5. A Reliable Second Scorer
Whether it’s Rex Pflueger finally hitting his potential on the offensive end, D.J. Harvey taking that sophomore leap with a full slate of health or one of the true freshman making an impact beyond what is expected of them in year one, Notre Dame needs scoring outside of Gibbs. Last year, with the injuries to Colson, Farrell and Harvey, they simply didn’t have that on a consistent basis.
On the positive — Gibbs will rarely come off the court. On the negative — we have no idea if they can score when he is taking a break. The safe bet is on Harvey to step up. He’s the most talented player and has a season under his belt with the program. I’ll keep stating the health factor because it’s a huge deal, but assuming full go, Gibbs and Harvey can cause fits for ACC opponents.
My sleeper picks would be a mix of Hubb and Laszewski. Hubb will be the starting point guard from the onset, and has all the tools to be one of the best freshman in the conference. With Laszewski, he has that one special trait and it’s his outside shooting. It shouldn’t come as a surprise if he leads the team in 3-pointers made and percentage.
Mike Brey’s teams are at their best when the spotlight is off of them. The first year they made the Elite 8 and narrowly lost to Kentucky, it was a special team that no one expected to compete in the ACC — let alone win the whole damn thing. At season’s end, they were arguably the best team in the country.
This team has similar expectations. I’ve yet to read anything that has them finishing higher than 9th in the ACC and a borderline NCAA Tournament team. We will wait to see how the season shakes out, and it should be an interesting squad to follow. However, they will need these five keys to hit if they want a shot at surprising the college basketball world.