Thursday, March 27, 2008

2008-2009: The Team

With the end of this season the only left to do is to look forward to next.  The Irish will only lose one player, Rob Kurz.  Rob Kurz mostly provided leadership, rather than a dominant player as many senior leaders are. He contributed just as much as someone who scores 20 points a game and gets 10 rebounds.  His leadership and his knowledge of the basketball court will be something that will indeed be missed.

My projected starting line-up for next season:

PG Tory Jackson
SG Kyle McAlarney
SF Zach Hillesland
PF Luke Zeller
C Luke Harangody.
6 man: Ryan Ayers

My biggest concern for next season is not that guard play.  Tory Jackson plays great at the point while McAlarney and Ayers will be able to knock down the threes.  My biggest concern is the front court.  Luke Harangody will be beastly once again next year, but the power forward is wide open.  Luke Zeller will be a senior so I can see how he would be given the spot.  However, he cannot score down low, or well at least he hasn't yet, and I don't think he is physical enough to bang down low with the rest of the league.  I can see one of the freshman stepping into his role, Tyrone Nash or Charleton Scott. If this happens though, I can't see it happening in the beginning of the year.  I don't think any of the freshman, who have not even played more than 2 minutes in a game, would be ready to step into the starting role on a Big East team.

I think Notre Dame needs to spend time this off season trying to recruit a solid down low player.  Harangody is just too short to play center.  Notre Dame needs a a real center in order to be a real big threat.  Someone over 6-8 and who actually scores on the post not from deep.

I do not see how Ty Proffit and Tim Abromaitus are going to fit in to the line-up, unless the Irish cut playing time from some of the normal starters.  The way things are looking now the Irish will be keeping their 8 man line-up. 

Overall I believe the Irish will be better next year.  Harangody will have another great year and McAlarney, Ayers, Hillesland, and Zeller will all have great senior years.  Next year is the year.  The Irish are bringing their best team yet for 09 and should make even more noise than they did this year.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Irish Women: Sweet 16

If I were to have been told one Irish basketball team would make the sweet 16 this year then I would assume the men.  Yet, the Irish women have proven me wrong and made it to the Sweet 16. 

The next game doesn't look like an easy game for them, maybe not even winnable.  The Irish will be playing the always dominant Tennessee Lady Vols.  Women's basketball is never as competitive as the men's and Tennessee is on a whole different level than Notre Dame.  Who knows though maybe we will have a big upset on our hands, and at least it will be something else for me to watch. With the Irish out and my bracket dead wrong I mine as well watch this, at least while it is close.


Monday, March 24, 2008

2007-2008 Season Recap.

Despite Notre Dame's early second round exit in the NCAA Tournament, the Irish had an overall successful season.  It looks like the Irish are improving.  Each season it keeps getting better and better and with almost everyone returning, the Irish don't show any signs of stopping the improvement.  

25: A major benchmark happened this year.  The Irish reached 25 total wins.  That is the highest amount of wins for any Irish team under Mike Brey.  A great number and a number that should set a target for next years squad. 

The Streak: After a long hard season filled with tough games and Big East battles the Irish home court win streak is still alive.  The streak now stands at 37 games, only one behind the school record which I guarantee will be broken next year.  The streak is the second longest active streak at the moment behind only BYU.

Irish finish 2nd in Big East: The Irish second place finish is the best in recent years.  An amazing unity among the team, along with great coaching and great playing led the team to prove the preseason Big East polls wrong.

Player of the Year and Coach of the Year: When the Player of the Year and the Coach of the Year for a conference are on the same team, you know the team is good.  Luke Harangody had a terrific season. Already reaching the 1,000 point mark as a sophomore, and leading the Big East in both rebounds and points per game he was the easy choice for the Big East Player of the Year.  And Mike Brey has done it again.  Two years in a row Coach Brey has been named the Big East Coach of the Year.  Leading a team picked to finish 9th in the Big East to a second place finish is simply amazing in such a competitive conference. 

Irish finish with best National Rank since 2004:  The Irish finished the season ranked 14th nationally.  That is the best since the 2004-2005 Sweet Sixteen team.  The Irish were not even recognized in the preseason polls, but were able to work there way up and prove themselves as an elite team in the nation.

