2007 Notre Dame Fighting Irish Basketball Preview
The Fighting Irish of Notre Dame (24- 8 overall, 11- 5 Big East) finished fifth in the Big East and were in the March Madness brackets. Last year’s 24 wins were amazing, considering they had won an average of 17.5 games over the three prior years. This year, coach Mike Brey (146- 78 in seven years with Notre Dame, 241- 129 overall in 12 years) has seven of his top nine scorers returning. That’s good news for the regular and the post-season NCAA basketball preview.
The Irish tended to score a lot. In fact, Notre Dame was tops in scoring in the Big East, averaging 81.0 PPG. That stat ranked them eighth in the nation. They were third in the league in assists with 17.3 in each game. Although the Irish scoring defense was rated 13th, allowing 68.0 PPG, it still made the team plus-13 in PF/PA. That was the largest positive margin in the league.
In the frontcourt, the Fighting Irish have captain Rob Kurz (12.6 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 50.0 FG%), a senior, leading them. Kurz became a resilient rebounder last season and his physical play will be invaluable in 2007- 2008. In his first season, forward Luke Harangody (11.2 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 45.9 FG%) ably muscled opponents in the paint, supporting the powerful play of Kurz. The skilled Zach Hillesland (5.8 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 57.9 FG%) brings a fine touch to the front area.
Junior guard Kyle McAlarney (10.3 PPG, 5.4 APG, 48.8 FG%) and sophomore guard Tory Jackson (7.8 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 4.3 APG, 41.6 FG%) will see action in the backcourt and in our NCAA predictions. With McAlarney, Jackson combines upfront as a potent force. McAlarney scores points in bunches and Jackson provides solid play alongside. The versatile Ryan Ayers (2.9 PPG, 1.4 RPG, 41.8 FG%) will float between the frontcourt and backcourt.
Last season, the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame proved to be physical and smart as they performed as over-achievers in the tough Big East. This season the Irish will once again give opponents a tough battle, making it into March Madness coverage for a second straight year. They probably won’t go too deep, but Notre Dame won’t give up without a fight either.