#45 Notre Dame Men's Basketball 2014-2015 Preview

Notre Dame Fighting Irish

2014-2015 Overall Rank: #45
Conference Rank: #8 ACC

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The expectations for Notre Dame were high heading into last season and they were doing alright for a while. However, the suspension of Jerian Grant a dozen games into the year put an end to the Fighting Irish’s hopes of making a big impact in their first season in the ACC. Notre Dame went just 6-12 in conference play and ended up with a 15-17 overall record. Grant is back though and this is a team that should improve with his leadership. In those dozen games last year, Grant averaged 19.0 points and 6.2 assists. Two years ago, through a full season, he led the Irish with 13.3 points and 5.5 assists.

2013-14 Record: 15-17, 6-12
2013-14 Postseason: none
Coach: Mike Brey
Coach Record: 300-159 at Notre Dame, 399-211 overall

Who’s Out:
Eric Atkins stepped into a leadership role in the backcourt with Grant gone and averaged 13.9 points and 4.9 assists during his senior season. It is unfortunate that Atkins and Grant didn’t get to spend another full season together, because they were a great backcourt duo. A couple key pieces in the frontcourt are gone too. Garrick Sherman really stepped up his game last year and the 6-10 center averaged 13.5 points and a team high 7.3 rebounds. Tom Knight averaged about 15 minutes per game off of the bench and was always good on the glass.

Who’s In:
The frontcourt adds Bonzie Colson, Martin Geben and Austin Torres. Colson is undersized at 6-5 and 225 pounds, but he is tough and knows how to score around bigger players. Geben is a typical European pick and pop player who can knock down jumpers. He is not afraid to get into the paint either and will use his 6-9, 230 pound frame. Colson and Geben both played well during the team’s trip to Italy over the summer and will get a chance to crack the regular rotation. Point guard Matt Farrell could see a few minutes as a freshman. He has nice vision and can create for his teammates.

Who to Watch:
But minutes will be tough to come by on the perimeter. In fact, Coach Mike Brey ran a smaller lineup during the trip to Italy and it worked out well. He put guards Demetrius Jackson, Pat Connaughton and Steve Vasturla in with Grant to form what is basically a four guard lineup. Jackson started 15 games during his freshman campaign and has a lot of pressure on him to replace Atkins running the show. Jackson is a talent, but this is a different role than last year. Vasturia showed promise as a freshman and kept getting better. He is still getting better and should take a big step up in production. Connaughton is the more experienced wing and averaged 13.8 points per game in 2013-2014. He is also a great rebounder for a 6-5 wing and a great passer. Connaughton really picked up the team on the floor when Grant was gone and he will join Grant as a leader of this team.

Final Projection:
The backcourt should be in great shape and ready to compete with anybody in the ACC. The development of the young frontcourt will be the difference between a team that meanders around the middle of the pack and a team that makes the NCAA Tournament. At 6-10 and 242 pounds Zach Auguste is the biggest player on the roster. He only averaged 16.3 minutes per game as a sophomore, yet was very productive on both ends of the floor. Junior Austin Burgett and skinny 6-8 sophomore V.J. Beachem did not make much of an impact in 2013-2014, but do have potential and offer Coach Brey options to play bigger.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA Tournament

Projected Starting Five:
Demetrius Jackson, Sophomore, Guard, 6.0 points per game
Jerian Grant, Senior, Guard, 19.0 points per game
Steve Vasturla, Sophomore, Guard, 5.0 points per game
Pat Connaughton, Senior, Guard, 13.8 points per game
Zach Auguste, Junior, Forward, 6.7 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 72.0 (137th in nation, 3rd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 70.6 (195, 13)
Field-Goal Percentage: 45.5 (102, 6)
Field-Goal Defense: 45.1 (245, 13)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.1 (86, 3)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 35.8 (106, 5)
Free-Throw Percentage: 71.8 (106, 5)
Rebound Margin: 1.2 (152, 11)
Assists Per Game: 15.1 (35, 3)
Turnovers Per Game: 10.3 (26, 5)

Madness 2015 NBA Draft Rankings:
#54 Jerian Grant


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