Wednesday, September 26, 2007



Last Season: Lost to Winthrop in first round of the NCAAs
Key Losses: Russel Carter (17.1 ppg/4.9 rpg), Colin Falls (15.3 ppg, 99 three-pointers)
Key Adds: F Tyrone Nash (top 300)

The Irish lost a lot back here in three-point specialist Colin Falls and wingman Russel Carter (the two combined for 183 threes last year), but they also have a lot coming back. Kyle McAlarney was arrested for Marijuana possession twelve games into last season and missed the entire Big East schedule, but he's back and will be a big contributor. McAlarney averaged 10.3 points and 5.4 assists in the twelve games he played before the suspension, and can play the point or the 2 guard.

McAlarney's arrest amped up the learning curve for then freshman Tory Jackson, and he responded well. Jackson was playing well at about 15 minutes per game, and after the suspension stepped in and started playing 30+, averaging about 10 points and 6 assists per game after the suspension. Jackson play-making allows McAlarney to swing over to shooting guard and gives the Irish a strong backcourt.

Backup guard Jonathan Peoples is the only other ballhandler on the team, and he only played 6 minutes per game last season. 6-8 Ryan Ayers (2.9 ppg) and 6-8 freshman Tyrone Nash will likely log some minutes at SG.

Three very good players return in the Irish frontcourt, led by leading returning scorer Rob Kurz (12.6 ppg, 8.0 rpg). Kurz can score in a lot of ways, he's excellent around the paint, but can also step back and hit the outside shot (21-49 on threes). Add to this his 81% free throw shooting and he can hurt you a lot of ways. He also led the team in blocks at 1.5 per game.

Also returning are 6-8 Luke Harangody and 6-9 Zach Hillesland. Harangody (11.2 ppg/6.2 rpg) is essentially a better version of Jeff Hagen - big and fat, with no finesse but manages to put up some numbers. Hillesland (5.8 ppg/4.8 rpg) is more refined, a big man who can play defense, handle the ball, and score with a high basketball IQ.

Also returning to add depth is former starter Luke Zeller, a 6-11 former Mr. Basketball in Indiana. Zeller is a bit soft, but has a nice outside touch and is a quality backup. The earlier mentioned Ayers and Nash can also both fill in up front if needed.

Despite losing both Falls and Carter, last season's top two scorers, the Irish remain in a good position to make the NCAA tournament. If McAlarney doesn't get arrested again, they should be heading towards a bid.

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