The Notre Dame Fighting Irish have opened the 2012 basketball season with two early victories over Evansville and Monmouth, and are currently ranked 20th in the AP Poll. Here are ten things you need to know about this year’s Notre Dame squad:
10. The Irish are deeper than ever – The ten players listed below aren’t just all on the roster, they can all contribute significantly to this team if their numbers are called. In fact, six of them have scored 20 or more points in a game in some point in their college career already, and three of the remaining four are freshmen. Part of the danger of playing this Irish team is that there are about seven candidates that can go off on any given night, so it is going to be very hard for opposing coaches to gameplan against it. Depending on how the freshmen develop, Mike Brey could have an extremely deep team on his hands by March.
- Eric Atkins
- Jerian Grant
- Pat Connaughton
- Scott Martin
- Jack Cooley
- Garrick Sherman
- Cameron Biedscheid
- Tom Knight
- Zach Auguste
- Austin Burgett
9. …But don’t expect them to use a deep rotation – Despite the large number of talented players at his disposal, Mike Brey isn’t likely to use them all. Why not? Simply because it is going to be extremely hard to find minutes for the younger guys due to the veteran nature of this team. Atkins, Grant, Martin, Connaughton, and Cooley all logged a ton of minutes last season and it’s hard to take a unit that is that seasoned off of the floor. Sherman and Biedscheid will also figure into the mix quite heavily, but outside of those two, it will be a fight for few bench minutes. Auguste and Knight will simply be used as big bodies with fouls to give against teams with strong interior play, and Burgett will be a rare sight on the floor unless Notre Dame is blowing a team out. However, sticking to seven guys this year is different from years past in that every single player is a legitimate weapon that has to be accounted for, not just a space-eater out there to keep other players fresh.
8. Cameron Biedscheid is a star in the making – If you haven’t heard of Cam yet, it won’t be long for you. He’s a 6-foot-7 forward from St. Louis with a silky-smooth game. The No. 28 overall player in the country last year according to Rivals, Biedscheid can create his own shot better than anyone on this Irish team, even right now as a freshman. He can handle the ball and break down defenders off the dribble, in addition to his solid passing and shooting abilities. He needs to put on a little weight to be able to bang with some of the stronger college players, but that will come with time. Even so, he will contribute immediately and it wouldn’t surprise me if he was starting by Big East play.
7. Jack Cooley may have a new weapon – Jack Cooley is the ultimate garbage man in college basketball — and that’s a compliment. Almost all of his shots come within 10 feet of the basket, many of them put-backs off of offensive rebounds, and he has converted 62.2% of his shots from the field for his career. But Jack has been working on his outside shot a bit, and he attempted his first three of his career in the season opener against Evansville, which looked pretty nice as it tickled the twine. Don’t expect him to take the outside shot often, but maybe Cooley has a little more Luke Harangody in him than just the haircut.
6. Garrick Sherman will turn heads – This prediction looks a little less bold after his 22-point (8-10 shooting) and 9-rebound performance against Monmouth, but Sherman has serious potential for the Irish. It is Sherman’s fourth year in college (he played two season at Michigan State, and sat out last year as a transfer) and word out of practice is that he is a very, very good post defender. Despite being a legitimate 6-foot-10 he has decent ball-handling skills and likes to use a spin move to get to the rim. Not to mention, the “Shermanator” has some real appeal as a nickname.