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The Journal Gazette

  • Associated Press Notre Dame's Bonzie Colson was selected ACC Preseason Player of the Year, the first Irish player to earn the honor since Luke Harangody in 2009-10. The 6-6 Colson averaged 17.8 points and a conference-best 10.1 rebounds last season.

Thursday, November 09, 2017 1:00 am

Notre Dame Men's Breakdown

Schedule

Nov. 3: Bethel, 7 p.m. (exhibition)

Nov. 7: Cardinal Stritch, 7 p.m. (exhibition)

Nov. 11: at DePaul, 4 p.m.

Nov. 13: Mount St. Mary's, 7 p.m.

Nov. 16: Chicago St., 7 p.m.

Nov. 20: at Chaminade, 9 p.m.

Nov. 21: vs. TBD, in Maui, TBD

Nov. 22: vs. TBD, in Maui, TBD

Nov. 30: at Michigan State, 7 p.m.

Dec. 3: St. Francis (N.Y.), 2 p.m.

Dec. 5: Ball State, 7 p.m.

Dec. 9: at Delaware, 7 p.m.

Dec. 16: vs. Indiana, at Indianapolis, 2:30 p.m.

Dec. 19: Dartmouth, 7 p.m.

Dec. 21: Southeastern Louisiana, 7 p.m.

Dec. 30: Georgia Tech, TBD

Jan. 3: N.C. State, 9 p.m.

Jan. 6: at Syracuse, 3:15 p.m.

Jan. 10: at Georgia Tech, 7 p.m.

Jan. 13: North Carolina, 6 p.m.

Jan. 16: Louisville, 7 p.m.

Jan. 20: at Clemson, 4 p.m.

Jan. 27: Virginia Tech, 8 p.m.

Jan. 29: at Duke, 7 p.m.

Feb. 3: at N.C. State, noon

Feb. 6: Boston College, 8 p.m.

Feb. 10: Florida State, 4 p.m.

Feb. 12: at N. Carolina, 7 p.m.

Feb. 17: at Boston College, 4 p.m.

Feb. 19: Miami, 7 p.m.

Feb. 24: at Wake Forest, 3 p.m.

Feb. 28: Pittsburgh, 7 p.m.

March 3: at Virginia, 4 p.m.

5 facts

• Notre Dame was ranked 14th in the preseason USA Today coaches poll, the fourth-highest member of the Atlantic Coast Conference behind Duke (1), North Carolina (9) and Miami (12).

• Senior forward Bonzie Colson was named ACC Preseason Player of the Year, receiving 49 of 69 possible votes. Colson averaged a league-best 10.1 rebounds per game last season and finished ninth in scoring at 17.8 points per game. He was the only player in the conference to average a double-double for the season.

• Notre Dame returns three starters: junior guard Rex Pflueger, senior guard Matt Farrell and Colson.

• The Irish went 26-10 last season, finishing in a three-way tie for second place in the ACC before losing to Duke in the championship game of the conference tournament. Notre Dame made the NCAA Tournament as a No. 5 seed, losing its second-round game 83-71 to fourth-seeded West Virginia.

• Notre Dame is scheduled to play 29 regular-season games, with 15 coming in the comfort of Purcell Pavilion. Four of the Irish's first eight games are on the road.

4 games of interest

Nov. 30 at Michigan State: The Spartans are the No. 2 team in the country, according to preseason polls, giving the Irish an opportunity for a signature, tournament-résumé-building win before even entering conference play.

Dec. 16 vs. Indiana: At the Crossroads Classic at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, the Irish get a crack at revenge on the Hoosiers, who won the last meeting, 80-73, in 2015.

Jan. 29 at Duke: This is Notre Dame's lone matchup with this year's preseason No. 1. The Blue Devils won the most recent meeting, defeating the Irish 75-69 in the 2017 ACC Tournament championship.

Feb. 19 vs. Miami: Another lone matchup with a top-ranked ACC opponent, this will be one of Notre Dame's better home opponents, and gives the Irish a nice opportunity for a late résumé-builder if conference play proves to be tougher than expected.

3 key players

Bonzie Colson, Sr., F: The 6-foot-6 Colson averaged 17.8 points per game and a conference-best 10.1 rebounds per game during the 2016-17 season. He is the first Notre Dame player since Luke Harangody in 2009-10 to be named ACC Preseason Player of the Year.

Matt Farrell, Sr., G: The Irish's most experienced ball handler, the 6-foot-1 senior guard averaged 14.2 points per game last season while leading the team with 5.4 assists per game in addition to shooting 42 percent from 3-point range.

Rex Pflueger, Jr., G: A towering 6-foot-6 presence in the backcourt, Pflueger is a tough matchup for most college guards. Last season, he averaged 4.7 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game, while shooting nearly 40 percent from 3-point range.

2 points of concern

Strength of schedule: While this is typically something to be praised come tournament time, the Irish face a tough schedule this season, particularly late in the year. The Irish are set to face six Top 25 teams, including second-ranked Michigan State in the nonconference schedule. With many roster holes to fill, these six games will be make-or-break for any postseason hopes.

Post presence: While Colson's ACC-best 10.1 rebounds per game will be more than welcomed back, the Irish do not have a go-to big man on their roster and will have limited options for establishing one. Martinas Geben, a 6-foot-10 Lithuanian native, is one option, and Juwan Durham, a 6-foot-11 transfer from UConn, is another.

1 major issue

Replacing V.J. Beachem: In 2016, Beachem was the second-leading scorer on the team behind Colson, averaging 14.5 points per game. The loss of Beachem, the former New Haven star who was signed by the Lakers as an undrafted free agent, will create a big scoring hole to fill this season.

– Jade Washburn,For The Journal Gazette