***LUKE HARANGODY: The sophomore forward has been the team's best player through nine games. Harangody leads the team in both scoring at 17.1 PPG and rebounding at 9.2 boards a contest. The sophomore has four double-doubles on the year, all coming in the last six contests. Head coach Mike Brey has said Harangody is becoming a "special player" and the problem has been convincing the sophomore forward into this line of thinking. Harangody's confidence might have taken a step up when he went toe-to-toe with Kansas State's Michael Beasley in Notre Dame's victory over the Wildcats at Madison Square Garden in the Jimmy V Classic. In the game, the sophomore scored 19 points and pulled down 14 rebounds while Beasley, who many think will be the top pick in next year's NBA Draft, also scored 19 points to go along with 14 rebounds. Harangody, who slimmed down in the off-season, is still a physical presence down low and appears ready to do a lot of damage in Big East basketball action.
***KYLE MCALARNEY: The junior guard started off slow this season, including a 1-of-11 performance in the loss to Baylor. McAlarney, who is coming back to the team after last season's dismissal from the university for marijuana possession, started to find his groove against Youngstown State. The junior scored a career-high 23 points in the win over YSU. McAlarney one-upped himself in the next game with 25 points in a victory against Colgate, a contest where the junior shot 8-of-12 from the field. McAlarney is second on the team in scoring 14.9 PPG and is shooting 49 percent from three-point range, which is 16th in the nation. In the last win over Northern Illinois, the junior scored 12 of the team's first 22 points in less than four minutes to help pace the Irish to a 46-point win. The best performance was in the victory over Kansas State, where McAlarney scored the team's final nine points, including a crucial three-pointer, to seal the win.
***ROB KURZ: The senior captain has been his steady self through nine games. Kurz is third in scoring at 13.3 PPG and second in rebounding at 6.8 board a contest. The senior has two double-doubles on the year, the most recent being a 20-point, 10-rebound performance in the victory over Colgate back on November 26th. Kurz is shooting 52.9 percent from the field, second only to Harangody's 56 percent. The senior also gets to the free throw line. Kurz is first on the team in attempts from the charity stripe and second in percentage at 78 percent. The one-two combination of Harangody and Kurz down low should help loosen up defenses for McAlarney and Ayers on the perimeter.
***RYAN AYERS: The junior forward is in the starting lineup and is fourth in scoring at eight PPG. Ayers season-high was a 12-point effort in the victory over Eastern Michigan. The junior hit three big three-pointers in the first half of that win to help keep EMU at a comfortable distance. In the following contest. Ayers had several key defensive plays to help wrap-up the victory over Kansas State. The junior is the team's second best three-point threat, nailing 52.9 percent from behind the arc.
***TORY JACKSON: The sophomore is the leader of the Notre Dame offense on the floor, controlling the point guard position. Jackson is first in assists with almost five a contest and fifth in scoring at 6.6 PPG. The sophomore did bruise his elbow in the last victory over Northern Illinois but Brey said after the game that his point guard was just fine. Jackson's best contest of the season was in the win over Colgate. The sophomore scored just four points but dished out seven assists to only one turnover. The only negative at times for Jackson has been turnovers. Three times this year, Jackson has committed five or more turnovers, with a season-high seven against Kansas State. If the sophomore takes care of the ball, Jackson should be able to continue the recent high production from the Notre Dame offense.
***ZACH HILLESLAND: The junior forward can do a little bit of everything. Hillesland is the stat sheet stuffer and also brings the ball up the floor several times during games. The junior, who is the Irish's sixth man, is sixth in scoring at 6.4 PPG, third in rebounding at 5.8 a contest, second in steals and fourth in assists. Hillesland is a tough match-up for opposing defenses because of his versatility, size at 6-9 and ability to handle the basketball. The junior's best production of the season came in the loss to Georgia Tech. Hillesland scored 12 points to go along with five rebounds.
***LUKE ZELLER: The 6-10 junior comes off the bench and is expected to hit shots from the perimeter. Zeller has been doing that this season, connecting on 11-of-20 three-pointers in 14 minutes of action a game. The junior is seventh on the team in scoring but is shooting 54 percent from the field. Zeller has eclipsed double-doubles twice this season, including a 14-point performance in the win over Colgate. If the junior can continue to come off the bench and give the team production, it'll be an added bonus for an already high-scoring group.
***JONATHAN PEOPLES: The sophomore is the backup guard to McAlarney and Jackson. Peoples set a career-high in assists with four against Colgate and has dished out 15 assists to just five turnovers this year. The sophomore guard averages 16 minutes a game and totaled a season-high eight points in the blowout win over Monmouth at the Paradise Jam Tournament in the Virgin Islands.