Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 1, 2018

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Page 46 of 55 OCT. 1, 2018 47 MEN'S BASKETBALL BY COREY BODDEN W ith the graduation of Bonzie Col- son, Matt Farrell and Martinas Geben, head coach Mike Brey and his staff must replace three starters head- ing into the 2018-19 campaign. The Irish welcome back six players from last year's rotation as well as big man Juwan Durham, who sat out the 2017-18 campaign after transferring from Connecticut. Brey will have several options when it comes to the types of lineups he can put on the floor. Here is a look at the most likely options with the season fast approaching. BASE LINEUP Junior point guard T.J. Gibbs, se- nior guard Rex Pflueger and junior forward John Mooney are essentially penciled into the starting group. Each has experience Brey places a premium on and will be counted to contribute in multiple areas. The other two spots in the lineup that is most likely to be used to begin the year will be determined in fall practices. It would not be surprising to see se- nior forward Elijah Burns get the nod in the frontcourt alongside Mooney due to his experience, passing and leadership. However, the 6-11 Dur- ham could also be an intriguing op- tion because of his length. Brey could add more experience to the lineup with junior wing Nik Djogo. However, freshman point guard Prentiss Hubb was cleared for full practice Sept. 17 and was consid- ered capable of becoming an instant starter during his recruitment. If he can show he is healthy and under- stands the offense, Hubb will be hard to keep off the court. The health of sophomore wing D.J. Harvey would change the situation as well if he is physically ready to go when the season begins. He will be re-evaluated in October. 'SMALL BALL' Notre Dame can go with a smaller unit and put five shooters out on the court during games. The Irish would substitute out Burns or Durham at the "five" (the center spot) while shifting Mooney or even freshman "stretch four" (a power forward with shooting range) Nate Laszewski to that spot. Brey could then add another shooter out on the perimeter such as Djogo, Harvey, or one of the two freshman guards in Robby Carmody and Dane Goodwin. It would be beneficial for the Irish to fill that spot with a versatile wing who can guard multiple positions, es- pecially potential stretch-four players. Or the Irish could leave in Burns or Durham in the post while adding another perimeter shooter in place of Mooney or Laszewski. GOING 'BIG' The options above appear to be the most likely combinations at this stage, but that doesn't mean Brey couldn't go in another direction to take advan- tage of certain matchups. With the addition of the 6-10 Lasze- wski, Notre Dame can use him in a variety of ways to showcase his shooting prowess. It could go "big" by using him at the "three" (the small forward spot), putting him on the pe- rimeter offensively while still allow- ing his size to be present inside with a combination of Mooney, Burns, Dur- ham or even freshman Chris Doherty. Laszewski's shooting could open up driving lanes for the guards to ei- ther attack the rim or create for others if the defense collapses inside. DEPTH Notre Dame's depth was hurt by injuries sustained during last season, and consistency off the bench was also an issue. That could change this year with a freshman group known for scoring plus potential jumps in production by some rotation players. Freshmen typically do not play a major role in year one for the Irish due to Brey historically having older groups. But the 2018-19 team has a much different look with only two seniors (Pflueger and Burns) and one junior (Gibbs) with major experience. Brey usually keeps a shorter rota- tion, but he may have more depth to play with while not sacrificing much on either end of the court. Health and development will play the largest roles in what lineups he may imple- ment. If everything goes right in both ar- eas, Notre Dame could be in a posi- tion to display versatility throughout the season with different starting line- ups and rotations to exploit various matchups. ✦ Irish To Host Another 2019 Official Visitor For the fourth time in five September weekends, head coach Mike Brey and his staff will host an official visitor. Woodstock (Conn.) Academy 2019 power forward Tre Mitchell will make his way to South Bend dur- ing the weekend of Sept. 29 for his first in-person look at Notre Dame. Mitchell, the nation's No. 17 center and No. 93 overall player per Rivals, picked up an offer after Brey saw him this spring on the AAU circuit. The senior also holds offers from, among others, Connecticut, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest and Xavier. An addition to the frontcourt remains the top priority for the Irish staff in 2019, and Mitchell repre- sents their best chance to fill that need. — Corey Bodden The Irish Will Use Multiple Lineups To Get Mismatches Freshman 6-10 forward Nate Laszewski's shoot- ing ability will give the Irish a weapon on offense. PHOTO BY COREY BODDEN

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