Despite what most college basketball pundits are saying these days about the fortunes of Notre Dame basketball with the return of "The Gody", Notre Dame is by far no lock for the NCAA tourney.
After starting the 2008-2009 season ranked in the top 10 of both polls and starting out 9-2 in non conference play with there losses to No. 1 ranked North Carolina and at Ohio State, the Irish fell apart in Big East play finishing 8-10 and missing the tournament.
What was a bad season for the Irish turned out to be a great season for Harangody. With averages of 23.3 points and 11.8 rebounds per game, there was no doubt that he was one of the most valuable players in the Big East.
Harangody returns this year, motivated to prove to NBA scouts that he can play with the big boys. The question is, how much more can he do for this Irish team?
I am not saying that Harangody is going to fall off and that the season will ride on how he plays. The Irish will benefit from Harangody returning, but ultimately, the season will ride on how well the players surrounding Harangody play.
The Irish lost one of there best three point shooters in the history of Notre Dame basketball in Kyle McAlarney. Opposing defenses had to not only focus on Harangody at the basket, but make sure McAlarney was not left open.
Along with the loss of McAlarney was another three point shooter in Ryan Ayers. The two of them accounted for 68 percent of all three pointers made last year. Add the fact that their third highest three point shooter, Luke Zeller, is gone. Eighty percent of the threes that were made are now gone!
Stepping in for those three will be returning starters Tory Jackson and Jonathan Peoples who are both roughly 35 percent career three point shooters.
On the recruiting front, Mike Brey did not bring in any four or five-star caliber players, meaning that there is a good chance that the freshman will contribute minimally, leaving this season in the hands of Harangody, Tory Jackson, and Jonathan Peoples.
Will Harangody have an outstanding season and finish as the Big Easts all time points leader and rebounder?
Most likely, but unless last years bench players such as Tyrone Nash, or Carlton Scott step up, and Tory Jackson and Jonathan Peoples can replace the production of McAlarney, Zeller, Hillesland and Ayers, look for Notre Dame to be in the lower half of the Big East with an NIT destination.