Notre Dame Basketball Report: Irish Tumbling, Fall Out of Polls

Photo: © Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Another disastrous week for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish has them reeling, with five defeats in their last six games. Holding a 6-5 conference mark within the 15-team ACC, Notre Dame currently finds itself situated in seventh place. That’s a precipitous plunge from just a few weeks ago and helps explain their tumble out of the Top 25 rankings.

A home loss to the Duke Blue Devils on January 30 was followed six days later by a road defeat at the hands of the North Carolina Tar Heels. In the latter case, that contest was pushed back 19 hours due to a water main break in the Chapel Hill area. The extra time didn’t help, with the defeat now putting them three games back with seven ACC contests left.

Notre Dame Basketball Week in Review

Facing Duke at home on January 30, the first 13 minutes of action offered scoring volleys from both the Blue Devils and Irish. However, in the final seven minutes before halftime, Duke took control with a 16-4 run to give them a 37-25 halftime lead.

Notre Dame spent the remainder of the contest trying to whittle that deficit down, yet could never get over the hump. They were able to get within a single point at 63-62 with just over seven minutes left in the game and actually had a chance to take the lead. However, a missed layup sparked an 11-2 Blue Devil run that ended any comeback hopes.

Due to those water issues, the Irish game against the Tar Heels was moved 50 miles away to the Greensboro Coliseum. That change didn’t help Mike Brey’s struggling squad, which never held the lead during the course of the game. Down by a point with six minutes left in the first half, Notre Dame was then outscored 13-6 heading into intermission and trailed 42-34 at the break.

Repeated efforts to reduce that margin resulted in the Irish trailing by just two at 75-73 with 3:35 left following a three-pointer from V.J. Beacham. North Carolina answered with eight unanswered points over the next three minutes to salt the game away.

Notre Dame Basketball Standouts

Bonzie Colson

Mr. Consistency continued his strong season by connecting for 17 points in each contest, while narrowly missing a double-double in both matchups. He hauled down nine boards against Duke before grabbing 10 against North Carolina and was also effective in the paint by swatting away two shots against the Blue Devils and three more facing North Carolina.

Matt Farrell

Nothing fancy with Farrell, who tallied 11 points and dished out four assists against Duke before following that up with 18 points and three assists against North Carolina. In the two contests, Farrell also served as a long-range threat by hitting for a total of six three-pointers.

V.J. Beacham

The senior forward did lead the team in scoring during their two losses, with 20 points apiece in each game. The problem was that his numbers in other categories weren’t high enough to deliver a major impact to the team’s fortunes, such as his four combined rebounds.

Notre Dame’s Week Ahead

The Irish still have the opportunity to move into the upper echelon of teams, with two home games on tap this week. Their first comes on Tuesday against Wake Forest, which is currently tied for 10th place in the ACC. That’s followed by a Saturday battle against Florida State, which is in second place, two games ahead of Notre Dame.

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  1. It is very difficult to maintain excellence on the court when you do not have a “real” big man. By big man I mean someone between 6’10” – 7’2″. That can shoot and rebound.They have way to many pretenders like Torre. I shutter when he comes in. He just doesn’t have it! Bonzie just isn’t tall enough, but he busts he butt and has been more than productive this season. You live by the sword, you die by the sword”, translation, when your ourside shooting is not up to par………you lose! Vasturia has been less then stellar when it comes to shooting the tre lately. Go Irish!!

    1. Colson looked pretty good scoring and rebounding against a “real” big man Saturday night. And Magic looked pretty good when he played center for Kareem (who was hurt) in 4 playoff games a long time ago.
      But you do make a good point, Mike. The size factor could become an issue in March. For now though, it seems OK – we are rebounding pretty well. In the end, you have to play with the hand you were dealt, not the hand you wish you were dealt.

      The softest part of our conference schedule is coming up – let’s not take a dive!

      Bruce G. Curme
      LaCrosse, Indiana

  2. A shame how they have fallen. Starting ACC play I thought they would make a deep run. Now I’m not so sure. Never count out Brey’s squad though. They seem to go through these phases every year. But it’s not looking good. Virginia laid out the formula to beat the Irish (play them tight and don’t let them get off 3-pt shots) and every team seems to have used that to success. They did have a better showing against UNC. I don’t really buy into moral victories, but they did look better and didn’t let UNC get away with an easy victory.
    They have a lot of good players, but they don’t seem to be quite as in sync starting the season. It seems someone excels in one game, then someone else the next. Farrell, Colson, Vasturia and Beachem all have great moments in individual games, but it seems they can’t maintain it individually game to game. For instance Farrell with score in double digits this game, then Colson the next game, but suddenly Farrell will only score 3 points in that game. But there’s still time to turn things around, but not much.

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