In the Big East, Connecticut and defending national champion Syracuse are clearly the frontrunners this season. But I'm interested in seeing how Notre Dame progresses with returning guard Chris Thomas leading the way.
The Irish will be a dangerous team, but I don't feel they have the personnel to be a contender for the Big East title compared to the loaded Huskies and the Orangemen. Still, Notre Dame can be tough at home.
When analyzing the Irish, I have to ask: Who will carry the scoring load? Coach Mike Brey will need to look at his personnel and discover their strengths and weaknesses. That's what coaching is all about, getting the maximum out of your people.
Off the bench, the Irish will look for production from diaper dandy Colin Falls.
I recently spoke with Brey, and the first question I asked him was how he would replace the productivity of Matt Carroll and Danny Miller. He explained that it starts with Thomas, who is not your run-of-the-mill penetrator and creator. He has unique ability, shoots the rock effectively and makes things happen, baby!
Thomas will have to put up big numbers this year. On the inside, Torin Francis, who went many games last season without being a scoring factor, will be counted on more. Who can forget his outstanding performances in Maryland, when he displayed brilliance against the Terps and against Texas. Francis has to give the Irish interior point production on a regular basis.
If the starting lineup also ends up including big man Tom Timmermans (a screener and hustler who scraps on the glass) and defensive stopper Torian Jones, that puts pressure on the other starting guard, sophomore Chris Quinn. He'll have to step up big, and he does have the ability to shoot the jumper and handle the rock.
Off the bench, the Irish will look for production from diaper dandy Colin Falls, a 6-4 sharpshooter who's a threat from the perimeter.
It will be interesting to see how Brey handles this lineup. Time (and the tough Big East schedule) will tell.