And in This Corner

Here come the Irish hoopsters with the best collection of talent Mike Brey has had since Troy Murphy roamed the court. Anyone who saw Notre Dame last year understands that Tory Jackson has enormous potential at point guard. Luke Harangody, another sophomore, is the best big man we’ve had since Mr. Murphy. But more importantly, Notre Dame doesn’t have any glaring holes to fill for teams to exploit. The book on ND basketball(that’s besides Coffey’s book) was always extend on the perimeter and double down inside. Teams did it with great success, but now we have players who can finish from outside, midrange and inside.

Perhaps the biggest change (besides a weak schedule) is that a team attitude seems to have taken hold. ND was notorious for defensive breakdowns and jacking threes on offense. What Brey’s team showed last year was the ability to become multi-dimensional on offense, play aggressive defense and run the ball in transition.

Thinking about the possibilities his year with an attacking offense fueled by Tory Jackson’s penetration and a low post presence by Harangody and Kurz who can kick it out to McAlarney or Ayers on the wing,… and now we also have the ability sink the 12 foot shot. Reportedly, Luke Zeller played very well overseas.

While losing Falls and Carter, we’re gaining in maturity from Brey’s best recruiting classes.

Here are some notes from JHND from the pit on Saturday’s scrimmage:

General Notes on the Upperclassmen

– Tory Jackson is outstanding. He’s quick, he’s athletic, he can finish around the hoop, he can dish the ball, and now he can shoot, too. I have to imagine that he’ll be All-Big East this year if he stays healthy.

– McAlarney looked like McAlarney. A great outside shooter, but you can kind of tell when he’s looking to shoot the ball. He looks calm and confident, though, and it looked like his defense was good. He has a serious, pissed-off (not in a bad way) demeanor to him that I
like.

– I really didn’t see much of Ayers. He made a couple of nice mini-drives into the lane from 15′ out on the wing, finished with finger rolls, but I don’t remember him shooting the ball. He’s solid, but not spectacular.

– Peoples looks pretty average to me, to be honest. I’m not sure what he brings to the table, other than another ball-handler in a
crunch. He doesn’t seem to have any confidence to shoot the ball, and Jackson
seemed to get on him at one point (seemingly only half-seriously) about never
looking for his shot.

– Kurz looked like Kurz, which is a good thing. Very polished, with nice defense and controlled outside shooting. I don’t remember his finishing around the rim to be as impressive as I was hoping, however, but he’s a great player.

– Harangody is a beast, pure and simple. There were times during the scrimmage in which he was scoring at will, and against some pretty decent defense from Zeller. He was hitting some hooks, making post moves, hitting 10′ jumpers, and hitting threes. He also seems to be making better decisions — at one point he was barreling down the court at full speed in his traditional runaway locomotive style (which would make me crap my pants if I were the opposition), and whereas last year he probably would have committed a very gruesome charge, this time he made a nice dish to a teammate, who finished easily. I can’t see why he won’t be an All-Big East player this year, and some All-America recognition wouldn’t be shocking if he were on a team
that didn’t have as many balanced scoring options.

– Zeller plays like a poor man’s Yao Ming, from this untrained eye. He seems to like to stick exclusively to turn around jumpers when gets near the rim, and he still likes to light up the three. At least he was hitting a decent amount of them. It’s funny,
because when I saw him play with the team in one of these scrimmages when he was
a high school senior, he showed a variety of post moves and baby hooks, which I
haven’t seen since. His interior defense did seem improved, which is a nice
sign.

– I like Hillesland a lot, and I hope he gets some more PT
this year at the three spot. I like him more than Ayers at the 3, because he can
drive to the hoop, is bulkier, and still plays awesome defense. His shot has
also gotten better, but regardless Brey shouldn’t feel like he needs another
shooter at the 3, when he has Jackson, McAlarney and Kurz on the floor.

General Notes on the Freshmen

– Tyrone Nash played the most out of any of the freshmen, and I expect that he’ll get decent minutes here and there, especially during the early non-conference schedule. He seems very athletic, which is something we can always use more of in our lineup (aside from Jackson), and reasonably polished.

– Carlton Scott is really, really thin, but he at least looks to have long arms and legs. He really didn’t play much, though.

– Ty Proffitt got in the scrimmage quite a bit
at the end, and showed off a very nice looking, high-arching (Matt Carroll-like)
three-point stroke. He also handles the ball well, and seems confident.

– Tim Abromaitis looked pretty good, and seemed more athletic than
I was expecting. However, he seemed to look for his outside shot way, way more
often than I thought he should (he looked to have been about 1-6 shooting from
three), but perhaps that was only because it was a scrimmage.

General Summary Thoughts

– I love the way this team seems to work very hard and aggressively on the defensive end. If that translates to games, they’ll be tough to beat just from that perspective. They play tough in the half-court set, and they hussle to get back on fast breaks. There were a couple of a nice-looking blocks today. More than anything else,
defense was something I liked the look of today.

– We have a lot of confident leadership on this team, in direct contrast with the football team, which has almost none. Kurz, McAlarney and Jackson are all great floor leaders, either by speaking, doing, or both.

– We’ll probably lack overall athleticism again in this team, but Jackson and Nash have as much as you’d ever want at their spots, and Harangody and Hillesland can hold their own in that department. Harangody seems especially improved in that area.

– I’m sure the team will again look to the three too much, even though they have
enough talent to be able to dominate from two-point range, but we’ll have to
accept that offensive strategy when our coach is from the Duke coaching tree.
They still seem to look three first, and all it would take is a little nudging
from time to time to remind them that they really are good enough to score
inside, both from passes to big men, and from drives and cuts.

– The recruit in attendance looked like a good player. Raw, but a little less so
than he was made out to be, and he looked to have a college body already.

– Brey and the coaches were there for seemingly the first third of
the scrimmage, but it was then turned over to the players.

– This team is ready to do some damage this year, as long as they can stay healthy, get some balls to roll their way in their Big East road schedule, and get enough
respect so as not to be fucked over in the Tourney seeding/draw again this year.

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4 Responses to “And in This Corner”

  1. Alan Says:

    Nice report. Would definitely lose the f-bomb at the end. Totally against the tone of the post. Team chemistry is important and it will be niec to see how the team moves forward from the end of last year’s season.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    I agree.. a very nice report..We should have another nice year and make the NCAA’s…

  3. poor-dumb-homeless Says:

    Interesting…but the ending, unfortunately, negated some of its credibility.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    I was up close at the Big East where Jackson just ran right over Georgetown’s backcourt in that Friday night game. He is the Irish’s breakout player this year in my view and ND could surprise alot of folks.

    Your f-bomb, though, brings up a real issue – NDs out of conference schedule is the weakest it has been in years, and it isn’t going to get them any breaks come NCAA time. Syracuse got left out for a schedule that was weak last year, ND doesn’t appear to have a top 25 team on their schedule.

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