Second Tournament birth in 2 years: The second birth for the Irish was achieved through an at large bid.  The Irish entered the tournament as a 5 seed and lost in the second round to the 4 seed Washington State, after beating the Cinderella George Mason first round.  Two years ago the Irish were an NIT team, last year they lost first round, and this year they made it to the second.  Signs of an improvement and hopefully the Irish will keep it up next season. 

1,000: Thankfully for Rob Kurz the Irish made the post-season.  After the regular season the Irish senior had accumulated 999 total points throughout his career. That would have been a terrible number to end your career on.  In the post-season he was able to get over the 1,000 point number and had his name put on a list with very good company. 

Irish join 1600 win club: While there is no official club the Irish have joined in the ranks with some of the greatest programs in the country such as Kentucky, Duke and North Carolina.  The Irish are one of only 12 teams to reach this mark. 

1st in Assists, 5th in 3pt Shooting: I never expected the Irish to finish in 1st place with in the assist category.  The most unselfish team in basketball also ranks 5th in 3pt shooting.  I can see this easier because of all the players who can shoot on the team.  Two great achievements.

I'm sure you could find a lot more little things the Irish have done, but I have pretty much summed up all the major things that made the Irish so successful this year.  A great season that should no way be considered any kind of disappointment. 

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Notre Dame falls to Washington State, 61-41

It's all over.  It always hurts to lose, but you just have to look forward and that is a long forward.  Washington State came out so much more prepared than Notre Dame.  Notre Dame was shut down in every way.  They couldn't shoot 3s without being contested, Harangody was completely shut down regardless of how many rebounds he got, and the Irish defense was terrible.

The way the Irish played they deserved to lose. 41 points. 

Congratulation Rob Kurz for scoring 1,000 points in your career.  He will be missed.


Friday, March 21, 2008

Irish get 25

No Irish team under Mike Brey has ever gotten 25 wins, until now.  The Irish have shown how much they, and the program have grown.  The Irish have 25 wins and will look to make it 26 tomorrow against Washington State. 


Notre Dame advances over George Mason, 68-50

It feels great.  It's great.  After last years loss in the first round a win over a good team feels amazing.  The Irish really came out to play.  Compared to the way they played the first round of the Big East Tournament and how they played last night was amazing.  

The game was never close.  The Irish controlled the pace well, they made George Mason play the way they wanted to.  Harangody scored 18 points and had 14 rebounds. Mike Brey had told Harangody after the Marquette game that he doesn't need to play like he is under pressure.  Just go out and play.  And it worked. Luke had a much better game than his last outing and he seemed more composed. 

McAlarney had his average game. 15 points and four assists.  His average game may be alot better than others but just a solid game from McAlarney.  Kurz had 6, two threes. Hillesland and Jackson also contributed 6 points. Ryan Ayers had a big game. 12 points. It is great to see him scoring double digits. 

With the first round out of the way, the Irish can now look ahead.  Washington State will be the next opponent.  The 4 seed in the tournament, but in my opinion the weakest of the fours.  I think that if the Irish played as well as they did today they will overtake Washington State and be on their way to the Sweet 16. 


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Monday, March 17, 2008

Notre Dame vs George Mason

The first round match-up for the Irish will be the George Mason Patriots.  The game will be played on Thursday at roughly 8:00pm. 
When you think of the name George Mason one thing comes to mind.  The unbelievable run to the final four.  Not many people thought the Patriots would win one game never mind make a trip to the final four.  I think in the national bracket challenge, like 3 people had the right final four.  The Irish can't be intimidated by this, and must not focus on what happened in the past.

And what also happened in the past was a first round loss to Winthrop in last years tournament.  The Irish need to use that loss as a motivator to get by there first round opponent. Coming off a disappointing loss in the Big East tournament the Irish need to come out and play hard in order to win.  This is now what matters.  In my opinion this is the best Irish basketball team in recent years.

The Irish have one huge advantage over George Mason.  Three point shooting.  The Irish are 5th in the country making 41% of their three point shots.  George Mason doesn't make the top 100 list.  The dominance of Harangody down low has caused reason to forget just how well the Irish can shoot the ball.  When you think about it, I would be confident with everyone on the Notre Dame team shooting the 3, even the bigs. Zeller and Kurz consistently make 3s and even Harangody has added the jumper to his game. 

Harangody is also far better than the big men of George Mason.  The Big East Player of the Year should look to have a big game against George Mason.

The bottom line is that if Notre Dame can just play like they normally play then the game will be theirs. 

