The Irish will be led by returning lettermen Chris Thomas, Chris Quinn, Jordan Cornette, Rick Cornett, Torin Francis, and Colin Falls. Transfer Dennis Latimore is being counted on to give the team added offensive and defensive power.
Irish Eyes attended the Annual Media Day on Monday, October 11 and had the opportunity to talk with some of the players.
Senior Forward Dennis Latimore
How hard was it to sit out last season?
"The hardest part was mental. Just coming in and knowing you have to work your hardest in practice and come game-time, you have to be emotional but you can't get too upset because you know you're not going into the game. So the main thing it made me mature emotionally and mentally more than anything."
What do you expect from this team?
"I expect us to go to the Final Four. I know we all worked hard this summer and the team was out here for seven weeks and some of the guys and me were out here for 11 weeks. We are working hard so we don't expect any less than that."
Do you already have a good chemistry with the team since you were around for a year?
"Oh yeah, it was instant right from when I got here the summer before last. None of these guys have egos. They all are down to earth guys so that wasn't a problem at all."
What do you see as your role on the team?
"This year I think rebounding-wise I can really help the team. Passing-wise, being a big man, I can pass the ball and just play with a lot of passion and intensity."
Last year a TV commentator claimed the best player for Notre Dame was sitting on the bench - transfer, Dennis Latimore. How did you feel about that?
"It really didn't affect me to be honest. I want to be the best player on the team in my own mind. That's what I want because I want to be the best at everything I do. It doesn't affect me. I come in the gym and work on my game on my own, and I work hard in the weight room. The whole team does that collectively so it is a team game and really didn't affect me."
Junior Forward Torin Frances
Which of the two - Omari Israel or Dennis Latimore - are more offensively minded?
"They are different. They play different games. Omari is more of a perimeter guy while Dennis is more of a low-post guy."
Is Connecticut the team to beat in the Big East?
"I don't know. There are going to be a lot of good teams in the Big East and I don't know if there is one that stands out more than the other."
Last year you guys missed the NCAA tournament. How big of a disappointment was that?
"It was big. I wasn't playing and it was even harder to watch when we didn't make the tournament; but that is motivating me to get ready for this year, get healthy, and get ready to play."
How hard have you guys worked in the off-season?
"Really hard. Really hard. We were here the whole summer, then the entire pre-season even up to now. We are starting our practices officially on Saturday so there have been times when guys got hurt but everyone is getting healthy and trying to get their bodies right so we're ready for the season."
Do you expect big things out of this team this season?
"Definitely, everyone is talking about the kind of team we have but we don't listen to that because we know what kind of team we have. But we know what we have to do because we are not going to feed off all of these expectations and we just have to go out there play together and win. I think we are really motivated since last year we played in the post-season NIT and not the NCAA."
Junior Guard Chris Quinn
Do you think you are a top ten team?
"I think we have the potential to be and a lot of it depends upon the chemistry of the team and how well we jell throughout the season. I think that is the most important thing for us right now. Talent-wise we have the players who can play with any team in the nation but we have to be ready to play hard every single night."
Who will be the team to beat in the Big East?
"Oh man. There are a lot of them. The tough schedule and on any given night you can lose to almost anybody so obviously you have UConn, Pitt, Syracuse, and the teams we play twice. What I have learned from two years is that every game in the Big East is a battle, and you can't take any nights off, and it is going to be like that more so this year."
What are your expectations for this team?
"My expectations are real high. I think we can play with anybody in the nation, and I think if we go out and play hard and get our chemistry right; I'm ready to compete with anybody."
Senior Guard Chris Thomas
What are your expectations for this team?
"I have the greatest expectations for this team, myself, and the player who sat out last year. There is a lot on the line right now with the 100 years and my last year. Coach Brey finally has a group that he feels confident can get us to the Final Four. Everybody has the same expectations. We want to get to 30 wins. We want to be contenders and be there in St. Louis and make it in the third night in New York playing for the Big East Championship."
"This team has a lot of weapons. How is that going to help you in your game?
"It is going to help me a lot because I won't have to force shots. I can give up the ball and feel confident that the other four players on the court will do something with it consistently. I feel very confident in my players especially the way Quinn, Francis, and Latimore have been playing the whole summer. Our guys have gotten better and stronger and the games have been so competitive that everyone has improved their game and is ready to contribute."
How did your surgery go?
"My surgery went great. I'm about 85 percent now and my pain level throughout the whole surgery was a zero. Even the day of the surgery I had no pain and I quit taking pain killers two days afterwards because they were making my stomach hurt and I didn't have any pain during rehab. It was sore from not working on it, but I am exhausted from not doing anything and not being able to play. I'm a player who has never had a break and I don't enjoy those long breaks, but I really feel it has helped my body a lot."How long will it take you to get to 100 percent?
"Hopefully by the beginning of December when we have our Michigan and IU games; that's speculative but that's when the doctor said I should be around 100 percent. But I don't know if I will ever be 100 percent but I will be at the peak of feeling the best I can."