Saturday, June 23, 2007

Zero to Sixty

Funny thing about ND basketball these days -- you can go a couple weeks with nothing of note to talk about, then get hit with three things in one week.

One Man Enter, One Man Leave

On the good news side of the ledger was the official return of Kyle McAlarney. While it was well in the works since about a week after he was originally suspended, nothing is sure in this man's world and having it actually happen beats any amount of woulda coulda shouldas.

The entire thing was frustrating, and like a couple other seasons in Fighting Irish basketball past, we're left to wonder how a key player's availability might have pushed what was already an enjoyable season into the realm of legendary. But it allowed TJ to come into his own, and the interesting thing to watch this upcoming season will be how he and KMac operate in tandem.

As KMac returns, however, another player has left. Backup wing Joe Harden decided to ply his trade closer to home and most likely will transfer to a West Coast Conference school like Santa Clara.

I hate it when players leave, even when the decision is good for both them and the school. Although the recent grad rate calculation changes diminish the hurt in that area, a player walking away means there was some kind of disconnect in his ND experience, and I feel bad for Joe that the ND experience didn't work out for him.

But from what I can tell, there's no animosity on either side here, so there's no indication this is a symptom of anything larger, which is always a big concern. It also may say a lot about the quality of player ND is getting in Tyrone Nash and Carleton Scott, who arrived with the start of the summer sessions (but don't have bios up on yet -- chop chop there, kids) last week.

The Story (or Progeny) of O

Harden's departure also gives Mike Brey an opportunity to re-balance his classes. The one-ride class graduating in the form of Rob Kurz can, as we've seen these last few months, put a damper on recruiting buzz. Having a second scholarship available, along with the potential red-shirt of either Tim Abromaitis or Ty Proffitt, can put three players on the same eligibility progression and not leave the coaches short again four years from now.

I also hope the second available ride can loosen things up enough to allow MB to extend a scholarship offer to Renaldo Woolridge, son of former Irish great Oooooooorlando and apparently the subject of his own website (although the content seems to indicate he's not the author). The 6'7" forward is rated a top-75 player by and has at least three stars on both major recruiting networks, so it's not like anyone would be screaming "nepotism" or anything else that might imply the kid isn't worthy of a full-time ride.

As I said when Mike Golic, Jr., committed to Charlie Weis, I hate it when talented progeny of Fighting Irish alums end up playing somewhere else. It ain't natural. I'd love to see big O wandering the halls of the Joyce Center with former teammate Tim Andree, both watching their sons write a new chapter in ND basketball history.

Back Up the Backhoe

Speaking of the JC, Mike Rothstein of the Ft. Wayne Journal Gazette (which always has surprisingly good coverage of ND athletics, considering the distance), dropped a content bomb on us this morning with the news there's a tentative start date for the long-awaited facelift for the Joyce Center.

The project, according to the article, would take two to three years to complete, which would allow for them to schedule the work on the heavily-used sections (i.e. the playing arena interior) when it will least disrupt their scheduled occupancy. This, I believe, is a good thing, because it means they won't rush the entire project in order to fit some arbitrary schedule.

What we still await, however, is a concrete plan of attack. Other than the original documents released at the "Phil Purcell is giving us money" presser and this (admittedly kickass) picture), there hasn't been a comprehensive release of details on what this project will entail. I like that Mike Brey is talking about the right things in the article (e.g. an improvement in gameday atmosphere). Now the admin must put those things into practice. I expect such info will come out when they officially announce the start date, which hopefully will be soon.

And speaking of practice, also no word on new practice space being included in the big hockey arena upgrade. The primary concern from past communiques is the loss of the banquet space, but we hold out hope the new hotel space in the planned Eddy St. development will mitigate any issues those will cause.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Assuming ND hopes to be a top program again, does it truly make sense to REDUCE basketball seating capacity by approx. 14% (11,413 to 9,800)? What about the students, the noise, the atmosphere, the effect on recruiting? Even at the current capacity, ND does not appear to have a top program atmosphere. (Yes, ND was undefeated at home last year but... in truth, 11 of the 12 non-conference home games were against second or third tier competition.) A Joyce Center facelift is great ND thinking (and aiming) "small" here?

7/05/2007 12:33:00 PM  

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