WATCH NOW - Media Day Interview with Ben Hansbrough
The Big Picture: Last year, Notre Dame finished 23-12 overall, 10-8 in the BIG EAST and returned to the NCAAs after a one-year absence. It was ND’s fifth straight 20-win season. The Fighting Irish must deal with the loss of forward all-American Luke Harandgody and point guard Tory Jackson, but coach Mike Brey’s club figures to be strong again with some proven BIG EAST performers and some key new additions. The Irish have made the postseason in each of Brey’s 10 seasons at the helm and that streak seems likely to continue in 2010-11.
Who’s Back: Senior Tim Abromaitis had a huge breakout season in 2009-10. The 6-8 forward averaged 16.1 ppg and was one of the league’s top shooters. He was third in the BIG EAST in free throw shooting (87.3 percent) and fourth in 3-point shooting (42.9 percent. Abromaitis sat out the 2008-09 season. Guard Ben Hansbrough averaged 12.0 ppg in his first season with the Irish after transferring from Mississippi State. He shot 41.4 percent from beyond the arc. Forward Tyrone Nash became a starter last season and helped with a 7.8 scoring average and a 5.2 rebounding mark. Senior forward Carleton Scott (5.0, 4.6) was a valuable reserve last year. Three sophomores -- guard Joey Brooks and forwards Mike Broghammer and Jack Cooley -- will be looking for increased roles in 2010-11.
Who’s Missing: Harangody was one of the most productive players in the history of the BIG EAST. Last season, he was first in the league in scoring, averaging 21.8 ppg and finished fourth in rebounding at 9.1. In BIG EAST play, he finished third on the league’s all-time scoring list with 1,329 points and was second in rebounds with 662. Harangody might have broken the record if he was not injured late last season. He became only the third player in conference history to earn consensus all-America honors three times. Jackson was the steely point guard that every successful team needs. Last season, he averaged 9.6 points and a league-leading 5.3 assists. Guard Jonathan Peoples, who started 10 games, averaged 3.4 ppg.
Storylines: Scott Martin should have been listed in the returnee column but he missed last season with an ACL injury. The 6-8 transfer from Purdue can play either the small forward or big guard. Abromaitis and Hansbrough give Notre Dame a very solid scoring base. Freshman Eric Atkins may become the starter at point guard. Last year, the Irish, with the help of Jackson’s ballhandling skills, were first in the BIG EAST with an assist/turnover ratio of 1.62. Even with the loss of Harangody, the Irish are deeper this season in the frontcourt in terms of the number of players. Guard hopefuls Alex Dragicevich and Jerian Grant likely will be slated for backup roles this season.