2008 Notre Dame Fighting Irish Basketball Preview
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish (25-8 overall, 14-4 Big East) went to the Big Dance last year and the year before. The fact is that this team, which is coached by Mike Brey, is one of the best in the Big East. A couple of years ago, they were the surprise team of the season. This year, they are potential Big East champions.
2007-2008 Big East Player of the Year, Luke Harangody (29.0 MPG 20.4 PPG, 10.6 RPG, 1.7 APG, 50.0 FG%, 76.3 FT%), becomes the big man upfront, replacing the hardnosed play of forward Rob Kurz. Harangody’s breakthrough season last year included a penchant for double-doubles. With Kurz gone, seniors Luke Zeller (11.8 MPG, 4.5 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 0.4 APG, 42.6 FG%, 53.8 FT%), at forward/center, and Zach Hillesland (22.4 MPG, 6.1 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 2.5 APG, 50.0 FG%, 76.3 FT%), at forward, should see increased play and an expansion of their responsibilities. Zeller can hit threes and has improved his interior play, while Hillesland is extremely versatile.
Junior Tory Jackson (32.8 MPG, 8.0 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 5.8 APG, 38.6 FG%, 52.0 FT%) offers fine court vision and smart play at the point. Jackson is strong on “D” and a fine playmaker. The shooting spot is ably manned by senior Kyle McAlarney (35.7 MPG, 15.1 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 3.5 APG, 43.6 FG%, 82.1 FT%). McAlarney hit threes at the rate of 44.1% last season and his foul shot is one of the best on the team. Combo guard Ryan Ayers (25.2 MPG, 7.8 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 1.2 APG, 45.7 FG%, 75.0 FT%), a senior, also has a fine shot from downtown, hitting 45.1% of his treys. Junior Jonathan Peoples (11.5 MPG, 3.3 PPG, 1.6 RPG, 1.1 APG, 44.2 FG%, 84.4 FT%) is especially useful at the foul stripe.
The Irish went two deep in the NCAA Tournament in 2007-2008. In
20006-2007, they were out after one game. The three prior seasons,
they simply played in the NIT. This year, Notre Dame could certainly
finish in second or third place and go deep into the NCAA Tournament.