#31 Notre Dame Men's Basketball 2013-2014 Preview

Notre Dame Fighting Irish

2013-2014 Overall Rank: #31
Conference Rank:  #5 ACC

Notre Dame Team Page#31 Notre Dame Men's Basketball 2013-2014 PreviewBuy Notre Dame Basketball Tickets

It is strange to think that the Notre Dame basketball program has been a more consistent winner than the football program over the last decade.  But that is exactly where head coach Mike Brey has this program.  Seven straight 20-win seasons and four straight tournament bids says a lot about a basketball team from a football school.  Brey’s teams are always well-coached, fundamentally sound, and a tough out for every opponent they face.  They return a lot of starters as they make the jump into the ACC this season.  Can they crash the Tobacco Road party?

2012-2013 record:  25-10, 11-7 Big East
2012-2013 postseason:  NCAA
Coach:  Mike Brey
Coach Record:  285-142, 359-184 overall

Who’s Out:
The biggest loss for the Irish is Jack Cooley.  He was a machine for Brey’s team last season.  He averaged a double-double (13 points and 10 rebounds) per game throughout the year.  He was the conference leader in rebounds and top-15 in the nation in rebounding average.  The team fed off of his energy, and he left everything on the floor.  If and when he fouled out, the Irish struggled to find any sort of rhythm.  He will be a big loss, but luckily there is a lot of veteran presence on this year’s squad.  The Irish also lose Scott Martin, a player who only played in half of the games, but contributed valuable minutes when he did play.  He had the second-best three-point percentage on the team at 46 percent.

Who’s In:
Brey has four freshmen coming in that could end up being impact players later this year or next season.  V.J. Beachem is a top-20 small forward that will provide some versatility.  Demetrius Jackson, considered a top-10 point guard by Rivals.com, is a prized recruit.  He might be able to spell Eric Atkins to give the senior a breather.  Atkins played about 39 minutes per game last year.  If Jackson pans out early, that will provide the Irish with a spark late in games by keeping Atkins fresh.  They also welcome Austin Torres, a power forward, and Steve Vasturia, a very good shooting guard.  

Who to Watch:
Jerian Grant was the team’s scoring leader last year, and this year should be no different.  He will be the team’s go-to as he tries to increase his average of 13.3 points per game.  He is a strong free-throw shooter which adds to his value as a scorer.  He can drive and has a good mid-range game as well.  Pat Connaughton will be another one to watch for a different reason.  He is generally the trigger man from behind the arc.  He will look to improve his 37.7 percent average from that range this year.  This was the best team in the Big East at shooting threes last year.  They will rely on that long ball again.

Final Projection:
This might be one of the most experienced and deepest teams Mike Brey has had in South Bend in his 14 years.  Grant is a legitimate talent that can certainly lead a team to victory.  Point guard Atkins is one of the Iron Men of college basketball, playing nearly every minute the team is in motion.  Returning starters, plus some very good freshmen, add up to yet another 20-win season for Brey and the Irish.  The X-factor will be the move to the ACC where there are a bunch of talented teams standing in their way.  Notre Dame has never shied away from competition before.  They should find themselves in the top half of the conference at season’s end.

Projected Postseason Tournament:  NCAA

Projected Starting Five:
Eric Atkins, Senior, Guard, 11.2 points per game
Jerian Grant, Junior, Guard, 13.3 points per game
Patrick Connaughton, Junior, Guard, 8.9 points per game
Tom Knight, Senior, Forward, 5.5 points per game
Garrick Sherman, Senior, Center, 7.0 points per game

By the numbers:
Scoring Offense: 70.0 (107th in nation, 4th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 63.5 (94, 8)
Field-Goal Percentage: 46.2 (39, 2)
Field-Goal Defense: 42.0 (133, 12)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.5 (127, 3)  
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 37.0 (55, 1)
Free-Throw Percentage: 70.9 (119, 4)
Rebound Margin: 4.2 (51, 4)
Assists Per Game: 16.8 (6, 1)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.2 (31, 3)

Madness 2014 NBA Draft Rankings:
#35 Jerian Grant

Madness 2013 Men’s Basketball Recruiting:
#25 Demetrius Jackson
#83 V.J. Beachem
#121 Steve Vasturia


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