wrong side of the NCAA Tournament bubble.  Unfortunately, I have to include my beloved Marquette team in that category.

This list includes the most hatred duo to ever play on one college basketball team, a usual conference powerhouse re-tooling, my MU boys (tear), and a usual bottom feeder that could be poised to make some noise for the first time in almost a decade.

9. Notre Dame (9th, 8-10 in BE, 21-15 overall, NIT)

2009-2010 Outlook:
A lack of depth was a major issue as the Irish failed to live up to their lofty expectations last season, and it will once again be a concern as four important seniors graduated.  Luckily, Luke Harangody chose to come back for his senior season and Ole Miss transfer Ben Hansbrough (yes, Tyler’s little bro) should step into the starting line-up right away.  A Harangody and a Hansbrough on the same team; the hatred should be plentiful for ND this year.  Tory Jackson should be a steadying presence as he enters his fourth year as the team’s starting point guard.

Projected Depth Chart
F/C: Luke Harangody (Sr)/Thomas Knight (Fr)/Mike Broghammer (Fr)
F: Tyrone Nash (Jr)/Carleton Scott (Jr)/Jack Cooley (Fr)
SF: Scott Martin (Jr)
SG: Ben Hansbrough (Sr)/Joey Brooks (Fr)
PG: Tory Jackson (Sr)/Jonathan Peoples (Jr)

Gone: G-Kyle McAlarney, G/F-Ryan Ayers, C-Luke Zeller F-Zach Hillesland

Player to Watch: Martin- The Purdue transfer started in eight games for the Boilermakers during his freshman season.  He is a well-rounded player who can hit from the outside and will need to be a perimeter compliment to Hansbrough as sharp-shooters McAlarney and Ayers (who combined for 218 three-pointers last season) have both graduated and Jackson is inconsistent from deep.

10. Pitt (2nd, 15-3, 31-5, NCAA Elite 8 )

2009-2010 Outlook:
I realize this is low for Jamie Dixon’s team.  But losing four starters in Blair, Young, Fields, and Biggs means 59% of their scoring, 63% of their rebounding, and 60% assists from a year ago need to be replaced.  If their role players from last year can adjust to being starters under the tutelage of Dixon, there is a good chance Pitt will be tourney bound.  It doesn’t help though that returning sixth man Gilbert Brown will miss the first semester after being suspended for the first semester due to academic issues while their lone returning starter, Jermaine Dixon has a broken foot that will cause him to miss the beginning of the season.

jamie-dixon

Projected Depth Chart
F/C: Gary McGhee (Jr)/Talib Zanna (Fr)/J.J. Richardson (Fr)
F: Nasir Robinson (So)/Gilbert Brown (Jr)/Dante Taylor (Fr)/ Dwight Miller (Fr)
G: Jermaine Dixon (Sr)/Lamar Patterson (Fr)
G: Brad Wanamaker (Jr)/Tim Frye (Jr)
PG: Ashton Gibbs (So)/Chase Adams (Sr)/Travon Woodall (Fr)

Gone: C-DeJuan Blair, SF-Sam Young, PG-LaVance Fields, PF-Tyrell Biggs

Player to Watch: Gibbs- The reins of the Pitt offense will be put in Gibbs’ hands.  He helped lead the Jamie Dixon-coached U.S. U-19 team to the gold medal this summer which should be a big confidence booster as he only averaged ten minutes per game off the Panther bench last season.  Dixon needs someone to step into the leader role on the floor with four starters gone, and Gibbs will have to be that guy.  Spending a year learning from Fields could have only helped his preparation to be the Pitt floor general.

11. Marquette (5th, 12-6, 25-10, NCAA Second Round)

lazar12009-2010 Outlook:
Like Pitt, Marquette loses four starters who accounted for 67% of their scoring and 83% of their assists including their trio of four-year starting guards (McNeal, Matthews, and James.)  It will be a major transition this season as MU tries to find a new identity as six new faces join the Golden Eagles.  MU suffered a major loss in the pre-season when expected starting point guard, freshman Junior Cadougan, ruptured his Achilles tendon and will be sidelined for the season.  Still, If they can build their chemistry early in the year and Hayward emerges as a go-to player, there’s a chance Marquette could be dancing.

Projected Depth Chart
C: Chris Otule (So)/Youssoupha Mbao (Fr)
PF: Lazar Hayward (Sr)/Joe Fulce (Jr)
SF: Jimmy Butler (Jr)/Jeronne Maymon (Fr)/Erik Williams (Fr)
SG: Dwight Buycks (Jr)/David Cubillan (Sr)
PG: Mo Acker (Sr)/Daruis Johnson-Odom (So)/Junior Cadougan (Fr-out for season, ACL)

Gone: SG-Jerel McNeal, G/F-Wesley Matthews, PG-Dominic James, C-Dwight Burke

Player to Watch: Mbao- For a team that has lacked a real inside presence the past few years, having a 7’2 threat like Mbao will finally give Marquette a shot blocking threat they haven’t seen since Jim McIlvaine or Amal McCaskill.  It will just be a matter of how much Mbao will be able to contribute in his first season.  He is still rail thin and very raw, but if he can play 12-15 minutes a night right away at a very unsettled position, it could be a major boost for the Golden Eagles.

12. St. John’s (13th, 6-10, 16-18, CBI)

mason-jr2009-2010 Outlook:
Getting a medical redshirt year for senior Anthony Mason Jr. who played in just three games last season due a torn muscle in his foot was a big-time plus for a program that hasn’t had a winning record in conference play since 2001-2002.  They only lose one player who barely contributed and their recent youth movement is beginning to mature.  St. J’s could make some noise, but until they prove to be a consistent team, cannot be ranked any higher than this.

Projected Depth Chart
PF: Sean Evans (Jr)/Dale Coker (Jr)
F: D.J. Kennedy (Jr)/Justin Burrell (Jr)/Rob Thomas (Jr)
G/F: Anthony Mason Jr. (Sr)/ Omari Lawrence (Fr)
SG: Paris Horne (Jr)/Quincy Roberts (So)/Dwight Hardy (Jr)
PG: Malik Booth (Jr)/Malik Stith (Fr)

Gone: C-Tomas Jasiulionis, C-Phil Wait (transfer-Monmouth), SG-TyShawn Edmundson (So) (transfer)

Player to Watch: Horne- When Mason Jr. went down with his injury, Horne stepped up his game and finished the season at Storm’s leading scorer.  He loves to pull the trigger from deep and could be a solid compliment to Mason Jr.

WEEK LONG PREVIEW:
Monday: Teams 13-16
Wednesday: Teams 5-8
Thursday: Teams 1-4
Friday: Post-season Award Predictions