The Notre Dame men's basketball team will enter this season in a completely new position from last year.
The Irish were trying to discover who they were when they were getting ready to start the 2011-12 season. They were replacing three starters at the start of that season, and after playing in just two games, Tim Abromaitis – the team's leading returning scorer and one of the two captains – was lost to a season-ending injury.
This year, Notre Dame returns all of its starters from last season's NCAA tournament team, and it adds center Garrick Sherman, a transfer from Michigan State, who had to sit out last season, and talented freshmen Cameron Beidscheid and Zach Auguste to the mix.
And the only pieces the Irish lost from last season are guard Alex Dragicevich, who decided to transfer to Boston College after starting 10 of the 34 games he played and averaging 6.6 points, and guard Joey Brooks, who stared eight of 31 games last year but will redshirt this year.
With everything the Irish have returning from a 22-12 team, coach Mike Brey said he is ready for lofty predictions to come as the season gets going, but he wants his team to keep the focus on itself.
"I talked to them about expectations, and the phrase I used on Tuesday is, 'Work to deliver' on those expectations," Brey said. "But those expectations are our expectations. I said let's talk about our expectations. There are going to be all kinds (of expectations) thrown out there in the preseason, and we are honored about some of things people have said of us. But we lost in the first round the NCAA tournament. We didn't get to the Big East championship game. We didn't win a regular-season (title), so what are our expectations? I think that is going to be very much a key for me to keep talking about that."
The Irish have embraced their coach's philosophy of setting their own goals to live up to this season.
"For years, we've been told we are going to be terrible, and we ended up pretty good. We worry about what we believe we can do in that locker room, and the group of us working together, we can accomplish quite a bit," guard Scott Martin said.