Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Overall Rank: #70
Conference Rank: #10 Big East
Notre Dame Team Page
2010-11: 27-7, 14-4
2010-11 postseason: NCAA
Coach: Mike Brey (238-120 at Notre Dame, 337-172 overall)
Notre Dame has some rebuilding to do, but many times that has been when the Irish have been at their best. For that to happen again this season, Coach Mike Brey will have to get a lot out of his starting forward Tim Abromaitis. The 6-8, 235 pound senior averaged 15.4 points and 6.1 rebounds during his junior campaign. He will need to emerge as a leader on and off the field this season. Abromaitis is not your typical big man. He is a superb outside shooter and knocked down 42.9 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc. Despite his multi-faceted scoring, Abromaitis is a fine rebounder and stays under the basket on defense and gets the job done in that regard.
Carleton Scott and Tyrone Nash were the slightly more traditional big men. Scott averaged 11.2 points and a team high 7.4 rebounds and 1.9 blocks. He was also a solid shooter and guarding him was a nightmare. Scott’s ability to be a perimeter threat while still banging in the paint more than a player like Abromaitis will be greatly missed. Nash was another forward who actually spent most of his time under the basket. He quietly averaged 9.5 points per game and did a lot of the dirty work in the frontcourt. Replacing Scott and Nash might be what keeps this team from reaching another NCAA Tournament. In the Big East, not having a big body under the basket is a problem, although Notre Dame has rarely had a huge body under the basket and has fared quite well. The big loss in the backcourt is Ben Hansbrough. The big guard led the team with 18.4 points and 4.3 assists. When the Irish needed a big shot, it was Hansbrough who would take it. He connected on 43.5 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc, but turned into much more than just a shooter by his senior season.
Jerian Grant sat out last season. He was recovering from an injury, but Coach Brey also made it quite clear that the 6-5 wing would not see much playing time. That may change with a year in the system. Grant is a great athlete who can do pretty much everything. He has the size to attack the basket and the athleticism to finish. He is also a fine rebounder and a surprisingly good passer. Grant could emerge as a starter on the wing, but he needs to prove that he has grown up and is ready to take on a big role. Starting or not, Grant will be asked to play quite a few minutes. He will get some competition from incoming freshman Pat Connaughton. The 6-5 wing is bulking up a little bit, but he is already a solid rebounder who has plenty of toughness. However, Connaughton is also a fine shooter and could be a big time scorer sooner or later.
Who to Watch:
Sophomore Eric Atkins will take over the starting point guard duties this year. He played quite a few minutes last year, mostly in a backup role, but he was the only true point guard on the roster last season. Atkins did a fine job taking care of the ball, but the sophomore needs to develop into a better scorer. Atkins will run the point either way due to lack of other options, but if he could emerge as a dangerous scoring option, Notre Dame may sport a surprisingly productive offense. Scott Martin had a decent first year at Notre Dame after spending a couple seasons on the sidelines as a transfer and with injuries. At 6-8, he is a dangerous wing who can shoot over opposing defenders and use his size to score inside. He averaged 9.7 points and 4.8 rebounds last season, but should see his scoring output increase drastically with Hansbrough, Scott and Nash out of the picture. Sophomore Joey Brooks will battle it out with the newcomers for playing time in the backcourt.
The Irish do have some intriguing options in the frontcourt. And some of them have to step up big time if Coach Brey wants to compete in the Big East. Jack Cooley is a 6-9, 244 pound junior who averaged a mere 10.3 minutes per game last year. However, he was pretty productive during those minutes and a starting job up front should be his to lose. Tom Knight has been waiting patiently for an opportunity to play. At 6-9 and 253 pounds, Knight is a big body who is surprisingly nimble out on the perimeter. Those two will not have to score a ton, but they will need to be tough defenders and offset the unexpected loss of Scott and the toughness of Nash.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NIT
Projected Starting Five:
Eric Atkins, Sophomore, Guard, 5.8 points per game
Pat Connaughton, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season
Scott Martin, Senior, Guard, 9.7 points per game
Tim Abromaitis, Senior, Forward, 15.4 points per game
Jack Cooley, Junior, Forward, 3.7 points per game
Madness 2011 Men's Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#122 Eric Katenda
#126 Patrick Connaughton
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