2013-14 College Basketball Season Preview: Notre Dame

Written by Paul Banks of the Washington Times, David Kay and Peter Christian of the The Sports Bank. Send Paul an e-mail here: paulb05 AT hotmail DOT com.
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Notre Dame Fighting Irish (Last Year: 25-10, 11-7 in Big East)

2013-14 Projected Depth Chart:

C: Garrick Sherman (Sr)/Tom Knight (Sr)

PF: Austin Burgett (Soph)/Zach Auguste (Soph)/Austin Torres (Fr)

G/F: Pat Connaughton (Jr)/V.J. Beachem (Fr)/Cameron Biedscheid (Soph)

SG: Jerian Grant (Jr)/Steve Vasturia (Fr)

PG: Eric Atkins (Sr)/Demetrius Jackson (Fr)

Gone: F/C-Jack Cooley, F-Scott Martin, PF-Mike Broghammer

2013-14 Outlook:
Mike Brey not only returns his experienced backcourt of Eric Atkins and Jerian Grant, but also brings in McDonald’s All-American Demetrius Jackson. Atkins and Grant are interchangeable; each is capable of running the point or playing off the ball since they can both shoot it from deep. That duo has logged a ton of the minutes the past two seasons, but that won’t need to be the case this year.

Jackson’s addition to the roster finally gives the Fighting Irish a solid reserve guard who can spell Atkins or Grant as well as the option to have a true three-guard lineup by using all of them on the floor at the same time. Jackson relies more on his quickness, strength, and play-making abilities, which should help open up shooting opportunities for Atkins or Grant on the perimeter.

Notre Dame also brings back Pat Connaughton, who is a sniper from the outside. He will start at small forward but can also play some four when Brey goes with a smaller look. Freshmen V.J. Beachem and Steve Vasturia add depth on the wing. Beachum is a long, athletic wing, while Vasturia is a versatile guard and dangerous outside shooter. Playing time will be tight among those two, which is why it appears as if Cameron Biedscheid, who was a key reserve a year ago, is leaning toward redshirting this season and preserving a year of eligibility.

With Zach Auguste out until late-November/early-December due to a broken wrist, Austin Burgett figures to start at power forward. He played sparingly as a freshman but is a stretch four who can knock down shots from the outside. Once Auguste returns, his combination of size, strength, and athleticism should allow him to reclaim the starting spot. Freshman Austin Torres is an undersized, but aggressive, power forward who will play early in the year, but won’t factor into the rotation once Auguste gets healthy.

Jack Cooley’s graduation means Garrick Sherman takes over in the middle. The former Michigan State transfer was very productive in a reserve role last season and gives Notre Dame a low post presence who can clog up the paint defensively. Tom Knight is also a physical low post player and will once again see quality minutes off the bench.

People are sleeping a bit on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish a bit. With this squad’s experience and talent at guard, Notre Dame should compete with Duke, North Carolina, and Syracuse at the top of the ACC standings.

Player to Watch: Demetrius Jackson, PG
The addition of Jackson gives Brey so much flexibility that he hasn’t the luxury of having on his roster the past couple seasons in a true third guard. It will be hard to take the ball out of the hands of Atkins or Grant, but Jackson is too talented to only play a few minutes a night, so it will be interesting to see how Brey blends him into the lineup.

Key Non-Conference Games:
  • 11/17 vs. Indiana State
  • 12/3 at Iowa (Big Ten/ACC Challenge)
  • 12/14 vs. Indiana (in Indianapolis)
  • 12/21 vs. Ohio State (in Madison Square Garden)

  • Predicted ACC Finish: 4th

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