With the regular season starting tonight against Illinois-Chicago, here is part two of the 18 Stripes basketball season preview. In case you missed it, here’s part one which focuses on individual players. Additionally, the Irish played an exhibition against Central State last week. Here’s a quick recap of a somewhat sloppy affair, and a look at what we learned from it.
Which new guys will crack the ACC Rotation? – ndroyalsfan
The latest ND recruiting class earned rave reviews from everyone, and was the best of the Brey era. Irish fans are obviously excited to see what the youngsters can do on the court against college players instead of rewatching grainy highlight reels against high school opposition. In the past, Mike Brey has been hesitant to give freshman big roles. Few freshman earn ACC minutes, and fewer still end up starting. Brey’s hand will likely be forced this season.
Prentiss Hubb has been drawing rave reviews from media members that have watched practice. He started the exhibition game, and played major minutes. Mooney and Burns are unlikely to play all 40 minutes, so some combination of Durham and Laz will have to play. Lastly, Goodwin or Carmody emerging as a knockdown shooter would solve some of the spacing issues we saw last season. Both of them entered the exhibition game before before Nik Djogo. It’s easy to envision a role for all of the new faces once the ACC season begins. While it’s unlikely all of them will contribute in conference play, it will be interesting to see who emerges.
Could this ND team win with defense? – alstein
I know, I know – Mike Brey wants to outscore you. I’m not saying he’ll ignore offensive efficiency, but this team has real potential defensively. Both TJ Gibbs and Rex Pflueger have built outstanding reputations as defenders. If Juwan Durham can add rim protection needed to let them gamble more and Elijah Burns provides the bruising presence in the paint, this could be an outstanding defensive team. I am not now, nor ever, advocating ND turn in to the joyless slog that is Virginia, but this is a group that could make some waves defensively. That’s why finding a shooter to insert with this lineup is so critical. If Harvey, Hubb, or Laszewski can add some shooting and offensive threat to those 4 defenders, it could be a way for Brey to play a defensive-minded line-up. Without that additional offensive threat, opponents will be able to focus exclusively on Gibbs and stifle the Irish offense.
Can the Irish get back to their sharpshooting ways? – paddy
The foundation of every Mike Brey team is beautifully run offense that tends to produce great shooting opportunities. Last year, the Irish simply didn’t have the shooting weapons to knock down an adequate amount of those looks. Their 35.6 3P% was the worst for an Irish team since 2011-12, and many close losses could have been flipped to wins with some better marksmanship from deep. TJ Gibbs has proven to be a very effective long range shooter, but he will be tasked with plenty of responsibility making this entire offense run. John Mooney led the team with an impressive 41% from deep last year, but his awkward mechanics mixed with his terrible free throw shooting makes me doubt he can repeat that percentage.
Rex Pflueger has never developed into the shooting threat we hoped he could be, and the less said about Nik Djogo’s shooting last year the better. Luckily, the Irish have some new toys to play with. DJ Harvey showcased more of a midrange preference last year, but he seems like a guy that can grow into being a threat from 3. Additionally, 4 of the 5 incoming freshmen bring shooting ability, with Nate Laszewski being the standout. If a couple of these weapons emerge, the Irish offense could return to its explosive identity, but if not, more frustrating losses may be in store.