Notre Dame 2009 NIT Tournament Preview
Notre Dame Irish - Big East (18-14, 8-10)
Seed: #2 - Creighton Bracket
Big Wins: 11/25 vs Texas (81-80), 1/5 Georgetown (73-67), 2/12 Louisville (90-57)
Bad Losses: 12/6 vs Ohio State (62-67), 1/3 at St. John’s (65-71), 2/4 at Cincinnati (83-93)
Coach: Mike Brey
Probable Notre Dame Starters:
Tory Jackson, Junior, Guard, 10.5 ppg, 5.0 apg, 4.5 rpg
Kyle McAlarney, Senior, Guard, 15.4 ppg, 3.6 apg
Ryan Ayers, Senior, Guard, 11.4 ppg, 3.5 rpg
Luke Harangody, Junior, Forward, 23.2 ppg, 12.0 rpg, 1.0 bpg
Zach Hillesland, Senior, Forward, 4.8 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 2.5 apg
Key Notre Dame Roleplayers:
Tyrone Nash, Sophomore, Guard, 3.0 ppg, 3.2 rpg
Jonathan Peoples, Junior, Guard, 2.9 ppg, 1.2 apg
Luke Zeller, Senior, Center, 5.2 ppg, 2.9 rpg
Why The Irish Can Surprise:
Notre Dame has some great three-point shooters. The team as a whole shoots over 40 percent from beyond the arc and makes nearly nine per game. Kyle McAlarney is the best of the bunch and he ranks in the top 20 in the nation in three-point field goals made per game and three-point field-goal percentage. Wing Ryan Ayers is nearly as efficient as McAlarney from beyond the arc and hits 2.7 per contest. Those two rarely have off nights and the Irish can get a ton of points from their outside shooting.
The other thing Notre Dame does very well is take care of the ball. Coach Mike Brey’s squad is first in the nation committing just 9.8 turnovers per game. And this is a high scoring team that will run when given the opportunity. Usually a squad with such a low turnover number will slow down the tempo and limit their possessions, but that is not the case with Notre Dame. Point guard Tory Jackson deserves most of the credit. On top of committing just 2.4 turnovers per contest, Jackson dishes out 5.0 assists and scores 10.5 points per game.
Why The Irish Can Disappoint:
The Irish have some big guys who can handle the ball too, but those big guys also spearhead the defensive deficiencies of this year’s team. Zach Hillesland usually starts at the five spot. At 6-9 and 228 pounds he has the size to make an impact around the basket, but he is not a shot blocking threat. Neither is 6-11 senior Luke Zeller. The Irish have plenty of size, but the lack of a shot blocking threat makes it easy for the opposition to score around the basket. The team as a whole is only decent on the glass; and that is a big surprise for a group that has Luke Harangody.
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Who To Watch:
Harangody is a monster on the glass and the team’s best scorer. He practically gets a double-double before the National Anthem is over. Harangody’s offensive firepower stems from his versatility. He is big and a bruiser under the basket, but he can also step outside and hit the mid-range jumper with consistency. That makes him very difficult to defend and only UCLA in February and Rutgers in the Big East Tournament held him to under a dozen points. Before the game against the Bruins Harangody scored at least 20 points in 14 consecutive games. Harangody can do a lot for this team, but while he was scoring at least 20 points a game, Notre Dame was on a big seven game losing streak. Harangody certainly has to do his part, but so does the rest of the team if the Irish want to make the most of their tournament appearance.
Notre Dame By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 77.6 (32nd in nation, 5th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 71.8 (270, 13)
Field-Goal Percentage: 44.2 (150, 9)
Field-Goal Defense: 43.3 (170, 12)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 8.9 (7, 1)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 40.1 (12, 1)
Free-Throw Percentage: 69.3 (154, 6)
Rebound Margin: 1.7 (126, 11)
Assists Per Game: 17.5 (8, 3)
Turnovers Per Game: 9.8 (1, 1)
Joel’s Bracket Says: First Round loss to UAB
By Joel Welser
CollegeSports-fans.com Senior Basketball Writer
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