Notre Dame Basketball Report: Irish Crash Top 25

Notre Dame big man Bonzie Colson had himself a good week. (Photo: Matt Cashore // USA Today Sports)
Notre Dame big man Bonzie Colson had himself a good week. (Photo: Matt Cashore // USA Today Sports)

After eight games, the Notre Dame men’s basketball squad remains undefeated, though it remains difficult to gauge exactly where they lie on the spectrum of teams across the country. That’s because six of their eight victories have been played at home, with only a few of the clashes offering much competition.

Notre Dame Basketball Week in Review

Last week, an uncharacteristically sloppy performance against the Iowa Hawkeyes saw the Irish commit 14 turnovers, twice as many as they’d averaged in their first six victories. Thanks to their prowess at the foul line, they came away with a 92-78 victory in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, with Notre Dame connecting on 30 of their 33 attempts.

On Sunday, Mike Brey’s squad blasted visiting North Carolina A&T, leading 45-29 at the break before breaking things open with a 12-1 run. That allowed them to coast to a 107-53 blowout win. Notre Dame had their three-point shot going strong, connecting 15 times, and also hit on all 14 of their free throws.

The two wins helped boost the Irish into the Top 25, with the Associated Press poll situating them in the 23rd spot and the USA Today Coaches poll ranking them one berth higher.

Notre Dame Basketball Standouts of the Week

Bonzie Colson

The week’s performance by the junior forward caught the attention of the ACC, which rewarded him with Player of the Week honors. Against Iowa, he was seemingly everywhere by scoring 24 points, hauling down 17 rebounds and slapping away three shots. Five days later, he only played 26 minutes but still managed to squeeze in a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds.

Steve Vasturia

The senior guard scored 22 and corralled nine boards against Iowa. In the A&T rout, a quiet 13 points and four assists in 25 minutes was enough of a contribution. Vasturia remains virtually automatic at the foul line, missing just once in 23 tries.

Matt Farrell

Farrell, a junior guard, collected 31 points in two games and dished out 11 assists to his teammates, including seven versus Iowa. However, he did play a role in the turnover problems by committing five on the night.

V.J. Beachem

The senior forward managed to toss in 35 points in the two wins and also contributed seven rebounds. Like many of his teammates, he’s been strong at the free throw line by hitting at an 84 percent clip. That’s a good deal better than his weak effort of last year, when he managed to only connect at a mediocre 57 percent rate.

Other Performances of Note

The thrashing of A&T allowed for plenty of time for the reserves, with three players taking full advantage. Matt Ryan hit for 17 points, a scoring barrage that included five three-pointers, while freshman Temple Gibbs scored 12, dished out seven assists and also grabbed four rebounds. Rounding out the trio, sophomore Rex Pflueger scored 10, picked up five rebounds and smacked down three shots.

Notre Dame’s Week Ahead

Notre Dame has the opportunity to take great strides with the second of their games this week. They face the top-ranked Villanova Wildcats, who also happen to be the defending national champions, with the game set for noon on Saturday in Philadelphia.

Prior to that, the Irish have to avoid looking ahead, especially since they’ll be facing Fort Wayne. While the game is at home, the Mastadons already have a huge notch under their belt, having knocked off the Indiana Hoosiers on November 22.

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13 Comments

  1. ND certainly has gotten off to a great start. It’s a typical Brey team very good shooters, great at times, but very little in the way of big men. Without the big man and Geren, much improved is not a game changer, the chance of them going passed the second round in the NCAA is doubtful. Brey has proven that he can recruit that good shooting guard and playmaker, it’s time he go after a really good big man until he gets one the Irish will go as far as their shooters and “D” will take them and that’s not far enough. As far as the weekend goes you really don’t believe the Mastadons have any shot at ND. They had their one allotted miracle when they beat the Hoosiers, there is no way another will occur before 2021. The Villanova game should be a classic and I’m picking the Irish. No that’s not a homer pick. I’ve watched both play this year and I honestly think the Irish can knock off the Cats. As far as where the game is played, it’s a neutral site for both and ND fans travel well. The site shouldn’t come into play. Take ND!

  2. So glad I have a team to follow that doesn’t have one and done players. Just get into the NCAA tournament. We’re almost half way there with eight wins.

    1. Kudos to Mike Brey for building a solid team. I always thought maybe ND could turn experience to an advantage, since they can develop a team.

      A few years ago I thought Brey had plateaued as a coach. But he found a way to adapt, however slowly, so that now ND fields a respectable, even dangerous team. I’m not sure that they’ll ever get over the NC hump because of the nature of basketball, but ND is capable of beating any team on any given day.

  3. Irish are 8-0, ranked, won a tournament already, and have great opportunity Saturday to beat #1 team. C’mon Irish! I need a sweetheart basketball season to flush away what happened on the football field this year.

  4. Nova game will be played at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. Not Philadelphia, or the Joyce Center. 0-for-2 here.

  5. Looking forward to seeing how the Irish do against Villanova. As Brad noted there was some sloppy play against Iowa, yet they still came away with a decent win. Villanova will obviously be a real test. ND has a great group of starters and they are phenomenal at spreading the ball around. There were times against Iowa and Colorado that I lost view of the ball, they were passing it around so much, and they are clean passes. And teams who fall behind the Irish in the last few minutes might as well forget passing. They are experts at the free throw line. Iowa tried it and all it did was increase ND’s margin of victory.

    Against Villanova (or any team for that matter), if they can even just get a small lead within the last 2 minutes, they have a good chance at holding the lead thanks to their ability to make free throws, and they are all pretty good at making free throws.

    With the abysmal performance of the football team, I’m looking at the basketball team to bring some respect to the Irish brand. Also, a big game coming up for the women’s team against UConn. The Irish just lost their number 1 ranking to UConn, despite not losing any games. Hopefully they use that as a little extra motivation.

    Go Irish!

  6. all eight wins have not been earned at the joyce center. the irish traveled to the barclays center to earn a pair of wins.

    also, the game vs. villanova will be played in newark, nj, not the joyce center.

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