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Selection Sunday

After months of playing the NCAA Tournament is finally here.  You can forget who won the conferences and who won the conference tournaments because this is what matters.  The Irish get a 5 seed.  I was thinking a 4 but 5 is good, pretty much the same position.  Notre Dame will be taking on the 12 seed George Mason.  We all remember what George Mason did not too long ago but hopefully it will be a one time time thing.  More interesting is that they will take on the winner of Washington State vs Winthrop.  I would love another Winthrop game. The Irish find themselves in the East Regional where the number 1 seed is North Carolina.  I would also love a Harangody-Hansborough match-up. 

Now here is the rest of the bracket from CBS:

Big East Tourney Recap

Well I am back from the Big East and I don't think anyone could have predicted what went on this year.  What a year, too bad for the Irish, but it was entertaining.

The First round of games concluded with no upsets what so ever. And then in the quarterfinals Georgetown won their first game by beating Villanova.  The tournament was looking very predictable. Then the second quarterfinal came between UConn and West Virginia. I am from Connecticut so everyone I was with was for the Huskies.  However, West Virginia then knocked out UConn.  Joe Alexander played amazing for WV scoring 32 points and single handily brought down the Huskies.  Once nightfall came the upsets kept coming, Pitt over Louisville and yes, Marquette over the Irish. Pitt plays amazing in NY and many thought Louisville was going to win it all, yet the Panthers had other ideas. 

Let me just say this, Marquette played amazing.  They looked better than any team the Irish played all year in the game.  Jerome McNeal was great and the whole team had no flaws.  They were proving why the had such a high rank earlier in the season with this big win.  The Irish played decent.  You could tell Harangody was under pressure being the Player of the Year for the conference and he was forcing it.  Other than that the Irish played well, it just wasn't enough for the tremendous game Marquette had. 

Then the semis came along.  I was not very into the games, Notre Dame lost, UConn lost and there was no one to root for.  Georgetown won beating West Virginia who played no where near as well as they did against UConn.  Then Pitt beat Marquette keeping their streak going.  Marquette also played terrible compared to their last game.

And in the finals, it was Pittsburgh. Upsetting the number 9 team in the country and 1 seed in the tournament. Pitt played great throughout the whole week and if the Irish could not win it, I would have preferred someone other than Georgetown.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


Tonight is a big night for the Irish. Stuart's lucky and is at the Big East tournament to see them play tonight. Unfortunatly for the Irish they are going to be playing Marquette. Tonight everyone on the Irish need to step up their game if the want to move onto the semi finals tomarro. We want a big game from Harangody and Kmac tonight also. We need to get inside and be unselfish like we have been all year and look for the open player to take the shot(prefferably Luke under the boards). That's the way we will win, no turn overs and stupid shots, none of that helps us, so we have to watch Peoples tonight. If the Irish give it all they've got tonight, I think we can pul through with the win.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Big East Player of the Year

The 2007-2008 Big East Player of the year award goes to Luke Harangody.  I really was not that surprised to learn this, I mean come on people have been saying for the last month or so now, but it is still really exciting.

Harangody finished Big East play averaging 23.3 points and over a 11 rebounds per game.  He is just the second player in Big East history to lead the league in scoring and rebounding. He had 3 in conference 30 or more point performances, including a 40 point game in a losing effort to Louisville.

You cannot just look at Harangody's stats though.  You have to have seen him play.  He is always giving a 100% the whole time.  Half his points and rebounds come from hustle points.  He sprints down the court before the defense and scores on countless occasions.  I can't even remember how many times I have seen Harangody grab defensive rebound, outlet it, sprint down the court, get the offensive rebound, and put it back up to score.

When you look at Harangody's stats and his hustle there is no way you can say that someone else deserves this award more than he does.

Big East Coach of the Year

Mike Brey for the second year straight wins Big East Coach of the Year honors. He deserved just as much, if not more than he did last year.

He led the team to 24-6 record overall, a second place finish in the conference with their best ever conference record and finished the regular season ranked 14 in the country.  Thats not bad when in the preseason your team wasn't ranked and were picked to finish in the bottom half of the Big East.

The Irish should be thankful that they have such a great coach. Congrats to Mike Brey.


