Notre Dame held off UAB on Tuesday night to advance to the 2nd Round of the NIT with a 70-64 victory. The few, and I do mean few, fans who made it out for the St. Patrick’s Day first round matchup saw a back and forth game in which the Irish were unable to pull away and led by as little as four points with less than a minute remaining. The biggest story of the night however was the crowd – or lack there of. Paid attendance for Tuesday night was 2,039 according to the ESPN box score – the Joyce Center capacity is 11,418. According to the AP, the attendance was the lowest for a Notre Dame NIT game since at least 1992.
Can anyone really blame the Irish faithful for the low turnout either? Weather in South Bend was unseasonably warm on Tuesday and the game fell on St. Patrick’s Day – a day typically reserved for activities other than watching the first round of the NIT. Combine those factors with the disappointment of a watching once top 10 team playing in the NIT and it’s pretty easy to see why the turnout was as low as it was.
Those who showed up saw a Notre Dame team that was clearly not at the top of its game. The Irish had several opportunities to put this game away, but couldn’t capitalize and had to hold on for the first round victory in the final seconds. Luke Harangody led Notre Dame with 22 points, but was just 8 of 18 from the field and missed several close range shots that he would normally make in his sleep. Kyle McAlarney had trouble finding any open looks and attempted just six field goal attempts all night.
Notre Dame was bailed out by the bench at times Tuesday. Tyrone Nash played 23 minutes – his second most of the season – and chipped in 6 points and 9 rebounds. Jonathan Peoples played 15 minutes and scored 8 points while grabbing 4 rebounds. Peoples also knocked down two big three pointers early in the first half to halt a UAB run. Unfortunately sophomore Carlton Scott, who some felt might get to see more playing time in the NIT, did not play a single minute.
The Irish also benefited from some horrible free throw shooting from UAB. The Blazers connected on just 5 of 13 free throws in the game. Notre Dame meanwhile hit 16 of 20 shots from the charity stripe.
Notre Dame will host New Mexico on Thursday night at 7PM on ESPN2 in the second round. New Mexico beat Nebraska 81-73 Tuesday night. The Lobos will be a tough test for the Irish and similar effort Thursday night will likely send Notre Dame home until next fall. It will be interesting to see how much better the attendance will be on Thursday night. Baring an announcement stating that Jackie Moon will be fighting a bear at half, I wouldn’t the turnout to be substantially better.
Highlights from Notre Dame’s win over UAB below courtesy of ESPN.
Well NIT win number two was more exciting. They kept it close. It would be neat to see them take the whole thing. but that’s still 3 games away. some good team in there
This team is a major disappointment. I can see why turn out was low. Harangody is tough and McAlarney other than being a great 3-point shooter play beyond his other basketball talents. Those two guys are fun to watch, but the rest of the team plays about 20 minutes and then stands around while the game is going on catching their breath.
You really would like to see a more inspired team, not just 2 inspired guys. Brey’s teams are often characterized by two key players with the rest of the team not really stepping up to any chanllenge. I have not seen a complete team from Mike Brey. But if that’s it then that’s it. I’d like to see an Irish team that catches fire with a great season, but I wouldn’t expect it after this season. I’ll still root for them and the women. I get charged about the hockey team and even the soccer teams. Go Irish!
Frankie I agree, it is time to play the younger players but, throughout Brey’s career he only coaches six deep 90% of the time. In the Big East, most teams go eight deep or more. How can you play tough defense when your’re tired? I don’t understand why this is not Brey’s forte being involved Duke’s program in the past?
It’s not like Duke doesn’t go deep on the bench or play tough defense. Maybe at Rhode Island he got in a rut with six talented players only, unfortunately we are missing opportunities to get better.
JC, you would think that seeing defense kill Notre Dame all season would prompt Brey to try out guys like Scott, but instead he keeps running the same rotation night in and night out. Not sure what he is worried about at this point. We’re in the NIT. Let the young kids play and see what they can do.
More poor defense, seniors or no seniors. Last year way over rated. In the final analysis the turnout speaks for itself. We have great offensive players when they are hot and open, but that’s as far as it goes.