Notre Dame fans will be happy when the NCAA Tournament begins in March. Coach Mike Brey will lead Notre Dame to the Big East championship for the first time. With five starters returning, the Irish are ready to claim a spot in the tournament and to make a run at The Final Four. The timing could not be better, as the Irish look forward to joining the ACC.
Forward Jack Cooley, who led Notre Dame in scoring and rebounding last season, has evolved into a reliable go-to scorer, similar to former Irish star Luke Harangody. Cooley averaged 12.5 points and 8.9 rebounds per game last year. His hustle and unselfish play reminds many fans of former Boston Celtics center, Dave Cowens.
Eric Atkins and Jerian Grant return to provide a dynamic duo that will create match- up problems for opponents. Atkins averaged 4.1 assists and 12.1 points last season. Grant contributed 12.3 points per game, with many of these coming on flashy drives and jump shots.
Joining Cooley in the front court are Scott Martin and Pat Connaughton, both of whom shoot well from the perimeter. Together, they will soften the rebounding load for Cooley.
Depth and experience are the reasons why Notre Damewill finally earn The Big East Title for Brey. The success of many of the other Irish athletic teams is generating enthusiasm on campus that will benefit Brey’s squad. These include the, soccer, lacrosse, hockey and football teams.
After they hang the Big East championship banner in March, the Irish will move on The NCAA Tournament and a quest for The Final Four. That will make Notre Dame fans smile, for sure.