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Wednesday Predicitions

There are four games to be played tomorrow and I though I would have some fun by trying to predict them:

Game 1 Syracuse vs Villanova
Both teams are trying desperately to get to the NCAA and their hopes maybe riding on a victory in this game.  I am going to have to pick Nova.  Their experience will lead them past Syracuse, whose leading scorers are freshmen. 

Game 2 West Virginia vs Providence
I am going to have to pick West Virginia, Providence has had a tough year and I don't think it is about to get any better.  However, the one team Providence has had success against is Connecticut and if they win this game that is who they would be playing.  It would be very exciting to see Providence play UConn again after beating them twice already.

Game 3 Pittsburgh vs Cincinnati 
Pittsburgh all the way here.  The Bearcat's last loss to UConn by 48 suggests that the last thing they have is momentum and confidence going into this contest.

Game 4 Seton Hall vs Marquette
As much as I want Seton Hall to win this game my mind tells me Marquette. Marquette is simply too much for Seton Hall to handle when they are playing at their best.  I will be heavily rooting for Seton Hall, because I would not want to have to play Marquette if I were the Irish.

Monday, March 10, 2008

McAlarney, Harangody named on Big East First Team

The two Irish players to get honored after a great Big East showing were Kyle McAlarney and Luke Harangody.  Both were named to the Big East first team.  I feel Rob Kurz should have been mentioned on the Second Team.  He is the most consistent player in the conference by far, and should have been shown some respect in his final season.

The Irish also moved up to their highest ranking of the year. Notre Dame appeared in both the AP and Coaches polls at 14, right ahead of UConn and right behind Louisville.  

Congrats to Kyle McAlarney and Luke Harangody on an outstanding season. 


Notre Dame to play in Maui in 08

While I anxiously wait for the Big East Tournament another piece of news has come across my mind, the Maui Invitational Tournament.  The Irish are set to play in it next season, which is awesome.  The Maui is one of the most prestigious regular season tournaments, with the toughest teams in the nation competing in it. 
I personally think this is great news because it will give a chance for the Irish to prove themselves early.  Usually the Notre Dame non-conference games are stacked with easy wins and I have no reason to believe next season will be any different, except for the Maui.  This will give the Irish a chance before conference play starts to show that they deserve to be ranked. 


Sunday, March 9, 2008

Big East Championship Bracket Announced

So the Irish are likely to get a tough game for their first game.  The Irish split even with Marquette this season, yet the loss was huge.  I will definitely be rooting for Seton Hall. The Irish will have the longest rest of any team, not playing until late Thursday night. That could either be real good or real bad. The Irish have a tough but winnable path to the championship game. 

I am really excited to go to these games and I'm sure there will big upsets based on how evenly matched the top 9 teams are. Hopefully the Irish go all the way.


Notre Dame beats South Florida, 67-60

Notre Dame finished strong in their win over South Florida to end the season. Harangody scored 21 and had 9 rebounds. Kurz and Hillesland scored double figures too, with 14, and 10. The Irish almost let this one slip away, yet were able to get the win.  And it was a vital win.  You may think Oh well it's South Florida, but this win did a lot for the Irish. And here's what:

Clinched a 3 seed in the Big East Tournament.  With still one more day of Big East games to be played the Irish can rest comfortably. No matter what UConn, or anyone else behind the Irish, does today they will still be behind the Irish in the loss column. The Irish finished tied for second in the regular season standings. However, Louisville got the 2 seed because of their head to head record with the Irish. 

With the win Notre Dame finished with their best Big East Record in school history. 14-4, tied for second place.  When a team is picked to finish 9th or 11th in the preseason polls and then finishes in second, you know something is right.  Mike Brey should be Big East Coach of  the Year yet again this year.  More than likely Jim Calhoun and the Huskies will get it though, thanks to their great season turn around. 

The Irish now have the momentum.  You don't want to have say look at our wins back in December. You want to say look at our wins now.  The Irish finished strong winning 3 in a row, including 2 away games, to end the season.  They are looking like one of the elite teams in the country and are in great position to win the Big East, as well as go far in the NCAA.


Friday, March 7, 2008

Irish to play South Florida

The Irish will try for the best overall record and best conference record in recent years with a win over South Florida tomorrow.  A win would also enable the Irish to clinch a 3 seed in the Big East tournament. I can't stress enough how much easier the path for a 3 seed to win the tournament is than a 4 seed.  A win saturday will give the Irish momentum going into the tournament as well improve their resume for NCAA.

