Given my pick against Notre Dame yesterday I did not expect to be writing about the Irish taking down the #2 team in the country, yet here we are. This was a tremendous game, although it didn’t start out well. Bilas’s comment around the 10-minute mark of the first half that they’re going to need to repaint the rims at halftime was spot on. Things opened up for the last 30 minutes, though, which made for a very entertaining watch. It’s pretty remarkable that Notre Dame didn’t score its 20th point until the 15 minute mark of the first. They then scored 60 points in the final 25 minutes. That’s…good.
How did they do it, you ask? Free throws. It’s a little more complicated than that, but not much. The Irish made 10 more free throws than UNC attempted. This wasn’t a case of one-sided or poor officiating, either. Notre Dame was the more aggressive team defensively and offensively and that aggression paid some huge dividends. That being said, this game won’t be a blueprint for the Irish going forward as getting outrebounded, shooting under 35% from the field (under 20% from three), and only having 9 assists as a team is hardly a recipe for sustained success.
Keep in mind that this recap is being written by someone who only occasionally watches Notre Dame games so I’m going to be light on context for some of this. We’re trying a crossover thing, which we hope leads to some interesting observations. This is going to be a recap of a single game, and a damn good one for Notre Dame. Enjoy.
- Zach Auguste gets justifiably criticized for his intermittent attention/effort but he definitely brought it in the first half. Notre Dame would have been run out of the building if he hadn’t had a big first half. They very nearly were anyway, trailing by 15 at one point.
- Then he disappeared completely in the second half. Go figure. I still can’t come down too hard on him because, again,
- Lucky for him Bonzie Colson picked up his slack in the second half. Speaking of “the Bonz,” he turned in an effective, workmanlike game. There wasn’t anything spectacular about it, but he tracked down several loose balls, tipped rebounds around to maintain possession, played stout defense against some taller Tar Heels. Truly, his performance in this game can’t be completely captured by the box score even though 19 & 10 is nothing to sneeze at.
- Rex Pfleuger had himself a noticeably good defensive game but sweet fancy Moses did he look brutal on offense.
- Demetrius Jackson is one hell of an athlete. He had some tough luck, especially in the first half, on some good looks. That being said, shooting 5-18 is terrible and particularly in the second half he forced up some of the ugliest looking threes you ever want to see. It’s a testament to what kind of a player he is, though, that he was still the most fun player to watch on the court even while he was denting the Joyce Center rims.
- Marcus Paige broke out of his slump in a huge way. I’m guessing if you told UNC fans before the game that Paige would have a lights-out shooting game, they would outrebound ND, and that they would hold ND under 35% shooting they would have expected not just a win but a blowout. Oops.
- Brice Johnson had just about the least noticeable 14-14 game you can have. I expected him to do some serious damage against a good but short ND front line. Not so much.
- After college, Steve Vastauria has a bright future hustling people in street ball game in California with Wesley Snipes. Dude doesn’t look like the can play at all but he definitely can.
- Notre Dame has now beaten the #2 (Iowa) and #6 (North Carolina) teams in the most recent KenPom rankings. That’ll help in a month or so.
- ESPN’s “Need to Know” graphics might need some work. Do I really “need” to know that Zach Auguste speaks Greek and Hatian Creole fluently? Probably not, but now that I do, I actually do need to know why.
- Notre Dame’s jerseys are offensively ugly. Your colors are green, gold, and blue. I don’t see spoiled mustard yellow on that list. Get rid of those, stat. They don’t even match the colors painted on the court!
- Once again I’m recapping a college basketball game on ESPN and they’re throwing up NFL news of dubious merit as “BREAKING NEWS” every 30 goddamn seconds. This time it’s Terrell Owens tweeting that he didn’t make the Hall of Fame. I don’t recall this kind of coverage when Tim Raines didn’t make the baseball Hall of Fame again. Does anyone even care about Terrell Owens anymore?
- Jay Bilas is the best. I don’t enjoy much of what ESPN trots out there in terms of on-air college basketball personalities (looking at you Dan Dakich) but I consistently enjoy Bilas.
- Mike Brey’s stubble game is strong.
- I know court storming has been a somewhat hot topic lately but count me among the people who like it. It made for a pretty fun-looking scene at the end of this game.