Notre Dame Men’s Basketball: Early 2018-2019 Preview

(Photo by Darryl Oumi/Getty Images)
(Photo by Darryl Oumi/Getty Images) /

After a somewhat disappointing 2017-18 campaign, the Notre Dame basketball team will look to rebound and embark on a more successful 2018-19 season.

Many fans were hopeful that this last Irish squad would be the team to finally bring a National Championship home to South Bend, however the injury bug struck and the 2017-18 Notre Dame basketball team never quite recovered. With injuries to 3 of it’s 5 starters at one point during the season, this Irish squad never really got the chance to get rolling.

Notre Dame’s 2018-2019 ACC schedule was released this week. The schedule is one that has quite a few home games with solid opponents that Irish fans in South Bend will be excited to attend. You can view the full Notre Dame ACC home/away schedule here.

Even though Notre Dame lost arguably it’s best class in history, there is plenty for Irish fans to be excited about as we look ahead to the 2018-19 basketball season.

A More Experienced T.J. Gibbs

Anyone who watches Notre Dame basketball regularly can see the flashes of brilliance T.J. Gibbs provides for Notre Dame. Fans have watched him mature over the past two seasons, and now it will be his team to lead. Mike Brey and Notre Dame fans alike will hope that the flashes of brilliance from Gibbs turn into a sustained season.

Gibbs has had the opportunity to learn from some of the very best point guards in Notre Dame history, and it seems as if he is more than ready to take the reigns and make this team his own. Playing behind outstanding Notre Dame guards such as Demetrius Jackson and Matt Farrell helped Gibbs immensely. That education was very obvious in his improvement this season.

In an overall down season for the Irish, the 2017-18 campaign was an exceptionally great one for Gibbs. He distinctly improved in nearly every statistical category. Most notable were his improvement in points per game and three-point shooting percentage. Gibbs went from 4.7 PPG to 15.3 PPG and improved his three-point shooting percentage by over eight percent.

Expect to see an aggressive, energetic T.J Gibbs next season. This is his team now that leaders Matt Farrell, Bonzie Colson, Martenis Geben, and Austin Torres are gone and graduated. He is a player who can single-handedly change games and will be key for the Irish down the stretch.

Healthy D.J. Harvey

As one of the best recruits Notre Dame has pulled since Jerian Grant, Notre Dame fans saw the hype around Harvey that will only continue to grow. Harvey was having a stellar freshman season before a knee injury that ended it.

Seeing a freshman earn a good amount of playing time is rare in the Mike Brey regime, as he has always used squads with older players that improve year-by-year. He’s different in that respect than ACC coaches such as Mike Krzyzewski of Duke and Roy Williams of North Carolina who have become accustomed to “one and done” players.

Harvey was ranked as the No. 1 player coming out of the state of Maryland according to 247 Sports and MaxPreps. Out of DeMatha High School — which boasts many Notre Dame connections — Harvey was  ranked as a Top-50 Class of 2017 prospect by many top sources.

With the aforementioned talent leaving the team, Harvey will be relied on to score and rebound. He has shown he is more than capable of being a starter in the ACC, but he will need to step up his game even more.

Effectiveness of Transfer Big-Man Juwan Durham

If you noticed the freakishly tall guy on the Notre Dame sidelines wearing a suit every night, that would be transfer Juwan Durham from UConn. Durham was ineligible to play this past season, as transfers must sit out for a season before they participate with their new team.

To say Durham has big shoes to fill is an understatement. Martinas Geben was crucial for Notre Dame — not just this season — but throughout his Notre Dame career. With him gone, Notre Dame’s inside prescence will fall almost entirely on Durham’s shoulders. Of course, John Mooney and Elijah Burns are also options down low, but both lack the height and strength that Durham possesses.

While Durham has all the potential to be great for Notre Dame, this “rose” does have one large thorn — his knees. In high school, Durham tore his ACL in both knees. The recovery process for one ACL tear alone is terrible, but Durham had to do it twice — consecutively. Just as he had healed up and began playing again, Durham found himself with a tear in the other ACL.  It does appear as if he has healed completely from his injuries, and Irish fans can look forward to seeing him in full action come this winter.

Incoming freshmen

The incoming recruiting class for 2018 is by far one of the best Notre Dame has seen in its history.

The class boasts four, 4-star recruits (Dane Goodwin, Nate Leszewski, Prentiss Hubb, and Robby Carmody) — a few of whom are included in the ESPN Top 100. Notre Dame’s future looks to be very bright because of these guys. That is without including Juwan Durham, who is essentially a brand new player for the Irish.

The freshmen will be expected to make an impact early and often in this upcoming season. Notre Dame will have a very young squad come this winter, with only two seniors — Rex Pflueger and Elijah Burns. The freshmen may not all start immediately, but bench points are always welcome and Notre Dame will not have the luxury of bringing in someone like D.J. Harvey off the bench, as he’ll now be a starter.

Next: Get Old, Stay Old works for Notre Dame Basketball

Starting Five Prediction for 2018-2019

PG- T.J. Gibbs

G- Rex Pflueger

G- D.J. Harvey

F- John Mooney

C- Juwan Durham

We’ll have another preview ready for you closer to the start of the 2018-2019 season.