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2007-2008 Notre Dame Fighting Irish Preview

by Andrew Force | November 12th, 2007

2006-2007 Record: 24-8 (11-5), 4th
Postseason Games:

3/8/2007 Syracuse Big East Tournament W 89-83
3/9/2007 Georgetown Big East Tournament L 82-84
3/16/2007 Winthrop NCAA L 64-74

Returning Statistical Leaders:
12.6 ppg – Rob Kurz
8.0 rpgRob Kurz
4.3 apg – Tory Jackson

Starting Lineup: Key Stat:
F Rob Kurz 6-9” Sr. Only player with 3 letters earned
F Luke Harangody 6-8” So. 83 fouls, 3 foul outs, worst on team
G/F Ryan Ayers 6-8” Jr. Only 11.9 minutes per game (06-07)
SG Kyle McAlarney 6-1” Jr. Career 44% 3-point shooter
PG Tory Jackson 5-10” So. 139 assists on the season

Key Player Loss: Russell Carter. Early in his career, Carter appeared destined for bench minutes. By working hard in the gym and with the weights, Carter maximized his talent and surprised many observers. He was undeniably All-Conference in the final two campaigns.

Impact Newcomer: Tyrone Nash. Honestly the four freshmen have little chance of contributing as the maturing sophomores and juniors start to shine.

Tough Question: Can the Irish replicate their home success away from the Bryce Center?

Last year they accomplished the improbable by compiling an 18-0 mark at home. Knowing that blistering streak will not continue, the effort needs to improve on the road now.

Too Much PT: Zach Hillesland.

With the two leading scorers leaving campus, Hillesland’s pass-first game will not work. At first. The team needs more scorers on the floor, especially in the post. Once the pecking order is established, Hillesland can slide back into his role.

Get Him on the Floor: Luke Zeller.

In a smaller, slimmed down Big East, Mike Brey has a rare luxury. There are four powerful forwards able to contribute from day one. In a crowded frontcourt, Zeller will struggle for minutes. It would be nice to see him emerge as an integral bench player.

Oddly Zeller started 16 games a year ago, but only managed to stay on the floor a handful of minutes.

The starting Luke, Harangody, is a banger while Zeller is more of a pick and pop guy. What this Luke brings is length and supreme footwork. He also earned the prestigious Indiana Mr. Basketball.

Point Guards’ Impact: Tory Jackson had a really nice freshman year for the Irish. He easily exceeded the expectations of his coach. Often, TJ used his natural quickness to get into the lane.

The defenses instinctively collapsed and yielded quality outside jumpers for ND. Colin Falls and Russell Carter knocked down so many good looks a year ago. The return of Kyle McAlarney will help Jackson focus on penetration.

Expectations: Luke Zeller. This roster has five former four star recruits. One of them, Zeller, has never realized his potential.

His entire preparation for college was developing a complete game, inside and outside, increasing ball handling, range, etc. He was strong enough for high school, but has never shown the kind of power necessary to back down a Big East power forward. His height is wasted if he can’t gain rebounds in the paint.

This season is not his final one, but it is his last chance to prove himself.

Final Word: The unit has good size but is in need of guidance. Zeller and Hillesland are still searching for their roles halfway through their careers.

Harangody has stunning guts and McAlarney owns an unrivaled heart. If the body follows these two parts, then the Notre Dame Fighting Irish will be a middle of the pack team.

– Andrew Force

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