As well as the Irish playing on saturday, Connecticut, Louisville and Georgetown will all play their last regular season games.


Thursday, March 6, 2008

UConn Falls to Providence 85, 76

That's right UConn loses to Providence.  Now all Notre Dame will have to do is win on saturday and they will have the 3 seed.  No matter how this weekend plays out Notre Dame will come out with a bye heading into the tourney, this loss however opens new opportunities for the Irish


Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Irish defeat St. Johns

The Irish beat St. John's last night 68-55.  Notre Dame is now the first team in the history of the Big East conference to go two full seasons without losing a game at home.  The streak is now at 37, the second longest active streak, and will remain that way for at least another 250 days.   

Harangody scored 20 for the Irish and only had 6 rebounds.  There is two reasons for the lack of rebounds.  One, it was very evenly spread with everyone getting rebounds and two, the Irish defense was so good. Even the Red Storm head coach commented on how strong the Irish defense was. 

Kurz had 15 and ended his career in the Joyce Center with another consistent performance.  Contributed 15  points in the win.  A great way to end it all. No doubt about it, Kurz will be missed next year and someone new will have to step into that leadership role.

McAlarney had 13 points.  A Solid effort considering how tightly guarded he was all game. 

This game win was important and so will a win over South Florida. The Irish want the best record they can get before Selection Sunday comes along.  I am thinking a 4 seed right now.  However, we could see this seed either drop or higher based on how the Irish do in the Big East Tournament.  Speaking of the Big East here is the standings now:

Georgetown 14-3
Louisville  14-3
Notre Dame 13-4
UConn 12-4

I am concerned about UConn because if they tie Notre Dame they will get the higher seed in the Big East.  And its always better to be the 3 seed because then you would probably see the 2 seed instead of being the 4 and seeing the 1.  However, I really would not want to see either Georgetown or Louisville.  Saturday is the Big East title game, Louisville vs Georgetown and then it will be decided what team will play who in the Big East. 



Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Senior Night

Tomorrow will be the last time that Rob Kurz plays at the Joyce Center.  This will also be the last time this year for Irish. The Joyce Center has been great for the Irish over the last couple years. A Current 36 game winning streak is on the line against St. Johns.  But come on, its St. Johns.


Monday, March 3, 2008

TOP 25 Update

The Irish moved down two spots this week with their loss at Louisville.  The Irish are ranked 19 in both polls now. 

The Irish are still tied for 3rd in the Big East Race which now looks like this:

Georgetown 14-3
Louisville 14-3
Notre Dame 12-4
Connecticut 12-4


Sunday, March 2, 2008

Notre Dame tops DePaul, 98-91

The Irish defeated the DePaul Blue Demons in the 98th meeting between the two schools this afternoon. The Irish were lead by Luke Harangody who had 21 points and Rob Kurz with 21.

After a slow start for Kurz, he managed to score 21 and help the Irish hold off the late surge by the Demons.  Harangody had 23 points and 9 rebounds.  It has been tough for Harangody to get as many boards with Tory Jackson rebounding so much lately.  He had 6 tonight. 

McAlarney and Zeller both contributed 13 points.  Zeller had a big tonight for himself, scoring in double figures.  Ayers, Hillesland, and Jackson all had 9 points in the game. 

Going in the second half it seemed like the Irish were on their way to a blow out, but DePaul fought back but still came up short.  This was  a great win for the Irish, it proves the Irish do deserved to still be a ranked team. The game secured a first round bye for the Irish in the Big East Tournament.  Now their are only 2 games left for the Irish in the regular season but I believe they will make some noise this year in the post season


Saturday, March 1, 2008

Irish to play DePaul Sunday

Coming off a loss, the Irish will look to rebound against the DePaul Blue Demons. DePaul is overall 5-10 in the conference.  The Irish do have the better record, but that doesn't mean it will be an easy win.  Almost every game is competitive when teams are trying to get that higher seed and when teams are just fighting to get to New York.  

The Huskies and Hoyas both won narrowly today, so nothing really changed in the top 4 standings.  Louisville and Georgetown with 3 losses and Notre Dame and the Huskies with 4. Notre Dame and the UConn both have 'easy' games left but that doesn't really mean anything.  Louisville does play Georgetown again so  most likely we will have a sure champion in the Big East.

The Irish will go for a school record 12 conference wins tomorrow and if they play well they will get it.