Notre Dame Fighting Irish
27-7 overall, 14-4 Big East (2nd)
Mike Brey (11th season, 238-120)
Projected starting five:
G: Eric Atkins, So.
G: Pat Connaughton, Fr.
F: Tim Abromatitis, Sr.
F: Scott Martin, Sr.
C: Jack Cooley, So.
Ben Hansbrough 18.4 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 4.3 apg, 35.4 mpg
Carleton Scott 11.2, 7.4 rpg, 31.2 mpg
Tyrone Nash 9.5 ppg, 5.9 rpg
Inside the numbers:
50 percent scoring returning
56 percent rebounding returning
F: Eric Katenda, 6’8”, 210 – Rivals #118
F: Patrick Connaughton 6’5”, 175 – Rivals #127
Toughest nonconference game(s): 11/21 at (25) Missouri, 11/30 at (23) Gonzaga
Toughest in-conference stretch: 12/27 – 1/7 vs. (11) Pittsburgh, at (22) Cincinnati, at (8) Louisville
9th in BE; 20+ wins; NCAA Tournament berth
What to expect:
After a surprising 2010-11 campaign that saw the Fighting Irish improve after losing Luke Harangody, Notre Dame is looking for a repeat performance, but it could be a little harder this time around without BE Player of the Year Ben Hansbrough, Carleton Scott and Tyrone Nash all lost to graduation.
The silver lining for Notre Dame is fifth-year senior Tim Abromaitis is still around. Abromaitis will miss the first four games of the season because of some exhibition games he played in three years ago, but the Irish should handle that stretch without any problems. When they get into BE play, that’s when some of ND’s weaknesses may be exposed.
The main concern for the Golden Domers will be how Abromaitis’ supporting cast comes together. Scott Martin and Eric Atkins played significant minutes last year, but Pat Connaughton and Jack Cooley will have to prove that they can hang in the Big East. The gelling of the rebuilding Irish squad will prove to be the key if they want a trip back to the NCAA Tournament.