Notre Dame Fighting Irish
2012-2013 Overall Rank: #13
Conference Rank: #3 Big East
Notre Dame Team Page
Notre Dame bowed out of the NCAA Tournament earlier than hoped last season, and most seasons over the last few years for that matter, but the fact is the program has gone 27-9 in Big East play over the last two years. Winning a Big East title is the next step. However, more importantly, the Irish are looking for more success in March. With five starters returning who have been through the grind already, this should be the season Notre Dame takes that next step.
2011-12 Record: 22-12, 13-5
2011-12 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Mike Brey
Coach Record: 260-132 at Notre Dame, 359-184 overall
The only loss from last season is 6-7 guard Alex Dragicevich. He is off to Boston College after averaging 6.6 points per game with the Irish. Notre Dame may miss his scoring off of the bench, but that production is replaceable. Tim Abromaitis is also gone. The former starter averaged 15.4 points and 6.1 rebounds two years ago. Last season he played in just two games before suffering a season ending injury. His absence certainly hurt the Fighting Irish on the glass during the 2011-2012 campaign, but they did pretty well without him.
Garrick Sherman, a transfer from Michigan State, will immediately help the rebounding problem. Sherman, a 6-10 senior, was a part-time starter for the Spartans before heading to South Bend. Sherman has the size, strength and experience to step right into the starting lineup if Coach Mike Brey needs a bigger lineup on the floor. Coach Brey has even more size coming in this year. Zach Auguste, an incoming freshman, is an athletic power forward who is expected to work his way into the regular rotation up front. Having that depth in the frontcourt is huge for Notre Dame. Eric Katenda and Austin Burgett are a couple more freshmen who will add depth to the frontcourt. Small forward Cameron Biedscheid is a versatile player who can handle the ball, shoot and has the size to attack the basket. It will be tough for anybody to crack the regular rotation on the perimeter, but Biedscheid has the size and versatility to make a big impact right away.
Who to Watch:
When Pat Connaughton stepped into the starting lineup, Notre Dame’s season turned around. As a freshman he averaged 7.0 points and 4.4 rebounds. His 6-5 frame helped turn an awful rebounding team into just a bad rebounding team. That is an area where everybody needs to improve, but the new depth in the frontcourt will help out everybody. Connaughton is a quality outside shooter and has the potential to turn into a great all-around scorer. Scott Martin is a big guard who has been around for a long time. At 6-8, Martin plays some at the power forward position for Notre Dame. He does some decent work on the glass, but this is where the Irish really missed Abromaitis last season. Martin is a good scorer, although his outside shot was just not falling last year. If he starts shooting more efficient, Martin can easily improve on his 9.5 points per game. The most important player in the frontcourt is Jack Cooley. The 6-9 senior had a breakout season last year, leading Notre Dame with 12.5 points, 8.9 rebounds and 1.6 blocks. Cooley is a great scorer in the paint and that opens up space for everybody else to shoot or slash to the basket. Coach Brey may play Cooley and Sherman together at times. Both are solid, tough post players and the Irish will at least be able to put more big men on the floor when rebounding becomes too much of a problem. With depth provided by the newcomers and senior Tom Knight, the frontcourt is in great shape.
Eric Atkins and Jerian Grant rarely leave the floor. Both Atkins and Grant are quality ball handlers who can also shoot the ball. The Irish almost always have two point guards and two three-point shooters on the floor with Atkins and Grant. That is a rare combination. Atkins averaged 12.1 points and 4.1 assists while knocking down 37.5 percent of his attempts from long range. Grant added 12.3 points and 5.0 assists. Both are also solid defenders. Grant, at 6-5, is a bit more versatile than the 6-1 Atkins, but both are capable of having great junior campaigns. Joey Brooks will add some depth to the perimeter, but mostly players like Martin and Connaughton will move over to the shooting guard position on those rare occasions when Atkins or Grant need a break. The amount of talent on Notre Dame is undeniable. With quality depth in the frontcourt, this group should have no excuses come March. A Big East title may be asking too much, but a serious run in March is very feasible.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Eric Atkins, Junior, Guard, 12.1 points per game
Jerian Grant, Junior, Guard, 12.3 points per game
Pat Connaughton, Sophomore, Guard, 7.0 points per game
Scott Martin, Senior, Guard, 9.5 points per game
Jack Cooley, Senior, Forward, 12.5 points per game
Madness 2012 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#45 Cameron Biedscheid
#106 Zach Auguste