We're less than 90 days away from college football season and that means we're also less than 200 days away from college basketball season! HOORAY! Well in all seriousness, I decided to live up to my moniker this week and catch y'all up on some roundball thoughts entering this summer.
In other news, as you may already know, we here at One Foot Down recently started a new series to remember the last 25 seasons of Fighting Irish football called "30 Defining Moments" - You can check out fishoutofwater's excellent first installment here. So without further adieu - this week's Five Wide Fullbacks (Maybe this week it ought to be called... Five Wide Point Guards?)
I was hard on Scott Martin for most of the season until the co-captain and forward turned things around halfway through the Big East season. He was an elite defender down the stretch and finally found some rhythm to his offense before the tournament so that was pleasing to see. His presence will definitely be a huge boon to the Irish cause next season as his defensive instincts and communication on that end of the court will largely determine whether the Irish can remain a good defensive team.
The news on Abromaitis was particularly disappointing not because it was unexpected - he actually didn't have as strong a case as Martin who had family issues mixed along with his injuries - but when someone who represented the term "student-athlete" better than any other person in the country asks for another year after having his senior season tragically cut short by injury, you have to give that person the right to finish things on their own terms if you're the NCAA. I understand that he already has two degrees and didn't really have all that much to accomplish left in the classroom (he could have piled on some more Ph.D credits or gone for a 1 year M.A in some other department) but how can you expect to advocate "most of us will be going pro in something other than sports" when you deny the most shining example of that slogan a proper exit? Opportunity missed NCAA. I AM SO SMH-ing AT YOU.
The Team was supposed to have a trip to Europe this summer, why do you think it was cancelled?
That's right - I bet you didn't know this but the ND basketball team takes a trip to Europe every four years because 1) the NCAA grants a summer trip once every four years where the coaches and players can interact full time as if it were the regular season 2) ND's strong connection in Europe - particularly Ireland - allowed for a good landing spot and scrimmages against pro teams over there.
This year's seniors - Jack Cooley, Joey Brooks, Mike Broghammer, and Tom Knight (Scott Martin was with the team the last time they went in '08) - will be the first group in Brey's tenure NOT to receive that trip to Europe. I do feel pretty bad for the guys especially since this (the Europe tour) is considered one of ND basketball's bonus recruiting pitches. An inside source told me in April that Brey cancelled the trip due to a mix of reasons: 1) He's looking at the recruiting classes he's been building and figures he could theoretically get 2 tours in the next four years if he saves this one 2) This team will largely be the same as last season and will play the same way so the extra mileage of summer ball may not necessarily be all that beneficial. All understandable reasons, but I still feel bad for the seniors that will miss out on their Eurotrip this summer.
Jack Cooley and Jerian Grant were real breakout players last season, going from no-names to All Big East performers, will the '12-'13 Irish squad have any breakout stars?
No they won't and I think that's a good thing. Summer scrimmage isn't for another month and half but the Irish rotation is largely set already in the following way:
I largely expect incoming big men Zach Auguste and Austin Burgett to both sit out the year as that 8 man rotation tries to build on what they did last season - I understand that both Sherman and Biedscheid will technically be new names on the roster but Biedscheid is one of the 30 best recruits in the country so will be coming in with a lot fanfare already and Sherman was a starter at Michigan State before coming to South Bend so neither of them should count as "break out" guys. I won't be surprised if Biedscheid starts over Connaughton by mid-season though. He's very good.
What's the *WAY TOO* early forecast of Notre Dame Basketball for this upcoming season?
With all of the starters and returning along with upgrades at back up big man and back up wing, I fully expect this Notre Dame squad to take advantage of the in-limbo 15 team (Pittsburgh, Syracuse and West Virignia will no longer be in the conference next season) Big East conference and compete with Louisville for the top spot in the league. Anything below a top 3 finish will be a disappointment. As for how they'll do in March, it seems as though I should probably tell you to be ready for disappointment because that's what always happens right?... right...?
Are you watching the NBA Playoffs right now? What's the call?
I actually started as a NBA blogger (I have a now defunct blog under my pen name) and while it may seem like blasphemy to the lot of you, I still consider NBA basketball my first love when it comes to sports, so yes, I HAVE been watching the playoffs very carefully and am proud to say that I picked the Spurs to win it all the moment they acquired Boris Diaw and Stephen Jackson around the trade deadline (if you are my facebook friend, you would know - there were people who thought I was crazy).
The Western Conference Finals has been terrific and pro basketball in its purest form, specifically the play of the Spurs who really seem focused on sending Tim Duncan out with a 5th ring - which would tie him with Kobe's ring total and elevate him to the greatest player of his generation (above both Kobe and Shaq). Another thing of note here is that given the new CBA and salary cap rules, the Miami Heat roster as we have it today is likely to be the best it will ever be during LeBron's prime - and if they are to lose in the Finals yet again, it could very well be said that LeBron James - for all his greatness - may never win a ring in his prime. Why? Because let us suppose that they lose to the Spurs this year but still manage to come back next season to the Finals... you know who'll be waiting for them? A hungry and angry Oklahoma City Thunder squad. Yikes.
Well that was probably too much non-football talk for one day - y'all have a good weekend!